Saturday, October 25, 2014

Visit from wonderful Belgium Friends

September 20, 2014 President and I met Patriarch Buysse and his wife at the temple on Saturday.  After a wonderful session of the temple, we had a great lunch at the Mission Home. 

 Patriach Buysse, Sister Buysse, President Robinson

Sister Buysse, Sister Robinson, President Robinson

The Buysse's and The Robinson's selfie while on their walk along the canal.

September Mission Leaders Council

September Mission Leaders Council was held on September 19, 2014.  We had some new members.  It has been a busy week with transfers and it was great to  end transfer week with our Mission Leaders Council.

These pictures are taken during the Council section of the meeting.

Mission Leaders currently serving on the Council
Elder Bishop, President Robinson, Elder Cook, Elder Corsini, Elder Bitters, ElderRudolph, Elder Moomey, Sister Verdegem, Elder Alston, 
Sister Morris, Elder Bosco, Sister Spencer, Elder Krebs, Sister Johnson,
Elder Cooper, Sister Elting, Sister Otteson, Elder Bonney, 
Elder Pouwer, Elder Bourne, and Elder Cockbain

Then it is time to 'act your age'.

Elder Pouwer is going over!

First he act alone, then….

watch out….

he is not acting alone any longer!

No one else is worried, you're on your own Elder Pouwer.

Great Council, Great Group, Great Missionaries!

Elder Ballard Conference in September

Elder Ballard, President Dykes of the European Area Presidency, and Elder Hallstrom from the Presidency of the Quorum of Seventy spent the day with our Missionaries on September 11, 2014.

NOTE:  we are still awaiting the pictures of the conference that were taken for us. We will add more at a later date. 

The two pictures below were taken from the church website

Missionaries greeting President and Sister Robinson, Elder Ballard, and 
Elder Hallstrom

Belgium Netherlands Missionaries filing up to greet Elder Ballard, Elder Hallstrom and President Dykes from the European Area Presidency

We hope you can find your missionary!

September Departing Missionaries

September 17 and 18, 2014 we had the opportunity to say goodbye to six of our best missionaries.  We always send the best home.  It is hard to see them leave the mission after they have been so dedicated and have grown so much in not only their ability to be great missionaries, but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and their own personal conversion. We love and miss each of you.

After a wonderful dinner in the backyard of the Mission Home, we had a heartfelt testimony meeting and enjoyed the Spirit testify of the truths shared by missionaries and parents.

 Sister Meier, Sister Brown, Elder Muse, Sister Anjewierden, Sister Mizell, Sister Larson, President Robinson, Sister Robinson

Sister Anjewierden and her parents

Sister Brown and her parents

 Sister Meier and her parents

 Sister Anjewierden with President and Sister Robinson

 Sister Meier with President and Sister Robinson

 Elder Muse with President and Sister Robinson

 Sister Larson with President and Sister Robinson

 Sister Mizell with President and Sister Robinson

Next morning, bright and early, we were off to the airport to send Elder Muse, Sister Mizell and Sister Larson home to their families and friends.  

 And then it is hugs and goodbyes.
Sister Robinson and Sister Mizell

 President Robinson and Elder Muse

 Goodbye are hard, but happy times.

 Goodbye to Sister Larson--we love you.

 Goodbye to Elder Muse--this is harder on Elder Alston and anyone else.  :(

 Goodbye and thank you for everything Elder Muse.

 Sister Mizell and President Robinson

 Together one last time--Elder Muse, Sister Anjewierden, Sister Brown, Sister Meier, Sister Robinson, President Robinson, Sister Larson, Sister Mizell

Then, back to the Mission Office to say goodbye to the three Sisters that we now will turn back to their parents.

 We love you Sister Anjewierden

Thank you Sister Meier for your excellent and dedicated missionary service and friendship--we love you

 Thank you Sister Brown for your never ending gift of love, support and diligence you have left for us.  We love you.

And yes, the Mission is still going to keep going and is going to be great--look who is still here to keep us going!  Happiness and joy!!!!    

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Christmas Package Information

Dear Missionary Parents and Friends,
Each year we ask parents and friends of our missionaries to ship Christmas packages early to ensure they are here by Christmas. 

We are asking parents and friends to please send all Christmas packages to the Mission Office and are asking that packages arrive on or before December 1.  This insures that your missionary will get the package for Christmas without problems.  Please address the package as below and also mark on the outside of the box  “Christmas Package”. 

