Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Almere and Amsterdam District Training

It is time for interviews again.
President and I have been here for three months now, where has the time gone?  Missions do fly by so quickly. It is time for our second opportunity to interview the Elders and Sisters of the Mission. Today we were in Amsterdam with the Amsterdam and Almere Elders and Sisters and our Senior Couple, Elder and Sister DeLeeuw. 

We love you all.  You are doing an awesome work in these Districts.  We can't work harder, we are working with more faith in Jesus Christ.

 Elder Andrews and Elder Pimentel
 Elder Burgess, Elder Ellis, Elder Shoemaker, Elder Hansen
 Sister Larsen, Elder Guanuna
 Elder and Sister DeLeeuw
 Elder Hansen, Elder Gomez, Elder Van de Graaff
 Elder Maughan, Elder Ellis and Elder Guanuna
 Elder Van Overbeek
Elder Wright

Monday, September 24, 2012

President's Weekly Letter......

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission



Elder Kearon, a member of the first Quorum of Seventy visited our mission 2 weeks ago.  It was an inspiring few days during which each of you had the opportunity to speak with him and hear his insight and council.  Among other things, he counseled us to build the 40 stakes that have been prophesied to be in the mission.  The Stake Presidents of the current 4 Stakes are counting on this.  He left us with the haunting questions, “If not me, who?” and, “If not now, when?”

Elder Kearon loved our use of “The Rock” to remind us of our commitment to develop in ourselves attributes of Jesus Christ (See: van een vernuftige makelij n. 4).    He knows this will be a lifetime project for us.  He now has his own Rock.  He was impressed how we are working with the Stakes and Wards to become one with them and help implement their local mission plans.  He was pleased for the success this is beginning to realize.  We should have more success as we follow direction by the Bishop or Branch President who has the keys to missionary work in the various areas.  (See: van een vernuftige makelij n. 3).  Elder Kearon told us how the faith of Elder Greer brought miracles of new families and new members when he was Branch President in England.  He facilitated our planning to make something better happen after his visit than a few days of feeling good.  He challenged us to raise our vision and increase our faith to rise above average.  This week we kicked off the mission wide effort to do just that in Operation – Build a Stake.

The first step to grow from 4 to 40 Stakes is to grow Stake number 5.  Stake number 5 will not be created independent from the existing 4; it will be divided off from the existing 4.  After the division, all 5 Stakes must have at least 5 healthy wards plus Branches.  After doing a little math and visiting with Elder Boom our Area Seventy, I determined we need to baptize or reactivate and retain 3 Wards, assuming 150 active members each, to make it statistically possible to create Stake number 5.  If every companionship baptizes or reactivates 1 person each month for the next 12 months, we can realize the blessing for the Saints in the Belgium and Netherlands of Stake number 5.

Under the council and guidance of Elder Kearon, we have implemented a simple 3 step plan.  Step 1 – Things I Do.  (A mighty change of heart).  This centers in things each of us will do to qualify for the blessing of increased success, including increase our consecration and faith, unite yourselves in fasting and prayer on 30 September 2012, focus on passion for the work and love for the people and finally working hard to achieve the success for which we are praying.  Step 2 – Things We Do.  (Strengthen thy Brethren).  This includes through heartfelt service and assistance to Ward and Branch leaders and members we become one with them.  They should begin to feel we are here to help them achieve their missionary aspirations and thereby receive a spirit of cooperation and friendship.  Step 3 – Things We All Do.  This Step will evolve as we do Steps 1 and 2.  It will look different in each Unit, unique to the Unit’s own missionary plan and needs.  It will involve working closely with members, training, follow-up, support and service.

Please re-read Luke 5:1-7.  Simon had toiled all night fishing with no success, but at the Savior’s request they let down their nets again in the same area and enclosed a great multitude of fishes, so many their nets broke.  Their partners came with another ship.  Both ships were filled so full with fishes that they both began to sink.  The metaphor here is obvious.

