Monday, 27 February 2012

My dome feels so tiny right now.

So.  Yep.
Another week gone by.  We've had a big change in our mission too.  President Brubaker announced we're going to be following a new form of finding.  Before, with time left over between appointments, we'd have a "consecrated hour", that is, an hour dedicated purely to finding.  Now, we're instructed to select a name (of members, less-active members, former investigators or even current investigators) for every hour then search up that person.  The idea is that we share a lesson with that person, get in contact or whatever, but also try contacting the immediate area around said person's hour.  For example, if the person is not home, you knock two doors to either side of their house.  It makes talking to those people a bit easier, because you can just ask them if they know the neighbour you were there to contact.  Make sense?  And if that fails, you just proselyte in the immediate area.  So.  Pick names, visit names, contact people in the area.  Hmm.  It's a bit too earlier to say right now, but it seems like a great idea.
A crazy thing happened yesterday!  We were at the train station to catch...a train--psh, what else--and some guy looked over at me...  "Hey!  Hey, you!"
Uh...  What?  Do I know you?
"You're a pastor, right?"
"Kind of.  We're missionaries for our church."
Guy just comes out of nowhere, super stoked to talk with us.  He even said at one point "So, you share a message about Jesus Christ, right?"  Certainly do!  Just...flew out of nowhere, gave us his cell number and kinda flew back off.  Said he lives in Amstelveen or something, which is still technically in our area.  His mom lives in Leiden as well.  But wham.  That was pretty strange.  First time anybody has ever contacted us.  We'll see how it turns out though.  Guy seemed a bit off.
Learning more about Elder Mortenson.  Strange coinciiasndifence...  His first name is Brett.  Whoa.  I've decided that he's a lot like Brett too.  Except he doesn't rap.
OH YEAH.  We've got a car now too.  BOOYAH.  Elder Mortenson doesn't enjoy biking as much as Elder Frahm did, so he decided to work something out with the Office Elders.  Since they don't use the car during the day, we get it until 5:30 now.  It makes getting around a lot more convenient--especially if we have business out in Wassenaar.  We get the car every Wednesday and Saturday night too, which works out great because we almost always have a dinner appointment Saturday night.  Now we don't have to catch a train or take a bus to all those crazy-far away places.
Still, I was very fond of biking...
It did work out--having the car--though.  My bike got another flat.  Dang it.  I'm proud to say though, I fixed it.  All by my lonesome.  Be proud.
As far as our investigators go, we're making good progress.  Khalid is doing swell--the things that kept him back from being baptised are a thing of the past now.  I'm confident he'll make the goal date of March 10 that we set for him.  I'm really excited for him.  He's got such strong faith.
Also, we set days to meet with Nana, who lives about half an hour away in Nieuw Vennep.  We were able to set a time during the day, so now that we have the car, it works out perfectly.  Nana also has huge faith.  He has some issues with re-baptism, but I'm praying that he'll find his answer.  Our biggest push right now, I think, is to get him to read the book of Mormon.  President Brubaker really stressed that at Zone training.  That getting investigators to read the Book of Mormon is the best thing we can do to strengthen and build their testimony.
We also met Steven again.  He had a kidney removed some while back, so he wasn't up to meeting with us, but he's doing better now.  He too was a difficult one to get in contact with, but we manage to set days that we'll come over with him, so things should be smoother from here on out.
Hmm.  I don't really have much to report this week.  Nothing terribly exciting happened I guess.  I got my haircut--Elder Klippel, the new office Elder, did it for me.  It's really short.  My dome feels so tiny right now.
We went to Amsterdam again.  Elder Mortenson wanted to.  I'm a fan of little old Leiden, I'll just say that much.  Amsterdam is huge.  You know how I feel about big cities.
I really love it here in the Wassenaar branch, but I'm pretty sure it's doing essentially nothing for my Dutch.  I realized the other day that just going to a church meeting--3 hours of straight Dutch speaking--is probably a huge benefit as far as understanding goes.  Most of the time, I catch words here and there.  Most of the time, I know the gist of what they're saying.  Still...  Oh well, it'll come eventually.  I'm blessed to be in such an awesome place.  Every member in our branch is just so awesome.
I played Soccer on Saturday.  I...didn't do all too bad actually.  Surprise surprise.  After not playing for what, over 10 years?  It was lots of fun too.  Not nearly as fun as volleyball, psh.  But a good work out nevertheless.
And thanks for all your letters too!  It's awesome to hear snippets of what's going on back home.  Good to know I'm still remembered!  Let's keep it that way.  Uh, I mean...
Love you guys a billion!  Keep writing.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

View IMGP9527.JPG in slide show

Monday, 20 February 2012

I need Dad's talking skills!

