Monday, 25 February 2013

Inspiration, gotta love it.

Wow, you spelt "Broeder" phonetically correct.  I am impressed.  That means you know how to say it.
What do I have to say this week?  This week I took noticed of how many bikes there are abandoned in Leuven.  There is seriously a bike on almost every street corner with one little thing wrong with it and unchained.  We found two of the nicest bikes ever and locked them up, but after asking the neighbourhood (and sharing the gospel tegelijk), we discovered they were likely stolen and decided to leave them.  If you take a bike to the station, and nobody claims it, after a year it's yours.  This race bike was stinking nice, Holy man, but I decided it wasn't worth it.  Better to leave it than stress too much.
We had a few good lessons with our investigators all around.  Louise is reading in the Book of Mormon as well as the youngest of Family Rodriguez.  These youngsters keep surprising me.  She's only 12!  Unfortunately, family Setta couldn't meet with us because he was planning a party for 50.  We swung by and it was all busy so we decided to leave him to his business.  Still very positive.
On Saturday we weren't so sure what to do until Elder Rozendaal had the idea that we should visit Genk.  After phoning our ward mission leader there, we obtained the names of 3 people to go visit.  An hour and a half later (it's that far) by train, we caught a bus which took us to the first on the list.  There weren't home, but their neighbours, who are also members, were.  We had a super cool spontaneous lesson with them and discovered the girlfriend of the boy in the family was not a member.  We snaked an appointment for the following week and skiddel-dee-daddled out of there.  We took a moment afterwards to considered what had actually happened.  Inspiration, gotta love it.
Unfortunately, we haven't heard from Willy the whole week.  I'm beginning to worry.
Yesterday was quite interesting. The Bishop called us while I was in the shower and told us to get our butts over to the church--only slightly more polite.  We got there at about 8:00 and shovelled about an inch or two of snow.  The sacrament meeting that followed was honestly one of the best I've attended.  There was something special about it, I think everybody felt it.  The Bishop gave a moving testimony and afterwards the 3 daughters of family Boda (who are on the verge of reactivity) sang 2 songs for us.  During the second song, one of the girls broke out in tears.  It was super moving.
Then after church was a luncheon.  Mmm, free food.  Then, a JoVo (young adult) activity, which we also stayed behind to help with. By and by, and the end of the day, we were at the church, without leaving, for 11 hours.  8 until 7.  Ooo, can you believe that?  It was worth it though.  Free food eaten, new friends made.
Speaking of pickle.  Pickleball?  I was correct in guessing the difference between a Russian pickle and Belgian pickle.  Ah ha, I feel clever.  Apparently, Russian pickles are not pickled in vinegar, and as such, aren't as sweet or sour as Belgian.  Who knew.
 Elder Rozendaal's back is nearly healed.  At least he doesn't complain about it every five minutes now.  We went to a doctor and she prescribed some meds that worked really well.  He turned in the bill to the bus company and supposedly they'll reimburse him soon.
So.  Yes.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
The young men's leader here is really smart qua computers and that kind of jazz.  He looked up the website name "" and it is currently not in use.  Through him, I'm going to buy this website, which will be super handy for in the future.  I'll be able to build my own website and be able to market my books through that.  It's 12 Euro or dollar per year.

~ in response to Elder Smith latest letter
Hey, Elder Kearon came and spoke to us too!  He pretty much said the same thing about BC.  Had I known Elder Kearon was going to go to Spain, I would have told him to look out for Elder Smith. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