Elders and Sisters it is time for us to raise our sights.  The Lord can improve our results when we have faith to expect more than mediocrity.  We already average 150 baptisms per year.  Why can’t we do 450?  It is better to shoot for the moon and hit the stars than to shoot at a mud puddle and hit it.  We are already working hard enough and are diligent enough.  We need to know that with the Lord’s help we can do this and do it now.  I refuse to think that we need a new Mission President before such success is possible or we need to wait for Salt Lake to send us better talent in missionaries.  We are going to win the game with the players we have.  We will do it by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ to deliver the success we desire for him.   We will do it by being good at what we do; working as a team with the Savior and each other and putting forth consecrated effort.  We will win the game if we win each possession.  This requires focused and faithful attention to each opportunity we run across.  Finally, let’s put a smile on our faces, look people in the eye and have fun doing this important work.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Special Zone Leader and District Leader Council

Today, September 19, 2012, we held a Special Zone Leader and District Leader joint council.  We trained on the challenge left by Elder Kearen at the time he toured the mission on September 5 and 6.  He challenged us to raise our sights and do more than leave his training 'feeling good', but to do something with the things we had learned and what the Spirit had testified to each of us.  Elder Kearen spent an additional hour and a half training with our Zone Leaders and helped them create a framework for something great.  It is this:

I Do---Each Missionary will strive for a 'Mighty Change of Heart' 
in their own life through faith, consecration, 
mighty prayer, fasting, love and 
passion for missionary work.
We Do---Each missionary companionship will work to
 'Strengthen our Brethren' through service to and 
love for the branch, ward, and stake leaders and 
members where they are called to serve.  
To serve and love as a true Disciple of Christ.
All Do---Whatever the branch, ward or stake mission plan and 
vision is, we are here, as missionaries of the Lord, 
to help Bishops, Branch Presidents, Stake Presidents and 
their members be successful with their missionary efforts.

At the dinner on Wednesday evening of Elder Kearen's time with us, we talked with the Stake Presidents from the Mission.  We were reminded that Spencer W. Kimball, as an apostle, prophesied that there would be 40 stakes in the Netherlands.  After considering what Elder Kearen had challenged, the inspiration came for us to rise to the opportunity to begin that growth and have the necessary growth in one year for another stake in the Mission.  In our joint council we discussed what it would look like and what we must do.  
It fit in our framework of I Do--We Do--All Do

We are all excited and committed in achieving a 'mighty change of heart', work hard and Jesus Christ will lead us in our humble efforts.  

Here is the Mission Miracle of the day--just as we were beginning our afternoon session, President got a call and stepped out of the room.  As we were ending our meetings, President got up to close by saying, "Do you know who that call was from?" No one ventured a guess.  "It as Elder Kearen calling to ask how things were going since he was here.  I shared with him what we were doing today and again on Friday. He is very interested in what we are doing.
 Elders, we can do this!"
President reminded us what Elder Kearen shared with us,
"If not you, who?  If not now, when?"

Both President and I felt the Spirit in abundance today during our training.  These are exciting times in the mission and it is exciting to be a missionary in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  Every missionary wants to leave the mission field knowing that he or she made a significant difference.  Thanks to all missionaries who have served, we take what you have done and on your shoulders we stand to keep building up Zion. 

 Elder Klippel, Elder Burton, Elder B. Andrews, Elder Ellis
President Robinson, Elder van de Graaff, Elder Moscon, Elder Mathis, 
Elder Van Rij, Elder Van Overbeek

 How many Elder's does it take to back up a car in a very small parking lot?

 Job well done!

 Goodbye Den Haag Zone and District Leaders--tot ziens.

Rotterdam Zone Leaders--Elder Schulte helps Elder Bickham out of a tight spot!

Monday, September 17, 2012

President's Weekly Letter

(1 Nephi 18:1)

Belgium/Netherlands Mission


When someone preaches by the spirit, the spirit carries a unique, personalized message to each individual receiving the message.  Therefore, your notes from that training are what are important.  The following are general topics from the training.

The Stake Presidents talk about President Hinckley stating some years ago at a meeting in Nederland, that there would be 40 stakes in Nederland.  The Presidents view this as prophecy.  What has to change in us to bring about that kind of growth?  Ask yourself: If not you-who and if not now-when?  The same people who are living here now will be living in Nederland when that growth is attained.

The Introduction to 3 Nephi 7 is like the star wars introduction, “The chief judge is murdered, the government is overthrown, and the people divide into tribes – Jacob, an antichrist, becomes king of a league of tribes.”  However, in vs. 18, Nephi still enjoys great success in missionary work, “…it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord…”   Those times were probably worse than our times.  We must increase our faith.  Don’t let good get in road for great?  Are you satisfied with mediocrity?  What are your self limiting beliefs in missionary work?

