Hey everyone! We had another good week here in Leiden – Elders Cook, Evans and I. Transfer weeks are always super busy – ushering in the new missionaries, saying goodbye to departing missionaries, and all the work that needs to be done in between. It was bitter sweet saying goodbye to a good group of missionaries – ones who I have been pretty close to and have lead this mission. Made me really appreciate how cool of an opportunity it is to serve God full-time. We only have that chance once, as missionaries. A lot has been on my mind lately, and I am excited to share a few experiences of the week. Enjoy.
So, has anyone ever been to Ethiopia? Me neither. A few weeks ago, Elder Cook and I had about 10 minutes before we needed to head out for a dinner appointment. So, what did we do? Talk to people of course! We gave a card to a shy African-looking guy, and he requested the address of our church to be written on the back, so we gave it. Guess what? He showed up at church that Sunday! We finally got back in contact with him, and Elder Evans and I taught him on Wednesday, in spite of the craziness of departing missionaries. He has been here for four years, just living the typical refugee life. Far away from home, not many people he knows, just trying to make the best of it. What was so cool was asking him his experience of God. He said simply but powerfully how God has always helped him. He always prays. Wow. His simple and pure example really touched me. He simply has no other choice – he can't hide or ignore God. He sees the need. Sadly, in our world today it is so easy to not see the need of a Savior or religion. For some people it isn't the center of their lives – just sort of put on the side. But H, he relies and depends on God, and that is so cool. I think we would all be a little bit happier in our own lives when we just realize how much we really do need God. Our small talk lead nicely into talking about the nature of God. He committed without a doubt to coming to church again this Sunday. I am excited for H. He understands God's important role in our lives and seems pretty willing to act on his feelings.
I have a funny story. Last week was Stake conference, and we had church in Zoetermeer with the entire Den Haag stake (it was great!), including the American Wassenaar ward. I had remembered H a day or two earlier, and I knew it would be good to call him, but I didn't. I called him after stake conference and to my sorrow he had showed up at church like normal in Leiden and was totally perplexed by the locked doors and that no one was there! I was so sad to hear that! But he recovered quickly and understood, luckily.
The Christmas season is really here! I am excited for next Friday, and I hope you guys are, too! Make it a good one, everyone, and don't forget to find a way to do something out of the ordinary to reach out to others. In my own words, "be unconventional" in celebration of the Savior's birth.
As my companion Elder Cook so finely stated at a dinner appointment, "Jesus is the reason for the season!"
Love you all!
Elder Eli Andrew