Monday, 30 July 2012

"Make sure your investigators are converted by the Spirit, not convinced by the missionary"

What you (Rylan) said about the Spirit converting is so true.  I've mentioned Joe Arthur a few times...  When Elder Leach asked him why he was baptised, he responded with somethingalong the lines of "because the Elders convinced me it was a good idea."  If that's the reason, it's a very poor one.  Now, we have to try and 'fix' something that should have been resolved before he was baptized.  Read the Book.  That's what our mission leader said.  Just read the Book.  It's so true.
Get Sasa to read the book of Mormon.  If not her, invite Elly to.  Hear that?  Elly, read the book of Mormon.  Ik dach je uit om dat te doen (I dare you to).  Heck, I bet even Julia would enjoy it.
There aren't many canals in Turnhout.  Actually, none.  But yes, it is extremely humid.
Aw, my poor, dumb puppy.  Listen, if it gets to the point where he's in pain, just put him down.  I'd rather him not suffer.
It really is amazing how destructive--or at least distracting--technology is.  If there's a TV on in the room--even if I'm not looking at it, my attention goes out the window.  It's impossible to focus!  There's a lesson in there somewhere.
Wow, Preston's calling to Toronto.  Wow, Jaedan leaving the MTC.  Neat.  Double neat.
Woo!  A whistle nerf football!  Thank you so much.  It's super cool.  We even got to use it.  It's almost a haunting sound--more like a howl than a whistle.
By the way, it's been a boiler here.  Seriously  hottest week of my mission.  It was hard to stay outside longer than an hour.  I must've drank 4 huge water bottles one day and didn't pee the whole time!  Yikes!  All is cooling down now though.  Probably the last of the summer too...  Good bye sun, goodedag regen
But man oh man, oh gee was this week busy. 
So that family we found last week?  I can't remember exactly what all I told, but we went over there on Monday and helped them in their achtertuin (backyard).  We mowed the lawn, weeded and cleared stinging nettles (bad stings hurt for days) and whipper snipped and before you knew it, it was 3 whole hours later.  Yipes.  As we worked, more and more girls seemed to appear in the backyard.  The mother has 3 children, but at the moment, the children of her sister were visiting as well.  I believe there were 4 girls, all around Elly's age (13).  They reminded me so much of Elly and her goofy friends.  All chirping away.
After we were done working, the mother invited us to a picnic.  Yes, that's right.  We picnic-ed.  On Wednesday, we met them by the park--on the hottest day ever--and spent another 3 hours with them, throwing fox-tails, howling-footballs and frisbees around.  It was a lot of fun.  We haven't actually taught anything yet (oops), but we're hoping that we're building a strong relationship.  The girls asked us at the end if they would see us again, adding "we really want to!"  Awesome family.  It's amazing how many languages some of them spoke.  Some spoke 3, the others 5.  Unbelievable.  I replied that I only spoke 1 and a half.
Anydoodle, if that much exercise and chilling in 'normal' clothes wasn't enough, we went and played football Thursday night as well with a few members.  I was so unbelievably sore this week.
But yes.  The windows of heaven are opened wide.  I think I mentioned that we had an appointment with Nathalie last week?  Anyway, she's a Dutch girl we found, around 23 years old.  We went to her house with our Branch President and had a very good lesson.  She's a bit quiet, but open to listen.  She seems to appreciate what we teaching as well.  Our first appointment, she said that she would try praying at the end next time.  So at our second appointment, I asked her if she would pray.  After teaching her how, she said a modest prayer right then and there.  That's pretty big progress--especially for her personality.  You don't expect that from much people who don't pray regularly. We've got a dinner appointment with her at our Branch President's house on Tuesday.  We're very excited.  Ah yes, and also, we gave her a baptismal date and she accepted.  Woo!
So much to say.
This Sunday was miraculous too. Joe Arthur.  We gave him a solid challenge to read the Book of Mormon--and to come to church.  So this Sunday, we rolled on in, to find him and his 3 daughters sitting attentively in their seats.  It was so cool to see him there.  One of the first things he said to me was "I read the Book, and it told me to come to church."  Wow!  That was an awesome moment.
There were 75 people in church.  For a branch, that's a lot.  Usually, there's only half that.  We had inactive's, visitors from Texas, non-member parents.  It was super packed.  There was seriously only 4 or 5 chairs remaining in the building.  It was a good note to send Elder Leach away on.
Say wha?
Dear ol' Elder Leach is a goner.  He's fleeing to Zwolle, and I'm getting Elder Moscon in return, who was in the older group in the MTC.  I'll miss Elder Leach for sure.  There are a few shenanigans in our district actually.  Every companionship is changing.  Elder Klippel (he stayed with me in Leiden) is coming down to Antwerpen, as well as two sisters in the MTC group below ours.  Elder Nish, my Canadian buddy, is also getting the boot.
Buuut, that's a huge letter.  Sorry.  So much happened this week!
Thanks for your letters and support,
And yes, our ward (Vernon) is super great.  I'm proud of all those munchkins roaming around.  Though, they're probably be hugekins when I get home...dangit. 
How's Brandon Goeders doing?
Also, what's Andrew's address?
And something is coming your way.
Well, mijn tijd is al op!  Ik ga weg nu.  Dag. ('My time is already on, I'm leaving now.')
Well, tot volgende keer ('until next time'),
Elder Burgess

