This blog is for family and friends who wish to following Trevan as he sacrifices his time and talents to go forth and teach the Gospel in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission for the next two years. Follow him as he grows through experience, challenges and triumphs throughout his mission. May our prayers provide him comfort and protection as he serves the people in his mission and may we all be inspired to be missionaries in our own lives.

Monday, February 29, 2016

When Past Meets Future – February 29, 2016

Last week I didn't give any stories so I will dedicate this email to a few:

This last week we had exchanges with the Assistants in Amsterdam where it starting SNOWING. But just like any Dutch weather pattern it lasts a few minutes then scoots along. I got to work with Hirsch and we taught a guy that spoke no English or Dutch. So we had to pull at strings to communicate. Talk about MTC flashback. Then he left to buy us soda and water and milk and juice because his smartphone translated or into and HAHAHA so when he read what Hirsch wrote he grabbed his coat and left... So we were alone for 10 minutes in his house with cigarette smoke and Arabic TV but didn't want to make him buy us that stuff. And earlier that day Hirsch got 5 euro stuffed into his pocket for giving away a Book of Mormon (another story, another time haha) and so we decided to make a Mormon message come to life and put the 5 euro in the investigator's shoe. So there we are in his house alone, breathing intense amounts of nicotine, 5 euro in the man's shoe, John Kerry on Arabic television and he walks in with assorted beverages speaking a language we don't understand. It would only happen to us. Loved every second haha

Glorious moment #2:
Yesterday morning we arrived at church, nothing out of the ordinary, I casually waltz into the chapel and see 4 Dutch faces turnaround from their seats, point to me and laugh. Suddenly I was thrown into a world of laughs and warmth from Vlissingen last summer and ran over to bear hug Familie Van Eijzeren. !!!!! They came to visit since they are the Stake YM and YW presidents and also just to make my week. So after bear hugging and reverently attending sacrament meeting we got to chat and laugh and love one another again. Bjorn is getting his mission papers sent in soon and the branch in Vlissingen is getting a new building. After we calmed down and laughed more and probably made all the other ward members wonder what the heck was going on, we took this gem of a picture below. They are simply the greatest. And I was only with them for 6 weeks.

#3: We went to district meeting in Leuven this last week and got to go sing to an old folk’s home afterward with the senior couple Caldwell’s. Turns out that Sister Caldwell plays the ukulele, has one, and it is super nice. Then I made the mistake of saying that I play the uke and got myself into the hole of playing and singing 4 Disney songs for the old Belgian generations. Classic. And it happened. So my ukulele career travelling Europe and singing has taken off. My signature is being sold for $20 a pop. You're welcome.

We are working hard through things, I got my bag back from Eindhoven after going to Amsterdam then having the Den Bosch elders meet us in Breda and yeah.... loong story but I have it so life is good. I saw Cook for a second at the mission office in Leiden too which was niiice.

Well I won't make it long this week.

Elder Reese

Confidence Amongst Confusion - February 22, 2016

Listening to a talk and some music this last week, I was blessed to be hit with a brick of personal revelation that served as a confirmation/awakening to what I feel like I already knew. We are the Church of Jesus Christ; this is the truth. We have every reason to stand tall. Christ's entire life, and thereafter, was pure and perfect missionary work. Even after His mortal death on the cross, what did He do? He continued His work among those already dead. Then He returned overcoming physical death, still fulfilling His mission. And afterward? He ministered among His other sheep in American continent, never ceasing in the work of saving souls. Diligence is the name of the game.

In Europe, missionary work is hard. It is courage crushing, heartbreaking, physically exhausting, work. Which makes it all the more worth it. Having picked up mission wisdom here and there from my experiences, I have learned how we have to internalize missionary work to the roots of our souls and allow the Lord to use us as His instruments. We all have talents and abilities unique to our frame and capacity. Use them. It saddens me when I see missionaries’ miserable over here, going through the motions and wondering when success will come. Success is there, waiting to be found, waiting to be crafted, and waiting to be internalized. 
I have learned to have confidence in my calling. To enjoy it. To take to heart the fact that through obedience and diligence, no force will stop our work from progressing. The stone cut from the mountain and rolling cannot be kept until the Lord says enough. I go out to meet people, to hear their stories, to understand their lives, to heal their wounds with the one and only remedy for one and all. Your final 6 months as a missionary of the one and only true Church looks a lot like your motivational feel-good film, making a difference in the world each and every day. Is there not a greater cause than that of strengthening the weak and lifting the poor in spirit?

