donderdag 15 december 2016

blogspot week 21-23

Week 4 of my 2nd transfer in Hawaii already. Time sure flies. It is also my first area so far where I am serving longer than one transfer. There were plenty of opportunities to celebrate it! Thanksgiving with looooooooooooooooooots of food and also a ward Christmas party where I saw members dance the hula!

Speaking about Christmas.... it feels weird everyone here is skipping Sinterklaas! I guess it makes sense. It is such a long way for him to travel to Hawaii, but still... I do appreciate the Sinterklaas letters from friends and family. Mahalo!

This transfer I've got a new companion: sister Maghanoy from the Philippines. Just like me, she had to wait for her visa. It took us a long time to pronounce each others name correctly. I am afraid it will be a lifelong quest... But we're doing good. We have been playing a game of charades with a Mexican lady due to our limited Spanish vocabulary. We have also been conversing with ghosts (Us: *Knock, Knock* "Alohaaa"; inside the house: "No one is home!". If no one else is home, what else can it be but a ghost?). Also, often we walk around in the dark during evening hours and we tend to forget our flashlight. We truly apply 2 Corinthians 5:7 in our lives!

Talking about faith (if you've read the scripture verse ;) ) Some nice reading assignments we read are: Alma 32, Ether 12 (Book of Mormon) and Hebrews 11 (New Testament).

And I never thought I'd say this, but sometimes it can be a little chilly over here... I did not expect that... But I love it :)

woensdag 30 november 2016

Update Hawaii

Here I am again! so many things happened. I'll give you a brief summary :-)

Halloween! The ward organized a trunk or treat. that sure was something I have never seen before. It is a really fun idea. Instead of knocking doors, kids (and adults, such as me) go trick or treating at decorated trunks. They sure do get creative here. Halloween was a fun experience. During grocery shopping, we have had Bambi as a cashier, we crossed paths with Wonderwoman and I was very surprised to see vampires walking around in broad daylight. 

If I were to shortly summarize this transfer, I would say...Music! Sister Barber sure can sing.  You really can see how music is able to touch many people's hearts. It was really nice to see. We even got a Marshallese investigator to sing and strum on the ukulele for us! Too bad my talents lie elsewhere...

Missionary work sure is exhausting, but in a good fulfilling way. Although a lot of people reject the message of the restored gospel, you can see the impact on the lives of the ones who do accept and apply the gospel. Just as in my previous areas, I really enjoy hearing members' conversion stories. even tough Hawaii is on the other side of the world, the gospel still has the same impact on people's life everywhere. 

I was tired at one point and prayed, but my mind was somewhere else already (on what to do the next day). So I prayed something like this: 'This we humbly ask Thee in the name of Jesus Christ .. Tomorrow'. Yep, I ended a prayer with tomorrow. It was a good lesson to keep my mind on the prayer!

​Yes it is busy (which is good), but luckily we are also able to enjoy the beauty of the island every once in a while

We also had our transfer calls! Half of our district leaves. We all get a new companion. I really enjoyed the previous transfer and I am excited for the one to come!

dinsdag 1 november 2016

Week 14-16 Hawaii

Whut, whot, what? Where am I? can this be.... Hawaii? I traveled back in time to...Honolulu! Mission president Bekker and sisters Elgueta and Topp (long time no see) where there to welcome me. Two days later I traveled further with other missionaries to the Big Island (Hawaii) because that is where I will begin my mission. It is one of the colder islands. I like that. It also has an active vulcano. I like that less. Missionary work sure is different here. We just drop by peoples houses (often without appointment) and we are welcome to come in. In general we don't need to explain who we are, because they often have family who are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Just as in my other areas, the members are great and willing to help. Currently I am in Honoka'a with the lovely sister Barber. She is a great missionary and person and I am learning a lot from her. It is a very laid back culture here, also because we are not in an area with a big city. It is so relaxed that even the clouds are taking a rest ​on the mountains. See picture.

