Monday, January 26, 2015

Continual Growth

Hey all!

So it has been a really great week.  Stressful with Elder Denny being on the way out, taking over an area again, and picking up a new companion but still great.  Elder Besendorfer is really great, I can tell we are going to see a lot of success together and get along pretty well.  He is a spiritual giant, he is very in tune, has a massive scriptural recall, and is just a great guy.  He is also the first companion I've gotten to go running with me every morning so that is another bonus!

Elder Besendorfer (picture from the Belgium Netherlands Mission blog)
Monday and Tuesday we were able to get quite a bit of work in, and have Elder Denny say goodbye to people on really short notice.  Wednesday was transfers, so I spent the day in Antwerpen in between dropping off Elder Denny and picking up Elder Besendorfer.  Antwerpen is really cool and it is always fun to be there.  I walked around the city with some other elders waiting for their new companions, saw a lot of cool things, had some really cool talks with people, and had some cool food from restaurants and off the street.  One of which is a cool candy called nosen.  I'm not sure if that is how it's spelled, but oh well. They were super sweet and tasted something like bubble gum and cough drop syrup mixed.  So that was cool.  [Guessing he means neus, a cone shaped Belgian candy]

We have had some really spiritual lessons this week, and saw a ton of success as far as straight up numbers go.  We saw some miracles in contacting people this week, with one guy actually setting up an appointment with us! He was a super chill Indian guy (this time not a priest) ;), who was interested in learning about christianity.  Cool stuff!

I also had a classic experience this week.  Remember how in my last area I'm pretty sure I got high from being in a room full of pot smoke when me and Elder Endicott were on exchanges in Utrecht teaching a guy? (By the way I've been told that guy now has a baptisimal date and is turning his life around!)  Well, this week we were teaching a lesson to a less active, and he offered us chocolates.  So I took one, and ate it.  It tasted really bad and burned my mouth/throat as I chewed and swallowed it.  So I looked at the box, and sure enough it was filled with vodka. They were chocolate shots.  Great... a couple of minutes later I felt all warm and tingly and disconnected from my body, and just kind of in a dreamy hazy state.  Riding my bike home was fun!  Just kidding... we ended up walking because Elder Besendorfer's peddle fell off, that was probably a blessing in disguise.  Wow, so I guess I've now kind of been drunk on my mission. Not good, not good at all.  I'm grateful that we have a perfect judge for our lives in Jesus Christ at times like these.

I love this gospel and the opportunity I have to share it with others and have a front row seat to witness the light that is brought into their lives by finding our Savior Jesus Christ, feeling of the spirit, and through His enabiling power changing their lives for the better.  Receiving that hope, comfort, and warmth that He brings.

Love you all!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

Question of the Week:  Do you have open canals through the city like your pictures from Ommoord/Rotterdam, or in Belgium are they only in coastal cities like Brugge?

Answer:  There are open canals everywhere that I have been in Belgium except for Antwerpen. The difference is that I think here they just accept them and build around them, so they are very plain.  Which is still very cool, very European.  But in the Netherlands they would care for them more, put more landscaping around it so that it would look pretty and not just be there.

[No pictures this week from Elder Lott, but the Mission blog was updated this week with some pictures from the November Zone Conferences.]

Rotterdam Zone, November 2014
Elder Lott is front row, 5th in from the right in the grey suit

Front Pew - Elder Bonner on the left, and Elder Lundberg on the right
Middle Pew - Elder Lovin on the left, and Elder Lott on the right
Back Pew - Elder ?? on the left, and Elder Cooper on the right

Temple Conference in November, 2014
Elder Lott and Elder Lundberg

Monday, January 19, 2015

Work is Fun, Unexpected Change

Hey all!

So I guess to start out I'll say that this week has been fantastic!  I am completely just wasted, but super happy!  I guess I'll just jump into it. Going into this week, me and Elder Denny decided to set some goals to push ourselves even further then we have been doing and see how many meaningful lessons we could have, how many people we could talk to and basically how hard we can work.  Let me say, I thought that I knew what President Hanks and the Stake Presidency were talking about when they gave me advice to work hard on my mission, even so hard that every night I go to bed and just hit the pillow, and before I know it it's morning again, but now my understanding has more background.  Yet even with this, I am as happy as I ever have been. Still no one with a baptisimal date, but we are seeing success.  We have had some super spiritual lessons this week, most especially with one of our investigators named Ixxx. He didn't take things seriously for the longest time, and we were considering dropping him, but he has now decided that he wants to gain a testimony strong enough to cover his adversity and start progressing towards baptism!  Wow, what an amazing week. I will give credit for the happiness that I feel right now to my Heavenly Father. Even though those on the outside might say we are having a rough time, having to work very hard for everything, what truly makes a missionary successful and what I have a testimony of now is our commitment to help others, both close to us and halfway around the world, receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and the fruits there of.  With this desire our love becomes pure, as do our fruits, and we gain a happiness that at this point in our lives cannot be gained another way.

