Hello, everyone! Since finishing my "office Elder" duties, time has gone back to its usual distorted measure: fast days with occasional, unproportionately long moments. Elder Wilson and I have done a lot this week, from preparing zone training presentations to conversing with people about a two-minute video (#Halleleju) on the internet. It makes me quite happy giving a full thrust into my efforts, as my “office Elder” duties have almost completely vanished. I only have the occassional phone call from Elder Gross (which I thoroughly enjoy) about tasks he needs to double check. Overall, this week I felt like I was extending my arm out constantly to others, like that famous picture of Jesus with both arms open. (And that is not a self-comparison to Jesus, just His inviting manner). I am sure Jesus' arms get pretty tired sometimes – the exertion of His muscles in such a extended manner, all the time. On the other hand, if they weren't open, no one would ever be able to receive Him. So, perhaps that sums up this week for me, the precious, loving extention and exersion of "muscle" (Spirit) needed to "receive" the needs of those around you.
To describe my interaction with Elder Wilson thus far would be summed up in two words: enjoyable and entertaining. Enjoyable because he is Calgary kid, loves fly fishing and business, and this results in enjoyable stories. Entertaining because we spend most days discussing all sorts of topics, ranging from debates about the naming/arrangement of the Midwest to gaucamole. Speaking of gaucamole, we got a basic recipe idea from the Caldwells, and Elder Wilson and I have successfully made our own. If my readers would like more details on food adventures with the Tilburg Elders, let me know; I may have a few anecdotes for you in the coming weeks. Overall, Elder Wilson is a great example to me of someone who understands how God works and who can make important decisions – skills I really appreciate.
This week we experienced a number of really cool blessings. A few days ago we met a kind, well rounded Dutch lady at a door who really enjoyed giving and taking advise from us. To end the conversation, she sadly didn't want to know anything more but burst out in English, "Can I have a hug?!" I was taken by a moment of quick surprise but quickly recovered for an "incoming" hug. It was quite wonderful; Elder Wilson and I couldn't help but smile after the contact. Neither of us had ever had someone request a hug at the door before! Overall, we have had a lot of fun, unique, spiritual and sometimes just weird conversations with others.
A lot of my ideas for the zone lately have been about baptism. Although we cannot necessarily be reaching the physical ordinance of baptism every week, we can still have "baptizing moments." That isn't an excuse not to work hard or to not expect success, but over the course of my mission I have discovered an important difference in myself and in others when talking on the streets about our intentions. Are we simply looking to get someone's information? Are we just trying to pass time? I have asked myself these questions, and it leads me to the same conclusion: I am here to help people have a Spiritual experience, something that will help them discover God in their own lives. When I realize the core reason why I talk to people, it helps me to have that desire my conversations. So, instead of simply sharing a card with people, I am trying to help them understand what the meaning is behind sharing the card. Not to mention what it can mean for them. It is a really meaningful initiative for me and helps me better understand and help those around me, and in return helps me, too.
More updates to come! I hope everyone is preparing for general conference in one way or another! Free up at least some amount of time in your busy schedules to get some personal revelation yourself! Sorry to those that I have not been able to reply to yet. I hope to start catching up on that sometime!
Ik wens iedereen een fijne week toe! Een fijne pasen tijd ook! [Ed. For those without the desire to get a translation, Google says: I wish everyone a great week! A fine Easter time too!]
Elder Eli Andrew