This week we went to a potential's home who is from Ecuador, a Belgian man let us inside, took us upstairs and we sat with him and our potential, speaking Flemish, Dutch, Spanish, and English. We learned of their lives, their struggles, their hobbies and explained to them how the Book of Mormon and our testimonies of Joseph Smith have shaped over lives forever. We met with them spontaneously, in the middle of the city, teaching principles of the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel as fellow brothers. That is one of countless stories that mean nothing to you perhaps, but have redefined the meaning of adventure and time well-spent for me.

I come across familiar faces and old streets daily. Corners with 3 day old puddle water, gum prints, and broken traffic lights. Corners where I have given away Books of Mormon, taught Gospel principles and been yelled at and shunned at. These dirty, old, historic, ghetto, miracle-filled streets are where some of my most precious memories live. Antwerpen is a place of holy worth to me. I am seeing miracles similar to those from over a year ago. I know the Lord sent me here to teach and also learn from this city.
Be a confident disciple of Christ. You have nothing to be afraid, belittled, or ashamed of. This is the truth. He is our Great Eternal Head. The Gospel and atonement are infinite and universal. Live through them. People should look at you, your lifestyle, your confidence, your security in His plan and wonder, what do they have that I do not? Your light will so shine that others cannot attempt to ignore it. Be confident in your calling. Whatever it may be. Be yourself because the Gospel is already a part of who you are.

I know this is true because it cannot be learned or taught through any mean than by that of the Spirit of God, who is the source of all and only truth. I will be eternally grateful for the light and investment He puts into me, a weak and humble servant.

This morning I had no plan of writing this as a testimony actually. The Spirit works in wondrous ways, eh? I say this in Jesus Christ's name, Amen.

Love you all, thanks for all you do.
Forgive me for the monologue.

Elder Trevan Scott Reese

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Boulevard of Blessed Dreams - February 15, 2016

While driving back from a late appointment this week, I looked over the freeway to see the Antwerpen skyline and dark, cloudy sky, and had a moment of sheer love and appreciation for this ghetto, dated, miraculous city. My mission will always be classified under my experiences in Antwerpen. I am a Belgian missionary. This week proved that yet again.

As a greenie, I saw immense amounts of success here and it truly set the tone for the course of my mission. The Netherlands didn't harvest the same result that I was hoping for, at least not in the same ways, but now being back in my stomping grounds, I have been able to refall in love again and again with this fantastic country. This week we taught the most lessons of my mission, since I was here the first time. And not just fly by, one hit wonder lessons, but quality, retaining, BELGIAN lessons. We doubled our teaching pool and had some of the smoothest Restoration lessons of my year and a half here.

Anita is our progressing investigator who should be baptized next, and she is killer. We had 3 appointment planned this last week, the second one didn't go through (the only one EVER) because she was working with her lawyer for something. We go by for our Saturday appointment and taught her the law of chastity. She isn't married to her boyfriend she lives with BUT turns out that 2 days before she was with her lawyer getting her Italian and Belgian documents arranged for work and marriage. (....) I'm telling you, people are prepared. She walked late into church with her little daughter and a member grabbed her right away and told her to come sit by her to see her daughter. Then 4 other members came up to her and were so happy to see her and play with little Laeana. Dream come true as a missionary. I wanted to run outside with an American flag and climb a mountain it made me so happy.

One of the many cool stories this week: Saturday we had a killer day and were teaching the entire day, but had about 45 minutes left at the end of the day. We went and looked up a guy who actually gave his Book of Mormon to his neighbor. He wasn't home so we knock the neighbor. She tells us we better come in or else (hahaha what) so we go in, the kids are playing card games, then she goes and pounds on our investigator's door, he answers (what) and he comes over for a sick lesson about the Restoration and about the church. Their names are Tina and Hadi and they are total homies with each other which is hilarious because people never talk to their neighbors here.

I am still writing Maria every week and she sent another email this week explaining how she is going to stay with the bible and her church but that the missionaries and the ward mission leader visit her a lot. So nothing new for now.

Monday. Monday I got stuck in an elevator for the first time. HAHA on our way out of family home evening with Zr Van Wauwe, we foolishly crammed 5 people into the 3 man elevator to prevent the 9 flights of stairs. It was going decently smooth until we were between the ground and second floor... The elevator stopped, the buttons wouldn't work and every time you got too close to the door it would beep at you. HAHA so here I am with a member, a recent convert, and the 2 sister missionaries’ in a stuck elevator. The call button doesn't work right, and I am talking to Zr Van Wauwe through the phone as she tells me what to do. Nothing else works so the concierge comes and pries the door open, we have to jump half a story down to the ground and make it back home. This was all around 9:15 at night haha. Needless to say we are making the concierge cookies and she has had questions about the church so.... missionary opportunity!

