I have so much to say! But at the same time... I don't know what to say. I feel like I should say all this really profound stuff... but it really hasn't hit me yet that this is the last email. I don't like to think about things like that. Haha. Well... ahhhhhhhh. How the heck did time go by so quickly?! Can I please just say that I love my life?
This past week has been absolutely amazing. Life in het algemeen is gewoon -- a miracle! So many things have happened. A quick rundown... WE SET A BAPTISMAL DATE WITH MEVROUW IDEMA!!!!! She's getting baptized August 23rd! She's learned everything, and been to church 7 times now; it's just some Word of Wisdom problems that we're still working on overcoming. But oh she is so wonderful. The ward has really taken her in. This past Sunday was it exactly one year since her husband died. And it turned out that in Relief Society the lesson was on eternal marriage. We weren't in the room because we had been asked to give a lesson in Primary on the temple, but after when we came to meet her we saw her sitting crying and Zuster Dullart, one of the amazing members, had her arm around her. It was so touching. It made me feel really good inside to know that even though I'm leaving, there are still people here to take care of her.
Gouda is one of the biggest miracles of my mission. I started in Antwerpen, BIG city, then went to Amsterdam, also super big; and I have to admit I kind of had this, "Small cities are boring I don't ever want to serve in a small city" attitude. Oh how wrong I was. Gouda may be small, we may have a super small ward, but the spirit here is INCREDIBLE. These people have so much faith. You want to talk modern day pioneers, this is it! I love these people with a love that I never knew was possible.
I look forward to the many conversations we can all have in the next few weeks, and I know that everyone always has those, "What did you learn; what was the best?” questions. Let me just name one thing, probably the biggest. President Brubaker always says, "Love is the key." He is 100% right. I have felt more love this past year and a half than I ever knew was possible. I came here to serve these people and to bring them closer to Christ. I knew it would be wonderful, but I never could have expected the love that I would feel. It goes deep into my heart and makes me warm van binnen. It makes me want to jump up and down and dance and cry and just live. That is what love is.
One of my favorite scriptures has been, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." I like to think that I am one of those small and simple things. And if I, small little Zuster Holbein, can love these people with so much love, just imagine how much Heavenly Father loves them. So much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ who in turn had so much love that he laid down his life for us. Amazing, huh? What a wonderful message. We really are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can comprehend. And if we do our best, we can learn to feel His love for us and then in turn love Him. That love makes all the difference.
If I had any advice for anyone going on a mission I would say just love. Love the people, the language, your companion, the work, the Lord, and yourself. If you do that, everything will be ok. I feel like I have been allowed to feel just a heel klein beetje van what our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ feel for us. It's amazing.
This work is a work of miracles. I share a miracle every week, but really every second, every minute, is a miracle. The fact that I speak Dutch, that I wasn't hit a million times by a car on my bike, that I didn't freeze to death, or fall into a canal, that people even take the time to listen... MIRACLES.
Finding this past week has been great. We've been asking people, "Wat is het verschil tussen plezier en geluk?" You can't really translate it very well... "What is the difference between pleasure and happiness?" (Only in Dutch saying pleasure doesn't sound creepy like it does in English) It's great! EVERYONE has an answer. I have so many stories to tell, but those can wait. The biggest difference is that geluk lasts. It isn't just temporary. It comes, for me anyway, when I know of God's love for me and can share that with others. I might just be one of the happiest daughters of God. :)
Well... time is up! Am I nervous to come home? Ummm... maybe. But let's say not, because that's having faith. :) I'm nervous to not be able to speak Dutch, haha I think my English is a little messed up. So you all better start learning! Giving a talk in English seems really intimidating to me... weird. But actually no, I feel… I feel blessed. That's a good way to put it. I have learned and I know with all my heart that God is with us wherever we go. He doesn't leave us alone, and His plans for us go on. I feel safe knowing that I can always be in His service. This is the life.
People -- this church is true. This is it. All the truth, all the principles and ordinances, EVERYTHING we need to get back to our Heavenly Father is now here on the earth. Man can't create truth; that comes from God. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ did appear to the boy Joseph Smith and the Church has been restored. God is a God of miracles. The tender mercies of the Lord surround us. The healing power of the atonement is real. The Church is a big hospital. We're here to help each other; that's what our baptismal covenant is all about.
I've done my very best to love and serve, and I have felt the blessing of the Lord help me to make more of myself than I ever knew was possible. I love what the Lord can do with me. “Ïk vermag alle dingen in hem die mij kracht geeft." How is that in English... “Ï can do all things through Christ which strengthens me(?)" It's true. It really all is true. Not only true... IT WORKS. Let's spread the word.
I love you all, I love my Savior and Heavenly Father, and I love these people. Hurrah for Israel!!
Tot ziens (gasp) lievers.
Al mijn liefde,
Zuster Jane Margaret Holbein :)