One day I'll regret not having proper subjects on these emails, but meh.
Yeah, the things I've learnt this week thing isn't working so well...  So ker-dropped with that
This week has been an interesting one, what with transfers and all.  So good ol' Elder Frahm is giggety gone, headed off to Hong Kong where his family is living.  I wonder what it's like there.  Meh.  So the day of transfers, I had to go to Den Haag to pick up my new companion, Elder Mortenson.  So I went there with another Elder and we chilled in the train station for an hour or so, then just went back to where we started.  Kinda frustration, but oh well.  On the plus side, I had the opportunity to see all the new sisters arriving in the mission (because they all stopped through Den Haag as well).  So that was nice.  Then, I got another treat by seeing the Elders (the group after us in the MTC) back in the office when we dropped off Elder M's luggage.  They're a swell group.  Apparently, one of them is super awesome in Dutch (probably better than me) and they're all just very motivated.  I loved seeing and hearing their reactions when you ask what their first impressions of the Netherlands is.  It was great to see them.
So Elder Mortenson, my New companion, has been out on his mission for about 6 months now--but all that time has been in Den Haag (the Hague).  So not only has he been in the same place, and the same apartment, but when he finally moved, it was just 20 minutes away.  Grappig.  He doesn't mind now.  Aha, I also thought it was funny that he has always been in a 4 man apartment too.  That's rarer.  Actually, our apartment is now mensen vijf (5-man) because Elder Benson is training somebody to replace him in the office.  5 people in one house.  Craziness.  NOT ONLY THAT, but the AP's stayed over one night too.  That's right, 7 people, one house.  That's got to be a record.  Needless to say, we didn't get to bed until late that night.
Elder Mortenson comes from Draper Utah (gasp, UTAH?  No, that never happens!).  He's a great missionary from what I see so far.  He hates doors so whenever we go finding, it's almost always street contacting, which is perfect, because now I realize how bad I am at it.  I don't know why, but it's hard for me to work up the courage to talk to somebody on the street.  I need Dad's talking skills!  But Elder Mortenson pushes me in that regard--which I'm very thankful for.  The only way I'm going to get better is by having a wee bit of a push.
BUT I have a small little...miracle to say.  Wham.  So last night, we had just under an hour to spare, so we decided to do some contacting opstraat in the centrum.  He talked to a few people while I stayed pretty much silent.  Finally, near the end, he said to me "I'm sitting down on this bench until you talk to somebody.  You've got ten minutes."  Uh, gulp.  So we stood there for a while, with me fighting with myself to just step out there and DO something.  Finally, I saw this one guy approaching and I just...walked up and spoke to him.  I don't know.  It was strange.  There was no little voice that said "he's the guy, go get him" or warm fuzzy feeling or anything.  I just went to him, you know?  Without hesitation, I just asked, "Pardon, manier.  Wij zijn vrijwillikers voor onze kerk."  And I told him we were giving away a book called the book of mormon.  "Oh, mormonen," he said.  Turns out, he knows us well.  You know the pannenkoeken house where we ate the first day?--where all the new missionaries eat?  He works there.  And when we mentioned that the Book of Mormon was written in another part of the world, he was really curious.  Long story short, he lives in Amsterdam, but he accepted the invitation for a free copy of the Book of Mormon.  We're going to send the Amsterdam Elders his number and they're going to give him a copy.  Anyway, it was a building experience for me.  I'm very hopeful for this guy too, he was genuinely interested.  The Lord works in interesting ways sometimes.  But he's prepared people, and they're out there.  We have to do our part.
Thank you so much for the packages by the way.  I was stunned, really, about your thoughtfulness.  Before I got the package, I was thinking about that kiwi T-shirt and how delicious Crispix is.  It's like you KNEW.  Mysterious.  You're so thoughtful!  I was feeling a bit blue the day I got them too--just what I needed to pick me up.  It meant a lot.  Thank you so much.
I have to wrap this up, so I'll be quick.
Antoine wants to start a church in Burundi, and that just got approved, so...  I'm not so sure what's going to happy with him anymore.  We committed him to come to part of church next week though, so that's a good sign.
Also, Khalid is moving forwards in bounds.  He's been taught before, and was close to baptism, but Word of Wisdom problems kept him back.  We just taught it the other day and he no longer has any problems with it!  Hallelujah!  We named off all the things it includes and he told us they all used to be problems, but no longer.  And he's come to church twice in a row.  I'm super excited for Khalid.
We also met a guy named Terry.  His thought process is a bit interesting--he moves at a million miles per hour and things get a bit scrambled--but he's interested in meeting with us at least 2 times a week.  So yay!
Things are coming together!
Love yah a billion!
Elder Burgess

