Elder Andrew

Elder Andrew

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Eli Mail 4/25/16 (Tilburg-Apeldoorn, Netherlands) Letter 74

Hello, everyone!  In regards to this week, I will give it a one word description: fulfilling! Elder Wilson and I didn’t have any distractions from our work and were able to joyfully reap a small harvest
Tuesday I had the opportunity to exchange with Elder G. Williams, a young, loving guy who has been out since last summer. The day we had together was pretty good. We got lost, asked for directions and handed out cards, and even got let in briefly on the door to display the Easter campaign video (we didn’t end up watching it, but it was a pleasant little experience)! The memorable moment of the exchange was when I tried to demonstrate what a ‘burpie’ is to Elder G. Williams during studies the next morning. A burpie is a sort of high knees exercise combined with a push up and a jump into the air, a quick way to get tired and pump up your heart rate. As I demonstrated the jump (in missionary clothes) I heard a wondrous tear and, looking down in amazement, watched the seam of my pants on the inside leg split right down the seam. Elder G. Williams burst out accordingly into laughter as I stared helplessly at my misfortune. With the help of Elder Wilson, I was able to recover my pants and did my first sewing job!
Friday was challenging but rewarding. The weather was chilly enough to see our frosty, panting breath in the air and no one seemed to be home. Our hopeful appointment didn’t work out, and the people in the nearby neighborhoods were simply not home. Around late afternoon, right before going to dinner, we knocked a lady's door and a thought briefly crossed my mind. It was so gentle and brief, and the thought that passed into my mind was "Ancient Americas and the Book of Mormon." So, I quickly got through introductions, and I stated what we share about from the ancient Americas is called the Book of Mormon. The lady looked at me for a second and said, ‘Wow, that sounds very interesting, I am curious!” I guess I looked shocked in the moment, because she replied again, “Why do you look so surprised that I am interested? Does nobody else in the neighborhood think this is interesting?” Elder Wilson and I merely shrugged off the comment and shared our experience about the Book of Mormon. A cool little experience from a simple, almost unnoticed thought!
Orlando also came to Church this week! We visited him again, and he committed to and followed through with it! He really enjoyed Sacrament meeting and hummed along with the songs sung and held the hymn book close to his face in order to read the words. I really like him - such an honest, good-hearted guy.
I have a bitter-sweet announcement. I will be transferred tomorrow! That’s right, a seven-week transfer, and now I am leaving to ... Apeldoorn! I will only have five weeks there, but it should be really fun! Koningsdag is Wednesday, so that is also exciting.
Thanks for the support and prayers everyone!

Elder Eli Andrew

EXTRAS: FROM 4-25-16 EMAIL … how Eli REALLY feels about being transferred:
Big news, drum roll please. I am… getting transferred... again! I am going to Apeldoorn. SO WEIRD! I will do two “one and done”s, meaning I will be staying one transfer in each city (one in Tilburg and one in Apeldoorn). Now, that is what I call ‘unexpected.’ As you know, I spent three transfers in that ward last year in Deventer, and now I will be returning, this time based in Apeldoorn! My feelings are a little mixed; Tilburg was really becoming my city, and I would have loved Elder Wilson ‘killing’ me (heh, mission killing). But I will be companions with Elder Hosea, which is super exciting. He is from Salt Lake, a big Tongan football player, works out a lot, and is one of the nicest, most outwardly concerned guys I know.

