Monday, September 26, 2016

Do we blend in?

           Last week we made another trip to Rijswijk to pick up our Netherlands residency cards.  We all feel so official! No more carrying around our passports.

The bike shop in Utrecht

Then Saturday we became real Netherlanders.....we got bikes!
If you are first to the intersection you
get to hold onto the post while you
wait for the light!

We rode the 11 kilometers home from Utrecht to Zeist.  We used Google maps on Joe's phone to plot the route.  We stopped a few times to check our map, stopped for a 15 min. lunch picnic, stopped at the grocery store just before we got home for milk and all that only took an hour!  We love the flat terrain!  We got some strange looks but not because I was biking in a dress and heels (everyone here does that!), but because we were wearing helmets!  Strict mission rule.  The Dutch rarely wear them.

The country between Zeist and

Arriving at our back door.

Later in the day we rode the mile into downtown Zeist.  It was so relaxing to pedal there where the bikes have priority on the narrow, busy streets.  So much easier than driving the car and finding a parking place :)    We are so happy!  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Whew! yes, we came here to work...

A week and a half ago we began what was the busiest week since Aug. 1. We....

Spoke in the Utrecht Ward on Sunday the 11th, drove to the Den Bosch ward (40 min. away) for a returned missionary potluck lunch ( I took apple crisp)  and homecoming.    
Monday we drove to Rotterdam (50 min.) for Zone p-day.  We played and afterward Joe & I gave a spiritual message on fasting. (the zone had a fast day on Tues. :)
Tues. we prepped food to feed 56 at
Zone Conference and desert for Wed. Institute.
Soft shell tacos, fruit salad, guacamole, chips, cookies and ice cream.  Elder and Zuster Reeves helped with the salad and desert, thank heavens!
Brownies for institute.

         Wed. we left at 7:30 AM for Rotterdam and Zone Conference. We fed the missionaries, gave a presentation on goal setting and helped Zuster Bunnell with a short presentation on exercise.  We headed home at 4:30 PM.

We unloaded, regrouped, picked up our brownies and drove to Utrecht (20 min.) for our first institute class.  We organized the small group of 3, taught a short lesson and had treats!


Friday we left very early, drove to Leiden to pick up the Reeves, then south to Brussels to start the process for our
Belgium residency cards.  The office elders took us to the best places in Brussels for frites and waffles!  Soooo delicious!  Almost worth the 12 hour day:)

Saturday I attended the Utrecht Ward Annual Relief
Society activity. It began with a 2 hour tour of a nearby castle (in Dutch), then back to the church for a pizza dinner, followed by a travelogue by a sister who had been to Utah recently (also in Dutch), then a 2 hour movie about a woman who had lived in the castle (also in Dutch!) By then the activity was going on 5 1/2 hours...I begged off and got Joe to come pick me up!

Sunday we drove to Gouda (40 min.) for the monthly Young Single Adult church service. The YSA's in all 4 stakes in the Netherlands come.  Some have a 2 or more hour train ride.  Few of them have cars. They have a 1 hour fireside, followed by dinner, followed by Sacrament Meeting.  Our responsibility that day was the 1 hour fireside.  We were asked to introduce ourselves and speak about 2 Nephi 31:20 "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ....".  We were very nervous!  There were about 70 in attendance.  It turned out satisfactorily :)   We had a meeting during the dinner hour of all the senior couples serving with the YSA's.

By the time we arrived home  Sunday night we felt about as "pressed forward" as we could get!  In the last week we had been in the car 19 hours, done food for 3 events and given some sort of talk or thought 6 times.  YES!  We came here to work!!!

Friday, September 16, 2016

I know why we're here

This week the subject at Zone Conference was The Restoration.  We were taught about the historical events leading up to the Restoration.  We heard testimonies and were invited by Sister Bunnell to submit our own testimonies of the Restoration for compilation.  She was really inviting the young Elders and Sisters but I felt impressed to record mine.  Here it is........

Thirty plus years ago we lived in Boise, Idaho.  Our Primary had about 100 children and I was the Primary Chorister.   Due to the size of our Primary we met in the chapel for Sharing Time.  That year for the Sacrament Meeting program the children were supposed to learn “Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning” (At that time, that was the title of the hymn).   Primaries were just starting to learn hymns and it was difficult for them and for me.  Members of the ward who wandered back and forth across the back of the chapel while we were practicing often commented on my efforts to teach the children, not always in a positive way! 
                But obedience brings blessings!  That September, as those 100 children stood in Sacrament Meeting and sang “when within the shady woodland Joseph sought the God of love” the Spirit filled the chapel and Holy Ghost testified in a powerful and unforgettable way of the truth of the First Vision.

  To this day when I sing that hymn my heart overflows with that same spirit and testimony.  I love all the words to this hymn and the testimony they bear.  It is my hope that when those 100 children hear this hymn today, they too remember that sweet, sacred moment when they sang and the Holy Ghost testified.

I am so grateful for the privilege of living in the latter days when the fullness of the Gospel has been restored and for the yearning of a young boy to know the truth; for Joseph Smith’s sacrifice to this great cause from the moment he knelt to pray in the Sacred Grove.  I know his testimony is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

And that's why we are here, in the  Belgium/Netherlands Mission :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Where there's a will there's a way!

