Monday, 27 February 2017

Week 9: Brugge, Antwerpen, and Brussels

Hey Mum!

Ya I went to Brussels and saw that group of Italians [and American military family], they were really cool. We also met other people who said hi to us, one was from Texas I think. Ya I got my haircut from a guy who is from ex-Yugoslavia. He spoke 6 languages and one of them was English, but I spoke Dutch with him. I told him "hetzelfde maar een betje corter" I don't know how to spell it properly though. He did a good job though!

So the area I am in is pretty new to missionaries. When my trainer Elder Richards got here there was nobody, no investigators at all. But he has done a lot of work and now we have quite a few teaching appointments everyday. We don't have a whole lot of time for finding (door knocking, street contacting and travel contacting) but we do that sometimes too.

Questions from home:
1.  What was Antwerpen like?  How long were you there?
2.  How is the money management going? Do you have enough money or do you have to budget very carefully?
3.  Are you learning about the history and politics at all?
4.  Are you able to study effectively?
5.  How is the language coming along?
6.  What do you do in Church on Sundays?  Do you help with the meetings?  What are the demographics of the members?
7.  Do you have a cell phone that you use to communicate?
8.  Please tell me about who you are teaching and how they are progressing.

1. Antwerpen was pretty cool, a lot of people there and it was more humid than here. I was there for 2 nights and like 2 and a bit more full days. I would like to serve there someday! They are easier to understand than the people here in Brugge. I also had a lot of success with people there when I was on exchanges! They said it was because I am a greenie, they always have miracles.
2. Money is good, you are always poor becasue in Belgium you have to buy train passes and bus passes and then have to wait to be reimbursed so we don't have that much money but I am making it through just fine!
3. Oh ya, the people here love their history and tell us about all kinds of cool things and cool war history. The politics in Belgium are all screwed up because half speaks French, half speaks Flemmish.
4. Ya sometimes, I have a hard time knowing what to study! Comp study is fun, we do role plays and read and prepare our lessons for the day mostly. Ya ER is awesome, he is kinda famous for being a really good missionary here.
5. Language is coming slowly, my ability to understand people is coming faster though! I can understand more and more of the Sunday talks each week.
6. Church is the same as home. I sometimes bless the sacrament in Dutch which was scary at first! The way they speak here during sunday school makes them sound like they are all arguing but really that's just how they talk here haha. It's really entertaining! Mostly old people, 2 families with kids. There are only like 3 kids, almost all European.
7. Ya we have a little Nokia cell phone that me and ER share.
8. Ugh it would take forever! Right now we have 2 people with baptismal dates. One is named S and the other E. S is 28 and African and really cool. He will probably get baptized on March 25 so that's awesome! Anyway we also teach a lot of less active families which is fun too. Lots and lots of work!

So I had some time while Elder Richards was writing his emails so I wrote this last week [but he didn't have internet access to send it until this week]. Just thought I’d share some things that aren’t urgent but I thought were cool. Sorry my email is probably going to be really long now… but it saves me time next week!

Here you go… oh and let me know if there’s anything more you want me to include.
Something cool that happened was we had a day with 5 appointments. So we go to the first one and it fell through, they didn’t have time to meet with us. So we started walking to the bus stop and this lady stops us, asking us if we were JW. We told her we weren’t and told her about who we really were. We asked if she was interested and she was! She gave us her number and we have an appointment now. So that was a small miracle. Then we headed to our next appointment which also fell through! Ugh, so we walked back to the bus stop and we started talking to this girl who was sitting at the stop. Elder Richards asked how she was and she said not good. We talked for a bit and her grandma had just died. She was very open to hearing about our beliefs and she accepted a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. Another small miracle! Our next appointment also fell though, it was a bad day, but we were able to have time to do some other stuff that we needed to do. Anyway it's cool to see how when some things don’t work out others do.

I’ll tell you a little about the branch here and the church building. So the church building is pretty close to the Centrum and the building is so different than what I am used to! It is on the second floor of an apartment type building. People live in apartments above and below the church haha. We have a little sacrament room and a couple other classrooms. The whole building is quite nice and new. We come here to email but there is only one computer with internet access so me and Elder Richards switch which takes a while. The branch is made up of about 40 people on a good day. The branch president lives in Gent with his wife, I think their kids are all grown up now. There are a lot of older people in our branch and there is one young couple with a little child. There is another family with 2 boys aged 14 and 12 I’d guess. Church is all in Dutch and the first time it was hard for me to understand but each week it gets easier and easier. We have about 6 to 7 investigators who are doing good at coming to church each week. I blessed the sacrament a week ago and it was really scary because it was in Dutch but it turned out really good actually. Our little branch is awesome and is going to grow!

