Well this has been your typical crazy transfer week in the Belgium/Netherlands mission! What can I say? Getting new companions, lots of traveling, figuring out new schedules, and finally settling in. This transfer day broke a new record for me. I wasn't home until 10:15 p.m.! This week was very successful and fun, especially with two new companions.
Early this week it was the bittersweet last couple of days for Elder Drinkwater. We visited a number of members and said good-bye, and I was just so impressed by how sorrowful he was leaving his first city. For clarification, it is sad having to leave, but his pure love for the members here in Spijkenisse was very special to see. Makes me want to love the people around me even more. Tuesday evening came and went, and as we arrived home we realized we had forgotten to visit the cool part-member family that we work with, Frank den B and Zr. V. Frank is just a normal guy, born here in the Netherlands and super receptive to spiritual things despite not being a member. He's a quieter type, but very personable and funny. Zr. V is a member from Costa Rice and was found a long time ago by knocking on her door. She always jokes, because wherever she goes the Church usually follows one way or another. Late that evening Elder Drinkwater called them and told them he would be leaving the next morning. To my surprise, they promptly replied, “we´re coming,” and they showed up at our door to wish Elder Drinkwater good bye. We had a nice conversation, and it was a nice surprise for Drinkwater´s last day.
I arrived in Rotterdam Centraal at 10 a.m. and started the long wait for my two new companions, Elder Henrichson and Elder Shelton. Elder Shelton was training, so I knew it would take a little while before they would actually leave Leiden because of legality stuff with the 25 new missionaries. So, I spent the whole morning/afternoon sitting on a bench and helping missionaries with their luggage occasionally. A wrench was thrown in the day when someone jumped in front a train between Rotterdam Centraal and Den Haag, so all trains were at a still stand for over an hour trying to get things back in order. It is of course a very sad thing to hear, but it was very eventful because it just made things even more exciting and crazy trying to get people to their new cities and so forth. But eventually, after an evening with the Schiedam Elders because the wait was so long, my new companions arrived around 9 p.m.! So, there you have it: my craziest transfer day yet.
The rest of the week was pretty normal. It has been really fun doing “firsts” with Elder Henrichson. For example: his first street contact, first door, first dinner appointment … the list could go on. We have been doing a lot of walking, because we don´t all have functioning bikes yet. So, I have really enjoyed swarming people on the streets in our, as Elder Shelton calls it, “tripanionship of destiny.” I am excited for this transfer. We work pretty well together and talk about all sorts of interesting world events.
At our routine dinner appointment on Thursday with the Pieplenbosch family I shared a Spiritual message that turned out to be very spiritual and applicable to them. In my studies I am busy reading the Book of Mormon now, in Dutch. It´s so awesome reading it in a different language. Different scriptures stick out for me when reading it in Dutch. But I shared with them the first two verses of 2 Nephi chapter 2. In these verses Lehi is addressing his son Jacob who was born in the wilderness. What was very cool is in verse 2, which paraphrased Lehi addressing his son, by saying that despite being born into such harsh conditions, having such a rough life, it will be for your well being and will strengthen your relationship with God. After talking and explaining the two verses we opened it for a discussion. We asked for similar experiences where, despite hard conditions or because of difficult circumstances, they were able to draw closer to the Lord. And one of the family members said something that I have been thinking about a lot this week. He said, as translated, “We should be creators of our own circumstances, not creations of our circumstances.” So, my hope for everyone this week is that we can be agents and be 100% responsible for the results we get in life and, through that, draw closer to the Lord. It can be very tempting to push the blame on someone else, blaming our outside circumstances, looking outward when we should really be looking inward. I love this principle. It is scattered throughout 2 Nephi 2 – being our own agents instead of being objects or "creations of our own circumstances." That's one of the great blessings of the gospel: we not only become fully responsible for our own actions but we have the difficult but incredibly rewarding responsibility to do the will of Christ also.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers daily.
Elder Eli Andrew