Monday, 26 November 2012

This week has been a blurr

Ever have a week that is just a blurr?  Gee, wasn't I sitting here an hour ago?
It makes it super difficult to recall what happened this week.
The new theme for this week was chess.  Can't say it was as exciting as the previous themes.  We've got a couple chessboards (one jerryrigged from the glass cutting board) and had a few games.  I decided I don't want to play chess.  It stresses me out and takes too long.  I am proud to say I won one game though.  No more chess for me.
We've got a new dryer and the old one was whisked away.  You should see the new one, Holy man.  It's super nice and shiny and with all sorts of buttons that light up when you press them.  Do I know how to use it?  No.  Do I know what any of the buttons do?  No.
Poor Dairely has been super sick this week.  We went by just as he was leaving for the hospital to get a shot.  He looked so dang miserable, it was really sad.  On a lighter note, he's doing better now and we actually have an appointment today.
As well, we met with Claudia Höhne.  I can't remember if I told you about her, but she's a German lady who's been living here for 9 years.  She has an injured leg, injured hands and a few other conditions.  She's super golden though.  Really hard to understand with her thick-as-gravy accent, man oh mighty.  We went over there and she had already read 8 chapters in the Book of Mormon!  That's more than most investigators have done!  We gave her a pretty solid Restoration lesson and she felt the Spirit super strong.  At one point, we read Moroni's promise and her eyes went wide.  "Whoa, it says here we have to pray to God to know, in the name of Jesus." Yeah...  "That means Jesus and God are two separate people.  My whole life I've thought that there were one.  Oh, well I guess I learnt something new." Dang, we hardly said anything and she figured out that truth on her own.  The Spirit was speaking to her--it was amazing.  She said she's going to read everyday too.  I have the strong feeling that Claudia is going to benefit greatly from Priesthood blessings.  Just you wait.
I can't remember if this happened last week, but Family van Hulst called it off.  We phoned them and she said she didn't think this is her path because she hadn't felt anything.  Which is super unfortunate, because I think she did feel something and we didn't ever have a real, solid lesson with them to begin with.  Oh well, seed planted.
The Storms, on the other hand, are AWESOME.  They drove 2 hours to come to Stake conference yesterday, and they loved it.  Maartin Storm said the meeting was really personal, and very applicable.  He also loved how after the service, his kids exploded running everywhere, but it was okay, because everyone else's kids did the same.  We've got an appointment with them today pretty soon.  We're going to commit them to baptism by the end of December.  It's pretty quick, but they've got the entire month off, so we're planning on going over there often.  Oh man are we excited!  Pray it all works out!
Rosana, unfortunately, said she doesn't want to meet with us.  She did say, however that she'll continue reading the Book of Mormon, so who knows.
Also, we got an urgent call on Wednesday morning.  Dominique, a less-active member was told she was getting evicted!  Dominique used to be a man......   The majority of Wednesday we helped her move out.  We were there for 7 hours or so, helping her take everything apart and packing it.  It was crazy.  With our help the next day as well, I'm happy to say we managed to get everything packed and away before 12:30, when she was told she needed to be out by.  She's up in Groningen now.
Oh yeah, we had a delicious Turkey dinner to celebrate American Thanksgiving.  It was so dang good.  I stuffed myself silly.  Jesse and Chaim went, which was great.  It was really good for both of them.  Jesse was a bit out of his element--he can't handle crowds too well.  He was jittery and made more snide jokes than usual, but he really enjoyed it.  Chaim was really chipper too, something he needed as well.
I've been thinking a lot about my friends lately.  I thought about Braden and Preston in specific. 
Well, I think that's about everything.  I'll keep a look out for zombies and investigators, don't you worry.
I haven't got my birthday package yet, but thanks everybody for all the birthday letters/cards and love!  It means a lot, really.
en tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