One of my favorite things here is taking the bus. It is just so interesting to see all the people and listen to the language. Let me tell you there are a lot of interesting people here. And by that I mean there are a lot of weird people here! So public transportation is always a fun experience. I also love walking through the Centrum. The roads are made of cobblestone and all the buildings are old and made of brick and it usually smells of delicious waffles and chocolate. Can you imagine it? It’s so awesome! There’s always a bunch of cool stores selling antiques or lace which is really popular here. Just a lot of cute little shops and things. Oh and the churches here are always cool to look at. They are old and tall and have cool windows and the shapes are so cool. I am loving Brugge! I also really love when we have to travel to Oostende or Blankenberge to see investigators because those costal towns are so pretty and they are quiet which is nice. The Centrum here in Brugge is usually not very busy but on the weekend it gets packed!!! Last week it was cool because we were walking through the Centrum and this couple stopped us. They were from London and aren’t LDS but stopped us to say hi because they know who we are and the wife’s family is LDS. I just really appreciated that she did that, it was nice to have a little talk. But on the weekends it’s super bust because people from England and other nearby countries come to enjoy the beauties of Brugge.

I’ll explain a little about the language. I am beginning to understand more and more pretty quickly but speaking it is coming just slower. Brugge is a hard place to understand people, first of all they don’t speak Nederlands (Dutch) they speak Flams (Flemish). Which is not what I learned in the MTC. That is what all of Belgium is like. But Brugge is also known for having an exceptionally weird accent. When we meet people who have lived here their entire lives it is impossible for me to understand them. The members in the ward say it's hard for them to understand those people. But Elder Richards does pretty good and helps me a lot in those times. My goal when I leave is to be able to speak as good as he does. The people here say he speaks really good and I can see it! I am scared I won't be able to be as good but I mean he is about 20 or more months into his mission more than me. It is hard to be a greenie because I can't add to conversations. I feel kinda useless a lot of the time. I just hope that the language comes quickly! It really helps to be surrounded by it all the time though.

So I explained what my schedule is like in my last email. I have an hour for personal study. I really want to use that hour to do effective study but I often have a hard time knowing what to study. Any suggestions for any topics? And if anyone wants to email me some good talks that would be great! I will print them off and read them! I want to study things that will help me with my investigators and the other people we teach. Sometimes I feel like I have no thoughts in my head to share so it would be good to study applicable things so I have lots to share! So send things like that please. And if you don’t have anything feel free to just email me for fun! Ask me questions and I'll try to answer them. I love getting emails from everyone. Sorry if I don’t respond I have next to no time to write, but know that I read it and an thankful for it!

On a more spiritual note, I did do a little study on humility. I think it is very important and often overlooked. It is a Christ like attribute that we all can do better at developing. When we have humility we have an absence of pride. Pride is very bad, we see that in many examples of the Nephites and the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. When they had pride they forgot God in their lives and they thought everything they had was because of their own work. But then they were humbled as they often are and that’s when they turn to God. When they realized the blessings from God in their lives. How much easier will our lives be if we don’t have to be humbled? If we do that ourselves and recognize God in our lives we can be free of pride. Whenever I share this though I always end with the challenge to do something that humbles you everyday. Its easy for me because I am humbled every second of the day. The language is humbling, the people are humbling, the country is humbling, the work is humbling. But I am thankful because I see how I must rely on the help of God all the time and I see the many blessings in my life as I do that. So do that everyday! Oh and read in the Book of Mormon, I testify that if you read it with real intent and a sincere heart you will feel something and learn something and you can read it a thousand times and learn something new everyday. My testimony of the Book of Mormon grows everyday! Do these 2 things and tell me what you think.

Dutch word of the week is eeuwige which means eternal it’s a hard word to say is pronounced like eh-ooo-ih-ggg-ah the ggg is the Dutch “G” in the back of your throat.

Back in Brussels to do some legal work and eating a Mitrailette 
Belgian street food the mitrailette (bun and sausage topped with fries and sauce)
MTC companions at Grand Place,  Brussels
Famous landmark Manneken Pis from 1618, Brussels
LDS Chapel Brugge
LDS Chapel Brugge
LDS Meeting House, Brugge
His sweet bike

Monday, 20 February 2017

Week 8: Brugge and Brussels

Hey Mum!

