A good description of this week: exchanges. For a number of combined reasons, we ended up having a number of exchanges this week making for constant busyness, a good number of laughs, and the occasional case of sleep deprivation. I loved this week, and it just flew by. Things are starting to cool down here in the Netherlands, and perhaps the chilly autumn months are actually approaching! I had kind of forgotten my desire to slip on a pair of warm, slim, rain-proof gloves that I so dearly love.
Funny things can happen on missions. And we had one of those moments this past Monday. Our recent convert, Edwin, wanted to have us over for dinner, and we gladly agreed. He also talked to us about a movie he had found on the internet, as he has been happily enjoying all sorts of church productions to my surprise. But the film he started describing involved all sorts of weird events, including a plot surrounding Mormon missionaries in Africa and explosives and all sorts of interesting things. I came to the conclusion that we would first have to ask for permission before watching it with him, assuming that it wasn’t "Finding Faith in Christ." So, on Monday evening we scrambled out of the apartment to catch a bus leaving within a few minutes. As almost all of my companions know, I am kind of always "last minute" for things, and we had to pray and walk very quickly in order to catch this crucially important bus. Dutch people hate it when you are late. So, we arrived well, with another member we brought along, and Edwin invited us to sit, so we plopped ourselves down on the couch as usual. After chit-chatting for a while, he asked us again about the movie, and we told him we just didn't get around to figuring it out. To our surprise, he closed the blinds, served dinner on the coffee table, and started rolling the film. I am not sure why this story is worth telling, but I could feel it was Edwin giving us a "thank you" for everything we had helped him with, and for us helping and supporting him as he was so diligently preparing for baptism a few weeks prior. It was a fun evening, not because of the “apostate” watching of a movie, but it made me happy seeing him so joyous about enjoying his new membership in the church.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe “Freetown” is the film Eli is referring to, which follows the faith-filled and courageous story of six LDS missionaries in war-torn Liberia who flee to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to continue their proselytizing.)
A few weeks ago we were knocking some doors located close to our metro station when we finally struck a little gold with a pretty weak potential investigator that just said to “Come back another time." Well, Wednesday we spent our normal afternoon of doing look ups and just having conversations with people on the streets when I asked Elder Shelton, "Should we look up that weak potential we found?" And as a typical Elder Shelton response, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Why not?" So, we mounted up, all three of us on our silver steeds, and went to the previously mentioned door. And yes, she was home and invited us in! One of the blessings of being in a three-man is you never have to worry about the "three-man rule," because you do have a third man! We entered cautiously into the dark, bare apartment. She told us to sit, and we started talking. To our surprise she was very open, had incredibly accurate ideas about faith despite being from a Muslim background, and had an amazing ability to discern "wordly things from important things" in life. We taught her the first lesson and all had a prayer in our hearts that she was feeling something, and we testified of gospel truth. She listened intently and was very excited about the Book of Mormon. Who would have known! Little miracles like that remind me of the power of the gospel and heart-piercing truth that enters into the sincere heart. One thing I have come to treasure on my mission is the rush of excitement I feel after teaching a powerful lesson, and after that lesson we biked home for a late 3 p.m. lunch, all smiles.
Friday I got to enjoy an exchange with Elder Fredrico who joined the three-man with Elder Shelton and I for a day. Elder Fredrico is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and we spent the afternoon doing what he calls "Portuguese finding." Portuguese finding involves walking around apartment complexes, looking at all the names listed we can bell up, and trying the ones that could possibly be a Spanish or Portuguese person. The conversation would go as follows: "Good afternoon, m ‘am, we are missionaries from the Mormon church and we are just talking with people today about faith. I saw your name and wanted to ask you if you speak Portuguese. Yes? Okay, Could I speak Portuguese with you?!" The rest is history and either involves a conversation about how sad Dutch weather is, religion, or that they don't really want to talk. But it was entertaining, I enjoyed it.
Love you guys a lot, thanks for all the support, and don't forget: I love receiving personal emails, so don't be shy!
Elder Eli Andrew