......and the long wait is over. I got my package! Thank you so much!
Saltiness, sweetness, chocolate love and pictures. And...what the heck have you done to the yard? We were all trying to figure it out. The closest thing I can guess is a swimming pool! You're not getting a pool, are you?
I'll burst the bubble right now and say that Elder Shoemaker...is staying! Wow, looks like the curse is broken. Unless, of course, I move to a tri-panionship next transfer. With this gargantuan manifestation comes other anxieties; what will happen next transfer? Will my curse be entirely broken? It will either be I leave and he stays (unlikely), I stay and he leaves (breaking the curse), we both stay or we both leave (highly unlikely). The mysteries of it all. I don't suppose I have to worry about it for another 6 weeks though, so bam, out of my thoughts.
The Temple was a good experience again. It's always good to see people and be close to the Lord. The trains have been super snaky this last week though. The regular trains we need to catch weren't running, so we had to...overstap (change). We had to...get off and catch another train between stations, making us 40+ minutes late. They wanted everyone to be at the temple an hour early, so luckily we made it on time. The trains shafted us on the way home though. We didn't get home until 8 that evening. Aha, also to add to the travel-madness, 8 of us had to catch the bus from the temple. We got to the station in Zoetermeer and had to go to Leiden. Somebody spotted a sign and said "Well fiddely dee, there's a Leiden bus". I said "Gee whizz, that's not the bus we caught to get here..." But er'body had already piled on. Oh, it went to Leiden alright, but after travelling through every tiny city on the way there. That took another, oh...half an hour or more. Gah! Then, to add to the rest of the travel-shenanigans, our bus back to the station took a full half hour, because we had just missed it. I thoroughly hated all forms of more-than-two-wheeled travel by the end of that day.
Still, good experience.
We also had a special training meeting with President Odens, the Stake President. Similar to the one in Antwerpen. He introduced a stake missionary/member plan to help the Stake. The theme in our area is "Finding the One". To leave the ninety and nine to find the one lost sheep. It was a very informative training. He even told us some helpful things about Dutch culture to help us. Aaaand of course, the wacky train schedule was still in effect, so that snaked a few extra hours, as well as an appointment with Memsky, the coolest Dutch-African rapper you'll even meet. Bummer.
I got Elder Andrews with a creative prank. It wasn't so much of a bite you in the butt prank as an adventure. I hid his action figure (yes, he has an action figure) in a sneaky place, then made a sticky note saying where to look. In that place was yet another note giving another hint leading to another hint and so forth. Uiteindelijk, there were about 15 or so steps he had to follow, looking in sneaky places and unravelling ingenious riddles and clues. He was kind of a stinker about and let Elder Pimentel do it for him. Elder P enjoyed it though, so it was worth it.
As far as investigators go, we've found a couple, taught a couple. Sentina is still doodziek (very ill) and is actually getting treatments in the hospital or doctor or something...so that's not going too well. Hopefully she'll turn around soon.
Vicky made some good progress this week. We watched a conference talk based on the Book of Mormon. In feite (fact), it said "Either the BoM is of God, or the Devil" and you've got to read it to find out. She was really effected by it and even made her own conclusion by the end that she should read it! Her eyeballs are being operated on soon, so she can't see that well, but she and her daughter are going to read together. We had to do some expounding during the lesson too, because she's still caught up on some non-important JW doctrine. We explained what a few versus in the Bible really meant. They use the last verse of Revelations to claim you can't add or take away from the Bible. It says the same thing in Deuteronomy. Revelations was actually written before the Gospel of John and his epistles, but in the Bible at the end because there was no other place before it. Besides, those versus actually refer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which the Book of Mormon neither adds nor subtracts from. Confounded. In short, she's going to read the Book of Mormon, and that's huge improvement.
Miracle time! So the week before conference, we talked to this super cool guy on the street named Edmund. He had a...different way of thinking, but otherwise seemed interested. We gave him a Book but went on our way. So then, we contacted another lady named Renferm perhaps a week or two later, who was also very interested. We got her information and when we talked with her, she mentioned that she had spoken with her husband, who told her he had also met us some time earlier. Hint hint hint. When we went over for a lesson, you can probably guess who was waiting there for us. Edmund. We contacted them both separately. Coincidence? Psh.
Edmund is a super cool guy. We couldn't teach Renferm because she was busy with the children, but he's down 100% to learn more. We're taking him to the church on Thursday for a lesson and to Almere on Saturday for a baptism Service (of somebody else). He made some strange comments about how we can't commit him to do anything, and that if he doesn't want to do something, he won't. So instead, we invited him to read and pray. I promised him that if he carried through with our invitations, he would want to go further and learn more. Aha, got you now! He asked all the perfect questions too. He's an awesome guy.
Oh, and we went to an African service. The music was so loud, I couldn't hear myself think! It was fun, and the people there have great faith. I was impressed. But at the end of each song, they bang the drums and everybody starts yelling. It took me a while, but I realized they were praying. The preacher at the front holds the microphone so close to his face and yells "Oh Jesu!" over and over. They holler at the top of their lungs praises to the Lord, mostly repeating semi-generic things. There was an interlude between the music where a preacher preached about families. He talks really loudly into the microphone, ending each sentence--I mean literally each--with Amen or occasionally hallelujah. The crowd echoes back when he says something that impresses them. He spoke for about an hour, but I got the entirety of his message after 10 minutes. The rest was repetition. I'm sure this sounds really negative, but I enjoyed the experience. It was good to see so many people (about 35) joined together in song and dance to praise the Lord. It's just not...reverent. It was hard to think, let alone feel the subtle whisper of the Spirit. Still, another thing to go in the journal, right?
Aha, at one point, they put a basket on the front, then started jamming out. The intention was to go up in front of everybody and put some money in the basket. We put in a Book of Mormon instead. Then, everybody went up to shake the preacher's hand. I quickly wrote on a card "Wij willen graag over Jezus praten!" (we eagerly want to talk about Jesus) and urged Elder Shoemaker to give it to him. When he shook Preacher's hand, he gave him the card. The guy gave it a serious long look. He seemed almost shaken by it. The rest of the time, he was kind of somber. I think he was really considering it...
Which reminds me. We contacted a lady on the train, asking her what there is to do in Almere. Her reply "The only thing I enjoy is worshipping Jesus." Perfect, you'll love this book, the Book of Mormon. "Nope, I only worship Jesus, not this Mormon." Perfect! You'll love this book. "Nope, there's nothing above the Bible." Perfect, you'll love this book! She didn't get it. In the end, Elder Shoemaker said something like, "We're going to leave it here, on the chair in front of you. If you don't want it, you can just leave it there." As we got off the train, Elder Shoemaker looked behind--just in time to see her reach out and pick up the book to inspect it. What a clever move! Leave it for her, or leave it for somebody else.
It was a great week. I'm looking forward for another transfer with Elder Shoe.
Tot volgende keer,
**You know that Portuguese member I was talking about? She's having family/marital problems right now and is in great need of divine help. I can't explain the details, but please pray that everything will work out for her and her family. Thanks.
Zone playing Football in Amsterdam