Monday, 18 December 2017

Week 51: Elder Nielsen!!!

Ya, we are going to try to get on [Christmas Day] at 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., we will see. We still don’t have solid plans for that yet. I’m not sure where I will be for Christmas day or Tweede Kerst. We had a good dinner appointment with this one really really cool family in the ward, they have 7 kids who are half American so they speak English and are just cool. We were going there for the 24th to eat and games and get haircuts for free. Then we were told we aren’t allowed to do 4 man dinners, not even for Christmas… so now the other elders will go instead of us and we have no one. We have maybe someone from the English ward which will be really cool though if it works. Christmas day we have nothing… I don’t have much motivation to arrange anything. We did have a dinner but then it got stolen from us by the sisters… so we have nothing then. I will try to go to the ward mission leaders. I just wanna go there and Skype, play a few board games, then go home and watch “Meet the Mormons” or something, haha, have a chill day. Then the next day is second Christmas or Tweede Kerst and we have an appointment with a super dope family from the English ward.

So yes, I finally got to see Matt! I was at the church early to shovel snow and then all of the sudden I see down the street Matt running towards me and I ran and gave him a hug. It was just really chill and nice to have a little piece of home. We sat with each other at the conference and we did good at not talking the entire time, we paid attention. I hope Prez saw that we could contain ourselves, maybe he will put us closer, haha. We talked a lot during lunch which was weird cause we talked about all the people we both knew. So weird. Of course we took some photos which I will upload! Oh wow, that is super nice of the Bishop and his wife!!! Thanks!

A bit about my week... we had a dinner appointment with this one family. We had never really talked much to them, at church so we wanted to get to know them at the dinner. They are a super cool fam! Both parents served missions, France and Japan. Their kids are super cute. A really funny thing happened. We were all eating and 2 of their boys were calling each other names, one said stupid, the other said dumb, then one said homo and the parents were both shocked and were like, don’t say that! Then the younger daughter says “what does homo mean?" It was just such a funny moment.

We had a good appointment with F., an investigator of ours. She is really soft spoken and kind and finds it difficult to have faith. I was talking to her and explaining how faith always starts small and then all of the sudden she interupted and said that she will come to church. So we told her we would meet her at the tram stop and walk with her to the building. She said okay and we agreed on a time. Fast forward to Sunday and we went to pick her up and there was no one there. We waited and nothing... super sad, we really expected her to be there. Disappointment was kinda the theme of the week. We had a ton of appointments with people however almost every single one of them fell through.

One appointment that did go through was with our cool Turkish family we are teaching. We get there and they are having a bday party with like 10, 14 year old girls all over the place. So we had to cram into the tiny kitchen to have a lesson. The wife had made us soup, homemade soup just for us! It was so so nice of her to do that, even though she was so busy with her family and kids. They all left into another room so we could go into it. The husband doesn't speak very good Dutch or English and was really happy we had the BoM in Turkish. He really wanted more church books in Turkish. There aren’t too many but then we realized that he could download the Gospel Library and change the language and then see what's there. So we downloaded it for him and there was a lot of stuff, Liahona articles as well as conference talks and other resources. It was great for him. He loves to read, loves to read. He read so much about Mormons on the internet and knows a lot of our church history, and from what he was saying it was all accurate. I just feel good knowing that now he has the app so he can read the accurate info about us. Something else cool is they had a friend there helping with the party and she joined the lesson. The husband and wife took a moment to tell her what they knew and what we taught them to teach her. They did it in Turkish, so now she also knows about the gospel. She even tried to point out flaws and they defended us! It was so cool. She asked why we don’t drink coffee and before I could answer the wife said because it was addicting and that she thinks it is a good idea. She herself is addicted to coffee, haha. She wants to stop. It is just really cool to see them progressing. Once they come to church they will be golden. They want to come but it snowed a foot so they didn’t, understandable. I just love them so much though!

We had a baptism here. It was one of the sisters. It was really really beautiful. The convert has been investigating for a while. She has great member support. She actually planned the whole service herself with lots of musical numbers. Everybody loved it and she looked so happy the whole time. Echt een geestelijke ervaring.

We also got called by the temple Prez to come help do baptisms at the temple in case anyone came. So we go over and started talking with the temple prez. He is a really cool guy. No one came but we had to wait so we ended up talking with him for 2 hours. He told us really cool stuff about missionary work and about the gathering of Israel and, wow, he knows so much about a lot of things. It was super cool to talk with him one on one. He served his mission here, then came back on a couples mission, then served as mission prez here, then served another couples mission here, then got called as the temple prez here. So he is actually American but can speak Dutch well and pretty much seems Dutch.

I think I forgot to mention this, but on Sunday last week one of the office couples came up to me at church and told me that I have been assigned as the new “Ikea Elder” which means I get a car and I help out when apartments need new furniture or when things need to be moved or thrown out.  Elder Steele was the old one but then he died [ie. finished his mission].  So now I am it!  I really wanted to do it cause it is fun.  I’m excited.  Also, they usually have the strong elders do it, haha.  So at zone conference I had to do a driving test with Elder Van Der Put, him and his wife are the office couple in charge of apartments.  I drove with him so he could see if I am a good driver, I passed.  The assignment is mission wide, so I could be driving to Belgium.

1. How was the weather this week?  Is there still snow on the ground?
2. Do you know yet what the Dutch do for Christmas?
3. How was the work this week?
4. Did you have dinner appointments?
5. Tell me about Zone Conference?  Did you get your parcels?
6. What are your plans for Christmas Day?
7. Does the snowy wet weather make it difficult to get around?
8. Is there a Gospel topic that you have been studying lately?

1. cold windy rainy, wet, dark. the usual. no more snow left.
2. vieren... uh idk. the usual stuff like we do back home.
3. good, besides the dropped appointments. we have a cool new investigator. she really liked the plan of salvation.
4. one. but this next week we have 4 so it'll be fun!!!
5. twas good. yes I did thanks!
6. idk
7. no, it's not too bad. just annoying getting wet all the time.
8. het heilsplan! I love the plan of salvation and I think it is really relatable to people and that people have interest in it. I always try to lead it back to the BOM in contacts.

that is all, hou doe!

