Monday, 24 September 2012

She felt the Spirit just as a bystander.

It's weird when your do planning for your 3rd week in a new transfer already.  It really, really flies.
So this week was pretty standard I suppose.  Biking a lot, knocking doors, eating food and the occasional miracle to spice things up.
One point of interest is that we FOUND ALMDUDLER (like ginger ale but with an apple base).  No joke.  We swung by a Jumbo supermarket, and found Almdudler in the pop aisle.  I couldn't believe it.  I bought 3 right then and there and we drank them the next day.  I'm disappointed to say they weren't the same...  It's the Dutch kind (as evident because of the Dutch labelling).  I'm not sure what's different ingredient wise, but it's not as sweet or overall as strong as the real thing.  The smell was off too--that was the first tip-off.  Still, the taste is familiar and I'll probably get more in the future.  There's an Austrian member who's going to bring me some back from her vacation.  Mmm.
Elder Shoemaker has a really good talent.  Whenever somebody says hi to us, he wheels around and contacts them.  We had a super cool miracle come of it too.  These two ladies (we later discovered they're Indonesian) were drinking when we contacted them.  One of their first comments was "We want to stop drinking! *sips her beer*  Help us stop drinking!  We don't like it. We want to go on vacation.  *sip*  But we can't because we spend our money on booze. *sip*" Uh, okay.  Obviously tipsy.  Still.  But then, two more ladies showed up, who weren't drunk.  One of them started in English, so I began talking with her.  She opened up to me, telling me that there is something missing from her life that she can't fill.  We told these four ladies that we pay to be here.  Caraline, the one I was talking to was surprised.  "You pay that much?" she exclaimed.  "If you pay that much just to be here, you must be doing the right thing.  Come over and if you can help make my life better, I'll believe everything you say." Whoa.  We have an appointment with her this week--we're hoping she'll bring the rest of her friends too.  How cool it would be to boot all their addictions and change their lives?  Wow.  Supah cool.  Only through God.
The trains have been super stinky this week.  They've been running on weird schedules and we've had to wait at least 20 minutes for almost every one.  Super frustrating.  But yesterday, we were a-chilling waiting for a train and we both felt prompted to talk to lady with her child.  She kinda shuffled away, but Elder Shoemaker jumped up and slam dunked the contact anyway.  We talked with her for the entire train ride and she was willing to accept a Book of Mormon at first, but then she changed her mind for some reason and gave it back.  We helped her get her stroller down at the end of the train ride and tried to help the other people with strollers, looking for another opportunity.  When I turned around, there was a young woman talking to Elder Shoemaker.  Ah what?  She had been watching our conversation the entire time and was very impressed.  She told us right there that she had so much respect for what we did, talking to that lady and being friendly despite how she had turned us down.  We testified and tried to convince her of the importance of what we shared.  This young lady, Joyce said she couldn't do the same and just...applauded us for what we do.  So Elder Shoemaker pretty much stuck out the Book of Mormon that other woman had just rejected and said "Hier is een boek voor jou."  It was kinda funny actually.  We were all kinda surprised.  Still, she took the book with excitement and we managed to get all her information.  She's looking forward to meeting with us.
It was a really cool experience.  She felt the Spirit just as a bystander and felt prompted to talk with us.  Wow.  The Lord is 100% guiding this work.  I wouldn't be surprised if she was baptized in the future.
Oh, and I found a super, super nice bike for €10.  It was leaning against a pole with a big sign.  So I called up the guy and he came out and 3 minutes later, it was mine.  It's this classic racing bike in terrific condition.  At church, 2 separate people remarked how they had seen it, but I snaked it first befor they could get it.  Muahah.  Best deal I've ever seen.  Oh, and Chopper bike is gone.  I left it behind for Fam Germann in Turnhout.  I didn't want it anyway.  Wasn't as nice as I thought.
I gave my first talk this Sunday.  I had done a super cool study on countenances and light and how the two are related.  I learnt that as we are more purified, we become more like Christ--and people can see that in our appearance, in our eyes.  We must let that light shine unto the world, as Jesus directs in Mathew 5.  Christ further says in 3 Nephi 18 that He is that light which we must hold to the world.  I dunno, it was a super enlightening study.  I pretty much shared that with the branch and they seemed to enjoy it.  It was weird because the second speaker's talk went over the same subject--the Light of Christ (which is our conscience).  Both our assignments were given the day before, without a subject.  Coincidence??
Anydoodle, that's all I got for today.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 17 September 2012

Lelystad, Netherlands ~ a new area.....again!!

