Monday, 27 August 2012

Missionary life seems to be themed

You'll go a few weeks of one particular thing happening over and over during a 2 week period.  For example, in Eindhoven when people thought I was Turkish.  For particular occurrences, I feel like it must be God telling you to learn something, but it's hard to know exactly what.  Lately, the theme has been appointments falling through.  We're super excited to meet new people, but it seems when we get around to trying to teach them, they're simply not available.  It's always some force beyond our control too.  I won't bore you with the details, but we were supposed to have a zillion appointments this week.  Not many of them actually went through.  I suppose this is missionary life.  I remember back home how many appointments went through when I went on joint teach with the Elders.  I will say, however, it makes the day worth it when you do get to teach and when it turns out great.  But enough of that.
We had a Zone conference this week.  We went all the way to Leiden.  It was super cool being back in my Greenie city, taking the same bus we took every Sunday...  I picked a sticker to commemorate the occasion.  President gave a great (though somewhat abstract) training.  He used mountains as an analogy, saying that our relationships with others, ourselves and with God should have mountain-like qualities.  Like being sure, strong and true.  It took a while to get the picture he was painting, but once you did, it was actually pretty interesting.  We all got rocks too.  They are from Utah--which probably has more meaning to a Utah person than me.  Dad would probably like my rock.  He likes rocks, right?  Oh maybe Angus...
So Tauelen, the Portuguese girl, came to church last Sunday.  I decided to call and invite her to a dinner appointment we had with our Portugese members.  She couldn't make it, but she invited herself once again to church.  It was funny, because we also called Rosario, a former investigator who also speaks Portuguese.  Investigators class was really interesting.  Tauelen requested that we speak as much English as possible to help her learn it, Rosario speaks fluent Dutch, and we had our Portuguese members there as well.  It was a great smish-smash of all 3 languages, with scattered translation here and there.  Adventurous.  Our ward is having a picnic day on Saturday and Tauelen really wants to come.  Teaching her directly didn't seem to work out before, but it appears as though teaching her indirectly is working far better.
We met with Frank and Beatrice again (the previously mentioned eternal investigators).  He had read in the Book of Mormon again, which was great, because truth be told, we hadn't prepared much of a lesson.  He had more questions, which we gladly answered.  We concluded by reading another chapter from the Book.  I'm really hoping all this sparks a deep interest in the Book of Mormon; he asked quite a few questions that would be better answered by the book itself.  I hope he realizes this too.
We had a zone P-day today.  We bussed down (I hate buses) to Antwerpen and met most of our zone to play sports.  The things you gave me were a huge hit.  We played foetbal for a bit, then it pretty much turned into people throwing my frisbee, foxtail and whistling football around.  It was a fun time.
Also, the weather has taken a drastic change.  Elder Moscon and I took shelter under a 1 by 2 foot overhang while the sky poured it guts out.  It's still slightly sunny, but it looks as though the summer is well on its way out.
Simon and his buddies (his "crew") are pretty much our best friends now.  They chill and smoke weed all day, and wave when we go by.  We had an appointment with him at four, but when we began talking he said, "yeah, we'll meet at four, no worries."  "Simon, it is four..."  "Aaaaaaaah..."  Hmm...  We'll see.  They're all friendly enough though.  We change our route often now though, just in case.  I doubt any of them actually know which house is ours.  You can't see it from where they hang.
We met Dirk in the market.  He's crazy.  Too crazy to sum up in a paragraph.  He had needle-wounds on his arm.  And was drunk.  He's crazy.
I am thoroughly convinced drugs are a direct offspring of the devil.  They absolutely destroy you, in almost every sense of the word.  They melt your mind, corrupt your spirit and taint your body.  They are utterly evil.  Their effects are permanent too.  It's like putting a giant scar across your brain.
Stay as far away from them as possible.
Elder Moscon's bike died this week.  Her head fell off.  It was too old to salvage, so we brought her out back with a rifle and finished off her misery.  Now her corpse rots in front of our house.  Poor Lenaya.  On the bright side, Bro Germann happened to have a new steed for him.  He's willing to sell it cheap too--the price of 2 bags of barley.
Well, bye.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
Zone conference
post script
How's Elly doing in the Book of Mormon?  Is she reading the right book yet?  I realized today how much I don't tell people about my book.  It doesn't come up that often anymore.  Almost always somebody else tells somebody else about it.  I should change that...

