My goodness, another week in the bag!! This was a pretty exciting week, with crazy activities ranging from being at Schipol airport (scary!) to tromping through the beating rain on Sunday evening.
This past Tuesday was Elder Da Silva's last day on this mission. After district meeting we basically just contacted around while attempting to finish up a number of last minute activities before he left. The weird highlight of the day was when we contacted this man about to get on his bike while someone else came up to us during the conversation and also attempted to talk to us. It was super strange, the second man approached and posed the question, "Have you found God?" I wasn't sure if it was sincerity or just utter sarcasm, but Elder Da Silva and I looked at each other very confusedly after it was all finished and done. It was the second time that had happened, too. The weird people in this world!
Transfer Wednesday finally arrived, and we left the apartment at 7:30 and I didn't get back until around 4:30! It was an insane day of travel; I was in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and all sorts of stations in between. At one train stop I realized in a split second that I was getting off and Elder Da Silva was leaving. The moment came strangely fast and unexpectedly, and I had to give him a last good bye before the train doors closed a moment later.
My new companion, Elder Tolman, and I had a good first day, too, when we set up two appointments in one evening. Elder Tolman was called Chinese speaking on top of Dutch. His ancestors and parents are all Dutch, so I guess they just decided to throw another language on him. Pretty funny. We had a couple of Chinese friends already, and we had a very good appointment Sunday evening with two of them. Chinese people are so different to teach. The two girls we taught had no concept of God, so we had to start at the very basic level, more basic than I thought was possible. But it turned out to be very spiritual, and they both opened up to us and even one of them admitted to us, "I want to believe; it's just hard." We have a return appointment this week where we will also be making Sushi (Japanese food, I know), so I'm very excited.
Thanks for all of the love and support. Enjoy the warm beginning of summer, everyone, and I'm thinking and praying for you all.
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Eli at a district meeting.
Hello everyone! This last week with Elder Da Silva has been very special – not just this week, but the whole transfer has been just awesome, spent with laughs and answered prayers. I'm still in the process of replying to the emails from my birthday, so don't be worried if you haven't received or heard anything yet. It's coming. I would also like to apologize for a random Tuesday letter. The Dutch have a wonderful talent for extending vacations through the weekend and into the next week for whatever reason, so we didn't have time to access the library.
I'll start the letter off with this past Wednesday, my birthday! We had a wonderful plan set for the day, including a lesson with a Brazilian woman name Isabel. This "Isabel" lady has actually a pretty funny story. We just found her while calling old potentials from a potential list from 2007 or something like that. We ended up calling her number, and she was pretty suspicious at first but eventually became very interested in us. Well, more specifically, Elder Da Silva (since he was the one speaking Portuguese). They talked on the phone for over an hour and a half! And she told us her whole life story and was taking a very weird interest in Elder Da Silva, from what he told me. But yeah, long story short we never actually got to meet her, but it was still funny because she nearly fell in love with Elder Da Silva over the phone. But we went out and worked anyways and had a short exchange with the zone leaders, with plans to return to Deventer for a "mensen 6" [six person] dinner appointment with our recently baptized member, Alice.
I don't know why this always happens, but whenever I'm with Elder Argueta, something weird or amazing always happens. I was with Elder Argueta in Apeldoorn, and during this exchange we had both. We went to go teach a lesson with an African man, which was supposed to be a quick little Restoration lesson that ended being, you guessed it: a drug party! More people arrived in this tiny, decaying apartment while we were teaching, and the room quickly became filled with smoke, and I could feel myself getting dizzier by the minute. It was just a bad atmosphere, literally and figuratively, and I felt as though I was back in Amsterdam. Hah! But our day was like the storm before the calm, and afterwards we got let in on a bell-up in an apartment complex and taught a Restoration lesson to a very chill, somewhat religious Dutch kid (who wasn't "under the influence" thank-goodness)! He was very eager and interested in our message – very exciting. My birthday was concluded with a very pleasant dinner appointment that included a wonderful assortment of spicy Chinese dishes and pleasant conversation with our Deventer senior couple and the other Apeldoorn missionaries. It was a pretty good birthday.
Now, to our big miracle of the week. I've attempted to describe the work here in Deventer in the past as a roller coaster, with ups and downs. One missionary told me another analogy, too, as when a truck is stuck on ice and is attempting to get traction, it sometimes takes a few wheel spins before the tires actually catch, and I think the work here in Deventer caught some good traction this week. On an exchange with Elder Steenblik a Friday or so ago (yes, the exchange in which I left the keys and phone in the apartment, which I usually never let happen!), I decided to do my usual stroll through Deventer, avoiding main pedestrian travel points and walking along more of the outer rim of the Centrum, closer to modern shopping areas and ATMs to avoid the huge influx of elderly people and catch the younger population walking to and from college, when we finally struck gold! We stopped a guy, the second person of the day, a 20’s looking kid who appeared to have some sort of South American/slightly European descent. We stopped him, had a quick conversation, smiled, and to our surprise he set his bags on the ground and told us sincerely, "Yeah, I would actually really like that” (to talk about God). We exchanged numbers right then and there and went on our way (after informing us he was from Portugal and also spoke Portuguese). That next day I felt like we shouldn't wait and we just called him right then and there. We set an appointment and taught an awesome Restoration lesson. He admitted to us that he had been wanting to talk with someone about God for a while and that he knew it wasn't coincidence we met. So, we taught him the second lesson later in the week, and he told us of his real desire just to follow Christ, and we set a baptismal date which he gladly accepted. The lessons have been all in Portuguese but I was still able to follow along (to some degree) and taught in Dutch when it was my turn. He's a super cool guy, named Kenny, and I'm excited to see what the future holds.
Tomorrow, Elder Da Silva goes home, so we are going to have a late night of packing tonight. What's crazy is that his family never received his itinerary, so if he hadn't checked his email today he would have arrived in the airport in Salvador to no one! But luckily things are all worked out. My next companion will be Elder Tolman who I predicted would be my next comp! He's got Dutch parents I believe and was called here, Chinese speaking, so we're going to practice some Chinese this coming transfer. I'm loving my mission and excited for the future. Have a good week everyone!
Elder Eli Andrew