Monday, 26 March 2012

Transfer #1

Ah.  *cracks fingers*.  Time to write another email.
And probably ignore that huge list of questions you asked me.
Where to start...  Shenanigans this week.  Good and bad.
FIRST, though.  I'm going to address transfers.  Did you set any bets?  Because if you did, Dad owes some money.
That's right.  I'm getting transferred.  Should make that package you sent me difficult...
Elder Mortenson is staying behind to train a newbie while I'm going to Eindhoven.  It's a relatively big city close to the border of Belgium.  But get this.  Who's going to be my companion?  Elder Coons (not sure how it's spelled), who was in Elder Mortenson's MTC district AND Elder Andrews.
Wait, what?
That's right.  I'm going into a 3-man companionship.  With a guy from my MTC district.  Yeah.  Officially blown away.  How crazy is that?  I can hardly believe it.  I thought I'd be super bummed to leave Leiden, but I'm actually stoked for this.  Sounds like it's going to be a crazy adventure.  Elder Klippel (office Elder)served in Eindhoven and he loved it.  Adventure, HO!
But, with our investigators, we had some craziness happen--as mentioned above.
Gabriel.  What a champ.  The guy just wants to serve God.  His momma is from Ghana, but he was born in Amsterdam and raised in Leiden.  He keeps mentioning that he lives in a medical centre of sorts and that he was healed from some sort of...ailment, but we're still not sure what.  He's obviously a bit slow--takes a second or two to register, but he's still just so awesome.  The other day, we had an appointment with him, and another directly after, with Dineke (I don't think I've mentioned her).  We had no joint teacher for her appointment though!  On a whim, we asked Gabriel if he would be interested in coming along.  Luckily, he said yes.  Bringing an investigator as a joint teacher!  I'm not sure if that's even legal.  Aha, Elder Mortenson and I just laughed and laughed about it afterwards.  It was super surreal.  "Did we just do that?"  Definitely a mission first--for both of us.
We also met with Abla earlier this week.  Sometimes, it seems like we're just reviewing things with her.  She's already got such a great knowledge of God.  Sometimes though, she gets distracted.  The other day, we brought Elder Benson with us.  Halfway through our lesson, she kind of squinted and cocked her head.  "Are you Chinese?" she asked Elder Benson.  He was taken aback.  "Somebody was Chinese in your family...  Your mother?  Father?  Grandma?"  Elder Benson laid it out that he was American through and through, but she was still unconvinced by the end.  So funny.  She's not going to make her baptism date though, because she hasn't been to church.  Elder Mortenson is going to get her back on track.
And Khalid.  I'm going to miss that guy.  He's so set on getting baptised, despite all the setbacks.  He's baptism date is set to General Conference Saturday, in the morning.  Looks like it's actually going through this time.  I'm super upset I'm going to miss it...
Miracle of the week...
Here's a neat little excerpt for you.  Not written by of the Sisters in Zoetermeer.  Can't remember her name.  I was there at the baptism and witnessed this little reunion.  It was super awesome.
Our biggest miracle this week is with Daniel. At the beginning of this week, he was struggling a bit with the decision to be baptized. He was kind of getting cold feet. I have to say, it was so bad that I started to consider dropping him if things didn't get better within the next few lessons. BUT... Then we had a big miracle. We invited him to George's baptism in Den Haag. He was telling us on the tram ride there that he was really too tired to go, but something inside of him told him to go anyways. When we got to the church in Den Haag, Daniel saw George and immediately walked over to him, gave him a hug, and they started talking. Come to find out, they are old friends from Nigeria. They grew up in the same town, about 200 meters from each other. They were so happy to see each other. Daniel LOVED the baptism, and felt the spirit very strongly. He also talked with one of the members from Den Haag that attended the baptism, and it turns out that they stayed in the same refugee camp in Germany years ago. Both of those men, George and Joseph, talke for a log time to Daniel about their decisions to be baptized. The spirit was so strong as they testified. The baptism talk was also so inspired. It addressed every question Daniel had about baptism. It was the perfect event for Daniel. After we left, Daniel told us that he will be baptized!!! What an experience.

Cool story, eh?

