Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Musings of a Missionary Mama

February 25, 2015

It has been awhile since I have written anything directly on Elder Muller's blog. I have been just adding tidbits of translation and explanation on his letters, but this week I felt the need to share some things going on in the life of Elder Muller.

February 10, 2015 was a very day sad for our family. I had to take our beautiful dog, Sariah, to the vet to be put out of her pain. It was an incredibly painful decision to make, but one that was right for our beautiful Sariah. She has been part of our family since April 2002. She was just weeks old when we adopted her from a Tri-County Human Society Adoption Day in St. Louise, MO. She has lived with us in Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio and Florida. She has been the best companion ever. And she was Elder Muller's dog. He was six when we brought her into our family, and he took ownership of walking her and playing with her. Before he left for the airport on September 17, 2014, he came back to Sariah and was on the floor in his suit holding her and telling her she needed to be here when he got back from his mission. I will remember that image forever, and I prayed that I could make that plea a reality for him. That is why making the phone call to the vet was even more difficult for me.

Displaying IMG_20150210_151248.jpg
Our Beautiful Sariah

The incomprehensible task of informing Elder Muller was now looming in front of me. It took me most of that night to write him a letter that I thought would soften the blow I was about to tell him...but, really, is there even a way to do that? No, there wasn't. I mailed the letter the next day not knowing for sure when he would received this sad news, and not knowing how hard it would be for him to process this information so very far from home. I had sent him pictures of Sariah and explained that Jeremy, Alyssa, Jaedyn and me were with Sariah during the procedure. We were able to hold her and hug her and tell her how much we all loved her and would miss her. We were able to give her extra hugs from him, Hillary and Papa since they weren't able to be there. 

It was only this week's email that we found out when he had received my letter. He received it Tuesday, February 17th. So almost a whole week had gone by before he could "talk" to us via email. He addresses his loss and his pain in this week's email. It is a somber email, but I am so proud of my son and how he has worked through his loss. His parting statement in the email shows his maturity and devotion to his mission.  I am so proud of his realization and that he continues to work hard and forge through these difficult days. As his mother, I wish that I could comfort  him with a mother's embrace, but that is not possible. I wish he could know how much my heart is breaking for him and how guilty I feel for not being able to keep Sariah with us until his return.

Our Heavenly Father is a Father of miracles and tender mercies, and I received the tender mercy I needed yesterday. A very long story short, my English friend, Anne, that I meet in Mechelen, Belgium, and who first introduced me to the Elders, is now living back in Antwerpen. She is in the same ward that Elder Muller is serving in. By chance yesterday she and I connected via Facebook. It turns out she was with my son yesterday (Tuesday, 24 February) as well as on Monday, February 23...the day of his email. And she even had pictures she wanted to send me of the four Elders from a visit to the Cathedral of Antwerpen on Monday. She also informed me that he has a great companion and that he is doing better with the loss of Sariah. Heavenly Father answers our prayers and many times he does that through another person. I believe that he answered my prayers through Anne. It brought me just a small glimpse of my son, and the words of another mother telling me that he is a wonderful young man doing well on his mission brings some peace to my heart. 

Elder Muller has heard the story many times over about how I met the Elders at Anne's house after a play date together, and how she then "secretly" sent them to my house! And now he has the pleasure of meeting her in person!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true! 

The Cathedral of Antwerpen:

Pictures of Elders Muller, Shelton, Lyman and Childs in the Cathedral of Antwerpen:

I will share more exciting news happening in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission another time, but just know that our Father in Heaven loves us all and we are all here for a purpose.  If you would like to know more about where we all came from, what this life on earth is about, and where we are going after we leave this life, please contact the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They have five short discussions they give to help teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Check out or for more information.

Amy Schaefer, A Proud Missionary Mama

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Week 22: It tastes like an angel peed on my tongue...

Antwerpen, Belgium - Central Train Station on a Rainy Day
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Antwerpen, Belgium
February 23, 2015

Hello everyone. 

It's been an interesting week. Plenty of ups and downs. Probably one of the strangest weeks on the mission so far. 

