Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language " (D&C 90:11)

Can you tell I have language on the brain?!

The missionaries in our mission are finding investigators who speak neither Dutch or English. With refugees pouring into Europe this will happen much more often. President Bunnell gave us an assignment a few months ago.  We are to gather the names of members of the Church in our mission who are fluent in languages other than Dutch and English. The missionaries then contact us with their language needs and we connect them with a translator.  It has been amazing! We have gathered the names of about 50 people who speak 24 different languages. We have had requests for Arabic, Farsi, Portuguese, and Mongolian!  We had translators for all but Mongolian.  With Pres. Bunnell's help we were able to contact the Mongolian mission and arranged translation via Skype for a lesson with an investigator.

  “ For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 We are witnessing the fulfillment of this prophecy! It is a privilege to be part of bringing the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who seek it!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Langzaam praaten, alsjeblieft!

          We continue our Dutch lessons….. it is oh….so…..slow!  We meet over Skype with our teacher for an hour and our learning coach for another hour on Tues. nights.  The MTC offers senior couples language lessons for 6 months so our lessons will soon be coming to an end.  Our progress has been slow.  We do have a much bigger vocabulary now and can read many signs.  We’ve discovered we can read the little children’s story in the Dutch Liahona : ) We can pray fairly well in church, but can’t yet pour out our hearts to God in prayer in Dutch!

 Our sweet neighbor, Ineka continues to be our best assistant for learning Dutch.  We meet and just talk in Dutch.  I usually have something to tell her that I have practiced in Dutch.   She corrects it for me. We talk about what I want to learn and how I really want to be able to understand what is said in the meetings at church.  One of the kindest gestures we have received here came from Ineka.  Although she says she “doesn’t believe” in God, she came over one day with the Lord’s Prayer translated into Dutch, to help us at church.  I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.  It wasn’t an easy task.  Yesterday she came over with two books she had checked out from the Zeist library for us.  “Dutch for Dummies” and a children’s book with 1,000 Dutch/English words!  How can we not be successful with such love and kindness!
On the first Sunday in Jan. we attended Fast and Testimony meeting in Groningen.  For the first time I understood some of what they were saying!  It felt like a big breakthrough!  I’m sure part of the reason was because many testimonies have similar phrases and because we have been studying the “Missionary vocabulary and Phrase” book.  It was very exciting! 
That said, it has been frustrating that we still can’t follow the talks/lessons at church.  Even though we recognize more words it’s not enough.  Some of the problem is that everyone speaks so fast the words blur together.  I want to yell “langzaam praaten, alsjeblieft!”  (speak slowly, please!).  When people speak slowly we can understand so much more. 
Which brings me to this realization….learning and understanding a language of any kind requires as much or more effort in listening as it does in speaking.  So we have our learning coach get someone to share 5 min. talks in Dutch on a church subject during our lesson so we can practice listening.  We speak up and ask people to speak slowly and repeat what they said.  We are working on listening… not just what we want to say.

Which brought me to another thought.  In the language of prayer, is listening not the hardest part?  Do we want to pour out our hearts to God without the same effort given to listening?  Do we understand what God is saying to us?  Do we understand the language of personal revelation?  Instead of “speak slowly, please”, do we want to say to God, “speak loudly, please!)?  Just as the Dutch are frustrated when we don’t understand, so our Heavenly Father must be when we don’t listen/understand what He is trying to tell us.  I know that receiving personal revelation is like learning a language, that we can practice listening, and we can learn to hear and understand what God has to tell us.  I know that He wants to take us by the hand and guide us through our mortal journey if we will but learn to listen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

These amazing Young Single Adults!

You might have noticed the lack of news about our service with the YSA’s in our recent blog posts. 

 Well, not for having no news to post! 

We began Dec. with the winter YSA “camp”.  It is for all YSA’s in the mission.  It was held at a camp in a National Preserve near us.  Notice the bike parking sign “Fietsen”!  There were about 40 kids.  It started on Friday night with a crazy animal dance and ended on Sunday with Sacrament meeting.  The kitchen and gathering room is in the front of this building and the sleeping quarters in the back half of the building. 

These YSA’s can really work!  They plan and run the whole weekend.  The senior couples mostly come for support. 

They began the day Saturday with a “quest” in the forest.  There were 8 stations, manned by senior couple “angel guides” who gave the teams an assignment when they arrived, then “guided” them on the way to the next station.

We were instructed to bring a white sheet to complete our costumes!  It was a  very cold that day in the woods!  At our station they had to make a doll out of materials they could scavenge.  We then gave them some clues to a scripture and sent them on their way.

Good job!!

They had an indoor picnic complete with all the decorations.  After lunch they cleared everything and had a workshop.

Dinner that night was traditional Dutch “stomppot” and “hutspot”.  That meant peeling 40 pounds of potatoes and chopping 8 pounds of onions!  The alternative was to just stand around so I made myself useful!  Femke was the cook, a darling YSA from Den Bosch that I just love.

Two big pots….hutspot (mashed potatoes with carrots and onions) on the left and endive stomppot (mashed potatoes with endive) on the right.  They served mounds of it the size of their plates piled 3 inches high!  (and they ate the whole thing! Rookworst rounded out the dinner. 

They finished the day by completely re-decorating the hall and having a Sinterklaas party, complete with Sinterklass and Swarte Piet. (swarte as you can guess is the Dutch

word for “black” : ).   It was an all-new cultural experience for us!

It is bigger than Christmas here.  There were presents for everyone, games and the YSA’s loved it! 

The camp was concluded on Sunday with breakfast, a devotional (guest speaker), lunch, then Sacrament meeting.  These YSA’s are so capable.  They did literally everything and it was done to the nth degree! 

We express our appreciation to President Bunnell who graciously had the mission house the senior couples in a hotel nearby so we didn't have to sleep with the kids in the camp bunks!
We continued to have institute in Dec.  to finish out the semester.  The big dance of the year for the YSA’s in this mission is the Christmas dance which is always held in Den Haag.  Like all their activities it was beautifully decorated and well organized. 

The fellow we don’t know (lol!) but the girls are from left to right in the back; Esmee, Julia, Stephanie and Amber.
Inda is in front with us.  Joe got the bow tie as his Sinterklaas gift at the Oostveens Sinterklaas party and we thought this was the perfect occasion to wear it!  It turned out that most of the fellows were wearing bow ties!  Who knew?!  The girls were all dressed up in their fancy Christmas best! 

There was more food than kids by about 10 times and I’m sure the music was heard the next block over so it was a total success! 

Some of our favorite YSA’s invited us to go ice skating with them on the very tiny ice rectangle they made on the plaza in Zeist.  It was so fun to be with our young friends!

We have had a two week break from teaching/cooking for institute twice a week.  It has been a welome respite but we are getting anxious to get going again!  Happy New Year to you all!