                    American Thanksgiving held at Den Haag stake ~  November 22nd

Monday, 19 November 2012

Colds, fire and more zombies

Look at that creative title.  How creative.  Pretty explanatory too.
First of all, WE HAVE A NEW BAPTISMAL DATE.  Last week, we contacted a man as we were walking away from a lookup.  I'm not going to lie, he seemed a bit flauw (weak).  This week we had an appointment with him, this time with Elder Maughan with me on splits.  The lesson started a bit flauw as well, but we were on fire that day.  We had a super good companionship study that morning and we applied it like crazy during that day.  By the end of the lesson, our new friend, Dairely was totally into it.  We paused and asked him "Yo man, what are you thinking?" "Well, I want to know if this is true.  I really do." Wow!  What a cool guy. We had left him a reading assignment a few days earlier and he had even read the entire chapter!  He's a super cool guy.  Totally not flauw at all.  Oh myan, we're pumped to be working with him.  "If you knew this was true, would you be baptized on Dec. 22?"  "Why not?  If it's true, it's true, right?"  Awesome.
As well, we had spoken to another young guy who said we could come by sometime.  We got his address and attempted to look him up--only to discover his address actually doesn't exist.  We picked the street which sounded more correct and headed there.  We belled the prospective door, but nobody answered.  Bummer, right?  But as we were chilling there, a young man leaned over the railing above to smoke.  We contacted that guy and asked if he was interested. "Nee, niet echt." ("no, not really")  "Well, maybe your buddy pal chum inside"?  The question seemed to catch him off-guard, but he went inside and actually came back with his friend.  Again, we explained what we were up to.  The first man's friend, Bart was actually very interested!  He let us in right then and there too.  I've only been let in to complete stranger's houses maybe 3 times ever.  We shared another diggety-down lesson and he was very impressed.  One of his opening remarks was how many churches there are that teach different things, instead of there just being one "Like in the beginning".  Gee, here's why!  He too, was excited to read the Book of Mormon and pray over it.
The shenanigans doesn't stop there.  As we were leaving, we double-checked the board with er'one's names on it.  As we were chilling there, a young woman approached and tried to say something in English, but...failed.  "We spreken wel Nederlands" ("We do speak Dutch"). Basically, she was yet another person who wanted to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  She said that she had heard people talk about the spirit so much before, that it's a feeling that washes over you.  She said that she had never felt that in her life, and that she really wanted to.  "When can we come over then," was Elder Shoemaker's response.  She avoided an appointment, but not our promise that if she read and prayed, she would get that feeling.  We'll be swinging back by in a week or so.
We've had a couple run-ins with the van Hulsts (you don't capitalize van in a name unless it's at the beginning of a sentence--I read that in a book), and we got their number.  We're going to get an appointment with them this week.
Well, that's pretty much it for investigators. 
Now the title.
There was another zombie invasion this week.  This time, the Zone Leaders were over staying the night (as they did a four-man blitz with both Almere and us).  The dreaded chainsaw zombie came a-lurking out of his lurk-place and once again Elder Andrews was the first to fall.  With five different people attacking it, it got shot a lot more than the first time and the survivors actually managed to kill it--but not until after it had infected the majority of the others.  Elder Li held out the longest, using his ninja skills and constant yelling to weave in between claws and teeth while battering the beasts.  Eventually, one of the zombies got hold of his torso and he was knocked down where once again a brutal feeding frenzy occurred.
It was really fun.
Also, poor ol' Elder Shoemaker has been struck by round 3 of his sickness.  It returned two days ago, hitting his nose this time.  Once again, we were forced to stay home. 
The dryer has been acting up lately.  It hasn't really been drying anything, more like spinning it around and blowing air everywhere.  "Well, that's what it's supposed to do, right?" Not really.  I put four towels in there to get dry, but after 2 hours of rolling around in there, they were still just as damp.  Dangit.  So I shoved them in for another go.
Because we were home sick, we sat in the living room, Elder Shoemaker writing a letter and me drawing drawings.  Out of nowhere, the smoke alarm went off.  It had gone off once before when the dryer had spit out a bunch of steam, so expecting it to be nothing more than a repeat, I went to investigate.  The kitchen was hazy and the laundry room was filled with thick grey smoke, streaming out of the dryer.  "The dryer's smoking...  IT'S ON FIRE!"  Yep, the dang thing caught fire.  I peered down into the small grate at the bottom and I could see it, a clear flame somewhere at the back.  I quickly ran over and grabbed the fire extinguisher and yanked all those silly safety precautions off.  We unplugged the dryer and washer and sprayed the front, but couldn't get the flames.  After grabbing some tools (and opening the windows, I believe), we yanked the back off of the machine and filled that sucker up with foam.  I've never used a fire extinguisher, it was really exciting.  When we called President later to tell him what happened, Elder Shoemaker said "I think the worst part is that the towels aren't even dry." Dangit.  We opened all the windows, put a few fans here and there and waited outside for the smoke to go away.  The same towels that I was trying to dry were used to sop up the foam stuff from the extinguisher, soiling them to how they were before they were washed.  It was like two steps forwards and three burned back.
We shoved that wrecked machine outside to rot.  We haven't bought a tombstone yet, but the burial is planned for this weekend.  I haven't thought of anything good to say in my eulogy yet.  All I have written down is "goodbye, stupid machine.  You suck."
I almost got sick as well.  Oh no!  Thank goodness it only got me a little bit, and didn't turn into a full-fledged cold.  I'll eat some vitamin C.  I think I'm over it already.
Well, we're off to celebrate American Thanksgiving and to play American football.  America.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Zombie invasion