A new area!  Again!  I'm starting to think somethings up.  I'm not really disappointed.  Thinking back, I recall President Burnham's words.  He told me a mission was great for meeting people.  Well, wham, here is  a whole new branch and area to get to know.  I guess it's just my job to go around and explore the mission.
Lelystad itself is a 20 minute commute.  We bought an abonnement (subscription) , which means we pay a lump sum to travel unlimited between the two cities.  Quite a chunk of cash, but goedkoper (cheaper) than paying each time.  The city is relatively flat, building-wise.  There are many skyscrapers and a few canals snaking here and there.  The place is built like a maze though, with areas or wijks (districts) and then street numbers instead of names.  The numbers are in no particular order though--and without maps on our phone, it's sometimes a nightmare to find where we're going.  Seems like a fun place.  Kind of ghetto-y in some places though.  The builder of the town thought it would be a good idea to build lots of cheap housing to build up the city really fast.  All that did was get all the foreigners and poorer people to move in.
The branch itself has a lot of ups and downs.  There are stronger members, but overall, the branch is struggling.  The members aren't as...strong as they could be.  We've got a plan to work with the JoVo's (YSA) of the ward.  The first Thursday we had a Jovo evening where we ate food and played chess and pingpong.  I surprised myself how good I was at pingpong--just as long as I took of my shoes first.
There's an Austrian lady in the ward.  She's off to Austria for the next little while for a treatment for her lime disease, but she'll be back in a couple of weeks--with Almdudler!  Apparently, you can buy it in a grocery store in town--for a bit of a price.  Worth checking out.
The gemeente (Branch)  President is a super cool guy.  He's only 26!  He's got a vision for the branch though, so hopefully we can work some miracles.
The apartment we live in is indeed above McDonald's, as well as a store called H&M.  The front of the building is opposite to our door and we live on the second story, so we pretty much never see either though.  Apparently, our apartment is highly sought after.  You can just barely smell the ocean if the wind is right.  It rains and blows like crazy.  Great gusty storms that swoop in, roar for an hour, then fade away just as fast.  Our apartment is one story, but very spacious and cozy.  We've got a nice speaker system.
Aaand yup, bunking with Elder Andrews again.  His greenie (Elder Pimentel) is super cool.  Very excited about doing missionary work.  He wiggles his tail as he anticipates going out and giving away another Book of Mormon.  Elder Pimentel is from everywhere.  He was born in Oaklahoma, but lived in the Netherlands and Sudan, to name but a few.  Elder Pimentel lived here a few years back, so his
Dutch is better than most greenies already--he actually took Spanish in the MTC.  Hmm...
Elder Shoemaker is a fun guy.  He's got a good smile and I can tell he's a hard worker.  No problems there.
Yummy ........... fresh Herring!!!
I didn't really get to say goodbye to anybody.  I haven't expected to move the last 3 moves, and this time wasn't much different.  I got a picture with familie Germann and Tauelen, the investigator who came to church regularly.  Sister Tauelen was making good progress.  We hadn't really even taught her much, but the ward swept her right in.  She's practically a regular now.  I wouldn't be surprised if she was baptized sometime in the future...
Also, I got a picture with Simon and Don.  We had a super-cool appointment with them Tuesday.  We sat down with Don and Simon didn't show up, so we began teaching Don the Plan of Salvation.  Just as we finished, Simon showed up and sat down, saying `yo, what are we learning today?"  To our surprise, Don insisted on teaching him what he just learned.  So Don went through the Plan of Salvation, telling him what each drawing meant (we did it on a piece of paper).  He did it perfectly too.  It was beautiful, how he explained it actually.  At one point, he said "Then Simon, yo gonna die.  You are gonna die.  Yo gonna die." He said it almost like a threat.  Simon nodded and said "Oh.  Yeah.  Oh, yeah." It was super funny.  Still, they both got it.  It was super cool--good thing to leave on.
Mom, I've only been here a week and we've had 3 or 4 dinner appointments already.  We went to one family's house and they had dragons everywhere!  4 or 5 dragon statues and a huge dragon painting hanging on the wall! Their kids brought down this huge star Wars lego set as well.  It was awesome.
Buuut yeah.  That's about all, right?  Back to good milk, good roads, and understandable accents.  Woo! 
Love the Nederland.
Oh....Dad and his injuries...  I can't believe you actually still go to the ER anymore.
Well, tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

On September 5 and 6, 2012 President Kearen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the 1st Councillor in the European Area Presidency come and toured the missionThese are some pictures taken of the Rotterdam and Antwerpen Zone Conference.

