Hey everyone! Elder Drinkwater and I just completed one of my craziest weeks yet on my mission with all the stuff we had going on. Everything held out for us and planned lessons went pretty smoothly and according to plan. So, that was a really cool blessing.
On Tuesday I got to go on a long awaited exchange with Elder Shaw, an Elder from my MTC group. It was really fun to be reunited and have a day to work together. We taught a few lessons that day, including one to an old lady Dutch lady that somehow let us in on a bell-up a few weeks back. She has actually read from the Book of Mormon and just loves the paintings in the inside cover. We had a very funny moment in the lesson when we were going over the testimony of Joseph Smith. She turned to pictures in the front and pointed her finger at the painting of Joseph Smith. She then proceeded to tell us how handsome she thought he was, and Elder Shaw and just exchanged glances, not really sure what to say. She then looked up at both of us and said, "Well, I can say that, I am an lady, but you guys can't because your boys." The simplicity of her statement was quite hilarious, and I couldn't argue with that.
This whole week we have had a huge focus on E, whose baptismal date was for yesterday. His story is pretty incredible, too, and I have a bit of personal tie into it also. For readers while I was in Zaandam, you may remember me talking about P and J. Long story short, we helped P receive the Priesthood, which he used to baptize his wife J. And this reactivation of P and the eventual baptism of his brother S got their father and mother coming to church again. And during this process, P (senior) starting talking about the church with one of his co-workers. That got his friend interested, who we have now been teaching for the last couple of months. So, it's incredible to have seen the chain of events because of a simple, single act, a missionary doing a less-active look-up. So, yeah, teaching E has been a real treat. He has lived his whole life up until now as anti-religious – completely against it. But as time went on, talking about it with his co-worker Mormon friend, his heart was softened, and his interest became peaked. He ordered a Book of Mormon online and the missionaries followed up. Since then, he has been actively seeking and feeling the promptings of the Spirit in his life. His change has been indescribably remarkable, and having a front row seat at the greatest miracle of all, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, has also changed me. During one of our last lessons before the baptism he said in his prayer he was thankful that although he has gone about his whole life with "his eyes closed" he was thankful now for the insight and enlightenment and real happiness he has begun to feel. His sincerity and desire are really what the scriptures describe as the "penitent of heart." He had a hard time getting off smoking, and he is surrounded in a work environment where everyone smokes and drinks coffee constantly, but he is becoming a shining light to everyone around him. He is a real example to me, and I am so blessed to have been able to take part of such a cool experience. His baptism was so cool; the whole ward basically hugged him afterwards.
There is so much more to tell about but so little time. I suppose you will all just have to read it in my journal after my mission or something. In closing, transfer calls rolled around again. Elder Drinkwater will now have a fun ride down to my “greenie” city, Genk, and I will be now put in a trio here in Spijkenisse with Elder Shelton and a greenie. It will be interesting for sure; knocking doors and talking to people with three will definitely overwhelm Dutch people, so I am pumped for that. Our apartment is pretty tiny, too, so accommodating will be a unique challenge. But, I have no other feeling than enthusiasm.
The work is rolling on, love and miss you guys a lot.
Elder Eli Andrew