Ya, so I went on exchanges to Brussels for 2 nights and about 2 full days. I was there with Elder McConkie. We had a lot of interesting experiences. Brussels is a weird place. I am so glad I am not serving there haha. Dutch is pretty much useless there because so many people speak French and a lot don't speak English so that was hard. We went to this one area called Molenbeek. It is like the Compton of Brussels. I have never seen so many Arabic people. Molenbeek is also known as the place where the Brussel bombers lived. So ya we went there... we had to go there to look up some less active people and it was a lot and a lot of walking. We had a big map out and the street addresses and it was fun trying to find these people in this sketchy place. We ended up on this one street that had hookers everywhere, that was really awful.

Anyway earlier that day we were in another part of Brussels called Vilvoorde which is a lot nicer. It is up north and is quiet. But it is known as the place where they eat horse. We had a lunch appointment with a YSA [young single adult] in the ward there and he took us to a horse steak restaurant.  Mum, you know I don't like weird meats. I was so nervous so I ordered the kindersteak which is kid's steak which means it is smaller but the YSA wouldn't let me get a small steak so I got a regular size. The other thing is the most they would cook it was medium! I never get my steak medium! So I was really scared at this point and when I cut into it it was all bloody. But I took a bite and it was actually pretty good and normal tasting. I finished the whole thing and I would recommend horse to anyone in the future. It is very lean, not a single piece of fat! Anyway that was one day in Brussels, oh and we also had dinner with Ari and Tayla. They are a lot of fun, they remind me of Maddie and Jackie haha. On the train back from Brussels we passed a red light district, wow Brussels is not a good place! Anyway that was my Brussels trip, it was an interesting experience.

Daily routine is wake up at 6:30 and work out half hour then shower and eat and get ready until 8:30. Then we daily plan then an hour of personal study and then an hour of comp study then an hour of taal study (language) then lunch for half hour then missionary work after until 9:00 when we return home and write in our journals. We also have dinner before 9:00 sometime.  I have seen 0 keeshonds. Ya there was a race through the Centrum, we walked by it but it was before it started. There was an old man in our branch who ran it. Yup it was Saturday night.

Stuff to tell you:
1. There is a member in our branch, he was the first convert 43 years ago in this city and now he is about 75. He is so cool, he looks like a cross between Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise to me. He is also a semi-pro ping pong player and he also goes door knocking every Saturday and gives us a ton of referrals. He is awesome. The ping pong table they have here is so nice! and the paddles too.
2. My bag is so nice, the Peak Design one. It just works so well with everything and is the perfect size.
3. We originally went to Brussels for a conference then I stayed there for exchanges. We ate at an Ikea and it was just like the ones back home. I am going to another conference in Antwerpen today and I will also be going on exchanges there after. Then later this week I will be going back to Brussels to do more legality paper stuff.
4. Elder Richards knows how to make this food called nasi goreng, it is so good, he also makes good peanut sauce for it.
5. Last Pday we saw the blood of Christ. There is a church here that claims they have a piece of cloth that has Christ's blood on it and it was free to see it. There are some pictures of the church in the photos I sent. It was a pretty cool church though.
6. We traveled to a town called Blankenberge to see a less active member and it is a really cool town on the coast, look it up!
7. There is a food called Vla here, it is so good. It comes in a carton like a liquid and it is like a drinkable yogurt but way better and the flavours are so good too!
8. We had dinner with an American family last night and it was really nice to talk with them and eat. They are really cool and fun and the dad is helping to put together a bike for me. He loves working on bikes and things. He has 4 girls ages 10 - 17 ish. They are a lot of fun. We played some games with them and talked and it was nice to be able to speak in English!

thats all,

love elder fernhout


Lost in Molenbeek with Elder McConkie -at night
Horse restaurant in Vilvoorde
Waiting for the bus in Brugge
A Church in Brugge
The Centrum (market square) and Belfry

Canal in Brugge

Monday, 13 February 2017

Week 7: First Week in Brugge/Bruges

Hi Mum!

