Sunday, September 28, 2008

We Are All Here to Serve

This month and certainly this week has been a time of service for many of us missionaries. There have been so many opportunities to serve other members, investigators and other missionaries as well. 1. The short story, from our perspective, is that we have been able to help another Senior Couple (Elder & Zuster Kirkman) install new laminate flooring in the apartment of Elders Burke & Carey here in Rotterdam. Then the elders put in the floor trim. That was the 4th floor that Elder & Zuster Kirkman had installed, and the miracle was that all the materials were donated. 2. Next Zuster Servoss and I moved on to the apartment of Zusters Matos & Kriser in Gouda. We obtained the paint and they painted the kitchen, while we removed the old linoleum floor covering. This week we will return with the Kirkmans to install another laminate floor (still using donated material). 3. Last Wednesday Elders Tilleman & Berry and I went to the apartment of a new investigator to help her move. We drug and hauled 9 very large boxes to the lower level storage area. We had to traverse 91 stairs each way. Then we took smaller boxes down. After 2 hours we were finally able to sit down with her and give her a lesson on the restoration and the Book of Mormon. The next day Elders Gish & Borgholthaus joined us to help Martha clean up for another 2 hours. The next day Martha and her two children flew back to Curacao to live with family. 4. Then yesterday Elders Tilleman & Berry and Elder & Zuster Servoss went to a member's home and removed some fir trees from her "achter tuin" (back yard garden). We used some small saws with 10 inch blades, and branch loppers. Once the trees were down it was necessary to cut up the pieces, so they would fit into the garbage can and bags. The largest branches, bags and garbage can had to all be taken around to the front of her home (part of a 4 plex). The various service activities bless everyone and give us all a better opportunity to get to know these people.

Service: Sisters Painting their Apartment & Elders Cutting Trees

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Temple Day with the District: Elders Tilleman & Berry on the right.

Another Bike Miracle, Cookies & Seminary Day

This has been a great week. Here is a quick summary. 1. Yesterday the young elders called us to report that Elder Berry had just experienced a collision between his bicycle and a car. He flew onto the hood of the car and then hit the ground. He did manage to walk away from it with a few bruises and soreness. They reported that he really was fine, the car was fine, and the bike had minor damage. He was really protected we feel. 2. The elders had spent their entire prep day, Thursday, baking cookies. They baked 300 cookies and we helped transport them to the church today. At the end of sacrament meeting, Elder Tilleman went to the mic and announced that they had a sweet gift for everyone in the foyer. As the people filed into the foyer they were handed a plate of cookies (6 - 8 0n each). The members were very surprised and pleased and all had smiles and expressed their thanks. The cookies not only looked good, but tasted good too. The elders called it "operation love".
3. Yesterday was also a busy day for Zuster S and myself. We spent most of the day helping about 200 seminary students from throughout the whole mission. They were having their Super Saturday. Here seminary is taught largely in homes at about 6:30 am. There are small groups of 4-10 who are taught by one of the parents usually. The day was the kick-off for the year. We were impressed with all of the fine youth who attended. There were some who are Americans and are living here with their families. The day for the youth lasted from 1 pm to 11 pm, ending with a dance. We understand that the dance was especially nice and that many more than usual actually danced. The adventures just continue here and we love it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Zuster Servoss Also Ate the Raw Herring, but with style

