Monday, February 23, 2015

First Talk

Hey all!

So before I go too far I'm going to leave a little cliff hanger... transfers are next week and not this week so I won't know until next week where I will be, either staying here in Leuven or somewhere else.  Sorry for those of you who had maybe been expecting news either way this week.

This week has been really good though.  I had the chance this week to give my first talk in sacrament meeting on my mission.  I talked about the importance of teaching simply, with a lot of the thoughts I had in my letter from one of the weeks in the recent past I've sent.  I based it mostly around Jacob 4:13.  That went pretty good, I guess.  I'm super grateful for the opportunity I had before my mission to give a talk in stake conference because public speaking doesn't really scare me anymore.  What was kind of scary was the giving it in another language part, that just kind of adds another factor. Plus the Bishop asked me to double the length of my talk like 5 minutes before I gave it... great, but it all worked out in the end and I felt the spirit so all is well!

We had a cool experience this week of giving a Preach My Gospel Training to members of the Genk ward on Saturday. That was super fun, and I would invite all who are reading this to study Preach My Gospel.  It really is amazing how much and what a broad range of things it can teach and help with.  It is mostly written to help the user become personally converted, and better able to convey the gospel of Jesus Christ, thus helping all of us, not just the missionaries!

Preach My Gospel

We had a ton of cool lessons this past week, with the coolest being with a super cool young Ghanian guy named Wxxx.  He is pretty religous, and has really studied the Bible pretty well and had some remarkable experiences in his life that have prepared him for meeting with us.  What made it even more impressive to us on how much he knows and how prepared he is, is that he is almost as young as us! He's only 20 years old!  When we first went to have a lesson with him I was a little wary that it would turn into a Bible bash and we would just have to testify and leave. But he seems to really have found a lot of truth on his own, most of what he believes is actually what we believe!  The spirit was super strong during most of the lesson and at the end he seemed to really being feeling that he should check this out, read the Book of Mormon and find out if this is the truth or not.  Ah! So cool.

We are looking forward to having a really good week this next week, and I am really excited for whoever gets to be here next transfer, either me or whoever else.

I know that the church is true and that it is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  We are that light which was spoken of and I know that as we put ourselves forward, place ourselves 'on a hill' that is to say that we can all help wandering souls find the peace and hope that is found in the Gospel, that is found through Jesus Christ.

Finding Hope in Christ
Elder Johann A. Wondra
December 2002 Ensign

Love you guys!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

Question of the Week:  Is cobblestone only in the walking/bike areas, or on the driving roads too?  Are only the old streets cobble, and new ones pavement, or is cobblestone everywhere?

Answer:  Cobblestone is kind of hit and miss.  It is only on old roads for the most part, with all new ones pretty much being paved.  It really is cool, and you really feel like you are in Europe when you are bouncing around on your bike driving over cobblestone while under the shadow of a giant church or something like that.  Side comment on that, there are so many churches in Leuven, its crazy! But also sad because there is almost never anyone in them.

ps Hey sorry no pictures again this week.  The 16 gb card is being dumb again, so there's about 300 picures on there that I guess you guys will have to just wait until I'm home or something.  They are definitely still there, you can see it on the camera still, it just won't show up on the computer.  I did clear my other card that does work though, so I'll go back to using that... pictures will be back next week :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

In Reality.......

Hey all!

This week has flown by, time in general has started to fly by.  February is already more than half over... that's crazy but oh well.  This week has been a good one, although I've got to say that it sure didn't feel like it a lot of the time.  Everywhere we went we were late, sometimes our fault, most of the time not.  As a result we saw some real miracles in finding people, which is always awesome but it is always difficult in the moment to see the blessings that will or could come of it.  One of these blessings is that we found a super happy young mom with her kids and she was actually super willing to meet with us, so we get to teach a family! Ya! That will be a first for my mission so far.  