Monday, 23 July 2012

Expired, but still delicious

Imagine for a moment that you're climbing a ladder.  You really want to get to the top, but for some reason, somebody keeps putting rungs on the top.  You're confused.  You thought your destination was right there, and that there were only a few rungs more to climb.  Then you blink and there are suddenly twenty more rungs.
Now: each rung is another question to be answered.
Dang it.
You know what is awesome?  Biking.  You know what else?  Writing.  I'm going to do both when I get home...
So this week has been a lot better.  For sure.  I feel like I've really been directed by the Spirit this week.  Sometimes is super cool to see how it works.  For me, sometimes it seems like a snap decision kind of thing.
For instance, we looked up somebody at the latter end of last week.  As we were walking away, I decided to knock on a door.  I can honestly say, there was nothing special about it.  A girl answer, perhaps 14 or so, and said that her parents weren't available, but that we could come by later and try again.  Yeah, contacts like that usually never turn into something.  A lot of the time, we come back and the parents just say, "Mmm, nee."
BUT.  We went by there...yesterday? and the mother of the girl answered and let us right in.  She was super friendly.  It was interesting though, we didn't talk too much about our message per se, but asked her more if there was anything we could do to help--as she had mentioned that they were busy cleaning up their super-narrow apartment.  She agreed that we could help with her achtertuin (backyard).  We're going there today.  I'm very excited to work with this person though.  She's from the Dutch Antilles, and it's an entire family!  She's had some contact with missionaries before, which is also a good sign.  Aha, when we asked if we could help, her response was "Yeah!  If God sends two people at my door offering help, of course I'm not going to refuse!"  Wham.
Also, this week I got a letter from the Hillsman's, Aunte Jeannie, as well as Alex Salmon.  Thank you!  You're support is much appreciated!
Oh, and thanks (slightly sarcastic) for all the expired items in that one package.  I think more than half of the things were expired more than a year.  Were you sending me a package of love, or cleaning out the pantry?
Still, tastes delicious.  We made a rice-a-roni and shake-and-bake-chicken dinner.  It was oh-so-good.  And Goulash.  Mmm, goulash.
Oh, what's Preston's address?
So there's this inactive member we're working with.  Elder Jones suggested that a good way to help inactive people is giving them something to do.  So I decided to do that.  We saw Joe-Arthur in his car, so he pulled over to talk to us.  I gave him a small stack of cards and challenged him to place them.  He was super excited and agreed that he would.  No more than 5 seconds after we were done talking with him, he called out, "Pardon, mevrouw!" and handed his card away to some lady passing by.  Elder Leach and I burst out laughing.  He's a super cool guy--he just doesn't come to church.
I'm short of time...
but also when we were by Joe-Arthur's, somebody mentioned America.  The children--he has 3--were confused.  "Where's America?"  Jokingly, I wanted to tell them it is near Canada. 
EXCEPT their mother beat me too it.  "Under Canada, remember?"
"Oh, that's right!"
Aha!  Usually it would be the other way round.  About time Canada gets some recognition.  Joe-Arthur's wife loves Canada; she wants to move there.
Yep.  Outta time.  Sorry I answered no questions.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 16 July 2012

Ever had those moments where you're just...happy?