Belgium Netherlands Mission
(Your Missionary’s Name)
Schipholweg 66
2316 XE Leiden

We have had many inquires as to why we request you to send ALL packages to the Mission Office and not directly to the missionary.  Your missionary is out of the door every morning by 11:00 am.  Many times they do not return until 9:00 or 9:30 pm. There is usually no one at home to receive and sign for the package.  Here in the Netherlands and Belgium, they do not usually leave packages on the doorstep or with a neighbor as they do in the USA.  The packages are taken back to the postal and a second attempt may or may not occur. When the missionary receives notice that a package is at postal, it requires the missionary to go to the postal to pick up the package and usually not on a P-Day. Many times it is necessary to pick the package up before the next P-Day, which requires your missionary and companion to use the Lord’s time to do a personal errand for one missionary.   Travel to the postal and back to the apartment may be out of the way from the area they are working. Another problem is how to get the packages home on their bikes,  many times they have to walk and use mass transit, which is an added expense.  Another issue is if a package is sent to an apartment and your missionary is transferred, the package may arrive after the missionary has left the area.  If this is the case, your missionary may or may not get their package in time for Christmas.  When you times this by 150 missionaries, it is obvious the problems it creates in the mission and the amount of time it takes from the missionary work which is why your missionary is here serving.

By sending packages to the Mission Office there is someone here to sign for the package and if necessary, and we can track missing packages.  By sending packages to the Mission Office we can also monitor that ALL missionaries will be receiving Christmas Packages.  We deliver the packages to our missionaries at our Christmas Zone Conference, which is after transfers in December.  Another issue we have at Christmas—there are some missionaries that receive 7-10 packages from family and friends.  Please be mindful--some missionaries receive nothing from home, but do receive a small package from the mission for Christmas.  It is very disheartening when two missionaries are companions under such conditions.  Also, if a missionary receives all these packages at the Christmas Zone Conference, it is impossible for him or her to transport those on public transportation back to their apartment along with all the supplies they order from the office to do missionary work. Many times they are serving in an area that requires a 3-hour train and bus ride to get home. Please be mindful.  We ask that you talk with family and friends and help everyone understand the logistics of our mission.   Our rule:  If it fits in a mail slot, (Christmas Cards, letters, pictures, etc.) feel free to send it to your missionary’s apartment. If not, please send it to the Mission Office.

We will deliver Christmas packages at the Christmas Zone Conferences.  If you have something special—a family tradition that begins on December 1st and you want your missionary involved—then plan on getting that package to the office by November 15th.  We do not open Christmas packages to remove certain items and deliver it to your missionary early. We have Zone Conference the last week of November and again after December 15th.  We deliver packages to missionaries at those times only.  The next delivery after that will be in January 2015.

Just a reminder that each package valued at $40.00 or more incur local customs charges which along with any COD costs will be deducted from your missionary’s monthly missionary support funds. 
We encourage you to be mindful as you purchase for your missionaries.  You may wish to include items that they in turn can share with investigators and / or church members.  Again, not all missionaries receive the same support from home.  Perhaps including something for other missionaries could brighten someone’s Christmas.  Missionaries’ focus is on giving of themselves during Christmas, not so much about getting, but they all like to be remembered.

Thank you for your love, prayers and support for your missionary and also for the Belgium Netherlands Mission. President and I wish you the best as you prayerfully prepare your missionary’s Christmas package.

Our love to each of you,
President and Sister Robinson

Belgium Netherlands Mission

Sunday, October 19, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #110

Lights Along the Shore
A number of years ago I was an active private pilot.  I was working for an engineering company in St. George, Utah.  The firm was a small regional firm and every week I would generally be off to do business using a single engine Cessna airplane.  I was one of the senior engineers with the responsibility of managing assigned clients and projects.

On one occasion, I had to fly from St. George to Callio, Nevada, pick up the Mayor of Callio and then fly to Carson City, Nevada near Reno. We were presenting an application to a State funding agency for financing a project we were planning in the city of Callio.  To be on time for the early meeting, I left St. George at 4:00 am.  The night was dark but the weather was clear so I was flying visual flight rules.  I held an outbound course to Callio using the ADF navigation instrument tuned to a local St. George AM radio station.  With no wind, I figured the course would get me close enough to Callio to see its airport beacon before I lost contact with the radio station.  I was looking out the wind screen at pitch black except for the brilliant Milky Way in the perfectly smooth air as I slid across that classic southern Utah sky.  That is peaceful, to say the least.

The flight plan worked perfectly.  Seeing the familiar blinking white and green beacon at the Callio airport, I knew the exact direction to my destination.  Soon, I saw the lights of the city which completely oriented me to land safely.  The waiting mayor, climbed on board and after a short taxi we were off again from that uncontrolled airport, climbing to my planned altitude.

