Hello, everyone! This past week has been a busy one. Elder Wilson and I have been rocking it here in Tilburg. Our focus has been a little distracted this week, with temple conference and stake conference tacked on, with a good amount of travel, but we have stayed focused and had a dang fine week.
This past Tuesday was quite enjoyable. The weather was to our favor, and in an effort to be more effective (and save precious kilometers on the vehicle) Elder Wilson and I journeyed the streets of Tilburg on foot. If you haven’t looked at Tilburg on Google street view or maps, you aren’t missing a whole lot. Tilburg is definitely not “amazing European beauty” like the eye popping experiences I’ve had walking the glimmering canal-lined streets of Leiden, but the people here make up the difference. As we journeyed on foot we soaked in a little bit of sun (finally!), attempted a few “look-ups,” and talked to a few people, until it seemed about time to turn back towards the apartment. As we headed back a little after noon, we took a moment and did some “spur of the moment” bell-ups in an attempt to at least get a good conversation, or a lesson if possible. We pushed some buttons and one lady buzzed us in, allowing the front door to unlock. Elder Wilson quickly ran to the door and pushed it open before it locked on us. At that moment we almost butted heads with another man who was simultaneously leaving the dark, cool entry of the complex, and we exchanged quick greetings with the man. But before I knew it, Elder Wilson had taken liberty and just decided to talk to this surprised, older-looking gentlemen. Turns out the man is Christian, from Curaso, and was decently interested! We never even got to the lady who initially let us in. Instead, we chatted with this guy for a good while. By the end of our discussion, which ranged from our countries of origin to his enjoyment of reading, I was nearly dancing on the floor – that morning I drank about a liter and a half of water that was hitting my bladder. We were still far from our apartment, and with no car or free bathrooms in sight, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I took a risk and asked the man (Orlando) with whom we were speaking if I could use his bathroom. I didn’t expect a man we met twenty minutes earlier to let me up two stories and into his own apartment, but he graciously agreed, and I somewhat patiently followed him up. This lead to great teaching opportunity afterwards, and he let us sit down on the couch with him for a short lesson. Orlando has had many eye operations and can’t see very well. This disappointment is deepened by the fact that he loves cars but probably won’t ever be able to drive again. He showed us his model cars, of which Elder Wilson fondly admired the Nissan GTR, and also his reading machine. It was a sort of computer screen that magnified and displayed whatever you put in front of the reader below. Despite this difficulty reading, he accepted a Book of Mormon in Papiemento (only a partial translation), and we continued with our day. That evening we had a miracle, too, and were able to teach a lesson on the door with a family. It was nice to follow little promptings and ideas that Elder Wilson and I both had to work together to achieve.
Thursday was temple conference. We had Harry van den Sande sleep over at our house. A quick filler about Harry: he is an 85-year-old man, member of the Church, and has been doing full-time missionary work for over 30 years. It’s his passion. He wears a suit everyday and even has “Elder van de Sande” nametags. He is an inspirational and funny man. He always comes to “Keukenhof” with the missionaries, and he was allowed to sleep over in Tilburg with us the night before! We woke up early that next morning (5:30) and headed to our 8:00 a.m. session at the temple. It was a great last temple conference, and I enjoyed the quiet peace of the temple. I devoured a little too much Dominos Pizza, and we went around and looked at the flowers again. Honestly, I can’t say I love looking at flowers for multiple hours on end, but I did get to spend quality time with Elders Steenblik and DeWitt. We wandered around the gardens, cracked jokes, and snapped a few pictures. The funny moment of the day was Harry van de Sande’s exhaustion from the whole day. An 85-year-old man on his feet the whole day! His face was beat red, and I knew he would sleep well that night.
As always, thank you for the support and prayers. I hope I can do my best in reflecting that feeling of love also.
Elder Eli Andrew
EXTRAS: NOTES FROM 4-11-16 EMAILS:
We got to have two exchanges this week. Both companionships (Roosendaal and Den Bosch Elders) worked with us in Tilburg. A cool chain of events has lead to a real blessing here in Tilburg. An investigator gave us his mother's information, but the mother wasn't home when we were in the neighborhood. We rang some "bell-ups" in the old folks neighborhood, and on the next section of houses a lady opened her window, recognized us immediately, and said she really needed to talk to us. More details to come, but she met with Elder missionaries seven years ago in Gouda and knows us coming by at this time in her life wasn't coincidence! Super cool.
Oh, fun note: the Elders Quorum president in the Tilburg Ward is 23 and served in the Spain Malaga Mission about 1 1/2 years ago, and you know what that means! He served with Hermana Casey Andrew! It was a fun little discovery, and to confirm that we were talking about the same person he asked me if she could play piano really well and showed a mission picture, too. It was her, alright! He served as her zone leader for a while, and his last name is "Ramirez." First name Fernando I believe? Cool guy and small world, eh?