Monday, 27 May 2013

When you're doing good work‏

You know when you're doing good work when you come home reeking.  Weew!  Just take one sniff and blargh!  Get those clothes off!  Get in the shower!  Wash everything ASAP!  Gyar.  We taught a few smelly people this week.  Does that sound bad?  We had one specific appointment where the guy was smoking weed the whole time and this gigantor monster of a dog was rubbing against us and getting slobber h'everywhere.  This same dog was once attacked by another dog and he won.  Ripped the other sucker open.  Our eyes shot open.  "Nice doggy..."
Speaking of dogs, Elder Giles got attacked by one this week.  I'm not sure if anybody back home is aware of this, but I can't look strange dogs in the eyes too long.  I told Elder Giles this, but I suppose he didn't listen.  He was on exchanges in Alkmaar, and they went to visit an investigator.  The man's Rottweiler was chilling in its basket and Elder G thought it was a good idea to go pet him.  The dog growled, but Elder G only reached out further and WHAM.  They dog bit his hand (but Elder G was making a fist, so no fingers were lost) and his hip.  Elder G had a bloody spot on his hip about the size of a watch face.  Chubbo, the Rottweiler, got him through 3 layers of clothing.  When we informed some members the next day, he was whisked off to a clinic to get a shot.  Luckily, he has already had a tetanus shot, so he didn't need another.  Walking in the clinic and getting fresh band aids cost 107 Euro.
The mission doctor called up later and informed us to watch the dog. If Chubbo gets sick or dies in the next 10 days, Dear old Elder Giles will be belly-up in a month--he said with a smile.  Gulp.  Dog's healthy, so is Giles.  He'll be okay.
So yes.  This week suffered due to some mashed up exchanges and switches.  Elder Giles had to go down to Brussels and we swapped with our leaders once or twice.  In total, he's spent 2 days in Den Helder this week.
However, we had a solid appointment with Sherry and her daughter, Sharry.  Mind numbing, right?  Turns out, both of them are super positive!  Sherry said at one point that she's been searching for the truth for decades, praying for God to reveal it to her.  Wham, we promised like wild of the divinity of the Book or Mormon.  Holy Moses, this'll be great.
Unfortunatly, with all the confusion, we weren't able to meet with many of the 'regulars' this week.  Sister Boutee is indeed doing very well, and has cut down to 2 to ZERO cigarettes a day.  That progress is astounding.  It was literally 1 to 2 per minute when we first met.  She's very tired--understandably.  She rescheduled to get baptized in July.
But Katie rescheduled to be baptized on the 9th of June.  She told us that she feels like God is telling her this is the way.  WOOOOOO!!  That means she'll be baptized in this transfer, so Elder Giles and I will both be here.  Her 2 children, Joost and Martijn will be following her example the week after.  Holy Moses.
We haven't seen Lot this week.  Apparently, he's a busy guy...
Astrid Grootjans is officially reactivated.  She made plans with the Branch President to go to the Temple to do a baptism session.  Woo!  I can claim no credit by the way, as much as I'd like to.
Things are still chugging along.  Chug.  We ate fish this week and het was LEKKER (it was fun).
We have some slam-diddely appointments lined up for next week and some families to visit.  Missionary work, HO!!!
tot volgende keer (until next time),
Elder Burgess

Oh, the package arrived with deoderant.  Thanks!  No Jellybeans so far...