Monday, 13 February 2012


to start things off
Things I've learned this week:
My new companion (stay tuned!)
Can't think of anything else
Here I am in Amsterdam again.  What ho?  Elder Frahm decided he wanted to spend his last P-day in the big ol' city.  Yep, we're in the giganitnormous library again.  Somebody was jamming Pirates of the Caribbean only moments earlier.  T'was awesome.  I'll take a zillion pictures.  Oh, and I forgot to send the thingy (camera memory card) last week, so ho hum...  It's coming, don't you fret!
So I'd like to start off by saying we went to a baptism.  Wow, that's great news!  Yep, but it wasn't ours.  The church building in Den haag is under repair so they had to come to Leiden to use our font.  Holy moses this keyboard is sticky.  Great guy though.  His name was Willem van der Spek (there's a million Willem's here).  The Spirit was so strong at the baptism.  I realized while we were chilling there that this is what it's all about.  Helping people make covenants with God.  It was awesome.  What's more, his wife had a very interesting story.  So somebody tipped her off that I was from Canada.  All flustered, she came up to me: "You're from Canada?  AH!  WHERE?"
"Uh, British Columbia."
Ah!  "the Okanagan."
Turns out, she has family in Vernon!  She practically grew up there!  She said she used to visit there all the time and told me of all the places in Vernon, like Okanagan lake and that 'haunted' cabin on the lake.  Craziness.  How small is the world, eh?  What're the chances of finding somebody else from the same area as me?  Her story was really interesting too.  She had a rough childhood and found Donny Osmond's music a great comfort in her life.  She joined an Osmond fan club thinger on the internet and met a man living in the Netherlands.  Long story short, they're now married and living in the Netherlands.  And she was taught by Elder Osmond, just before he returned home from his mission.  It's crazy to see how the Lord prepares people.  That the son of her idol just happened to be in the Netherlands the same time she was.  Both of them (Mr and Mrs) are from America too!  Now both the van der Speks are married.  Super cool.
As far as Antoine goes, he's kinda stopped progressing at this point.  He has a thing against coming to church right now.  There's the obvious project he has going on, but there's some other reason he won't tell us.  If he doesn't keep our commitments, we're going to have to drop him soon.  I'm really upset about that fact, but it's the hard truth.  We're here to help people change, and if they can't make that effort to change, we can't help them anymore.
We haven't met with Nana since last week either.
Khalid on the other hand, is promising.  He has dreadlocks and is AWESOME.  He's met with missionaries before, but is very optimistic this time around.  He didn't come to our ward on Sunday, but he made it to the Dutch ward, so that is great.  I'm really excited for him.
AND, we saw some success in Finding!  At last!  Oh, I mean...
We found a lady named Maria Tattiatiila;aihfd-vich (a Russian name or something) who was really excited for a book of Mormon.  We gave her a Dutch one and he said she would read it, but since she's sick and requires therapy, it might be difficult to get in contact with her.  Still, I'm very optimistic. 
We actually gave 2 het boek van Mormons away.  We found another lady who was also stoked to hear about the BvM.  She speaks English too, so we'll get to keep her.  And she's got a family!  Woo!
Don't worry about those foot warmers (hope you didn't send them...).  Things are warming up here.  However (and I hate to keep asking for things), if you do decide to send anything to me in the future, I wouldn't mind my iPod. It's a pretty small guy so shouldn't add any extra weight.  We're allowed to listen to certain music and it wouldn't hurt to have it around.  I could live without it though, so don't stress it.
Woo!  Jaedan!  That's super great news!  Now, if we could get Braden to consider a mission, life would be even better.
Ol' Elder Frahm is beginning to act how I did those last few days before I left.  It's a great smishsmash between "Holy man, this is really it" and "I'm super stoked"/"I'm super not stoked".  It's almost exactly the way I felt before I left.  Something to both look forward to and dread.  It was good to be with him though.  Even though I'm still confused why they would give an almost-gone person to a freshly-arrived person, I was glad to have him as a companion.  I'm curious to see what my new companion will be like.  Wh--MAN, I hope he knows how to cook.
Did I tell you how much juice we had last week?  A lot.  The juice was 3 jugs for 2 Euros, so we bought 6 jugs--but then the kantor elders came home with 3 more jugs--plus we got a huge thing of "squash", which is essentially a mix to make more juice.  I've been really well hydrated this week.
Another quick thought:
Sometimes I feel like a hoser because we'll be sitting there and Elder Frahm will say something and I'll give a lame answer.  It's not because I'm disinterested, just...distracted.  I get so wrapped up in what I'm thinking about it's hard to come back into the real world.  I imagine it's somewhat frustrating on his end.  Oh well.
But yeah, the cold snap is running its course.  The canal behind our house is melting at an impressive rate, so the ice skating will probably stop real soon.  I hope it does fast, because I've never wanted to skate so badly.  Picture the biggest ice rink you've ever seen, then stretch it for miles!  That was every canal in Leiden for awhile.  Missionaries can't iceskate.  So sad.
With regards to brunch with Pres Brubaker, I suggest you go for it!  Give him a call, I'm sure he'd be happy to meet you.  Just don't come and try to see me.
But yeah, living with the office Elders has its advantages.  My companion is going to be Elder Mortenson.  I've met him before; seems like a nice guy.  He's been out about 5 transfers or so.  Should be fun.
Well, tot volgende keer,
Doey!  Ik houdt van jullie!
Elder Burgess

