Saturday, February 6, 2016

Feb. 3, 2016

Hi everyone!
Well, this week has been full of growing experiences. I´m slowly, but surely trying to learn the area, the investigators, and less actives. I´m in a branch again which is interesting, very very different from my first experience with the branch in Bonao. We definitely walk a lot here! Villa Gonzalez is 45 minutes away from Santiago, next to a pretty mountain range. Most of the people we teach, as well as members work on the farms here. This area is known for their nice, green, TOBACCO haha. So it´s a definite change from all of my other areas. With all of the rows and rows of tobacco fields we pass, it wouldn´t suprise me if this little town didn´t supply all of the DR. But like I said, I love the area here. We do a lot of walking which is something that I´ve missed compared to my last teenie tiny area. 
I´m starting to get to know the members and they are very sweet. We apparently get fed every Sunday, which isn´t the norm in the mission. And now we just need to get them excited to go out a little more with us, but this week we have gotten the support of the YW as well as an RM. 
As for the investigators here I´ve run into a first which is we are teaching many spouses who one of them wants to be baptized and married while the other just doesn´t want to be married. BAH! And they have all lived together for 20 plus years! There are a couple as well that they are together but one of them is married to another person, and it´s just too expensive to get a divorce. SO in other words we will be focusing a lot on the famliy.
I´ve thought a lot this past couple weeks about my little Primary class that I taught before I went on the mission. As we were helping them get ready for the primary program they sang a special musical number that I love so much. Their theme was on the family and the chorus said, ¨God gave us families to help us become what he wants us to be, this is how he shared his love, for the family is of God¨. This has just been a really neat experience teaching our investigators the importance of the families. President Christofferson said, Ä family built upon a marriage of a man and a woman supplies the best setting for God´s plan to thrive. And it´s true! we all have the same goal here on the earth and that is to live with our Father in Heaven. What better way to make it back to him by working in our families, SUPPORTING each other. 
Catch you guys later! 
Hermana Van Woerkom

jan. 27, 2016

oopps forgot the pictures Jan. 19th

Jan. 19th

So this week has been pretty good, we are hoping for a baptism this next monday, so prayers would be very very much appreciated! Sorry for the late notice, they changed out Pday for today instead of tomorrow because we will be having a world-wide missionary conference with I'm assuming would be the apostles so I'm definitely excited for that! Today we had our last zone activity for the transfer so it was very bitter/sweet....well maybe more bitter because we've all had a blast this transfer. And it started out crazy to say the least! So as my companion throws her hot water into the buckets for her shower, I'm sitting at my desk in my moo moo reading the Liahona when my companion tells me in a panick voice "Compa, get out of here right now don't look behind you". So I'm looking at her like she's crazy and as she repeats it again, I get up and head for the door super freaked out that there was a haitian in the house *okay side note, I'm not racist, it's just that one of the Haitain Elders in my zone told us scary stories the night before about Haitian voodoo and people appearing in houses*. Continuing with the story I asked her what was happening when she told me there was a spider in the house. ACK! They really do have it out for me, first in Puerto Plata now here! I didn't know what to do so I pulled out the phone and start looking through the list of who we could call, but then realizing that we were still in our moo moo's we knew that calling the elders was now out of the option. Being a BOSS, my comp decided she could do it, so I went to get the broom, and I held on to the mop for protection, and we went in. The first swap with the broom didn't kill it, and then it hid behind our gallon tanks. Again, being the boss that she is she moved the tank all by herself and then the beast came back out and started running towards me....okay for the door that I was in front of. Luckliy my companion finished it off before it could get me, but man it was yet another scary encounter with the spider. It's a good thing this one was a baby tarantula instead of the biggies out in the countryside. Yes, I was screaming and screamed even more when my companion chased me around the flipping house with the dustpan that had the dead spider. BUT, this experience just made us think of how much we are going to miss each other. We are SOOOOO BUMMED to say the least that one of us is headed out this transfer. However, we are going to kick up the notch these last few days before it ends and if all goes as planned we will have our baptism this monday. FINGERS CROSSED! We have just had so many growing experiences here together, and I'm so grateful for every single one of them. 
Have a great week,
Hermana Van Woerkom 

Jan. 13, 2016

Okay mom and a few others wrote and complained that my letter was tiny last week and someone *ahem* mom threatened to no send my package if she didn't get a super long one today. However, there really wasn't too much crazyness that happened, but we will see what I can come up with. 
Okay well this week we have been really trying to strengthen our area and finding those that are prepared and ready to hear the gospel. Trust me, sounds easier said than done! Sometimes missionaries get caught up with turning in the numbers more than strengthening their wards. It's a balance game that we always have to play. So as we were going out this week we've felt like we really needed to start seeing more less actives and members then we had been seeing before. The bishop's family, the second counselor in the Stake Presidency, and the seminary teacher, just to name a few. And it was so nice to see how happy they were to have the missionaries over for family home evenings! I would have to say the bishop's house was our favorite because after we played a good game of JUMBO with their kids in the streets (it's like a game of tag).  It really made the bishop's wife happy and after she said, "I'm so glad you guys came over, it's been awhile and I almost thought you guys have forgotten about me". I felt bad to say the least! 
As the week ended and Sunday came around my companion and I were sitting in Relief Society when after the bishop's wife ended her lesson and then asked if she could share something with everyone. Then she continued by saying she felt impressed to mention the importance of Visiting Teaching. The visiting teaching program down here is really non-existent, which is super super sad, and in reality sometimes we take on the role as VT's down here. Anyway, she shared her testimony of how important this program was and how important it is to strengthen each other. Then she paused, and shared how she hadn't been visited by anyone for over 2 years and doesn't know who they are or if she has any! That definitely broke my heart! So that's one thing we want to help them strengthen. Sister Thompson gave a talk in General Conference and stated, " The beauty of Visiting Teaching is seeing lives changed, tears wiped away, testimonies growing, and families strengthened". 
I've been thinking a lot about my purpose here as a missionary. As missionaries our responsibility is, "inviting others to come unto Christ to recieve the restored gospel through faith, baptism, recieving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end". The more I've been in this area the more I've felt that my purpose as a missionary, but as a member is to INVITE others (including members and less actives) to COME BACK to Christ. Often times we think that we need to find more people and more people and we FORGET those around us. Sometimes we forget that even though they are members who have callings in the church, they have their own struggles and need just as much strengthening as those who maybe are less active or don't have the gospel in their lives. Just like the bishop's wife in my ward. She's a strong woman in the church, her husbands the bishop, she has a calling, has a wonderful family, and goes to church every Sunday. But, until she shared with us her personal struggles the other sisters and I had no idea of what she was feeling, but now what other sister might be feeling. 
As members of the church of Jesus Christ,our responsibility is (Mosiah 18:8-9), "to be willing to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort...." So there has been so much that I have learned this week to say the least, and it wasn't the easiest way to learn it either! I've learned that as disciples of Jesus Christ we have the responsibility to care for and serve our brothers and sisters in our ward. I can defnitely say I was not the best at visiting teaching when I was at college, but now I can say that it's definitely more than just a number or a check list of things to do for the month. SO PLEASE, do your home/visiting teaching! It's important!  
Hermana Van Woerkom