Nothing is happening out of the ordinary, but you just feel good.  I had one of those moments.  I think sometimes the Holy Ghost just swoops in and tells you you're doing good, that the Lord is pleased and proud.  I certainly had one of those moments this week.
We've picked up a few potential investigators this week.  I found a name in the area book that we decided to look up.  The person doesn't live there anymore, but in a different city.  Still, we set an appointment with her mother and brother and received her number.  Plus we rang some more bells and managed to find one more person that's interested.  I swear though, sometime ringing people up is the most difficult thing ever.  What do you say to begin with?  Hot diggety, what are they saying now?  The speaker is fuzzy, I can't hear them!  Come back Thursday?  No, tomorrow?  9? That's too late, are you sure?  Okay, fine, 9 it is.  Then you go back later and they're already asleep.  Dang it.  We're going to try later though.  She seemed positive, hope it turns out.
Elder Leach got his bike fixed up a bit more.  We went by a fietswinkel (bycycle shop) and talked to a super friendly guy.  He tightened everything on his bike, sold him a pedal, seat post and seat for really cheap too.  We gave him a card as a way to say thanks.
There's something I'm beginning to notice here.  Belgium men are stinkers.  Of course, that's an unfair statement.  Dutch men are stinkers too.  It just seems that way sometimes.  I couldn't count how many times we've talked or taught somebody and the man in the family is the one to shut us down.  Seriously, we had a great conversation with this lady at the door, and she even looked as though she was going agree to learn more.  Then her husband floated out of nowhere and with a fake smile said, "Nee, geen interesse, dank u."(No thank you, not interested).  BLAST.  This is an all-too-common theme here.
We had a Zone conference on Friday.  So guess what?  Wham, I'll tell you.  Dear ol' Elder Kunz is gone from Eindhoven. Yep.  Elder Pope (I don't know him) got transfered into the office prematurely, and so they plucked Elder Kunz away and put him with Elder Burton.  Now Eindhoven is a double again.  I'm shocked.  Elder Taylor and Roemer have only been in Eindhoven 3 week, and they've been on their mission shorter than I!  Craziness.
And Elder Jones and Elder Nish are going to be training!  They get their new greenie tomorrow.  He's a Belgium person, so he was in the MTC for only 3 weeks.  Pretty crazy.  If you remember, Elder Nish is the other Canadian.  He's pretty young (missionary wise), so it's curious that he'll be co-training.  Shenanigans.
The President is a nice guy.  Very soft-spoken, simple of speech.....just a humble guy all around.  We had our interviews, and at the end, he says "We didn't pray did we?  What kind of people are we?"  The way he said it, I almost mistook it for a real question rather than a joke.  He's a cool guy though, I already know he'll do great.
Also, I went on exchanges in Antwerpen.  Can't say I like big cities.  So busy.  I feel so stressed just being in one.
Sister Rachwolski has written me a few times, otherwise I haven't got a letter from anyone in the ward in a while.
Chris Smith's letter was pretty funny.
I am keeping positive.  And I am drinking weird Belgian milk!!
tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 9 July 2012

Value of Serving a Mission ~ Youtube

This Youtube video was filmed in Europe.  A lot of it was filmed in and around Evan's mission.  Sister Palenkova was in Evan's MTC group

I ate horse.....and it taste good.