Great faith has a short shelf life. God is cheerful, lively, and good natured.  I know this because I am cheerful, lively and good natured when I have the spirit.  God doesn’t worry.  We don’t please the Lord when we worry.  Be encouraged but be dissatisfied so you keep working to improve.  Have a might change in heart.

Always pray for what you need at this moment.  There is power in being united in prayer and faith.  (DC 29:2,6)  What is your phobia?  You can overcome it.  Just imagine you can do it.  The Lord works with you, he will help.  Pray for the miracles.  Pray constantly.

Habits start now and you can use them in missionary work and throughout your life. Virtue is intertwined with power.  Jesus was touched by woman with an issue of blood and was healed.  He said he felt virtue leave his body.  Therefore, when you lose virtue what happens to your power?  When we choose to follow Jesus Christ we choose to change.

The people of Ammon threw away their weapons of rebellion and none of them fell away.  What symbols of rebellion are you holding on to?  Teach the people to give up their weapons of rebellion for real growth in the Church.  In Matthew, the rich man wouldn’t give his wealth (or rebellion) away. The race is against sin, not against each other.

We think the world is starring at us; they are not because they are far too worried that the world is starring at them.  People sometimes say, “I am a gloomy person; I am a victim of my gloom.”  It is not about me, it is about them, and it is about Him before it is about them.  You can choose your outlook on life and missionary work.

In D&C 29: 3,4,5, we find the Lord using words that show passion.  Passion for the work of gathering…rejoicing, voice of a trump, lift up your heart, glad…We are about the gather of the elect, others and ourselves, that we may be prepared (D&C 29: 7-8) for the Lord ‘…knowing the calamity which should come..’ prior to the Second Coming has called you and I to proclaim these things to the world (D&C 1: 17-18). 

Purify the vessels of the Lord.  Remember to develop Christ-like attributes. 
·         There is a difference between a Christ-like missionary, and just doing missionary things.
·         Learning to be like Christ is a lifelong pursuit.
·        You develop Christ-like attributes – one action at a time.  You do not go in with a machete; you use a scalpel, one experience at a time.

Elder Daniel Greer had great vision and great faith.  He asked Elder Kearon to pray for a street name and they would baptize a family from that street.  He asked Elder Kearon to set a goal to double the membership in the branch before the end of the year.  It increased from 18 to 36 by the last day of the year.  To you in Nederland and Belgie:
·        It’s your season
·        Loose yourself limiting beliefs
·        Call down power
·        Step forward

Slow down with scriptures searches.  Give investigators page number and  which book.  Finding by the spirit is just as important as teaching by the spirit.  Listen to what people say.  Act like a real person with compassion over what is happening to that person at the time.  Don’t go mechanically right back to what you prepared if it isn’t appropriate.  Understand what we must feel to teach by the spirit, what investigators must feel to receive confirmation by the spirit, and what members must feel to find by the spirit.  There are three kinds of boats: barges pulled around with no power of their own, sail boats that are fair weather only, and saving boats that drive under their own power.  Tie the blessing the individual investigator needs to his baptism. Non members think of an investigator as someone with Indiana Jones hat, trench coat and magnifying glass.  Learn to call them friends. Choose to love everything that comes your way.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Working in Kortrijk

Kortrijk is a far southern part of the Mission and located in Belgium.  We arrive late on September 13.  We went to dinner in a little Belgium cafe in the centrum of the city.  This is an old city.  Records date back to 1395.  This will be a fascinating city to spend a P-Day exploring.

Elder Merrill and Elder Ombach are doing great work down here.  We spend the afternoon with them in a neighboring town, Iepers.  

Elder Merrill, Elder Ombach, President Robinson

We were on a call-back from a referral from Salt Lake City.  The referral came from the Visitor's Center for the London Temple.  This young woman wanted to know more about 'forever families', and requested the missionaries to tell her more about that.  Disappointment, she was not at home.  So, we 2-2-5ed and spend 10 minutes going up and down the street before we left.

