Monday, 28 January 2013

We smashed the house with the Spirit

Wow, those were more questions that most...
I haven't typed as much on my typewriter this week, so thank goodness my fingers are used to this keyboard.  For some reason, I don't press the space bar as much on a manual typemachine, so if some words are smashed together, just ignore them.
We have a bunch of missionary comics in our apartment.  Included is a "Missionary companion checklist".  After answering a number of checklist questions, some are piano players, food hogs, lazy and so forth.  I was somewhat shocked to learn I fall under the "Hobby" category.  Which leads to the fact that I got a free guitar this week!  We took a rotting couch away in our apartment, and I jokingly asked the member helping us to pick me up a free guitar while he was at the dump (like with Elder Mower).  Ho ho ha.  Except he actually did it.  The thing is super old and was somewhat in shambles when I got it, but some rope, a sock, styrofoam and duct-tape later, it works.  It's missing a string--it wasn't when I got it--but otherwise it's in playable condition.  Now I have to both learn how to tune and play a guitar, then life's looking up.
As for me going on a mission to please my parents?  Psh.  Psh I say. If anybody thinks that, they obviously haven't been reading my emails.  I came on a mission for a few reasons, but I've stayed for Christ.  I've stayed for others.
Speaking of which.
Willy is doing fantastic.  I don't even know if I can sum up everything about him.  We went there last night and by the end of the appointment, he was standing up, shouting praises to God Almighty in joy.  So many things are coming together for him right now, it's unreal.  A man whom he loaned a sum of money finally got in contact with him after a number of years.  He had borrowed the money to go start a business or do a trade or something dealing with cars.  The money Willy had lent had helped incredibly and to show his gratitude, this same man straight-up gave Willy a new car!  A whole new car!  Aha, he grabbed the keys and papers and at one point and showed them to us.  "Look at what God has done!"  Another crazy thing happened at work--I'm not sure what entirely, nor can I quite say--but Willy basically saved the business, through what originally appeared an accident.  His boss is indebted to him.  A bunch of other things happened too.  God's power astounded me that evening.  I said in my prayers that I had no idea how to solve Willy's problem, nor any solution or idea that could--but I asked God to help him. What has happened is far, far beyond what I could have expected.  Willy told us he had been looking for the right church, the one where God presides.  He said he's found it.  He said this is the way.  He wants to be baptized, but he wants to know more.  Which is perfect, because that's exactly how it should be.  I'm not even sure how to express how much gratitude I have.
This week has been a dozy.
Also, we started teaching Adore.  He's from...Cameroon?...I can't remember.  He's an honest investigator, but has a lot of questions that are hard to understand and therefore difficult to answer.  Still, he's a cool guy and I'm looking forward to teaching him.
We taught our second lesson to Family Rodriguez.  Gee, sounds like somebody Elder Smith should be teaching over there in Spain.  Anydoodle, we retaught the Restoration to the mother, her son and 2 daughters (the third was upstairs).  I love families!  She fed us pannenkoeken and they accepted our message very well.  Translation is a problem though... Luckily, almost every member in the ward seems to speak French, so a good joint teach shouldn't be hard to find.
We went to Brussels again this week.  Big.  Busy.  Blech.  We hauled our butts all the way to who knows where to get to our appointment with a HQ referral, only to discover one of us had made a mistake and wrote down the time wrong.   Dangit.  Unfortunately, we had to skedaddle, so we couldn't stick around.  We gave the appointment to the French-speaking Elders serving in Brussels and they went instead.  It was both exciting and aggravating to hear from them later that this referral said during the appointment that he feels like it's time he becomes a Latter Day Saint.  AAARRRGGG.  Convert snaked.  That's okay, he lives 3 tram stops away from the church in Brussels and it will save time for us if the other Elders meet with him anyway.
When Elder Pitchforth and I were on exchanges in Leuven, we met a young guy named Ivan (pronounced "eefon").  He said "diddedy mack, you fine bro-homes can come back latah, aight".  So we did.  When we came in, WHAM, two more people ready to be taught.  Neat.  I turned the corner, WHAM, 3 daughters ready to be taught.  Oh my.  Two seconds later, WHAM, 2 other younger fellows walked it.  Holy Moses.  We taught 8 whole people a super solid lesson that evening.  We smashed the house with the Spirit, left behind 4 book of Mormons and split.  They felt it super strong and were very excited by our message.  We're going back next week.  I think it was 2, maybe even 3 separate families.  Tanzanian.
We were super busy this week.  It might be safe to say we deserve a relaxing P-day today.  Maybe I can thrum out some tunege on my new guitar-age.
Our apartment--because somebody keeps pestering--is a 1-bedroom place.  It's on the very top of a...3 or 4 story building and as such, there's a huge climb to get to it and the ceiling is slanted.  We have a laundry room, bathroom (without a tub) and living room.  The small hallway connecting the three acts as our kitchen and there's a tiny room for the water heater and wash machine.  A good word to describe it is cluttered; the living room contains our fridge, our desks, our dinner table, our lounge chairs and all our cupboards containing our books.  It takes about 2 days until everything is scattered everywhere.  If a large truck goes by, the entire house shakes.  It's pretty funny actually.
Anydoodle.  I can't think of anything else.  And I'm out of time.
Thanks to the Thompson's for their package and email!
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 21 January 2013