I also ate fufu again last night which is the African soup and potato dough stuff that you eat with your hands. Look on dropbox for that video haha.

It's been a good one, the transfer is half over almost, people are going home, getting married, and we are going to go tour a 15th century castle in Mechelen today. All is well. All is well.

Elder Trevan Scott Reese

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Time Warp - February 8, 2016

Time Warp
There are several things in the life of a missionary that can distort the idea of time, such as no weekends, switched pdays, conferences, etc. For me right now I am getting blasted over the head with reality checks and time warps. Being in Antwerpen again makes me feel like a greenie again, I sometimes get treated like a greenie still, but the past 2 days different people have told me that I sound like a real Dutchman. Nice. And I saw tons of pictures of Elder Conatti and his homecoming (so great, sooo cool) and also emailed my sisters who are back home now. And friends are getting home in the coming weeks, getting ready for school and seeing their families again. And I'm still in Antwerpen haha. It's like beginning meets the end, east coast meets west coast, alpha and omega yaddah.

Maria's gift
I will start with a Maria story. Yeah, you thought those were gone since I left Apeldoorn. False. Maria is still here. We went to MLC this week and Hosea gave me a bag of things I forgot with a big wrapped up box and a letter taped to the top. What. I opened it up and read the sweetest, funniest, most classic letter from Maria about how she is doing, and why she wanted to give me this gift. I opened it up in the car and it was a modern-day translation of the Bible with a white cover around it! Hahaha soooo sweet of her! It made my week! I need a Dutch Bible again anyway haha not exactly the missionary translation.... but I am so happy with it hahah it’s so funny and so classic. We are also keeping in contact with each other through email so I can help her out with anything she has questions about while I am in Antwerpen. Apparently she told Hosea and Parr in Apeldoorn that she needed a rest from investigating, called off the appointment, but then called at the time of the appointment saying she still wanted them to come over to stay friends’ hahaha such a gem. So the Maria stories continue! Which is good, because last week I said something about the former lady I taught here in Antwerpen... yeah we showed up on exchanges with a joint teach and she handed us the Book of Mormon back on the door and said no.... Just another everyday missionary heartbreak.

In other news, we have made contact with Gerald and Eric!!!! The other elders work with them on their records, but of course I want to be there with them since they were baptized here a little over a year ago. They both fell through the cracks in the ward a bit...(happens too much here) so I am on Mission: Rescue. It's is amazing because I have prayed for them so much in Delft and Apeldoorn and Vlissingen. And my prayers have been answered after one year and I get to personally rescue them. 

We taught another former this last week, Fredrick, and ended up resetting a baptismal date with him for May. So cool. I really believe I am here again to research and recall the city that stole my heart and rescue all those I can find again.

Also, the sisters work with a less active family, Dirk and Christel, and Christel LOVES me because I would always tease her back and take her stabs as a good sport haha. So the sisters were in an appt with them and told them they had a surprise coming. We knocked on the door, the sisters took us to the living room where Christel was and she jumped up, starting laughing and yelling then basically ate me alive in a massive hug. It was so great to see her reaction haha I really should have recorded it... that’s the only regret. She was so excited and couldn't stop hugging me for the next 15 minutes. So awesome. Those experiences make your mission gold.
Ivan and I

Quick story: this week we were in an area where we worked with a less active over a year ago, so I called him and asked if we could visit, but turns out he moved to Turnhout! But he said he really wanted to see me and would come all the way to Antwerpen the next day to buy us lunch. Sooo Wednesday we met up with him, had such a great time and laughed so hard AND HE IS COMPLETELY ACTIVE IN TURNHOUT. HE HAS A CALLING AND IS WORKING ON A TEMPLE RECOMMEND. AND I DIDN'T KNOW! It was some of the best news I have heard in a loooooong time! He ended up telling me how I was one of the first missionaries that put him back on the path to church and I wanted to cry for joy all over my fried Turkish lunch. 

We have a good amount of work coming which is nice. Our most solid investigator Anita is on baptismal date for the end of February and is doing so solid. She is a self-referral from the website and has a sister that’s a member in France.

This week has made me think a lot about home and school stuff since Morrell Parr Cook and I are trying to get stuff set up. And everyone is home or going home right now haha. People keep asking if I will die here in Antwerpen. That would be insane. 7 transfers here haha I don’t think it will happen but I tend to stay in cities for forever. Heavenly Father still knows I don't like change haha.

Groetekes uit Vlaanderen! 

Elder Trevan Scott Reese

"You don't inspire others with your perfection. You inspire others with how you handle your imperfections" - quote I found on an Apeldoorn member's wall

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Comeback Kid - February 1, 2016

The Comeback Kid
It's been quite the time since I emailed last weekend, and so many things have happened in the past 9 days. We received transfer calls a night early on Saturday, but I will get to that in a bit. I will start with Maria:

Saturday night I called her on the phone and talked to her about coming to church. She said she was going to her church and that she wouldn't be coming because of several other excuses as to why she would go to her own. I told her the sisters were willing to pick her up and bike along with her and that she should come visit the church to see and investigate for herself. After 10 minutes of talking, she agreed, and Sunday morning she came! FINALLY. I was soooo happy and she enjoyed the service and Gospel Principles. It was so special to have her there since it was my last Sunday in Apeldoorn because of transfers. But I will get to that in a minute.

We taught her Monday night about the resurrection and she has been reading quite a lot in the Book of Mormon. Amazing, since it took us 4 appointments just to leave one behind. Then Tuesday she called while we were saying goodbye to Dennis and Maaike, talking about how she was scared to be alone and how she felt something leave her house when we did the night before. So for another 10 minutes I talked to her on the phone telling her about the Spirit and how she can always have those feelings around her as she reads and prays and comes to church. She insisted we come by again that day to help her feel better. So we did. We had a great lesson and said some hard goodbyes since I would be leaving to go far away (but I will talk about that later). She gave me a gift in an envelope and wanted to thank me for everything I had done with her for the past 6 months. She gave me 10 euros. Haha what a sweet lady. I told her I wouldn't take it but she INSISTED and so I will always remember Maria with that 10 euro bill.

It was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to everyone in Apeldoorn and those I was close to were really bummed to see me leave. And I am devastated also. So I am coming to you from somewhere you don't even know yet, but somewhere that gives a familiar ring. 

My dream since I was a greenie was to make it back south. To get back to the country I fell in love with and to see the people who shaped how my mission would be lived. Right now, I am sitting in the very same church, with the very same members, and the very same Spirit that fills these blessed streets of Antwerpen. HAHA can you believe it? I'M BACK BABY.

How blessed am I? To make it back to somewhere you have been before, but your greenie city! And I am here with Elder Lott from my MTC group! I still don't think it's true and I have been here for a week almost. Yesterday in church was fantastic, seeing everyone again and being able to bear my testimony again, now in coherent Flemish. FLEMISH. You know I love Flemish. And as soon as I hear it, I switch over subconsciously and speak it back.

Few quick stories: of course I want to go visit everyone I taught here and find those people who might have fallen through the cracks. I really feel like that is a big part as to why I am here. So we went by a lady named Mvr Faes on Saturday, she remembers me and is flabbergasted as we teach her the restoration and I speak Antwerp Flemish to her. Bless the 70 year old lady's heart. She could become the new Maria haha. Also, Zuster Bush was in town with her family, since she finished her mission last week, and we stopped by a less active member who is the COOLEST Belgian lady and she remembered me and was so happy to see me and is willing to teach me French. Oh yeah that's another thing. The first time I was here was to learn Dutch, I am taking this second opportunity to learn French. I was hold a contact with it on the street already but I need it to get better. #giftoftongues

Tonight we will see Zr Van Wauwe, I have spent time with the Schiltz and also with the Evans. These are just names to you, but these people have SHAPED me out here in these countries. I will never ever forget them and the love they extended (and still extend!) to me. 

As a zone leader down here we get to work hard and make this city a model for the zone. Perfect. Say no more. Let me go work in the glorious, hallowed, ghetto, nasty, streets that stole my heart more than a year ago. It's a mission Cinderella being back.
It was really hard to say goodbye to my sisters this last week. I got to see 3 of the 4 here and also Elder Conatti, who is back in Brazil now. I have come to hate goodbyes. I tend to avoid them because I don't like them, which also isn't good...

I have been able to be crafted by the Lord in making missionary work become who I am and not what I do. The difference is simple but massive. And I am so grateful to know that.

Count your blessings, it will help you improve your exponent skills.

Love Elder Trevan Scott Reese