We went to the center of Ieper.  It was a cold, rainy day so not too many people were out and about.  Fall is definitely here.  In our walking around, we found the Flanders Fields Museum.  Ieper is the location of Flanders Fields during WWI.  Also, some may know the story of German soldiers and the British, French and Belgium Soldiers, during WWI upon hearing singing "Silent Night", and seeing Christmas Trees on the edges of the trenches, come out of the trenches on Christmas Eve 1914, were together around fires, enjoying each others company and played games. They also buried their dead, on both sides.  This truce lasted until New Years.  That happened near Ieper.  
We will have to plan a P-Day to come back.  President is very interested. 

We walked and contacted people along the way.  Elder Merrill is great at street contacting.  I need to spend time and have him help me with my street approach.  He does it very well.  I am impressed.  Elder Ombach was showing President how it is done.  
We took the Elders back to Kortrijk and we headed home--a three hour drive with no traffic snarls.   There were a few traffic snarls and a few wrong turns on the 'snelweg', so it was late when we got home last night.

Centrum of Ieper

Service Project with the Elders

On September 13, 2013, after taking Sister Welch to the airport to meet her family, President and I went to work!

We were invited down to Eindhoven for a Service Project of weed pulling, bush trimming, and general clean up for Sister van de Ried.  After the project, we had a lunch that was pure Dutch.  Bread, cheese, meat and jam.  It was delicious.  Thank you for the afternoon Elders and Thank You Sis. van de Ried for the project.

 Elder Roemer, President Robinson, Elder Brown
Hey!! Look up and smile!

We stayed and interviewed the Elders and wished them well as we turned the car southward and drove to the southern part of the mission--Kortrijk.

There is Always a Goodbye!

The day after we receive new Elders into the Mission, we have to say goodbye to some of our best missionaries.  September 12 and 13 were no exception.  Elder Mohrman and Sister Welch have served the Lord and are outstanding missionaries.  I have felt the power and authority of their calling when I have been in their trainings and teaching lessons.  You are both remarkable.  We will miss you both.  

Sister Welch, Sister Robinson, President Robinson, Elder Mohrman

 Elder Mohrman's family met him at the Mission home.  The family had dinner and spent the evening with us. 

Hello to his Mom and Dad

 Hello to his sister, who surprised him.  He was not expecting her!

We said goodbye to Elder Mohrman that evening and my heart was sad and happy as we stood at the end of the walkway and waved goodbye as they drove away.

The next morning we took Sister Welch to the airport to meet her family.  Again, the flight was early.....but we found the family!

 Elder van de Graaff, President Robinson, Sister Robinson, Sister Welch

 Sister, Dad, Sister Welch, Mom, Sister
We were all in tears!

Our parting photo as we said our final goodbyes.
Elder van de Graaff, Elder Van Overbeek, Sister Welch, Mom, Sister, Dad, Sister, Sister Robinson, President Robinson

Thank you Elder Morhman and Sister Welch for being a part of this mission and a part of President's and my life.
As I have come to know, goodbyes are still very hard!

New Elders From the MTC

The flight arrived early on September 11, 2012 with two new Elders from the Provo MTC. (That never happens, it is usually late)  We were so glad that Elder and Sister Pankratz were ahead of us. We got the call they were in the airport while we were still on the train headed into Amsterdam.  But we made it to the airport and found all well!

Sister Robinson, Elder Nelson, Elder Pimentel, President Robinson

Back to the Mission Office for all the legality issues, paperwork and training.

 Off to the Panakooken Huis for lunch.
Elder Cundick, Elder Van Overbeek, Elder Nelson, Elder Pimentel

 Elder Pope, Elder van de Graaff

 Elder Culkins, Elder Cundick, Elder Van Overbeek

After a nice nap and dinner at the Mission Home, we went for a walk down along the canal to the Windmill by the Mission Home.

 Elder Pimentel

 Elder Nelson  
(We are already enjoying his sense of humor!)

 Elder Nelson

 The AP's got a little dramatic with the angle of this picture
Elder Pimentel, Sister Robinson, Elder Nelson, President Robinson

 Much Better!

 Back at the Mission Home we had our testimony meeting and Elder Pimentel and Elder Nelson received their 'first area' letters telling them who their new companion would be and where their first area would be to serve.

Elder Pimentel is delighted to serve with Elder B. Andrews . . . .

 ....in Almere.

 Elder Nelson will be serving with Elder K. Andrews . . .  .

 ....in Assen.  
This is a city that currently has no missionaries, so they have the opportunity and blessing to open it up again.