The Hague Zone President's Training

It takes lots of concentration and diligence to be able to be willing to practice over and over again. The missionaries were reminded of the importance the Book of Mormon plays in true conversion.

Monday, 6 February 2012

The snow is coming down like a big fat blanket

Yeah, I can never think of anything original to put as the subject.  What more do you want than woo?
Psh, but anyways.  To a-start things off...
~Fart in Dutch--scheetje.  Ik heb een scheetje gemaakt!  Aha.
~You can't see a thing while riding in the snow.
But yeah, I suppose you've heard there's a cold snap going around Europe right now.  There's snow everywhere and it's been under -10 for the last week and a half or so.  Yep, that includes here in the Netherlands.  It snowed, oh, maybe 15 centimetres one day.  We were chilling at home and then WHAM.  It was snowing.  And man did it snow.  We had to catch a train that day and it was pretty miserable.  Trains get delayed, buses get delayed--Dutch people don't know how to deal with the snow!  We missed our train out to Nieuw Vennep and had to wait on a chilly train terminal for half an our or so, so we were thoroughly froz'd.  By the time we arrived, we were hardly thawed--only to have to wait another 20 minutes or so for a bus.  The snow was still coming down like a big fat blanket, but luckily there was an overhang to wait under.
Then, we waited on a bus for a while too.  There was a lot of waiting involved that day...  And it started HAILING.  What the wh--HAIL?  Gek.  Big ol' fat hails too.  It was all worth it though.  We met Nana, a Ghana guy who lives in Nieuw Vennep.  He has a strong believe in the Trinity, and didn't understand the reason he needs to be baptised again (he's met with missionaries before).  He lived in England before and requested to meet the missionaries once he moved to the Netherlands.  We had a great lesson with him--cleared up his trinity and baptism concern as best as we could.  We all made the conclusion that only God could confirmed the truth to Nana in the end and we all knelt right there in his apartment and he offered up a prayer.  After that, we explained how he would receive his answer from the holy Ghost and then Elder Frahm offered another prayer.  It was a super strong, super spiritually-tense moment.  We knelt there for a while, in silence.  Man.  Then Elder Frahm asked Nana how he felt.  "Good", he said.  "God is good."  Wham.  We committed him to baptism too!  He said that if he got that confirmation--that if what we claim is the truth--he'll be baptised on that date.  And, he added, his entire family too--because he's the head of his family.  Cue the jaw drops.  I'm super excited for Nana.
BUT brief interruption.  Guess where I am now?  Amsterdam!  Woo!  It's a zone P-day today.  SO we caught a train and currently we're sitting in a massive 10-story library.  What?  Yes, 10 stories.  It's huge.  There's a piano downstairs and somebody is busting some tunes.  They played "Mad World" just a little while ago.  That's what it's called, right?  Anyway, this place is crazy.  Haven't seen much of the rest of the city yet, but I'll take a bunch of pictures.
