Sunday, March 29, 2009

Village of Silly, Wild Sky & Stairway

Silly, Skies & Stairs

One of our sons is good at using humor on his blog, so we have decided this week to lighten up a little. We found a little village in Belgium called Silly sometime ago and finally made a short side trip to it. We giggled as we finally drove through Silly and joked about it. We had seen the Silly signs and we went to Silly. We had fun being silly in Silly. The small orange brick houses with tile roofs were very quaint. We were in the French speaking area, so we had fun trying to read and pronounce the silly signs that we saw.

Because south Holland is near the coast and the countryside is so flat, the clouds move by very quickly. We are often still surprised by a clear sky, then 5 minutes later clouds and rain. If it starts raining hard, people try to stop and take cover for 5 to 10 minutes. Often the storm will pass on in that time, but then there are the days of constant drizzle. Because of the fast moving storms we have seen some great skies here. We want to share a picture or two.

Because the homes and apartments here are mostly quite small, many of them are narrow and have multiple floors. When that is the case, the home will have a very narrow set of stairs going to the next level. It amazes us how narrow they are. You often have to turn your foot sideways to fit your foot on the stairs. You need to hold tight on the rails. The Dutch are very good at fitting stairs into small places. A wide stairway is very unusual.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gouda Zone Conference Luncheon

Zone Conf. & Cancer Miracle

Zone Conference: Last Wednesday was our 2 Zone Conference in Gouda. Elder Robert C. Oaks,the European Area President was there to give us some training. He told a story of a senior couple who had requested not to be sent to a hot-humid climate, and were very disappointed when they received their call to Jackson, Mississippi. They considered turning it down, but they went any way. On their first day there they decided to go tracting. The very first door that they knocked on was opened, and inside was their daughter whom they had lost track of for years. The Lord had sent them to her. He also told us that the renewed efforts in Europe are paying off, and that there is a new spirit hovering over Europe. The recent decline in convert baptisms has stopped and there was a 6% increase last year. Miracles are being experienced all over the western European area. This is truly the time of the great second harvest. We are happy that we can be part of it. Sister Servoss coordinated the luncheon for 55 people. As you can see from the pictures, the tables looked great and the sandwiches on special Dutch rolls, the four salads, and huge Gouda stroopwaffels were great. It was a great treat for all the missionaries.

Cancer Miracle: We have mentioned before the LDS sister who has been suffering with cancer, Ingrid Odor. There is great news and rejoicing today!! She has completed her second chemotherapy treatment and the results show that she is now leukemia free! Her body is once again building red blood cells and getting her back her natural immunity. She has almost completely overcome her pneumonia also. She is now able to sit in the wheelchair again, and is starting to eat some food. Her doctor is most amazed. Two weeks ago the doctor told us that she wasn't sure that she would live through the night. Ingrid is very happy and is thanking the Lord, and all of you who may have prayed for her. She looks forward to the coming weeks and the pending bone marrow transplant. We have witnessed a huge miracle and feel blessed that we were able to help. The power of the priesthood is real and the tender mercies of the Lord have been manifest.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Young Adult (Jo Vo) Activities

Young Adult Center Activities

We have now had two months worth of activities at our Outreach or Young Adult Center in Rotterdam. It is a joy to meet with these fine young adults and partake of their spirits. You can see that we have had some good times lately. We have had good Family Home Evenings (gezinsavonds). It is so nice to watch these young people as they teach. On Thursday evenings Sister Servoss & Sister Crowther baked 8 pizzas for the young adults (Jo Vo's). They were all delicious and there were only a few pieces left. The dinner included 3 non-members, who also seemed to enjoy the food. These young people then attended the Institute class. We had 20 in attendance, which is our high so far. Tuesday evening we traveled an hour away to Den Bosch to help them open their Young Adult Center. Then today we returned to give them a little training. On one Friday we watched the video of "Emma Smith - My Story"
We are enjoying the times with these future church leaders and watching them progress and grow.

In the group picture you will notice Yeagi with the dark blue sweater on. She is a lovely young lady from Korea. She is working on her Master's Degree in violin here at the Conservatory. She plays so masterfully. She has served a mission in New York and her parents currently live in Provo, Utah. The other YA's are some of our regular attendees. Two of them, Mike and Kilian are soon to leave on their missions to England and Russia, respectively.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flowers, Fry's, & Dog Wash

Early Spring & Other Things

The past two weeks have been so very busy. We have hardly had time to relax and write a short blog article. Therefore, I will mention a few quick notes now:

Early Spring has arrived here. The crocus have started to poke up out of the grass and bloom. Here they plant large groups of crocus and daffodil bulbs under the grass in some places and let the flowers bloom, grow and die before the first grass mowing. It does not last long, but it looks very nice. We also noted some of the crops in Belgium were sprouting up in the fields today.
The weather was in the 50's and it was sunny. We are looking forward to seeing many other signs of spring soon.

One of our favorite snacks here is the "patat friet" or French fries (which the Belgians actually lay claim to having first made). The best way to eat these thick Fries is to dip them in a peanut sauce or mayonnaise, the combo plus raw onions has been given the name oorlog (war). We have discovered that we quite enjoy the Dutch mayonnaise instead of using our American ketchup. We took a picture of this treat as we were eating it while visiting the Hague on Monday.

We may have mentioned that many people here have dogs. Many of them live in apartments with their owners. It seems that even with small apartments many people have large dogs. Our neighbors have a dalmation. It seems like a crowded environment to us. They have to be taken out several times a day and walked. One enterprising car wash also offers a Dog wash. We just had to include a picture of it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Apostle Oaks & An Old Friend

Today was a special day in many ways. First we drove 1.5 hours north, with three sister missionaries as passengers, to the city of Zwolle for a Stake Conference of the Apeldoorn Stake. All of us missionaries had been invited to attend since Elder Oaks was going to be the visiting authority. Prior to the conference, we lined the foyer of the rented conference center to shake hands with Apostle Dallin H. Oaks. He asked each missionary where they were from and asked us how long we have served. I mentioned that I had returned back to my youth mission field. We were touched when he said to us, "God bless you for your service." Sister S. and I were not prepared for the tender emotional impact of his words. It was manifest to us that he was a living Apostle of the Lord. The conference talks were wonderful, including that of our Mission President, Paul Woodland. He is fluent in French, which is great for the other half of our mission, but he often surprises us with bearing his testimony in Dutch. The new Temple President, Pres. Van Rij, is from Utah and was the mission president here many years ago. He encouraged all members to increase their temple attendance. It was also great to visit with our many missionary friends too.

After the conference we drove about an hour to the city of Zutphen to visit an old friend, Jan Steenstra. Forty two years ago, we baptized him and his wife into our church. It was so good to see him again! We also got to meet his wife of 15 years, Adina. She is a wonderful woman from Romania. We had a great time visiting for a few hours and them having dinner with them. I think that Jan and I both are realizing that somehow we have both grown a lot older, and hopefully wiser.