Hey, everyone! So much has happened these past couple weeks I am not sure where I want to start! And the fact that it is August already? Nuts. But things are humming right along for us here in the little dream city of Spjikenisse, and Elder Drinkwater and I are rocking it.
To start, I would like to talk about Spijkenisse in general. I like comparing it to a doll house. Everything is just "cutely" close together, and there are lots of "dolls" just wandering around the doll houses, minding their own business. Most church members live in a biking radius of 10 minutes; it's ridiculous! Not to mention we have our own stand-alone church building, which is quite impressive for a city like this. Size means nothing though. I have served in pretty small cities my whole mission – it's my specialty. These past two weeks have been pretty busy, with a number of people cycling through our teaching pool and lots of member visits, including two really cool people we have with baptismal dates! (Very exciting!)
This past Thursday we had a very interesting morning. A week or so prior to Thursday Elder Drinkwater and I went to a place called "Nieuw-Beijerland" to do some proselytizing. It is a little town located on the edge of my street maps, and we were hungry to do some exploring. We mounted our bikes and left Spijkenisse into the open, flat fields of the Netherlands. Upon our approach to the town I noticed a fairly large river that split the land in two, making this town more exclusive. But to my surprise there was no bridge across the river! Instead, there was a large ferry that floated about 20 meters from one side of the river to the other, carrying cars and bikers across one trip at a time. I was a little stunned, but we patiently waited for the ferry to make its way back over to us, and we boarded. As soon as we got on, a toll lady came up and asked us each for 80 cents. I was baffled! I had to pay for the trip, too? Just to get across the river? Long story short, the town residents want to keep themselves separate from Spijkenisse, so they refuse to have a bridge build. Apparently it keeps crime rates low, too. Weird. We finally crossed and took a look around the town, talking to people the whole way along. At one point I stopped a larger, bearded man with a death metal t-shirt on before he took his cart in to go shopping. Upon further inspection, this man was actually quite open and had even received lessons from the J-dubs in the past. He said that he investigates everything, and with that we happily testified and introduced the Book of Mormon to him. After a half-hour conversation he gladly shared his address and phone number, although he stated he rarely picks up because he never hears phone calls or his door bell ringing. We shook hands and parted ways. One morning last week at around 10:30am during studies I felt like calling him. We had had his number for a while but still hadn't given him a try, and I wasn't all too eager to cross a ferry anyway. But I acted on it and dialed his number, and to my surprise he answered! He was still very positive, and we made an appointment for this past Thursday. We proceeded to teach him a few points of the Restoration that morning, and we got into the "nitty gritty" things about what faith is, how do we grow it, and why do we need it. He is your typical 30-year-old-geek-living-alone-and-loving-it type guy, but he loves listening. And although he is very scientific and a brainiac, he wanted to have the faith and belief he saw in us, and that was cool. He also has three albino, female pet rats, with long nasty tails and red eyes. Elder Drinkwater kept exclaiming, "So cute!" in Dutch while I just shivered and folded my arms, making sure they didn't touch me.
This past week I also had a great exchange with Elder Childs. It's fun being in Rotterdam, and the zone leaders apartment has a fantastic view of Rotterdam and the famous Rotterdam bridge (look up a picture, it's cool!). And ironically enough, the apartment is also a five-minute walk away from an enormous Muslim mosque. But Elder Childs and I had a great time walking around together proselytizing and finishing off the night by surveying the city and its people with binoculars from the fifth story apartment. Quite entertaining.
PHOTO CAPTION: Rotterdam Bridge (from the internet)
The work is going great here in Spijkenisse. We are teaching this awesome member referral named Edwin. I forget if I have mentioned him before, but he is your typical, middle aged Dutchman with a very sensitive spot for the gospel. He is crazy about Elvis, too, and the walls of his house are just covered in Elvis memorabilia. His baptismal date is this Sunday, so hopefully we can get things in order for him, finishing off the last few lessons and so forth. He is such a cool miracle, and more will be on him in the coming weeks.
The summer is rolling on here in the Netherlands, and I am learning a lot out here and really enjoying stretching myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. I love you guys and enjoy reading your personal letters.
Elder Eli Andrew
PHOTO CAPTION: Beware Netherlands cliché.
PHOTO CAPTION: With Kenny at his baptism. Eli returned to Deventer for it and was a speaker.
PHOTO CAPTION: Flaunting a lekker Belgium waffle.