Monday, December 28, 2015

#9 Usually Dogs lick your hand...A good Christmas

Alright... are you ready for this one. I have a lot of Christmas and stuff from the past week but we are going to start with yesterday.  First off let me say…I like dogs.  They are one of my favorite things in the world and if I see a dog I am going to pet it.  So Sunday at about 5pm, our appointment fell through so we went contacting and the first house we went to had a huge backyard and three dogs. Usually dogs bark and then when you go to pet them they lick your hand and then you can pet them. Well this one dog in particular was not going to just lick my hand, so to cut to the chase I stuck out my hand and the dog bit my hand.  It’s not bad, it’s just about three inches long. I will send a picture next week.  Luckily Barbados has been Rabies free for 100 years.  It hurt pretty good but all I could do was laugh because it was the stupidest thing ever but I am fine I promise.  I just laugh every time I look at my hand.

But now to the cool stuff.  Christmas...  Christmas morning the Assistants made me and Elder Mykilyski Breakfast and that was super awesome.  Then we went to a Christmas service that was being held at the church and it was very interesting because of all the false doctrine that is said but don’t worry, we fixed it.  They just made these skits for the service and they were just so weird because they had ballerinas in them and it was just so weird. Bajans...

After that we went to the Mission office to skype and do stupid stuff to pass the time. We played finger football for like 3 hours and it was just getting so insane, all the different ways to play the game and how serious we were getting.  Then when it was my turn to skype.  I honestly had no idea what to do.   I just didn’t know what to say or what I was supposed to do.  Don’t get me wrong, it was really awesome but I just would have been satisfied just sitting there and watching my family open presents and stuff and pretending like I wasn’t even there just because being around or seeing family is just the best thing ever.

After Skype we went to the Mission Presidents home to eat dinner and it was just so awesome being at a family dinner.  We had these Christmas poppers and these crowns came out of them and we all put them on and wore them, just to be funny.  Also it was super amazing to spend Christmas dinner with our President and his family and be able to get to laugh and not really have to worry about being in super missionary mode but just be relaxed and have fun. Then we watched a movie and the movie we watched was "El Dorado the city of gold” cartoon.  It was really funny because I don’t know normal funny anymore, I just know missionary funny.  It made me laugh so much and sitting with Elder Cox and Elder Pape made it just a little bit funnier. And then we went home and Christmas was over.

Now something really cool…on Christmas Eve we went Christmas caroling to all the people in my area and especially to a widow whose name is Martha. We just baptized her a little bit ago but just seeing the smile on her face and how she came outside and sang with us was just a super cool experience.  She said it was the best Christmas she had in a long time just because of the ten minutes we came to her house and sang to her.

 It just shows that time in this world is really important but if we can take just a little bit of time out of our super busy lives, we can makes someone’s day and make them so much happier and even if it just makes them smile, Isn’t that worth it!  It is Christmas season and if we try to be more like Christ year around, we can have that love that comes from Christmas all the time. 
My hand is starting to hurt typing because of the dog bite so I’m going to have to go... just kidding it doesn’t hurt.

I’m so happy to hear from all of you and it makes me so happy to hear that everyone is safe and happy.  I love you all so much and I Wish you a great 2016!

Love Elder Fokken

Monday, December 21, 2015

#8 New Companion...Doing Great!

Alright, so this week was a really tiring week.  Since Elder Miller left on his flight Wednesday morning, I went on a trade off with an Elder from Tonga and he ate all my food but it was still good.  Then since Elder Broadbent went home on Thursday,  I was with Elder Cox and we had airport runs all morning from 1 in the morning to 7 am because of all the transfers.  It was a really long morning but I got to take a little nap when I got home and then we had to go back to the airport to pick up my new companion at about 11am.   He is Elder Mykolyski.  He is a real awesome guy.  He’s from South Jordan Utah.   Real close to me back home.  He is coming from Grenada and he says that Barbados is a lot different than Grenada but he says he likes it so hopefully I am doing a good job with being his host.

Thursday night the Assistants that are replacing Elder Cox and Elder Broadbent got in and they are Elder Pape and Elder Stewart-Johnson and they are both jacked.  They have really just set the tone for morning workout every morning, if I’m not doing like double of what I usually do, I feel like I am doing nothing.  It has been really awesome having them here with us.  They are both spiritual giants and I can tell they really love being missionaries. I hope I can grow like them towards the end of my mission. 