With this, the unexpected change is that Elder Denny is getting transferred.  I am staying here in Leuven and am getting Elder Besendorfer as a companion. I guess the companion exchange is still on a high rotation point for me.  Seeing as this will now make it 6 companions in 6 months for me.  I have learned important lessons though from each of my companions though so that is good.  It is super sad I won't be able work with Elder Denny any more, we were just hitting our stride together, but it will be great working with Elder Besendorfer.

One other thought for this week comes from a talk this week given by an older lady in our ward.  She talked about the importance of scripture study and the talk in and of itself was great.  But at the end she bore a powerful testimony, in which she shared the she has been a member for 35 years, baptized when she was a young mother with her husband.  She had always had a testimony, but it has only been in the last 2 years she has studied her scriptures daily, especially the Book of Mormon.  From her experience she has learned more and grew more in her testimony in those 2 years than the previous 33 without daily scripture study.  It is still so miraculous to me the power the scriptures and especially the Book of Mormon have.  The force for good and spiritual light that they are.

Intersection in Leuven

Train Station in Leuven

Stadhuis (town hall) in Brugge

Blind Donkey Alley in Brugge

Canal in Brugge

Famous Shot of Europe (in Brugge)

Tri-panionship Photo
Elder Denny, Elder Cockbain, Elder Lott

Me, with famous Europe Background (Elder Lott)
Too bad it's winter and not summer, but it's still gorgeous

Cathedral in Oostende, Belgium
St. Petrus-en-Paulus Church

Selfie on Beach in Oostende (Elder Lott)
Don't worry, I didn't go swimming.  Not that it was tempting anyways...  Brrrrrr!!!!!

Walking through the old student dorms in Leuven (Elder Lott)

Cathedral Ruins in Tienen

More Ruins in Tienen

Love you all!

Elder Hayden L. Lott

Questions of the Week:  Are you able to get stroopwaffles there, or only Belgian waffles?  What are your favorite toppings?
Answer: yeah you can only get stroop waffles in the Netherlands, but that is ok because Belgian sugar waffles are 1000 times better!  I love it with whipped cream, bananas, strawberries and chocolate sauce on top!

Picture snagged from the blog of the Mission Office Couple, Brother and Sister Robison (not to be confused with Mission President Robinson)

Belgium News Stories

These two videos were aired on Belgium television this week.  It takes a long time for these to load, so be patient.  The first is a feature on Mormons, showing Elder Steenblik (who Elder Lott replaced), and Elder Cockbain (Elder Lott was his last companion).  It is so cool to see the church house and town centurm that Elder Lott serves in.

Belgium News Story - Mormon Missionaries in Flanders

The second is a feature on Belgium National Evening News called "Everybody's Famous".  These Sisters were assigned to the Turnhout area of Belgium, and it is wonderful to hear the language and see the town centurm that is so typical for the area.  At the bottom of the linked story, you can click to watch the news story.

Sister Missionaries on "Everybody's Famous"

We were also so very blessed to receive messages from several ward members in Leuven this week.  It was reassuring to know that missionaries in the Belgium area were safe and unaffected by the terrorist arrests that occurred this week.  

Yesterday evening we had your son over for dinner and a spiritual message. Normally elder Lott's companion is elder Denny, but yesterday they decided to go on an exchange with the elders from the Genk Ward. That is how your son ended up at our house with elder Thomas.

I wanted to let you know that your son is doing well and that we loved having him over. Between the soup and the main course, he shared a spiritual message with us. At church, elder Lott is typically the quieter one, but yesterday he was very animated and in good spirits. At some point he even picked up a guitar and started playing some tunes. 