My navigation plan to Carson City was even more primitive.  I planned to navigate dead reckoning using the directional gyro on a course direct to Carson City.  Dead reckoning is subject to cumulative errors but I knew when it became light, I could stay on course using land marks until I could pick up navigation aids using the ADF or Reno VOR.  I set my course and began visiting with the Mayor.  After 20 or 30 minutes I saw a flashing airport beacon ahead of us.  I could not believe it.  There is nothing along that route through central Nevada, but I continued flying toward the beacon.  Finally, the lights on the ground told me the truth.  I recognized the city of Callio.  Woops, I had become distracted while visiting and drifted a complete 180 degrees off course and had returned to where I had earlier taken off.

A beacon is a conspicuous device designed to attract attention from far away to a specific location.  Beacons help guide navigators toward their destinations. However, the lights on the ground in the city are equally important.  They orient the navigator and show him the details of the correct way.  This experience was a real life allegory to me comparable to the words of hymn 335, Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy:

            Brightly beams our Father’s mercy,
            From his light-house ever more.
            But to us he gives the keeping
            Of the lights along the shore.

            Dark the night of sin has settled;
            Loud the angry billows roar.
            Eager eyes are watching, longing,
            For the lights along the shore. 

            Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
            Some poor sailor, tempest tossed.
            Trying now to make the harbor,
            In the darkness may be lost.

            Let the lower lights be burning;
            Send a gleam across the wave.
            Some poor fainting, struggling seaman,
            You may rescue, you may save.

Jesus Christ is your beacon, but it is your example through actions and attitude that are the lights along the shore.  Therefore, while you work with stake and ward leaders and members, “…seek to be a blessing, not a burden” to them.  You will develop relationships that will last the rest of your life (PMG p. 217).  The Lord said:  “… let your light so shine…”  (3 Nephi 12:14)  The following are a few specific items that may help you let your light shine:

An Elder in our mission recently sent this email to a member who forwarded it to me.

  “Dear [Member]…I want to thank you for the privilege it has been to get to know you and your wife.  Thank you for your good example.  I am being transferred to ______.   We will see each other in the future.  Greetings, Elder ______”

I am here to tell you, this missionary gets it.  That member told me all the good he sees in this Elder who learned the names of the children of the members in the ward and talked to them every week at church.  He learned the members’ names and served them and he cared enough to offer this personal thank you when he was transferred.  This Elder is a giant in the eyes of those ward members.  His light shines.

Line up and complement members for a job well done after they give talks and teach lessons.  You will become a hero in their eyes.

After you go home, keep your Facebook posts appropriate and remain an example.  You are on a pedestal to the members here, they see your posts and they know what is degrading.  Be careful making promises and keep your promises after your mission.  The example you set is your light on the shore and has an enormous effect on the members.

Make a lesson plan for member dinner appointments.  Remember, connecting with people is the key to success on missions and in life.  Develop your people skills and teaching skills.  Be sensitive and do not push in where you are not welcome, but remember every member has a wayward kid, not enough money, troubled marriage, poor health, not enough time, etc., etc.  Understand them, help them with their problems by teaching an appropriate message.  Encourage their youth.  That will endear you to them and you will be a light on the shore.

Be a master finder every day.  Plan your day with a variety of finding methods complete with time duration and locations such as:  door knocking, area book look-ups, 2-2-5, part or inactive member visits, street contacting, travel contacting, referral calls, etc.  Then work your plan.  You will be on a schedule, in a hurry, on the move and busy with a variety of activities instead of the alternative, a day of door knocking.  Members know and respect master finders and your willingness to do this will be an important light to them. 

Stay in the mainstream with your work.  Avoid odd behavior and attitudes thinking it shows faithfulness.  Skipping meals, skipping general conference, skipping all companionship study to get out and work is not smart.  Be steady and balanced in your work and life.  Remember, being a successful missionary has nothing to do with leadership calls.

Your priesthood has the authority and power for the ministering of angels. (D&C 84:26)  A friend of ours said after winning a bout with cancer, “I could not have made it without the help of my guardian angels who helped me through it.  They were living angles.”  You may very well be a living angel to those members who see your light on the shore. 

President Robinson

Sunday, October 12, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #109

The Rescue
My mission president was Peter Dalebout (1968-1971).  He was a native Dutchman who immigrated to the USA when he was just a boy.  He started his new life in America as a dirt poor Dutch kid not even knowing English.  But, he had big dreams and worked hard.  He eventually owned and operated a steel fabrication plant in Long Beach, California.  He reportedly made a lot of money as a steel tycoon.  He was tough and expected exact obedience.  He motivated me.