First, It tastes like an angel peed on my tongue... 
It's an expression used here to say something tastes good. Woooo! Belgium!
het smaakt zoals en engeltje aan mijn tong geplast heeft. 

So Tuesday was just a horrible day. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. We missed the tram we wanted to catch to district meeting, so we had to wait. We got on a tram, the tram broke down. Had to wait for another tram. I got on that tram, but the driver closed the doors before Elder Shelton could, so we got separated. I got off the tram at the next stop and waited for him to catch up on the next tram. We finally got to the church an hour and a half after we left our apartment. Then we found out that the ward had planned a tour of the church building for non members, but had forgotten to notify us, so they told us that we weren't going to be able to do district meeting at the church.... We managed to work it out that we could, we just had district meeting in a closet.... haha. We had a great district meeting, great lunch, we went home to pick up some stuff, when I got the letter that broke my heart. :( I cried for a good 30 minutes, and then we went back out and did some good work. We had some interesting contacts, got called Satan by a guy, etc, etc... Pretty tough day. 

Wednesday was a lot better, we had some cool lessons with people and had some good lookups. We had a cool member referral. We were at a minder (less) active's house, when his friend walked in. He's from the Czech Republic and was interested in what we were talking about. We taught him the first lesson and invited him to be baptized. Super cool! Member referrals are the best! 

Thursday we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders, I was with Elder Lyman in Antwerpen, and Elder Shelton was with Childs in .... Antwerpen haha. Me and Elder Lyman had a great day. We taught some cool lessons and had a great appointment with another minder (less) active who is in a hospital right now. He is trying to quit smoking, so he checked himself into rehab to help him stop. We visit him every week and have a lesson with him. He's a super cool guy, and has a strong desire to change. I admire him for it. 

Friday was tough, we had no appointments, and it was raining. Most people don't like to talk to you when it's raining. Not much happened, it was a pretty slow day. 

Saturday we knocked doors in Mortsel the whole day. Found some cool potentials, gave away some copies of the Book of Mormon. It was an average day. 

Yesterday was fun. Church was cool. It was Sister Jones' birthday, so we had a mini party during correlation.* Had some cake and stuff. We taught this Russian guy that called us on Saturday wanting to know where the church was. We met with him on Sunday and tried to teach the first lesson, but he doesn't understand dutch or English very well. We ended up teaching through Google Translate haha. First time I'd ever extended a baptismal invitation through google translate.... We had a great dinner appointment at Familie Schiltz. They have us over every Sunday night and just go ham with food. It's great. Sister Schiltz is from Ireland and is just a sweetheart. Brother Schiltz is just super cool. He's really good at piano. 

*Correlation is a meeting they have with all the missionaries in their Ward and their Ward Mission Leader. This will be a Brother from the ward who is serving as the one helping the missionaries with the missionary efforts in that specific ward.

Well that's about it. Tuesday was probably the hardest day of the week, but when I was sitting there thinking about Sariah, I knew that this was a test, and that how I reacted would effect my mission. So I got up and went to work. That's all we can do as missionaries, get out and do our best. As long as we come in knowing that we tried our hardest, we know we are successful.

Love you guys!

Elder Müller

Elder Muller says, "So close...."

Interesting....A Cow with Wings on a Church Building

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Week 21: Elder Childs is watching me......

Monday, February 16, 2015

yeah, he's standing right behind me....

So we had a great week. 

That is all. 
This is Elder Childs


At this point in the email you must insert tears from a very sad mother who thought that this is all her son wrote this week! I walked around the house for over five hours trying to understand why Elder Muller would not write more! Okay, okay, I know they are always busy and don't have much time to email....but, seriously?! That was all he could write. So after mulling this over and over in my head...and trying figure out what in the world I would put on the blog this week....I decided to look again at his email to try and dissect the few little sentences he wrote to see if I could glean some kind of message from them! Somehow I bumped my mouse and it scrolled down a few more inches on the page, and this is what I found......

hehe just kidding. 

So it really was a good week. We got two new investigators which is amazing. One was a miracle find, and the other is just a super cool Belgian lady. 