Monday, 20 May 2013

Miracles out the woz‏

Holy man, it's been one of those weeks.  A crazy week where everything goes incredibly right.  I have to say, a lot of things happened this week that Elder Giles and I had been hoping for--not even actively praying for.  Craziness.
...but I'll start at the beginning of the week.
Elder Giles doesn't really like watching the Preach My Gospel DVDs we're supposed to watch.  At one point, somebody is tearing up in one of the videos and Elder Giles said, "Gee, why don't people tear up in our lessons." Psh, like that's a measure of how good we are.  Anydoodle, we had two people tear up this week.  Weird.  One was an inactive member who, after a decade or two of not coming to church because of her non-member husband, decided to simply come back.  Wham.  We're going to reteach her the lessons to get her acclimatized, so to speak.  Right off the bat, we asked the simply question of who God was for her and bam, the tears started coming and she bore a simple but beautiful testimony.
Also, that same day we met Lot Fi.  Well, he met us.  We went to go buy flowers for a  member who had knitted me a pullover and on our way back, he said hallo to us.  Apparently, missionaries had come in contact with him several years ago, but had actually made an effort to avoid him.  Don't know why.  Lot Fi is probably the most animated person I have ever met.  Holy Moses.  He's desperate to talk with people about God and his beliefs, but nobody will.  He was ecstatic to meet with us.  When we went over, we simply listened as he essentially bore his soul to us.  At one point, while telling us a spiritual experience he had, he was indeed tearing up.  Lot Fi is one of the more Christlike people I've met, I'll tell you.  He's also a riot. Oh man is he entertaining.  At one point, he hugged one of his plants.  Aha!
I'm happy to say that Sister Nunez is now reactivated!  Woo!  Reactivation's kind of stink because on paper, there's nothing to show numerically.  But whatever.  A reactivation is as good as a baptism.  The Salazar's are nearly reactivated and the above-mentioned lady is well on her way.  The work is progressing here!
We challenged Sister Boutee to quit smoking cold turkey.  Unfortunately, she hasn't yet, but she is still reducing bit by bit.  We can't get her to church though, which I believe is really holding her back.  Hmph.
I've been hoping for a family to teach for a while.  While knocking doors, we found one! Woo!  She was diggety down to meet with us again.  She's Dutch too.  She blew off our appointment, but we'll see yet.
Also, we're teaching somebody named Sherry.  Ooo, weird.  She's Antillean, but super similar to Katy.
KATY!  Katy is doing awesome.  She came to church again and commented on how she had felt the Spirit super strong upon leaving the building.  I think the big difference is that we introduced her to the members better, and she made some good friends.  Both her children are on board to get baptized as well, so it's turned into a teaching jamboree.  We taught her oldest son, Martijn last night and he was very open to the Plan of Salvation.  He's a rapper.  One of his songs was a hit on a hip hop station too.  Rappers seem pretty common here...
Jurgen is busy moving, so we couldn't meet with him this week.  But next week, oh ho ho.
We found a Hungarian lady on the street not too long ago.  We finally went over and had a...interesting lesson.  Her boyfriend was there and he was smoking weed.  Still, he's a strong believer and exploded right away telling us all the things he believes.  Our joint teach was amazing.  By asking strategic questions, our joint teach made the man realized that he believed in the same things as us, but just slightly skewed.  By the end of it, this man was basically agreeing with everything we said, whereas he was before a bit...tegenstrijdig (contradictory).  I felt bad, because the Hungarian lady just kind of sat there, looking awkward.  They have an enormous dog.
Buuut it was a good week.  Prayers were answered, lessons were learnt, and numbers were good.  Can't complain right?
Also, I found a new bike.  Aha.  It was in a closing-down second hand store.  They offered to sell it for 25 euro, but after checking the chain and riding it around, I offered 20 Euro and snagged it.  It is a surprisingly good bike actually.  I cleaned the chain and oiled the heck out of it and now it works just fine.  Again, can't complain.  It's not as beautiful as my old bike, but Rust Bucket does the trick.  Thank you, Rust Bucket.
Also, I met some of the new 19 year old sisters.  One of them had been following my blog before she left.  Kind of a...awkward conversation.
tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 13 May 2013

My mother is indeed unlike other mothers.‏

It's really interesting that you mentioned "poking the dragon." That indeed is a Dutch expression.  "De Draak niet steken." Nou.
Also, this email will probably be a bit shorter because I've already discussed most of these things via Skype with my parents.  Sorry everybody else...
Yes.  I skyped.  I skyped home.  I have to say (en eerlijk is eerlijk) I think Brett's hairdo is...  What's a right word?  I don't like it.  We'll leave it like that.
I actually really enjoyed speaking with Elly.  She's matured a lot more since I last saw her.  Taller and her voice has changed.  I had a good laugh because she has to endure another 3 years of horrible teenage-angstified high school.  Elder Mower would always say that preteens/young teenagers were the most awkward of God's creations.  Then we'd pause to watch a group of them walk down the street trying to be cool.  Indeed.
As far as missionary work goes, we've been contacting a bit more this week than usual.  We had a lot of appointments not made or fall through.  A bit disappointing, but all you can do is shake it off and keep moving forwards.  On the bright side, we came across a certain Jurgen.  We talked to him on the street, but he was hurrying off to catch a bus or a train and told us to come by later.  We snagged his address and off he went.
So the next day or perhaps the day later (basically the same thing now), we strolled by and knocked on the door.  He didn't answer.  We turned to leave but I spotted somebody and Bam, I had to go talk to them.  We had an interesting conversation.  She admitted to us that she was bisexual and she loved...intimacy too much to blah blah blah.  Weird.  Anyway, our friend Jurgen spotted her through his window and came downstairs. We had an interesting joint conversation then after giving her a pamphlet, she went on her way.  Right then, we asked if we could share our message with Jurgen and he agreed.
He's a super cool guy who's only been here for a couple months.  He's from Brabont, so he's got a thick southern accent and sometimes hard to understand.  He's had a rough life and is just searching for peace and rest in his life.  We promised him blessings like wild and in the end, he agreed to set a date for June 21.  I've got high hopes for Jurgen.
Also, Anite Boutee is doing very well stopping smoking.  She still smokes, but when we come over, there are no cigarettes in sight and she certainly doesn't smoke in front of us.  Still, her house is permeated with smoke enough that I have to change my shirts when I get home--as they reek.  Meh.  Comes with the job I suppose.  
Also, old faithful died this week.  Yep, my bike died.  His hips finally gave out.  Arthritis got to him.  I have to get myself a new steed now.  Hmph.  I'm going to see if I can sell what's left of my old steed as meat (parts) and get something that's a bit younger and sprier.  I don't think I'll be able to get a mustang breed like my old bike.  Racefiets for cheap are super hard to come by.  Sigh.
Referring to the title, I gave a talk this Sunday about my mother--on mother's day!  It was about how strict Mom was concerning us, and how in the end, though we didn't see it before, it was actually for our own good.  I compared that with God and how he sets boundaries for us to walk within, so that indeed we will remain safe.  Nobody really said if they enjoyed it or not, but I thought it was pretty well done.  There were a few snickers here and there.  Mission accomplished.
Well diddely dee.  I have to go find me a steed.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess

Monday, 6 May 2013

Almost like a "ta-da" moment

I'm glad to know it's okay to get treasures.  In that case, treasures ho!
Speaking of treasures...
We went to Haarlem for Koningsdag (King's Day) with a group of other missionaries.  Silly Elder Giles and I came dressed up in our work clothing while everybody else was wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  Derp.  The city had changed into one giant market.  It was super awesome.  We walked around the city for 4 hours or so, while everybody picked through the yard sales strewn everywhere.  One Elder walked away with a sword he had picked up for Five Euro.  I might have helped him decide to get it.  He slung it in my backpack so I looked as though I belonged in one of those vampire/werewolf movies where they wear scowls and trench coats and chopped all sorts of heads off.  I myself scooched out of the market with a gameboy game, a Coldplay CD and two Lego motorcycles.  SICK.
We went later that evening to a member's house to watch some of the events. Every big name in the Netherlands participated.  They had actors, opera singers, regular singers, rappers, Olympic sports teams, and whatever other popular people you can name perform.  All for the King.  At one point, there was a boat filled with every big-name author in the Netherlands.  It was a super crazy event.  Filled with fun and emotion.  This event was literally from sun up until sun down--the first half being the crowning itself.  Elder Giles (as a super proud American) had been pointing out how the Netherlands seems to have little to no national pride.  Watching only a fragment of that event, he was put to silence.  Aha.  The irony.  Nothing like that could have been organized in North America.
Then, the next day was transfers.  I had to go pick up my legality card, so most of our day was spent travelling to Den Haag to get it.  3 hours of train ride to show up at this place, hand them a piece of paper and get the card in return.  It was about a 30 second process.  Arg.
Despite the 3 days in a row of little missionary activity, we had a surprisingly successful week.
We met a guy named Denny not so long ago and we waltzed in his friend's house to discover six people chilling there.  It was a stressful appointment because they kept picking at our religion and doing relatively little listening.
Understandably, I was a bit apprehensive to our return appointment, but decided to follow Elder Giles advice and calm down a bit.  Me?  Having to calm down?  Weird.  Anyway, the appointment went very well.  At one point, Elder Giles sort of shut down and realized that he couldn't quite follow what was going on.  Though, he thought, Elder Burgess does.  So he said a prayer.
During that lesson, my heart was pumping, but after a pause, I gathered my thoughts and calmed right down.  Almost like a "ta-da" moment, I said something like, "Well, you guys have your own doctrinal opinions and so do we.  Every difference we have all boils down to one point.  Prophets, priesthood, church organization--it all depends on if the Book of Mormon is true."  They all agreed, that was indeed the case.  Preach My Gospel pretty much yells it at you, but it is all too true that our religion hangs on the Book of Mormon.  Aha, every comment they had after that, I would just hold up the Book of Mormon.  "Comes back to here.  You just have to read and pray about it."  Wham.
Plus, later, I found scriptures in the Bible that deal with every single idea they proposed.  Turns out, people quote the Bible and form doctrine out of certain scriptures--but if you read two verses after the very same scripture, it denies or corrects the very same thing they claim.  I'm excited for our next visit.
Things are going pretty well with Zr Boutee.  She's having crazy problems with her daughter.  The daughter is indeed reducing the amount she smokes and she's has a wicked determined to stop, so I'm very hopeful.  Good steady contact will help a lot.
The Salazars were inactive, but now they're pretty much active again.  We went over there for a party yesterday and it was a tonne of fun.  Tim and Solymar were there too.  They had all gone to see Iron Man 3 the previous night.  Apparently, it's cool beyond belief.  Apparently, I'm going to explode when I see it.
We also taught Mvr Maazland this week.  She's a friend of Zr Dee (David's mother), that we've been doing yard work for.  She's very interested to follow the lessons.  Weeew.
Well, despite a lunch of fries and horse/mystery meat, I'm still hungry.
Tot volgende keer,
Elder Burgess