#LightTheWorld 2017
(link to the 25 days advent calendar at

some good looking snowelders!

Elders Fernhout and Balthar

Elders Nielsen and Fernhout

Monday, 11 December 2017

Week 50: Sneeuw en Sinterklaas!

Well Dec. 5th was Sinterklaas, which is a very popular holiday here. It is like Christmas, however not the same with all of the presents. What normally happens is you and a group of people all put names in a hat or something then you draw a name out secretly and you have to make that person a present out of cardboard or something. Then you write them a poem and get them a real present and you put those things inside of the thing you made. So for example, I had my companion Elder Ballard and he likes basketball, so I made him a shoe and then inside I put my present which was mints and an umbrella. Then I wrote a poem about the present and him and Sinterklaas. It was fun. We went over to our ward mission leader's house to celebrate with the other Zoetermeer missionaries. There were some really well done presents, it was awesome. There was a lot of Dutch treats like pepernoten en kruidnoten en other snoepjes [sweets]. It was great, Dave, WML, dressed up like Zwarte Piet who is Sints little helper.  There are a bunch of them, so for example, there is spying Piet who looks in your window to see if you are good and present Piet. We also listened to a lot of typical Sinterklaas songs, or liedjes, in het Nederlands. It was great. A lot of kids dress up for it for school, they go as Black Piet. Oh and the bad kids get shipped off to Spain, ahha. There were Zwarte Piets all over Zoetermeer that day, just walking around, some throwing pepernoten at people, good stuff.

Well we had a lot of appointments set up this week and we had a lot of them fall through sadly. We almost lost someone but Elder Ballard said I saved it. We managed to set up a return appointment and she said she will read in the book. Ya, it has been really cold here and people don’t like to open their door for very long to talk to us or stop on the Streets in the rain or snow… we did have a good appointment with a Surinamese guy who we found last week.  He has a really funny Surinamese accent, all his w’s are actually w’s instead of v’s. Anyway, we will see how our next app with him goes. That night we also had a really fun dinner appointment! which is always sick. Then after that we went to an appointment we had with a potential and we called up a member to see if he could meet us there and he did. He made the appointment so much better. He connected wth the investigator really well and now we have a new investigator! sick.

So on Friday Wouter called us and said he needed our help at the farm. So we went over and he had a problem. He has a chute in his barn where food pellets come out and a cow managed to hit it and 3000 kilograms of food poured out… we had to clean it all up, haha. Oh and there are grates where the cows poop goes down and the food fell in there. So much of it that we had to get in there and scoop it out. That was my job. I got some good pics of that. So that was a good start to the day. We got some oliebollen on our way home.

We went to young mens that night, Elder Balthar and I took the tram because it was snowing.  Elder Ballard wanted to bike and Elder Occon went with him.  Elder Ballard got lost on the bike ride there. It was bad because it was dark and snowing and he doesn’t really know his way there on the bikes. About 20 mins later he showed up and he wasn’t happy, ahha. We helped the young men and women set up the church for Christmas and for the Stake Conference on Sunday. I had a really good time. There were a lot of members there and they had music playing and it was snowing outside and we were setting up for Christmas and people were happy, it was so fun I thought. I helped tie bows for the Christmas tree. It was great. Sunday was crazy, we had Stake Conference with hundreds of members there, way too many for that building. Also, we had almost 40 missionaries, so I saw so many people, it was great. Not only that but it snowed like 6 inches during the conference, which was insane for here. First time that has happened since 2007. So that was great. Then that night we had a dinner appointment and we arranged for 2 investigators to come and it all went perfectly well. They loved it and the members did a really good job. So happy about that! Other than that, the week was full of looking people up and walking in the cold and handing out BOMs, like a lot of them. It was a good week.

1.  Did you go anywhere this week?
2.  How was the work?
3.  Has the Samsung camera come in very handy?
4.  Have you met Sister Lowry from Pincher Creek?
5.  I like your Christmas decorations :) Is that in your living room?  Where are the stockings from?
6.  You have zone conference this week on the 12th?  Do you know if they are doing anything special for it for Christmas? And you think you will get to see Matt?  (That will be so awesome…can’t wait to hear about it).
7.  Did you have many dinner appointments this week?
8.  Did the ward have the Christmas Dinner yet, if so, how was it?

1. Nowhere exciting, Den Haag for district meeting.
2. Great.
3. Ya kinda, I downloaded Zoetermeer map so I can use it.
4. I heard about her but have not met her yet.
5. Ya, haha, they were just in the apartment.
6. Ya we do, tomorrow! probably, idk, and yes I will!
7. Like 2, ya but it's dying down. We used to have a calendar they could sign up on but now that is not allowed so they can’t do that which they don't like so we get fewer appointments.
8. Not yet, soon, I think it's the 23.

That is all, hou doe,

Elder Fernhout

Sinterklaas at Ward Mission Leader's home

School kid dressed up as Zwarte Piet
Getting soaked in the rain
Christmas decorations in the apartment
Hugging a "baby cow"
Cleaning up food pellets at the farm

Unusually snowy weather

November Zone Conference

Friday, 8 December 2017

Week 49: Zoetermeer in December is vochtig

This week we did not have very many appointments or anything so we had time to set up stuff and find people. So now this next week should be really good. We got a lot of really good potentials and also a few new investigators and even a decent amount of member dinner appointments. So I'm looking forward to a good week. It has gotten really cold here. Everyday I wear long sleeves as well as a sweater and my thickest coat and then a scarf too. It’s hard to explain but it feels way colder than back home, it’s because of the humidity. It’s usually like 0 everyday but it feels like -15 or colder. I wore all thermals for 2 days, haha, crazy. So ya we have been surviving that, then it will rain which makes you really cold and then the wind and there is no sun. Its dreary but I really don’t mind it.

We have found a good system Elder Ballard and I. There are these huge apartment buildings and we wait till someone lets us in, then we knock the doors inside the building. So we stay covered from the rain and there are a lot of people to hit up who all live close together. It works pretty well, we have found a lot of people and no one gets mad that we do that cause it's kinda normal to go inside those buildings and sell things door to door. We found this one guy from Suriname. He is really cool. We knocked his door and he opened and wasn't really havin it then we told him about the BOM and what it is and stuff. We gave him a copy and he said ok wait a second. “Watch!” he said. Then he went inside his house and came back with a 5€ bill and said that if what we say about the book is true and he learns something from it then he will have to give us money for it because he wants to feel free, haha. We told him we couldn’t take it but that it was worth sooooo much money. We set up a return appointment to teach more about the book and gospel. I'm excited for it!

