Hello everyone! Another week has come and passed here in the Netherlands, and the pace of things is really starting to pick up. Transfer calls were last night and, as I predicted, both Elder Toole and I will be staying in Zaandam for another transfer. He'll be the first companion I've had for more than one transfer. The Amsterdam Elders have an interesting situation, because Elder Tjong-Ayong (my favorite Suriname friend ever!) extended and has only four weeks left on his mission, not even the full transfer, and they just received word that they'll be getting a greenie now between the two of them. That'll make for a pretty packed apartment, with the APs who are already there – five missionaries in total.
But anyway, enough of the missionary transfer stuff. What exactly happened this week? Well, sadly and excitingly, Sinterklaas came and went. All eight of us missionaries in the Amsterdam area were invited to members' houses both Friday and Saturday night, very convenient to not have to be out and about when it was a "feestje dag". Elder Toole and I set off at about 5pm on Friday evening to the Roos's apartment, which was located somewhere in Amsterdam. We ended up doing all sorts of crazy tram navigation, me trying to orientate ourselves on the map and both of us wandering around until we eventually arrived at our destination. The member's apartment was a three-story flat, with insanely steep staircases that led up to a wide open kitchen and living room area. We spent the evening singing Dutch Kerstmis songs, eating little goodies, and doing a bit of a "spiritual" gift exchange in which everything related to a scripture or something like that. On the way home, the tram stopped in the middle of the road and just sat there for a while. It was getting late, and I was pretty anxious, so we got out of the tram to see what was going on. Sadly, some guy was laying on the spoor (tracks), possibly dead/drunk/high – and, therefore, we couldn't move. What seemed unfortunate led us to another exciting adventure of navigating back to station, and sometimes you just have to enjoy the little things like that on a mission. But at both parties we shared "The First Gift of Christmas" for our spiritual message, which is a great, new Mormon Message that came out recently. I'd highly recommend watching it.
Exciting news: we finally had a lesson with our Chinese investigator, Alice! She was found and taught for a long time by Elder Tjong-Ayong in a little town called Deventer. She lives in Zaandam, now, has been super busy, but is very much ready to progress. We just sat down and talked with her about how things are going in her life, and she said she received an answer to her prayer, which was awesome. It's really hard to teach Asians because of their very limited knowledge and concept of God, but Alice finally realized it, and now she just needs to know that our church is true. Elder Moriara made an interesting comment about Asian people: a lot of members are a little apprehensive to baptize Chinese people, because they usually go back home. But that's a good thing, he said. When the Lord says every nation shall receive the Word, that could be very well how it works for China – the people come here and are taught and then they take it back with them into China. Cool thought. We have a number of potentials floating around right now. We just need the right opportunities, and we could have a number of new investigators, which is what this place needs. The work is going great, though. I love the satisfaction of knowing that I'm doing all that I can, and it is comforting to know that it is enough for the Lord.
I've started the Book of Mormon again and am now currently in 2 Nephi. I noticed something in chapter five that intrigued me a lot. The chapter starts with Nephi being very depressed and grieved because of his brothers and what's going on around him, but by verse 27 it says, "And we did live after the manner of happiness" or something to that extent. So, you have a very striking difference in terms of how Nephi is feeling and living, within a manner of 27 verses. My challenge is to read what's in between those verses and try to notice what made the difference, between living in sorrow and living after a manner of happiness.
The weather has for sure been a lot more tame this week – not nearly as bone-chilling cold. Still no snow, but I'm not expecting a white Christmas necessarily. I've already been hearing a number of fireworks go off, which makes me excited for the craziness of New Year's and Christmas here in the Netherlands. I love hearing from you guys. Have a great week!