Yes I am in Brugge. Do you know how to pronounce it? It's hard ['e' at the end makes an 'a' sound]. My companion is so great, really outgoing and knows the language so good! He is going to be so useful to start off my mission. I stayed in the mission home for 1 night, which they say is really lucky to do that. I think it's because there was only 3 in my group coming here. My trainer had 17 or so in his. I surprisingly have had no problems with the jet lag. I must have timed it all really well. On the plane from London there were not many people so I was able to find an open row of 3 and lay down on it like a couch and I slept so good.

We started right away the next morning after I landed. But when I did land I saw President and Elder Tanner waiting for me with big smiles. Elder Tanner saw our plane was late and wasn't worried about us so that was good. The London airport was interesting. I have never heard so many English, English speaking people at once! Anyway when we landed in Amsterdam we got our bags and met the Prez and his wife and the 2 APs. The Amsterdam airport is the best and most beautiful one I have ever seen. I was so happy to be here too and it just felt right. The air and humidity felt so good! We all drove to a pannekoeken restaurant and that was delicious. Look them up, I don't know how to spell it. I was so impressed with the APs Dutch and I really hope I am at that point when I am at their stage.

From there we went to the mission home with the APs and stayed the night. They have a big room with 3 bunkbeds. We woke up at 6:30 am and showered and headed downstairs for breakfast. They made eggs and fruit salad and there was this really really good yogurt that we had with the fruit. Also this sauce stuff for the eggs called sambala, it's pretty good. They also have a chocolate milk drink here called Chocomel, I think, and it is also really good. However they have weird milk here in Belgium. It can sit on the shelf for 6 months unopened... it's alright. Anyway, from the mission home we went with the office elders to do some legal stuff in Leiden. The office elders are cool, one of them is over finances for the entire mission and the other is over legality things in the entire mission. They helped to get us all set up with bus passes and whatnot.

Then we travelled to the mission office where we waited in anticipation for like half an hour to meet our trainers! I was really nervous that I wouldn't like mine but he is great! I am so happy with who they paired me with. We stayed in the office for a little bit to do some more training. Elder Cameron is going somewhere in the Netherlands and Elder Tanner is in Ghent. So Elder Tanner, his trainer, and me and my trainer all travelled together in this little Toyota Yaris with our bags squished really tight. I was starting to get a little car sick so we had to pull over 2 times but we made it. It was about a 3 hour drive! Traffic is what made me sick, a lot of stopping and going. We dropped the other 2 off in their city and we took the car to ours. We get to have the car for a little then we have to hand it off and it goes in a rotation.

We drove to Brugge and it is so nice here. All the elders want to go to Brugge because its apparently the most beautiful city of them all. So they all say that I am really lucky to be here. And it's true it is a really beautiful city! So different than America and Canada. Our area is the only one that borders both France and the Netherlands and I also love it because it touches the ocean! Our apartment is a little outside of the Centrum and I don't have a bike right now so it's really nice that we have the car!
At least for a little longer.

We got to Brugge at night so we didn't do a whole lot but the next day we started right off with doing the normal thing. I don't know what I was expecting but I was a little surprised. I feel like a real missionary finally. It is so nice to be out of the MTC now. We have done a lot since I got here so I can't write it all but it includes knocking doors and street contacting, handing out Books of Mormons (;)), taking trains and buses and all kinds of stuff.

The ward here is small (30-ish people) so it's actually a branch but they feed us a lot. We have already been fed 4 times it is awesome. Yesterday in church it was really cool too, it was hard to understand because it was all in Dutch but I got some things. Brugge is known to have a really hard accent to understand and yesterday we went to Zeebrugge to teach this guy named M who we have never met and he lives in this really sketchy area but we taught him and gave him a BOM. His accent though was the hardest to understand yet. I literally didn't understand a single word he said! But I gave my little part of the lesson and bore testimony on the restoration and it went good. On the drive out there we got a little lost and took some backroads and it was so beautiful!

A lot of the lessons we have been teaching are in English but more of them are in Dutch. So I get to practice my Dutch and English [teaching] skills. We have quite a few investigators right now and 2 have a baptismal date so that's so exciting! Our apartment is alright, ER says we are lucky to have a dishwasher it's super rare. We also have a washing machine but no dryer.

It was foggy and overcast when I got here and it hasn't been sunny until today. Like 5 days in a row without sun but I really like it. We haven't had rain yet but it has snowed 2 times which ER has only had it snow one other time his whole mission, weird huh. I love all the water ways and canals here and even more so the streets and narrow back alleys that look like there's nothing there but in reality that's where all the front doors are. I also had my first waffle and the stereotypes about Belgian waffles are true. They are so so so good. They are also known for their chocolate which is amazing and when you combine the two it is a glorious thing. I have pictures of my first waffle. Anyway all in all I really love it here. The city and people here are awesome.