Antoine!  That's right.  We invited him on a church tour on Saturday.  He really opened up to us.  He has a rough life.  His family is back in Burundi and he hasn't seen them in a really long time.  That must be tough.  He told us all about the conditions back in his country too.  I can't even imagine what it must be like.  He was telling us his father was shot and killed a decade or so ago--and the man who did it is now in the Burundi Government.  Antoine has a project that he's started up to help the children in Burundi.  He wants to start an orphanage or relief groups of sorts and he's meeting with a priest from Paulus Kerk to do so.  That's what the whole 'startng a church' thing was about.  But near the end of our meeting, he kind of came to a conclusion.  He feels great about church--he says there's something special about it that no other church has--but if he starts coming to our meetings, Paulus Kerk would stop funding his project.  So that's what it boils down to.  I don't know everything that Antoine is going through right now, but that is certainly a difficult decision.  I can only pray that he'll make whatever decision is best for him.
As far as signing into the city goes, everything is all set.  The only thing holding it back is that birth certificate thing.  I talked with Elder Jones, and he said a while back the Netherlands made this agreement thing to simplify all the documents from different countries.  One of the only countries that didn't sign it, however, was Canada.  That's why they can't approve it here, but you have to approve it back on that end.  Does that make sense? 
We've been really busy lately.  We received a big list of former investigators we've been asked to check on and that's kept us real busy.  Travel has become a bit of an issue with the snow and all, but oh well.  We've had a lot of dinner appointments lately too.  They made a calender for us for dinner appointments, but I'm fairly certain everybody just wants a fill of Elder Frahm before he's off.  Hmm...  I hope that doesn't change when he is gone (in 9 days might I add).
 And also, I've stopped wearing Papa Joe's coat.  It's a good Fall/Spring coat, but not so great for winter.  I'm using the other one you packed me and it's working quite well.  OOO, one thing though.  It might be a bit of a stretch, but you know those hand warmers you bought me some while ago?  Those things are fantastic!  Somebody left a small box of them in our apartment and I used one for my feet the other day.  It worked excellent.  So...  That would make a great present, but I imagine mailing a box like that would be costly.  I don't need them.  I could do without.  But if you're feeling generous...  I can pay you back.  I don't think they sell them here, so...
Oh, and I got a letter from Courtney Smith!  Gasp!  I don't know if that's allowed...  But she just wished me well and said how great Brussels is.  She must be done her mission soon?
We've only eaten out a couple times now.  We got fries and a burger (fries are a zillion times better here), and a donar.  We don't eat out often. I BOUGHT MILKA BARS TODAY!
That's it for this email.  Glad to hear from you.  Loves yah lots, etc etc.
Hope you enjoy my pictures (which I'll send off sometime today).
Fijne dag verder!
Elder Burgess

Winter In The Netherlands
Winter in the Netherlands