General Conference.  I had it explained to me...  But now that I'm going to Eindhoven, I'm not sure how it's going to work.  It doesn't run at the same time as back home.  That's all I know at this point.
There was one huge setback this week.  Well...   Viola invited us over for dinner.  It was a great meal.  She made us potatoes with this super delicious sauce on it.  We gave her a lesson afterwards and set some goals to help her quit smoking (we taught her the word of wisdom earlier).  Then, the next day, she phoned us and wham, she doesn't want to meet with us anymore.
We're not entirely sure why, but she said something like she's not sure what direction she wants to go in life right now and she needs to work it out.  Something like that.  We're going to meet with her tomorrow to figure out exactly what's wrong.  I fasted for her and I've been praying it will all work out...  Man, I was crushed when we got that call.  But...  I guess you just have to keep your chin up.
Also, we got to work with Elder Roemer again.  I told you about him right?  What a goof
"Chicken" guy stood us up.  We're meeting him tonight though.  If I remember, I'll tell you about it next week.  I hope something great comes out of it.  That'd be SWEET.
It's great to see (hear?  read?  What is it?!) how everything is going back home.  Sounds like things are going pretty smoothly.  See, the Lord really does answer prayers! 
The animals sound super funny.  Don't let that new cat get fat.  I don't want to hear about how cute it is, then come home to see it's a giant beanbag of a blob.  Ew.  Speaking of cats...  There was a cat--
NO, gotta tell this story first.
So the other night, we were on the bus, like usual.  A lady got up to get off and she looked down at something funny.  She acted all strangely, as well two or three girls up ahead.  Curious, I looked to see a SALAMANDER.  What the heck?  Without missing a beat, I jumped down and scooped the little guy up.  Aha, all the girls up ahead went "ew!"  Super cute little black salamander, maybe the size of my finger.  How it got on the bus, I can only imagine.  How strange is that?  We took it back home (because we were close anyway) and took some pictures before I let it out in the backyard.  Craziness.
So yeah, there was a cat sitting on the street.  We walked towards it and it just sat there.  I decided to stoop down and pet it.  Now, Dutch windows...are super big.  You can see into a person's house, through their backyard and into the person's house behind their house.  They might as well have no front wall, that's how big they are.  Anyway, said cat sauntered (is that a word you use for a horse?) up to a house nearby, where I stooped to pet it.  Turns out it was waiting to be let inside and when I stooped over, the owner looked out the window at the same time.  Our faces were like, 20 centimetres apart, through the window.  Yeah, super awkward.
Well, that's it for this week.  Thanks for all your letters!  I got a bunch this week.  From Sam, Brandon, Uncle George and Sister Rachwalski.  Thanks!  I loved each one!
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 19 March 2012

Coincidence? I don't think so. Chicken? Definitely.