[There is a world-class ping pong player in the branch and the chapel in Bruges has a nice ping pong table so he will be able to work on his skills a bit :)]

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Week 6: Arrival in the Field

After a flight change and a little longer stay at the SLC Airport, Elder Fernhout flew to London and onto Amsterdam.  He arrived in the mission field on Tuesday February 7. After a couple of days at the mission home he was sent to Brugge, Belgium, with his trainer, Elder Richards.

About Brugge:
"Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. In the city center’s Burg square, the 14th-century Stadhuis (City Hall) has an ornate carved ceiling. Nearby, Market square features a 13th-century belfry with a 47-bell carillon and 83m tower with panoramic views." (Source: Google Maps - Quick Facts)
"Bruges is basically a small village that has been frozen in time for hundreds of years. It’s certainly one of the most charming places to visit in Europe — and that’s why people flock there. But, despite the crowds, Bruges’ canals and gorgeous medieval Flemish architecture make the city well worth the visit."(

President and Sister Bunnell, Elders Tanner, Cameron, and Fernhout
MTC companions
Eating the famous pannekoeken for dinner
With his companion, Elder Richards
Pointing to Brugge on the map

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Week 5: Last Week at the MTC!

Yup I have received my travel itinerary! I am getting really excited now, it's coming fast and no I don't feel prepared haha. Ya the new missionary schedule will be really nice! They are giving us a lot more agency and they do that so it's easier to go back into real life and when we leave the mission field we will be good at managing our time [last Wednesday was a world wide missionary conference and changes were made to the missionary schedule]. Ya that scripture is one of my favourites though!!! [3 Nephi 13:19-21]

[Questions from home:
1.  Do you have your flight/travel itinerary?
2.  How do you feel about going to your mission?  Do you feel prepared, nervous?
3.  What did you learn this week?  Any funny moments?
4.  How is it going as District Leader? What are your extra duties?
5.  Have you had any more “fast food” meals lately?
6.  Do you get a lot of letters each week?]

1. Yup, so I fly out Feb. 6. I have to be at the travel office at 9:50 am and our flight is at 3:50 I think to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then we have about a 30 muinutes layover and we land in Amsterdam 8 hours -ish later!
2. I feel good and I really want to leave the MTC but I know that once I get out there I'll miss the comfort of the MTC and I won't feel prepared. But I feel good now!
3. So boodschap is the dutch word for message right, and in our lessons us missionaries have been saying groote boodshap or kleine boodshap, which means big messsage or small message. We use it with our investigators all the time. Well little did we know that groote boodshap and kleine boodshap means number 1 and number 2 as in the bathroom terms. hahahah.
4. My job is good. I don't do that much, I get the mail and lead district meetings and announce things and lead discusions in the mornings.
5. Ya we had Taco Bell again, that was sick.
6. A few, not as many as the others!!!!!! ;)

My stuff,
1. I got grandma's package! It was all Smarties! Canadian Smarties which was really confusing for the Americans haha, I shared them around.
2. We did our TRC this week through skype! We skyped members in the Netherlands! That was really fun, our member said I spoke really well but I mean everyone says that.
3. One day everyone in my district got 2 "Dear Elders" each and Elder Cameron got 3 packages. Then later that day he got another package! I got nothing the whole day! But it's fine. His packages were all huge boxes of food!
4. So I finished the BOM again and I saw one of those lists that says blah blah begat blah blah who begat.... and I decided to map it all out. So now I have this huge webs of names and I keep jumping all over the bible and BOM and it keeps growing. Its really fun!
5. Thanks for the package! It came yesterday. The Kinder Eggs were awesome becasue the Americans have never seen those becasue they are illegal here hahah. And I am really glad you sent that package because even though I said I didn't want it I soon realized I did haha. Mums are the best.[so nice to be appreciated :)]
6. All the Americans here have never seen ketchup chips either and when Elder Cameron got some they thought it was the wierdsest thing ever haha.

The Zone at the Provo Temple (Dutch, Albanian, Hungarian, and Turkish Districts)
Sunday walk to the MTC
Temple pic of the week
Cake from Elder Stapleton's Mom, bwahaha