I really like serving in a big ward. There are sign-up sheets and things for the upcoming big ward Christmas dinner party. I’m so glad our ward does stuff like that! I can’t wait to go. Also, next week is stake conference! So that’ll be fun with the hundreds of members.

Funny thing I found AW Rootbeer in one of the stores here! It’s been almost a year since I've had that! Real good stuff. Ya, we are doing Light the World and are working hard with members and investigators to do it. We use it to find new ones too, well trying to. Ya, we share it with everyone and just encourage people and tell them about it. What’s cool is that it’s not even really church related, it’s just being a good person and being a light in someone’s life.

1.  What do the Dutch do for Christmas?  What is happening for Sinter Klaas?
2.  Have you received any parcels from me?
3.  Did you travel anywhere this week?
4.  How was church on Sunday?  Do you help out in anyway?
5.  How are your investigators doing?
6.  How is the weather been?
7.  Are you getting many dinners?  Do you cook much and what do you eat?
8.  Can you try to take more pictures of Zoetermeer?
9.  Have you been asked to go to the temple lately?
10.  Did you go to the Farm this week?
11.  Have you seen any Keeshounds or Alaskan Malamutes?

1. Lots, at this point everyone is focused on Sinter Klaas. It is a sin here to talk or prepare for the 25th before Sinter Klaas. So ya because there are 6 missionaries here in Zoetermeer, us and the ward mission leader, Dave, are doing Sinter Klaas with each other. We all drew names and which ever name you get you have to make a present for them then put a present inside with a poem. I’ll explain. So, for example I got Elder Ballard, which is hard cause he is my comp and it’s a secret. Anyway, he likes basketball so I will make him a big bball out of cardboard and stuff, then inside I will put his real present, which I have to get today…  and you are supposed to write a poem that talks about the present as well as Piet and Sint. Should be fun tomorrow. I'll take pics.

2. I haven't no. Zone conference on the 12th, I’m thinkin.

3. Den Haag, but no where else.

4. Good, we are now covering 2 wards, the English and Dutch so we go to the first 2 hours of English then the 3 of Dutch so a lot of church, ahha. But the English members are real cool and I enjoy it. Really weird to have it in English! I also fasted yesterday so it was a long day. I passed the sacrament and gave a prayer in the English ward.

5. No news on J. A., we need to get an appointment with! Other than that we have a lot of potentials we made appointemts with and will hopefully get them to investigator status.

6. Not good, but good.

7. Decent, we make wurst a decent amount as well as pizza and uh Brazilian food and burritos, we eat a lot of cereal and sandwiches too.

8. Ya, I’ll try!

9. Ya, haha, we did, I forgot! We just went this past Wednesday! I got to do baptisms. I was the baptizer which was a first for me! It was really cool cause these 4 members came from Haarlem, with 200 names. Which is a lot! I had to baptize this big tall old guy and I did it 57 times…. my arm was so sore, haha. but it was cool to do in Dutch and also I can pronounce the Dutch names which I thought was really cool. Also, now I can say I baptized on my mission! 57 people, and all in one day! That was really cool though!

10. Always, this time we did the normal scoopin and stuff and feeding the cows and we also added new hay to the young cows and fed milk to the 3 day old calf which was super super cute. He also got a bunch of new cows, like 7, so we had to take care of them as well. It was a good time. Although it was super duper cold. Our hands were cold but there are barns that we could go into to warm up. 40 cows in one barn makes it really warm inside!

11. Not one! I am on the lookout though!

Word of the week is 'vochtig' pronounced foh - ggg - tih - ggg, the g’s are the hard gurgley Dutch g sound. It’s really fun to say and it means 'humid'.

hou doe

elder fernhout

"This is the weather pretty much every day"
Part of the district

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Week 48: Uitwisselingen

This was the week of exchanges! We did 2. The first was with the other elders, so I guess it wasn’t really with us because it was the Den Haag elders and the other 2 in the apartment, Elders O en B but it was cool cause we hung out with with Elder Leland that night. He's from Atlanta. He has been out for only 1 transfer so he is pretty green. Then 2 days later, I went on exchanges with him. We exchanged after district meeting then came back and did some work. We also had a dinner appointment that day with a really cool member. He fed us swarma meat, good stuff. On Wednesday we had to stay home the whole day cause someone was coming to fix the heater and they gave us a time gap of 7 hours of when he could probably come.  It worked out well cause the next day we had apartment checks where they check the cleanliness of the apartment, so we used Wednesday to clean up really well. I was in charge of the bathroom which I mopped and made clean. It looked great! We did a good job I must say. The next day, when the senior couple came over they said that it was nice and especially so considereing we are a 4 man.

Thursday Elder Ballard and I had some time and we went to this poorer area of Zoetermeer. We found more success there, the people are more humble and it went well. We gave out 6 BOMs in 4 different languages and found this Russian girl who said we could bring a Russian copy by her sometime. We met her on the street. What's cool is that we have a Russian lady in our ward and we had a dinner appointment with her and her husband a few days ago. We gave her a Russian BOM and asked her to write her testimony in the front of it in Russian! So we will give that to the girl we found. The next day Ballard and I gave out 4 more BOM. Just to put that into perspective, last transfer Ballard and I combined gave out 3 the entire transfer, him in Den Helder and me in Emmen. So we did double that in one day, haha, crazy. We didn't have very many appointments with people so we went around to all our investigators and people and tried to make appointments with them. We called up a bunch of our potentials too and ended up with some good stuff for next week. Also, yesterday at church we got a few dinner appointments for the week.