I had to write things down this week so I wouldn't forget them.
First of all, we've switched gears again...  Calling repentance does seem a bit...fiery, doesn't it?  Instead,
wij sporen de leden aan om over familie te bidden (we encourage members to have family prayer).  We figured that having the members unified, praying for one righteous cause would be a great help. 
D&C 29:6. 
       Whosoever ye shall ask in faith being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.
 We're focusing more on our Stake goal of 'Finding the One'.  There are still members we need to...encourage to change, but for the most part, we think the members would most benefit this new perspective.  Fire avoided.
Some shenanigans went down this week.  The largest was on Tuesday.  The Assistants to the mission President came to Lelystand and the four of us blitzed it.  We split up (we got stuck on the bikes) and looked up people we thought were important to visit.  We saw some cool experiences, met a German lady (Dutch in a German accent sounds awesome) and ran into some other interesting people.  That evening though, it started to pour.  Holy man was it raining.  Elder Schulte, my temporary companion, has a slight fear of going to fast on a bike.  It just so happened that our look-up was on the other side of the city.  I don't know if I've ever been wetter.  My scalp was wet and I could feel it soaking through my 3 or four layers of clothing.  Man oh man.  It was all for the better though.  We arrived 20 minutes later at the door of the van Hulsts.  Her expression when she opened up was gold.  Something like "Oh no. What are you doing out in the rain?  Get in, get in!" She let us right in and we took off our jackets and shoes and headed upstairs.  Holy moses is the van Hulst's house big.  It's four whole stories.  They're pretty well off.
Anyway, we sat down in front of the fireplace--with a real fire glowing--with a cup of warm chocomel.  I took notice of his bookshelf at once and that sparked a conversation.  His whole wall is devoted to carrying religious books.  All sorts too.  We eventually got talking about the Book of Mormon.  He had read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we gave him!  It was super cool.
But the best part was that Elder Schulte was testifying like crazy to Mevrouw van Hulst.  Her reply was that she wanted what he had--a knowledge of truth.  She said she's searching for it, and wants a testimony too!  Wow!  It was super awesome.  We left them with a new Book of Mormon (they couldn't find their old one) and they implied that they would read it.
Gee, I don't think I've ever prayed harder in my life...
You remember Melissa?  She's 20, has two giant dogs and is...well.....doesn't have the best lifestyle.  We met her op straat (on the street) and told her to read the book of Mormon.  What's surprising: she actually did!  Whoa.  Weird.  She said she liked it too.  Woo!
Otherwise, I have a few things to report.
I've been working out.  Uh oh!  You better watch out.
CROW TIE!  Holy man diddely.  Coolest tie ever.  I jumped the gun and opened it the minute I got it.  I couldn't help it.  It's so cool.  I wore it that same night.  Hey, I'm wearing it right now!
I forgot to tell you about Lenaya.  Elder Moscon shipped his bike up here because Elder Andrews was having problems with his own racefiets (bike).  We tore the broken head of Lenaya and chucked Elder Andrew's bike's head on instead, making a Frakenfiets.  It works fantastic now.
But the story goes further.  The tape on my racefiets handlebars wore out this week because of rust.  So I took Lenaya's old head, ripped her neck off and traded it for my bike's head.  What we thought was a uselessly bike turned out to be the opposite.  Besides the broken neck, we've used every piece of Lenaya.  She's the gift that keeps on giving.  I don't know where my old, bike, Peppy went.  He's gone somewhere...
And thanks so much to the Cravens!  They sent me a birthday card and some money.  Thank you!
