Sunday, April 17, 2016

Last Letter from Hemana! 1 week and she will be home!

Well this weeks has been amazing! We loved General Conference! I've learned so much this past week from all of the apostles that I'm not going to have time to write it all down (that and we showed up a little late to the internet because I'm visiting areas today haha). Anyway today was super nice! We went to La Union and visited all of my homies there! Everyone is doing so great! There are two of my old investigators there that are getting baptized so fingers crossed that I can get to go before I head out! 
This weeks has been filled with a lot of funny moments as well. For example, we had intercambios and that night I spent with Hna. Macias, in the middle of the night she woke up screaming, turned the fan off, and went to bed. Little to say, didn't sleep at all that night. Then we found this crazy huge catipillar (pics attached), and later contacted a lady who DOES NOT believe in the resurecction. We didn't have too much time to talk to her so we set up an appointment for the next week. You know what her name is? RESURECCION hahaha! How ironic! 
In total this week has been so fun! I'm so grateful to be a missionary! I've learned so much and am continuing to learn everyday. 
Hermana Van Woerkom 

Can't wait to have her home!!!

Hey everyone,
It´s really weird to think this will be the last email I will be writing you as a missionary. I remember my first time opening this email up and getting so excited to know that my call was assigned and on the way to the house. Now 18 months have come and now I´m wrapping things up here in the Dominican Republic. I don´t really know what to say in this last email, I kinda feel pressured haha my last council before I come home, hopefully it´s good haha. 
For starters the mission definitely wasn´t what I thought it was made out to be. All I can really say is being in the mission the months are short, the weeks are shorter, and the days are SOOOO LONG!  Honestly there are days you think the mission is never going to end, but I´ve loved every second of it! I would have never had an opportunity like this where I could have changed and grown so much, in such a short amount of time. I´ve had a little of every thing.....difficult areas, amazing wards, difficult branches, hard companions, great companions, nice apartments, and apartments that I´ve had to share with the critters of the DR. All of this has changed me and my outlook on life. 

During my first couple transfers in the mission it was a little hard. I had no idea how to speak the language, I had two hands and two feet to use to serve others, until I broke one of my feet, and then I just felt very defeated. When we had interviews with President Douglas, I asked for a blessing. In it he blessed me with the opportunities that would help me learn and grow in the way to help me know who I am, and who I could become. And gave me the counsel to listen to the Holy Ghost. 
Looking back I can definintely seen the fruits of following that counsel. One quote that I´ve taken to heart says, ¨when we open up to the spirit we learn God´s will, however, our resistance to the spirit diminishes our progress¨. In order for God to changes us we have to be willing and accepting of his counsel. I´ve learned that we gain nothing if we don´t choose to change. We aren´t going to progress, we aren´t going to be better, we are simply just hurting ourselves. BUT if we do make that choice, God can change us from the ¨cottage¨we are to that ¨temple¨he wants each of us to be. He does that through the Holy Ghost. I can honestly say if you ask God how you can change he will definitely show you your weak points and gives you those promptings through the Holy Ghost. And boy have I found out that it works! The Holy Ghost doesn´t beat around the bush and will tell you honestly and bluntly how you can change haha! But the amazing thing is he works with us at our own speed and if we choose to better ourselves we become so much more of what our Heavenly Father wants us to be. 
From the beginning I honestly thought that the mission was to change the lives of others, and it is, but I´ve come to realize that it´s changed me. Of course it´s changed me physically, I´m more crusty haha, you can see all my awkward tan lines, the bags under my eyes, the battle wounds with the thorn bushes, and the scars from my blood doing services to the mosquito. But what I now see and hopefully others will be able to see as well is how much more I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. How much I´m striving to be a more devoted disciple. 

Even though the plack is coming off, I can´t and hope I will never go back to the person I was before the mission. I wasn´t a terrible person, but I wasn´t the person sometimes I could have or should have been. It´s bitter sweet having to end my calling, but I´m looking forward to continue demonstrating my love for my Savior and Heavenly Father through my future callings. And definitely looking forward to coming back as a senior missionary when I´m old and wrinkly!!  

Again I am so grateful for this opportunity I´ve had to see other´s through Gods eye´s, to have been able to be an instrument in this great work, and to have shared the truths that I now know without a doubt are true.
Love you all and see you.....well next week!

Second to the last letter

Well family,
the p days keep flying by! This letter is going to be a little short because I´m up in Puerto Plata today visiting all of the members and recent converts here! It has been soo nice! It´s crazy to see all the changes that has happened not only to the area, but to the people as well! The less actives that we have taught have now been reactivated and have gotten their mission calls all around the world! How amazing is that! The members here are still as strong as ever and continue helping move this missionary work forward. We got to visit some of my favorite members here. We ended at the house of MariLuz where we had lunch with my old comp who I trained, who is now training her new companion! The posterity keeps going haha! Wow but really the more I´m here in this area the more it´s making it hard to come home! I didn´t think that could ever be possible! I mean of course you´ve known that Puerto Plata has been by far my favorite area, but it´s just been really tough to say goodbye. I´ve had to hold back the tears more than once or twice! But, I´ve made the promise that I would come back with my family the next time I came. Which they were super happy about, but I think that was more for me to make me feel better than for them haha. Really I am so grateful for the experience I had here in Puerto Plata, I wouldn´t trade it for the world. Well nows my time to sign off, but talk to you next week! 
Hermana Van Woerkom