Eli Mail 4/18/16 (Tilburg, Netherlands) Letter 73

Hello, everyone! This past week has been a busy one. Elder Wilson and I have been rocking it here in Tilburg. Our focus has been a little distracted this week, with temple conference and stake conference tacked on, with a good amount of travel, but we have stayed focused and had a dang fine week.
This past Tuesday was quite enjoyable. The weather was to our favor, and in an effort to be more effective (and save precious kilometers on the vehicle) Elder Wilson and I journeyed the streets of Tilburg on foot. If you haven’t looked at Tilburg on Google street view or maps, you aren’t missing a whole lot. Tilburg is definitely not “amazing European beauty” like the eye popping experiences I’ve had walking the glimmering canal-lined streets of Leiden, but the people here make up the difference. As we journeyed on foot we soaked in a little bit of sun (finally!), attempted a few “look-ups,” and talked to a few people, until it seemed about time to turn back towards the apartment. As we headed back a little after noon, we took a moment and did some “spur of the moment” bell-ups in an attempt to at least get a good conversation, or a lesson if possible. We pushed some buttons and one lady buzzed us in, allowing the front door to unlock. Elder Wilson quickly ran to the door and pushed it open before it locked on us. At that moment we almost butted heads with another man who was simultaneously leaving the dark, cool entry of the complex, and we exchanged quick greetings with the man. But before I knew it, Elder Wilson had taken liberty and just decided to talk to this surprised, older-looking gentlemen. Turns out the man is Christian, from Curaso, and was decently interested! We never even got to the lady who initially let us in. Instead, we chatted with this guy for a good while. By the end of our discussion, which ranged from our countries of origin to his enjoyment of reading, I was nearly dancing on the floor – that morning I drank about a liter and a half of water that was hitting my bladder. We were still far from our apartment, and with no car or free bathrooms in sight, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I took a risk and asked the man (Orlando) with whom we were speaking if I could use his bathroom. I didn’t expect a man we met twenty minutes earlier to let me up two stories and into his own apartment, but he graciously agreed, and I somewhat patiently followed him up. This lead to great teaching opportunity afterwards, and he let us sit down on the couch with him for a short lesson. Orlando has had many eye operations and can’t see very well. This disappointment is deepened by the fact that he loves cars but probably won’t ever be able to drive again. He showed us his model cars, of which Elder Wilson fondly admired the Nissan GTR, and also his reading machine. It was a sort of computer screen that magnified and displayed whatever you put in front of the reader below. Despite this difficulty reading, he accepted a Book of Mormon in Papiemento (only a partial translation), and we continued with our day. That evening we had a miracle, too, and were able to teach a lesson on the door with a family. It was nice to follow little promptings and ideas that Elder Wilson and I both had to work together to achieve.
Thursday was temple conference. We had Harry van den Sande sleep over at our house. A quick filler about Harry: he is an 85-year-old man, member of the Church, and has been doing full-time missionary work for over 30 years. It’s his passion. He wears a suit everyday and even has “Elder van de Sande” nametags. He is an inspirational and funny man. He always comes to “Keukenhof” with the missionaries, and he was allowed to sleep over in Tilburg with us the night before! We woke up early that next morning (5:30) and headed to our 8:00 a.m. session at the temple. It was a great last temple conference, and I enjoyed the quiet peace of the temple. I devoured a little too much Dominos Pizza, and we went around and looked at the flowers again. Honestly, I can’t say I love looking at flowers for multiple hours on end, but I did get to spend quality time with Elders Steenblik and DeWitt. We wandered around the gardens, cracked jokes, and snapped a few pictures. The funny moment of the day was Harry van de Sande’s exhaustion from the whole day. An 85-year-old man on his feet the whole day! His face was beat red, and I knew he would sleep well that night.
As always, thank you for the support and prayers. I hope I can do my best in reflecting that feeling of love also.

Elder Eli Andrew

We got to have two exchanges this week. Both companionships (Roosendaal and Den Bosch Elders) worked with us in Tilburg. A cool chain of events has lead to a real blessing here in Tilburg. An investigator gave us his mother's information, but the mother wasn't home when we were in the neighborhood. We rang some "bell-ups" in the old folks neighborhood, and on the next section of houses a lady opened her window, recognized us immediately, and said she really needed to talk to us. More details to come, but she met with Elder missionaries seven years ago in Gouda and knows us coming by at this time in her life wasn't coincidence! Super cool.