The Open Air Markets

Rotterdam, like other cities in Europe, has many open markets in the city. They are held in different neighborhoods on various days. Our local market is on Fridays. We are usually the only shoppers who are dressed for church, but that is OK. We try to spread our smiles around as we shop. We are fortunate that our market is only about 2 blocks from our house. There are bakers, fish dealers, vegetable dealers, cheese dealers, clothing, flowers, etc. These sellers offer lower prices than the stores that are in the area. It is a busy place to visit. We especially enjoy buying two huge bouquets of flowers for 4.5 Euros ($7). The cheese is always good too. We are always sampling new varieties, of course Gouda cheese here comes in many flavors, and then there are many other brands of cheese. We learned that 80% of the Dutch cheese is exported to Germany (which is the largest producer of cheese in the world). But even they love Dutch cheese. Here many people drag a little 2 wheel shopping cart along to stash their purchases in. We find that it works well for us too. Shopping in the small grocery stores here is interesting too, you pay a 50 cent deposit to use their big carts. Then at check out you bag your own things in a bag that you have brought or you buy a new bag for 1 Euro ($1.50). There is still nothing quite like the open markets, with the smells, sights and sounds. In the center of the city is a huge market. It has a fabric and clothing section that is bigger than our small local market. Some days we still pinch ourselves and say, "Wow, we live in Holland"!

Open Air Market in Rotterdam

Elder Servoss ate Raw Herring in the Traditional Way

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Alkmaar Cheese Market

We took the opportunity of going to the famous cheese market in Alkmaar on Friday. It was the last market demonstration of the year. It is a traditional market that has taken place since 1622. It is now just a tourist attraction and not a necessary part of the cheese selling process. About 700-1000 wheels of cheese (each weighing about 30 lbs) are placed two high in stacks on the plaza. Inspectors then check out the cheeses and take samples from random wheels, and hand samples to a few of the spectators. A buyers and sellers haggle over the price of a stack of cheeses, and an agreement is reached. Then, the cheese carriers pick up a load of 8 wheels on a barrow and carry it to the weighing house scales. Next the carriers take the load to the other end of the plaza to be loaded. They walk with a special "cheese carriers dribble", a particular walking rhythm to make it easier. They step out of time as it were, insuring the barrow hangs as still as possible. "In a stride reminiscent of someone hurrying to the toilet". They do that for 2 1/2 hours, and despite the weight they carry, they seem to really enjoy what they are doing and smile and hoot. We only saw a couple of cheese wheels drop, once when a rope broke. This is a sight that is really worth seeing. It runs from the first Friday in April to the first Friday in September. Our mission president encourages each couple to experience the culture that surrounds them.

Alkmaar Cheese Market: loading, carrying, weighing, inspecting, displaying

Tradition of Eating Raw Herring

The Elders here for at least 50 years have had a tradition of eating a raw herring. The fish are considered a delicacy. They are cleaned out, de-boned and covered with chopped onions. Then the headless fish (3-4 inches long), still with its scales is lowered into the open, upturned mouth and eaten in a hurry. It seems to be a right of passage with the young Elders. Elder S. did this when younger, but is not quite ready to try it again yet. He prefers them pickled, although they leave quite an after-taste. Elder Berry has only been out about 2 months, but said he liked it, and asked if we could we get some more. Then we were reminded that he is from California and a sushi eater.

Elder Berry Eating Raw Herring

How About a Bike Miracle

I apologize that we missed making an entry last week. This should make up for it. First Elder Tilleman had a little miracle happen with his bike. He had acquired a used bicycle from Elder & Zuster Crowther. Elder Crowther had found an extra bike at an Elder's apartment and fixed it up. He gave it to Elder T two weeks ago, complete with a big lock. Last week the Elders stopped by our church for a few minutes. When they came out his bike was on its way down the street with two teenage boys. He jumped on his companions bike and intercepted the boys, stopped them, scolded them, and took his bike back. The boys then ran off. Then this week he locked his bike up outside the train station. A few hours later it was gone. He was quite amazed since it is just an old bike. Any way, he was left without a bike again. We suggested that he go to a bike shop near us, and that it would probably cost him 150 to 200 Euros. But, Zuster S said as you know, the Lord will provide. Ten minutes later he called us and reported that he had just bought a geared mountain bike for 25Euros ($37). We could not believe his good fortune. A man had just traded it in and there is not much of a market for the mountain bikes here. Hopefully bike thieves wont like it either, although it is a nice looking bike.