Monday, July 27, 2015

Roll' Brugge

Hey Everybody!

It has been a fantastic week this week.  Capped off with the news in all the emails I got this week!  But I'll live in the here and now, which is in Brugge, Belgium.  [Parent note:  Our family had a number of exciting things happening this past week, and we sent long emails and pictures of the events to Elder Lott.  His father also reminded him that although there were many things happening here at home that he would like to have been part of, he should remain focused on his mission.  He included this talk:  Randall L Ridd, April 2014 General Conference, "The Choice Generation", which included this advice: “Be where you are when you are there.”]


Bell Tower
I was in these clothes because we were getting back from the beach on P-day.  So don't judge ;)

Town Market Bell Tower

This has been a wonderful week as far as seeing the Lord's hand in our work. We have seen more success in finding new investigators which is good, but what has been amazing to me is the evidence of gift of tongues this past week. After the past Zone training and district meeting I have put a new emphasis on language study, both during the hour and throughout the day and the results are remarkable, and surprisingly instant. Among the miracles I have seen this week, one stands out above the others in the the regard to gift of tongues. We had the chance of being let in off of the door this week to middle aged couple and their grandchildren. After some quick introductions and getting to know each other, we were able to turn the conversation to a point where we were able to present the message of the Restoration. The spirit was strong, and my mind clear, as words fell out of my mouth in probably the purist Dutch I have ever spoken. When we got to Joseph Smith's vision, I was reminded of President Bunnell making us promise to recite the First Vision slowly, with it being such a sacred a testifying account.  So as I began I slowed down, emphasizing each word. The spirit was so strong and you could tell that they were touched as they listened intently. They accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon, and even though they turned down a baptismal invitation twice, we left truly happy for what had just happened. We'll be going back in a couple of weeks.  

Article of Faith #7

Sadly though, we have had to push back the baptismal date of a couple of our investigators, different reasons for both.  With Sxxx it is simply because he needs to get to church! His boss has him work on Sunday, so we committed him to fast and pray that he would be able to get Sundays off on a regular basis. With Kxxx though, things are not looking very good.  We think he is slowly dropping us and it is sad, especially for someone who has such a strong desire to follow Jesus Christ!

It really was a great week.

I love you all!

-Elder Lott

Question of the Week:  Have you had a chance to go the chocolate factory that we keep hearing about in Belgium?

Answer:   I haven't had a chance to go to that museum yet, but I think we will be going to the Belgian Frite museum sometime that is here in Brugge.

Elder Groesbeck and Elder Lott
Taking a break during one of the few sunny days this past week.

Calling People During Weekly Planning  :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Minor Setbacks, Bigger Miracles

Hey Everybody!

So this week has been a good one.  We've had some minor setbacks with Sxxx and Kxxx, having to push their baptismal dates back a little ways.  They are still willing to be baptized.  They just haven't received all the lessons yet, and Sxxx needs to somehow get work off on Sundays so that he can come to church!  Other than that, we've been praying for more people who we can help bring closer to Christ through a knowledge of His restored gospel and baptism.  Our prayers have been answered! The sisters in Antwerpen ran into a guy that had been meeting with the missionaries for a while, and was getting ready for baptism but then had to go back to Nigeria. Now he is back in Belgium and living in Brugge, and was looking to get in contact with the missionaries!  Well, he's found us now, and hopefully we can help him continue to move forward.  We also had another miracle with a less active who's been coming back to church.  She ended up bringing her 9 year old daughter along, and she said she wants help getting reactivated and wants us to teach her daughter and get her ready for baptism.  Sweet!  We've also seen quite a bit of success with finding new investigators, more success than I've seen earlier in my mission anyways.  We were let in 3 times this last week (miracle in and of itself) and allowed to share a short restoration message.  All three have turned into new investigators!  Really cool and funny experiences; I think I'll save some of those for after the mission though ;)

The Lord truly does pour out his blessings upon us.

In my personal studies this week, I was in one of my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon, Alma chapters 32-34.  Oh, I love those chapters!  Alma and Amulek have so many plainly laid out statements about the gospel it is beautiful.  I love that duo!  They really set the standard for teaching with a companion in unity, which is something to be strived for as a missionary.

I'll end with scripture from the end of Alma 34

37 And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should awork out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ;
 38 That ye acontend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the bname of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and cworshipGod, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in dthanksgiving daily, for the many emercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
It goes on further, but I would like to point out something.  We are to work out our salvation with fear BEFORE God, not OF God.  God is our loving Heavenly Father who is so willing to bless us, and help us in every way that we try live worthily of.  He will never be angry at us as long as we are not working directly against Him.  We can put our trust in Him, because He is perfect and because He loves us all infinitely and unconditionally.  Doubt Not, Fear Not.  That is the only thing we really have to fear then, is that we will one day stop trying. Other than that, the Lord has everything else covered.  

I love you all!

-Elder Hayden L. Lott

Question of the Week:  Do the Belgians have town squares and festivals/flea markets like the Netherlands?