Well, I tried to read your emails, but they were too huge and I'm short of time today.  I finally got around to fixing my bike, which took a big amount of time. Elder Mortenson is being really strange about his bike.  It's broken, so he has to get another, but he just won't.  Elder Mortenson likes to do things his way.  And something that way isn't biking.  Yeah.  I hate the bus.  But he phoned some people to try and get himself a bike (a week before transfers).  Oh well. 
So the rumours are spreading...  Elder Mortenson might be training next transfer, which means I might be leaving little ol' Leiden.  Aw!  I love this place...  And our investigators.
Oh yeah!  Our investigators.
Viola!  She's doing great.  We had a couple lessons during the week and she was just beaming when we walked in.  Just...bright.  It was awesome to see.  The Gospel is really changing her life--and she can totally feel it.  She said she just felt good and that she had a great week.  She even told our joint teach that she was excited to come to church again!  After two weeks, she's starting to fit in too.  Less stiff, gave input in our lessons--even signed up on the dinner calender this week!  Her children love church too.  Wow.  I'm so excited--and truly bless--to be able to work with Viola.
Bad news with Khalid though--whoa now, hold your horses, it's not that bad.  President Sterri (Branch President) isn't going to be here this coming weekend, and next it General Conference, so he's going to have to wait 2 or so more weeks.  Sjonge jonge.  He's super positive though.  He wants President Sterri to baptise him because he's the man that introduced him to the gospel in the first place.  Khalid is going to get baptised, I know it.  Things just keep getting in the way though.
Gabriel is as gold as gold gets.  We shared the message of the restoration with him, watched the video and gave him his own Book of Mormon and he just outright accepted it.  He can't get enough.  He said afterwards, (there's no quotation button on this keyboard) 'guys, I totally believe it, 100%'  Wow.  He's really receptive to the spirit too.  He's a great guy.
WHOA.  Guess what I did today?  Barbecued.  Whamdiddely.  That's right, champ.  We've got a babycue, and I gebruikt het.  Used the crap outta it, WHAM.  Bought some crazy burger thing with bacon on it.  Still have no idea what kind of meat that w--BUT that doesn't matter.  I cooked it over a fire and ate it.  Tasted  delicous.  Mmm.  Bought a kaizer bunbread and some lettuce and yum.  Barbecue.  How many other missionaries get to say they barbecued for lunch--2 feet away from a canal?  Not many.  That's how many.
Trying to think of other exciting things I did...  Ho hum.  This email seems a bit short...
Hey, I'm excited to hear about all the shinanigans that're happening in the ward.  What with h'everybody going on missions all of the sudden.  What the what happened?  What about all the younger generatie, like Chris and Westle and...those other people?  What about Braden?  How's Braden doing?  Tell him I said hoi.
I'm glad Dad and Julia are getting along so well.  Little skiing buddies, oh them. 
Oh hey, so you mentioned that you had the Elders over the other night and you said you had nobody to refer to them.  I was thinking about that a bit...  Elder Klippel (the new office elder) said something interesting to me the other night.  He said a lot of the time, members may have somebody in mind to share the gospel with, but they're hesitant to do so because they figure the person has to be "golden" for anything to come out of it.  Yeah, that doesn't really happen.  If you have somebody in mind, just go ahead and refer them!  It's not like your friends are going to hate to for trying to share something important!  So that got me thinking...  How about the Coopers?  I thought about it a lot actually.  I think they're a family who could have some interest.  After being such good friends with Preston, I'm sure they'd like to hear more.  It's important to understand, we want to share our message because of love.  Not some statistic.  We have something great in our life, and we simply want you to experience the same thing--because we love and care for you.
You don't have to include the Cooper's name in that last paragraph, but please include it in my blog or however you distribute it.  And do me a favour and visit the Coopers or send the Elders by or something.  Tell them I said goodemiddag.  Tell them I sent them.
That would be a huge favour.  I'm always thinking of my friends and family and how awesome all you guys are!  Camping, chilling around, killing zombies...  Ah, simply awesome.
It's strange.  Sometimes, I think my Dutch is pretty good.  Other times (insert farty noise here).
I think back to the time I was with Elder Roemer...  We just got out there and got it done.  I haven't been able to speak Dutch so well, or even share a message the same as that day.  The Spirit was strong with us that day.  It is a tangible thing.  Sometimes though, and I've found this with myself especially, it takes hours or even days later to notice what difference it has truly made.
One quick example, and yes, it is very silly...
We were walking to an appointment and we were at a point where we could go one of two directions.  Psh, not a big deal, they both lead to the same place.  But I spotted a chicken to the right.  Oh ho ho, a chicken!  "Let's go this way."  There may have been something more to it.  Maybe not.  But then, I had a prompting to talk to a guy sitting on a bench.  So we did.
Turns out, he's super interested.
Turns out, we're meeting with him this week.
Coincidence?  I don't think so.  Chicken?  Definitely.
You can have that for free.
Anydoodle, that's my shindig for the week.  Read it, like it, love it.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

The Hague Zone is the largest zone in the mission they have 27 Elders and Sisters and 3 senior couples serving in this zone.
Zone March 15th 2012 Hayden is so darling he has his Green tie on. 
Missionaries form Amsterdam! 

Monday, 12 March 2012

My forecast.