Saturday we had our district Christmas party and it was good.   During it there was a musical performance by these two men from the Oistins branch. Mot my branch, I am in the Christ Church Branch.  They were so good!   I did not know that someone could be that good at singing here in the Caribbean (other than Rihanna of course) but it just felt like home hearing such beautiful voices singing.   All the missionaries had their cameras out. It was just really the best Christmas party I have been to in a long time.

Then on Sunday I got to go out proselyting with Elder Pape.  Elder Pape is the biggest missionary I have seen in my life and he is is just the coolest guy.   We both act a lot alike while are in the apartment (like just big goof balls, you know) but I like it and when we go out proselyting we both teach in a similar way so we are able to really harness the spirit and really just grow our own testimonies a while teaching.  It is just so amazing.  After the first lesson we taught to a man he said to me, “I can count on my fingers how many times I have felt the spirit that strong in a lesson."   Just to know that I got the opportunity to be a part of that, I was just so happy. The lesson didn’t even go that well but just getting to bear testimony with such boldness is such a great feeling there is nothing like it.

Well Christmas is coming up this week and there is nothing more exciting than getting to see my family.  I am so excited and Love everyone so very much.  If you haven’t watched the Savior is Born video on, go watch it because i have watched it a bunch and it is always amazing. Have an amazing Christmas and I think about every single one of you every day, I PROMISE! I love you sooo much!

Love Elder Fokken

Monday, December 14, 2015

#7 Staying in Barbados..."Be not afraid, only believe"

OKAY. So this week we got our transfer calls.  Miller is going to St. Lucia for the next six weeks at least. My man, Elder Platt, is also going to St. Lucia.  I’m going to miss him a lot but that’s okay, I will live.  I am staying in the area and my new companion is Elder Mykalowski.  Ya so he and I definitely going to screw up these Bajans with our names.  It’s funny that probably twice a day a local will look at my name and just smile and pat me on the chest like, "haha no thank you".  I just laugh with them.   I become the guy with the crazy last name but with my new companion, that will be him now.

This week we had the Baptism of the girl named Maria.  It was so amazing.   Elder Miller perform the baptism and I confirm her a member of the church on Sunday.  That was my first ever blessing that I have ever given and it was a very unique experience.  It is something I hope to do again and again to help people.  After the confirmation was done, she looked at me and Elder Miller and then booked it back to her sea.  I was like, well the burning power of the Holy Ghost shot her back to the seat.


A funny story.  Elder Miller and I were watching a Mormon message video in our apartment and we have a chandelier that has a bulb that hasn’t worked for a couple weeks.  We were watching and the speaker said the words “Jesus Christ” and the bulb just out of nowhere turned on.  We both look at each other and said, “The church is true!” and just started laughing, oh but it really is though.

As I have tried to really immerse myself in this culture, there are few things that I will never do in this culture.  While I have been here, we have probably lost about three investigators because of me.  In this culture, it is acceptable to beat your wife or slap her and be very disrespectful.  The first time I saw it during one of our lessons, I didn’t do anything because I was scared.   But after that, I couldn’t watch it anymore.  I yelled at one man to stop it.  Another time I said something that made the guy feel stupid but I just can’t watch it anymore.  Over these 6 weeks, I have gained such a greater appreciation for my sisters, my mother, and every single woman that I come in contact with.  This place is just so disrespectful to woman and it is just so hard for me to see it.  I love my mom and my sisters so much.   I wouldn’t want anything like that to happen to them and I know nothing like that is happening to them so I have to do something here to help the women here.  It just makes me so sad.

Here is something that helps me. The scripture of 1 timothy 4 12-16 helped me come on a mission but the reason that I have stayed on a mission are because of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John and the scriptures within those books that share the experience that Jesus had while Atoning for our sins.  He cried out to his Father and said that he didn’t want to do it but he knew he needed to because it was Heavenly Fathers will.   He wanted to do it for us and for his Father.  I know that he knows what I feel every day while I am on my mission and I know that he felt the pains of the people and of the women here that get beat and demoralized every single day of their lives.  I know that as I become closer to Christ and follow his example, I can help these people.  I will be able to show them where to go when things get hard.  I love these people way too much to let them go through this suffering.  I am on a mission and I will do what Heavenly Father asks of me.  BE NOT AFRAID ONLY BELIEVE!

