Last Monday night we taught a Plan of Salvation lesson to a sort-of-new investigator, Danny. He's about 40 years old, single, and very willing to hear what the Mormons are all about. We started the lesson with the typical exchange of normal small talk and then delved into the lesson after a prayer. I had just refreshed myself about 20 minutes before, and I rehearsed the flow of the lesson the whole bike ride there, so I was very confident in my teaching skills that evening. Elder Toole and I both taught very well, and Danny spent most of the time listening and taking in the information. It all seemed well until we explained kingdoms of glory to him. He just got very upset, because he felt like he could never know for sure if he was going to heaven or not. He felt like you could live a good life, but you could never be 100% positive. I suppose he is right to a very slight extent; we technically don't know until we stand before the judgment seat. I was reminded of the hymn “Keep the Commandments.” It’s one of my favorites, and at one point they sing the phrase, “keep the commandments, in this there is safety and peace.” So clearly, by just simply doing what we’re supposed to do (keeping the commandments, and so for), we just feel comforted that things will really work out. As much as we tried testifying and explaining, Danny just couldn't get over his own trapped mindset. So, it was a sort of a sad conclusion, but it got me thinking a lot, and perhaps one day he'll change his mind.Hope it isn't getting too cold in the States. This sure has been my mildest fall season I've experienced. The weather has been going back and forth a lot lately. A majority of cloudy, typical Europe overcast days with the occasional rain storm, and about one or two days with sun. If I had to describe this week in one word, I would say drowsy. Drowsy, because of the busyness of normal missionary work and getting home late a few nights in a row. For those who don't know, the Zaandam Elders are typically known for a lot of travel. And we do. If we have an activity at the church on a Friday evening we can expect two hours, round trip, of travel, not even including the activity itself. So, if the time is creeping past 8 o'clock in the evening, we can already expect to be home past 9 pm. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just the life and circumstances of a missionary. One last quick note about time (perhaps I've mentioned this in a previous email), but the darkness is creeping up fast. We are in complete darkness now just before 5 p.m., and the sun doesn't rise till about 8 a.m. It's so sad to see the sun setting at about noonish, but oh well, just makes us work smarter when we plan.This week was our annual Turkey Bowl! It was fantastic. We arrived at Vondelpark in Amsterdam at about 10 a.m. on Saturday. It was just the Amsterdam zone, so about 30 or so missionaries in total. We had a lot of fun. We broke up into four different teams and battled it out in some good old American football. I spent most of the time receiving and enjoyed weaving in and out of the crowd. Our mission president even joined the fun, too. He loves and encourages the Turkey Bowl every year, and it was awesome seeing him getting very into it. Just a good overall day, and the Amsterdam Elders with my companion and I went and had some Suriname/ Chinese food. Speaking of food, there are annual food stands that go up about this time of year for “oliebollen,” these deep-fried bread balls covered in powdered sugar. They are way better than I imagined, with a perfect mixture of a crispy outside and a warm, doughy inside. The sprinkled powdered sugar is just icing on the cake, so to speak, and you can also get them with raisons.The weeks are really flying by here in Zaandam, and I hope everyone enjoys Thanksgiving and Black Friday! We have plans for a dinner at the church on Thursday, so not to worry – we have a place for some sort of Thanksgiving meal. Love you guys. Have a great week!
BULLETS – Here are a few of Eli’s comments in some emails on 11/24/14:· Had another busy week filled with a variety of activities, and another busy one to come.· I don't have a lot of respect for dogs anymore. Dutch people are very much dog and cat lovers, and we hear a lot of ferocious dog barking at a lot of doors we knock. Not to mention that all of my dress pants basically just attract dog hair like a magnet. But that's not to be pessimistic – just my current feelings on dogs right now.· Dutch people have no idea who their neighbors are, unlike most of us Americans. I know that made Elder Nye really sad last transfer; we would knock doors and ask for referrals, but people barely had a clue that they even had neighbors. I guess Elder Nye was used to Utah living, where you get to know your neighbors, I suppose.· I don't know if I have had any adventures on bikes. I just take control of the road when I'm on them, because you can do that here. I want to get a little speedometer though. My bike had one, but it got lost a few transfers ago, so it'd be fun to keep track of miles and my speed. Metric system, though, of course.· Oh yeah, lots of thievery. One of the sisters in Amsterdam just had a bike stolen the other week. She didn't lock it, but still. There are gangs who go around in black vans apparently and snip locks off of bikes in Amsterdam. Scary stuff. Bikes are just easy money, but I think mine is safe here in Zaandam.
PHOTO CAPTION: Aerial of Vondelpark, Amsterdam.