Friday, August 26, 2016

We have made our first street contacts :)

We have had a couple great street contacts!

The first one took last Utrecht....We went to the sister’s apartment in Utrecht to do some laundry.  We found their place and a parking space which seemed too good to be true!  We quickly pulled into it and tried to see where we paid for parking.  We couldn’t find it but a man in his 30’s pulled up nearby and got out so I jumped out to ask him about it. Here is the conversation as closely as I can re-create it :)

Me: Excuse me, can you tell me where we pay for parking?
Him: It’s free. (he is a happy smiley friendly guy)
Me: That’s great!
Him: Where are you from?
Me: From US, (pointing to my missionary tag) We're missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We’re here for 18 months.
Him: Something about where the church is
Me: it’s somewhere near here.  We came on Sunday but I don’t know exactly where it is.  We just follow the GPS. (laughing)
Him:  (as he laughed and walked off)  I thought you followed Jesus!

I just started laughing! I didn't have any response to that!

The second was yesterday. We were in Deventer with Elder and Zuster Hill.  We were walking along the river on the way to the grocery store. There, along the path was a bench with a darling little elderly couple in their mid-eighties, sitting, his arm around her.  I stopped to say hello in Dutch. (I wanted to practice my Dutch:) They were so cute!  He wanted to talk, she was shy.  Elder Hill speaks Dutch so he spoke occasionally in Dutch but most of the conversation was in English.  I said we were missionaries for the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”. He said, Oh, in America.  We said “all over the world and here in the Netherlands”.  We chatted about their family. They have been married 60 years, have 4 children, and he said, “everyday is the best day of my life since I married my wife”!  (she ducked her head and smiled).  Somehow we got to talking about family history and Elder Hill had a Family Search card so I gave it to the gentleman.  He said he knew of this website, he had seen the advertisements.  It was a lovely, heartwarming conversation.  I wanted to sit awhile and chat and take a picture but didn’t know how they would feel about a picture and didn’t want to offend.  It sounds like such a mundane experience as I write it but I left feeling so happy, amazed and thrilled with the everyday conversation with such sweet people and that we had taught them at least a tiny bit about the Church through family history.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

We need to learn Dutch!

Pres. Bunnell told us we didn't need to know Dutch to serve.....probably not with the Young Single Adults but ALL the meetings are in Dutch!  Today there wasn't anyone to translate so we just listened to the Spirit in Sacrament Meeting.  There was someone in Sunday School and RS/Priesthood who was willing to whisper in our ears.  It is exhausting! We've decided to really consecrate ourselves to this mission and try to learn Dutch.
We have started with a language app, Duolingo, and have resorted to asking our language questions to anyone we see.  We ran into a couple of the Mission office elders at The Hague temple yesterday and bribed them with lunch at McDonald's if they would give us some language help and figure out our cell phone issues!  They were happy to oblige!  We think it impossible to learn a new language but I made a list of the words we know today, compared with NONE a week ago when we arrived and we feel hope and faith that the Lord will help us accomplish this! Here is the list:

the, and, or, she, they, we, you, child, boy, girl, man, woman, church, Jesus Christ, book, read, father, mother, sister, brother, drink, sandwich, milk, juice, menu, help, thank you, not, yes, no and I. 

I can say "Ik heet Zuster Christensen", roughly... I'm called Sister Christensen  and
"Hoe heet jij?"  roughly, what are you called. (I said these to a primary child today and she understood:)      So maybe we'll get there!  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Starting to get around :)

We left Leiden for Zeist on Monday evening.  We are staying in this cottage until Sept. 1, when our permanent residence will be available.  It's darling and will do nicely :).  
We stayed one night and headed for Groningen, in the North of the Netherlands on Tues. morning.  We found our way with the help of the gps and stopped in Zwolle for Zone leader training.  The zone leaders did a great job of teaching us what a good door approach looks like.  I haven't tried it yet but hope to.  I have managed to tell 5 people we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  (baby steps!).
From there we continued on to Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands to stay with the Elder and Zuster Caldwell.  They taught us several things.. to ride bikes like the Dutch,...
How to love eating poffertjes (think donut holes but out of pancakes). It's really the berries, whipped cream and chocolate!

