Sunday, August 24, 2008

Teaching a Book of Mormon Class in English, etc.

Today was a very unique day in our mission. It was Zuster Servoss' turn to teach the Sunday School lesson (Gospel Doctrine Book of Mormon) in English. We have only taught it in English for two weeks. Today we had a Portuguese speaking investigator come to church with her friend, who speaks Spanish, English and Dutch. An investigator would normally go to the Gospel Essentials class (basic class taught in Dutch). However, another member that could translate the lesson into Portuguese does not speak Dutch. So the three of them decided to attend our English class. Another sister in the Ward (Sr. Gonzalez) came to the class. She speaks Spanish, some English and some Dutch. Our Spanish speaking missionary came to our class and provided the Spanish translation for her. Then Elder Servoss sat next to her daughter and he translated some of the lesson into Dutch for her, since her English is limited. So Zuster Servoss was the only one in the class who was speaking English through the lesson. She had to pause after a few sentences to allow time for the translations to occur. We also had copies of the Book or Mormon in all of those languages that they were reading from at the same time. When you teach that way it is hard to stay focused and know if your thoughts and words are staying connected. Somehow it seemed to have worked and the class members all learned about Helaman's Stripling Warriors and following the prophet with exactness. The spirit had to teach us all in our respective languages. Then this evening we went joint teaching with the Elders and taught a woman from the Dominican Republic, who speaks Spanish, English, and Dutch. Every one of those languages came up during the discussion over the value of the Book of Mormon. To end the lesson the woman offered a heart-felt prayer in Spanish, that only Elder Helton could understand, but we could all certainly feel. We are so grateful to have these amazing experiences. The gospel is true!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Carpet of Flowers in Brussels

Senior Couples at Lunch

Senior Couples Outing to Brussels

This has been a very nice week. We had a Zone Conference on Tuesday in Amsterdam with all of the Dutch speaking senior couples and two zones of young missionaries. It was a spiritual highlight and we learned many things from it to help us be better at what we are doing here. Then on Friday the French speaking couples joined with us Dutch speakers at the home of the Mission President, Paul & Marilyn Woodland, in Brussels. We had a great luncheon and felt like we were in a very nice large home back in the states. It was nice to be with all of the other couples. After the meal we all went to downtown Brussels via the subways. It was a unique ride for us. There were 5 underground levels of tracks and other passage ways. We made it to the city center, Grand Plaats, where there was a very special outdoor flower exhibit that looked like a huge magnificent carpet. It is the world's largest Savonnerie carpet (whatever that means). The exhibit was called, "Bloomentapijt" or flower carpet. It covered about 1.3 football fields in size and was made up of over 300 flowers per square meter. They were all laid out on the cobble stones for the three day event (which happens every other year). It was spectacular, and there were thousands of people there who would agree. We were happy to get back out of the crowds. Back in the subway tunnels we enjoyed a Belgian waffle at a little snack bar. Ours were warm, smothered in chocolate, and topped with whipped cream. We had to pinch ourselves and say again, "We live in Europe". There are many rewards as senior missionaries and these days were just a few of the many that we have had. Then yesterday we went joint teaching and spoke with a woman and her brother who are from Afganistan. We spoke Dutch with them, but it was hard to communicate. Today we went on another joint teach to a woman from the Dominican Republic. She speaks Spanish and no Dutch, so we were glad to turn things over to our Spanish speaker, Elder Helton (who also speaks Dutch & English). At lunch today we hosted the young Elders and a sister from Portugal, who now lives in the Ward. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and Creole, but almost no Dutch. What a melting pot this is here. She came here from London, where she said that the Stake President said there were 125 different nationalities represented in their Stake. What a marvelous time we live in and a great time to participate in spreading the gospel.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Amsterdam Canals

Elder & Zuster S., Helen & Mark Watts

Visitors and Local Missionary Farewell

The past ten days have really gone by fast. We have had two trips to Belgium, had visitors from the states, and have had a local missionary give his farewell talk in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. On Saturday the 2nd we had our first visitors from the states, Mark & Helen Watts. They are the in-laws to our son Trent. They came for 3 days to see what Holland was like. They had a great time visiting with members at church. Most members speak some English, so that made it easier. We had a great time with them in Amsterdam on Monday. It was interesting to visit Anne Frank's House. There was a very somber feeling there. The boat ride through the canals was great. We were able to enjoy the wonderful ornate architecture of many old buildings as we cruised leisurely past them. To end the day we had dinner at a Chinese/Dutch family's home (the Ng family shown in other blog photos). Then we made it to another Sunday and enjoyed the talks and talents of the Croese family as they participated in the Sacrament Meeting. Their son Jared was leaving for his mission to Suriname (near Brazil). At the end of the meeting the Stake President went to the pulpit and announced that he would now set Jared apart as a missionary, and that any that needed to could leave. The circle of brethren soon laid their hands on Jared's head and set him apart. Then the audience was invited to go to the cultural hall and partake of some soup, bread, and punch. Because of distances here and the small homes, that type of reception is not uncommon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Servosses, Sisters Orton & Redd

Visit With Sisters Orton & Redd

Last Saturday we made another trip to Belgium to the US military base in Cheivre. After that we drove to Charleroi (Shar lo wah). We met our cousin Sister Jenny Orton and her companion at the train station. She has been in the mission only 10 days. It was great to see her and to visit. Sister Orton is from Cedar City, Utah. She will be serving in the French area of the mission, so we will rarely see her. We had permission to make a short visit and have lunch with them. We found it to be very interesting to be around the French speaking people in the fast food restaurant and on the street. We then drove the sisters to a members home so that they could do service. It is great to know that there are now two descendants of Joseph & Ruby Olsen serving in our mission.