Elder Andrew

Elder Andrew

Monday, November 3, 2014

Eli Mail 11/3/14 (Genk, Belgium & Zaandam, Netherlands) Letter 16

Hello everyone! Hope everyone enjoyed their American Halloween back in the States! I've had a pretty crazy couple of weeks here, so I’ll just jump right in. I'll begin with 22nd of October, the Wednesday evening we were having the baptismal interview with our baptism hopeful, Jozef.

All four of us went to Hasselt because Elder Elkins had to be in there alone with Jozef, and it just worked out better that way. So, we entered into the building, rang the buzzer, and all squeezed into the cramped elevator, and everything was pretty normal thus far. As soon as we stepped out of the elevator and opened the door to our right to enter into the hallway, a guy had his head poked out of doorway at the end of the hall. Not really taking notice, we walked a little ways down and knocked on Jozef's door. Elder Elkins entered in, greeting Jozef, and the three of us were left standing quietly in the hall. As soon as the door closed in front of us, the guy at the end of the hall started talking to us. Not just talking though – more like yelling. He questioned what we were doing, demanding that we either leave or go in the room – all sorts of gibberish and nonsense. Bugged, Elder Nye took a few steps closer and started talking back to him. After a few minutes of quarreling the guy finally closed the door, and we were left in silence once again. After about five minutes I realized Elder Nye and I needed to make phone calls, so we walked back towards the door that led to the elevator. As soon as we had opened the door, a lady and an old man appeared right on our tails. It was super weird; I didn't hear them come down the hall or anything or even hear their door open. The old lady glared at our name tags like all Dutch people do and started demanding that we leave. She was very rude, and the quarrel ended with her closing the door in our face. Annoyed and rather confused, Elder Nye and I left the apartment complex to make calls while Elder Clement stayed in the hallway while the interview was being conducted. About six or seven minutes later, both Elder Elkins and Clement popped out of the complex, and I was super confused at this point. Long story short: during the whole interview Jozef was doubting himself hardcore and didn't feel good; everyone was telling him not to get baptized. Then, some time during the interview someone was banging on his glass window over his balcony and the old lady was banging on the door, demanding Jozef open it. It turned out that the angry guy had climbed over like four balconies, five stories off the ground, and was now banging on Jozef's window. After realizing the situation, Elder Elkins felt something weird inside, and decided to stop the interview and leave as fast as possible. Why did this all happen? I don't think any of us knew for sure, but the adversary was sure working hard to keep Jozef from being baptized. I had never had problems with his neighbors before that night, and the fact that the world was just collapsing on Josef on the evening of a very important interview seems like too much of a coincidence. We called Jozef the next morning. He felt a lot better, wanted to set a new baptismal interview, and everything ended up going through with the baptism that Sunday.

Transfer calls came that evening, and my heart leaped out of my mouth a little bit as I discovered I would be leaving my comfort zone of Genk. It was bittersweet to leave, but I became very anxious the more and more Elder Elkins informed me of Zaandam (since he had served there, also). Transfer day was nuts. It was a day filled with waiting for hours in train stations, unloading and loading suitcases, and talking with other missionaries. It was alright in the end, but I didn't make it to the apartment until about 8:00 p.m., which totaled out to about 11 hours of travel that day. I was very excited to have a fresh new start, new area and everything. It felt like a new beginning of sorts. I've really enjoyed my time so far in Zaandam – the insane amount of people on bikes, very clear Dutch, and lots of Dutch trains. The Schipol airport isn't too far away, so I get to wake up and see very low flying passenger jets flying in the distance; it’s quite peaceful. My new companion, Elder Toole, is great. He’s been out for quite a while, my oldest companion so far, and is just a very easy going guy. The work is a lot different here. We’re spending more time doing finding here since we don't have too many solid investigators. We've got one solid family we’re working with, so that's exciting. I love biking around, too. Such a good change of pace. I wish I could take you on the tram ride we take every week to church. Unbelievable. It’s like going on a world class tour through Amsterdam. Super cool! The ward here is cool. Lots of Americans, which is fun. That's all the time I have this week. Love you guys a lot! 

EDITOR’S ADDITIONS. Here is a compilation of Eli’s comments [with editor’s interjections] from some emailing back-and-forth with him:

10/27/14: I'm getting transferred to Zaandam this Wednesday. So, I'm basically going to be in Amsterdam. It’s a town that's basically connected to Amsterdam. Elder Nye is going district leader and Elder Elkins is going zone leader in Den Haag. Crazy! Oh boy, it’s going to be a huge adjustment. I’ll finally have money though; we burn through so much [money] on train passes and stuff. I’ve heard it’s maybe the most clear Dutch out there. Elder Elkins was there during his third and fourth [transfers], so he’s told me a lot of what to expect. I’m really excited. The big old Amsterdam Ward – so cool! Yeah, I did have it – Elder Nye’s and my first baptism. It was very cool. Timid looking fellow, Jozef Goris. [See above.] But very patient and child-like. That was one of my mission goals: find someone myself and bring them along all the way to baptism. So, yeah, baptisms happen here. I'm glad I have my first one out of the way now, too. Kind of broke the ice. It’s a mission rule that members do the actual ordinance of baptism, which I like. Gets the members more involved and builds relationships. He’s a very interesting guy. You’ll hear more about him in the weekly letter [above], but he always says this: I don't want to be 70 or 80 percent Mormon, I want to be 100 percent Mormon. So, that's his motto. I always found that funny.

11/03/14: Amsterdam is a pretty big step up from little Genk in terms of scenery. It’s a pretty stark difference between the Netherlands and Belgium, but it’s pretty cool. The language is just very clear, very understandable. I've noticed they say a few things differently, but it’s not hard at all. The Dutch people are kind of a spray of hot glass in the face; you would not believe how hard it is to get a potential on the door or anything. But I like it – fun challenge working with rude, stubborn Dutch people. But I love ‘em all the same. Still have lots of respect. We go to Amsterdam Centraal like every day, so it’s super cool just being in the heart of the Netherlands and everything. I'm super spoiled, by the way. Got another huge, nice apartment. It’s the building in between the green and brown one. [See below.] So, no: it’s not the super cool looking Dutch one, but our complex is attached to it. Yeah, so Elder Elkins went zone leader and is using a car, now. Bought his bike off him for 50 Euro. Super nice bike, good amount of locks, very new and nice. I scored! We've had a few dinner appointments. Members of the Amsterdam Ward are pretty cool. Every week or so this African guy and his wife will have all the Amsterdam missionaries over. So, that includes the two Amsterdam Elders, two Amsterdam Sisters, the APs [Assistants to the (mission) President], and us. So, eight missionaries in total around this big coffee table. We ate some rice balls that we had to dip in soup and eat with our bare hands. Very messy, but surprisingly good. Um, we had one other dinner appointment with this guy that just made kip [chicken] nuggets and lasagna. Not much to say there!

PHOTO CAPTION: Left to right, Elder Nye, Jozef Goris and Elder Andrew.

PHOTO CAPTION: This is a Google street view of Elder Andrew’s apartment building (between the green and the brown buildings). 

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