The Netherlands Mission boundaries then were the same as they are today.  If I remember correctly, there was 1 Stake in the mission covering the Rotterdam and Den Haag area.  The rest of the units of the church in the mission were wards and branches grouped into a number of member Districts.  President Dalebout administered not only to the affairs of the full time missionaries but he also administered, equivalent to a Stake President, to the affairs of the member Districts.  One of his councilors in the mission presidency was Jacob de Jager, a terrific missionary and leader.  He understood the Lord’s admonition:

“And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.” (D&C 29:7)

I knew him and loved his stories and friendship.  Jacob de Jager was a personable and dynamic leader who traveled the world working as a top director for Phillips Electronics.  He was later called by President Kimball to serve as a Regional Representative of the 12 and later a member of the first Quorum of 70.  He was the first Dutch general authority in the church.  I heard him on a few occasions tell the following story:   

“You never know whom you will save. To illustrate my point, I would like to go back in thought to my native Holland where six generations of my father’s ancestors lived in the little village of Scheveningen at the seashore. They were fishermen or had other related vocations, like fishing-boat builders, sail makers, or fishing-net repairmen. Many of them were also involved in the voluntary but hazardous task of lifesaving. They were stouthearted, experienced men who always were ready to man the rowing lifeboats to go on a rescue mission. With every westerly gale that blew, some fishing boats ran into difficulties, and many times the sailors had to cling to the rigging of their stricken ships in a desperate fight to escape inevitable drowning. Year after year the sea claimed its victims.

On one occasion during a severe storm, a ship was in distress, and a rowboat went out to rescue the crew of the fishing boat. The waves were enormous, and each of the men at the oars had to give all his strength and energy to reach the unfortunate sailors in the grim darkness of the night and the heavy rainstorm.

The trip to the wrecked ship was successful, but the rowboat was too small to take the whole crew in one rescue operation. One man had to stay behind on board because there simply was no room for him; the risk that the rescue boat would capsize was too great. When the rescuers made it back to the beach, hundreds of people were waiting for them with torches to guide them in the dreary night. But the same crew could not make the second trip because they were exhausted from their fight with the storm winds, the waves, and the sweeping rains.
So the local captain of the coast guard asked for volunteers to make a second trip. Among those who stepped forward without hesitation was a nineteen-year-old youth by the name of Hans. With his mother he had come to the beach in his oilskin clothes to watch the rescue operation.

When Hans stepped forward his mother panicked and said, “Hans, please don’t go. Your father died at sea when you were four years old and your older brother Pete has been reported missing at sea for more than three months now. You are the only son left to me!”
But Hans said, “Mom, I feel I have to do it. It is my duty.” And the mother wept and restlessly started pacing the beach when Hans boarded the rowing boat, took the oars, and disappeared into the night.

After a struggle with the high-going seas that lasted for more than an hour (and to Hans’s mother it seemed an eternity), the rowboat came into sight again. When the rescuers had approached the beach close enough so that the captain of the coast guard could reach them by shouting, he cupped his hands around his mouth and called vigorously against the storm, ‘Did you save him?’

And then the people lighting the sea with their torches saw Hans rise from his rowing bench, and he shouted with all his might, ‘Yes! And tell Mother it is my brother Pete!’”  (Jacob de Jager,  (Oct 1976, Ensign, You Never Know Who You May Save)

Elders and Sisters, you are serving full-time missions for a short period of time.  You never know who you will save.  It may be one tossed by tempests on life’s billows or one missing with parents desperately praying for a rescuer.  In any event, it is your brother or sister from the pre-existence.  Use your time wisely.  To accomplish this consider the following quotes from Elder Ballard when he visited us on 11 September 2014 in Zoetermeer:

Always be the #1 finder.  The missionary’s role is always finding even with your Facebook project.

Teach the doctrine of lesson 1 to everyone.

You must be master teachers and know the doctrine.  People must feel what you teach.

Conversion always starts with what a person feels.

We are at war.  It is a spiritual work, we are dealing with the spirits of the children of God.  This means we must touch their spirit.  They need to feel it.

Redding Boots (Rescue Boats) are a rich tradition in the Dutch culture.  They were run by brave men with compassion driven by duty and determination to rescue their fellowmen.  If I were to characterize the legacy of President Thomas S. Monson at this point, it would be his continued call for the saints to engage in “The Rescue.”  No surprise, one of President Monson’s favorite paintings depicts the rescue by redding boots symbolizing your task to rescue people by bringing them to Jesus Christ.

President Robinson