Thanks for the other people that took the time to write me.  It's always great to get letters!  Makes me feel warm and tingly.
I forgot to mention.
Saturday night there was a zombie invasion.  Fair enough, that happens almost every night.  That night was different though.  I threw a scarf around my head as to leave only one eye exposed, then snatched a blanket and threw that over my back.  It was really annoying too, because I had to wait half an hour in my outfit until the other elders were done planning.  Anyway, hunched over, creepy me came shuffling around the corner with a mild yelp of surprise from Elder Andrews.  He assumed the classic zombie reaction and backed away, shooting his pistol--but it wasn't working.  "Gee," he thought, "this is a resistant zombie.  I guess I just have to shoot it more.  Derp."
Elder Pimentel then attempted to snatch me up in a full-nelson, but this zombie was more than either of them expected.  With a growl and the sound of rusty gears, I exploded free of Elder Pimentel's grasp, wielding a chainsaw and bore down on Elder Andrews.  He froze in shear terror (I resembled a certain zombie from Resident evil and the recollection shattered his mind) and was he the first to be mowed down by my unstoppable rage.  Elder Pimentel in the meantime scrambled to make a dragon-tail, the one weakness of zombies.  Elder Shoemaker walked in to find me lurking above Elder Andrew's freshly-disemboweled chunklets, screamed then turned away and ran.  In the pursuit, both Elder Shoe and Elder P got trapped in the narrow entrance to our house.  Lucky for Elder P, the chainsaw zombie preoccupied itself by grinding Elder Shoe to bits, letting Elder Pimentel escape.  The chainsaw horror pursued him back into the main room, where by then, Elder Andrews had risen as the undead and had joined in the fight.  Elder Shoemaker made a gallant attempt to fight the chainsaw zombie, but ultimately, had to flee as well.  One more round around the house found Elder Pimentel in a similar situation, fighting for his life, but this time against two zombies.  Again, he was forced to run.  Unfortunately for him, he hadn't counted on Elder Shoemaker also rising from the dead and he was caught off guard.  Elder Shoemaker delivered the stunning blow and reinforced by Elder Zombieandrews presence, they were able to take him down.  A disgusting feeding frenzy ensued where the two zombies devoured him alive, shortly followed by the chainsaw zombie cutting away his own pieces to feed on.
The sound of rusty gears was actually an electric toothbrush in my pocket and the chainsaw was a padded piece of exercise equipment.  We caught most of it on film too.  Apparently, I'm a really good zombie actor (according to them, not me).
More shenanigans ensued thereafter, but the first was the most exciting.  Elder Andrew's scream was great too.  He wasn't expecting what happened, but he went along with it great.  When I first exploded out of the blanket, Elder Pimentel saw my "chainsaw" and supposed it was a gun.  His first reaction was to make a dragon-tail, which is a certain way of folding a towel into a lethal weapon.  Probably the worst first-reaction ever.  Anyway, that was super fun.
The language is doing fine.  I wouldn't say I'm fluent yet.  We don't talk enough together in Dutch, my comp and I.  If you really do your best to speak your language as much as possible, you really excel.  I can convey about 80-90% of what I want though, so I'm doing alright.  I read the newspaper almost every day in Dutch, and can understand most of it.  If you asked me what an article was about, I could tell you.  I understand almost everything.  I have to force myself to think in Dutch, but all my prayers are in Dutch.  And yes, I even dream in Dutch...
Pray for our families--that they'll be able to feel the Spirit.
Thank you so much for everything!
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
I treated myself to a Dutch white shirt.  It is awesome.