Elder Pimentel first assignment is Almere - to be trained by Elder B Andrews (from Evan's MTC group).  He is part of a foursome living with Evan.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Miracles and a curse

I'll tell you the curse first, to get rid of the tension.
I'm cursed.  I've averaged a companion per transfer and 2 transfers per city.  And yep, that curse is continuing.  I'm getting the boot up to Lelystad.   I'm going to be companions with Elder Shoemaker, who was also in Elder Moscon's MTC group.  We're bunking with Elder Andrews (my old companion) and his greenie, who cover the neighbouring city.  Ah! I was just getting comfortable too. We've found so many people to teach these last few weeks and wham.  Gone I go.  The way of the dust (as to things pertaining to Turnhout).  Oh well.  At least I got a nice bike out of it--oh and memories too...
And like always, I didn't expect to get transferred, so I took no pictures of members...  Blast.
Ah yes.  Miracles.
So this week, we heard from President Kearon, of the seventy.  We also heard his British accent.  He gave a wonderful presentation on finding and how to improve ourselves in that regard.  He really stressed the power of earnest prayer too.  It was cool because afterwards, I was one of the few people to be interviewed by him.  I told him 2 or 3 things I'd learnt on my mission then split. 
Our Zone Leaders then decided that we were going to have a ZONE WIDE prayer.  So on Friday, in our own apartments, we all knelt at 10:30 and said a prayer, asking the Lord to help us with our goals and success.  Later that day, after what was a regular day, we decided to knock on a door which a friendly old lady had suggested we try.  The guy was friendly, but not terribly interested.  As we talked, the same friendly old lady came home (she's his neighbour).  A few moments later, her husband came home too.  As we were biking away, we had the very strong impression to go back and give her a Book of Mormon.  We knocked on their door and she answered.  We told her we wanted to give her something because she was so kind and we wanted to show some kindness in return.  She was a bit confused, but took it nevertheless.  This is the mysterious part.  Her husband (who she had mentioned is suffering from a sore back) came to the door too, asking what was happening.  He spotted the book and told her repeatedly to give it back, in a grouchy way.  She said something and he spotted the cover and changed right before our eyes.  He let her keep it, then actually turned to us and began asking about our church and whether we had a building nearby.  It's such a difficult thing to describe, but it was as though his heart softened the moment he read the title of the Book of Mormon.  Elder Moscon and I left the door puzzled, but feeling the Spirit strongly.  I only see a small part of the puzzle, but I think we were supposed to be there at that exact moment.  It was a moment of importance for these two people, but I can't explain why.  It just felt like a miracle.
Then later that same day, we met with Simon, who chills at the end of our road.  He brought a friend, Don with him and we shared the Restoration with them--sitting on one of the benches at the end of the road.  We asked them if they would be baptized at the end of the lesson--supposing they knew our message was true--and they both agreed outright.  When we set a goal of October 20, Don commented how far away that was.  Also, when we told them the font was in Antwerpen, they started discussing how they would get there.  It was super cool.  They both seem to want to change their lives for the better--good thing too.  They smoke weed very frequently...  Neat experience though.
Then, we decided to have another zone prayer the next day.  While we were in Herentals, we knocked on a certain door and a guy answered.  He said he was Muslim, but had a bunch of friends, then bode us to follow.  The weird things you do on your mission...  We followed him through this house to meet two guys setting up a barbecue.  We had a cool discussion with them, and the first Muslim guy too, about the Book of Mormon.  Halfway through our talk, the first guy left to get shoes and came back with yet another friend.  Out of nowhere, we taught these four African guys, gave them 2 book of Mormons and made a return appointment.  What?
Oh yeah.  Then earlier this week...  The miracles never stop!  We met a man named Simon Benedict by the bus station.  I think I already told you about him......and that the Sisters in Antwerpen gave us a referral, which was Albert.  We went to the Arendonk AZC (refugee centre) to meet with Albert.  We actually met him on the bus on the way there too.  When we got there, he left quickly to get some food from his apartment, and came back with Simon Benedict.  It was unbelievable.  These two people we met two totally separate ways turned out to be bestest friends.  So that was neat as well.
Then, after church, while we were still in the building, a lady came out of nowhere, holding one of our cards and said she was looking for the church written on the card.  We set up an appointment and she promised to come to church the following Sunday.
Dang, miracles flew out of nowhere this week.  The windows of heaven are open!  Prayer--it works.  Especially when your entire zone is united in it.
Well, sorry for writing so much.  So much happened!
Thanks for your support--and see you in Lelystad!
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
Stadhuisplein 13a
1315 HV Almere-stad

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Another week gone!