Oh, fun note: the Elders Quorum president in the Tilburg Ward is 23 and served in the Spain Malaga Mission about 1 1/2 years ago, and you know what that means! He served with Hermana Casey Andrew! It was a fun little discovery, and to confirm that we were talking about the same person he asked me if she could play piano really well and showed a mission picture, too. It was her, alright! He served as her zone leader for a while, and his last name is "Ramirez." First name Fernando I believe? Cool guy and small world, eh?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Picture Edition

One last time at Elder Andrew's office desk.

Elder Andrew with other office Elders and President

"The office Elders tried to pull a fast one on the new missionaries by all wearing the same glasses to see if they would notice. They weren't that tired and called them out on it." (from mission blog)

 "Elder and Sister Robison! Spent 6 months with these two. 
We dined together, laughed together, and solved office problems.
I am miss 'em.. and Sister Robison's cooking"

Elder Andrew and the other office elders spending their last night at the mission home before being transferred out of the office.

"My good bud Elder Bonner. We had 4 transfers together in the office. This is currently his last transfer.. 
I follow him afterwords :o"

"Jurrion! He has an amazing heart. Really glad we found him in Katwijk on the door
 and that Elder Cook and I were able to teach him."

Zone Conference

Eli Mail 3/28/16 (Tilburg, Netherlands) Letter 72

Hello, everyone! Yes, I am alive, contrary to popular belief. Despite the uproar from the attacks in Brussels, things have been a little hesitant but normal here in Tilburg. Elder Wilson and I got a lot of work done this week and had some great teaching opportunities amidst time spent conversing on the streets.

My highlight this week has been listening to what makes members of our Church, disciples of Christ. The other day we were knocking doors and we rounded the corner of Celebestraat in Tilburg and a lady walked to us on crutches. As she approached, she had a huge grin on her face, and I wasn't sure if I recognized her or not. Once she had finally reached us I made the assumption that I knew her since her face appeared vaguely familiar, I am so bad with names and faces. She warmly greeted us and started speaking a thousand miles a minute to Elder Wilson and I in English. I asked something in Dutch, and luckily she just switched over. I love it when people do that – when my companion or I can get people to switch over to their native language. This lady on crutches turned out to be a church member, and we decided to walk her home to her tiny apartment, complete with group showers and a group kitchen. (We are so blessed with space in America.) She spent the next hour telling us her conversion story. We didn't even ask; it was nice to sit and listen. Long story short, initial contact was made when the doorbell rang, and missionaries appeared at her door. But a second before she answered the door, she had a sort of split-second epiphany involving two guys in white shirts and ties with strong impression to listen instead of immediately closing the door. And that is how her conversion started. It was wonderful to hear, but it lead me think a lot about myself and each of us, about our own conversions. I have talked with many people on the mission about it, and I have concluded that each individual's conversion to the gospel has less to do with the past and more to do with what we will continue to do in the future. Because we have experienced the joys of the gospel, we need to continue to act upon it. It is a part of enduring; it is the real meaning of conversion – that we continue to act according to what God has revealed to us.

This week we had a couple of great teaching experiences, one of which was on Friday night. There were all sorts of parties going on, but Elder Wilson and I knocked some doors in spite of it. One of the first doors opened and, you guessed it, a teenager opened the door to a party that was raging inside. I quickly introduced ourselves, and explained to him simply that we wanted to share a two-minute video with him. He shrugged his shoulders and pulled out his phone. In quiet silence we watched the new "Hallelujah" film with him. After the film ended there was a moment of silence. My companion and I didn't say anything, we just looked at this guy and his complexion. At that moment he put his hand to his mouth, looked at us, and broke the cracked silence by saying in a cracked tone, "It is really cool to see what faith means to these people." The mood of the moment totally changed, and it didn't even seem we were at a hallway of party anymore for a split second. He denied our invitation to return, but it was a powerful moment brought by a simple two-minute video. I hope all of you took or will take the chance to watch the video the Church put out for Easter. It evokes emotion in others and can invite or reinvite each even closer unto Christ!

