Monday, October 27, 2014

Parting Ways

Hey all!

As most of you probably know, this week my trainer Elder Chantry is going home (sad day) and I am taking over our area in Ommoord (Rotterdam/Gouda).  He has been a fantastic trainer, everything that I could have hoped for and more.  He has taught me so many things both about our mission, and life in general.  

Gouda Missionaries at the Bishop's House
Sister Whittington, Sister Schwab, Elder Lott and Elder Chantry
(What's up the the duck lips, Elders?!)

I found out that my new companion will be Elder Luvins (I think that is how you spell it).  Which is way cool because even though I am new, I've actually already met him.  We talked for like an hour on a tram coming back from temple conference, so that's way cool.  I'm pretty sure from what I can remember is that he is fairly new out here too, he's definatly been out less than a year anyways.  So even though it's sad I'm losing my trainer, I'm super excited to get to work with Elder Luvins.  I feel confident in my ability not only to take over this area but to thrive and make it fruitful with the help of the Lord.

There are two things I'd like to share this week.  The first comes mostly from what I have been personally studying this week, and that is Charity.  As I have been studying, I have come to learn that Charity is so much more than just service for our fellow man and those in need.  Charity includes that yes, but Charity is actually the pure love of Christ.  Not only that, it is a gift.  Because Christ knows everyone perfectly, he can love everyone perfectly.  We may ask in prayer for this pure love of Christ, so that we may be filled with love for all those around us and especially those whom we serve.  I have really seen the blessings of this flowing this week, as I have felt a deeper desire to help and love those whom I have served and come in contact with this week.  I love the words which the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.  The entire chapter is over charity.  It has helped me to know a little about why loving God and others are our greatest commandments.  It is because if we truly love God, we will want to be like him.  We will want to follow His example, and we will want to help others do the same if we truly love them and want the best for them.  Therefore, if we follow a perfect example, all the other commandments will fall into place and are really just a road-map and checkpoints to becoming more like God.  My thoughts seem really scattered on this, but I will sum up and say that it is my testimony that true strength and progression comes from submitting our will that has been given to us (free agency) by a higher being (God).  Instead of doing what we will with our choice, we give up our will to that same higher being, in faith that it will be for our good perfection and exaltation.

The second thing I'd like to write about is an experience I've had this week and a few things I've learned from it.  So our bike problems continued this week.  On Thursday morning we went out of our apartment to look up some people before lunch, only to find that our bikes had been messed with.  From what we can tell, someone had tried to steal them but were unable because we had chained them to the bike parking thing.  We assume that when they could not steal them they became angry and started heaving on them in frustration because the way we found them they were leaning over sideways with the front tire still in the tire slot. The front of my bike was completely mangled, and Elder Chantry's tire was as well.  

Broken Bike

Before I say anything else, I'd like to say that everything turned out ok, and I actually knew it would from the minute I saw what had happened.  It's funny how many experiences I've had that seem so insignificant out here on my mission that would have been huge back home. Eternal perceptive is real.  We were able to steal a tire from another bike left by other missionaries to fix Elder Chantry's bike.  That bike is going to another missionary who needs one because he is going from being a zone leader to a trainer. (He had a car as a zone leader.) As for me, my bike is fixable but we found out it would cost nearly as much to fix it as to get a new one, so I had decided to just get another.  But it turns out I don't have to because a dying missionary is giving me hers (thanks Sister Schwab!)  [parent note for our non-member friends: a dying missionary is the term used for missionaries that are on their last transfer before going home.  A dying missionary's companion will sometimes say that "I am killing my companion", meaning that their companion is going home at transfer.]  So the Lord takes care of us even in our trials.  From this story I would like to testify that the Lord does not give us trials. He may allow them to happen, but he will never allow more than we can bare.  Trials are opportunities for us to more quickly learn the things that we need to become more like Him, if we are humble enough to allow it.  Along with that, God will do the most and allow and help us to be the most successful we can be in our situations, if we look for how he is leading us. God did not give us the trial of our bikes being broken, but he gave us some blessings to counter act it.  We have been working super hard lately at finding positive people to teach.  And in the last couple days we have talked to some positive people on the street as we have been getting from place to place that we would normally not have talked to had we been on our bikes.  It is still to soon to see if any of these people will turn out or not, but it has been a blessing enough to have talked to some people who are positive, and not all just those who will harshly slam a door in your face, or wave you off without at least hearing you out.

This has been such a powerful week as for the strength of my testimony.  As a last thought, I would like testify to the power of the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon in the power they have to bring light into our lives.