We went to the farm again which is always good. This time we cleaned out the barn where the 4 baby cows live [or calves, haha]. It was full of straw and hay that was matted together. It was super super heavy and there was so much of it, but it was fun and a good workout.  I have now learned a few hymns on the guitar and EO got his violin from home and he has been teaching me to play that now, haha. It's really really fun, and tbh, pretty easy. Oh and for transfer calls, all of us 4 are staying here, which I think will be really nice for Christmas. I am excited. Elder Rytting is being transferred to Delft which is really close. He is in my district. So it'll be fun to see a friendly and familiar face again. The guy I went on exchanges with, Elder Leland, got transferred to Brugge. I told him he's gonna love it. Emmen is being pink washed, which means it’s being white washed but with sisters, haha.  Zr Wolverton will go there. Elder Nielsen is going to Utrecht. I will most likely see him at the next zone conference!

We had a good lesson with the Turkish family, they are so nice. The husband read almost the whole BOM! The wife had homemade Turkish soup for us when we got there and it was super super delicious. She also gave us a bread and some more homemade Turkish vegetable stuff, so so nice. Then we taught a good lesson and she even gathered her family for it and asked the kids if they wanted to go to our church. So we will hopefully see them one of these days! They have this little daughter who is 3 and she is sooo cute, we played with her for a bit. That reminds me, yesterday was the primary presentations. It was soooo funny, it was a typical primary presentation with loud kids singing rambunctiously and kids being funny. They had the whole chapel laughing, it was great.

1.  What is happening with transfers?
2.  Why were you up at 4:00 am last Sunday morning?
3.  Did you teach the Polish lady who is reading the BoM?
4.  Any investigators progressing?  
5.  Do you have many referrals from the “Light the World” campaign?
6.  How do the Dutch celebrate Christmas?
7.  Did you do service at the farm this week?
8.  Does it rain more in the winter?  Is it cold and do you have a warm enough coat?

1. Staying
2. So I was woken up by some loud yelling and door slamming in our building somewhere at like 4:00 am. Then at 4:20 someone rang our doorbell. I looked out our bedroom window which looks onto the area in our front door, no one was there. So I went to the door and no one there either. So I went back to bed. I heard some more yelling in the distance and slamming. It sounded really crazy, tbh. Then at 4:40 someone rang our doorbell again like 3 times really panicky. EO goes to the door and I watch from the window. All I see is this guy talking to Occon, then he comes into our apartment! So I thoguht he was beating Occon or something. Turns out he locked himself out of his apartment and wanted to go through our house to get to his balcony from ours because he is our neighbour. So we let him run through real quick. We were all up at that point and talking about it. Then he knocked on the glass door on our balcony 5 mins later and wanted to walk back though. He told us that his wife is crazy and locked him out. He smelled really bad of alcohol and weed. We let him through once again then decided to leave our apartment so we wouldn’t have to deal with that again but it was 5:00 am and I didn't want to leave so we just stayed. We watched him out the window and he and his wife or girlfriend or whatever were banging on his door with all of their might and they tried to break the door down. They were super super angry and were yelling threats like they were going to kill the person insides mother and dad. It was super bad. They were furious. Then they ran away and slammed another door that went to the stairs and they shattered the glass, crazy. This week we were home and one night he just started cleaning our windows from the outside cause he felt bad, haha. It helped us cause the next day we had apartment checks.
3. We went by yesterday and she wasn’t home, dangit.
4. J still comes to church which is great but we haven't had a lesson with him since...
5. We got one more, haha.
6. I don't actually know. Sinterklaas is pretty big...
7. Yup
8. Rain oh yes. Oooh yes very cold and windy, so cold here. I like it.

Love you lots bye!
Exchanges with Elder Leland

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Week 47: Ik heb koeien geschoren!!!

Ya, it does feel like Christmas but not like it does back home, haha. I just wish we had snow.

This week was really really good. It had some downs but also ups and we had a bunch of cool miracles. Early in the week we had the ZLs come over and do an exchange with the other 2 elders.  One of them, Elder Waters from Idaho is really good at the guitar and I had him teach me a few things. The other one is Elder Packard from Arizona, he dies soon [translation, he goes home soon]. He's cool too. So that was fun. Although we burned through all our food for the week really fast, haha. This week has been really good with dinner appointments though so we did fine.

For my bday we all went to the farm to help Wouter. We usually go every Saturday but this week we couldn't and went early. I didn't mind going to the farm on my bday cause it is really fun. We got to shave the cows this time too. That was super fun. Their backsides and tails get really gross and we just shaved those right down. Funny story, Elder Ballard was shaving the tail of one and it pooped all over him. Streaming cow poo just shot out, it was so funny. He really didn't think so but we all did. He cleaned it off and was okay. After we had gone home and cleaned up we went to lunch and got kapsalon, one of my favourite foods. It’s Turkish. I also opened my presents. Thank you, Mum! I am currently wearing my Canada shirt now, haha. Also, the towel is a good idea. E. Ballard has the same one, different colour. I wore the tie to interviews, haha, goes good with my suit. But other than that for my bday we had a dinner appointment that was good. They felt bad they didn’t know it was my bday but they fed us good food! E. Ballard bought me a loempia which you should look up, I loooove them, they sell them at little stands all over the place. It is pretty much just a spring roll, but better. He also got me a guitar pick! Because Elder Occon and I share a bday I went and got him a capo for his guitar. I inspired him to get a guitar haha, E. Ballard too. So I got E. Occon a capo and he really loved it. It was a good day!

Some other lame things and miracles that happened this week. We tried to stop by this lady investigator we have, because she is single we were going to pass her off to the sisters but she wasn't home. Later that day though we saw her at a tram stop and were able to make an appointment and also give her invites to the baptism and the primary program for next week. So that was cool that we randomly saw her. We went by later in the week and had a really good 2nd appointment with her and she is reading and all is good. Then she called and said she can’t go to the baptism cause she is sick. We called her right before the baptism to check to see if she was feeling better then she dropped us and said she doesn't want to die Christian… ugh she was so cool. When we saw her that one time she even said that she misses us ahah. She is so cool. So we are going to stop by just one more time and see where she is at and if she still doesn't want to then we will leave her alone. We also went to our appointment with these Polish people we met. We already had one appointment with 4 of them. So we went back this week for our 2nd one and the main guy came to the door and told us that he doesn't want to go any further. But he did say he is moving to Poland and will look us up there so I guess we have a referral for the Polish elders??? He did say that his sister who we had given a Polish BoM to would probably like to talk and to come by the next day. So we were sad that he and the other 2 dropped us but excited for the sister. We talked to her the next day and she was like “I haven’t read that much in the book, I am only half way through” so we were like ah that’s okay. She said she will be done in a week and to come back then. We emphasized the importance of prayer and not just reading, looking forward to going back.

