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|