Wednesday, February 21, 2018

All Good Things Must Come to an End!


In the midst of our busy schedule in January we packed up and cleaned the wonderful house we have lived in.












The task was made easier by the help of our sweet missionary district. 










The church belongings packed and ready to be picked up.







 Our awesome landlord, Brother Wilhem Swart.




 We said goodbye to Jason and Kelsey…











......and spent one last night in Leiden, a beautiful city of canals and windmills and the home of the mission office.   





 

















      On Feb. 1, 2018 we left Schiphol Airport for home!  Goodbye beautiful, dear Netherlands! 


















The End is Near :)


 
With one month to go, our schedule filled up with work and good byes.  Our friends, the Fairbanks, came from Cambridge, England to visit.  We enjoyed a couple days of sightseeing with their family. We toured Zaanse Schans, visiting the klompen factory, the windmill sawmill, the cheese factory and the chocolate store.  We went to the Speelklok Museum in Utrecht and enjoyed some down time at home.   It was so fun to see how their kids had grown and how Steve’s PhD program was going.  


We spent New Year’s Eve with the other Senior couples at President and Sister Bunnell’s ringing in the New Year.  There is always oh so much delicious food and of course, the best company!  The Bunnells and the Jansens.

 We said our last good-byes to the Young Adults at institute.  First our Utrecht group and then Lelystad and Den Bosch. 
 








Franca, Sander, Julia, Chiara, Abbie, Noel, Kevin











We had one more P-day with our district.  We climbed the Dom Tower in Utrecht again, (all 465 steps!)


 










 











and had lunch at our favorite fish-n-chips place.






We attended church in Den Bosch our last Sunday and enjoyed Ward Conference, the potluck afterwards and said good bye.  
Sister Van Impelen, the Van Dams, Femke Hoornweg, and Hans Noot. 

 There is always lots of yummy food! 

January 21st was a busy day.  We drove to Rotterdam North ward for Aaron Koppe’s missionary farewell, then home to get the food we had prepared for the Jovo Dienst in Gouda. The Apeldoorn stake asked if we would provide the dinner.  Only about 35 people attended so it wasn’t huge.    We hadn’t had this regional gathering of young adults for a few months and we were excited to see all of them.  We have gotten to know young adults from all of the Netherlands and north Belgium.  Several of them are leaving on missions in the next month.  It was so good to be able to see them one last time! 

We had our last district meeting in our home.  These 6 missionaries served together for 2 transfers (12 weeks) so we got to know and love them so much! 
Elder Nielsen, Thomas, Diaz, and Clemente, Sisters Gillespie and Bitton. 







Our dear friends, the Oostveens invited us to dinner one last time.  Franca cooked a delicious Dutch dinner.  We will miss them so much!  





We had one more Senior couple activity.  The Jansens, ourselves, the Van der Puts and the Goebels will all be finishing their missions in the next 6 weeks.  We love these dedicated senior missionaries!  
We met in Leiden for lunch, a visit to the Rijks Museum to see the Nineveh exhibit and dinner. 
                              



Our dear, dear friends, Rolf and Thea Van der Put. They worked harder than anyone we have ever known! 

Our last big assignment was providing lunch for Zone conference, Jan 30th,  the day before we left….53 missionaries in two zones. 
  
This is part of what you have to bring when you provide lunch!  It’s a car full! 

  These missionaries are the very best and so appreciative of anything we do.  We did Café Rio sweet pulled pork tacos and they loved it!  I had finally found popcorn and corn syrup so I could make gooey carmel popcorn.  It was a big hit!  The Van der Puts and the Atkins helped us.  You just can’t do it alone! 






Sister Bunnell always does birthdays.  This time is was mostly the senior couples!  (and Elder Lewis 😊)




Love these missionaries!!  It was the perfect way to end our mission…..working hard and being fed spiritually. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Christmas is better with friends!



Dutch Christmas really begins on Dec. 5 with Sinterklaas.  It includes family dinners, shoes left outside the door to be filled with treats during the night, gifts after dinner and often a visit from his helper/helpers, Swarte Piet.  Our sweet friends, the Zondags in Veghal, invited us to join their family for the evening.


  It began with gourmetten, a fun, delicious way to eat.  They put grills in the middle of the table and everyone cooks whatever thin slices of meat they choose, along with vegetables and lots of side dishes.  We loved it!   









They have 2 little grandsons, Xander and Quinton.  They are so friendly and chatter away in Dutch to us : ) 









There was a loud knock at the front door and when they opened it, SinterKlaas had left a burlap bag of gifts!  There were some for all of us.  The boys were so tickled! 

The evening ended with a visit by 2 Swarte Piets! 










 It was so fun and a fabulous evening of Dutch culture with our dear friends.





We added a little touch of Christmas to Zone Conference.  The missionaries loved it and especially the funeral potatoes!






The Rotterdam and Den Haag stakes put on a Christmas play.  The costumes were amazing and the play really brought the spirit of Christmas and and helped us remember the real reason we celebrate. 




Elder Lenhart and Elder Geddes participated and did a great job! 

 








We attended the Lelystad branch Christmas party.  The entire hall was filled, everyone in the branch must have come!  There was lots of Christmas music with the YM/YW and YSA’s singing in nearly every song. It was the closest thing to a ward party back home that we have seen.  We really enjoyed it!










Our dear friends, Jan and Franca Oostveen, invited us over Christmas Eve.  She had cooked a delicious dinner with traditional Dutch food; little pork roasts and tiny potatoes with a cheesy sauce.   We watched the Christmas “Music and the Spoken Word”. 






Christmas Day the van Den Broeks, Anne Marie, Daniel and Esmee’, invited us to dinner in Sprang-Cappelle.  Anne Marie is from Norway and cooked another delicious dinner with traditional dishes.  I took traditional Mormon funeral potatoes!  








We had a wonderful afternoon and came home so the missionaries could come over and Skype with their families.  Elder Clemente from Spain visiting with his family.










Our Christmas celebrations ended with a trip to Amsterdam on Christmas Day 2 to hear Handel’s “Messiah” in the famed Amsterdam Concertgebouw. 











 It is considered the 3rd best acoustical hall in the world, after the concert halls in Vienna and Boston.  It was sooo beautiful!



 We went with the  Goebels, our senior couple missionary friends. 









Hearing the beautiful words of the scriptures recount the life and work of the Savior through Handel’s work was the perfect ending to our last Christmas season in the Netherlands. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

What was the best Christmas present ever??!

                                                                         
The kids sent a Christmas package in early December.  We opened it to find 12 flat mailing envelopes with instructions to open one a day beginning on Dec. 13.  It was to be a twelve days of Christmas treat.  We opened the first one to find a “flat Dean” (you know, like “flat Stanley” that school kids sent around the world). 


We stuck him up on our dining room wall and commented on how tall he has gotten!  We opened another one the next day to find Elle, and soon figured out that we were going to get a “flat grandchild” every day!  It was so interesting to see what they said about themselves.  They wrote messages of love and support.
 












 



 


















 
















 
 















































We put them all up on the walls in the dining room and soon we were surrounded the grandchildren that bring us so much joy!  It was the best Christmas present EVER!