Okay, just 2 more miracles. We had some time before a dinner appointment so we went to this building where there were like 20 potentials we just had to go and follow up. We tried to find it with the printed off directions that we had but it didn't work out, so we were like lets just go back and work by our dinner appointment. On the way back to the tram stop we came across the exact building we were looking for. Really weird… so E. Ballard was like we gotta do some of them now, there is some one here for us. We were ringing the bells and getting nothing positive so we were like, okay, we will do one more then we need to go. We rung her up and she let us up to her door. At first she was not having it, then we told her about families and happiness and the BoM and she opened up. She asked which church we were and she read our tags and as she was reading I saw it in her eyes that she knew we were representatives of Christ. That touched her and made the difference. So we gave her a Dutch copy of the BoM and then told her we have a Turkish version, cause she is Turkish, and she told us to bring that by later. So we were lit after that, haha. It was our last door miracle and it was funny cause it was 6th floor last door. So cool. We went back just yesterday and had a great appointment with her and her husband and they also have 4 kids. Pretty young but still! The husband loved having a Turkish version cause his Dutch isn't so good. They are just so nice! Really cool new investigators.

Okay and the coolest miracle as the last. We were once again on our way to a dinner appointment and we were walking and we were cold and it was dark and rainy and we just wanted to get there. But we had about 20 extra minutes and were stopping people on our way there. I stopped this one lady and asked if I could do a quick survey. I asked the first Q which was "what does happiness mean for you?" She answered saying probably the same as you, your relationship with God. So she started talking about her religion which isn't a specific religion but she believes strongly in angels. After I had asked her some q's about her I thought it would be a good idea to talk about Joseph Smith and the First Vision. So I did and she thought it was really cool and we gave her a BoM and told her a bit about it. She said she had a q and asked about the big beautiful white building. We told her it was a temple and she wondered about the guy on top of it, the golden one. We told her that he was an angel and that he actually showed JS where the plates were and that he wrote in them as well. It all just connected so well. We told her that it was translated out of old Egyptian and she thought that was cool too, ahha. Then she told us that God has a plan for us here on earth and that we all have 2 angles with us all the time helping us. She said that sometimes they appear as other people. She said that we were those people and that God had a plan for her and that we were sent and that it wasn’t coincidence that we met her. She said that she knew God wanted her to learn something from us. I was so happy and amazed. We talked a little more, then she said that an angel just whispered to her that everything we told her was true and right. I was just amazed, haha. Easily one of the coolest miracles I have had yet. She had the BoM in her hands and asked if she could really have the BoM and we said ya of course. She treated it like something really special. So ya.

1.  What did you do for your birthday?  Did you celebrate with the other missionaries since it was Elder Occon’s birthday as well?
2.  How did the teaching go this week?
3.  When are the next transfers?
4.  Did you go on exchanges or travel anywhere this week?
5.  What was the worst thing that happened this week?
6.  What was the best thing that happened this week?
7.  How are you all getting along in the apartment?
8.  Is there a missionary skill that you are working on personally?
9.  Are you having good experiences with the ward members?
10.  How was church on Sunday?

1. already answered
2. uh, great
3. soon, transfer calls are on Saturday! I expect to stay with E. Ballard though.  I will be surprised if I am transfered out.
4. nope.
5. getting dropped...
6. all the freaking miracles!
7. good, you really see how people were raised when you live in a 4 man, who cleans their dishes and who does what and cleans and stuff like that.
8. teaching! I really want to be a good teacher. Such a good life skill too.
9. definitely. we have a lot of dinners.
10. good. although I was up at 4 am that morning and it is a long story. I think I’ll tell it next week cause this email is already really long, haha. Remind me to do that.

That was my week.

hou doe

elder fernhout

Elevator selfies

A piece of home

View from the apartment 
Sheep by the Church in Zoetermeer

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Week 46: Den Haag and Rotterdam Zone Conference and an Early Preparation Day

Well I write to you from a short week cause today is our pday. We are playing football as a zone, should be fun, as long as the rain stops... well not too much has happened this week. We went to the farm as usual which was fun. We went into the attic part of the barn and our job was to clean away all of the spider webs, the cobwebs. I have never seen so many webs before… we had these long poles thank goodness that we used to clear them away but they got so covered in webs it was ridiculous. Also there was mice running around the whole time and we had to make sure we didn't fall through the weak floor onto the cows below haha, but it was fun. We had a good time scaring each other pretending mice were running up each others legs and whatnot. We did the usual feeding cows and scooping their poop.

Something else cool that happened was zone conference. We gathered as 2 zones here in Zoetermeer. My zone, Den Haag and the Rotterdam zone. I got to see Elder Steele, Elder Cameron, Elder White, and a bunch of others. I always love seeing people at zone conferences. It was also really great because we went to the temple. We had to be there at 7:00 in the morning so luckily we live in Zoetermeer where the temple is! We didn't have to wake up at crazy times like some other missionaries. But ya we all met there and did the names we found for people. It was a really nice time. So much peace to be found at the temple. It was just a gezellig time. The rest of the conference was also good. The temple president spoke and so did the APs and President too. Afterwards we all talked and looked at our packages and letters and took pics with each other, fun times. Elder Cameron met a member who loves Canada and they brought back a Tims Horton's peach drink for him, so sick. I was talking with Elder DeRochie from Okotoks about Canada a lot and all the things that the others don’t get like Tim Hortons and coulees and Canadian Tire and stuff, haha, so funny. Oh ya and they sang to me cause of my bday and then I had to stand there for a minute while they all gave me compliments. I hated it, but people said nice things.