I love all of you and pray for you every chance I get.


-Elder Hayden L. Lott

ps mom I took out 90 euro from my account.  Also I will be sending home a Christmas package, any requests for yourself or others? I have some ideas as for maybe as for chocolate and maybe gifts for siblings and others but I'd also like some ideas.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just Better Described With Pictures

Hey all!

Just a forewarning, this week's email probably won't be very long.  Not because there has been a lack of experiences, but some are just better described with pictures.

Alley in Gouda

Stroop Waffle Crumbs - You can get a bag for a euro
and then when you put it in yogurt, it is so good!

Windmill Selfie

Pretty Dike in Gouda

Main Square in Gouda

Pretty Park

Church in Woerden

Cool Castle Thing
Playing Chess Out on Our Balcony at Night Before Bed

Cool Sunrise From Our Balcony

This week we had mission temple conference.(Click here for more information on the Hague Netherlands Temple.) What a cool experience!  The spirit you feel in the temple is always so soothing, calming, and invigorating.  It was cool to see that the temple has no different feel from that of other temples.  It truly is the house of the Lord, and it is the Sacred spirit that is there that makes the temple so special, and is what you truly remember.  Other than the fact that everything was in Dutch and everyone speaking in Dutch, I could have been at home, because I truly felt at home.

Temple with Elder Chantry

This week was also our MTC group's trip down to Belgium to get our residency cards.  It was so good to see all of those people again; getting to hear about how they are doing, and about their areas.  We got to see many of the sights, including Brussels Main Square (Click here for more information on the Main Square) and Manneken Pis (Click here for more information on Manneken Pis), and eat Belgium waffles and frites.

City Hall in Main Square in Brussels
Selfie in Brussels Main Square

Brussels Main Square

Selfie with Manneken Pis

Belgian Waffels with MTC Buds
[Elder Lott, Elder Reese, Elder Morrell, Elder Hirsch,
Elder DeWitt must be taking the picture,
and Elder Cook should arrive next transfer.]

Statue in Brussels

What's This?
Ha ha! Well, it was a good bonding experience for the Elders anyways

This week has been a bit of a transition week.  Most all of our investigators have either dropped us, or we dropped them, or they have told us to come back in a month or two. (So pretty much hoping we'll forget about them. Haha but we won't ;) ) So we have been doing a lot of finding, talking to people trying to get some new investigators, and a lot of inactive member look ups.  Even though I would think this is slower work, it seems to be going by just as fast or faster than usual.  Something about this work makes it impossible to be down!

I know that God is real, and that He is our Heavenly Father.  I know that Jesus Christ is His only begotten son, and that he is our savior and redeemer.  They both love us more than we can imagine, and are so patient and loving with us because they know who we can become.  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored to the earth in its fullness.  Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and is was through him this gospel was restored. It remains the true gospel today and Thomas S. Monson is the prophet on the earth today.  By learning of these things and so much more, and by living the gospel of Jesus Christ we can be happier than we could be any other way, and for longer than we could be any other way - even for eternity. This is my testimony, and I know that everyone else, through faith and prayer, can know the same.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love all of you!

-Elder Lott

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hard Week, Crazy Week

Hey all!

Well, it was bound to happen wasn't it?  I've had my first down week.  Also a pretty crazy one, but I'll get to that later.  But it's still funny how even a down week here is still awesome!  Tuesday was ok, but just really kinda slow, grinding day, with lots of tracting, only one lesson and not much visible success.  Then came Wednesday, where most of the day was eaten up dropping off Elder Johnson at the mission office so that he can start his new adventure working there.  We had assumed the rest of the day would be filled with lessons and and other good things, but while we were on the train back to Rotterdam both our appointments canceled and some other things fell through.  Haha so we were back to more tracting, and let's just say that for the first time since I've been out here it was hard to love the people who I was coming in contact with.  Nearly every door we contacted was either not opening (we knew they were home, they would look through their windows and either walk away or motion for us that they weren't interested), or pretty much slamming the door in our face.  Haha, we even had a bunch of people on the street walk by us as we were trying to talk to them as if we weren't even there.  Still though, we were able to laugh it all off, especially towards the end because it was almost comical how it seemed like an entire town had turned against us.  It really was pretty funny.

