Hello everyone! Saturday morning has arrived once again! It is crazy how days and weeks fold over on each other and suddenly it's P-day again. Kind of scares me, to be honest. These past weeks have been full of fun missionary activities, busy end-of-the-year office work, and me trying to understand and get into that special Christmas Spirit. I am also happy to announce that Elder Evans is finally back with us! The little Belgian only has six or seven weeks left on his mission, but he's back in action after being sick for a while. I heard the buzzer go off the other night while Elder Cook and I were making dinner and low and behold, I opened the door and gave Elder Evans a big old "welcome back" grin. It's good having him back.
Amidst the busy schedule of the office, we have had a couple of really cool teaching opportunities. This past week we had our Christmas zone conference, and the Amsterdam Elders gave a really cool presentation on a new way to teach investigators. One of the Elders didn't get his visa for three transfers, so he spent time in a New York mission, and he has brought a few really cool ideas with him. In short, you basically have the investigators teach you. If you can imagine turning the pages of the Restoration pamphlet, you talk about the nature of God, His love for us, the importance of families, prophets, etc. But in this teaching method, you show them the pictures and ask them questions about what they see and what they think it means. We have an investigator we found on the street, and we decided to try the new teaching method with him. His name is Adam. He's been in the Netherlands for eight years, has three daughters that aren't living with him currently, and he is just super grateful to meet with us. We began with prayer as normal. We made a weak attempt and invited him to, but his nerves overcame him, so we prayed. We then started turning the pages of the pamphlet, me fighting the urge to just teach principles, and we searched for his understanding instead. It was super cool – Adam ended up testifying to himself of what we taught, and we just backed up the principles with our own testimonies. By the end, we reached the picture of the girl praying over the Book of Mormon. We had him describe to us what he thought of the picture, why it was important, and how to do it. He thought it was super important what she was doing. We posed the question for the second time if he wanted to pray, and for 30 seconds we bowed our heads in silence. But he looked up at us, glanced at the pamphlet again, and then bowed his head and began to pray. The rest is history, but the real, sincere prayers of an honest investigator are one of the most special things you can experience.
Yesterday was our first day back on our Belgium trip schedule, since Brussels is finally down to a security level of three. With the attacks in Paris and suspicion in Brussels things have been a little more high strung. Except, not in the Netherlands. The Dutch people were pretty shocked with the world events taking place in their backyard, but life has continued as normal. Because of another missionary legality issue we had to take a pit stop in Gent yesterday to sign a Sister in. It was great whipping through round-a-bouts in our big, blue mission van (code name: "Papa Smurf") and gazing at the enormous old churches scattered throughout Gent. Afterwards, we found a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat buffet, and that made the highlight of the day, not eating the typical Belgium fries, but rather devouring eight slices of American pizza on a Friday afternoon.
Lastly, I have been trying to discover that "real Spirit of Christmas" people talk about so often this time of year. I got to experience it last night. But before that, I think we all know what it is: feeling the special light of Christ in our lives, remembering His eternal sacrifice, and reaching our hands out to others. But I wonder sometimes, to what extent do we actually put things into action? I know I can do better, and for this Christmas I am excited to have the special remembrance of Christ and to share it with others. We had the opportunity to go to a Christmas concert last night, a concert put together by missionaries, and it hit everything Christmas should be! They intertwined telling classic Christmas stories like Scrooge and tying them into Christmas songs. It was fantastic. The chapel was almost bursting full with people, and the combination of a professional violinist with amazing vocals and an incredible storyline made for a sick concert.
I hope everyone is doing well back in the States! Thank you so much to all those who put a hand on my tree. I had to stay up late one evening just to read them all. So, thank you! Also thanks to those who have sent packages and other goodies. I appreciate it a lot.
Have a great week everyone!
Elder Eli Andrew
PHOTO CAPTION: The mission front office, with Elder Cook (left) who does legality, and Elder Andrew who does finance.
12/12/15 EMAIL NUGGETS
· We visit a family that lives in Nieuw-Vennep, not in our area technically, but they are super fun and the husband served his mission back in the day in Arizona. He has a bunch of Navajo carvings and Indian stuff in a special glass case, and I love talking to him about it since [Dad] served there, also. But how about that? A Dutch man with a treasured Navajo collection? You don't see that too often.