We had a good lesson with A. this week and his brother. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and the beginning of the lesson was just decent. We probably were talking too much but it was ok. They weren’t really getting it though and weren't feeling what we were saying. EB and I both knew that something needed to change so we began to testify and use our life experiences and from then on the spirit was more present and the lesson was so much better. Their perspective changed and it made more sense to them, they were feeling it in their hearts and knew that it was not only important for us but for them too. They like to know everything before they do something they said but often we learn a lot as we just go out and do. So we committed them to read and pray and hope and think that they will do it before our next appointment. We met at the church for that appointment and after they offered to drive us home which was super nice of them, because it was really cold and windy and dark and we were not feeling like walking and taking the tram... super cool guys.

Other than that we had random appointments and it was a regular week. We stayed busy doing things. We got the card game Phase 10 last pday so we play that at night. I’m glad the walls are really thick cause there is some crazy moments we have, haha.

Is your back still hurting?
1. My back is fine. I did buy a backpack though so that helps, cause it does hurt sometimes after long days with the shoulder bag but I am just seeing if I want to use a backpack full time. I'll have a pic of it for next week.

Did you get to see Matt?
2. Noooo, I was at the church here at the same time as him. I was in a different room and was waiting for his conference to end but we had to leave 2 minutes before he got out. We had a dinner appointment so I never got to see him but we were 10 meters apart from each other in the same building, ahha. Even if I stayed for a second to say hello it wouldn’t have been cool cause then I’d have to go and we couldn't even talk. So we still haven’t seen each other.

How was your visit to the temple?
3. great!

Hou doe,

Elder Fernhout
Spiffy new haircuts
Not the Zoetermeer Missionary Training Center!
Beautiful sky over the Zoetermeer LDS Temple
Elders Fernhout and Steele
Elders Cameron and Geddes
Elders White and Fernhout
Zone Conference

Monday, 6 November 2017

Week 45: Kringloops and Halloween

Well last Monday after Pday we went to a Kringloops which is always fun. Kringloop stores are pretty much thrift shops but cooler. They always have fun things to buy. I got a Dutch comic book for after the mission. Anyway, you should look up what a Kringloops is. Tuesday we had district meeting but EB also had to go to Brussels so we had to drop him off in Leiden. We waited for the bus half an hour but it never came so we called and they said they would come and pick him up from the church here in Zoetermeer. So we went there and a bit later they came in the mission van with a few other greenies. I got to see 2 other elders from Zwolle I got to know when I was in Emmen and they are great so that was nice. After they drove away we headed to district meeting where we did a Halloween game then continued on with the normal meeting.

Later that day when EB got back we had a dinner appointment that was really good. Family B is sick, they area a young couple who have one kid and another soon on the way. I asked what the name of the new one is and they said that it is Dutch tradition not to tell anyone the name of the kid until he comes out. The next day was trunk and treat at the church. That was really fun. We had a lesson with J and his kids just beforehand on prophets and that also went well. My costume was just my Eagles hat, haha. There were people from both wards there, the English ward and the Dutch ward so it was fun to talk with everyone. As missionaries we only got a little bit of candy, really fun though. Normally on Wednesday the missionaries put on an English conversation class which we invite people to and we teach them English. It was cancelled for the Halloween thing but still some people showed up. It turned out to be good though because they stayed and had a really good time and then we got their info and later that week had a really good lesson with one of them.

The next day we had another dinner appointment which was good as well, although I had to eat some fish… our dinner appointments are getting more and more! This week we worked a lot on making a digital version of our area book so we made a map of all our investigators, potentials, and members. It'll be really useful.

Saturday we went to the farm and helped out there, same thing as last time, feeding the cows and what not. Really fun though. When we got back we all had to put our clothes in the washer because they smelled so bad, haha. Later that day we had a lesson with the guy from the Halloween activity. Super nice guy, he even drove us back home after the appointment because it was raining. That night there was a speaker coming to the church, he studied the book of Isaiah his whole life pretty much and so he gave a lecture about it at the church. There were a lot of non-members there, it was pretty interesting too! But ya, then the next day was Sunday and that is always good. Great weather too! So ya, Elder Ballard and I found 2 new investigators this week, so that was sick.

1.  How is the work going? How is J doing and how old are his children?
2.  I think you said last week that you were going on exchanges.  How was that?
3.  Do you have birthday plans yet?
4.  Did you have more dinner appointments this week?
5.  Are you eating ok?

1. Good, J has a date which is the 18th, so really soon. We are inviting all to come to it. We really want his 3 kids to be doopt on the same day but we will see if that happens. We taught them the lesson on prophets and they are 16 then 14 then 9, I think.
2. We were supposed to do 2 exchanges but that never happened for some reason. One because EB went to Brussels.
3. Dinner appointment, other than that idk. Today I am buying a backpack for myself. My back is hurting lately.
4. Ya, EB and I are getting a lot of dinners lately, it's nice.
5. Ya, pretty good, we eat a lot of cereal. We bought 7 boxes last week and it wasn't enough and so we will buy even more today.

All is good here, living the Zoetermeer life.

Hou Doe,

Elder Fernhout

Monday, 30 October 2017

Week 44: Busy in Zoetermeer

So ya, the big news this week is the baptism of S. That happened Saturday and the days before included a lot of preparation and work on our part. Earlier in the week, Monday actually, we had a great lesson and got a new investigator. His name is G. He said he'd read in the BoM and pray about it which is all we ask! So that should be good. He is really cool and understood all of what we taught. All 3 of us elders taught the lesson together and had good switches and everything. It went well. On Tuesday we had district meeting. Our district is massive with 14 missionaries. I love it though because it's always fun to have a big district. There were also a bunch of people I knew from previous places, 2 other sisters and some of the elders. There are a ton of greeny elders I haven’t met yet in our district, including one who was trained by Elder Nielsen (a friend from Lethbridge), still have not seen that guy.

That day after district meeting we headed home because the meeting was in Den Haag. Back home we went to the church and made the program for the baptism. I used the one Elder Richards and I made for our baptism in Brugge forever ago. This one looks really nice, I made some improvements, haha. We had it all set and planned out but then people started dropping out like our witnesses and speakers! So it got really stressful trying to arrange everything. The next day was the day that Elder Balthar came in from Brazil. He speaks decent English, actually, and he has been on his mission for a year now but had to visa wait this whole time. His dutch is surprisingly good for having gone to the MTC a really long time ago. What is really cool is that when I was in the MTC we Skyped a few of the elders in Brazil and spoke Dutch with them. It turns out that Elder Balthar is one of the 3 elders I spoke with like 9 months ago! So cool. He went into his little email book and he had my email written down that I gave him way back then. So that was cool I thought. He is really funny and makes the 4 man really fun. He and Elder Occon speak so much Portuguese with each other I feel like I am now serving in Brazil. Also, I have begun to learn a bit of Portuguese, haha. I can make small sentences.