Thursday is both where things took a turn for the better, and then went crazy.  After district meeting it was time for me to go on splits again, this time to Utrecht with Elder Endicott, while Elder Chantry stayed in Ommoord with Elder Rozendaal.  We had a really packed day ahead of us so things were defiantly looking up.   Our first appointment was with a less active who really wants to come back to church. I felt blessed to be able to teach him because I was really able to connect with him, and have a heart to heart that I think was beneficial for both of us.  After this appointment is when things got really crazy.  We had some extra time before our dinner appointment, so we started to look up some referrals that they had received awhile back. They turned out not to be home, so we decided to knock a few doors before going to our appointment.  Turns out we only knocked on one because things got awkward.  The lady who opened the door was pretty much naked, (I've always been told that will probably happen to me in Europe, but never completely believed it until now) so after a super quick explanation of who we were and giving her an 'I am a Mormon' Facebook card, we just got out of there.  We decided to look up some more referrals, and one did eventually let us in but he was drunk/high out of his mind (we might have been too by the time we got out of there, the smoke was so thick you could probably cut it with a knife). So we just kinda told him we'd come back another time and left.  At this point, we were pushing getting to our dinner appointment so we went crazy on our bikes to try and get there on time, but my bike (actually Elder Rozendaal's) broke about a mile away from our dinner appointment.  So we locked it up and I rode on the back of Elder Endicott's bike (its called achter-oping, Dutch bikes are nice that way, not sure if its safe but whatever) to the dinner appointment.  

After that we ended up having to bike that same way to a train station to get to our last appointment of the night.  It was awesome!  They had been teaching him for about 10 weeks. We taught him the laws of tithing and fasting and he agreed on a baptismal date!  Ahhhh yeah!  It was such a cool lesson to be in.  Anyways, after that we thought all the crazyness would be done but it was just getting started.  Elder Chantry called us at like 10:30 that night letting us know that he was taking Elder Rozendaal to the hospital because he was super sick.  The next day we headed back out to Rotterdam to meet up with Elder Chantry and the Zone leaders because as it turns out, Elder Rozendaal really was super sick. He had appendicitis.  So we dropped everything to go meet with them because the zone leaders needed to get to some meetings and they couldn't leave Elder Chantry alone.  Anyways, so it turns out they had been at the hospital until 1 in the morning getting Elder Rozendaal checked in.  So later that day after we had met back up with Elder Chantry, we went to see Elder Rozendaal so see how he was doing. They hadn't had the surgery yet because they were waiting to see if it really was appendicitis, which it was, so they had surgery later that night.  Because visiting hours ended at like 5, we left and ended up playing soccer with the young men that night.  Elder Rozendaal is still recovering and is fine now, just resting at the Utrecht appartment.  K, that is a lot of information, and like I said its super crazy, but let me point out some blessings that are evident and came because we 'just happened to be on splits that day' here that are not coincidence.  Because we were on splits, Elder Rozendaal was much closer to a good hospital than he would have been in Utrecht.  He was with Elder Chantry, the most level headed and experienced of us all, and he has had an experience already with someone having appendicitis out in the mission field.  I wouldn't have known what to do, and Elder Endicott told us he probably would have just told him to suck it up and not taken him seriously. Also, during all this crazyness, nearly all of our appointments for Friday and Saturday called us and cancled their appointments, which normally would have been bad, but under these situations helped relive a lot of stress and might have saved us from having to call them and cancel. Also, because we were able to have the times fall the way they did, we were all able to get to everything that we NEEDED to get to.  Stuff that would help build bonds, important appointment, that sort of thing.  There are plenty more blessings I can find from this but there just isn't enough time.  Anyways, that's not all the crazyness for this week but it's a taste.

This Sunday we got to go on a joint teach with the sisters to an investigator they have in Gouda. We have actually been able to teach him a couple times.  He also is working towards baptism now!  I was able to share with him a bunch on how to receive an answer to his prayers, in that we must always pray for the Holy Ghost to be with us while we study, then we must study and ponder which is the work and test of our faith, then we present what we have found to our Father in Heaven and ask if it is true. He will either give us confirmation, or direct us in the way of finding truth.  I was also able to share a little on how light and understanding work. How this connects, and shared with him a Mormon message by Elder Bednar called "Discerning Light".  Its the third part of a three part thing he did and I would highly recommend for everyone.

Click Here for Patterns of Light, Part 1

Click Here for Patterns of Light, Part 2

Click Here for Patterns of Light, Part 3

Well that's it for this week.

Love all of you!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

ps I didn't put it in last week's letter, but I ran into the lady that helped Jason Tooley with his family history work. She was super cool and nice! Give him a shout out for me!  Also mom, I took 70 euro off my personal account like a week and a half or 2 weeks ago. I forgot to tell you.  Also I found out that the office expects our families to send us Christmas packages when I was in there with Elder Johnson this week, so scratch the assumption we got earlier.  It might be nice to get a small one.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life Upside Down......