Even though it is relaxed and laid back, the people are extremely hardworking (as they have irregular working hours, setting fixed appointments can be tough for that reason as well).
Anyway, even tough the island has a laid back atmosphere, we do need to work hard. There are always people to visit. There is barely public transportation here (really a change compared to my previous areas) so we are driving around in a car to our various destinations (technically sister Barber is driving, but we are companions so..).
Some funny things I noticed so far: 
I have heard many times that I am from Neverland (I cant blame them, I almost need to use magnifying glasses in order to point the Netherlands on the map). I almost got a young boy at a point where he believed I was Wendy. Perhaps I shouldn't do that...
There are also cure little kokifrog here who don't sound like frogs at all. More like small birds tsjirping 'koki, koki'. Very deceiving.
Also, house numbers are very confusing: Oh, so you're driving past nr. 1612 and you want 1614? I don't think so. nr. 1644 will be next!.. Yep.
Even tough we are currently in the paradise, it comes at a high cost. It is difficult to come by, because, for example, housing and grocery shopping is very expensive. I might have cried a bit inside when we first went grocery shopping. And here I thought Norway was expensive...

There are two main things I got really exciting about again these last few weeks:
1) I was being reminded again of the importance of family history work. Especially from an eternal perspective. Also, it is just very interesting to connect all the puzzle pieces.
2) Keep on studying the scriptures and study the various layers it has. A sister in church had a good lesson and included a talk (Waddell - a pattern for peace)  which went more deeply into Lehi's vision (1 nephi 8). This makes you realize again that the Book of Mormon really is written for our times and can be applied to our lives, if we are willing to really study it.

Week 14 Zoetermeer

Zoetermeer gave me the opportunity to serve in a great city. A temple and a superhuge church building. What else can a missionary wish for?

My new companions were sister Stewart-Chester (she is now serving her last transfer) and sister Vandenberghe (strangely enough from the USA). It was a good time. They are hardworking and funny sisters.

I wasn't there for a long time, yet many things happened. My favorite part is where we were doing service at a farm. We helped feeding the cows and calves. We wanted to pet this sweet little calf that was roaming around in the field. My companions, a 4 year old boy and me went to the calf, but the calf was not as cute as we thought. It was restless and hunting us down! We ran for our lives and sister Vandenberghe grabbed the little kid and saved his life. I was the last one to go to the save place so I was heroically battling the little cow (sister Stewart-Chester was pretty heroic as well). almost Mas Oyama worthy. The cow might have won the battle, but we are all save. 

​As a reference: the scary calf  was slightly bigger than this one

Another awesome experience was the temple. Sister Stewart-Chester wanted to visit the temple before she left and so did I. It is always a good and uplifting experience. I saw many familiar faces as well, so that was fun :)

woensdag 12 oktober 2016


October 11, 2016
Sister Brandenburg has arrived in Hawaii!

Mail should be sent to:
Missionary Name (First, Middle Initial, and Last)
Hawaii Honolulu Mission
1500 S. Beretania Street, Suite 416
Honolulu, HI 96826

Please be aware that first class and priority mail can be forwarded from the mission office to missionaries without cost. Other services (FedEx, UPS, DHL) do charge to forward mail, which we collect from the missionary.

Sister Brandenburg

Sister Brandenburg with other European sisters

Incoming group of missionaries

maandag 3 oktober 2016

Week 12 + 13 Ghent

Allrighty, new update

We went to Amsterdam again (long time no see). Not for fun, nono, we went there for important matters. I needed to go to the US consulate in order to get my visa approved. I had completed all the documents and online applications beforehand, and the moment had finally arrived to go to the consulate. To make your application complete, I had to take an official visa photo for the interview wherein you have to look neutral/serious, it almost looks like a mug shot. Good thing I have no dark past otherwise I might be in trouble! Everything went well, but me and my companion had to make a tough decision and be separated for over half an hour! We barely managed but we both knew it was for the greater good. My visa got approved and serving my mission in Hawaii is getting more realistic now. 