I ate horse.  It was a little sausage/hot dog thing called a frickadeller (Frikadeller are flat, pan-fried dumplings of minced meat, often likened to the Danish version of meatballs).
Om nom nom.
And no, it wasn't puffed.
I suppose I'll start off with the barbecue.
Volleyball was...alright.  We had to fix up the net a bit.  It wasn't too bad, but still took at least 20 minutes.  We actually had around 6 good players, among 9 in total.  So there were good plays, decent plays and bleh plays.  It was still fun though.  We all thought it could have lasted longer, but we had to skidaddle off to a member's to have a barbecue.  Holy man did we have a lot of food.  We only tackled about half of the giant package of meat we got.  It was delicious though.  We had a lot of toppings for the burgers.  At the end of the night though, I regret only having one burger.   Americans.....they love America.  Too much sometimes.  I'll leave it at that.
As far as Elder Leach's bike goes...  Let's say he spent too much time fixing it up.  It's a super nice bike, not going to lie.  It cleaned up real nice.  He took it apart and cleaned out all the little pieces.  It was quite the project.  And at the end of all it, he hopped on it, rode it around in two circles and...realized one of the metal part for the pedals is stripped and useless.  Whups.  So unless we find another bike, he's going to have to buy a new pedal part, which might be costly.  Sigh.
Actually, I did find another bike.  It too was very nice, but we saw no use of it at the moment.  Two days later, Elder Jones called, saying his bike just broke down.  BLAST.  Zo is het.
As far as the work goes, it's very slow right now.  We haven't had many very appointments and we're having a tough time finding new investigators.  It's discouraging, but despite it, I think I've kept rather upbeat.  Psh, it can only be temporary.  We're going to do better this week though.  For sursies.
So there's a huge sale event right now.  Summer Sales I suppose.  I saw four boxes of Bionicles for sale for 50 Euros.
Oh, small miracle, sort of.  Elder Leach and I were roaming around, talking to people, when we came across a huge Blokker store (Blokker Holding is a Dutch company that owns several chains of stores).  He half-heartily suggested we go inside.  I didn't want to.  No desire.  But also half-heartily, I agreed.  We walked around the store quickly, then went to exit, only to come across an investigator.  We hadn't contacted her up to that point and we didn't know she worked there.  It was too coincidental.  Anyway, she phoned us this morning (after promising she would) and she expressed her concerns about the Book of Mormon--that she didn't know if it was true, or that our church truly has a prophet.  Elder Leach told her it all depended on the book.  If it's true, then...well, you know the rest.  She agreed that she has to read it before she can make any conclusions and phone us at the end of the week.  I'm super hopeful.  This could be the one!  It would all be worth it.
Also, we met the new mission President and his wife.  They're awesome.  I can tell they'll do great.  Poor them, they must be so tired.  We had a small testimony meeting and President started nodding off sitting in his chair! 
Anydoodle.  Doing great.  Still happy.
Time to go check out some sales...
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

President/Sister Brubaker & President/Sister Robinson. As a 19 year old President Robinson served his mission in the Netherlands.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fishing for a bike

Gotta keep it short today! I apologize.  Elder Leach and I organized volleyball for our entire district and we gotta be there pretty soon.  Ahhhh....this keyboard is super frustrating.  Once and a while it just refuses to type a letter.
Glad to hear you guys are having fun camping.  That's crazy about Scotch Creek being all flooded.  It would be the year that I'm gone. 
There's something about learning a new language that focuses you on all the mistakes in your own language.  Like 'that'.  'That' should be far more frequent in the English language, but we've kind of learnt to just not say it (or even write it).  In Dutch you must always say 'that'.  Interesting...  I wish I could think of some examples.
This week has been a bit slow.  Our investigator pool is not very deep so to say, and we're having a tough time filling it.  I'm not too worried though.  It takes a few weeks for new companions to work out the kinks.  Something similar happened in Eindhoven too, where no matter what we did, it seemed like nothing was happening--then BAM, the next week we were plenty busy.  I'm sure something is going to click soon.
ALSO, we found a bike in a canal.  Elder Leach had spotted it some time ago and I suppose it had been at the back of his mind since then.  We had some free time so we decided to go out there and check it out.  After some deliberation we fetched a stick and tied a rope and hook to the end to the stick.  With no small difficulty--and making a bit of a scene--we fished that sucker right out of there. What was interesting about it was that somebody strolled across the street to watch and even help.  As we were struggling with it, I ask him what kind of dog he had.  I can't remember, but it sparked a conversation and we were able to pass him a card.  Interesting how that works.  He was a very curious man and seemed very open to learning more.  He lives in Antwerpen, so we might not be able to see what comes of it, but I certainly hope he requests a book of Mormon.  How cool would that be?  Fishing-bikes-out-of-canals-contact, for the win!
Oh yeah, the bike.  Oh  man was it gross.  All sick and covered in mud and little red worms.  It was obviously stolen, because somebody had spray painted it silver, but with a little work, the paint came right off, revealing it to be a Giant.  Wow.  It is a really nice bike.  Most of the pieces on it are higher-end things. Elder Leach was pretty excited about it.
We also got in contact with a very positive investigator named Richard.  He had a baptismal date not too long ago, but was just too busy to meet.  School's out, so he's going to have much more time to meet with us.  We shared a short lesson and it went very well.  His prayer at the end was super cool.  He thanked the Lord for restoring lost truths and for the Book of Mormon.  WOW!  This guy's great.  His main problem: church.  We're going to do our very best to bring joint teachers.  What he needs right now are friends in the church.
We're short of time, so I'll have to cut it off here.  Thanks fer all yer suppert, gyar!
En tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Antwerpen Zone  
 Elder Christensen, Elder Burgess, Elder Praag
 Elder Cundick, Elder Mower, Elder Mathis, Elder Burgess, Elder Leach
 Elder Jones, Elder McCarlie