Zone conference in Apeldoorn this week. Lovely to be back in Holland even if for a few short, short hours. It was, of course, powerful. I wish everyone could experience a zone conference in the European missions.
Being in Holland included a short overnight stay in Amsterdam!!! This was a highlight of my mission; returning to my first city and seeing how much has changed since that time. Naturally the city is exactly as it has always been, but with everything that’s happened to me in the three plus months away, it had a completely different look and feel. I can't believe how much I've changed (for the good I hope ) in the course of my 18 month mission. Ii still have 6 months remaining and I am excited to see again how far we've come. "We" because it truly is me and the Lord. I'm not going this alone.
To Zuster Ekstrom and my favorite elders, Kim and familie Zwaan, Marijke, Claire, Elisabeth, and so many others: thank you for beautifying and defining my Amsterdam experience.
This week Zuster Holbein and I were invited to Joseph and Grace's - an African family in our ward - home for a "surprise" they had - to show their appreciation for everything we've been doing for their family. Their "surprise" was Moni, a friend of theirs for us to teach the gospel to with a special surprise of her own: an African delicacy - scales, fins, bones, eyes and all still attached.
Yes, I ate it all. and no, I did not protest. I was praying to almighty God with each bite and somehow, I survived the evening appointment with no suspicion from anyone that I do not like or even eat fish.
And by the way, this was a onetime deal only. I’m never, no never, eating fish again.
ik houd van jullie.
al mijn liefde,
Monday, June 7, 2010
"It is futile to explain that which is unexplainable. Surely we are blessed by the Lord's tender mercies." -Elder David a Bednar
Oh my ridiculousness, this transfer has been filled with ongoing miracles. It’s beyond writing when, clearly, words are not enough.
Zuster Holbein and I have been literally surrounded by angels in Antwerpen these weeks and the work is moving forth at an astonishing pace. Let me share an amazing happenstance: following district meeting on Tuesday afternoon, we set out (starving because we had absolutely no money to afford even a McDonalds dollar menu item) to catch our #6 tram to our next appointment but ran to JUST miss it as it pulled away. I could've reached out and touched it, it was that close. Argh…. So, Zuster Holbein suggests we make some calls while waiting for the next one. But she pulls out the phone and it's telling us that the SIM card is rejected. watblieft?? So. Strange. Well, a little desperate (and looking like homeless people as we're carrying several huge cardboard boxes...long story) we look around to see a #3 pull up on the tracks. ok, ok, ok...you don't understand but that does NOT happen in Antwerpen. The #3 does NOT go there. But without even flagging it down, it stops before us and opens the doors for us (also a near impossibility). Without thinking, we jump onto an *I-kid-you-not* completely empty tram. Expecting it to follow the #6 route, imagine our further surprise when it turns off track and takes us northward. Things are definitely strange here, I tell you. While Zuster Holbein is trying to figure out how the heck to get down to south, I suddenly remember that there live some former investigators in this area we then found ourselves in. So...we feel a surge of excitement thinking that this is certainly no coincidence - but the hand of God and the tram driver, who must be one of the three Nephites or something. Anyhow, we're walking toward Scarlet's, her door in sight down the road and we are stopped by a Muslim-looking man (no discrimination at all, but we generally don't approach them unless we have time for a comparative religion discussion) who steps in front of us, asks us if we speak Dutch and then inquires who we are and what we teach. Absolutely. And this commenced to be one of the most incredible contacts of my mission. We taught him about revelation, the book of Mormon, the godhead. His three young daughters come out and join him. Turns out, his name is Sebastian, he's Jehovah’s Witness and from Macedonia… and is totally loving our message. And they asked us if we were allowed to come teach them more at their home. And they have the light in their eyes.
Unbelievable, the feeling there. Undeniable that every odd event led us to them and that miracles have not ceased among the children of men. I add my testimony to Moroni's. This is his work and he has charge. And all the forces of this earth obey his will and pleasure. Yes, this man Sebastian is that valuable. One soul brought to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is worth every effort, every event. I have so much faith (and do not wish to lose it) that this man and his family shall accept that and endure to the end.
And…… on top of that, 7 investigators were found this week, Broder Willems, the husband of one of our favorite sisters in the ward, was baptized this weekend (34 years after the missionaries knocked on their door) and many more lessons were taught and commitments kept. I LOVE this labor of love.