We had an awesome lesson with a less active we've been working with. He took us out to eat and then totally opened up to us about how his life is on the wrong path and he wants to come back. Probably one of the most powerful lessons I've had. 

I had a great time in Sint Niklaas with Elder Reynolds. We biked up to Nederland for a dinner appointment and to look up some potentials. That was pretty much our whole day. Just biking. Knock doors, bike some more, eat, and bike back. We did find this great mountain bike course. We did it, of course... I almost went into a canal haha.

We also had an awesome lesson with some less actives that live on the same street as the Sint Niklaas elders. It was soo cool. It was his birthday that day, so we brought some treats over as a present. Super cool time. 

We had a great day on Saturday as well. We knocked doors most of the day, got some cool potentials. The best part of the day was our dinner appointment. It was mensen zes (six people) at Familie Siriki. They're from Nigeria. It was just crazy. We had a bunch fun. 

Sunday was pretty cool as well. There was a doop dienst (baptismal service) for one of the sister's investigators. It was crazy though! They forgot to fill up the font, so we had to help the faucet in the font along by pouring buckets of water in. Super fun. (In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, performing a baptism is done by complete immersion---going into the water and coming forth out of the water— it is symbolic of Jesus’ going into the grave, or death, and coming forth from it as a resurrected being. It also symbolizes our own rebirth, in that we bury the old person of sin and come forth a new person in Christ, desiring to follow Him and remain clean. 

Also we had a great dinner appointment with Familie Schiltz. They are just a bunch of fun. Super cool people. We eat with them every Sunday

Dinner at Familie Schiltz

Today was a blast. We played voetsal (indoor football) with the zone. Our district dominated! So much fun. 

Well that's about it. We are pushed for time today because we have appointments we have to get to, and we still need to go home and get changed. It's not fun living an hour from church. (They email from the church, so being this far away is quite a hardship for them. It takes them an hour to get there on  public transportation.)


Love you guys!

Elder Müller

So Elder Muller pranked his mother really good this week! Boy, is he going to hear about it!

Biking in the Belgian Countryside
Beautiful Belgian Countryside

Elder Reynolds biking with Elder Muller in the Sint Nicklaas

Elders and Sisters Playing Indoor Football

How Many Men Does It Take To Fix A Tram Line?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Week 20: Add Random Subject Here

Where Elder Muller was born!! Mortsel, Belgium Sint-Jozef Hospital

City Hall of Antwerpen, Belgium
Cathedral of Antwerpen

Sint-Jozef Hospital, Mortsel, Belgium
Hello everyone! Welcome back to Antwerpen... Where we last left off we were destroying this city with missionary work... today, we still are! 

Anyhoo, it was a fun week this week. We had our first district meeting of the transfer. It's kind of funny because the Zone Leaders, and the Sister Training Leader (Sister Jones from Antwerpen) travel a lot, so only half our district is ever at district meeting! It was still great though. We talked about teaching with the Spirit, and RAD's (Restoration and Doop (baptism)).  I don't know how it works in other missions, but here we invite people to be baptized at the end of the first lesson. We call it a RAD. 

I also was in Sint Niklaas and Lokeren on exchanges this week. They are super cool cities. I got some lekker pics. I was with Elder Van de Merwe, no he's not Dutch, but his forefathers are. We had a great time. We taught some great lessons, and I found out that if you haven't biked long distance for a long time, it's hard haha. We had a great day though, it was a lot of fun. At the end of the day we had to bike over this huge bridge that went over the highway. The whole way up I was praying for help, and the whole way down I was singing songs of joy and gratitude haha.

Sint Niklaas, Belgium
Sint Niklaas by Night
Lokeren, Belgium
Funny story, on the way to the train station to exchange back, I got lost in Sint Niklaas! Elder Van de Merwe got a bit ahead of me because I was stuck behind a slower moving fietser (someone riding a bicycle) who I couldn't pass because of oncoming traffic. Next thing I know, I have no idea where I am, and Elder Van de Merwe was gone! I had missed the turn, and Vande didn't notice. Thank goodness for really tall churches! If you can find that, you can find the centrum, and if you can find the centrum, you can find the train station! It was pretty funny though. Life of a missionary!