General Conference ( How awesome is General Conference? It is more grand than the Superbowl, the FIFA world cup, the Olympics! Some might disagree with me, but that's ok :-) In General Conference the General Authorities of the Church (such as the Prophet and the Apostles) speak to us all. They do not discuss the topics or their plans with each other beforehand, it is all inspired and lead by the Spirit. We noticed that. Just like the scriptures it is always good to read (and in this case listen) with questions or concerns in mind: what bothers you? what are you curious about? how can you improve on certain areas? etc. You will get your answer(s) because it is inspired and Heavenly Father knows your struggles. You can receive personal revelation if you are willing to listen and receive. Mercer and I did that and within the first session already our questions were answered. I can most certainly recommend everyone to do the same (in case you weren't doing it already).

Saturday October 1st was an exciting day... Transfer calls! We kind of were worried because we were exciting all day long and then we were told that the transfer calls might be on Monday after the Conference. Therefore, you will probably understand our excitement when we were called in the evening just when we arrived home! Sister Mercer is going to serve in Den Haag and I will go to Zoetermeer and join two other sisters until I leave to Hawaii. Zoetermeer is awesome because the temple is there. Looking forward to it! First we need to write down all the information about Ghent and bestow our wisdom and knowledge about the area upon the new sisters who will arrive here. It is interesting because I have mixed feelings. I enjoyed serving with sister Mercer and I really loved it in Ghent. The members and investigators are awesome and the area is beautiful. But then again, a new area with new opportunities and people also sounds very good. I am excited! Before we had to go, Mercer and I had to do at least one awesome pancake cook-off. She made American ones and I made the normal ones ;-) It was a tough decision as we both like our own pancakes and the elders just ate them both, so we decided it to be a draw. They were both equally delicious.

Photo: Sister Mercer (my longest companion so far) and me

I would love to close with a legendary missionary story which came to my attention through sister Mercer. I might not tell it completely the way it went, but it is still funny!
A long time ago some missionaries are in a foreign country and don't understand the language completely yet. They contact people on the street and want to back up their message with a scripture text. 1 Nephi 3:7. Beautiful message! however, they had to trust their memories on where the scripture text is. They pull out the scriptures and read 3 Nephi 3:7. They had no clue what they were reading (due to the lack of understanding the language), and testified of the message (thinking it was 1 Nephi 3:7). You can imagine the confusion of the people receiving the message and why they slowly walked away.. :'-)

maandag 19 september 2016

Week 10 + 11 Ghent

Update by sister Brandenburg. Unfortunately she did not send any pictures this time...

Yes I am still alive. Sister Mercer and I bravely continued our sacred quest through the burning sun. While riding in flaming buses, and walking through empty streets chasing the shadows, we conquered many doorbells... and hearts :-)

We met a lot of amazing people again. We saw the life of an older woman change for the better just by praying and reading in the Book of Mormon. We also met a man who met previous missionaries 4 years ago, and would love to talk with us again about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many more small miracles happened. Life is good...

We also did some cool trips! First we went to The Hague for some mission related issues. Oh beautiful Netherlands, how I have missed you. Sister Mercer needed to eat herring. It is a tradition that all missionaries of the Belgium/Netherlands mission have to go through. I hope they don´t find out I have never eaten it.. (yes I am Dutch... that´s why they assume I did eat it... ;-) ). We also went to Lokeren on a sister exchange. I served a day with sister Lucero, and Mercer served with sister Berret. A nice event was the baptism of a young girl in Sint-Niklaas (my father served there).

What makes Belgium different so far....? I saw a rooster climb (flyjump) a tree and walk around in it. That was an unusual sight. Also, we get to experience great joy when a bus arrives on time.
I can proudly say that my Flemish vocabulary is improving as well: allee, saluutjes, ijskast/frigo confiture and much more! I even start to say ´u` or ´gij` to younger children...what?  

