Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit, The Ten Virgins, & Investigators

We found a very interesting mystery fruit at the open market. It is called Dragon Fruit. We have no idea where it comes from, but it was so unique we wanted to share a picture and description of it with you. If anyone knows where it comes from or more details we would happy to get a comment on our blog or an email. It looks like some kind of a miniature dragon with scales and a tail. The inside is a lot like Kiwi, but does not have as much flavor. Any way we just thought it was unique - maybe it is from Africa or some island nation.

Yesterday was a special Enrichment Day for the Stake Relief Society (Zusters Hulp Vereniging). Zuster Servoss spent about six hours at our Ward building with dozens of other sisters from the Stake. They had a special musical presentation of the Ten Virgins story (which describes the ten different characters in the story). We saw the full program last month here. The songs are all in English and the dialogue in Dutch. It is very inspirational. There were also other talks based on the same theme. Preparing spiritually was the real underlying theme. Elder Crowther and I spent some time back at our apartment. It gave Elder Servoss some time to study and relax a bit. He also spent some quality time with his journal writing.

Today we were pleased to have five investigators at church. One of them was a total surprise, since she was an investigator three years ago and we were not aware of her. The work is going forth and there are some very good people in the teaching pool. We are blessed to be able to joint teach with the young elders on some of the lessons. After church we drove 60 miles to Amsterdam and had lunch with a friend of our son Lance. Ron is here on a training assignment with his company for two weeks. It was great to meet him and have lunch. He is not LDS, but told us that he attended the General Priesthood session three weeks ago in the SLC Conference Center and was impressed. He had the pictures to prove it. He is very nice and said he is reading in the Book of Mormon. We then drove another 25 miles to Almere to attend the Parenting skills class again.

So, we are at the end of our first six months now - and really wonder what happened to the time. We look forward to the next twelve months and the miracles it will bring. We love our friends and family and appreciate your prayers in behalf of the missionary efforts in The Netherlands and Belgium, and worldwide.

Elders Bell, Gish, Carey, & Burke

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Old & the New

Last Sunday we drove to Almere to attend the first of six classes in the Parenting Course. We are being trained to teach it here in Rotterdam. The course actually started here and has been around the mission. It was a nice 70 mile drive to the north. At the class we met a brother John Van Vliet, who used to be a home teacher to the Steenstra family that we helped join the church in Haarlem in 1966. He had even played basketball with Alex and Robyn Steenstra. It was interesting to make the connection with him. We look forward to more conversations with him, and learning more about teaching the course.

Last Tuesday we had another District Meeting in our apartment. It was the first time for Elder Bell, since he arrived in our mission last week. He is from Rexburg, Idaho. As with most of the young missionaries we are amazed at the good Dutch that he already speaks. We were also blessed with the presence of our Zone Leaders, Elders Carey and Burke.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rotterdam District & Fall Leaves

Tuesday was our last District Meeting with of this group of missionaries. Wednesday was transfer day and Elder Borgholthaus moved on to Essen and Elder Bell arrived from Rexburg, Idaho (look for him in a future picture). We really enjoy our association with all of the missionaries. They have been instrumental in teaching many people and baptizing several. They continually inspire us. They are from left to right, Elders Tilleman, Borgholthaus, Gish, & Berry, Sisters Servoss, Knoelk, & Baxter. The middle picture shows the size of a maple leaf (we told you that the trees really grow big here). Then you see a view of the fall leaves from our apartment window (which view is behind the group).

Fall in Rotterdam

Joys of Teaching in the Netherlands

Another week has flown by and we are now approaching the six month mark of our mission. Every week is filled with varying activities. The week started by going on a joint teach with the elders to a man who is from Ethiopia. He speaks English and has been investigating for about a year. He enjoys having the lessons but just will not put forth the effort to gain a strong testimony. On Monday we took a member, who was a missionary here last year, with us to teach a young couple who are less active. The next day we were asked by the sisters in Gouda to join them for dinner and a joint teach with another man who is also from Ethiopia. We had some interesting African food (it was hot and spicy) and enjoyed the discussion with him (it was also in English). On Thursday we went to dinner at a member's home and then went to the Rotterdam North Ward to attend and support the Institute class. My wife had to fend for herself with the Dutch as I was asked to translate for a Spanish speaking young woman from Ecuador. The class members loved the oatmeal, raisin, chocolate chip cookies that Zuster Servoss had baked. They are great young people. Then on Saturday we went on a joint teach to a small village about 15 miles away. The elders had met Cebia at the train station in Rotterdam. She is from Columbia and was very receptive. Her sister was there visiting. Cebia speaks Dutch and Spanish. Her sister speaks Spanish and English. So, the lesson on the Book of Mormon and the restoration was taught in Dutch, with pauses for English translation and a chance to read verses in Spanish. Cebia had tears in her eyes as she heard about Christ visiting her forefathers in America. The spirit was so strong there. We have invited her and her sister to come to our apartment for another discussion this Wednesday. The work here is so amazing. To end out the week we drove 70 miles to Almere to attend a Parenting Workshop. We will be attending for the next 5 weeks and then will be prepared to teach it in the Rotterdam area.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sisters Matos & Kriser, Servosses & Kirkmans

Gouda: Cheese, Floor & Baptism

You have all heard of Gouda cheese, well it comes from a city here in the Netherlands by the name of Gouda (pronounced like gow-dah). You saw the pictures of Sisters Matos & Kriser while they were painting a wall, well we returned to their apartment on Wednesday with another senior couple, the Kirkmans. Elder Kirkman & Elder Servoss installed a new laminate floor. The sisters all worked on painting the door frames. These pictures show the result of our efforts. On Friday night we returned for the baptism of Shu Hang (one of the sister's investigators). It was a great baptism. Se was baptized by Raymond Ng from Rotterdam. He and his family have been mentioned on our previous blogs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Elder & Zuster Servoss at Kinderdijk in August

General Conference Watching in Holland

We were able to view all sessions of Conference here via computer or by visiting the Stake Center. We went to the Stake Center on Sunday morning at 11 am (3 am in Utah) to view the recorded Priesthood session from the night before. Some of the sisters went to the Relief Society room and visited during that time. At 2 pm we were able to watch the Sat. afternoon session, also recorded. We had watched both Sat. sessions over our computer in our apartment, (at 6 pm we watched the 10 am session, and at 10 pm we watched the 2 pm session), but went to the Stake Center for the repeat because we had an investigator with us. Then instead of staying up until 10 pm Sunday to watch the last session, we watched it on Monday morning. We were also able to view the special on the Panama Temple. We viewed some on and other things on It is so amazing that we have those options. Today as part of the District Meeting we were able to play the talk about reactivation by the Seventy from Peru. What an amazing church we have and what great inspired messages were shared with the world. Another side note was our joy at hearing about the 5 new temples, especially the ones to be built near Kansas City and Rome. The brethren always choose the best locations. We look forward to the announced sites. We learned so much from the talks and can't wait to get our Ensign next month. We will also get the Liahona in Dutch. We hope that you all had the chance to watch the sessions and recommend checking out the sites mentioned if you missed any.