PHOTO CAPTION: A visit to a missionary holiday event (last year) by Sinta Klaas and his Zwarte Petes. (Read below.)
Wow! What a week. I hope everyone enjoyed a gezilig (enjoyable) Thanksgiving. Reading emails about everyone’s plans did make me think of all the delicious smells, preparation, and the feeling of the holiday season. But being on the mission for the holidays is something special and unforgettable. We were very busy this week, so I’ll jump right into the events and experiences.
We had a lesson this past Tuesday with a lady who happens to be a former investigator. A couple weeks ago we were biking around, doing work as usual, when we passed by a lady unloading things from her car. As we passed by she said,”Oh, hey, Elders!” Elder Toole and I exchanged confused looks and stopped our bikes. We turned around and confronted the lady who somehow recognized us as “Elders.” Long story short, we made an appointment and found her record later, buried deep in the depths of the area book. So, we had the lesson and just got to kind of know this Surinamese lady a little better. She’s funny, a little sassy, but very down-to-earth and pretty positive about the gospel. For one reason or another, the lesson became very powerful and the Spirit was really strong and the discussion turned towards the message of the Restoration. We both bore our testimony pretty powerfully to her. She was still skeptical and wanted to know if we really did believe all that stuff. This was my response: “I wonder that too, actually, if it all really is true, and I get the opportunity to find that out every morning.” It’s a cool experience to be on a mission, because by simply keeping the commandments and aligning our will with God's, we really can feel of His Spirit and receive answers. So, we'll see where things go, but it made me grateful to have the gospel in my life.
On Wednesday we had another visitation of a general authority! A few months ago we had Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, and this time Elder Moriara (I can’t spell his name) of the “zeventigers” came to our mission. He told a really cool story of some navigators who years ago were always afraid to sail past a certain cape. This cape had been rumored to be extremely dangerous, with sharp rocks and the actual edge of the world, where you would fall off the face of the planet if you went too far. Crazy right? A silly, preconceived notion that limited them from their full potential. Their travels and journeys were inconvenienced because of a rumor or assumption. He related that to us as missionaries with our proselyting areas. If we hear bad things or don’t expect miracles, we just limit and hurt ourselves. That's one of the big challenges of our mission, especially. A lot of it is mental. The work becomes a lot easier when we accept and acknowledge that the Lord is preparing people and fulfilling His promises. I love the challenge here. Nothing comes easy. You really have to work and have faith if you want to see anything happen. But anyway, those are just my thoughts on our mission in general.
Thanksgiving was good, too! We spent that afternoon mostly knocking doors. The temperature feels like one or two degrees Fahrenheit, but that’s because of how thick the air is here. I've definitely got to get some warmer under clothing too, but for now I don't care; I'm from Wisconsin. We had a Thanksgiving feast that evening at the Church. A member wanted to have one and invited a number of American members and even some non-members. In place of a turkey we had deep-fried chicken wings. Not bad. There was a huge vat of potato salad and number of other creations. It didn’t quite compare to an American thanksgiving, but I was pleased none the less. We even got to explain a bit about the Restoration to a non-member, which was cool. We have a lot of food right now, too. We got a ton of leftovers from the Thanksgiving, on top of all the other things we've gotten. A member went to Germany and brought us 100 “Pick-ups,” a German candy bar, along with two buckets of chocolate-covered pretzels. So, yeah, we have a lot.
Oh, by the way, Christmas is this Friday, everyone. For some reason, the Dutch like Christmas so much they have three of them. This Friday is when Sinter Klaas drops off a sack of “cadeautjes” and “snoepjes” on the doorstep. So, we’re going to try to avoid knocking doors Friday. People are expecting Sinter Klaas, not two missionaries from America! Another fun fact: in place of elves, Sinta Klaas has servants named “Zwarte Pete.” That just means black Pete. Basically, Sinter Klaas’s servants go down the chimneys and get covered in soot. Hence, the name “Zwarte Pete.” So, you will see random people on the streets dressed in a weird sort of court-jester costume with their face and hands painted black. If you find images on the internet, it will definitely appear a little weird and perhaps racist to any American, but trust me: it's not.
I’ll leave you with one last Spiritual thought for the week. It was a question asked in Sunday school, and it led to a very good discussion. “How can the Atonement become effective in our lives?” I’ve learned for myself and through my investigators that repentance doesn’t just involve acknowledging our mistakes. It is a process, a change of our thoughts, desires, and actions. So, when we look at the Atonement and we want to make it effective in our lives, we first must truly repent and forsake our transgressions.
Ik hou van jullie en ik hoop dat jullie allemaal een geweldige week verder zullen hebben!
Elder Eli Andrew
Aan de Vaart 18
1506 TW Zaandam
Elder Eli Andrew
2316 XE Leiden
BULLETS – Here are a few of Eli’s comments in some emails on 11/17/14:· Yep, that's the building. Only one ward meets there. A little sad, I know, for such a big city.· We do mostly door contacting. We have our most success from street contacting, but we just don't have too many good areas for that. Then if you really feel like it, you can do “bell ups,” which is at an apartment complex, and you just ring their number. Yeah, they have a crazy amount of apartment complexes in this country, so sometimes you just gotta try.· The weather has been off and on. The rain doesn't bother me much, but the fact that it is now dark at 5 p.m. does. Just since we have to be out and about ‘til 9 p.m. makes it a little more difficult. But, I'm learning to just accept it and plan smart.· Speaking of bikes, my back tire was completely flat so I took it in and got it fixed. Spent 35 Euro on new tubes for the back tire, so it’s all ready for winter. Sadly the front tire might need some repairs here soon, but it won’t be too pricey.· Yeah, if I knew how to fix my own bike I could save a little money, but for now I'll just go the safer route.· Yeah I could be little Dutch books.. I'm planning on buying my favorite John Green books in Dutch and reading them when I get off the mission. If you want the Dutch shoes.. they are very uncomfortable but they're keepsakes for sure.· I'm not that that familiar with Zaandam quite yet. We’re on the 3rd floor. I did a tour of the Genk apartment and I'll do one of the Zaandam one too. I’ll just have to send you the SD card when it’s full too, those video files are way too big.· Psshh.. nah, members are good about fast and testimony meeting. The missionaries bare their testimony their first Sunday in their new area that’s how it usually works.