Another email, another million questions that need to be answered--that I'll probably not end up answering.
Huh, what?
Phewf.  It always seems as though I have a million things I need to talk about, but forget by the time Monday rolls around.  Then other times, it seems as though it would be impossible to sum up everything that has happened...
I will try my best though!
So this week...  We met with a few people.  With the change that happened, we 'got' back an investigators of ours, named Viola.  If you remember, Elder Frahm and I found her on a super rainy day.  We met with her this week.  She's super awesome.  There's a term missionaries use: progressing investigator.  That is, somebody who is willing to listen and follow your commitments--which is also a willingness to change their lives.  Viola is the perfect example of a progressing investigator.  She recognizes how important our message is and is trying her best to listen and follow.  She has such a strong desire to learn more.  This Sunday...well.  Let's put a pin on that.
We also met with Gabriel.  If you remember (gee, how forgetful are you?), Gabriel found us.  He's a smart guy who knows like 4 languages and visits his mother every weekend in Leiden.  One of the questions I asked him is why he wanted to meet with us.  His answer--simple yet AWESOME--was "well, I want to learn more, and serve the lord!"  Whoa.  Talk about Golden.  He was pretty much on the edge of his seat as we explained a few things to him.  He's very interested in learning more.  I could describe him simply as somebody who is diligently searching for the truth.  He asked us if we believe in Prophets.  Yeah we do.  And he even asked Elder Mortenson how somebody becomes a missionary.  This guy is great.
Oh yeah, Sunday.
This Sunday, we walked with Viola to church.  And she brought her 3 children.  Seems like a simple statement.  But for Viola, this was a huge hurtle.  Viola has social anxiety--she's scared of large groups. pretty much a huge group.  But she wants this so bad, she was willing to push that aside to do so.  And she brought her children!  I am so impressed by how strong she is.  She tensed right up the moment we walked in that building.  It was evident in her composure  The second hour of church we sensed her anxiety in the Gospel Principles class.  She was still tense at the beginning, but you could see it slowly melt away throughout the lesson.  At first, she was fiddling with something, but by the end, she was sitting still and listening intently.  Ah!  I'm just so happy for Viola.  At our appointment earlier, she mentioned to us she had prayed and felt something--a good feeling.  She even wrote it down to remember.  AH!  I'm so happy for her!  She also commented how interesting the circumstances were when we met.  That one day, she had work off (can't remember why) and people were also working on the building, so there was no electricity, and nothing for her to do.  Then we swung by.  She said any other time, she probably would have shooed us off, but because...nothing was happening, she decided to listen.
The Lord.  He's great.
So at church, both Gabriel and Khalid showed up as well.  3 investigators at church.  Personal best!  Uh, I mean.  Yes.  What are numbers anyway?  Gabriel loved church.  You could tell he was just super interested in everything we learned in our meetings.  Gol-den.
We had to move Khalid's baptism...  He was really busy this week and we couldn't meet with him.  but it was for the best.  We have a lot of details we have to hammer out first--like which ward he wants to be baptized into.  He's still super positive though.  He mentioned he has a friend he wants to invite to his baptism.  Referral?  Aha, yeah.  Khalid showed up just after the sacrament was administered.  Now, when Khalid sits down, he throws back his dreads with a pretty violent flick of his head.  He strolled in, sat down next to me and did this very thing--with a wall right behind him.  Thwak went his dreads.  Yeah, a couple heads turned...  Love Khalid.
Oh,......I can't read Dad's last letter.  I pretty much have no idea what you guys did over in Egypt...  I don't know how to solve this problem.  Got a urim and thummin anybody?
By the way, I love African people.  I went on exchanges with our District leader, Elder Calkins.  We were on a pretty long bus ride and he just strolled up and sat down beside this African guy, saying "hallo, my brother!"  After finding out the man was from Nigeria, Elder Calkins mentioned a Nigerian dish called 'pepper soup'.  The man's eyes just lit up.  "You know pepper soup?!"  Apparently, it's just a soup made from blinding-hot red peppers; "clears your nose right up!"  Long story short, this man (named Elijah), gave us his contact information as if we were best friends already.  The office Elders are meeting with him and he's the smartest guy ever.  He's like a biologist or something and just totally understands everything they say.  He sounds really positive.
OH.  A lot happened this week...  We also went down to Brussels on Wednesday, to get signed into Belgium (in case we ever serve there).  Almost my entire MTC group went too!  It was awesome to see them all.  Afterwards, we went and bought meat triads.  Picture a french baguette.  Now put a doner (donair?) on it.  Now put fries on it.  Now put your weight in delicious sauce on it.  Holy man.  That sammich nearly defeated me.  I had the rumblies like no other the rest of the day.  It was like carrying a brick around in my stomach all day.  It was the most delicious thing--but I regretted it afterwards...
We've only met with Abla twice--we've got another meeting tonight.  She speaks french and is from Togo.  Togo is a place in Africa.  She's got a genuine interest in the gospel as well (we're truly blessed with such great investigators), but we couldn't meet with her this last week because it was her birthday.  Hmm, what?  Do Togo birthdays last all week?  I don't know.  She's just fly though.  Super cool.
Anyway.  I'm outta time.  Looks like my forecast was correct.  Slightly interesting with a great chance of no questions answered.
Love yah all a lot.
Also, I'll consider the camera thing...  Or clean my lens.  I don't know...  None of the pictures turned out?
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 5 March 2012

Your home??!!