This week coming up will be an interesting week with everything that will be going on.  I miss baseball more than ever and I’m sure Elder Miller has gotten tired of me telling him all these stories about me and my second family and the many great memories I have with them.  I hope I get a chance to play or at least be around baseball when I get home.

I am safe and I haven’t even come close to pooping my pants so I think I might be okay.  I LOVE you all so very much.  I pray for you every single day.  I am so excited for Christmas and can’t wait to see my family.

Love Elder Fokken

P.S. Elder Miller got a mini ping pong set for Christmas... Watch Out Forest Gump!!!

                                           This is our Gospel Principles/Bible Study Class

Monday, December 7, 2015

#6 First Baptism..."are we not all beggars"

OH MAN! It is getting down to the wire to my first mission transfers.  I’m interested to see if I’ll be staying in Barbados or going somewhere else and to so see who will be leaving and staying but it’s going to be great no matter what happens!  (Dave- Basically about every month or so, a mission has “Transfers”. That’s where the Mission President moves missionaries around the mission.  You will get a call one night saying “pack your bags, you are going to a new area tomorrow”.   As you can imagine, transfers are anxious time for missionaries.)   

So this week was a short one since my last email but still full of events. On Saturday we baptized Martha and it was amazing.  She was so funny.  Just smiling and telling everyone how she thought this skinny guy who was going to baptize her wa not be able to get her up out of the water and drown her. (Not me, I’m not skinny anymore)  She is just so amazing.  She was just telling me over and over and over how she was so excited and that she has changed so much.  Seeing the before and after of this woman is incredible. This gospel has to be true to change someone like that from what she was before to what she is now.  And then Sunday rolls around and she walks into our little chapel with her arms held high waving and showing off so that everyone knew that she was baptized.  It was just too funny to see that and how she just was telling everyone how she was baptized.  I hope that’s what Kacie did Sunday!

                                                              What it's all about!

After our baptism, we had an investigator that we have been working with for a while come up and say she was ready to be baptized next week so this week we have another baptism for a young lady named Maria.   She is also awesome, we love seeing her because she is really funny and always gives us something to drink.  My new favorite drink is a drink called Mauby. It is a very interesting drink.  It goes from being really sweet to super bitter out of nowhere.  Sorry back on track, so ya, we have another baptism this week and we are super exited for her.  It’s going to be awesome again.

Today, for our Pday, me and some other missionaries found a golf course and went out and hit some balls on the driving range.   It was so much fun watching a guy from Australia play golf but he is a really good sport and tried his best and laughed it off.  That’s Elder Kuru.  He is an awesome guy. The last ball I hit I pulled back and swung and I hit the ball perfect and was going straight and then I see this other thing flying about half as far as it and I look down and the club broke!  I couldn’t believe it.  The people said that they knew it was an accident and that I didn’t have to pay for it so everything was okay.   Also I got some new t-shirts that have bob Marley on them so now I am really becoming a local. It also says CHEESE ON BREAD on it so that’s even better.


Something really cool that happened this week was that I was reading in Mosiah, in the book of Mormon and it talks about how we are all beggars.  It’s interesting to look back on my life and see how I have looked at people begging on the side of the street and said, “well they did that to themselves and they deserve the path they are going down." But then we turn around and ask heavenly father to help us and beg him for forgiveness and a second chance a third chance, but we can’t help that one person.  It just gives me a better perspective that if we are begging to Heavenly Father to help us and we turn around and can’t help the beggar than we are like the servant in the parable told by Jesus.
That doesn’t mean that you have to go start looking for crackheads and such to give money too but just think of that and it will help you look at people in whole different way I can promise you that.

I love this gospel so much! It brings me comfort and it brings me so much joy. Every day, at least one of the many prayers I say, I ask Heavenly Father to help me through this and to keep me strong and I remember that my family will be blessed and many other lives will be blessed as I am out here.  If anyone ever is questioning whether or not this church is true or even if Heavenly Father still loves and helps his children, I challenge you to walk around with the missionaries for one day and see if you able to do it without his help and his strength.

This guy Jehile was surprised that we were able to do this for two years but I told him, "Heavenly Father has not forgotten us, all we need to do is not forget him." Love everyone please.  Everyone needs it.  I’m not perfect and I know that, but Heavenly Father can help us get as close as possible in this life.  I love Lexy!