We also worked in Mortsel a bit this week. I took lots of pics. It's weird seeing so many things I recognize!!!

Trams in Mortsel!
We got some cool new potential investigators that we are hoping to solidify this next week, so that will be fun. I'm also going to be back in Sint Niklaas again. I'm excited. 

Weeeell that's about it. Here's something from my personal study this week.

I studied Moroni 10 and all the things he exhorts us to do. I found 8 main points, but I'll let you figure those out. :) 

Something interesting about truth. One of the names of Christ is the Truth. So if we want to know the truth, we have to know Christ. If we want to know Christ, study the Truth! As you learn truth, you learn of Christ. Interesting little paradox/thought puzzle for you guys.

Tot Volgende Keer!

Elder Müller

Elder Muller's theme in pictures this week seemed to be to taunt his family with frituur shops we love and other foods we love!

Awesome Frituur (Fry) Place

This one was especially for his sister, Hillary! Her favorite rice taartje!
Delicious Sugar Waffles...yum
Life in the land of over 100 beers!
Really, Elder Muller? Now he is really just rubbing it in!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Week 19: Do You Even Jenga??

The King of Belgium!

Beautiful picture from the Belfort Tower in Ghent

A Bus That Runs On Water!

So we are starting a new phrase here in Antwerpen... Do you even Jenga? We were at a dinner appointment with all six missionaries, and we played the most intense game of jenga of all time. We got it to the point where there was only one possible move left, and then the tower fell. Fun times. (In his area now in Antwerpen, there are three sets of missionaries; two sets of Elders, which includes Elder Muller and Elder Shelton, two Elders who are the Zone Leaders, and two Sister missionaries. Much different than in Brugge where it was just him and his companion.)

It's great to be here in Antwerpen. The work is a lot different than in Brugge. The days seem to go by slower, but the weeks faster. I don't know how to describe it. 

We had a lot of lessons fall through this week, but we got to talk to some cool people instead. Sometimes appointments fall through for a reason! One such example, we were on the tram headed home from a missed appointment, when a guy started talking to Elder Shelton. He was super interested in our message and asked for a Book of Mormon! We're going to go teach him this week. 

Another cool experience, we were also heading somewhere after a missed appointment when we ran into this cool African guy named Achampong (Ashampo). He also wants to start meeting with us, he loves Christ, and is super interested in the Book of Mormon. Great experiences. 

I wish I had more to write, but not a whole bunch of 'exciting' things happened. We had Zone Training on Thursday which was a bunch of fun. The theme was super heroes. We have some great Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders here!
We learned a lot about using the scriptures while teaching, recognizing the Spirit and teaching with it, and asking inspired questions. 

Zone Meeting (Aren't they just a happy looking bunch of young men and woman! And all so far from home! What makes them happy, you might ask yourself. The answer is easy: They are sharing the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ!)

Yesterday we had a great time at church. President and Sister Robinson were there (President of the Belgium/Netherlands Mission, and his wife), as well as Elder Boom, the Area Seventy. President was here for a fireside later that night for the Young Single Adults. It was a great fireside, they had us go as well because it was all about missionary work. (A fireside meeting is one held outside of our weekly worship services. It is usually at night and special speakers will come in to address a certain group. This time the President of the mission was there to speak to these group of single young adults about missionary work.)

Here is a link to explain what an Area Seventy means:

We had a great P-Day today, we went to Ghent with the Sint Niklaas Elders and the Lokeren Sisters and went through the Belfort there. It was a lot of fun. (Here is link to explore the historic Belfort.)

Great Smile!

From inside the Belfort

Elder Shelton, my new companion, is a really funny guy. He wants to go into Game Design. He's from the same group as Elder Childs, so his Dutch is pretty good, thankfully. Mine is coming along, but it's still pretty bad! People can understand me just fine though, it's just the grammar... Who needs grammar anyway? 

Well I really don't know what else to say... I'm sorry it's a short email and kind of scattered. Here's a picture of Elder Shelton I made on our phone. 

Love you guys!!! 

Elder Muller