We had some top-notch appointments

There are two things I think I forgot to mention in the last zillion emails...
1 I got a new pair of shoes for 25 Euro at the second hand store.  Mmm, they're actually super nice.
2 Do you remember Emmanuel?  When I went on exchanges with Elder Pitchforth to Antwerpen, we met a member there who set up an appointment with his bestest friend Emmanuel.  We went there and taught him and ever since, he's been gobbling up the Gospel.  Om nom nom nom.  Well, he got baptised 2 weeks ago.  Wham.
Oh, of course it's very important to mention that I will be staying in Leuven for another 3 weeks at least.  Something was worked out with the Government, so Elder Rozendaal will also be staying for that time also.  Why 3 weeks?  This last transfer was shortened by a week and the next is cut in half.  Oh, okay.  So I'm not quite sure if the Curse is broken or not.  Because had I left, I would have been a week under the Curse.  If I leave next transfer, I'll be 2 weeks over.  If I stay a fourth, the Curse is definitely broken.  I suppose we'll see.
This has been a pretty mixed week.  I was feeling pretty sloppy at the beginning of the week so we swung by Turnhout to drop me off.  Elder Farmer got a lung infection and was bedridden for an entire week.  Us two sickies chilled there swapping manly stories and being sick whilst Elder Rozendaal and Elder Christiansen returned to Leuven to teach Louise again.  Elder Farmer was of course sick the next day so we both missed the Zone Training.  After that, I returned back home--but not after discovering Elder Rozendaal hurt his back.
I'm still not 100% sure what happened, but on the 2-zillion hour long bus between here and Turnhout, the bus driver slammed her brakes, sending Elder Rozendaal tumbling.  His back smashed against a few things and ever since then, he's been having tremendous back pain.  We went to a family-doctor here and she said that he has serious bruising on a large muscle in his lower back, and he was advised to take it easy for a few weeks until it fully heals.  Dangit.  So that pushed us back a bit this week, but nevertheless we had some top-notch appointments.
We were going to visit some gypsies, but didn't.
We also met with our good friend Victor this past week.  We had to have an appointment in the bus station due to his schedule, but it was a good one.  At the end, we tried to commit him to a date, but he's very busy.  He said he would like to be baptised, but he cannot set a date because of how busy he is.  Somewhat frustrating, but still positive.
We also visited family Setta.  Only the family actually living there was there during the lesson, unfortunately, but it was still a good lesson.  Ivan, the first one we met, is very impressed by our message.  His mother told us that he reads in the Book of Mormon a lot, comparing it with the Bible and talking with her of the things he discovers.  She said he comments how neat and orderly we are, how we teach the gospel and it's accompanying moralities instead of going outside and partying.  He himself is a quiet fellow (and only 14 might I add), but I can tell a testimony is growing inside him.  Wow!  I feel he will be the pioneer of his family.
We're going bowling today.  Yay!
Also, I found a free bike.  It was outside with a sticker that said, free bike.  I am going to fix it.  Mr. Hobby here...
We also met with Daniel and Eric.  I won't lie, that was a difficult lesson.  Did you know that Daniel is a full-fledged preacher of his church?  We are teaching a Pastor. Yipes.  As such, he knows the Bible inside and out and has a lot of tricky questions.  The interesting thing is that if he simply keeps reading the Book of Mormon, he'll find all of his answers.  Still, I had a very good personnal study session this morning and wrote a 3 page essay on why the Book of Mormon is written how it's written.  Daniel said something about how the Bible starts off right away talking about God--in both the new and old testaments--but the BoM starts off talking about Lehi and his visions.  I came up with a few ideas, but essentially the main theses (you could say) is that the BoM is written to the Jew, and the Gentile, and as such, it is written in a manner that appeals to both readers.  It says in the Bible a babe must first have milk before he can have meat.  It is the same with the BoM.  Why slam readers with enormous doctrine and scare them?  No, you have to ease them into it, one step at a time.
Anyway, that's what I found.
Aaaand we also visited Willy.  Our best friend Willy.  We took control right away and told him we wanted to talk about the Word of Wisdom.
"The Word of what?!"
"Uh...the Word of Wisdom..."
"Wisdom?  The Word of Wisdom?"
Willy was exasperated.  "I had a dream about wisdom last night.  Somebody told me about wisdom and that I had to get it.  I have to get wisdom.  I woke up and thought, 'hmm, wisdom'.  And now you come talking about Wisdom?"  He raised his hands.  "Oh Lord!"
Wow, what a start of the lesson.  As we taught it, he was somewhat doubtful actually.  Smoking, he said, is one of his only friends.  And apparently African Coffee is good for you.  Anydoodle, Bishop (who was with us) was a great help and we told Willy that we're his friends.  After more testifying, Willy agreed to live it.  He said such an earnest prayer at the end.  Begging for the Lord to help him--asking the Lord to help us guide him.  After he was done, he was in tears. It was a powerful lesson.  Now that man needs to come to church.  I certainly hope he can get his car fixed.
Wow, I wrote a lot.  So I'll stop.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 11 February 2013