maandag 5 september 2016

Week 8 + 9 ....Ghent!‏

Sister Brandenburg has moved to Ghent. Below you will find another update by her...
If you want to send a written letter to sister Brandenburg so that she has more time to read it, or if you want to send pictures or some sweets, you can mail to:

sister Brandenburg
Schuttersveld 2
2316 ZA Leiden

21st of August....the moment has arrived... Transfer calls! Every six weeks (I kind of jumped in in the middle of a transfer) we get transfer calls and it is the most exciting and nervewrecking period! You get to hear if you keep serving in your current area or if you leave. Lechtenberg stays, Nyakoh is going to Groningen (where a lot of family of mine lives) and I will go to sister Nyakoh's home branch Ghent! My father also served in Belgium, following his footsteps, yeah!  I already start to talk weird, different words, different sentence structures... I bet when I am home me and my dad can speak Vlaams to each other. Our secret language. Therefore, although I am not honoring my blogspot's name yet.... I am very happy!
In Belgium it sure needs a different approach  to come in contact with people, but that is what makes it exciting. Sister Mercer is my new companion and she is a lot of fun (and a hard worker). The Ghent area is pretty big so we travel a lot as well.

Sister Brandenburg wearing a different nametag?!

Now before I mention something really cool, I'd like to share something spiritual as well. I really came to realize what a privilege it is to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We met so many people who shared very personal stories with us, wherein the gospel can really help them through their lives. It sure is amazing to see their joy when they realize it. It just makes me so calm and positive in my live to know that we always have someone we can trust and lean on, and also guide us throughout our lives because we are here with a purpose (talking about Christ if someone missed the reference :P).
And I want to close this weeks story by saying that I drove in a Tesla!!!! (sitting in the back, but still...). It was awesome. It barely makes any noise (perfect if you're trying to sneak away) and it feels like you're hoovering on the road, and driving with no hands.... sci-fi coming true right there! Yup... 

maandag 22 augustus 2016

Amsterdam week 6 and 7

Another update by sister Brandenburg:

Time sure went fast! almost serving a month already. We met a lot of people, got to share the restored gospel, grew closer as a companionship, and I had to take a lot of people on the back of the bicycle (being Dutch serves its purposes) I am temporarily borrowing from an elder. I had the pleasure to briefly serve with sister Dundan who supports sisters throughout the Belgium/Netherlands mission (she is back home right now). I also went on an exchange to Lelystad and served with sister Smith. Really nice to see other mission areas as well. Later that week we got deliiiiicious Indonesian food from a sweet sister of the church. Yep, good week. As a missionary it is one of the best things to have dinner at a member´s house, get to know them and hear their testimony about the church.
Preparation day was Amsterdam day. for some reason you could mainly find me in the cheese shop (free delicious samples!) and to look more smart, also in the bookstore. in the city we met some members from the USA who were on a Europe trip. Always fun to randomly talk with fellow members.

Photo: Pretty Amsterdam

Photo: Rainbow! pretty, pretty...

There were two other great experiences this week. We got to meet someone who really needed the gospel in her life and she knows its true. That was really a testimony to me that the Lord prepares people to receive the restored gospel and its up to us to find them. We also had a baptism this sunday for the sweetest Spanish lady you can meet. She was being taught by elder Ocampo (called to serve to speak Spanish, but he can speak Dutch as well) and Tolman (called to serve to speak Chinese, but speaks Dutch as well). It was a very special experience to be there. Even tough I can barely speak to her (due to my lack of Spanish speaking experience) I do know she is awesome!
Oh, and let us not forget we ate fufu this week, being prepared by a lovely Ghanese member). Sister Nyakoh the experienced showed oblivious sister Lechtenberg and me how to eat it.

dinsdag 9 augustus 2016

Week 4 + 5 Amsterdam‏

Sister Brandenburg is doing good. Here is another update with her own words:

The real missionary work has started! Together with my new sweet companions Sister Nyakoh (from Ghana and Belgium) and Lechtenberg (USA) we get to do a lot of things. We get to teach people who are investigating the church. You really have to take their needs into account which makes it special and personal (my personal favorite is the Plan of Salvation wherein families can be together forever.. Yeah!). We also support the (members of the) church, we do service work (really nice to see that by doing small things for people it can bring a smile to their faces - priceless). Last but not least... roaming the streets and knocking doors! to find people who are interesting in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This can be done any moment of the day and it's interesting to meet many different people with their own way of living. I find it enjoyable to knock on people's door and they appear to be Jehova witnesses. I can remember the good old times when I opened my door for them and talked with them for a bit. How the tables have turned!
I never knew that walking through the city includes a free birdsafari as well! We found some fine specimen in their natural habitat. Learning something new everyday.

Green bird

Heron on a car

We also got our bicycles this week. I have a temporary one and Sister Lechtenberg her tires were finally fixed (if any tire-slashers are reading this: stop doing it, be nice, be cool).  Anyway, due to safety reasons we have to wear helmets. As a Dutch person who was almost born with a bicycle, the picture shows how I feel :-). Oh well, it most certainly is a new experience! With our bicycles we are able to be much faster and therefore do more missionary work. Woohoo!

Helmet group picture

maandag 1 augustus 2016

Week 1-3 MTC Preston

Sister Brandenburg left the MTC the day before it was p-day, so she had to wait a bit longer to send an update to her family. She is doing well and serving now in the Amsterdam Ward where she has met her younger sister who got married the day after sister Brandenburg left for her mission.
Below an update of the first few weeks as experienced through her own eyes...
6 July is the day. I am leaving for my mission in order to: Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I am very happy that I have the opportunity to do this for the upcoming 1,5 years.
I arrived at the missionary training center Preston and saw many (indirect) familiar faces. For example: sister Elgueta I met during my study exchange in Norway. At the time we both didn't want to go on a mission but last year we both received the prompting to go, and we are both being called to serve in the Hawaii Honolulu mission! Her companion at the MTC is sister Topp. She will serve in the same mission (after her visa issues are resolved, just like mine and sister Elgueta's... America... ;) ) We found out our brothers were companions in the Scotland-Ireland Mission. Coincidence>? I think not! we are going to do something awesome over there, I can feel it.

photo:Topp, Elgueta and I will serve in Hawaii

The MTC is smaller than the one in Provo (the one I was supposed to go) and I am glad because it gave me the opportunity to meet many great people. I had great teachers, great room mates, a great district (district Jacob - a prophet in the book of Mormon - for the win!), and a great companion. I had the honor to serve with the lovely Canadian sister smith. she will serve in the London South mission and she will charm and impress everyone there with her funny laugh and hard work.

The MTC was a good experience. I had the opportunity to understand the gospel even better and be reminded of how important the atonement is for us. Also I really got to understand that it is the Holy Ghost who is the teacher through us. Having that experience with the people you are meeting up with to teach is really amazing.
On July 26th (my father's birthday.. Happy Birthday Dad!) it was time to leave. It was early in the morning and the group that I left with... we weren't very lively due to shortage of sleep (2 hours). But we made it safely to the airport!. I was traveling in a cute little airplane (with 10 other travelers) to Rotterdam airport (never been there, cool!) and I was picked up by a hardworking and dedicated missionary couple, the Van der Puts (long time no see). They brought me to Leiden where I had to fill in some paperwork. The mission office of the Belgium/Netherlands mission is there. It was really weird to walk in Leiden as a missionary and not as a student!. One year ago I finished my bachelors degree there. from Leiden we traveled to my new mission area until my visa arrives... Amsterdam! 
photo: cute airplane
Photo: Sisters Brandenburg, Nyakoh and Lechtenberg

woensdag 20 juli 2016

MTC Week 2

Another week has gone by. Sanna is enjoying her time in the MTC. She is learning a lot with plenty of practice teaching together with her companion and learning from the scriptures and others.
She will be in the MTC for another week and then go back to the Netherlands to serve in the Belgium/Netherlands mission for the first part, until she will receive her visum to go to Hawaii.
Last week they went on a field trip with all the missionaries. Below are some pictures that she send in her email.

donderdag 14 juli 2016

MTC Preston

Sister Brandenburg has started her mission! For the next 18 months general emails that she will send will be posted on this blog as well as a collection of pictures from time to time. She won't be able to read or reply to all the reactions, but we, as her family, will keep her posted so that she knows that you are thinking of her!

On July 6th sister Brandenburg went to the MTC in Preston where she is having a good time at the moment. Her first companion is Sister Smith from Canada.