Monday, 20 August 2012

It was hot-diggety this week

                                  Elder Burgess, Elder Moscon serving in Turnhout
It was hot-diggety this week.  I mean that in more than one way too.
And holy man, those were huge emails.  My eyeballs are sore from all that reading.  Time to give my fingers an equal workout.
Ah yes, hot diggety.  I meant hot diggety as in this week was both hot and diggety.
I could imagine that if Mom were here, she'd have to remark every half hour about how hot it is.  With the humidity so high as well, you could cook an egg in the crook of your back.  It's been so hot.  Luckily, the bottom floor of our house is usually pretty friss (fresh), so we've migrated 80% of our in-house time to downstairs.  We've also developed a pattern of walking only in the shadows.  Belgium people are usually very generous about offering you something to drink--especially in such weather--so we've been well-hydrated.
As far as diggety, we had one heck of a miracle week.  Tuesday, we took a trip up to Eindhoven, to pick up my verblijfsverguning (residence permit legality papers), so that was quite fun.  We got to see Harry and eat lunch with the Eindhoven Elders.  Stickers were picked, strawberries taught and faces melted on hot hot buses.  Fun fun.  That evening, on a whim, we decided to visit somebody named Asamoah, a Ghanaian lady we quickly contacted a week or so before.  When we arrived, the man of the house let us right in and we had a super cool conversation about God.  The man, Prince, is super intellectual--he knows his stuff.  He pretty much told us what the purpose of our life on this Earth was and even gave us a thought-provoking reason why he thinks African people have it rougher than European people.  I can't say it is the reason, but definitely makes sense.  According to him, whether they realize it or not, European people follow God's commandments because they are built directly in the law.  Or at least in part.  Crime rate is much higher in Africa, so though they have great faith, they don't follow the law more generally.  Very interesting to think about.  It's quite fascinating how many people we've come across lately with the same concern: why does God allow bad things to happen.  For me, I think it's simply a part of this life.  We live in an imperfect world because of the Fall--with sickness, corruption and disease.  That's just a natural part of living on this world.  Anyway, him and Asamoah are super cool.  We look forwards to meeting them in the future.
BUT then that evening, we were heading home.  It was a bit late, but when somebody called out to us, we were willing to stop and listen to him.  A younger guy, perhaps...25 or so stopped us.  He remarked how he always saw us (missionaries) in Alkmaar, always biking, biking biking.  "Where are you going all the time?" he asked.  It was an all-around funny contact.  He was slightly drunk, which made it stranger...  At one point, he stopped mid-sentence and simply said "dude", then straightened Elder Moscon's stubborn, crooked handlebars.  Then, at one point, he spotted an ice cream truck (they're EVERYWHERE here) and hurled his ice cream across the street.  We still have absolutely no idea why he did that.  He had pretty much the entire thing left over but he chucked the thing anyway.  Splat.  "Oh, don't worry, those are kind neighbours."  Umm...okay.  Turns out though, he's a super cool guy.  We met him the next day, not drunk, and he's very interested in what we have to say.  We taught him the plan of Salvation and he drank it in.  When we offered him a Book of Mormon, he wanted to pay for it!  He said he'd read it in just a week, but...I'm a bit doubtful.  We saw him in the Supermark today and set up an appointment for tomorrow.  His name is Jaap and his girlfriend's Jip.  Funny names for a couple.  It says Jip and Jaap on their mailbox.
Also, we met a young guy named Simon.  He's the son of another investigator, who has been telling us to meet with his son for some time now.  He's lost his faith for...similar reasons as Antony, but is open to hear what we have to say.  We're naturally excited to meet with him too.