My poor fingers are confused

That's funny that you said kaput in your email.  It must be a Dutch word--Kapot.  Anyway.
I guess one important thing to mention is that I found a typewriter.  It is the coolest thing ever.  It's incredibly intricate and makes the coolest sound.  Unfortunately, it's the French style keyboard and a lot of letters are switched around.  I used it like crazy this week and now everything is mixed up now.  My poor fingers are confused.  Forgive them!
Anydoodle, The Stroobonts were confirmed this Sunday!  It's official, they are members.  Wham.  We had a family home evening with them too, which was a lot of fun.  We shared the golden rule lesson with them, and they enjoyed it.
Unfortune struck this week, however, and we spent a lot of time indoors.  Elder Rozendaal had been complaining about having stomach pains for 2 or 3 days and I ignored him, figuring it was just some silly Greenie complaint--until he threw up.  Ooops, that caught my attention real fast.  So that very same day, I made the decision that we should stay home, out of the cold.  We have about 10 centimetres of snow.  Elder Rozendaal was very upset with me--he's a good ole chap and just wants to do the work of the Lord.  I wouldn't let him.  It took him a while, but he realized it's for his better.  We ended up staying home Friday through Sunday.  There was some up-chucking, stomach pains, headaches, and other unpleasantries along the way but at least today he's healthy enough to go outside.  I, on the other hand feel great.  Hmm.
The biggest triumph this week I'd say came when we visited Willy.  Elder Christensen, our district leader, came all the way from Turnhout with Elder Farmer, his companion.  Elder C and I went with a member while Elder F stayed and "babysat" Elder Rozendaal.  Oh man, what an appointment it was.  I can sum it up simply by saying that Willy has a testimony!  No joke.  At one point, he told us--while putting a hand to his heart--that his soul feels warm everytime he talks with us, even on the phone.  He said he gets the same feeling when he reads the Book of Mormon.  He feels comforted, that everything will turn out well in the future.  He's finding peace and happiness in the Lord, despite his problems.  And actually, a person gave him a letter the other day saying that he's now fully certified as a mechanic.  His boss and him are going to work out a contract for him.  I thought my heart would nearly blow up during that lesson.  The Spirit was very tangible while we were there.  Also, Willy is now bestest friends with our joint teach, Br. Verschuuren.  Br V mentioned something about being sincere with investigating the church, and Willy stood up with a big grin and they exchanged the coolest African handshake ever.  They switched numbers too.
There are still some things he needs to figure out before he fully accepts baptism, but he's more than well on his way.  I just really hope I can stay here for his baptism.  Love Willy!
Oh, also I got some fantastic letters this week!  I got a sweet package from the Thompson's--it came just in time too, that Lego kept me sane for 3 days!--as well as a letter from Preston, Kaffee and the Hillsman's.  Nothing is cooler than getting a letter from your bestest friends (and a package from your aunt, of course).  Thank you guys!
I learnt a lot about Elder Rozendaal this week too.  He's a swell chap, with a great desire to serve the Lord and improve himself.  He's got a ear for the Spirit too.  He does everything for everybody too.  What a guy. I guess I failed to mention how I met him in Almere.  Well, I actually met him long ago.  I met him first at Mission Conference, all those many moons ago.  Then, he brought us pizza once in Almere.  I met him again on the train one day when we were off to Lelystad--but that time he was dressed up as Zwarte Piet, along with a whole army of other Zwarte Piets (Black Piet's)  Also, he filled our mailbox with pepernotenhttp , little cookies that get thrown everywhere during Kerst (Christmas).  To this day, as far as I know, those cookies are still there.  Yech.
Ah yes, how could I forget.  We got about a zillion referrals to Brussels in the last few weeks.  We finally decided to jump on them and took a trip to Brussels--because half of it is in our area or something, I don't know.  Anyway, the first referral turned out to be a family.  It was interesting, because they hadn't actually ordered anything or requested a visit, but had met the missionaries almost a year ago.  How their name turned up again, I can only guess.  They're super awesome too.  A single, older mother with 4 teenage children.  Her son has the coolest Flemish accent.  We're going back there on Thursday, so we'll see where that goes.  She has the belief that there is no one true church, but that following Jesus teachings is good enough.  A good Priesthood lesson should clear some things up.
Then we got lost for a while in the big, thrumming beehive of Brussels.  The place is huge, seriously.  After a while, we finally found our second referral--to somebody who works at the Ghana embassy.  Oh?  Yeah, when we arrived, the place was a tennis court.  Oh.  We gave the referral to the French elders in Brussels, so we'll see what happens there as well.
Otherwise, more than half the people we've met with are students and unavailable until February. Dangit.  Oh, and as for that letter I sent, you must have misspelled a lot of things, because you wrote it differently than I did.  Daarom zo veel fouten (why so many errors)?
Dear old Elder Mower is gone.  I'm curious if I'll be gone by the end of this transfer too.  Does the Curse care if I'm training?  Only time will tell.
Thanks for your prayers and support.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 14 January 2013

