Hello everyone! Today marks the close of week 1 here in Spijkenisse, which is unbelievable. I could have sworn I was just here the other day sending an email at the computer. Another summer week came and went, and along with it we had the opportunity to finally meet the new mission president on Friday. On Monday evening, as 6 p.m. approached, Elder Drinkwater and I hopped on our bikes and raced over to our routine dinner appointment with a part-member family. The weather was strange for a summer day, complete grey skies and a heavy, steady mist falling on our heads. Returned missionaries from the Netherlands can fully understand what the experience is like. Imagine you grab your hose to water the garden, but instead of putting it on the "shower" or "jet" function, you put it on "mist" and you spray yourself in the face. Now, just take that function and imagine it falling out of the sky, nonstop, all day. (I kind of like it actually, it's very unique weather). But after the dinner appointment, we went over to another scheduled appointment. The lady opened the door and told us our potential investigator wasn't home. But to our pleasant surprise she opened the door all the way and said, "You can come in anyway." We taught the nice lady, who was just getting her kids to bed, a great first lesson, and my young companion confidently invited the woman to baptism. it was a great evening!
Most of our work this week has consisted of bike contacting/work on the street, and we've seen great success so far. It's kind of interesting as you go throughout your day, talking with people and initiating countless conversations, because the more and more you overcome your fears and just do, the more influence you feel from the Spirit. It's kind of like one of those "County Fair" games where you use some amount of exerted force from your body to elevate a ball or some other object up a measured scale. I have noticed the more I talk to people during the day, the more higher I feel on this "Spiritual" meter. The sad thing is, this spiritual meter needs to be refilled daily, so just because I do good one day does not mean I am covered for the next couple. It requires constant work, but it is very much worth it. It can also be related to our daily lives also; you do the things Heavenly Father expects of you – that morning prayer, receiving a new insight from a scripture – and you can build up that daily spiritual scale. It feels kind of like a shield of protection almost, and it can definitely help us to be in tune with God despite the noise of the world around us. So, don't forget to be working on your spiritual scale daily!
Friday, we headed out of the apartment to catch a morning metro. Side note, the Metro system is fantastic here: very clean, quiet and high in efficiency and accessibility. (Go, Dutch people!) So, after staring out the window as the crazy shipping port city of Rotterdam passed before my eyes, we arrived at the Rotterdam North Church. The conference was awesome! We finally got to meet our new mission President, which was a wonderful experience. President and Sister Bunnell are very "green," but they have awesome personalities and are ready to lead. They showed us an assortment of pictures of their home, family, going fly fishing, rafting, and all those other outdoorsy things Utah people do. I was very happy when President Bunnell stated that he will be backing up everything President Robinson did and go further with it. He is definitely different, but I am optimistic about it.
The stories and spiritual experiences could go on, but there was a tragic announcement made at the end of Zone conference. I am sorry to announce this, but as of now all Belgium/Netherlands missionaries will now be donning helmets. For further details on what the possible results will be in the bike-loving, non-helmet wearing country of the Netherlands, ask anyone who has visited or served a mission here.
Love and pray for you all.
Elder Eli Andrew
BULLETS from a separate email from Eli today:
· More about President Bunnell: we all shook hands and had introductions, of course. It was super weird seeing him up on the podium in the Rotterdam chapel. I had seen his picture so many times in the missionary year book, but now he was standing right in front of me. He and his wife have pretty great mannerisms. He seems a lot more direct and obedience-driven than President Robinson. President Robinson trusted us as missionaries to do the right thing, which I liked a lot. President Bunnell is different. He will be doing things like area book checks, more accountability for clean apartments, and also district meetings will be in Dutch. I am actually totally in with the changes, but I was happy to hear President Bunnell state that he backs up and wants to go further with President Robinson's mission plan to build the 5th stake. Sister Bunnell is really loving, but I will miss Sister Robinson's strong teacher-like voice, as she could call us to repentance while still making us feel genuinely loved. Overall, I do have a very positive vibe with President Bunnell.
· Spijkenisse is pronounced “Spike-en-is-ah.”
· Oh man, living arrangements: I sort of miss Deventer's apartment. I have been spoiled up until now. Genk – nice, new apartment; Zaandam, also nice, spacious and still cozy; Deventer – big, expensive, and just a totally awesome building. Spijkenisse's apartment isn't by and means bad, just small or rather disproportionate. The bathroom is enormous with loads of room to shower and everything, but we have a super crammed kitchen – stuff like that. As mentioned previously, we live right above a member's lawyer's office, so to get in the apartment we have to lock up to three doors behind us before we climb the stairs to our actual apartment. But the members let us live there for free, so that's a blessing for your tithing. Last note: gas stoves are 100 times better than electric, I have discovered. I can whip up my breakfast egg, and a chicken and rice meal for lunch so much faster with an actual flame.