Elder Andrew

Elder Andrew

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Eli Mail 9/2/14 (Genk, Belgium) Letter 9

Wow, what a week. I’m already almost a month in the field. So crazy. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be walking around Antwerpen central or knocking on doors in a neighborhood in Belgium, I’d have called you crazy. But I really am here. I’m actually wearing a missionary name tag and living missionary life. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes, I’ll occasionally wake up and wonder what I’m doing or wonder if this is all real. And it is, and I’m enjoying it. But I’m just impatient with the language sometimes. I want to be at the level of speaking as the other zendelingen, so that motivates me to be constantly learning.

This week has mostly been traveling: lots and lots of trains, and not as much teaching as I would prefer. This past Wednesday we had to go to Den Haag to pick up my ID. It ended being nearly 8 hours of travel just to show a lady my passport and pick up a piece of plastic. But, no matter. I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of cool things.

Then, this past Thursday was my first zone conference. It was awesome! Our mission president is hilarious. He is definitely more of a quiet, subtle type, but he’ll sneak in a political joke or something borderline that only he could pull off. He’s a businessman, and he takes missionary work into a bit of a science, which is surprisingly helpful. He, also, exposed us to a PowerPoint of “anti-material.” President wanted to show us now so if we have any questions he could answer them and us not be surprised later by it. It was quite helpful, perhaps a little surprising, but I felt a little stronger after that.

I’ve noticed a trend with our four-man apartment. The beginning of the week we are pretty well off with food, but by Saturday to Sunday evening we are scrounging for food. This week was probably the worst. But that was only because of the Belgium demand for money. We are buying train passes and bus passes every week that eat into our missionary fund, and it takes forever to get reimbursed. But that’s just a minor thing – all part of the experience.

I got my first baptismal date this past week! It’s a guy named Joseph, who lives in Hasselt, and he’s a big reader. He’s read from eight different Bibles, but somehow he got a copy of the Book of Mormon. We met him while teaching another investigator. He just happened to be in our investigator’s house at the time we were. He said he stopped drinking coffee and stuff because of Joseph Smith. He already believes, which is really cool. Joseph is a little odd though, so who knows if the baptism will come through. I’ll just have to keep my hopes up!

I must say, I really love the branch here. It’s primarily made up of three families and a handful of older people, but they all want new members really bad. Every time we get a couple investigators to church, members will always be talking to them and making them feel welcome. There are two brothers, Brueder Kroops and Brueder Paeters, who are always helping us. They come and joint teach and are masters of missionary work, in my opinion. And then there’s also Zuster Snow. She’s a small, petite woman in her 40’s who speaks Dutch, English, French, some Polish, and a little German. She prays for missionary experiences and talks to people all the time about the Gospel. If every member were like her I can’t imagine how much more missionary work would be done.

Last week on Tuesday was my first real experience with Belgium/Netherlands rain. It was almost a complete 24 hours of constant rain. I was excited that morning to get out with my new raincoat and fight the elements, but then I felt the chill. A chill that sort of seeps right down to your bones as President describes it. It was a cold, brisk rain that just didn’t stop. I eventually gave up trying to stay dry and just let it drench me. Water soaked through my shoes and my hair turned into wet clumps that I flicked to the side of my face. I wouldn’t say I was miserable, but I’ve heard that’s what winter is like, so I’m not too thrilled about that.

I’ll finish with yesterday’s p-day. We arrived at the station in Genk for our 8:15 train to behold an unusual number of buses. Ah! I realized – the first day of school. It was a very pleasant moment, seeing kids having to go to school, and I didn’t. I’ve been waiting for that moment and it finally happened. I was also a little saddened when I saw all the teenagers getting their last drags on their cigarettes before heading off to school. I’ve noticed Belgium is smart in a lot of ways. They are very good with their garbage disposal, public transportation, and other things, but everyone smokes. I don’t get it. It’s as common as drinking water. Everyone needs it apparently. Oh, I haven’t mentioned this, but you don’t want to drink the tap water here. It’s full of chlorine and is unhealthy. Everyone drinks from big bottles of water. You also have to pay to use public restrooms. I’ve seen one free bathroom and one drinking fountain here. It’s crazy! Oh, and people in Belgium appear to be quite wealthy. It’s common to see Audis, Mercedes, and BMWs. These are sort of the common car. I’ve seen Ferraris, a McLaren, and even saw a Lotus yesterday. So cool to see.

Continuing with p-day, we played futbol with the missionaries in our zone. I had a moment while playing soccer when I realized, wow, I’m in Antwerpen right now on a p-day on my mission: how cool is that! Anyway, on the way home we took a rail too far when getting back to Antwerpen Central. We ended up taking this beautiful walk through the central part of town and it was amazing. I wish I could take you guys on a visual tour of some of the buildings and majesty that is here. So awesome. One of my favorite places in the world is Antwerpen Central. It’s so big and magical even though it’s just a train station.

I’m continuing on my second read of the Book of Mormon right now and starting to dive into the New Testament and loving it. Having three hours of study is great in the morning. I love renewing my testimony of the Book of Mormon every morning and learning new things every day. I’m lovin’ this gospel, and I appreciate all of your prayers. Keep sending me e-mails or letters. I love hearing from you guys!

Love you all, and I’m loving this whole mission experience,

Elder Andrew

Elder Andrew and Elder Steenblik at Zone Conference

(Image of Antwerpen Centraal Station)

Cool cars found all over

(PHOTO CAPTION: Last week on Tuesday was my first real experience with Belgium/Netherlands rain. It was almost a complete 24 hours of constant rain.)

No comments:

Post a Comment