Love with every fiber of my body

-Elder Fokken

And one more picture of me and one of our Barbados neighbors.   


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#5 Thanksgiving Turkey and Barbados Independence Day Coucou

This week has been a long one with Thanksgiving and Independence Day in Barbados! But it was also a great week for so many reasons.  Surprisingly, we had all traditional food on Thanksgiving because a family that is from America fed all the missionaries.  I ATE SO MUCH it would scare people but it really wouldn’t be a surprise because of all the weight I have been gained.   Most of it is muscle which is super awesome.  I have gained ten pounds and I eat like a cow. It frustrates Elder Miller because I eat all our food!

Barbados Independence day wasn’t too special.  We had an activity with about 40 people, half missionaries and half members of the church.  It was interesting to get some Bajan cooking like Coucou and Mac Pie but it was still food so I ate it all!!!

Also this week Elder Martinez of the Seventy came to Barbados for a church conference and spoke to us missionaries too.  It was awesome! He talked about so many things but just getting to hear his testimony that he has of the Savior was great.  It just gives you such a sense of peace and comfort.  That’s what the gospel does, it gives you a peace and comfort we all want but for some reason, we try to find it in other places but nothing will work as well as the gospel.

We also have a baptism for a lady named Martha.   She is my most favorite person in the world.  I get in trouble because I just sit and gaf (talk) with her forever because she is just so funny.  She reminds me a lot of Grandma! She is 80 years old and is getting baptized on the 5th of December, just like my cousin Kacie!   I will tell Martha that she is getting baptized the same day as Kacie and she will think that’s awesome!   We are so excited for her!  She is amazing.  She calls us all the time to ask us what she needs to do.  She is so excited to become a member of this amazing church because she said it makes her fake eye and her barely working eye work better and also because it brings her that same peace I was talking about earlier. You will get to see pictures of her next week.

I just found out I am an uncle!  I am so excited, I was tearing up sitting in the Library because I was sad that I don’t get to see her but I know she is awesome!  I also was tearing up because I know that she is a daughter of God and Heavenly Father has a plan for her. We go out and teach this plan to people and it just reminds me of one thing. This little girl is a miracle and there are going to be many miracles in her lifetime, but the one miracle that I hope she will always hold dear is that Jesus Christ died for HER! FOR HER, personally. He died for all of us personally and it gives me that sense of hope for myself and also for that baby girl that everything will work out. I already love that little girl so much I can’t wait to see her on Christmas!

I got my Christmas package this week and there were so many awesome things! We already broke the whoopee cushion but we also set up a finger football tournament and its pretty intense! We leave our goal post up all day! Also the tree and the tiny nativity set are set up in our front room. It’s getting really Trunky (homesick) in my apartment.  We are all really excited to be able to call home on Christmas!

Oh shoot, I almost forgot! In Zone Conference the other day, all the missionaries in Barbados got together so we could have a little training and to be able to talk about our areas personally.  Apparently our Zone Leaders assign talks to two missionaries to talk during the conference and they never told me that I was one of them!  When my name was called to go up and speak, I almost pooped! (At least he would have been able to check off “Pooped my pants”)  But it came to show me the power of the spirit and speaking by the spirit and why having the Holy Ghost with you all the time is so important.  I got up there and just talked about things I had never thought about and how when Jesus spoke with authority and how the people were so inspired and touched by his words (Mathew 7:29).  And how Jesus Christ taught with love and he spoke with love in his voice. Scribes memorized and taught but Jesus Christ used the spirit and taught with love.  SO to you all, if you go about whatever you are doing with love, it can really change how people perceive you and listen to you and just love you back.  Jesus Christ is the greatest teacher of all time and I just hope to learn a thing or two from him.

Well another week has gone by, I just started realizing how much I miss baseball and sports but I am also starting to realize how amazing this experience is.  Even with all the homesickness, disappointment and everything, and as hard as it is, it all gets better with the love of my Heavenly Father and the comfort from the Holy Ghost when I am teaching someone about Jesus Christ.  I miss everyone soooo much but I’m not coming home any time soon because Heavenly Father needs me here and I will do anything to feel his love always!

Love you all so very much     Elder(Uncle) Fokken