Dinner with a ward family - Elder Thomas in the middle, Elder Lott on the right

This morning in church we took a few more pictures. I don't know how current events are portrayed abroad, but there is really not much going on in everyday life. The terrorist attacks were in France, so far away. As a result, our police and homeland security have made a series of arrests, some of which included some violence. I believe the only reason these events are splashed all over the news, is that they are so uncommon here. Also the media exaggerate the presence of the military on certain locations. The truth is that the American embassy has always had security measures, the same goes for Jewish schools and synagogues in Antwerpen. Now those security measures are taken over by the military, so the police force can focus on investigating whether more arrests are necessary. The only thing that has changed, is the uniforms. Why that is such huge news, I don't know. I guess people like sensation and in the absence of real news, this is what the media are going with.

Elder Lott (on the left) at the Leuven Ward with Elder Denny (in the orange tie)

We also found pictures of Elder Lott playing soccer with the Leuven ward members in 2˚C weather.  I'm sure he didn't mind the weather and just enjoyed being outside exercising!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Without purse or script, especially script

Hey Everybody!

So this week has been crazy!  In all the crazyness of Elder Cockbain leaving last week we didn't have much of a plan, more of just a general direction to go in after he was gone. So we have been going on a wing and a prayer.  With that, me and Elder Denny have had some crazy adventures this week.

Our first adventure this week I think Mom might have little bit of an idea of, because of a facebook request but I'll get to that later.  So it was the first day that me and Elder Denny were without Elder Cockbain and we had some time in the morning to fill in. So we decided to walk around the centrum and contact people, maybe look up some former investigators. That was going pretty ok, but then we came across a street that we both remember had a former on it.  We looked though a list we had and sure enough, there was. So we got to looking for the adress, but when we got there we were very confused.  The address was for a room number in this giant, mansion/castle looking thing with a big courtyard and some huge wooden front doors. So what else should we do, we walk in!  At first, the place was super creepy because it seemed like no one was there. We were just walking up and down halls, finding all kinds of rooms and things, the whole time not really even being sure if we were even allowed to be in there. Eventually, we decided it was dumb; that even if someone got mad we could play the dumb American card and be just fine, so we went looking to find someone who could tell us what was going on.  We ended up working our way into the basement of the place and found some cleaning ladies who thought it was a little weird we were there, but were nice enough to take us down half a dozen halls and a couple elevators to get us where we were looking for.  When we got to the door, we ended up knocking and finding out who we were looking for was actually not there - he had moved about a month earlier. But the man who was living there was nice enough to let us in.  He turned out to be a Catholic priest from India, studying there to get his PhD; and also as it turns out everyone living in the building were also a Catholic priests from India, studying there to get their PhD's.  After a little bit of a chit chat our conversation naturally turned to religious conversation, as he mentioned that as a part of his studies for an earlier degree he had studied about 'how Mormons view the doctrine of revelation'. This was super cool, as we were able to then go directly into teaching about personal revelation, Christ's ministry, the authority of the priesthood, the apostasy, and the restoration. The spirit was super strong the whole time and me and Elder Denny agreed that even if it wasn't a witness to him, it was at least a witness to us at that time that we were saying and doing what we needed to be doing, and that we were in the place the Lord wanted us to be in. Then we had an interesting conversation about why they pray to Mary... still not sure if I understand that one, but oh well.  After all this it had gotten to be lunch time, and he invited us to have lunch with him and the other 22 Indian Catholic Priests who were there. So we did, we were able to talk to them and answer some questions about them and just have some cool conversations.  Oh, and yes for lunch we had some real Indian food which was super good. What an adventure!  [Mom note:  During the past week, I accepted a friend request on Elder's Lott's Facebook account from a Catholic priest in Leuven. This man began a conversation, believing that he was talking to Elder Lott. I explained that I was only monitoring the account until my son's return to the United States.  During our brief conversation, I asked if our son looked happy because he had been ill over Christmas, and his response was that Elder Lott was 'very healthy and blessed'.  What a joy it was to read those words, even from a stranger!  I thought to myself, there's a story behind this contact, and sure enough, there was!]

Shinto Puthumattathil Cmi, a kind priest who fed Elder Lott and Elder Denny a delicious Indian meal this week

So sadly my time is running short today so I'm going to have to end.

Still no investigators with baptismal dates, but seeing an increase in teaching so that's good.

I'm going to start a map where I color in a county or place when I've met someone from there, and see if I can't meet someone from everywhere by the end of my mission.

I will leave one more comment before I go, and that is that one of the things I've noticed about a mission is that it exposes you, both your flaws and your strengths, and you are able to better see the person whom our Father in Heaven wants and needs us to be, and how to get there.  I am so grateful for this and all the other wonderful blessings my Father in Heaven has given to me.