Ah!  Another miracle.  Sometimes, things just seem to fall through.  That's...not the miraculous part.  I'm getting to it.  Buuut we had pretty much more than half of our appointments fall through this week.  At the end of such an appointment-falling-thorough day, we had no clue what to do.  So, we got down on our knees and humbly asked for guidance.  Then, acting on nothing more than faith, we went for a stroll.  After a stinky contact, somebody stopped us a bow shot away from our house.  Him and his crew hang around the entrance to our street everyday, so we seem him a lot.  This time, he stopped us and asked us what we're doing all the time anyway.  We told him and he was excited and totally wants to meet with us.  He said next time we run into him, to bring several Books of Mormon to give to his zillion crew-buddies.  Whoa.  Hallelujah!
So after that cool contact, we decided to roam some more.  Eventually, we found ourselves in front of Tauelen's house, a Portuguese investigator who pretty much dropped us a few weeks ago.  Almost casually, I commented that she lived there.  We stared at the door for a while until Elder Moscon suggested we see what's up.  After a brief discussion with her, she told us she wanted to come to church the next day.  Whoa.  She came too.  We picked her up and brought her along.  It was super unfortunate because the Van den Berg's and Germann's weren't there that day--two super awesome Portuguese-speaking families, but at least Lolas was (who speaks at least 8 languages fluently).  She really enjoyed it too, remarking how it was different, but interesting.  She wants to come again in the future, and asked us if the youth ever do activities together (she's 18).
Then, later that selfsame Sunday, we had a great appointment with an eternal-investigator family.  This time though, he had actually read in the Book of Mormon.  Wow!  We had a Q&A lesson and the Spirit was strong.  We're going to keep really good contact so that he continues to read.  I feel inspired to keep better contact with people, to spoor hen ann om in het boek van Momon te lezen (to track them in the Book of Mormon reading).
Then we went to a member's for dinner.  There were a grand total of 7 little children there.  Ack!  The members had their friends there and even gave away a Book to them!  They were ecstatic about it too.
Dang, so much to say.  Also, the Stake President gave us a training on encouraging the members to give away Books of Mormon's to their friends this week.  Therefore, I challenge you, oh parents and avid readers, to give away a Book of Mormon by the end of September.  Email me right away about your adventures.
Well, sorry for making your eyeballs sore as well.  This week was super great, it's not my fault.
Love you all so much!
Thanks for your letters, especially you, Preston.  I'll write back as soon as I can.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
I forgot a few things.
Dad, after 20 long years, you still expect me to brush my hair?  Psh, I don't think you really know me.
On one hand, we have a dome scratcher at home, this fun little device with little wire arms tipped with plastic bubbles.  You rub in on your dome and it feels fantastic.  You can get the benefit of dome-exhilaration without actually having to brush!  Loop-hole.
We lost contact with Natalie for several days.  We were beginning to worry, but we picked up an appointment with her for tomorrow.  It's a difficult time to meet, so it's going to be tough to get a Joint teach.  Still, we're optimistic.
Also, there's a festival down the road from our house called Kermis.  There are rides and stands and food and games of skill and games of chance and loud music surrounding the large church.  Unfortunately, we can't participate in all the shenanigans.  It's been going for a solid 3 weeks now.  Pretty much around 3 or 4, it gets super busy and loud.
Also, I found a dozen or so coins on the street.  We were excited that they might be of value, but it turns out you use them to buy cigarettes.  Urk.  Also, I found about 20 car wash coins.  I'm secretly hoping they'll fit into the Kermis coin slots...
I had a dream about Braden.  I worry and pray for him.

