Before I get started I'll probably just get it out of the way. We got phone calls again last night, and guess what? Yes, that's right, I will be leaving beautiful little Zaandam. I enjoyed this week a lot, but sadly my mind was caught up in the fear that it would be my last.The exciting news is that I'm going to Deventer, very close to Apeldoorn. I don't know much about it except that it is a student city.
Monday evening we enjoyed an appointment with our new Nigerian investigator, Simeon. I'm not sure if I mentioned him in my last email, but he just moved to Zaandam for the next five years to find work, learn the language, and hopefully lead a better life. During the appointment he told us a little bit about his back story and his complete loss of family, aside from his brother who he has no contact with and who is still in Nigeria. But it was amazing how Heavenly Father was still looking out for him and how prayer really blessed his life. Halfway during the lesson he declared in his big, deep voice, "dinners ready," so we all sat up to the table as he dished out a big plate of a starch-based goo with a pot of chicken wing soup. I've learned how to eat somewhat like an African, and the biggest mistake you can make is by eating with your left hand. I won't tell you why, expect for the little hint that they don't use toilet paper in Nigeria. But anyway, by the end of the surprisingly delicious meal I had not really eaten any of the chicken because there really wasn't any chicken on it – mostly just skin and other interesting proteins. Simeon looked at us both, Elder Da Silva and I, and asked us if we were going to eat our chicken or not. We exchanged glances and quickly starting gnawing at the chicken, almost eating the bones themselves (Simeon did!). It was just a great evening, and he felt the Spirit strong enough by the end of the lesson to accept a baptismal invitation. So, that was really cool.
The following day we enjoyed a wonderful zone conference in Zoetemeer. There were a number of great talks given, but perhaps the interesting highlight would be that we got to enjoy the movie, "Meet the Mormons." It was a fun movie, I really enjoyed the stories, and it was a pleasant surprise to all of us. We also watched a few clips of missionaries in our mission who got to be on TV. They were hilarious, and seeing my MTC companion on the big screen was just hilarious and awesome.
(EDITOR’S NOTE #1: The TV clip of Eli’s MTC companion, Ben Steenblik, the tall one, on Belgian TV is here:http://www.fansofflanders.be/Channels/Special%20Guest/29_January_2015/14012015_Mormons#disqus_thread (His companion is Elder Cockbain.)
I must give a quick honorable mention to Sister Nichols, an American member from Chicago, who, upon much anticipation (and coordination with my mother) made American cinnamon rolls for my last dinner appointment. So, thank you, Mom, for sending the recipe!
We had a really cool miracle on Wednesday. I was kind of feeling the need to change things up a little during the afternoon, and I didn't want to just do normal street contacting in Zaandam, so we decided to head over to the nearby town of Purmerend. After walking the centrum for a while we wound up finding ourselves walking into a back alley area with a row of houses that could only be accessed by climbing up a flight of stairs. We shrugged and decided to just go for it. At about the sixth house in or so, a little lady and her small son opened the door. Upon seeing the child I immediately directed our message towards families. After a short conversation and her shivering in the cold, she invited us in. We stood in the living room, not sure where this was really going to go when she mentioned that her mother had passed away the previous week. The room was immediately filled with the Spirit as she explained how she had been thinking a lot about life and religion, and she firmly declared that it could not have been by coincidence that we arrived at the door. She listened openly as we brought up points of the Plan of Salvation and invited her to read the Book of Mormon. It was a sweet and tender experience, and it reminded me that we need to always stand open for the promptings of the Spirit, because people in the world need it.
I love you guys a lot and look forward to a new city with lots of new adventures awaiting me! Thanks for those who emailed me this week. Loved hearing from you. Have a good week!