View Shoe Burgess and Andrews.jpg in slide show
Elder Shoemaker & Andrews
View Zone Den Haag I Amsterdam.jpg in slide show
Van Haag Zone

Monday, 5 November 2012

Switching gears

Officially 1 year op zending (on a mission).  Holy man, can you believe that?  I feel super grey.  Weathered and experienced. We celebrated crossing the "hump" of our missions by buying steaks this week.  We had steaks, fries, broccoli, and delicious apple taart (cake) for lunch to celebrate.  It was so dang delicious.  We discovered there's a cake/pie shop just down the road.  Deadly.
As far as mission life goes, our focus has taking a big turn.  Things are changing in Lelystad.  We sat down with President Hoola and had a solid 2 hour conversation about the state of the Branch.  He told us that he felt that he's going to be someone who changes the Branch, not just presides while it stays the same.  Lelystad has been in a tricky situation for a long time.  Many of the members won't accept callings, making the leadership in the Branch almost non-existence.  This place has been dependant on other wards for decades to fill positions.  President Hoola's image is to have this Branch completely independent of outside assistance in two years' time.  That puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders as missionaries.  We're switching our focus away from finding new investigators to helping the members we already have.  In feite (fact), many members have been on the same spiritual level for 30 years.  And that doesn't fly.
So now, Elder Shoemaker and I essentially have to call the members to repentance.  Sounds heavy, right?  We've got some ideas planned to help the members make true progress.  It's scary, because we might be pushing people out of their comfort zones.  People don't like that.  But those comfort zones aren't helping the members, and certainly not the Branch.
We've been floundering, both the Branch and the missionaries.  They're connected.  We've been finding a lot of cool people lately, but all of them are difficult or even impossible to meet with.  We haven't seen Sentina in almost two months.  We're switching our gears as far as finding goes to really focus on those people that will truly benefit the Branch, and not just add to the problem.  That means we need to find a fireball family, or somebody with great leadership skills (or something).
I feel slightly overwhelmed with this task, not going to lie.  Frankly, I've never had to call people out before.  I'm a pretty laid-back guy.  Elder Shoemaker is better at being...Dutch, thank goodness.  It's a lot on our plate.
The JoVo (young adults) activity is taking a  more serious turn too.  We're lengthening the activity and adding an activity where everybody participates and learns a gospel principle too.  Bij voorbeeld (for example), the Van Den Berg's did this cool activity where we drew names from a hat and wrote down a consequence for that person.  After reading the golden rule ('do unto others as you would have done unto you'), we had to do the thing we wrote down for the other.  It's fun yet teaches a principle.  Plus, we're going to get the members more involved too, and we're going to see if we can get more people coming.  Should be great.
So there's a big vision here in Lelystad.  It's ready to explode.
We had a few cool experiences this week besides the bombshell.  We were in an area, hunting down a potential investigator, and knocked a few doors.  A lady answered and seemed to light up right away.  She had met missionaries before, 8 years earlier while in Portugal.  They made a super good impression, making it easier for her to talk to us.  Her husband came down too and we shared an easy conversation, laughing all the while (making yet a better impression, booyah) and before we knew it, their three kids were downstairs too!  I was thinking how awesome a family they would be--just the people we're searching for!  This was a day after our chat with President Hoola as well.  They already had a Book of Mormon, but we gave them a Plan of Salvation pamphlet with a promise to return the next week.  He said that he would read it that very evening.  Wow!  There has been lots of praying involved that familie Van Hulst will develop interest.
Also, Elder Shoemaker got kissed!  Whoa, hold up, not on the mouth.  We got flagged by this couple walking on the street, who asked if we were from some help organization.  We said no, but we also helped people.  The woman broke down crying right there, saying how her life had fallen apart about a month ago.  In short, they were super interested and slightly drunk.  He even said that he had prayed ten minutes earlier that they would get helped for their...problems and addictions.  She was so grateful that she hugged Elder Shoemaker!  His expression was great as she leaned in.  She then kissed him on the neck.  She hugged me too (oh no!) but I was a little less stiff about it.
Then, the next day, we went to their house and they totally denied us.  "Geen interesse (not interested)".  DANGIT.  Don't know what that was all about.  Anyway, that sucked.  But! But there was this huge pile of trash chilling in a dumpster thingy and I noticed a crappy bike inside it.  A member had mentioned he needed a new wheel, so I was moved (you could say) to pluck that wheel out of there.  I asked a neighbour, and she gave it the okay, then we asked another neighbour if she had tools.  After asking a third neighbour, he came out with some tools and started helping me remove the wheel.  As we did so, Elder Shoemaker struck up a conversation with the second person we talked to, who turned out to be super awesome.  She accepted a BoM and said that she would open the door whenever we came by.
It seemed like a long process to eventually contact this one person, but the Lord werkt in een andere manier (works in a different way).
We also had dinner with Jesse again.  He is a man with a zillion stories.  He has done and seen it all.  Everytime we talk with him, we learn so much more.  It's amazing.  Aaaaand, he even came to church!  He didn't say it right away, but later we took him mee (also) to Chaim's and had a pow wow.  Jesse told us that he had woken up and just felt messed up and stressed.  He felt like he should go to our church.  Elder Shoemaker even felt as though Jesse would be coming, but disregarded the feeling.  "psh, that's ridiculous." Jesse explained how he felt really relaxed afterwards.  He said it was a place to relax and be surrounded by friends--people that care for you.  He said something else interesting, something I started to notice not too long ago.  People open up to us.  It's amazing.  People just tell us things at the door they wouldn't even tell their mother.  Jesse himself relayed that when he had spoken to us at dinner, he wondered at one point why he was telling all these things to 20 year old strangers.  He's coming along very well--begging to recognize how special our church really is.  I think he'll accept the gospel eventually.
Edeline (the Portugese member we found) came to church with her husband.  We had dinner with them on Saturday too.  They're both super cool.  Anton, her husband said that he married her with the full intent of supporting her.  "You have to accept that when you marry somebody who's religious, you should support them in that.  You shouldn't try to take that away from them, but support it.  That's what you do in a healthy marriage, right?" Wham, you got it.  What a trooper.
That's about all I gotta say about that.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
We just got booted out of the library.  Every 1st monday, they do a test with the alarms in case the dikes break.  Apparently, they have to empty the entire library when it happens too.  Fun.
View Zone Den Haag I Amsterdam.jpg in slide show
Van Haag Zone
Elder Shoemaker and Andrews
View Shoe Burgess and Andrews.jpg in slide show
View Elder Spock Burgess.jpg in slide show
Elder "Spock" Burgess