Finally made it! And made it I did. What a beautiful country, let me start off by saying that. My call was to a place called Wassenaar, which is about a 15 minute bike ride from Leiden, where the mission office is. It's strange though, because the apartment is actually in Oegstgeet (impossible word to say), which is to the north and about 40 minutes from Wassenaar. Hmm. Man, this place is beautiful. Did I mention that? The houses are tiny, but stacked high--apparently, they used to charge tax for the square space of the ground floor or something. Our apartment is 3 stories high, with the steepest steps possibly ever made! I'm lucky because we're in a apartment of 4. We're the second set of Elders in Leiden. The other two in our room work in the mission office all day. Also, Leiden has 2 branches, the Dutch branch and the multicultural branch (which speaks English). I'm in the English branch, which is both a blessing and a curse, because on one hand, I can understand them, on the other hand, it's doing nothing to improve my Dutch.
But wham! Let me slow down. FIRSTLY, you ask, how did you get there? Well now, let me tell you. Over 30 solid hours of travelling. Woo, you heard me. That jumbo jet flying into England was rocking and twisting like nothing else. Apparently, all over England area was having hurricane-force type winds all that weekend. Man, I've never been tossed so much in an aeroplanular device. Right as we were coming in, Elder Stoddard's nose starting gushing blood (but he couldn't get up to get any napkins) and on top of that, Elders McKee and Mower threw up! Poor Elder Mathis was sandwiched in between them all. Pretty bad, eh?
Anyway, after that, we rushed over to get onto our next flight, which was scheduled to leave around 8:30 England time. However, something went awry (some diddety-bob on the wing) and we had to wait while they tried to replace it. Over 3 times. buuut they couldn't locate the problem so our flight was straight-up cancelled. Because of the wind, over 20 other flights were cancelled as well. All of Scotland's airports actually closed down because of the extreme wind.
Twenty flights cancelled translated into a massive, slow-moving line that we had to wait in to reschedule our flight. If hell had a waiting line for it, I imagine it's fashioned somewhat like that. We were all exhausted, but you couldn't sleep in the line! You had to keep moving, sluggishly slow as it was. We waited probably...5 hours or more in that one line alone. Elder Mower actually fell asleep standing up at one point. *shudder* So awful. Anyway, after a billion million hours of line-life, we got our flight rescheduled for 6, London time. it was about 5:30, so we all rushed over to our terminal, only to discover it was delayed again. Awesome.
I'll spare you the details, but we all stayed awake for the rest of the time because we had to pay attention to the monitors as our flight bounced from terminal to terminal. I'm not sure when we finally left Deathrow--I mean, Heathrow--but all in all, we arrived at the Mission President's house around midnight. Man oh man.
That flight stuck with me the rest of the week. My companion actually let me have a nap (not allowed) because I was nodding off during companion study. What a great guy!
Ah yes, my companion. He's an awesome guy. 6 foot 8 and super friendly. It's interesting for him because he started his mission in Wassenaar and he's also ending it in Wassennar. He's only got 5-ish more weeks left until he's skiddely-gone. I suppose I'm blessed to have a well-experienced companion. Elder Frahm is his name (pronounced 'from'). When I tried to ask him where he's from (no pun intended), he said all over. His Daddy works for the American Embassy, so he really has lived almost everywhere. When he goes back, he's going home to Hong-Kong. Craziness.
Mission work is definitely difficult. I'll say that much. Since we opened a new mission, so to speak, that means were have no investigators. That also means we have a lot of finding to do. Gah! I feel so bad because now that I'm here, I realize how slecht my Dutch is! I'm super hesitant to talk to people, mostly because of the language barrier, but also because I don't know what I'd say in English. We haven't found any investigators by chilling around the streets yet, but we did find a previous investigator named Steven. He's from Nigeria I think. We taught him the first discussion just the other day and he totally understood! We asked him why he thought there was a need for a restoration and he nailed it. "To fill in all the gaps taken away from the bible, right?" BAM. Nailed it. I'm super excited to work with him.
People are generally friendly here. We only had one guy get upset with us, and he was as baked as a potato, so... But you can definitely tells who's Dutch and who isn't. Dutch people usually brush you off the moment you say Jesus. Like I said, they're not usually rude about it though. I actually enjoy it when we meet religious people though. They like to share that they have a strong belief and most of the time wish us luck. They appreciate what we're trying to do. Hmm.
Oh man, the biking is awesome too. We do at least...2 hours of biking every day. The city was built around bikes, I swear. There's the road, a walkway, and a bike way EVERYWHERE. Cars are extremely cautious of pedestrians, so there's no worry about being hit. We don't have to wear a helmet (only mission that doesn't require it). I just love this place! I feel at peace when we're biking around. Gives me time to think. The sights are awesome too. You know how you think of Holland, and you think of windmills? Bam, keep thinking that because they're everywhere. No joke! There's a massive one downtown and a small one about 5 minutes from our house. They're so awesome. Now, the art they put up everywhere? That's another question. Their art is the strangest ever.
I'd love to send you some pictures, but there isn't a card slot on this computer, sorry. I'll ask Elder Frahm if we can swing by a printing place to see if I can mail them to you.
K, he just said we'll print them off downstairs at the Hema store. Looks like you're getting a letter. Yay.
Thanks for all the letters by the way! I had so many emails from friends and family! It means a lot to me.
Oh, and don't be hesitant to talk to the Elders back home. And don't be afraid to give them any referrals, friends or family you think would benefit from the gospel. The best way to convert people is through referrals. It saved the missionaries hours of finding and gives the investigators somebody to turn to. Friendship is the best thing ever!
I love you all so much! I diddely-do.
Don't forget about me! Keep me in your prayers (I really need them).
Sincerely, Elder Burgess
"We had very tired and exhausted missionaries arrive at 11:30 pm! We were so happy to see the whites of their eyes! We took them to the mission home, fed them and tucked them all into a warm comfortable bed!We were so happy to have them all arrive safe and sound!"
What Holland does best! Pannekoeken!