Wham, family baptized

I don't have much time to email today...
Elder Rosendaal can't get a computer pass because of legality complications, so we're sharing one computer between three people (because this internet cafe really sucks).  That means 20 minutes per person.  Plus my fingers are cold.  Gyar!
So Where do I start.  I suppose with Elder Rosendaal.  He's super eager to learn and apply his knowledge.  There are still some MTC and pre-MTC kinks to work out, but he's a fantastic guy.  He loves Dragon Ball Z and Star Wars.  We're going to get a lot done, I can tell.  Plus he jumped right into 4 baptisms.  Woo!
And yes, the 4 baptisms went through.  It was awesome.  All the friction was worked out between everybody and the baptism itself went very smoothly.  It was interesting because Carla, who was baptized, did probably more work than we did.  She made all these broodjes (sandwiches) for the baptism and soup and delicious deserts.  This may be strange to say, but these baptisms were surprisingly easy.  Sure, we put in our time teaching and working out some things, but otherwise, the ward as well as the people being baptized did most of the work.  Wham, family baptized.  Where's the next?
Unfortunately, William couldn't make it to church this Sunday.  His car died right as he got in to go.  Bummer.  Dang ol Satan knew just how to stop him.  We phoned him and he told us that he'll take the bus or train next Sunday if that's what it takes.  So far, (as far as I know) there has been no solution to his financial problems, though several ideas have been proposed by members.  We'll see.
We had a touch of snow over the week too.  Just a touch.  The temperature dropped below the negatives for the first time in a long time.  Brr.  I've got MORE THAN ENOUGH WARM CLOTHING though, so it's bearable.
Elder Mower has been called to Lelystad as well!  I'm very excited for him.  I showed him some pictures and told him some horror stories of the place.  Apparently, Elder Shoemaker's bike was set on fire on New Year's Eve.
Anydoodle, that's about all the time I have, unfortunately.  I have to also email the mission President.
K, love yah, bye.
Tot volgende keer (until next time),
Elder Burgess

 Pannie kooken.  Elder Burgess and Elder Rosendaal.  Elder Burgess will be training Elder Rosendaal and both will be working in Leuven, Belgium.