Things are small here in the Netherlands....we've only seen one full size pick up truck, many kitchens don't have room for an oven so they use microwaves that serve both purposes. That's what we have and it's taken me trying to bake twice to figure out that when you open the door of the microwave to check the brownies it shuts off the oven, just as if you were microwaving!  So note to myself...if you check the cake be sure to push the start button again!

 Our refrigerator is about the size of the large cooler we had for camping when our kids were at home and has no freezer compartment.  With an assignment to feed 54 missionaries for lunch I really needed a freezer to store food.  When the appropriate channels were toooo slow (I'm feeding the 54 tomorrow!) We got instructions from the top to just go get one!  Yeah!
We found one at Media Markt of all places!  Of course they didn't really have any to sell, only to demo :(    We talked them into selling us the demo and presto chango we had a freezer!

We had it in our car before you could say "whaaaat?"   As you can see it's not big...about the size of the camper cooler we have now (it fit in the back of our Toyota Yaris).  But I'm not complaining, it's a life saver!  So lunch for 54, here we come!

We ARE learning Dutch!

We are happy to report our Dutch language skills are making slight progress!

Of necessity I spent an hour on the floor of the attic in front of the washer so I could translate the cycle information!  Who knew a washing machine could wash for 1 1/2 to 4 hours per cycle???!  and now I know that "normaal vervuild en licht vervuild" means normal and light dirtyness! and "deze cyclus verwijdert geuren uit het wasgoed" means this cycle removes odors from the laundry!

                                                                     We are also taking Dutch lessons weekly from the MTC.  This is us having a lesson. They offer Skype language lessons for senior couples. It's awesome!  We can now say a simple prayer together, at mealtime and in meetings :) (I emphasis "simple:) ! We can read about half of the words in the hymns, though we know the meaning of about a fifth of them!  We understand a few words in church...not enough to follow the talks but enough to know they are talking about families. We are praying (in English:) for the gift of tongues!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Missionary baby steps

This is our missionary district...our mission buddies for the next 6 weeks.

We travel to Gouda (howda, 40 min.) each Tues. for district meeting.  We have learned so much from these meetings!  They work hard on how to approach people and present the message of the restored gospel.  They are serious in their work and so willing to help us.  Elder Torrie chose the hymn for next week so we can learn the words and sing along (they sing and pray in Dutch but the rest of the meeting is in English). They work with us to practice talking to the people we meet.  They feed us lunch ( far it is spaghetti with sauce....period!) It is our turn to feed the district next meeting so I will have to treat them to a complete  meal!

We were able to give a Book of Mormon to our Landlord.  He was so sweet.  He wants to see us again, to visit us in our home and have us bring our grandchildren to see them.  He will help us with our Dutch.  I accidentally ended up with one of his towels in my laundry so I have a great reason to go visit them.  When I shared this at district meeting yesterday the missionaries were crazy excited!  They were so tickled with "their couple"!   We really want to share our testimonies while we are here and not just with members.

We were in Utrecht Monday, checking out the city center.

It is beautiful, as are all the city centers with canals and beautiful old buildings.  (and no, we didn't eat at McDonald's.....we found a Subway!)

We sat down to eat on a bench in the sun.  A grandmother sat right next to us.  She was babysitting her grandson and came to the city center to have lunch while he was in school.  She is a language tutor for refugees but laughed when I asked if she could tutor us!  We talked about families.  I told her why we were living here.  I went one step further with her and asked if she knew about the Church. She said she did...then I didn't know what to say! :(    I told her we knew families were so important.  After I got home I realized I should have given her a pamphlet of the Proclamation on the Family.  Now I have one in my purse in case the opportunity comes up again!  Like I steps!  But we are getting there with the missionaries and the Lord's help!

We have a home!

The Elders and Elder Van Der Put getting out bed put together!
 The national color of the Netherlands is is all the carpet
Last week we were able to move in to our permanent residence.  It is located in Zeist in a large residential neighborhood filled with rows of townhouses.  The homes are vertical here...ours has three floors.  The living room, dining room and kitchen are on the first floor, bedrooms and bath on the second and laundry and additional bedrooms in the attic.  Tight spiral staircases are the norm here so I am very careful hauling baskets of laundry up and down those stairs!  The windows are very large! I'm sure they will be extra nice during the long, dark winters!.

Our dining room looking our into our little fenced yard.
and this is the view just outside our back yard....a convenient playground for the kids...!  

All in all a lovely place to spend the next 17 months!  Come visit us!

Tradition is beautiful

We headed to Deventer last week to visit Elder and Zuster Hill.  They have been here a year and had lots to teach us.  We joined them for Institute (the YSA center in their area is actually their apartment). We met the area director for Seminaries & Institute, Brother Hans Noot.  He was very helpful and encouraging...and knows literally every member of the Church, young and old, in this country!  He will be a great resource.

The Hills took us to see a traditional windmill. They are all over the Netherlands.  This particular one was a grain mill.  Some use the wind power to mill lumber and near the coast they are used to pump water.
It's hard to see that this is a HUGE grinding stone on the right.  Nearly all the machinery is wood.  It is amazing how beautifully it all fits together.

I was able to get this short video on the page but not sure it will play!  Anyway, windmills are a beautiful part of the Netherlands!