Another first that happened this week was my first planned time teaching the law of chastity to someone for their first time.  It was actually kind of fun because of how awkward it made things, especially when you ask questions at the end of the lesson to check for understanding.  For how open, blatant, accepted, and even expected things of that nature are here in Belgium and the Netherlands, (and I'm sure the rest of Europe) it's funny how uncomfortable it still makes people to talk about it. Even people you talk to that deny it at first or pride in it, all eventually get a shameful or sheepish look on their face when you bluntly talk to them about it.  It just goes to show that deep down, everyone knows to some degree that "the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."  (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)  

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Also this week and actually in weeks past, Elder Besendorfer and I have had some good conversations about teaching with the spirit, and why using the scriptures and being simple in teaching are so important.  From those conversations and personal study, I've made quite a few conclusions.  The Holy Ghost is the ultimate tesifier of truth, he can testify with power and confidence and peace of TRUTH, but that's the key.  He can only testify of truth.  The scriptures are Gods word. He has said that whether it is from my voice or the voice of my prophets, it is the same.  This is why scriptures are powerful. They are Gods word, which is pure truth, giving the spirit unhindered access to testify of truth. 

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
The Blessing of Scripture
April 2010 General Conference

As for simplicity in teaching, it is the same.  The more simply we teach, the better chance we actually have of only speaking truth, and not trying to slip in something of ourselves, or our own ideas which may be good but in the end, imperfect.  Therefore, we are actually hindering the abilitly of the spirit to testify that what we are teaching is truth if we teach complexly, because there is a great chance when we make things complicated that we err in some small way and the spirit cannot lie and testify of anything less than the truth, and where it would be possible for someone to mistake the un-truth as truth.  Scriptures are perfect, testimonies are simple and powerful.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Love you all!

Elder Hayden L. Lott

[Elder Lott did not send pictures this week, or answer the question of the week, but we did find a picture of him at the latest Zone Conference.  Hooray!]

Zone Meeting, January 2015
Elder Lott is in the grey suit with purple tie, behind the group of Sisters on the left side.

Monday, February 9, 2015

New Life, Direction

Hey Everyone!

It's been another good week in the Netherlands even though the work has seemed to hit a wall this week.  I can really relate to the last comment Dad made on his email this week how everyone gets sick after exams in college.  With Leuven being a student city, and beginning of semester exams having finished up this last week it seems like everyone in the city got sick, except for me!  Most of our investigators and dinner appointments dropped this week because they were sick, which is ok because Elder Besendorfer was also sick for most of the week so we had to stay inside.  It was fine, he really was sick and needed to rest but it seemed like I was being tormented when the sun made it clearly out from behind the clouds and was shining and warming things up for the first time in over 2 months!  That's ok, I found a way to still enjoy it by hopping out of our bedroom window and onto the roof to soak in some rays and breath some fresh air.

This time I spent in the apartment also has become very special to me.  With nothing else to do all day for nearly 3 days I started out by simply studying, but I soon felt prompted to take to time to get down on my knees and really ask the Lord how I should be using this time.  I felt prompted that I needed to lay out a more specific vision for myself, both for the mission and the person I want to become from it.  So, I went to work.  I won't lay out everything because it has become sacred to me, but I will say that I felt as though I was having a personal interview with the Lord.  With Him lettting me know what I am doing well, what I am not doing and/or need to do better, and the direction I need to take.

A Personal Relationship with the Savior
James E. Faust
Conference Talk, October 1976

I love the Lord, this is His church.

Love you guys!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

Question of the Week:
What language are the traffic signs, advertisements, and store signs in?  Flemish, Dutch, French, English or a mix?

Traffic signs are in the language of wherever we are at, so Flemmish here in Belgium and Dutch in the Netherlands, although for the most part all traffic signs are just pictures if they can get away with it.  Advertisements are pretty much all in English (here or in the Netherlands), with a few Dutch, French or Turkish adverstisements here or there.  In Brussles everything is in French and Dutch, everything...  A large part of all the English though is because of the wide variety of people who live here, as well as the French and Flemmish sides are unwilling sometimes to speak each others language, and English is a middle ground.

