Wednesday, 21 December 2011's almost Christmas

Hoi jullie!  Hoe gaat het?  (hey, how's it going?)
So guess what day it was yesterday?  Magic Tuesday, yay!  We led on the andere Dutch so well--they thought they were going to see a General Authority or go to temple square or something.  They all wore their fancy ties and clothes and brought their cameras and stuff.  It was hilarious.  They weren't mad at us at all, which was awesome.  They came to lunch and more or less congratulated us on our leading them....astray.  When we did ours, everyone kinda did it at different times throughout the day.  The new Dutch missionaries had to wait until that evening--all of them.  That's right, four elders ruining our washroom all at once.  They weren't discreet about it either.  Fun times.  Aw, one of them got me to take a picture.  That's right.  They held it under the stall door.  Talk about kernasty.
I heard about Twyla from Cassie.  That sucks; I hope she gets better soon! 
Oh, and thank you all so much for your letters!  It's always the best to get letters from family, but I daresay it might be better to get them from friends.  Ah, don't hate me for saying that!
I love hearing your stories about what's going on, what with the Girlies, Jeremia, the replacement cat and everybody else!  Keep writing, all of you!  I'll do my best to write you back.  Eventually.
I can't believe there is less than 2 weeks until we leave.  It seems so far yet so near.  It's as though I've been here forever, but not enough.  Make sense?  I'm so excited though.  I can't wait to get there--to eat REAL food.  I also can't believe how fast Christmas is coming up.  Back home, everything seems to re-remind you of Christmas, what with the lights everywhere, the commercials, the flyer's, the music on the radio.  We've got none of that.  Elder Mower told me today that he was doing something (can't remember what) and was suddenly reminded that Christmas is in 4 days; the thought just struck him.  It's definitely a different atmosphere here.
I hope none of you forget the true meaning of Christmas this year.  Yep, here it comes, my spiritual rant!  Elder L Whitney Clayton of the Seventy spoke to us concerning the matter.  The very first, and most important gift ever given was Jesus Christ.  How profound is that?  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.  And Jesus gift to us was the redemption of all mankind.  Sister Clayton also told us of how important it is to accept gifts graciously and with sincere gratitude.  I think this is no exception.  I hope we can all appreciate how great a gift was given on the first Christmas.
Speaking of gifts, I got the packages you sent me. I got the first one Monday of last week but decided until Wednesday to open it (after I had sent my e-mail).  Holy Moses, have I told you how much I love you lately?  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I couldn't have asked for anything better!
That's crazy what Sister Courtney Smith said about those missionaries in Brussels.  It's amazing how the Lord takes care of us.  He works in mysterious ways, that much I've learnt, but he's always looking out for us.  I hope Sister Smith's mission is going great.  How long does she have left?
The language is coming along very well.  I think I have a pretty solid grasp on it, at least how the grammar works.  I don't feel as though I know especially much, and I'm terrified for that first time I hear a local speak while I'm in the Netherlands, but I'm optimistic as usual!  What else can you do?  We're going for 100% het Netherlands now.  We slip here and there, but I'm impressed with our language all the same.  It's amazing how much we've learnt in just 2 months.  Craziness.
I've been playing volleyball pretty consistently.  I guess I'm hoping one of these days it will really picks up and we'll have an amazing game.  I'm pretty sure my spike and approach have gone down the drain by now.  Still pretty fun though.  There are two four-square courts, but one of them is in the volleyball space and consequently cannot be used, the other is in the middle and usually has a huge lineup for it.  Looks pretty intense, I hear people talking about it all the time.  I think I'll stick with Volleyball though.  They just opened up a exercise room in 2M (that's the post office building).  It has machines and weights that you can use.  Ooo, also televisions and headphones you can luisteren to talks with.   I haven't been down there myself, but it sounds like a heel leuk place.  Maybe one of these days.
Ah, as for Christmas.  We got our schedule, and we're having a huge sacrament meeting Christmas day.  All 2,000'ish of us.  Wow.  Then we have personal planning for a while and stuff, not entirely sure.  What I do know, however, is that we're having a Christmas lunch--kind of like tijdens thanksgiving.  Then a sack dinner.  There aren't going to be staff at dinner because they want them to go home to celebrate with their families.  Aaand there's some other stuff, not sure what.  I'll let you know next email.  I also know that we're going to have somebody from up top addressing us.  Probably an apostle.  I'm hoping for Elder Uchtdorf (spelt right?) personally.
Hey, that's great news about Braden!  I hope his job brings him joy.  I have some advice for him, and anybody else.  Never forgot who you are.  Never forget about God and Jesus Christ.  Love your family with all your heart.  I hope whatever path you take, please stay faithful.  Braden, you have the greatest faith of anybody I know.  I hope you have success in your life, but more than that, I hope you always remember God--and all he's done for you.
I encourage all the young men to look forward to their missions.  I'm super happy to hear about their progress.  I don't want to discourage anybody, but Satan will try his hardest to keep you from going on a mission.  He does everything in his power to stop the truth.  This is the truth.
Oh hey, I'm happy to hear about Brett as well.  I'm glad he's finding his way with his music career.  I really am.  Keep going, bro!  I hope Jeremia are happy too.
Since the post office closes in two days, I don't think there will be enough time to send me any more letters or packages.  I don't know when it opens again, but I doubt anything would reach me before I left.  Continue using though.  Perhaps, if there is anything you want to send to me, wait until I'm settled in the Netherlands or Belgium.  I'll forward you my address and what not.  Also, if you're emailing me, send your address in the email.  I'd love to write you back at some time, but that's a difficult thing to do without addresses!
I'm also grateful to hear stories about Sasa, Greg and the girlies.  It means so, so much to me.
Well, goede gelukkig, don't have too much fun without me!
Merry Christmas!
Love you all, SO MUCH.
I was thinking of Papa Joe and Mama Jean the other day.  I hope I'm doing them proud.
Tot volgende keer,
Ik houdt van jullie!

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