The day that EO went to Leiden we stayed back and had 4 appointments so we had a busy day. The first was a lesson on the Gospel of Christ and went pretty good I'd say. Halfway through 2 JW women knocked on the door which I thought was really funny cause they had no idea that there were 2 LDS missionaries in there teaching a lesson, haha. Also after they left we heard some yelling and she ran out there to see what was going on and just left us in her house… she came back 10 mins later and said a bunch of 8 to 9 year olds got into a fight. Apparently, it was 10 against 1… crazy, I think she said he is all right though. At the end of the lesson we invited her to baptism and she said that she is going to have to think about it because there are so many religions around her and she doesn't know which one to join. So we told her to pray and to read and she’ll get her answer.

Then we went to an appointment with J. and his 3 kids, they are the most positive investigators we have. The dad, J., is on date to be baptized soon and we are just working with the kids now. I respect that the father isn’t forcing his kids into baptism just because he is going to be baptized but he is giving them the choice. We had a good lesson and we read out of the BoM form 2 Nephi 31. After we read the chapter the youngest son pulled out his children's version of the BoM and related the story of Nephi and the plates and he told us that he liked how Nephi was so obedient. He is 9 but is soooo smart and it blew Elder Ballard’s and my mind actually. He really gets what we teach and makes his own connections. At the end of the lesson his daughter said a prayer in which she asked God if the elders will bring candy next time, haha.

The next day Elder Ballard and I were on the street walking and this group of old people called us over to talk so we did and while I was talking with the group this lady came to Elder Ballard and asked some random questions including can you heal me. Apparently she had back pain and wanted healing. So Elder Ballard told her about blessings and long story short he ended up giving her one right there in the centrum, ahha, cool though. She said she felt the spirit after! I contacted a few people I saw wearing Canada flags on their shirts and on their hats. It makes it fun for me to ask them about Canada but they usually have no connection.

So one day before the baptism we went to the church to learn how to fill the font and the first thing the guy tells us is that the building is booked for tomorrow at 2:00, which is the exact time of the baptism… so we had a stress moment and had to move it an hour earlier and call everybody. Luckily it didn't cause too many problems. The next day was the baptism day and it went really well and everything went smoothly which made for a beautiful service. S. really enjoyed it and told us he feels good feelings and a good energy. He is so humble and loving and even brought the refreshments for after the baptism.  He also stayed until everybody left and helped clean everything up, what a guy.

That night though we had 3 appointments and the possibility of 4 new investigators but all 3 appointments fell though. The next day, which was yesterday, Sunday, we had an appointment with this Polish person and there were 4 people home and we made a return appointment so we got 4 new investigators which is crazy! I taught a really good first lesson and one of the guys promised to read and pray about the BoM, so that was super sick.

1.  Tell me about your companion and the new elder from Brazil.
2.  Tell me about your appointments this week and investigators?  Are you focusing on finding or teaching or both?
3.  How is the ward and how was church on Sunday?
4.  How is the weather?  It is supposed to snow here on Wednesday and then the rest of the week so it is going to get cold!  Do you know if you will get snow in Zoetermeer at all?
5.  What is the best thing that happened this week?  The worst?

1. Elder Ballard is from Utah, well, born in Kansas but mostly lived in Utah and he is a basketball player, pretty good too. He has picked up on the Dutch super well and has by far the best Dutch I have ever heard after 2 transfers. Amazing, and it’s because he studies and tries hard. He has good motivation to work and is always stopping people to talk with them. He is fun to have here. For some reason a lot of the things he says and the way he says them remind me of Maddie and Jackie, haha, kinda has the same personality, you know fun and happy!  The elder from Brazil is funny and is a convert, both parents are not members but he has a strong testimony you can tell, cool guy.

2. J. is super dope, him and his kids are my fav investigators. We are doing a lot of both I’d say, for example on the walk to one of our appointments EB and I stopped a bunch of people and talked to them and got 2 potential investigators, so just both all the time. We have found a loooooot of potential investigators, haha. Also given out a ton of BoMs.

3. Great. They are pushing the ward members to do better at feeding us and we saw the difference. Our little calendar for dinner appointments is a lot fuller than before. I like the ward here a lot and EB and I have already made friends with the members. Church was fun, there was also a baptism from the other ward. J. was there with his kids to be able to see it so that was great.

4. Rainy haha, and windy. Probably no snow and if so then not for a month or so I’d say, but I’m not sure. We don't really get the weather ever…

5. Best was the lesson with the Polish people last night. EB and I were pumped after that. The worst was being called brainwashed by this crazy guy at the tram stop. He was really crazy and just kept yelling at us. All good though.

hou doe

elder fernhout

Monday, 23 October 2017

Week 43: First Days in Zoetermeer

Well, I could write a really really long email about everything that has happened but I will try to not do that! I’ll start from the beginning of the week. Tuesday was our last district meeting as a district which was kinda sad. Afterwards we all signed each others books and ate lunch and said our goodbyes. After that E. Rytting and I went home and cleaned the apartment for a long time. Also packed and wrote a little book for the next elders.

The next morning we woke up and made our way to the station with all of our luggage and stuff. Not fun. We got to Zwolle and met the ZLs who helped us onto our next train. Then from there I got off in the city of Gouda and ER stayed on. When I got off there E. Calmes met me and helped me onto my next train. Good to see him again! Then I got off in Zoetermeer. There I met Elder Occon and Elder Plant [trained by Elder Matt Nielsen], they are the other 2 elders who would be living in the same apartment as us. A few minutes later came Elder Ballard and yes, he is related to the apostle, 5th cousins. He gets asked that soooooo much it’s crazy, haha. From there we all took our luggage except Occon and traveled to the apartment. It was not fun at all, haha, but we made it. We got there and EO filled us in on the details of Zoetermeer. We were all pumped to work there, it is a great city and the missionary work is going amazing.