I love you all!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

Question of the Week: Are you still riding your bike in the cold weather, or is that only a summer thing?  We saw a video on Dutch biking, and it showed people (no helmets!) biking even in the snow.  It made us wonder if you were still biking too.

Answer: Yes, we are still riding our bikes, and always will.  Through snow, rain, ice, and everything else.  It's just a part of life here. I actually slipped out a couple weeks ago on ice and slid down hill on my backside.  That was actually kinda fun.  Bike ice skaking, a new sport!

[Since Elder Lott didn't send pictures this week, I am posting a few that Elder Johnson just posted on his blog.  They were companions in Ommoord/Gouda Ward.  Thanks Elder Johnson, for being such a great first companionship for my son!]

Good times with the Gouda Ward missionaries!
front to back:  Elder Johnson, Sister Schwab, Sister Whittington, Elder Chantry and Elder Lott
Elder Johnson in front, Elder Lott and Elder Chantry in rear
Elder Lott and Elder Johnson crossing a rope bridge

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Everything's All Good, Sending Elder Cockbain Home

Hey Everybody!

So sorry for this email being so late.  Yesterday was Elder Cockbain's [Elder Lott told us in his Christmas call that the ck is silent - pronounced Cobain] last P-day and he wanted to go to Brugge for his last P-day, which is like a 2 hour train ride away.  I got some really cool pictures even though is was winter, so that was pretty cool.  

Rooftops at Brugge Center Square 

We spent pretty much the whole day there and then when we got back we didn't have time to email, and had to go to some appointments so here we are. I'm going to have to keep it short because we are just sending these off from the church computer before district meeting.  But I guess I can say a little bit.  This week has been good as far as the work goes.  Still don't have anybody on date for baptism, but most all of our investigators are progressing towards baptism anyways and have just hit some small bumps.  New Years was very cool.  We spent from 4 pm on inside just cooking, watching church films, and going out of our minds!  Midnight came, and we climbed out of our apartment window onto the roof and watched the fireworks go off.  We could hear the roar of crowds from parties in the main sqaures and centrums from all around the city.  It was cool pretty cool, but it sounds like it is still nothing compared to a Dutch New Years so I guess I have something to be excited for next year.  One funny thing about our area is that it is huge, so sometimes traveling between places there is a lot of dead time.  We would like to contact but it is actually illegal to proselyte on trains, buses, and stuff unless someone asks about who you are or why you are there. So we can do our best to just start conversations with people about random things and eventually it's bound to come up who you are and what you are here for because they see the name badge.  I've had some interesting conversations this way, but on long train rides, you can only really do this for so long before you've talked to all the people around you, so it's just not going to cut it.  So I've been getting a lot of reading in on travel time. I've read all the way through the missionary library except for Jesus the Christ, which I'm part way through.  I've been able to finish the Book of Mormon another time, read through the Miracle of Forgiveness, and many general conference talks.  With a super long train ride of 4 hours to drop Elder Cockbain off at the office and 4 hours back, it looks like I will have some more time to ponder and study.  I am actually really grateful for the unforseen blessing that this has been.  I have seen in the last couple weeks as I gain a deeper understanding of subjects that are gospel related, as I build up my knowledge, it has actually helped me in my efforts to teach simply and clearly to investigators.  Imagine that.  It has also made me realize how much more you can learn and expand you knowledge on specific topics, and how you can find the mysteries of God, even hidden treasures when you learn by the spirit, and when you study with the intent to actually use and apply what you learn.

I hope all is well with all of you back home! I love you guys and pray for you!  This church is true, Christ is at the head, and following Him we cannot fall.


Elder Hayden L. Lott

Hey ps as well, it's my little brothers birthday today!  Happy Birthday Elliot! Love ya bud!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pictures of Leuven Apartment

It's now nearly 11pm in Belgium, and no letter yet from Elder Lott.  Hopefully we will not have to wait until next Monday to hear from him.  In the meantime, I forgot to tell everyone last week that I added a link to the missionary that Hayden replaced in Leuven.  A link to Elder Benjamin Steenblik's fun blog is on the side bar under 'Other Mission Blogs'.  If you go to the post for Monday, October 6, 2014 there are pictures of the apartment that Elder Lott, Cockbain and Denny are living in.  Enjoy!