Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mheer Castle & Eijsden Castle

Castles in Nederland

Last weekend, as a side line to our trip to Valkenburg and Margraten, we visited some old castles that were in that corner of the country. We first visited the Mheer castle near Margraten, which was built in 1487 and rebuilt in 1668. We were not able to go inside, but were happy to be able to walk around and view it outside. An hour later we were 10 miles south at another more ornate castle called Eijsden (Eyesden), which was built in 1636 & added to in 1767. It had some beautiful gardens behind it with neatly trimmed hedges. They were both wonderful medieval type buildings. We put a picture of the Muiderslot castle on this blog on our April 22nd entry. It is also a beatuiful castle that is restored inside. It was first built in 1280. It is near Amsterdam. Part of the joy of living here is being able to visit the wonderful castles on Preparation Day or a Saturday. Our mission president has told us that he wants us to experience the culture here. This is an amazing area of the world.

Servaas & Servoss; Inside St Servaas Church

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

St. Servaas Church & Servaas's Image

Valkenburg & Groto

Wreath, Cemetery & Senior Couples

US Military Cemetery & Valkenburg

For the second year in row the senior missionaries from our mission made the trip to Valkenburg and the US Military Cemetery in nearby Margraten. We traveled about 100 miles to reach the "mountaineous" part of the Netherlands. The high point there is 900 feet above sea level. We enjoyed visiting a groto beneath the city of Valkenburg, which was first used by the Romans to get building blocks of soft stone. During WWII it was used as a bomb shelter by the Dutch. Thousands of people lived there for a time during the war. In the afternoon my wife and I drove 15 miles to Maastricht to get the wreath for the ceremony on Sunday at the cemetery. While we were in the city we visited the St. Servaas church again. We had been there last year. This year we were able to tour inside the church. It was amazing to see the old church. In the year 384 Bishop Servaas, who had been the Catholic Bishop of Maastricht, died. He was such a great man that years later they built a church in his honor and then he was also "sainted", becoming Saint Servaas (or in Latin, St. Servatius). We don't think that there is any family connection, but we have not been able to make a conclusion yet. It was very interesting visiting the old cathedral.

Later in the afternoon we met the other couples back in Valkenburg and went to a restaurant with an eating area outside, along the walking street. We enjoyed a great meal and great company. It was nice to exchange mission experieces with the others. Each of us has a little different assignment. Elder & Zuster Dabel serve in Den Helder, where he is in the Branch Presidency. Elder & Zuster Salden serve in the Hilversum & Amsterdam areas doing member support and procelyting. Elder & Zuster Spek serve in Antwerp also doing member support and procelyting. Elder & Sister Phair are serving in Brussels. They speak French and work with the Outreach/Young Adult Program. My wife and I do member support and also work with the Outreach/Young Adult Program and procelying here in Rotterdam. After dinner we returned to our hotel and sat out on the deck, which overlooked the green hills and part of the city. After a night's sleep, we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday morning buffet breakfast in the hotel diningroom.

We then drove 15 minutes to the city of Heelen to attend church. We held our own services in the Relief Society room. We had the sacrament and shared testimonies. It was the last opportunity for our Mission President, Paul Woodland, to conduct this meeting, since he will be released in 6 weeks. We will miss him and his wife Marilyn very much. Next it was on to the military cemetery. The cemetery at Margraten is the home to over 8,000 American and some Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the Second World War. It was very humbling as we looked out over the thousands of white crosses, and contemplated the sacrifices that those soldiers had made on our behalf. Thousands were on hand for a commerative ceremony that had dignitaries from many countries, cities and organizations being escorted forward to place a wreath to honor the dead. Pres. Woodland had that honor representing the LDS Church. It was a great day to reflect on the freedom that we all enjoy. We should all cherish that freedom and be thankful to those who have made it possible.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Visiting, Ribbon Cutting & Dinner

Outreach Center Formal Opening

On Thursday the 14th of May we held the formal opening of our Outreach or Young Adult Center in Rotterdam. My wife and I have been supervising this program since January, but we wanted to make some improvements to the facility and have Young Adult leaders selected before having a formal opening. We began the evening with a BBQ of American hamburgers (with meat from the air base), and chicken, which we started cooking on the grill outside. We soon found that not only was the grill too small for the crowd, but it was slow in cooking. We soon were also using the stove inside. We had a great group of about 50 who enjoyed the meal. The size of the meat patties was much larger than anything seen here.

It was soon time for the program. All adjorned to the classroom to hear from Stake Pres. De Jonge, Mission Pres. Woodland, and Bro. Noot from Seminaries & Institute. The program was interspersed with music. Bro. Noot taught a short lesson on the New Testament to end the program. Next came the ribbon cutting for the newly painted and decorated Young Adult room or JOVO Huis. Elder & Sister Servoss, and Yeagi Kim (the YA chairman) cut the red ribbon to reveal the room. The group was impressed with the area rug, painted walls, and new painting of Christ. Cookies and punch were then served to everyone. It was a grand evening and we are glad that we had a small part in it. We can now apply for formal status with the church regional office. We love working with the Young Adults (Jovo's) here. They are such great young people and have so much to offer the church.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Meal "Family"

Moederdag (Mother's Day) in Holland

Mothers the world over were congratulated and honored on this special Sunday. Here in Rotterdam we had our Stake Conference. There were some special things said about mothers, but there was no symbol of recognition given at the church (card, flowers, etc.). We returned to our apartment with Christene and her son, and , Elders Duran, Wood, Morrell, and Relitz. The elders then spent the next 45 minutes cooking a pasta dinner covered with chicken in a cream sauce. We also had tossed salad. We soon added two more members, Yeagi, and Quincy to the group. We sat down to a wonderful meal that had been prepared with love. The Zone Leaders, Elders Maurer and Scherbel, also stopped by. Sister Servoss was then given hand-made cards from each set of elders. They were very nice to acknowledge her on this special day. It was nice to have such a fine group of people to celebrate together and remember their own mothers. A few hours later Elders Duran and Wood returned to our apartment so that Elder Duran could call home on our computer. Elder Wood's family had called him on the team's cell phone earlier. It was nice to see the joy on their faces and the light in their eyes as they talked of their loved ones at home. My wife and I will be calling our children with Skype (on the computer) in the next hour. All in all, it was a great day and Sister Servoss was very happy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sister Jenny Orton with Elder & Zuster Servoss

Elders Helton, Buck, & Spurrier

Missionaries at the Hague Temple

Twice a year we have the opportunity as senior couples to participate in attending the temple with all of our mission. It takes two sessions for the French speaking missionaries and two for the Dutch speaking ones the next week. Last week we were at the temple with the French group. That was very interesting, especially since I don't know French and my wife knows some. We both listened to the English in our headsets, but on the second day, Sister Servoss was just enjoying herself listening to the beautiful French language. I worked at the veil and had to do my part totally in English, thank goodness for pauses. It was great getting to know the French group. Fortunately one of them is our second cousin, Sister Jenny Orton, from Cedar City, Utah. We had a great time comparing notes and catching up on family matters back home.

This week we have been to the temple with half of the Dutch group Tuesday, and the other half on Wednesday. It was so good to see many of the Elders who have served with us here in Rotterdam, and others that we have also grown to love. We always look forward to seeing all the missionaries. There really is something special about attending the temple with a lot of people that you care about. Our mission president, Paul Woodland, has conducted all of the sessions (doing the Dutch sessions with a headset on, since he speaks French). We were all so excited to be back in the temple and bask in the spirit that is present there. The gospel is true and can bring so much joy to us all!