Monday, 13 August 2012

When I grow up, I'm going to have a ton of.....

Hey, it's Elder Moscon's birthday today! 
Er is er een jarig vandaag, hoera!
Dat kan je wel zien dat is hij (hij hij)!
Hij levend lang, hoera hoera,
Hij levend lang, hoera hoera,
Hij levend lang, hoera hoera,
Hij levend lang, hoera hoera,
hipperiepiep, HOERAH!  hipperiepiep, HOERAH!  hipperiepiep, HOERAH!
And that is the Dutch birthday song.  There is stamping and yelling involved too.
We had a lot of dinner appointments this week--always a plus.  Elder Moscon is thoroughly--and rightly--convinced that the members in our branch are super awesome.  It's amazing how missionary-focused they are.  Brother van Steenbergen is very anxious to let his friend meet with us.  He's been working with her for some time now.  The Branch is gearing up for a missionary week pretty soon.  The goal is to give away 'bigger' things every day--starting with giving away cards, then pamphlets, then a whole Book of Mormon!  We have a few potluck/picnics in the future soon.  Mmm, lekker gezellig (nice and cozy).  We've been working with the members, introducing and helping them with the 3 name challenge, preparing them for mission week.  It's going to be  a blast, I can tell.
We had an appointment with Nathalie and Indra this week.  They went great!  Nathalie asked some perfect questions in our appointment.  We taught her about faith out of Alma 32, stressing about the Holy Ghost and how we can feel his presence in our life.  I testified like crazy about the Book of Mormon and how I got my answer.  Like I said, her questions were spot-on.  She asked me when I got my answer, how often we're supposed to feel the Spirit when we read and what it feels like.  Blam.  She's been reading too.  We've had some contact with her this week and she said she would read.  Helaas (unfortunately), we had an appointment, but our member bailed last-minute.  President Peeters was really upset and made an announcement in priesthood that if the Missionaries ask you to come on joint teach, that should be number one priority.  He's the champ.  It was also unfortunate because Nathalie didn't come to church either.  Whether us missing our appointment and her not coming to church were connected, we're not sure.  Hopefully not.  In any case, she's still progressing very well.
Aaaand with Indra.  We brought Br Arts with us to Joint Teach.  He was great--especially with the children.  He's got a very Dutch way of teaching too--he's a former missionary from Eindhoven.  When Indra posed a suggestion that was...less than correct, he simply hesitated then explained how it really is.  Sometimes you just have to be blunt about things.  If you dance around something like that, it could just get worse.  The children were very attentive, reading along and asking a few questions.  I challenged them all to read the Book of Mormon.  One of them asked, in English, "what's the catch?"  The catch?  You can receive an answer that it's true through the Holy Spirit!  Pretty good deal if you ask me.
Unfortunately, Antony was too busy to meet with us.  It was super frustrating too...  He thinks the missionaries target African people.  He met us as we were walking towards his home, to meet with another investigator of ours who lives in the same neighbourhood.  He made a remark how lots of Ghanaian people lived in the same buildings as he did.  His tone suggested that he thought we were heading there to find those people specifically.  It probably only strengthened the misconception he has.  Guh, so frustrating...  He'll turn around though.
The weather here is beautiful.  It's been fairly sunny actually.  Yesterday was a sizzler.  Weather here is aggravating.  People always say, oh yeah, the summer is over.  At the end of the week it's going to be terrible--rain and thunder and more rain and awful!  Then it never actually happens.  I serious doubt the weather reports are accurate.  Whatever sunlight we can get, heck I'll take it!
Thanks for all your prayers and letters!  Sister Coleman sent me a letter too!  Thanks! 
I loved those sunflowers I got a zillion years ago.  They grew sooo huge!  They got filled with wasps too...  When I grow up, I'm going to have a ton of sunflowers.  Because they're awesome.
Speaking of awesome, you guys rock.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
By the way, Elder Moscon's family loves him almost as much as you love me.
He's received about 25 letters and 2 packages already.
It might have something to do with his birthday, but...
I'm going to be Dutch and just say it.
I wouldn't feel bad if you decided to send me anything.
It's not a request!  Just letting you know.