and where the first LDS baptisms took place in the Netherlands in 1861.  
We shared a new member discussion with the Elders and the Caldwells on Thursday and then managed to navigate ourselves back to Zeist.  
We have spent today getting organized...found a grocery store, set up a local bank account, found the information center in Zeist, managed to park successfully in downtown Zeist, drove by our permanent  residence, and located the meetinghouse in Utrecht where we will be attending regularly. 
We are hoping to meet the Bishop and find out how we can begin helping.  We also hope to meet the Elders and Sisters serving in the ward to find out if we can assist them or go out with them!  (and it rained today for the first time since we arrived, tho they say it rains most of the time...can't prove it by's been gorgeous since we arrived a week ago!). 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Getting to know you :)

We are in Leiden, where the Mission office is until tomorrow when we will get our car and head to Zeist.  The Van der Puts, the local couple who serve in the office and Mission presidency were so kind and took us to a Dutch ward in Leiden, then to their home in Zoetermeer for lunch.  We saw new sights and met new friends!  It was wonderful and we hope to see some of them during our service in Zeist.
We saw The Hague, Netherlands temple.  They are just now doing all the ground planting.  It will be beautiful when done.

The chapel in Zoetermeer.  It is the largest in the Netherlands and has this cool covered bike rack!  We found out there is an expat English speaking ward here. (we will not be attending it :).  We have downloaded an app to help us learn Dutch. Pray for us!

It was a perfect sunny day and downtown Leiden was crowded with people enjoying it!  The canals had many boats putting up and down.....the people just relaxing, snacking and hanging out on the canals!

We are excited to meet the people of Zeist! (and we definitely need bicycles!).

Saturday, August 13, 2016

We have arrived

We have arrived! Our Mission President, Pres. Bunnell and his wife Sister Bunnell....we will love serving with them!

Double decker bike parking at the train station...and I thought China had a lot of bikes!!  We had to be vigilant to keep from being run over by bikers when we walked around Leiden last evening!
Jet lag......hopefully we'll be over it soon :)

Quick Facts about The Netherlands

Mom & Dad made it to Amsterdam!  
Here are some fun quick facts about The Netherlands:
Average Summer Temp: 63 degrees
Average Winter Temp: 37 degrees
The Netherlands is the most densely populated nation in Europe at 487 people per sq km.
The highest point in The Netherlands is 322.7 meters above sea level, and a quarter of the country is below sea level.
Dutch people are the tallest in the world - over 6 feet for men and 5.5 feet for women!
86% of the Dutch speak English - thank heavens!
Dutch tulips came from Turkey.

saying good bye

We said
good bye

It wasn't easy :( but all the love and support made it possible!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

It is for me

As we leave the MTC.....
     We have been taught, reminded and had emphasized that our purpose is to bring souls to Jesus Christ.....individual souls.  Over the years as we have taught lessons and given talks, we do so in the general sense, using the pronoun "we" as we teach principles and strengthen one another. This week has reminded me that the Savior's life, atonement, death and resurrection is personal...It is for me.  I will more often think.... "the Savior and I", the atonement is for "me", and "He is my brother".  A gift beyond measure.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Surviving and thriving!

Our MTC district :).  They have all left family; some have health issues, some very nervous about the whole thing and the oldest couple, 80 & 82 are still going strong after years of service as mission president, institute missionaries, several couple missions and now as the Stake patriarch! He is sitting humbly in our "Preach My Gospel" class prior to them serving another 18 month mission in Virginia, being taught by young returned missionaries .  They are an amazing example that inspires us to do better and be better!
The MTC has been wonderful!  One of the things that make this a great experience is the extraordinary care they show to the Senior Couples.  From having young elders meet us at our car to carry our luggage, to small plastic footstools in the meeting room so no one with short legs has to dangle their feet, to the detailed schedule they provide, to the reserved seating at the devotional so we don't have to sit on the bleachers and the frequent lesson breaks....all this made us feel that we are loved, cared for, and that the sacrifice we have made to serve is understood and greatly appreciated.  It has been so fun to be around all the young missionaries.  We have seen 3 from our stake!  We have really learned and feel so much better prepared to go forth and serve the Young Single Adults in the Netherlands!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Day 1 of a new adventure

Aug. 1, 2016, our first day at the Provo Missionary Training Center!  Ultra smooth registration process, sooo nice!  A few thoughts....1) 56 couples arrived today, which pales in comparison to the 840 young missionaries they are expecting on Wed.!  2) We have felt comfortable, engaged, and well cared for, 3) No doubts that this is where we are to be today :), 4) but I won't lie....when we walked down the street in the sunshine I really wanted to be outside on this beautiful summer day playing with our grandbabies!, and 5) wearing these missionary badges makes it feel much more official and totally exciting!