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,
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.
Van Haag Zone
Elder Shoemaker and Andrews
Elder Shoemaker and Andrews
Elder "Spock" Burgess