The title of today´s letter is 1000 Steps in Darkness. A number of great things happened this week, including a very inspiring zone training, a few cool experiences, and just work as usual. As mentioned in the previous letter, conference is right around the corner so I hope everyone is getting ready.
I will begin this letter with the events of our zone training this past Tuesday. It was held in the wonderful little church building in Zwolle. I had never been to this town and thoroughly enjoyed a quick stroll through the centrum and a nice little sneak peak at classic, old buildings and the usual cobblestone roads. The zone leaders did their training on a few scriptures. Sadly, I don´t have the exact scriptures, but they compared two stories, the first being the classic story of Nephi not knowing beforehand where he must go to get the brass plates. The second story was from the Old Testament when Moses led the Israelites and had to part the Red Sea in order to escape. The beauty of the two stories was that in both cases Moses and Nephi had to take a step of faith, Moses leading the Israelites and not knowing beforehand where to go, and Nephi wandering through the gates of King Laban´s palace. In both instances you could say they both made a mistake. Noah was trapped at the shore of the sea and Nephi was eventually led to slay King Laban. The Lord provided in both instances, but it first required walking into the darkness. The zone leaders compared that to us as missionaries. We have to take steps in the darkness, talking with everyone on the streets, knocking a row of doors, not really knowing beforehand what the result will be. But eventually, just like Nephi and Moses, the Lord will provide, but it first requires those “1000 steps of darkness.”
On Wednesday we had an exchange again with the district leaders, and I was with Elder Steenblik this time. It was fun, and during the exchange all of our appointments in Deventer with Elder Clukey and Frisbee went through. It was fantastic! Two new investigators and two first lessons. We had a really cool experience that evening, too, after the exchange. It was 8 o´clock and Elder Clukey and I went out and starting doing bell ups, our usual evening activity if we don´t have a lesson. On the first row of bell ups a man came walking down the stairs and opened the door. He was a typical Dutch man, older, and we quickly did our usual introduction. He scanned us over, looking at us up and down for a moment. The conversation began again and he declared he didn´t have interest but kept talking with us. The conversation grew and I asked if I could have some water. He then walked back up the stairs and let us into his apartment. He was very happy to have guests over and treated us to a stroopwafel and a glass of water. After introductions we taught him a quick first lesson. He had already declared he wasn´t going to change but he was still open enough to listen. Eventually, I got the feeling he needed to pray. We talked about taking steps of faith for a while and invited with him to pray at that moment. I had the feeling that it was a ´do or die´ situation – he needed to decide right then if he was going to pray. The Spirit was very strong, and I knew with 100% surety that if he were to pray at that moment that God would answer his prayers. It was powerful, especially because at that moment there was no doubt or fear in my heart. I had complete confidence in Heavenly Father´s ability to answer his prayers. He eventually decided to use his agency and didn´t. But it was a learning experience nevertheless.
We have been working hard this week, even on “Sunday.” I mention Sunday because of how many reactions I have seen in Deventer to people not understanding us doing doors on the Sabbath. It´s just funny seeing how people make excuses. There never is “a good time to knock” in this country, but we will press on!
Have a great week everyone!
PHOTO CAPTION: Deventer Centrum
BULLETS – Here are a few of Eli’s comments from some emails on 3/30/14::
· I may have mentioned this in previous letters, but during my four and half months in Zaandam, we could see almost every plane coming into Schipol (airport) from our apartment. Now, of course some days any sign of planes was just impossible due to clouds, but on days with blue skies I loved watching them decelerating and coming down for landing. During my time in Belgium I saw F-16 flybys all the time, too, and I loved hearing them tear through the air. So, that's been my experience with airplanes on the mission so far.
· I won´t have to worry about drivers license stuff at all unless I become a zone leader, in which case you just swap your American and you get a Belgium one (no return on the American one, sadly, until you go home).
· Tulips will come, don´t you worry. Easter here is the same: just eggs, the usual. They basically copycat America. Or maybe we copy them.
· I listen to general conference in English. They have two rooms, one with translation and with just English, and I´d rather hear the power of the actual apostles´ voices.
Awesome bridje in Purmerend