Hello, everyone! It is Saturday morning, and the sun is shining – two things that make me very happy to start writing this email. Per usual, a lot has happened these past three weeks or so. More than a little weekly email could even start to fathom, but I hope to enlighten you with the small, minor details and some of the more striking moments that have taken place.
If not previously mentioned, our office replacements are here! Elder Gross took a long train ride from Groningen, and Elder Solomon arrived from my former area of Deventer, and we are now a combined force of four office Elders for three weeks. It has been a blast; it reminds me strongly of when I first came in and suddenly I was in a five-man. It is a real struggle (for me, at least) deciding who will take the first shower, but going to dinner appointments as a companionship of four is full of laughs. Elder Gross has been learning well. He has a great memory. It is natural to be overwhelmed, especially since coming from good ol´ missionary life, your main concern being those around you and, quite simply, teaching. But I love how Elder Gross put it: “In normal missionary life you have to find to work, but in the office the work finds you.” That is a very good description of my time in the office. The daily tasks and problem solving have been a privilege to do, and yes it is a privilege. But as Elder Gross finely stated, the work really does find you.
We have also been super busy with our “Lamb of God” DVD campaign. Elder Evans left us and forgot to train us to take over the referral campaigns, so us four office Elders have been scrambling to perform our normal tasks and somehow manage the rush of referrals flooding into the Church´s mailbox. We have tallied 447 logged referrals. I am proud of all of us – we stayed in the office way after normal hours to finally catch up with the load. Another funny note, when the packages were ready for mailing we stuffed every mailbox in the vicinity of Leiden Centraal FULL of the DVD packages. It was hilarious – no one could really put mail in the “overige post” after us.
Elder Cook and I had a cool experience this past Tuesday. Upon finishing our normal office work and after rushing to a dinner appointment of a steaming pot of lasagna, I felt the impression to go look up one of our investigators that we hadn´t seen for a about a week. I had received that feeling the night prior, and the thought kept coming back to me during the day, so I told him I couldn´t ignore it. We left our scheduled plan and headed to Katwijk. We had a few good conversations and finally approached the door of our investigator, J. Turns out he wasn´t there, just his sister who seemed to be having a party of some sort. Confused, we talked to her and she was also willing to talk with us another time and accepted a card invitation, and she also wants to have us over for dinner. After that, Elder Cook reminded me of another investigator that had dropped us over the phone months ago. We got in the car and parked outside where we though the apartment was. As we got out of the car I saw someone approaching us from the sidewalk. I peered into the dark to get a good look, and to my amazement it was our former investigator! The old, kind Dutch gentleman warmly greeted us and invited us back into his house, still apprehensive that we were going to try to convince him or something (silly, I know). He was warm and friendly, but sadly he had dropped his faith in Christianity and was now into Buddism. His neighbor is Jesus crazy though (seriously, her car is decked out with Jesus stickers and her apartment window is flooded with crosses – I´d like to meet her some time) and continues to help him, console, and invite him to Christ. It was a nice lesson, and we shared personal stories through the scriptures with him and left. He didn´t want anything more, but it was a cool turn of events from the evening we had planned. I pray each of us can be sensitive and humble and not to mention willing enough to ask for promptings of the Spirit. Some of the most significant and life changing events in our lives can be missed if we aren´t tuned in enough or willing to act upon those gentle thoughts, impressions, and feelings that the Holy Ghost can bring. I like to think of it this way: the Spirit of God is willing, but are we?
I look forward to the coming period of my mission. Serving in the office has been blessing my life. I am still very imperfect, but I am learning how God learns and works with imperfection. I hope you can all continue to make continual daily progression, and don´t forget to write it down because you will need to remember God in times of need.
Thank you for your prayers, emails, even thoughts on my behalf. I have truly felt those things nudge, invite, and encourage me to keep going forward.
Met liefde en vriendelijk groet,
Elder Eli Andrew
Elder Cook and I helped the Robison´s clear out the Hoorn apartment and then dropped off stuff in the Lelystad apartment. Check Google maps for the fastest way from Hoorn to Lelystad. We went over the Ijsselmeer land bridge, it was awesome.
Zuster van der Vet! She has been in the Leiden Ward for years, and her parents sheltered Jews in World War II
I payed 3.5 for this pitiful sight.
Elder Gross and I with.. a rid-able bike?
Here I am with a kid walking his... pig?
Here's a guy teaching us how they make "klompen". Special machines bore holes inside, outside, and all around a block of wood in order to make the finished creation. He did it within 5 minutes.
Here I am. Same place. One year later. What's changed? I look a little more tired and still need a hair cut. Oh, and I have a stronger testimony too :)