Thanks for the love and prayers through these crazy times!

I continue to work on responding to individual emails.

Met liefde,

Elder Eli Andrew

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Eli Mail 3/21/16 (Tilburg, Netherlands) Letter 71

Hello, everyone! Since finishing my "office Elder" duties, time has gone back to its usual distorted measure: fast days with occasional, unproportionately long moments. Elder Wilson and I have done a lot this week, from preparing zone training presentations to conversing with people about a two-minute video (#Halleleju) on the internet. It makes me quite happy giving a full thrust into my efforts, as my “office Elder” duties have almost completely vanished. I only have the occassional phone call from Elder Gross (which I thoroughly enjoy) about tasks he needs to double check. Overall, this week I felt like I was extending my arm out constantly to others, like that famous picture of Jesus with both arms open. (And that is not a self-comparison to Jesus, just His inviting manner). I am sure Jesus' arms get pretty tired sometimes – the exertion of His muscles in such a extended manner, all the time. On the other hand, if they weren't open, no one would ever be able to receive Him. So, perhaps that sums up this week for me, the precious, loving extention and exersion of "muscle" (Spirit) needed to "receive" the needs of those around you.

To describe my interaction with Elder Wilson thus far would be summed up in two words: enjoyable and entertaining. Enjoyable because he is Calgary kid, loves fly fishing and business, and this results in enjoyable stories. Entertaining because we spend most days discussing all sorts of topics, ranging from  debates about the naming/arrangement of the Midwest to gaucamole. Speaking of gaucamole, we got a basic recipe idea from the Caldwells, and Elder Wilson and I have successfully made our own. If my readers would like more details on food adventures with the Tilburg Elders, let me know; I may have a few anecdotes for you in the coming weeks. Overall, Elder Wilson is a great example to me of someone who understands how God works and who can make important decisions – skills I really appreciate.

This week we experienced a number of really cool blessings. A few days ago we met a kind, well rounded Dutch lady at a door who really enjoyed giving and taking advise from us. To end the conversation, she sadly didn't want to know anything more but burst out in English, "Can I have a hug?!" I was taken by a moment of quick surprise but quickly recovered for an "incoming" hug. It was quite wonderful; Elder Wilson and I couldn't help but smile after the contact. Neither of us had ever had someone request a hug at the door before! Overall, we have had a lot of fun, unique, spiritual and sometimes just weird conversations with others.

A lot of my ideas for the zone lately have been about baptism. Although we cannot necessarily be reaching the physical ordinance of baptism every week, we can still have "baptizing moments." That isn't an excuse not to work hard or to not expect success, but over the course of my mission I have discovered an important difference in myself and in others when talking on the streets about our intentions. Are we simply looking to get someone's information? Are we just trying to pass time? I have asked myself these questions, and it leads me to the same conclusion: I am here to help people have a Spiritual experience, something that will help them discover God in their own lives. When I realize the core reason why I talk to people, it helps me to have that desire my conversations. So, instead of simply sharing a card with people, I am trying to help them understand what the meaning is behind sharing the card. Not to mention what it can mean for them. It is a really meaningful initiative for me and helps me better understand and help those around me, and in return helps me, too.

More updates to come! I hope everyone is preparing for general conference in one way or another! Free up at least some amount of time in your busy schedules to get some personal revelation yourself! Sorry to those that I have not been able to reply to yet. I hope to start catching up on that sometime!

Ik wens iedereen een fijne week toe! Een fijne pasen tijd ook! [Ed. For those without the desire to get a translation, Google says: I wish everyone a great week! A fine Easter time too!]