 Elder Cundick, Elder Mower (Elder Mower will be a third companion with Elder Burgess and Elder Rosendaal until transfers on January 16)

Monday, 7 January 2013

So I'm pretty much in shock right now

Crazy to believe it's 2013 already.  Gee, when did I leave, anyway?  1994?
I might have to actually keep this one short because I had a zillion long emails and now only have a limited time to write.  I'll do my best.
So New Years eve was one big snore fest for me.  We came in at 4 and chilled around, staring at the ceiling until bed time rolled by.  Right at midnight, the city turns into WWIII as everybody screams and shoots off fireworks.  It woke Elder Mower, but not me.  Slept through like nothing was up.
This week was a pretty regular one. We talked to several cool people, had a lesson with the Stroobonts and worked like any other week.  Then Friday struck and everything has suddenly piled up.
We had interviews on Friday with President.  All fine and dandy.  Afterwards, he pulled Elder Mower and I aside.  Oh no!  What have we done?  He wasn't chastising us, however, but telling us we need to be in Leiden on Tuesday.  What for, you ask?
To pick up my greenie. (Evan will be training a newly arrived missionary)
Please, take a moment to drink that in.  I need to too...
Elder Roosendaal, who comes from Almere, is arriving tomorrow and I'm training him.  I've met the guy before--more than once.  Oh myan.  We're going to be in a tripan for week--until tranfers, when Elder Mower will get the boot.  President gestured to me: "Well, you're going to be training the new Elder," then gestured to Elder Mower, "Which means you'll be getting transferred.  We're telling you now so it's not a surprise.  You're getting transferred to...  Well, I can't remember right now, but you're leaving, so be ready."  Aha, what the heck!
So I pretty much in shock right now.  I'm not sure how to handle it.
Also--and this is most of the weight we are carrying right now--we got in contact with William.  They've been out of contact because they're having serious troubles right now.  He owes a large sum of money to the bank that, if he can't pay in time, will cause his house to be taken away.  He was sobbing on the phone when we were speaking with him.  Holy man, it nearly broke my heart.  He was considering drastic measures to get out of his debt.  His children called him and saved his life that evening.  We have worn out our souls over the last few days comforting our brother, both over the phone and in person.  I don't know if I've ever felt so much love for somebody that isn't immediate family.  I now understand how Nephi watered his pillow at night with his tears.  We went over with the Bishop yesterday evening to comfort him and we gave him a blessing.  He's doing better now--at least morally.  I had a strong impression that everything would turn out well with him though.  I'm not sure what will happen until things stabilize, but I'm strongly convinced that things will turn out.  He's not even considering taking his life now, so that itself is great progress.  Oh man, even writing about this is wearing me out.
On Sunday, however, there was a huge ray of light.  We had 9 inactive members in church.  We visited family Boda this week--who I fell in love with at once--and they came to church.  They have 5 teenagers, yikes.  Luckily, they all love the church, so no teenage angst in the way there.  We also picked up Per, a young convert, and brought him to church.  Lastly, our new Mongolia friend/member came to church as well.  We gave him a Mongolian book of Mormon at the beginning of church because he had lost his when he moved here.  You should have seen the look on his face.  Pure joy.  He hugged that book close and thanked us several times.  Later during the testimony meeting, he stood up and bore his testimony about the BoM.  Cool guy.
There was also some friction between Carla (Mrs. Stroobonts) and Mr. Stroobonts' ex wife.  We're not sure what is happening--and we were advised not to get involved--but we were informed that whatever this drama is, it shouldn't interrupt with their baptism.  There was another dollop of stress.
I don't know if I've ever been more exhausted than yesterday evening--in every sense of the word.  It's hard loving every family we're working with right now.  I don't know if my heart's big enough.  I thank my Lord that I can be here, getting to know these people.  Helping these people.  I pray for the strength to do all this.
Thank you for all your prayers.  For all your support.  I really need it right now, trust me.  I don't think I've ever realized my insignificance either.  I'm only 21 and dealing with problems way over my head.  There's no way I could do any of this without the Lord guiding me every step of the way.  I acknowledge his hand in every aspect of the work.
Please, pray for me.  Pray for Willy.  Pray for the Stroobonts.
Prayer works, that much I can tell you.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
*In regards to when you pick me up - - I'd like to hit up some of the previous areas I've served in for sure.  Elder Jones did the same thing when his family came and got him.  I hear, however, that you have to be released by your home stake president, so during the time we tour together, I would still be officially an Elder.  I have to double check this though.  Shouldn't be a big deal, I suppose.
*Thanks for the 4x4x4 Rubik's cube!  I've been super busy with it (not during missionary time, don't worry).  I'm proud to say I actually managed to solve it without instructions too!  Only once though...  There's still a step I haven't quite figured out.  Anyway, I'll send some money in the mail to pay you back.  I insist.