dinsdag 5 januari 2016

One of the Last

Some of you may already know this, others not. I fell ill around the second week of November and was an invalid for about a month. Thankfully, I recovered in time for Christmas. Being so ill on a mission was an interesting experience. I listened to a lot of talks and music and also slept a lot. The long hours spent in bed or on the sofa gave me plenty of time to think and to reflect on my situation (though most of the time I was too tired or sick to really think at all). It was not the worst experience of my life, that is for sure, but it was far from fun. It was comforting to hear the concern that the members and other missionaries expressed at my absence. The worst part about it was that it occurred to close to the end of my mission. That was hard, since all I wanted (and want) to do is finish my work and make sure my knowledge is passed on correctly. But I returned to health and am back at my desk.

With the illness, I got out of the habit of writing these blog posts, so I let it all slide until now. My apologies to any (once) faithful readers out there. But the blog is back, for the next few weeks, until I go home. After that, I will post a link to where you can keep up with my post-mission activities.

Christmas in Leiden was once again fantastic. Christmas Eve was spent with the same two families as last year. After the Christmas service on Christmas Day we again went to the same family as last year and skyped there too. Since movies were not permitted this time, we just talked and had fun. On Boxing Day, we had another great dinner appointment with one of my favourite families. So yeah, I cannot really complain about my Christmas.

The events of New Year’s Eve were no surprise: lots of fireworks and explosions and police/fire engine/ambulance sirens. We had a nice view from our apartment building, being able to see the skyline of Leiden. It was an impressive sight for sure. We played some games and drank fake champagne.

As this month of January begins, I look ahead to the end to my mission and the time thereafter. This will undoubtedly be an interesting year. I am currently working on transferring all my tasks, responsibilities and knowledge to the rest of the office staff. Missionary work in the city is going well, in spite of frequent disappointing appointments or conversations, we are still working with a number of very good people. One of the best things about being here for so long is that I get to see how much progress some people have made.

“Non equidem invideo, miror magis” - Virgil

zondag 8 november 2015

All Blacks Rule


Last Saturday, the All Blacks won their 3rd World Cup (1987, 2011, 2015) and their 2nd consecutive win. I was impressed.

This week went by quickly. I am not sure why it felt like that, because there was not really much going on:

Monday was fairly standard, we discussed the plans for transfers and such, we worked on getting the referrals out for the new facebook campaign, and met with President and Sister Bunnell.

The next day, somewhat out of the ordinary, since we were 45 minutes late to district meeting (and we were driving the district leader there, so he could not start it). But apart from that, it went well and we got back reasonably on time.

Wednesday and Thursday were also normal days in the office during the day, with our prep for transfers and sending out referrals taking up most of the time during the day and finding and teaching taking up most of the time in the evening.

On Friday, I helped out President Bunnell with the internet at the Mission Home, by installing and configuring a new router. I know very little about networks and such, having only had about six months of that for about an hour a week, and very little interest. But I got it working and communicating properly with the computer and printer and other devices.

Today, we will just have a relaxed p-day and nothing too crazy. And tomorrow, transfer calls!

maandag 2 november 2015

NZ vs OZ

Another normal week in the office, more or less.

The date for the move to the new office is set for the Thursday after transfers. I am not entirely sure, but I am guessing that week will be even crazier than normal. But at least there are only two new missionaries arriving, and 7 or so going home. But all the same, an already busy week will just get busier. 

On Tuesday, we had a normal district meeting, on the good use of the area book and how that can help (or if not used well, hinder) the next missionaries to serve in the area. It was a good district meeting. The YSA activity in the evening was less well attended than I had hoped, but there were some people there nonetheless, and it was fun.

We helped with the moving of a bunch of boxes with things such as Book of Mormons, pamphlets, planners, cards, etc..., from this office to the new one. We also moved some unused stuff to the old church in Zoetermeer (currently used as storage). It took us all day, but it was a good workout, and will save some time when the actual move occurs. 

Today, we have a Halloween party in the evening (some member is buying us onesies, haha). 

"If you don't have massive dreams, you might as well stay in bed." - Sonny Bill Williams

The old church in Zoetermeer

Ringing some doorbells

donderdag 29 oktober 2015


Another normal week here in the office. We found out early in the week that instead of moving next Monday, the office will only be moved around the beginning of November (though hopefully not during transfer week). This gives us all some more time to let people know that the address for all our mail will be different shortly. Either way though, things will be hectic during November as we make sure everything is put back together and such and nothing gets lost or broken. But such is the office life.

We had interviews this week, with President and Sister Bunnell, on Thursday (as usual during district meeting). It was good. I had a good conversation with both of them and they probably learnt some new stuff about me. They also expressed their appreciation for the work I do (mainly in helping with the computer stuff), even though it does not seem like much to me, since I have been working with computers since before I could read. But I do understand that it means a lot to them.

The rest of the week, we worked in the office and in the evenings went to a dinner appointment (since we had one each evening; it was pretty nice) and thereafter knocked on doors, talked to people and visited other people. Nothing too crazy happened, but we did run into some familiar faces, one of which was a man we once taught, that I had not seen in about a year, if not longer. We told him we'd come back later in the week. As we were driving home that night, we also saw a member that moved to Amsterdam from Leiden some time ago (and interestingly he also went on joint teach with us to the guy we found earlier in the day). 

On Friday, a member from Turnhout drove up here to see one of my companions (who used to serve there) and take us to dinner. We ate at an all you can eat sushi restaurant. It was soooo good. The member also brought a bunch of chocolate. Besides all that, he was also a really cool guy.

"In our trials, let us not become bitter or uncommitted, but let us follow the Savior’s example of becoming more earnest, more sincere, and more faithful." - James B. Martino

At the Sushi restaurant

Happy to get some candy corn

Holiness to the Lord

Temple conference this week!! 

Tuesday was crazy. We left really early in the morning to go the temple, from there to the church in Den Haag and then from there to the church in Leiden for the YSA activity. Surprisingly enough, we were not late for anything. But being in the temple again after about 6 months was great. You always learn something new each time. It is fascinating how that works. 

The subsequent conference at the Den Haag church was great, too. Several different topics and all great speakers. YSA activity was also a success. Down to 6 from the 11 last time, it was still not a bad turnout and there were 3 non-members and 1 "vulnerable" case, haha. I think everyone had fun, which is always important, of course and we shared "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father" with the group.

The next day we had to go back to Den Haag (with the train) to pay for the pizzas (and naturally, eat some, too). I was happy that I got to see (if not talk to) everyone in the mission over the course of both days. Though I would have liked to have spoken to some more people, there just was not enough time.

The rest of the week, I got a lot of work done in the office. But I got everything done that I needed to, so it was good. I would prefer not to have to work overtime, haha. President dropped by during the week and I helped him out with a few things.

Today, for p-day, no football but instead we shopped and e-mailed early and then may go to a shop or something in the afternoon. I would be fine just saying in the office and maybe playing Munchkin or something. 

"It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life."

The Music of the Gospel

On Tuesday, we helped our now former ward mission leader with his move to Zoetermeer, after district meeting. We loaded up a bunch of furniture in the mission van and drove it to his new place in Zoetermeer. The following Sunday was his and his family's last in Leiden and they both spoke, during the testimony meeting. I really wonder now how soon we will get a new ward mission leader. Hopefully it will not be too long, it is an important calling after, I think.

The whole week, two people from Facilities Management were busy in the new office, working on moving the walls and installing shelving and other storage. (Whenever one of them spoke over the intercom to be let in at the back, he claimed he was some apostle, I had to laugh). 
Wednesday evening, we had ward council and discussed a few important things and some people in need of assistance or extra support. We officially announced the bi-monthly YSA activities to the council, as it is going so well. 

On Saturday we did not do that much for p-day, which was fine. In the evening we ate at everyone's favourite Australian-Dutch family in Nieuw Vennep. It was a lot of fun and of course great food. I really hope I can keep visiting them until the end of my mission... 
Being without a car is not so bad, the bus system in Leiden is quite manageable. But I will be happy when we drive again, haha. This just gives a taste of how it was for office elders "back in the day". It has already been a while since the necessary application was submitted, so it will not be long before we are on the road again. It has also been hard to continue visiting all of our investigators or other interested people, since we have so little time and travelling takes so much longer.

"You cannot make children learn music or anything else without to some degree converting them into will-less adults" - A.S. Neill

woensdag 14 oktober 2015

A New Beginning

Transfer week again!

Another 9 gone (including 1 sister) and 12 more arrived. My 4th set of companions departed for their new cities (Alkmaar as ZL and Den Bosch as DL and trainer) and the 5th and final set are now flying solo. The training wheels are off. The flotation devices are gone. The-... You know what I mean.

For the first days of the week, Monday to early on Wednesday, my old companions were still around to continue training the new guys and help them with various stuff for transfers. But after that, they were on their own.

We discussed everything concerning transfers with President on Monday and prepared everything that day and the morning of the next. We also prepared the conference room to do the orientation there. The largest group we have ever had at the office. That evening, President and Sister Bunnell went out to eat with my old companions and I went with the new guys, by bus, to our dinner appointment in Wassenaar, with one of my favourite families. We had a good time there.

The next day, the greenies arrived not long before midday and were brought back to Leiden by train. After lunch at Oudt Leyden (also the biggest group there, I believe), they headed down to Rijswijk for legality and the back for interviews, orientation and a nap. I ate with my old companions at a member's house, while the other guys ate at the hotel with the greenies. We then went to the church for the YSA activity. About a dozen YSA (both member and not) were there, which was surprising, but good of course.

Wednesday, transfer day. The training for the new missionaries, as well as for the trainers, continued at the hotel and a lot of the rest of the mission gathered in the four main stations, as usual to get new companions or go to a new city.

The rest of the week was very busy for my companions, so it was hard to get out much to do missionary work, but we squeezed in a few hours where we could. Over time, they will get into the groove and things will not be so busy. 

This morning, we played football and I enjoyed it. I think I am still getting better at it, luckily. We then took the bus back to Leiden and showered, shopped and will probably go have a look around the centre, since it is the 3rd of October, day of Leiden's liberation from the Spanish in the 17th century.

"You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity." - Thomas Wolfe