Our explosion of a weekend

I've been tired as...  Well, really tired.  
I think we set a new record of rules broken this week.  I'm not bragging about it, but man oh man.  The main thing was being home on time.  Out of the 7 days, I think we were home late at least 4.  Whups.  Elder Rozendaal also forgot about some of the rules around children and put one on his lap this week too.  Double whups.  This was also after the same hyperactive little girl gave us a wet smooch on our cheeks.  Triple whups.  She's 2 so what can you expect...
I'm getting sick too.  It started on Saturday and Sunday evening was a lazy one.  This morning I slept in as well, but it did me a lot of good.  I'm feeling better already.  I suppose that too is a rule broken.
But rewind.  This week was an interesting one.  We met with a lady, Louise.  Elder Rozendaal called her up one day after seeing her in the area book and we swung on over.  Thank goodness we brought a French-speaking joint teach because she's from Burundi.  If you remember all those months ago, Antole was from Burundi.  It's beside the Congo.  Anydoodle, this woman's daughter is a member in America, and she had the pleasure of being there when she was baptised.  One of her first questions to us was what makes our church different.  Good question!  We gave her a solid restoration with focus on restored priesthood and she understood it very well by the end of it.  She asked a question that took me off guard at first.  She asked what the Prophet today can do for the people suffering in Burundi.  We told her of all the humanitarian services the church does and of missionary work, but the following question pursued: Why do bad things happen to such a religious people.  Wham.  I studied that thoroughly in Turnhout and I was quick to reply.  A, we live in an imperfect world.  Sucks, but that's how it is. 
B, many terrible things happen because of people's Agency.  Because I steal something from you doesn't mean you're being punished, it's just...what I did.  It's my fault.  Then I whipped out a scripture in 3 Nephi.  It's also at the end of Malachi 3.  Essentially, it reads that sometimes it doesn't seem to profitable to be faithful, but in the end, we will be able to see between the righteous and the wicked. 
Louise had been frowning, but after reading this, she lifted her head with a warm smile on her face.  It was just the answer she needed to hear.  It was a very spiritual lesson.  She's willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.
Then the rest of the week was...less than productive, I won't lie.  We seem to have a pattern where our weeks are somewhat slow, but the weekends are on fire.  We met with Eric again, but unfortunately, Daniel (the one getting married) had other business.  We decided to read in the Book of Mormon and answer some of his questions.  I can't remember what he asked, but it spurred a discussion about the Priesthood.  I think we taught one of the more comprehensive lessons on Priesthood authority on my mission.  By the end, there was no doubt he knew exactly what we claim and he agreed that he needs to read the Book of Mormon to truly know.  It must be difficult for people to hear that, despite their good intentions, their baptism wasn't...complete.  We bore our testimony and that too, turned out to be a powerful lesson.  It surprised me too, because Eric kind of floated in during our lesson, but with just us and him, I learnt how interested he really is.  I see high potential in him.
Ah, we also went over to Family Rodriguez.  We brought a French-speaking friend this time, ho ho.  We taught a somewhat slow Gospel lesson because of translation but they too understood what was being taught.  The mother still has an idea that loving God and people is good enough, and that organized religion isn't important, but we tackled those issues as best we could.  Hopefully, as they read they'll figure it out.  They also fed us a delicious dinner with these adorable little cheese pans.  They had this skillet-like machine with a hot-plate on top and space to stick little pans in underneath.  You cook your chicken on the plate and warm up cheese underneath and pour that melted cheese over potatoes, meat or other vegetables.  It was super good.  Mmm.
I also ate tongue this week.  It was surprisingly good.
AAAAaaaand we met again with family Setta.  Holy man, that was an awesome lesson.  Ivan, the young man we originally met on the street, had read in the Book of Mormon!  Woo!  The parents were busy, but we sat down and taught a total of 7 children, 10-18, the plan of Salvation.  They loved it too!  The oldest of the group were asking awesome questions too, like what the difference is between the 3 kingdoms of glory and what we believe Hell is.  At the end, the eldest told us that he was very interested in the degrees of glory, because all he's ever heard about is heaven and hell, black and white.  It was nice for him to know there's something more.  They all agreed to read further in the Book and even accepted a soft baptismal invitation (an invite without a certain date)!  The mother of...half the children (because they're from 2 families) came in at the tail end of the lesson and told us how much she appreciates us teaching the children because "You are planting the seed of faith in their hearts."  Wham, here's Alma 32, have fun!  It's super awesome teaching these children actually, wide eyed and listening carefully.  We laughed a bunch in the lesson too, because, well...I'm a goof.  It wasn't stressful or stiff at all.
So that was our explosion of a
We called Willy one evening and he said right away, "Elders, the Lord has answered my prayers!"  ?!  He went on to explain excitedly that a friend of his--who had called during our very first appointment--lent Willy a huge sum of money, over half of his debt!  He didn't gift the money mind you, but that's okay.  He was cheering over the phone and praising God.  Oh, it was one of the most joyous moments ever.  Out of the blue too.  I was stunned that evening--I'm still stunned--at the mysteries of the Lord.  We went over there this weekend and had more of a fun appointment than a learning appointment, unfortunately.  Willy started telling life stories, and our Joint teach egged him on.  Oh man, he has some wild stories.  Willy said at the end it was so that we understand where's he's coming from.  He said too, that because he's so happy, he wants to tell this things.  I suppose to compare how his life was.  If anything, it shows how much he trusts us.  Things are looking back up for Willy.
Well, I'm really tired.
So that was our explosion of a weekend.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 4 February 2013

I have something to confess

Ooo, they have a new fancy system in the email program.  Mmm, fancy.  I'm typing on an American keyboard now too, so I know where all the buttons are.  For reasons unneeded to be explained, we're in Den Bosch (S'Hertogenbosh), which is in the Netherlands.  There's a statue thing out in front of the station that has five dragons on it, one of them a gold dragon with his wings spread wide and his tail curling down the tower.  It's super cool.  Apparently, if you ask about it, people will laugh and say unpleasant things about the person it was erected for.  I guess she was a B.
Anydoodle, this week was another good one.  I have unfortunate news though, which is that things aren't looking up for Willy right now, despite all the recent miracles.  His deadline has passed and now the Bank is threatening to auction his house and kick him out.  He's looking around right now to see if he can borrow money from somebody to pay off the loan from the bank, then the money he borrowed later.  Gee, it's so difficult.  I really wish I could do something more for the man, but I've run through every option, and the only thing we can do is pray and fast.  Pray for Willy, please.
Otherwise, things were admittedly slow this week.  It seemed as though every time we got an appointment, it was cancelled the same day.  Luckily Elder Rozendaal and I are optimists, so we were able to keep our heads out of the water and we actually saw some miracles this weekend.
First one is that Elder R was feeling that we should go to Heverlee, a branch of Leuven just south, to go visit a formar investigator.  When we klip klopte on his door, a different person answered.  We told him who we were looking for and they let us inside.  It was one of those buildings (they're exceedingly common in Leuven) where there's about 8 rooms inside and just as many people.  One of two African men led us up stairs where we knocked on our formar investigator's door, while the other kinda drifted back downstairs and started making fries.  We struck up a conversation with the man about Africa and a bit of it's history--turns out he's also from Cameroon--and before we knew it, we were sitting at the table whipping out the Book of Mormon.
You know, there are a lot of African people that will meet with us just because we wear Jesus's name.  Their happy with their own church and will stay there despite what we stay, but will always open the door regardless.  Then there are the African people who truly question their own church doctrine and investigate ours.  Daniel (spelled the exact same as Daniel Campbell's name) is one of the latter.
He told us at the beginning of the lesson that he sees a lot of inconsistencies in churches.  His own church changes its doctrine all the time.  He feels like churches and their institutions try to force God down your throat, and expect you to believe.  We shared our message--with several other African people busting in and out--and Daniel and his friend (who appeared out of nowhere) were very impressed.  At the end, we read Moroni's promise and he loved it.  Oh, maybe this keyboard isn't so American.  "Of course the Holy Ghost has to tell us!  How else are we supposed to know?"  He was very excited to receive the Book of Mormon and promised to read it, as well as Eric, his bestest friend.  We're going to teach him next week, but we'll have to pause because he's going back to Cameroon soon to get married to a "beautiful wife".  How exciting is that?  He's smart too--he knows the Bible.
We also met with a Chinese student yesterday.  Her name is Xinke Li. We contacted her when Elder Mower was here.  Gee, that long ago.  But yeah, we went by and she finally let us in and we shared a super cool lesson with her.  The thing about Chinese people--in general of course--is that their gospel knowledge is usually very limited.  I was actually impressed by how much she knew.  She did mention that she went to a Religion class or something, but meh.  We took it very slow and described simply who God and Jesus are and what they do for us. She asked an interesting question that I've honestly never had before.  She said that prayer is when we express the feelings of our heart, so she didn't want to pray in front of us, because it's suppose to be a very person thing.  wham, good concern!  We told her there's a difference between personal prayers and 'group' prayers.  She seemed to get it.  she too said she'll read the Book of Mormon.  Cool!
And I have something to confess.  She hugged me!  Ooo.  Elder Rozendaal avoided it, but I was caught off-guard.  We'll have to kindly explain next time that we're not allowed to do that as missionaries.  Oops.
Otherwise, we didn't have an appointment with Fam Rodriguez--it's next week.  I think I had a whole week without something going wrong with my bike.  Can you believe that?  
And hey, we got a new couch.  It's a pretty nice one.  Thumbs crossed that it will fit through the hallway and up the stairs.
Elder Burton actually tuned my guitar for me, but the styrofoam I used was too squishy and had to be replaced.  I was able to bend a clothes hanger into place and it is a lot steviger now.  I  have to find somebody else to tune it now, but luckily there are a lot of people who know how. I replaced the string too, yay.
Thanks for everything!
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess