Thursday, March 30, 2017

To the parents of future missionaries: )

As you may know, one of our assignments is to periodically inspect missionary apartments for cleanliness and repair.  And what we have learned from that is……they don’t clean up after themselves!  I guess that isn’t a big surprise : )   So here are my suggestions if you have a son/daughter that will soon be serving…..

1)  Teach them how to clean….dishes, dust, toilets, bathroom tile, etc.  We have wonderful cleaning products here in Holland.  You only have to spray the shower tile and it sparkles!  It doesn’t take more than five minutes.  Have a cleaning party and time the different cleaning activities.  So they know it really doesn’t take very long to clean up after themselves. 

2) Teach them to do what they can to help themselves, i.e., if the light bulb burns out, replace it!  Don’t wait for us to come inspect the apartment and then ask us to take care of it : ( .  In lots of missions they need to know how to do simple bike repairs.  It makes their lives so much easier if they can do a quick repair and have transportation. 

3) and last but not least, teach them to leave no trace!  When missionaries are transferred they leave behind so much stuff!  Books, worn out clothes, perfectly good clothes, non-functioning bikes, Christmas decorations sent by their families, etc.  It all piles up transfer after transfer, missionary after missionary until we do a de-junking project on the apartment!  It would be so nice if they just took care of their own stuff.  It would be so great if they disposed of what they don’t want to take with them. 

That’s all my suggestions : ) 

 There is an upside of all this….we have gotten some cool “hand me ups” as we call the stuff the young missionaries leave that we can use!  Here are some of our “hand me ups”…

 A Gospel Art Kit that I love having for our institute lessons! And a Liahona centerpage from decades ago that fits perfectly the theme of our Book of Mormon class.

Joe’s favorite….a French Opinel pocket knife!

A pair of warm ski gloves for Joe and a pair of water proof outer gloves for me : )

A thin, briefcase sized bag.  Just perfect for Joe’s language books and papers. 

Two darling pop up bible story books in Dutch.

And last but not least....a nearly brand new, London Fog, wool, mid-calf length dress overcoat just Joe’s size! 

After some thought, it became perfectly clear why some missionary left this behind when he got transferred.  It takes up way too much room in a suitcase when you only have two suitcases to pack everything you own in.  It’s not waterproof, thus, not warm enough.  And not so practical riding a bike!

 It will soon be in the used clothing donation bin and someone will be so thrilled with their find at the Kringloopwinkel (the Dutch goodwill store!).  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What do Senior Couples do to keep busy, part 2

There is always a new assignment coming up.  This one was on the very edge of my comfort zone! At our mission-wide Relief Society Conference last Saturday the Senior couple sisters were asked to sing a song that would encourage others to serve Senior couple missions.  Sister Oliver is a theater director and was tasked with creating the musical number.  Here is an abbreviated recording of our song.

The 550 sisters at the conference loved the song and I learned to play a comb/wax paper kazoo! (although I'm not sure anyone was motivated to rush out and submit papers for a mission!)

Monday, March 13, 2017

It looks like Spring!

  It seems Spring is here!  The winter was cloudy, with that beautiful, low winter sun occasionally.  There wasn’t as much rain as we expected.  I was wondering if most of the rain arrives in the Spring, so I googled it.  Statistically, April is the driest month in the Netherlands.  Hooray!  Lance, Emily and the girls will be here the first two weeks of April and we are hoping for beautiful sunny weather.

 Joe and I have a walking route.  A few weeks ago we began seeing crocus.  They plant them in the middle of the grass!  We have been seeing more and more blossoms. There is a tree with delicate pink blossoms and an azalea bush starting to bloom. The jonquils are out and some bushes are starting to get tiny leaves. 

Along our route is a very large, old building surrounded by a lake and beautiful grounds.  We have seen lots of ducks on the lake all winter.  Last week we saw two swans!  As we drive from city to city we often see flocks of ducks, geese and swans in the fields.  This is the first time we have seen them close up. 


They are so beautiful!  I am hoping they build a nest and we can watch “ugly ducklings” become swans! 

We’ve had a few days of sunshine and people are outside enjoying it.  Our missionary zone has picked up about 30 new investigators in the last 2 weeks.  If feels like the world is awakening.  Hooray for spring!  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What do senior couples do to keep busy? (anyone who knows us knows better than to ask that!)

                When we received our mission call, our assignment was “Young Single Adult Support”.  Exactly what that was we could sort of imagine.  We now have a pretty clear idea of what that is.  

What we really had no idea about was what other things we could do to support the Belgium/Netherlands mission and missionaries.  About once a month we have an opportunity to do something new to be of help.  I’m going to start keeping a list of those activities for those of you contemplating a senior mission…so you’ll know how many ways there are to serve!

1.  We gave a fireside at the mission wide monthly Young Adult meeting, discussing the scripture 2 Nephi 31:20.

2. We inspect missionary apartments for cleanliness and maintenance……and found this, a “cereal box wall”! 

3. Joe is editing part of a missionary’s life story for him.

4. We taught the missionaries how to sew on a button and mend a seam (Elder Thornock is using his practice seam and button as a tie tack!). 

5. We have cleaned missionary apartments when the lease was up and the missionaries moved out. (not my favorite activity but so fun to spend the day working with our other senior couple friends!)

6. Joe and I replaced all the treads on a narrow, winding staircase in a missionary apartment.  


7. I marked Books of Mormon with the answers to “Questions of the Soul” (Preach My Gospel, pg. 107) for distribution by the missionaries.  


8. Joe spent 2 days helping build partitions and shelves in the new storage unit for the mission.

9. I spent a day packing 75 bags with missionary office orders and mail from home to be delivered to each missionary at zone conference.  (and had a great time visiting with my sister missionary friends!)

10. We’ve gone joint teaching with the young missionaries.

11. We went to the mission office in Leiden and picked up Christmas packages for the missionaries from home and delivered them Dec. 23.  (an entire car full! Yea for families!)

12.  Monitored a missionary’s thumb which he very neatly sliced the end from while chopping vegetables!  (it’s looking very good now for which we are all grateful!)

 These things we do along with our Young Adult assignments.  We love the variety of the work!  It keeps us challenged and busy. We get to associate with so many wonderful souls.  And most importantly we feel that we have a purpose and a contribution to make.  We are loving our mission!

"Becometh as a child"

Our Dutch skills continue to grow little by little.  We enjoy reading the Liahona.  First we read the story in the very back of each issue for very young children! 

Then I read the Visiting Teaching message, which takes much longer to translate : ) (think forever!)

 I was wandering along the street here in Zeist while Elder Christensen got his hair cut and found a Christian bookstore.  I found these little bible story books.  “The Story of Moses”, “Daniel is not Afraid”, and “Jonah Listens Anyway”!  I only needed to look up one word, “toch”.  It seems so simple, but here we are, the best reading we have is children’s books! 

We sit together on the couch, reading them one page at a time, thrilled as we figure out what it says!  And yes, just like our grandchildren who are learning to read, we look at the pictures first to start figuring out what the words say! 

Today was a good day for Dutch at church.  A member from Romania prayed in Relief Society.  English is her 2nd language and Dutch her 3rd.  (yes, we feel inadequate!).  She isn’t fluent in either of them but can communicate fairly well.  When she prayed, she prayed in Dutch, using all the important words, none of the flowery words, and in English sentence word order.   Woohoo!!  I could understand the whole prayer!  

The Relief Society teacher had made an outline of the lesson with the scriptural references by each point.  I could read most of the outline, only needing to look up about a half dozen words.  With that and the scriptures I was able to follow the lesson even though I couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying, just a few words here and there.  As I’ve said before, learning Dutch is a slow, slow process.  We’re farther along than when we just arrived (newborns) and have “become as a little child”!

 One of our Dutch language goals is that by the time we come home we can read this book, “He Was One of Us”.  It is the story of Jesus of Nazareth illustrated by a famous Dutch artist, Rien Poortvliet.  I love this book!  I The illustrations are so beautiful.  We continue to pray for the “gift of tongues”!