Sooo because of various shenanigans I am writing very late this evening. 
Aaaand also because of said shenanigans and lateness, I didn't have much time to read many of your letters.
I'm going to print them off and read them latah, sorry.
Ah, another week gone and past...and gone.  It's so strange.  Elder Moscon said to me yesterday "Oh man, we're getting our transfer call on Sunday."  Wham.  Hit me like a ton of bricks.  This transfer flew by.  Craziness.
OH, thank you so much for the T-shirt by the way!  It might be my new favourite ever.  It is PERFECT.  Typewriter?  Crows?  AH!  I'm trying to get a typewriter, but I can't find anywhere to get one.  It would speed up my letter-writing by ten-fold! 
Yes, this week.  We had an appointment with Tina and Prince this week.  (Tina was formerly Asamoah, until we discovered her real name).  It was a good lesson--they made us African food afterwards.  This delicious fried rice with finely-diced vegetables and chicken.  There was a homemade spicy sauce  - daarbij that bit back if you put too much in your mouth.  I guess I shouldn't complain considering where Chris and Travis are serving...  I thoroughly enjoyed it that evening, but not the following morning.  I now know what Brother Kane was saying about Montezuma revenge.  Gosh.  It was super miserable.  I'll spare you the details.
We ate out for lunch every day this week.  What were we thinking?  We had some donars, kebabs and a Bicky Burger, which is super Belgian.  It's this mystery-meat, mystery-sauce, mystery-cooked-onion burger.  It's an artery-clogger for suresies, but sure tastes good.  Also, I'm convinced Belgian fries are the best in the world.  Met Joppie sauce daarop ook.  Mmm, lekker (Joppie sauce with them also - uhmm, tasty).
We met with Rosario this week.  He had come to church last Sunday.  We retaught the Restoration.  He really is a cool guy--searching for an answer.  We had lost contact because he had a big project with his house that sucked away a lot of his time, but we are jump-starting his investigation once again.
There was a huge family-picnic-day in Herentals on Saturday.  It was a Stake-wide thing, so many members from Eindhoven were there.  It was cool to see them again.  We got to also meet some of the investigators in our district.  Did we tell you about Paul?  We found him during exchanges, but unfortunately, he lives just outside our area.  He came to the picnic day and I got to hear a bit more of his background.  The story goes, he was living in Liberia when things started heating up, so he decided to flee.  Him and a bunch of other refugees were on a boat sailing to Europe when a mighty tempest stirred.  The ship started sinking as it was tossed between the waves and the Muslim people on board began praying.  The boat started sinking more!  Paul quickly advised everyone to pray to Jesus, then started doing so himself.  The boat came up a bit.  The rest of the people soon followed along and the boat came entirely up and it arrived more or less safely to its destination.  Paul committed himself to Jesus thereon afterwards.  Then we found him!  He hasn't been baptised yet either.  I'm jealous that Leuven gets to teach him instead of us, but nevertheless thankful that I was there when we found him.
Soooo we went to Leuven today.  We wanted to go bowling to celebrate Elder Goethals birthday, but both bowling allies in town were closed.  So we wandered through a huge market that happened to be all over the city.  We missed our bus--which is why we're writing emails late--and decided to wander some more while we waited.  As we were turning to head back, one of the women in the stalls stopped to talk to us.  Long story short, she told us she was looking for our church, but couldn't find it in Belgian.  We gladly exchanged info and passed her along to the Sisters in Antwerpen, where she lives.  Had we caught the original bus, we wouldn't have found her.  God works in mysterious ways.
Also, I chatted with used-video game seller, and mentioned that I owned a particular game.  He said that had I had it right then and there, he would have bought it straight-up for 150 Euros.  I didn't pay near that much.  He was a super cool guy.  He told us all about himself, how he had been a homeless guy and how he had worked his way out of poverty.  Very interesting.  Despite one of the first things he mentioned to us (after he realized we were missionaries, he said he couldn't be saved), I gave him a card as a token of our friendship.  You never know right?  Bewp, seed planted.
We had another great lesson with Frank.  We used silence really well; let him think about things.  He really opened up too--told us about how he had a dream where he was meeting with missionaries before.  He's not sure whether that was an answer or not, but we directed him to a few chapters that we think will help.  He wants an answer and he believes, he just needs to act now.  It's really up to him.
Good week indeed.
Also, I found a new bike.  I'll send a picture. I found it at the station.  It's been spraypainted over and the rear tire was pretty much shredded.  It was probably stolen and then abandoned.  It's pretty old too, actually.  I'm not sure what to do with it yet, but for now it's super fun. I haven't actually ridden it yet either...
le gasp!  I now know what my bike's name is:  Peppi.
Well, k, bye
Tot volgende keer, Elder Burgess
Joppiesaus recipe
Servings: 4
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1//2 - 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/3 onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 teaspoon curry powder
  • a pinch of paprika
  • salt , pepper