Monday, 6 August 2012

A big difference this week

Looks like the summer's a-fleeing.  Goodbye smelting sun and hallo rain and clouds.
This week was super good.  I'm very thankful for the good thoughts, fasting and prayers of the ward.  There really has been a big difference this week. Now I know why!
I'll start this week with Elder Moscon.  He's a super cool guy.  Really easy going and eager to learn the area. Him and I laugh a lot about goofy things--no stress between us.
It really makes a difference if you can laugh and get along smoothly with a companion.  Something I think helps is to not be upset about the little things.  Just let them go--what does it matter anyway?
I think him and I will get along quite well.  We're at a pretty even level for everything.  Language, teaching, contacting.  I'm excited because when 'level's' are more balanced, it feels like both of you can progress better.  Make sense?
He's from Idaho and short.  
On Tuesday Nathalie came to dinner at family Peeters (the Branch President).  She was quiet, but she seemed to enjoy the food and company.  They made this super-delicious ice cream/fresh-blended strawberry/slagroom (whip cream)/chocolate stick desert thing.  I almost melted with deliciousness.  Mmm.  So good.  Nathalie seems to be coming along well.  She is very shy, so it's difficult to read her thoughts.  She actually came to church on Sunday (again thanks to the Branch President) which was awesome.  We taught Gospel Principles with 5 or so members there, so it didn't seem like we were interrogating her.  The lesson was about God.  At one point, the teacher asked Nathalie if she believed in God.  She gave an answer along the lines of that she believed that there is something there.  But she did say that she wants to believe.  That's good!  It starts with a desire.  I think we're going to slow down with her teaching process--really focus on obtaining that strong belief in God before we continue.
Ah yes, the family from Bonaire.  So we sat down with them, with Br Arts as our Joint teach.  All 4 of the teenagers were present too--super cool.  But we hit a bit of a snag.  She is Baha'i (I've never heard of it either).  What Baha'i people believe is that every religion came from one central source, and all religious reformers are chosen of God.  Thus, all religions are correct.  It's a very...hard-to-grasp concept.  Basically, they believe their religion is the one truth, and that every other religion is simply part of their truth.  It makes it difficult because (and she said this directly to us), if she receives a witness that the Book of Mormon is true, she'll simply add that to her 'library'.  Hmm...  I'm very curious how this is going to roll out.  Still stoked to meet with them more.  Plus, the entire family is interested!
We had another cool experience this week.  We belled a few houses near one of our investigators and a Ghanaian lady let us in.  She wanted us to come in right then and there, but we couldn't without a third man.  ANYWAY, we came back when her husband was home.  She's a typical Ghanaian lady--super-strong belief in Christ and an avid member of her church.  He's another matter.  He is a man screaming for the Gospel.  His first question was "Is it better to go to church, or stay home and worship God?"  It exploded from there...  Essentially, this man, Antony, thinks that God loves white people and not black people.  He compares Afrikan people to European people, in the way that European people are highly atheist but live in great conditions and Afrikan people are highly religious, but live in poverty.  It is a very difficult subject--and I can't blame him for thinking how he does.  He also believes strongly that revelation, prophecy and miracles have stopped.  It was a super intense meeting.  I think Elder Moscon and I handled it very well actually.  We taught out of the scriptures for almost every concern he had and testified as much as we could.  His heart softened a little, but it's still so hard.  He can benefit so much from the gospel, but he doesn't realize it yet.  I hope and pray we can help him see.  We committed him to read the Book of Mormon.  He seems like the type that will...
Numbers were good this week.  
Mmm, and we made a flan tart.  It was super delicious and interesting.  You make this batter and stick it in a pan, without making a crust, and it makes itself a crust and a top, with custard in the middle.  I'll have to send you the recipe--it's super simple.
Also, Broeder and Zuster Germann were sealed in the Zoetermeer Temple yesterday.  For time and eternity.  How cool.  They were absolutely glowing too.  He's a convert of a year.  Young and happy couple.
So Elder Leach was a picker.  He found all sorts of treasures on the ground.  It seems I have picked it up from him.  Being with him taught me that bolts are extremely useful when you're fixing up a bike.  So now I picked them up, claiming them as "treasures".  Elder Moscon finds this both strange and amusing.  Thought you'd enjoy knowing that I'm still me.
I really enjoy Chris's letters by the way.  They're simple, to the point, but packed with goodness.  It's cool to hear his miracles too.  Keep sending them!
Thank you Bro Whibley Sr for your testimony and message.  We strife everyday to obey the mission rules.
Well, until I think of more, 
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

100g flour
125g sugar
2 packettes of vanilla sugar (I don't know if that exists in Canada)
3 eggs
1/2 litre full milk
mix the regular sugar and the egg yolks a few minutes until you have a creamy...mix.
"mingle", or mix the vanilla sugar with sift flower.
Add, while continually mixing, the milk.
Finally, add the beaten egg whites to the mix.
Butter the cakepan and sprinkle it lightly with flour.  Pour the "fluffly" mixture into the cakepan.  A bottom is not needed - recipe makes it's own.
Bake for around 60 minutes.
Eat it to death.
And there you have it.  Relatively simple, but extremely delicious.  Make sure the egg whites are beaten fluffly.
Try it.  I dares ye.