Elder Eli Andrew

Eli Mail 3/5/16 (Leiden-to-Tilburg, Netherlands) Letter 70

This week has been good. I am still pretty tired per usual. Give Uncle Brent a big hug for me. He has been helping out a lot with the Facebook referral program. Weird to think that I only have two transfers left. Six-and-one-half months with one companion! Bless Elder Cook's heart. He has seriously been a trooper – we both have, making it through together. We have learned and grown a lot together here in the office. We cover each other's weaknesses well. He's pretty good at waking up, I am not. I am a clean freak, and he's not. It's been great. We both got to attend MLC (mission leader council) yesterday. That was fun. I was scribe, taking notes of the speakers and take-away points while Cook helped with, you guessed it, cooking. It went from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It was a long but beautiful conference. I love seeing how much President Bunnell and the leaders really care about the mission. I am at the point now where I have been companions/good friends with a good chunk of the leaders. It's a fun environment to be around. President Bunnell continues to stun me. He is truly called of God. Not perfect by any means, but he carries out mission affairs and reflects a lot of powerful Christlike attributes. I only have good things to say about him, and that makes me happy. These three training weeks in the office have not been anything as expected. With this referral campaign, I feel like I have been working with Uncle Brent cracking the Divinci's Code or something like that. It makes me a little sad that our time to proselyte has been less than usual because of the program. But all in the name of referrals, right? 

I continue to really search for moments to obtain His word. Sometimes that has been only 15 minutes in the morning, but it makes a difference in my day. It gives me something to really "maul" over during the day, and maybe this is weird, but I really do feel stronger when I have read the word of God. That's not going to be easy translating that to my regular schedule, but I hope to make it work for myself. I also really strive for teaching opportunities, too. A long conversation on the street feels so good; it makes me happy.

On another note, I am excited for my new assignment: Tilburg. I will be serving with Elder Wilson. He's an awesome kid. He was a QB in high school in Calgary. And yes, he's a Canadian! My second Canadian companion next to Elder Heinricks! Last thing on my Leiden agenda: make closure with investigators and members (we can squeeze in a few more lessons!), finish up the coding for the Facebook campaign, and last-minute training items with Elder Gross. Super excited.

Here's my little spiritual thought that will most likely replace my weekly letter: Broeder van Beek visited MLC (mission leader conference). I quickly discovered he has been part of the brain trust behind the referral campaign. We chatted about things before he spoke, and when he spoke about it, it was super interesting. He mentioned the last campaign "Finding Happiness" back in November and how much it failed. About 109 referrals received, and they had to end it early because of anti-religious movements on the internet. He spoke about how they pondered, prayed, fasted, and studied research about how to hit their target audience for the next campaign. They looked at catchy titles, where people click, all sorts of measurable data. They finally came to the conclusion to make the campaign simply Christ centered. To his amazing surprise, as the new Easter time campaign began referrals flooded in. "Now, at this moment, we are at 812” referrals, he stated. And this all because of the intrigue at the title and free DVD offer, "The Son of God." As missionaries, we kind of get scared away sometimes from talking directly about Christ. We switch to something more simple like "being happy" or "families," but real power lies simply in learning and getting to know the Savior of the world. I hope I and everyone else can continue to "keep him close to your lips." It really is about getting to know and following Him. That was a powerful lesson for me, and I hope I can continue to boldly testify of His life and to learn His ways. 

Met liefde,

Elder Eli Andrew

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Eli Mail 2/27/16 (Leiden, Netherlands) Letter 69

Hello, everyone! It is Saturday morning, and the sun is shining – two things that make me very happy to start writing this email. Per usual, a lot has happened these past three weeks or so. More than a little weekly email could even start to fathom, but I hope to enlighten you with the small, minor details and some of the more striking moments that have taken place.

If not previously mentioned, our office replacements are here! Elder Gross took a long train ride from Groningen, and Elder Solomon arrived from my former area of Deventer, and we are now a combined force of four office Elders for three weeks. It has been a blast; it reminds me strongly of when I first came in and suddenly I was in a five-man. It is a real struggle (for me, at least) deciding who will take the first shower, but going to dinner appointments as a companionship of four is full of laughs. Elder Gross has been learning well. He has a great memory. It is natural to be overwhelmed, especially since coming from good ol´ missionary life, your main concern being those around you and, quite simply, teaching. But I love how Elder Gross put it: “In normal missionary life you have to find to work, but in the office the work finds you.” That is a very good description of my time in the office. The daily tasks and problem solving have been a privilege to do, and yes it is a privilege. But as Elder Gross finely stated, the work really does find you.