After about an hour Prez called and told EP that he is being emergency transferred to Groningen. He wasn't too happy about it and got stressed cause we had to leave right that moment. He was being transferred because there is a Portuguese speaking elder coming from Brazil and EO speaks Portuguese so he will be training him. He will get here tomorrow we think. So since Wednesday we have been working in a trio. A crazy day that day. So we were all stressed and tired and just done with the day when EO was like, oh ya, we are going to the temple today! We were all so pumped! So in Zoetermeer because the temple is here they call the elders sometimes to have us go help and that just ended up being on transfer day. How sick is that, Zoetermeer is so lucky, I love it. So ya, at 5:00 pm that day we went there and put in some work doing voorverordeningen. So nice.

The next day we got to work and let me tell you we went to WORK! EO is the same group as Ballard and Rytting so they are pretty young but Occon is a great missionary. We went out for the day and we were walking to the building where we were going to work and just on the way there he gave out 3 BOMs in 3 different languages. So let me tell you about Occon for a bit here. He speaks English perfectly and pretty dang good Portuguese, his Dutch is ok, and he can do parts of Spanish and French and a little Papiamento. So he is all around solid. He has soooooo much energy, like so much. So ya, he gave out a lot of BOMs then at the building we found a sick potential investigator and a few other cool things happened. In total for the day we found 9 really good new potentials, which, btw, is more than Elder Ballard and I combined in our last cities for the entire transfer. So it was a lot! We gave out 7 BOMs which is a ton! At one point we were at the centrum and EO wanted to stand in the middle of the stores and people eating and stand up and start preaching like the missionaries of old. He tried to get EB and I to do it but we wouldn't. So he gets up there and starts talking really loudly about the restoration with a BOM in his hand. After he got yelled at for a bit he came back and as we were walking away some guy who works at a restaurant came out the back of it and asked if he could learn more. We gave him a BoM and exchanged numbers and got his address. So ya, I love this place and these 2 elders are great. EB has incredible Dutch for his age and is so good at talking to everybody, just always contacting. Bold guy. We are going to have some good times this transfer. Another thing to put in perspective is that EB and I last transfer gave out a total 3 BOMs. That's less than half of what we gave out that day. We are ordering 5 boxes of BoMs this next transfer… that’s also crazy. I'm so excited! So ya I could go on forever about all the people we met and cool things that happened but I don’t have time.

The next day we met the ward mission leader. He's great, very on the ball about everything. He showed us around the church building and taught us the ins and outs. The building is soooo nice, big normal sized chapel like back home. That night we had an English class at the church that we teach to people who want to learn English. We met the sisters there, Zuster Cannon and Zuster Bitton, solid sisters. So in Zoetermeer there are 6 missionaries total for this small place. Last area we had 3 investigators, and for a normal place 8 is really good. Here we have almost 30… 30 people! That’s why it was made a 4 man. Our apartment is ok, the one in Emmen was bigger. We have only one bathroom but it’s all good. I like the apartment, it's homey and fun. We get along really well the 3 of us and play Uno in our free time. Also, I am so glad I have the guitar. We make up songs and sing and stuff all the time, it’s awesome, but don’t get me wrong, we do a lot of work.

Saturday we got up at 6:00 am and went to do service at a member's farm. Missionaries have been going there every Saturday for the past so many years. It's kinda famous in the mission. So I was really excited to go. We got there at 7:30 and met the owner. It is a milk farm. First, we cleaned up the barn for the cows, then he let the cows in where we had to put a collar on them and then we put some food down, things like brussel sprouts, which they like, and we put down a lot of those. But even better is that when stores have day old bread they sell it cheap to him and he buys it for his cows and so we had 4 wheel barrows full of bread that we fed to the cows and they loooooooove bread. It’s so funny, you hold up the bread and they all look at you then they just eat it up. The best part of the week was the temple, then feeding the cows bread, haha. We also let them loose after he milked them and cleaned up the area again. It took a few hours for all that but I took a lot of good photos! After we were done he gave us each a glass of fresh milk that was from the cows that day. It was cooled and really good. I was so tired the rest of the day.

Sunday was great. Our ward starts at 1:00 pm but the English ward starts at 12:00 pm so we go early and sit in a class and listen to the English then after stay for the Dutch and go to the other Dutch classes, good stuff. We saw the APs there who are in charge of the English ward. Oh, the day before we had a dinner appointment with family T. who are so sick. The dad made these absolutely delicious burgers, like so good. But ya church was great, we had a few investigators there, 5 of whom are going to be baptized in the coming 3 weeks. Between the sisters and us and the APs there is a baptism almost every week for the next month and 2 in one weekend. Good stuff.

1.  How did it go on the trains getting to your new area?
2.  What are your first impressions of Zoetermeer?  Have you seen Snow World?  I imagine missionaries are NOT allowed to go.
3.  What area do you cover?
4.  What area do the other elders cover?
5.  So you cover a ward now… how was church on Sunday?
6.  Do you have investigators to teach?  Is the work busy there?
7.  When do you go to the temple?  Do you have a name to take or do you have to find one?
8.  Did you hear much about the changes to missionary work?  They are combining missions and there is a new focus on using technology to find religiously minded people.

1. Ok, stressful and my shoulder had a great workout, just never a fun day on transfer day when you have to move. I had my sling bag and my duffel and my roll and my guitar and my bike which I had to personally carry all over and on and off trains all day, ugh.

2. I heard of Snow World, I don’t remember if we can or not but probs not. I'll have to ask. I love Zoetermeer.

3. Small area, just Zoetermeer and a little bit of the area surrounding it.

4. We are all in the same area.

5. Yes a ward! It felt like back home, although there was some stake event going on so there wasn’t that many people yet. It went well. We have a great bishop who served in Montreal on his mission.

6. Oh yes.

7. Nov. 5 but I already got to go! I'll ask the office to help me get a name because it is coming up really fast and they are happy to help out.

8. All I heard was that missionaries are getting smart phones but not here, haha.

Hou doe,

Elder Fernhout

Zoetermeer Temple

Service at the dairy farm
bread for the cows

that is a lot of brussel sprouts
Elders Ballard, Fernhout, and Occon

Cool building in Zoetermeer

Transfer day