Woo!  It's difficult for me to believe that you guys are done your Egypt trip already.  It seems like I pretty much blinked and you were done.  Hot diggety, does missionary life pass by that fast?  Dang.  I haven't got your letter yet, but I can tell you guys had a blast.  I'm really glad you did!  We'll have to swap pictures someday--a million years from now.  And speaking of pictures, did you get my memory card that I sent?
That's crazy what happened with that guy in church.  I was wondering about something similar this week--why people go so far out of their way to disclaim a religion.  It seems like a great waste of effort.  I can understand if you feel negatively towards something, or if somebody wronged you in the church, but going up at the front of a meeting and yelling stuff.  Psh, why bother?  Or producing anti-stuff against a church?  Psh.  I say psh.
Then I think, Satan.  That jerk.  Anyway...
Brett works at a Coffee Shop?  Hmm...  Has he been reading my emails?  Have my stories of Amsterdam been getting to him?  There's about a million coffee shops h'everywhere in the Netherlands.  The first few days, I wondered why it said coffee shop, but nobody was drinking coffee.  Yep.  I figured it out...
So...This week.
First off, Antoine dropped us.  Yeah.  That hit hard.  What with his church getting approved, he told us he won't have time to meet with us anymore.  I always had a feeling Antoine was interested more in the financial side of our church.  It's upsetting, but Antoine said he still wants to keep in contact--a phone call or visit now and then.  We'll see though.
AH.  Before I go on, we got an interesting call this week.  I think it was Tuesday?  Dunno.  ANYDOODLE, we were having studies like usual when we got an unusual call from President.  Elder Mortenson picked up.  "Hey, Elder, this is going to be your shortest transfer yet!"  Uh, what?  Huh?  What happened?  "You and your companion are getting transferred!"  Ah!  "...To Leiden ward!"
Yep.  We were in Wassenaar before, now we're in Leiden.  Goodbye Wassenaar families.  Goodbye English.  This week was a bit scrambled with that change.  We've had to switch over a whole bunch of things-including most of our investigators.  Things are still a bit hectic.  Also, to make the change smoother, the office Elders and us attended both services on Sunday.  Wuh...  And it was also fast Sunday.  GUH.  But it actually wasn't so bad.  I wasn't hungry until right before dinner and I payed (paid?)  attention for most of it.  Strange.  But I did learn something about fasting this week (ensuing spiritual though).  I was reading in the scriptures and it said after the Nephites had a bit war, they fasted and prayed in thanksgiving.  Hmm.  I've never looked at fasting in that light.  In thanksgiving.  Elder Jones read the same thing this week and voiced it in Sunday school.  Something to think about.
BUT, back to this week.  Also, we had exchanges.  Of sorts...  There was a District Leader meeting/party thing (I don't know).  So Elder Calkins (our DL right now) had to go to that, leaving me paired with Elder Roemer, who was the group after us.  He's a funny guy.  Super goofy and kind of...clued out I guess.  He reminds me a lot of Collin Lodder (Mr. Cornchips).  He turned out to be a great influence actually.  We did a total of 3 hours of contacting that day, him and I.  And we tore it up!  For some reason, I felt motivated with him and we talked to h'everyone!  We even gave out 4 books of Mormon or something.  And got a potential investigator (who talks forever).  It was a really building experience for me.  Plus, I realized how truly good my Dutch is getting.  Whew!
So yeah.  We picked up another Baptismal date this week.  A woman by the name of Abla.  We got her from a sheet of names giving to us by another Elder.  The only information about her that was written down was "she is Togo looking".  Gee whizz, informative.  Long story short, she actually is Togo and is super strong in her Faith in God.  She's really searching for the truth too. 
Also, Khalid is super awesome still.  We might have to move his baptism to a later week though, because of the switch-up issues and other problems (nothing to do with him though).  But he's totally going to get baptised.  STOKED.
Yeah, so this morning.  Chilling about like usual when WHEEEWWWP.  They have these alarms that go off in case the dikes break.  And let me say, if that did happen, about 80% of the Netherlands would be underwater--including us.  So yeah.  Alarms started blaring.  Super loud.  Super ominous.  Super loud.  Scary business.  I caught it on film as well.  Luckily, it was just a practise.  Oh ho ho, I would have felt silly filming that if it wasn't a practise.  You know, instead of running away like you're supposed to...  Joke would have been on me!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JEREMY.  I didn't get him anything...  But I'll send you guys some stuff eventually.  We don't get very much time to do anything besides missionary work, so it makes getting stuff and sending stuff very difficult.
Say hi to the girlies and Marylin and Warren and Jeremia and EVERYBODY.
Whoa.  What's going to happen when Jeremy's 55?  55, born on march 5, 5:55.  BLACK HOLE.  Somebody, don't let him be 55!
Anydoodle, have a great time.  I keep you all in my prayers!
Ik houd van jullie.
tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess