Tuesday, 30 April 2013

We do our best, the Lord does the Rest

So I forgot to mention last week, but it is transfers week this week.  Thank diddely, Elder Giles and I will be staying together here in Den Helder.  I'm glad.  I like Elder Giles and I like this area.
As well, the Netherlands is getting a King today.  It's pretty much the biggest event that can happen in the Netherlands.  Literally.  Queen Beatrix got tired of being queen I suppose, so she's giving it over to her dear old son, Willem.  I have never seen more orange or more crappy king-pun-advertisements in my life.  Seriously, the Dutch are super uncreative when it comes to advertisements.  Literally every add I now see says something like, "A ____ fit for a king."
So that's also why I'm email today as well.  Everything is shut down today for the Crowning Ceremony and we can't go to Amsterdam for our regular district meeting.  We had it yesterday instead.  Dus, ja.
Well, I have a lot to say in a little bit of time.
First of all, David got baptized!  Woooooooo!!!  It was a very good service.  Both Elder Giles and I had to get in the font with Papa Dee to help lift David out of the water.  That is the first time I've been in a baptismal font on my mission.  It was warm.  Over twenty or so of David's family members were there too, because they were having a family reunion or something.  After the service, David received the Gift of the Holy Ghost as well as being confirmed.  When Br Hall asked how he felt, David replied, "I feel good.  God and Jesus would be happy with me.  I'm following the path that they want, and they'd be proud."  My heart melted.
That Sunday was overall amazing.  We had so many people in church.  We've had the craziest last two weeks and finally everything came together for all our effort.  We had 3 investigators in church and over 7 inactive members.  Tim and Solymar came as well as Katie.  A member came up to us afterwards and commented on how well we were working--that the church service was full of new and old people and that there had been a special sphere during the service.  I'm so thankful to the Lord.
We were planning on going over to Zr Boutee, an non-member with an inactive daughter who smokes like a chimney.  We've been working with her fairly closely for the last week or so and decided now was the time to help her quit.  But along the way, we had our doubts.  As we sat down and began to talk, Elder Giles whipped open D&C 89 and I grabbed the Word of Wisdom pamphlet.  Simultaneously, we knew this is what she needed.  I began right away, saying our purpose as missionaries was to help people repent.  Zr. Boutee waved her cigarette.  "I know," she said, "I gotta quit this."  Wham.  It was a super powerful lesson and she's on board to quitting.  We'll be working really close with her.
So some while ago, Elder Giles had the impression to share a scripture with Zr Nunez, who is also inactive.  Since then, she has come to church for 3 Sundays in a row.  When we went over earlier this week, she commented on how many people had come by her home to try and help her reactivate.  Now, she said, she has the desire to come back.  She said she feels no obligation to us (I'm fine with that), but that the Lord wants her back.  ...Whoa.  She told her mother through Skype all these things, and that she had gotten a blessing from the Elders.  Her mother wept in joy.  I'm overwhelmed.  God is good.  Is there any doubt?
The Salazars are also coming back. Also, Elder Giles bought a bright red McDonald's bike from them. Aha, the thing is downright awesome.
We dumped those kikkervisjes (tadpoles) in a river somewhere. Gone. 
Unfortunately, no Jelly beans this week...
Tim and Solymar are still awesome.  Tim feels like this is the right path he has to follow and asked what he needs to do to be baptized.  We laid it out on the table right there too.  We even showed him the baptismal questions.  We've felt a little guilty because we spend a lot of time there when we visit.  Apparently, Tim felt guilty about it too and commented that he doesn't waste our time.  After explaining that this is the reason we're on a mission, we made a mutual agreement to keep our visits down to an hour in the future.  Wow.  It's amazing to see how the Lord blesses us.  We had actually had the same concern for a while, but weren't sure how to deal with it.  Now it's dealt with. Wham.
I've seen the Lord's hand a lot in the last week.  We've both worked our tails off, but I can't claim any of the success that we've seen.  It belongs to Him.  We do our best, the Lord does the Rest.  I think He's done even more than that...
Well, off to have adventures!
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
I talked with the Lyons and they said they knew the Salmons!  Crazy small Mormon world.  The Lyons are super cool.  I love them a lot.

Monday, 22 April 2013

They start out like little mustard seeds

Woo! I did indeed get my Easter package!  Thanks!  All the sugar and Batman hot wheels I can eat.  Yes.  Eat.
I'm sorry to hear about the Boston Marathon bombing.  What a terrible thing to happen.  That's super scary.  We just talked to somebody who wants to go in the Boston Marathon in the future.  I suppose he'll consider not going in it now.  I suppose everybody will.  I can't image an event like that wouldn't affect future turnout.  What a terrible thing.
On the bright side, this week was really busy.  Which in a missionary life, busy equals good.
First and foremost, we did a lot of service this week--which was our goal, actually.  We helped an inactive family (turns out the mother is actually not baptized) with their yard and later a friend of David Dee's mother.  Gee, physical labour is tiring!  Why didn't anybody tell me this?  We also removed a pond from an less-active member's yard.  Holy man, what an adventure that was.  This small little pond had over a dozen frogs inside of it.  We had to fish them out with a net, but it seemed the more we fished out, the more there were left over.  We even got a turtle out of there and I got to hold it.  At one point, there were fish wiggling around in what little water remained and Broeder Salazar, who we were helping, stood there with a hand hovering over the water, the moment he saw movement--ALA-KERSNATCH--he grabbed a fish right out of there with his bare hand and held it above his head.  I thought he was going to go Bear Grills and eat the thing, but instead he handed it to me and it went in the chum bucket.
We came away with a hundred or so frog eggs too, which are sitting inside a bucket at home.  Shh, don't tell anybody.  As soon as they start moving, we're going to put the little froggies in a canal or something.  It's crazy to watch them grow.  They start out like little mustard seeds, but now they're getting a shape.
It was quite an adventure for Elder Giles too, who has never handled fish, frogs or turtles before.  There goes that one on the bucket list.
Sister Nunez came to church again.  Apparently, her name isn't actually Pena, but Nunez.  Meh.  It was really good to see her there again.
Also, we met with Tim and Solymar yesterday.  Holy man, they are super awesome.  They made us home made taco thingers.  They made us tortillas and all this delicious Porto Rican toppings and om nom nom, so good.  Before we started, Tim surprised us all by offering to say the opening prayer, they suggested that Solymar should say the closing prayer.  Afterwards, when we shared a lesson, he said he had been reading the Restoration and Plan of Salvation pamphlets the whole week and he gained the impression that he had to pray.  So, for the first time EVER, he prayed right in front of us and did a super fine job.  Prayed like a pro.  He says everything in the pamphlets is interesting and that it makes sense.  He said he believes the story of the Restoration is true--it just makes sense.  Het klopt gewoon (It is simple).
Solymar, who has been inactive for a while, also said that she wants to truly read the Book of Mormon now too.  She's baptized already, but she never actually took the steps to gain a witness if the church is true.  Now she wants to.  She and Tim are on board together to learn more and discover it for themselves.  Oh myan, we had a super spiritual lesson with lots of testifying.  At the end, Tim agreed to being baptized in the future--once he knows it's true of course.  They're coming to church next week, then we're going to work towards a goal.
Holy Man, the Lord is great.
Both of them are making excellent progress towards following the Gospel.  They truly are prepared.
Plus their cat is super adorable.  Solymar's going to love those jellybeans by the way, thanks!
Unfortunately--or maybe, not--we've met a zillion people that we have yet to come in contact with.  We had an appointment with Diego's mama, but when we went by with our joint teach, I saw her shoot upstairs before we got out of the car.  She didn't answer the door.  I hope we can meet with her yet...  I can understand her view though. I will admit, this whole thing with Diego is super sketchy if you don't understand who we are.  Guys in dark clothing hanging around a five year old...wanting to come back.  Gee.  Maybe meeting somewhere else besides her house would be a good idea...  somewhere public so the situation is less-threatening.  We'll see.
David Dee is doing fantastic by the way.  Everybody is super on board with his baptism and everything is coming together nicely.  We're only having trouble finding size XXXL baptismal pants.  Still, I'm very positive that we'll be having a baptismal service this weekend!  Woo!  I'll send pictures.
Busy busy busy...
AH!  Vernon is two wards!  Wild.  Stop changing things while I'm gone!  Tell the young'ins to stop growing too!
The Temple was great by the way.  I will say though, I went in with perhaps a selfish question.  My question was what I should do when I get home.  Part of the reason why I left to begin with was to find direction in my life.  Now, as things are...winding down, I thought it appropriate to ask the Lord what I should pursue.  One clear thing I came away with was to simply do or pursue what I love.  I suppose that is really all I need to know.  The other impressions I received are personal.
Keukenhof (where the temple is located) was fun.  There weren't actually too many flowers in bloom because it's a late season, but just being with friends was the most exciting.  We had some fun adventures.
Brabata bap, gotta fly.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
Rotterdam Zone and Den Haag Zone
April 16, 2013
Evan is standing at the back, on the right

Evan singing a rousing Dutch birthday song

Monday, 15 April 2013

I followed him with our new friend in tow

Okay, to answer some questions...
Our apartment is smack diddely right in the middle of Den Helder Centrum.  It's literally a 30 second walk from the train station.  We're the youngest in the apartment complex by about 40 years...  Our house is somewhat like Almere apartment.  It's more wide and open and with lots of shelf space for all our things.  Super cozy.  Decent for a Nerf Gun fight.
I'm dying to eat some fish and chips.  Man oh mighty.  Elder Giles doesn't really get why--because we're in a fishing town of course!--but unfortunately, we haven't got around to it yet.  There's one right across from our house I'm really excited to try. I can't remember if I said it already, but last time Elder Shulte ate at a fish and chips place, he was spewing chunks.
Things are starting to warm up now too.  I noticed the wind has changed direction so it seems to be blowing the warmer air towards us from inland.  It's nice.  It was even drizzling rain a bit the other day, but it was mildly warm.  It's almost time to lose that coat. Woo!
Things are going better with us this week.  We've come in contact with quite a few very positive people.  David's family is now totally on board for him getting baptizied and we set a solid date for that to happen. Two weeks from now, on April 28th, we'll be seeing a baptism.  That's also the same day Tim and Solymar are planning on coming to church.  Wham.  Should be exciting.
Katie is still as awesome as ever.  Her husband came home this week and will be staying a while.  Apparently, he's totally against religion, so we would normally be happy to give them a wide berth while he's here but we discovered a rule in the hand guide that says we need permission from a spouse before they can be baptized.  Gulp.  So now we have to go talk to him.  It's okay though, we told Katie before we found this out that we were going to pray for her husband, that his heart will be softened.  After discovering the startling discovery, we decided to have a fast, just to make sure.  Our goal and prayer is that Mr. Katie will actually be interested and want to pursue it for himself.  If that won't work out, hopefully he will at least give permission and not hold her back.  Fingers crossed!
We weren't able to meet with Pajo or Joseph Helaas.
Buuut we did have this cool miracle the other day.  Okay, keep your mind open for this, because this might sound strange...  At a glance...
We were trickety tracting the other day when a five year old boy started talking to us.  He was super funny and super adorable.  Children are a golden opportunity, so I kept talking with him while Elder Giles simply strolled away!  He wasn't sure where the conversation was going to lead, so he decided to do some work while I chatted with little Diego.  Unsure at first, I followed him with our new friend in tow.  When he realized what we were doing, Diego asked if he could hold our Boek van Mormon for us while we knocked doors.  Aha, what a funny kid.  So we did. We totally knocked a few doors with Diego standing there with a book as big as his smile.  Eventually, I decided it would be a good idea to talk with his family before we wandered any further so we skipped over to his door and talked with his mother for a while.  "Are you going with these gentlemen to preach about Jesus?" "Yeah." Aha.
So with Mother's permission, we tried a few doors more with Diego as our official helper boy.  He even led us over to his friends' houses and we had some great conversations there.  I'm telling you, if every companionship had a little helper boy with them, so much more work could get done.  How can you say no to a little helper boy?
Aaaanydoodle, his mom fetched him eventually and we gave a book to them. "We're going to read this book together, won't we, Diego?" "Yeah!"
We went by later and we have an appointment this week to teach them the Restoration.  Woo!  Children are truly alive in Christ.
We had a super cool contact wherein we spoke with three people for about an hour yesterday. We spoke about all those super heavy matters, like why we have to die and where we go and why there's bad in the world.  Zozo.  They were all super impressed and we walked away with two less book of Mormons in our bags and two more addresses to visit later.  Dang.
Tim and Solymar are the bomb too.  Holy Moses.  Would it be possible to ask for another one of those kilogram-sized bag of Jellybeans?  Solymar is just about obsessed with sweets as Mia is.  Actually, those two would be great friends with Jeremia.  They should somehow get in contact.  That would be fun.  Tim read in the Book of Mormon and is just drinking in everything that we're teaching.  Like a sponge.  Shwoop!  We're super excited for them.  Ultra awesome couple.
We're working a lot with members lately.  A while ago, Elder Giles was impressed with a scripture to share with Family Pena.  We went over there and it was a bit hectic at first, but then we read in 3 Nephi 18, when Jesus institutes the sacrament.  After reading a bit, we all kind of paused and the inactive sister said, "This scripture is beautiful.  I think I have to read this book, right from the beginning.  All the way through.  And I'm coming to church this Sunday." Uh...is that allowed?  I MEAN, yes!  Please do!  Wow, the right scripture at the right moment.  God is Good!
She did come to church too.  The first time in years.  Another member who is unable to come often (but 100% active) is now bestest friends with Zuster Pena.  Amen.
Well, that's all for this week.  Off to the Temple tomorrow.  
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
**thanks for the shirts by the way.  Elder Giles was super stoked.  He says that you are the greatest.  Ever.  Still haven't gotten my Easter package.  Might get it today or tomorrow.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Surprised, we sputtered for a moment....

Ah yes.
By the way, I totally have our address now.  It's:
Julianaplein 74
1781 HD Den Helder
Woop.  So this week was admittedly slow.  We had a lot of contacted with not so many results.  The people we did find, however, seem promising.  We were in a sleepy little village and talked to a man for 20 minutes or so.  At the end, he accepted a Book of Mormon and gave us his address.  Woo!  We have to swing by next week.  He lives on a farm...
Also, while we were contacting, we knocked on a door and a lady opened and exclaimed "Come on in!"  Surprised, we sputtered for a moment before she realized we were obviously not the people she was expecting.  Turns out she was waiting for missionaries from another church.  Still, we shared a good thought and gave a card pointing to General Conference, which she was excited about actually.  You never know.
Katie is still doing awesome.  We met with her twice and she's super on board.  At the end of the lesson, she started telling us how good she feels since she's begun meeting with us, that for the first time, "I feel free!  Like never before in my life, I'm free!"  Aw.  She's a swell person with a big heart.  She'll make it for suresies.
Unfortunately, Joseph took a turn for the worse.  We're not sure exactly what happened, but he left a message on our phone and we talked with him later and he said that he's not ready or willing to take a departing step from what he knows.  He wants to stick with the Bible and so forth.  I've heard this song before.  He still wants to be our friend, however, so I haven't lost hope yet.  I suspect his pastor at his church discovered that he was meeting with us, because he called after he attended his church service and our appointment with him that same evening fell through because he was meeting with his pastor--at the same time. Hmm...  I certainly hope he recognizes the Spirit he felt with us and dwells on that.  I really can't blame him though, Joseph's in a difficult situation right now.  He lost his wife in a car crash not too long ago.  I suppose he just needs some time to ponder.
Things with Payo are pretty much the same.  I made the mistake of asking which soccer team was his favourite--never, ever do that.  You're facing half our meeting conversing about soccer if you do.  Then about horses.  And biking.  And how those two things are related...  Oh well.
We also met with Family Sante, (there's an accent on the e, but I'm too lazy to figure out how to put it there).  They haven't been to church for a while because they have problems with the members.  Sigh.  Apparently, Den Helder's history isn't terribly awesome, but still.  A silly conflict between people shouldn't keep you from worshipping your God.  Deep down, it's a testimony issue I'm sure.  They are super open with meeting with us more, so we'll see what we can too.  Fun couple though.  Interesting sense of humour...
Aaand no, I haven't had any fish yet, which is actually a bit upsetting.  Ik wil graag wat lekker vis eten (I would like some nice fish dinner).  No members have offered fish yet and I haven't quite convinced Elder Giles to go to one of the many fish restaurants dotting the city.  I'll tell you something though, man oh mighty does that fish smell good when your belly is empty.  Diddely.  We had the chance to eat Fish and Chips at a restaurant, but I was adviced not to because last time Elder Giles and Elder Schulte ate at this particular place, Elder Schulte had been spewing.  Spewing chunks.  Throwing up.  Yep.  I'll pass, thanks.
General Conference was great.  We watched it in English. I especially enjoyed President Monson's address Sunday morning and one of Uchtdorf's.  I can't remember which session.  I want to review them again when the Liahona (the Dutch church magazine) comes.
Well, that is everything for this week I suppose.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess
Apparently, amazon.de is cheaper than the regular amazon site as far as shipping goes.  Apparently, they ship out of Zwolle or something.  Thought I'd let you know...

Monday, 1 April 2013

Turns out, it was the bomb

Well, I spent a lot of time emailing other people, including smelly, so I don't have too much to say this week.
I will however, insert a thing about friends here.  I think I've already mentioned this, but I'm learning how important friends are.  Friendship has grown for me.  A friend has more value than it did before.  As I was reflecting over the friends I've made, I read my patriartical blessing.  In it, it mentions that on my mission I will make new friends, and that these friendships will be valuable and long lasting.  Wham.  Apparently, revelation works.  I have seen how that little bit of personal revelation has come true already.  The friendships I have made are precious and valuable to me.  Of all the trinkets I've got, I think the most important are the pictures I've obtained--pictures of my friends.  Cherished people.  Thank you, camera.
This week was an interesting one.  We met with Bernie again, who's this somewhat crazy guy with a mouth that never stops moving.  We didn't teach anything, but we helped him with his computer.  While we were chilling in his house, I saw something move and my eyeballs shot that direction.  Yep, a moment later, sure enough, a mouse went scurrying away.  Needless to say, his house is a mess.
As well, Payo has taken an interesting turn.  It seems as though he is more interested in learning about the gospel and less in actually following it.  He's got a pretty comfortable life, and he doesn't want to do anything--positive or negative--to change that, again, positively or negatively.  It's somewhat unfortunate, but since he hasn't read in the Book of Mormon, it's certainly understandable.  Goal: read the Book or Mormon with him until he'll do it by himself.  Punt.
On a great note, our friend Katie agreed to a baptismal date this Friday.  We had a good lesson where we simply read the Book of Mormon (inspiration for above) and she was very impressed.  Our goal for her is the 10th of May.  She also likes to talk, making things interesting.
Gack!  Not much time!
So I think last week I mentioned Tim and Solymar.  We had a return appointment this week and from the very moment we made it, I had the feeling that it was going to be the bomb.  Seriously, I was looking forward to it all week long.  Turns out, it was the bomb.  The evening started off with us basically being ourselves.  Expressing and sharing interests and stories and essentially bonding.  After a super duper delicious meal, we sat down and had a fantastic lesson.  The previous week, we had promised to explain the Book of Mormon to Tim.  So we dang diddely did.  He accepted it really well too, mentioning that he's actually personally searching for the truth.  At the end, he even said that he has to read the book and learn more before making any definite decision.  Perfect!  Oh man, it was a perfect appointment.  Elder Giles mentioned it was the best appointment he's had on his mission.  Zo.
Like I mentioned, I'm a bit short of time, so this is about all I can say this week.  Also, it is still really cold and occasionally snows.
tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess