The Sister in Checkerboard Vans

How do I properly express in a single email the amount of happiness I feel to be a missionary?! It’s simply impossible. At least I still have nearly 40 more emails to try to convey as Alma said best, how full my joy is and quite likely will not be able to even say the smallest part which I feel. 

I love this work! I love being a missionary! I love Whitechapel and Africans! I love the Lord! I love life! I love this week!

Get it yet? No? I didn’t think so. Let’s try again.

This week was absolutely fantastic and wonderful and awesome and lovely and ah! Yeah. So good. It was one of the most incredible weeks full of spiritual uplifting moments and as Sister Mullen calls it, “filling my bucket” weeks. Sometimes you need those, right? Anyways, so many amazing experiences so let’s get to it. 

Tuesday was interviews with our mission President. There are 200 missionaries in the England London Mission, and so it’s quite a big deal to have some one on one time with him. I learned so much and will hold that meeting dear to my heart. 

And Yasmine is visiting London from Algeria! Sister Kerr and I taught Yasmine back in November but she had to move back to Algeria. Basically one of the most heartbreaking things ever, but then I received a message from Yasmine saying, “I’m in London!” Such a wonderful reunion. 

Wednesday was a special worldwide missionary broadcast! For those in tune with missionary life, some major changes were made to our daily schedule. Well, not too many changes because being a Visitors’ Centre sister you kind of have your own different schedule to begin with. But it was still really neat anyways!

Thursday was just awesome. A group of 32 children came in with their class for a field trip. They were studying religions and visited a Hindu temple, Islam mosque, St. Paul’s Cathedral and last but not least, the one and only Hyde Park Chapel. They were all about ten-years-old and being with those children was a truly moving experience. 

We gathered in the chapel and sang the hymn, “I am a Child of God” together and shared several videos. Following one video, a girl explained how her father “on a mission” in which he could not use his phone and could only FaceTime them once a week. She then said, “And we don’t know when…” and burst into tears. All of us adults began to cry but then mentioned that even though we may not be able to be together with our family right now, we know families can be together forever. 

After that statement, we asked the children who would want to be with their family forever. All of them raised their hands except for one boy. One of the students said, “You don’t want to be with your family forever?!” And he said, “OK, if I’m 47 and still living with my family, then that’s just sad!” The tears from the other girl’s story quickly turned into tears of laughter. Great moments. 

Oh and fun side note- one of the boys was from Colorado and wearing a Broncos jersey. I got to talk to him for awhile and asked him if he liked Peyton Manning. He said, “Not in his last year!” And I said, “Well at least we still won the Super Bowl.” His response was under his breath and between laughs: “Yeah because of the defense.” Smart kid. My mom also mailed me special vanilla so I got to make cookies the night before and just so happened to have enough for the kids. Yup, their trip to our chapel was obviously their favorite after that treat 😉

Friday was a day full of noticing God’s hand in the little things. Sister Wallace and I made a rookie mistake and forgot our phone at home. We were on shift in the Visitors’ Centre during the morning, and so we didn’t have our phone all day. We were thinking about when to go get the phone, and debated between doing somethings we needed to get done either there at the Visitors’ Centre or back at home, and so depending on where we went depended on when we’d get the phone. Both of us felt we should go home to retrieve the phone and just accomplish our tasks there. 

We traveled home after shift and when we got home, there was a text informing us that our dinner appointment was changed and was in 30 minutes! We quickly jumped back on the bus, thankful we had felt prompted to come home earlier and therefore see the text message. 

The dinner appointment was then amazing. It was with the Guei family, who have two cute sons, John and James. As we were there, I noticed a checkerboard Vans book. Now anyone who knows me knows I live in Vans shoes. It’s all I ever wear. So I naturally asked who liked Vans in their family. The older son John said how Vans are his favorite. The mother, Sister Guei, then asked me what size shoe I wore and left the room. 

She came back with a shoe box and said, “If these fit you, you can have them.” Then she opened the box. Inside were my absolute favorite Vans- the classic checkerboard slip-ons. I almost cried just seeing them. She had me try them on and lo and behold, they fit. Sister Guei began proclaiming, “They fit! They fit! They’re yours!” It was a Cinderella moment. 

I told her how the checkerboard slip-ons were my favorite and I wore them everyday at home. Sister Wallace then mentioned how that week we had visited a Vans shop and I told her how much I love that pair. And then Sister Guei said this: “I bought these shoes but needed to return them. And when I need to return something, I return it right away. But for some reason I just felt I shouldn’t return them. And it’s because they were meant to be for you.”

That’s the basic story, but I’ll get back to it in a bit, because there’s still more! The week continued to be outstanding. Saturday we had the incredible opportunity of visiting a family who lives in the mews behind Buckingham Palace! Extremely fancy place and it’s where the horses and queen’s carriages are.

On Sunday we had a miracle. Throughout this week, we had no time in our area. But the Lord provided. Back in August, a man named Valerio came into the Visitors’ Centre. Sister Apiyo and I began to teach him but found out he lived in the Whitechapel area. Those sisters began to teach him but something occurred in which he was no longer being taught. Then we randomly heard from him and he told us how he wanted to come to church. I totally forgot about him until now! He attended church with us and even brought his Book of Mormon. It was a beautiful sabbath (which by the way, I had the opportunity to speak in Sacrament meeting as well! So that was fun.)

The week concluded with Roy’s baptism! A little over a month ago, Roy came into Mormon.org requesting missionaries to come visit him. I was super excited when I noticed he lives in our mission. I began to teach him and then the elders met him too. It’s been so wonderful following his journey. His heart is so pure and I’m truly so happy for him! He’s one of those people that it seems like the entire mission knew because his story was just so amazing. Being an online missionary is one of the most fun things! I love it. I love it. I love it. And I love Roy too! 

So have you noticed how outstanding this week was yet? I hope so. I know I don’t have any profound spiritual message to share this week, as this email has already become a novel. But I want to close by going back to the story of the checkerboard Vans. 

Did I need those checkerboard Vans? No. In fact, I never have the chance to really wear casual shoes on my mission. But did the Lord know those checkerboard Vans were something that would bring me joy? Yes. He was quite aware of that. 

We read in the Book of Mormon that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:26). How neat is that! We are here to have joy and the Lord shows us His love even through the little things. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. And those Vans may seem small but to me they were ever so great. 

He loves us. He knows us. He’s real! It blows me away that the Lord cares about the little details of our lives. He knows that there’s this sister missionary from a small town in Wisconsin, serving amongst 9 million people in London, that loves checkerboard Vans. And so even though I can’t really wear them, I’d like to consider myself, thanks to an ever so loving Heavenly Father, the sister in checkerboard Vans 🙂

LOVE YOU ALL AS MUCH AS I LOVE VANS,

Sister Fuhriman 🙂

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