Road Sign and Billboard in Belgium

Billboard in The Hauge, Netherlands

Posters that advertise the Dutch Literature Festival 
The carved faces are the Dutch authors of books featured in the
Dutch Literature Festival
Road Sign in Netherlands

Dutch Nutella Advertisment

Parking Signs in the Netherlands

Bike Path Signs in Netherlands

Even grazing sheep are used to advertise in the Netherlands!

Road Signs in the Netherlands

Sign outside of village in the Netherlands

3 sided billboard outside of
Schipol Airport in the Netherlands

Another 3 sided billboard outside of
Schipol Airport in the Netherlands

Common Bike Path Signs in the Netherlands

Monday, February 2, 2015

Surrendering to His Will

Hey all!

Ah wow, we are up at the church right now.  We woke up and went on a run through Leuven, through the snow, to come up the the church and email.  It felt so good and it was really cool to run through some classic European streets in the winter.

This week has been stressful, with almost nothing going according to plan, and yet we have been successfull and seen plenty of miracles.  Part of the stress I guess is that this far into my mission I am still trying to put to much of this work on my shoulders and not doing a good enough job of making sure this is the Lord's work and not mine, following the spirit and trusting the path He sets before me.

Some of the miracles we have seen though have to do with looking up referrals and meeting our goals.  We had set a goal of giving away a Book of Mormon every day this transfer and have had success in doing so, meeting people on the street who are willing to hear us out and accept a copy and an appointment every day so far.  We also saw a miracle happen in getting to look up a referral this week.  That day was one of the days when nothing went right, but it all turned out in the end.  Missing a train, a bus, and finally having to wait for a bus, we found ourselves on the door of the referral hours after we had planned.  Yet had the great suprise of finding him home.  Which was no coincidence because apparently he is only home a couple times a month for a couple hours and we just happened to find him home.  After the many little and large miracles we've seen this week we've picked up an new motto and that is: "toeval bestad niet"  which translated roughly means that coincidences don't exist.

We also had zone training this week which was really good and I needed to hear a lot of the things said.  In that training there was a quote that was brought up that I think is very good for missionaries and actually members as well.  This quote is from a talk by Elder Holland in the MTC back in 2001 I think and it reads: "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation in not a cheap experience.  Salvation never was easy.  We are the church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head.  How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for him?"

Talk by Elder Holland
Provo MTC, 20 June 2000
Missionary Work and the Atonement

This quote is very direct and was a wake up call to me when I had been getting down this week on some of the challenges that I had faced and the stress I had gone through.  It also made me think though that this does not apply simply to missionary work.  We are all members of this church, the Church of Jesus Christ.  As his second coming nears, things will only get harder for us to stay true, and we should expect no different.  But, at the same time we do have hope. A hope greater than any other.  On the flip side of these challenges is also the fact that once again that He is our eternal head, which also means that we have Him behind us, to strengthen us, to guide us.  Through Him our yoke may be made easy, and our burden light.  Of this I would like to bear my testimony, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.  He lead a perfect life, and yet he did more.  He took upon himself the price of the sins and shortcomings of the world, that through him we might become clean and return unto him and our Heavenly Father with our families and dwell with them forever.

With this I would like to add a quote I've picked up from my last area, and that is "You are what you consistently do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

As we consistently follow Christ, through him we may someday achieve excellence.

I leave this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Love You all!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

ps that's super cool that Jameson Thornock is coming out here!  He's such a cool kid, it'll be great to have him out here.  Maybe I'll train him ;) that'd be cool.
Question of the Week:  It is common for families there to have a pet? Do you see anything wild besides birds?
Answer: Not really anybody has pets, but if they do it's something small like fish or birds.  Also we see really no wild life, everywhere is populated here, or at least used by people so there is almost no wildlife to speak of here or in the Netherlands.