Hey all!

So many of the things I was going to write about just a few days ago have completely changed, thus life upside down.  I was going to write a few days ago about how I was very disappointed at how little rain we have had since I've been here.  I was also maybe going to add about how comfortable I am getting here. But as you can guess, both got turned on their heads.

My first story this week has to do with conference - well first I'll give some details.  To watch conference here you pretty much just have to watch it over the internet, other than Priesthood or Women's meetings, which for us are broadcast to the stake center in Rotterdam.  We ended up watching what sessions we could (the first 3, have yet to see the last one) with a family in our ward, the Txx's.  They are super cool!  They don't have any kids, because they married later, but they do have a dog named Wiley.  She is an American, and he is Dutch, and the way they met it simply amazing.  I can't fit the whole story, but a simple version is just that they were pretty much led to each other by the spirit all the way across the world.  Anyways, they live in a town just outside Gouda, which is pretty far from our apartment.  We have to bike out whenever we go to their house but I don't mind because the ride there is BEAUTIFUL. (I'll send pictures) It takes us through a couple towns but mostly country bike paths, taking about 45 minutes in all from our apartment.  

Along the Bike Path

Ride to Txx's
Watching conference was amazing as always.  We have such inspired and wonderful leaders in this church.  Quick testimony that you can always find an answer to any question you have when listening to conference, you just need to pray for help from God and if you listen, the spirit will help you find your answer.  Or in my case, a speaker will directly tell you, so that works too.  Anyways, so the ride out on Saturday was great, simply beautiful.  The ride back seemed like it was going to be similar, but about 10 minutes into our ride we got caught by a little wind and then seconds later a full on downpour.  There was no time to put on our jackets.  Within seconds we were all soaked all the way through.  It got super cold and windy, and yet, we were all super happy still.  I'm guessing it was the spirit of conference still running through our minds or something, but that ride home was awesome!  Even though we were slowed down by the rain (took us another hour to get home), it was just so awesome!  Such a surreal experience.  Nobody else was crazy enough to keep going or even be outside for that matter in that crazy storm at that point, and that is ok, because for the rest of the way home we belted out hymns and Disney songs (don't judge, we were probably getting hypothermia at that point).  Haha, it is so crazy how something that would have been miserable at home suddenly becomes so great on your mission/in a foreign land.  Anyways, so that's the Saturday story.  The Sunday story was that on our way back out to the Txx's to watch conference, we ran into more problems.  Elder Johnson's tire started to go flat, my gears got stuck in the lowest position, and nothing happened to Elder Chantry's bike but we figure that's because his is already so bad anyways.  Haha, it is again so amazing how back home this would have been the end of world, and yet having the spirit that we do and eternal perspective, we were all able to just laugh it off and limp our way to and from watching conference.  Such a cool blessing.  Also, I think this is a sign of how badly Satan didn't want us to hear the messages of conference, and was throwing everything at us as to make us turn back.

We had a fun time on Saturday morning.  We organized a Young Men activity. We played soccer and basketball before having to go and get ready for conference.  That was super fun, not much else to say on that other than to reiterate what I said last week that these young men are so strong!

Young Men from the Gouda Ward
(Back row: Elder Lott, YM, YM, Elder Johnson, YM  Front: Elder Chantry)

We have some really cool investigators right now, and happily for me we are teaching 3 in English!  As I have said before, the Netherlands and especially Rotterdam is super diverse.  We are teaching people from the Netherlands, Suriname, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Jamaica, and Australia.  It is so cool to see the different cultures.  Also, the reason I said I was getting comfortable but now maybe not so much, is that I found out that in 3 weeks I am going to be taking over this area. My training is going to be cut short at just 6 weeks because my trainer Elder Chantry is heading home, and my other companion is getting called to serve in the mission office in Lieden.  I'm guessing I'll get a companion that is fairly experienced, but there is still so much that will fall on me because I'll have had the most time in the area.  Crazy stuff! But I know that the Lord will prepare a way for me to meet this challenge, and I will take it with enthusiasm and energy.

That's going to have to be it for this week.

Love Ya'll

Elder Hayden L. Lott

From Elder Chantry - They must have been
 at a zoo, or life science museum.

From Elder Chantry
Elder Johnson, Elder Lott and Elder Chantry

Another from Elder Chantry; looks like that beautiful bike path again
Elder Chantry, Elder Lott (in back), Elder Johnson