We have also been super busy with our “Lamb of God” DVD campaign. Elder Evans left us and forgot to train us to take over the referral campaigns, so us four office Elders have been scrambling to perform our normal tasks and somehow manage the rush of referrals flooding into the Church´s mailbox. We have tallied 447 logged referrals. I am proud of all of us – we stayed in the office way after normal hours to finally catch up with the load. Another funny note, when the packages were ready for mailing we stuffed every mailbox in the vicinity of Leiden Centraal FULL of the DVD packages. It was hilarious – no one could really put mail in the “overige post” after us.

Elder Cook and I had a cool experience this past Tuesday. Upon finishing our normal office work and after rushing to a dinner appointment of a steaming pot of lasagna, I felt the impression to go look up one of our investigators that we hadn´t seen for a about a week. I had received that feeling the night prior, and the thought kept coming back to me during the day, so I told him I couldn´t ignore it. We left our scheduled plan and headed to Katwijk. We had a few good conversations and finally approached the door of our investigator, J. Turns out he wasn´t there, just his sister who seemed to be having a party of some sort. Confused, we talked to her and she was also willing to talk with us another time and accepted a card invitation, and she also wants to have us over for dinner. After that, Elder Cook reminded me of another investigator that had dropped us over the phone months ago. We got in the car and parked outside where we though the apartment was. As we got out of the car I saw someone approaching us from the sidewalk. I peered into the dark to get a good look, and to my amazement it was our former investigator! The old, kind Dutch gentleman warmly greeted us and invited us back into his house, still apprehensive that we were going to try to convince him or something (silly, I know). He was warm and friendly, but sadly he had dropped his faith in Christianity and was now into Buddism. His neighbor is Jesus crazy though (seriously, her car is decked out with Jesus stickers and her apartment window is flooded with crosses – I´d like to meet her some time) and continues to help him, console, and invite him to Christ. It was a nice lesson, and we shared personal stories through the scriptures with him and left. He didn´t want anything more, but it was a cool turn of events from the evening we had planned. I pray each of us can be sensitive and humble and not to mention willing enough to ask for promptings of the Spirit. Some of the most significant and life changing events in our lives can be missed if we aren´t tuned in enough or willing to act upon those gentle thoughts, impressions, and feelings that the Holy Ghost can bring. I like to think of it this way: the Spirit of God is willing, but are we?

I look forward to the coming period of my mission. Serving in the office has been blessing my life. I am still very imperfect, but I am learning how God learns and works with imperfection. I hope you can all continue to make continual daily progression, and don´t forget to write it down because you will need to remember God in times of need.

Thank you for your prayers, emails, even thoughts on my behalf. I have truly felt those things nudge, invite, and encourage me to keep going forward.

Met liefde en vriendelijk groet,

Elder Eli Andrew

Elder Cook and I helped the Robison´s clear out the Hoorn apartment and then dropped off stuff in the Lelystad apartment. Check Google maps for the fastest way from Hoorn to Lelystad. We went over the Ijsselmeer land bridge, it was awesome.

Zuster van der Vet! She has been in the Leiden Ward for years, and her parents sheltered Jews in World War II

I payed 3.5 for this pitiful sight.

Elder Gross and I with.. a rid-able bike?

Here I am with a kid walking his... pig?

Here's a guy teaching us how they make "klompen". Special machines bore holes inside, outside, and all around a block of wood in order to make the finished creation. He did it within 5 minutes.

Here I am. Same place. One year later. What's changed? I look a little more tired and still need a hair cut. Oh, and I have a stronger testimony too :)