Good morning fellow family members, family, and readers! After receiving a phone call last night, I have an announcement to make! This will be my last time emailing here in Deventer. It has been a wonderful three transfers here, and leaving will be definitely bitter-sweet.
Amongst many events, we got a bit of a heat wave this past week, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My hope is that everyone had a very enjoyable Fourth of July. It was unusually quiet here, as one might expect, but I still made sure the members we visited were well aware of the importance of the holiday. The weather forecast said it would be over 40 degrees, but us Apeldoorn missionaries still made plans to do our weekly sports activity. We invited a good number of members and investigators, and to our surprise no one showed up! Only missionaries! It was pretty funny, so we ended up celebrating the Fourth just by kicking around the soccer ball and playing a little basketball on a blazing hot afternoon.
I don't have much time today, but I would still love to share a few of the highlights from the week. Firstly, our good friend Kenny is doing awesome and still making good progress. We had a bit of an emotional lesson early in the week. He told us that he had stopped smoking (almost a week before the date we had set for him) and the mental and physical symptoms that accompany quitting a bad habit were pretty obvious. We had planned to go further with teaching him commandments that day, but it was apparent that he needed our motivation and help more than anything. We rocked his world with inspirational scriptures, promising that Christ would help him through this struggle. A scripture came to my head during the lesson, Alma 36:3, and when I turned to the scripture I was pleasantly surprised to see that the scripture expressed the feeling and motivation I wanted to portray to Kenny. I replaced the name "Helaman" with his own name and read the verse. The scripture talked a lot about putting your trust in the Lord, and for me it was just a cool experience to recognize one of the gifts of the Spirit, enlightenment.
In the evening on the Fourth of July we had a baptism, a Spanish lady that we (Deventer Elders) found but the Apeldoorn Zone Leaders have been teaching. Early in the transfer Elder Tolman and I were just walking around our normal contacting area, doing our usual walking and talking, when I saw a group of about six people, all separate parties – not a group of friends. In this close cluster of people, I knew I would only be able to talk to one of them, so I just picked one. The lady I ended up stopping is named Meralys and didn't speak much Dutch. I probably attempted a Spanish intro (from those years way back in high school Spanish!) and, to my surprise, she stood on her tippy toes and gave us both kisses, along with all her contact information. Long story short, Elder Argueta (the zone leader in Apeldoorn) and I taught her, and she told us all this crazy stuff, like how she had a dream about how God was going to call her and all this incredible stuff. What was really cool for me was not necessarily the fact that she was baptized but the feeling I received afterwards at home, realizing that because of such a small little act I had been able to help change someone's life. The crowning moment of the baptism was when the first talk was finished and Meralys wanted to get up to say a few words. She said that 20 years ago she had a dream she was dressed in white and by a riverside. She knew that this dream was far off in the future but said this was the fulfillment of it. (And no, we did not baptize her in a canal – it was definitely in the baptismal font). On a side note, we didn't plan properly for the treats, so we ended up only having bags of chips and juice brought by us missionaries. It was a classic Elder move.
As I said at the beginning of my letter, I will be leaving Deventer to Spijkenisse in the Rotterdam area. I am excited, and my new companion will be Elder Drinkwater who is on his second transfer.
I love you all a lot, and don't forget to shoot and email every once in a while. I love hearing from everyone!
Elder Eli Andrew
PHOTO CAPTION: The above map shows Eli’s four areas so far.