Answer:  Yeah there are markets here in Belgium as well.  Here in Brugge it is on Saturdays, but I know that other towns around here have it on other days.  On Saturdays we go to this one stand in the market to get lunch because the lady has a sweet deal with the missionaries where we both get half of a chicken, a whole ton of fried potatoes, and a lot of super good veggies for only 5 euro!  Actually there are a lot of people who give us deals here if we go to them.  There's a waffel guy who gives us a euro off because we are missionaries, and other people like that.  Cool stuff.  Missionaries are famous here.  We get stopped daily by member tourists and just other random people who know about the church or who have met with us before.  There are tons of little old ladies who talk with us on buses, and tons of conductors on trains who know who we are.  Perks I guess for serving in one of the oldest missionary stompping grounds and tourist city ;)

Brugge Market - Just outside of Centrum.
(Just wait, I'll get pictures of the Centrum!)
Brugge Apartment Living Room

Kitchen in Brugge Apartment

With Elder Thornock, also from Bountiful, Utah

Old MTC Group; 8 of us were at the same zone conference!
Sister Whittington, Sister Voss, Sister Bush, Sister Watts,
Elder Reese, Elder Morrell, Elder Lott, Elder Hirsche
(Only missing Sister Thomas, Sister Robbins, Elder Cook and Elder DeWitt)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Back in Belgium

Hey Everybody!

It's so great to be home!  My second home that is.  I said goodbye to Almere and all the wonderful people there on Wednesday and came back home, at least it felt like.  It was kind of the same feeling as when I went into Leuven the first time in Belgium, crazy stuff.

I am loving it here in Brugge though.  It is such a beautiful city.  Apart from that there are some amazing members here that I have already met.  Truly strong testimonies of the gospel and of the truthfulness and importance of the restoration.  It is a small branch here, not very many members at all, maybe 20 that attended sacrament (20 that live here, probably 10 that were visiting), if that, but they are wonderful.  A lot of the attendance each week is from visiting LDS tourists, who are always fun to meet.  We have been stopped about once a day by tourists so far who end up being LDS and from somewhere in the states.  That's been fun.  For church though, with Elder Groesbeck being a greenie, the role of translation has fallen on me.  I've done it once or twice before and I'm ok at it, but it looks like I'll be doing it a lot more in this branch.  It'll be a great chance to expand my talents! 

As far as the work goes, I've fallen into a good place.  They had 2 solid investigators before I got here who are on date to be baptized  in the next couple weeks. One is Sxxx, he is from Ghana and living here for now.  The other is Kxxx, he is from Sri Lanka.  Both are super cool and seem to have growing testimonies about the gospel and the peace that Christ can bring into their lives.  We had to push Kxxx's date back this week though, with so many of the lessons still needing to be taught and just not enough time to get them in.  But it would be awesome for this branch to see a couple baptisms. They haven't seen one in quite a while. So that will be good to both have some opportunity to teach and go out and find to fill out our teaching pool.  It's been funny to see the character of all my areas. So far here in Brugge, nearly everyone we talk to is Catholic, but also seems to blame a lot of the problems of the world on religion and don't really know if they believe in God or not. (Everyone that isn't a tourist that is, we contact soooo many tourists here)  But at least they have some knowledge of Christ, and that's definitely a plus.

We've had some fun experiences so far finding more people to teach.  We were able to give a restoration lesson on the door to an older gentlemen who was very intrigued about the Book of Mormon.  I also got a hug from a guy who we gave a Book of Mormon to the other day.  We were walking down the street, about ready to go home for dinner and I felt like we should talk to this guy, so I asked him if we could give him a card.  Then we had a conversation about religon in general and a little about the church.  We ended up splitting ways and I just had such a strong feeling I needed to give him a Book of Mormon, so I called back to him and told him I wanted to give him a copy of a book that has brought me a lot of peace in this life.  After a short testimony and explanation, I handed it over to him and he took it and said 'Serieus?' which is like him saying 'really?'   Then he thanked us, gave us a hug, and promised us he would read it.  Cool experience; hopefully something comes of it.  If we follow the spirit, I know we'll have more experiences and chances to teach, testify and invite/lead others unto Christ.

Love you all!

Through the Grace of God, we can do all things!

-Elder Lott

Question of the Week:  What is a favorite thing about your new companion?

Answer:  Elder Groesbeck is great; our personalities really clique.  He is still greeny, but if he keeps things going, he's going to be a great missionary - he already is!  Both of us love sports, and he's willing to work and improve, so what more can you really ask for? ;)  He knows when it's time to work and when it's time to be more light hearted, and he cares about the members and those we work with.  Those are some of my favorite things about him so far.  We're still getting to know each other, it's been like 5 days.  Although we've had enough cool experiences to feel like it's longer.

Den Haag Zone in June 2015, last meeting with President and Sister Robinson
Elder Lott is on back row, slightly right from center behind Sister in the coral top and white skirt.
Picture from Robinson blog:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Crazy Exit

Hey everybody!

Where to start with this week... normaly on a transfer week I would put that first, but this week I think I'll put it off until later due to other crazy events.

So I guess there was only really one crazy thing that happened this week and it simply triggered all the others.  I'll skip to the moral of the story on this one: Elder Lott needs to be done with bikes.  Ok, maybe that's not the real one, but it's definitely a front runner.  This last Tuesday I got into another bike crash, my second here in Almere due to some poor short-sited choices on my part.  We were leaving the Almere Buiten apartment after stopping by to get a drink. Then we went to leave, and my brakes gave out going down the steep ramp out the garage and I crashed into the slowly ascending garage door.  My bike made it through, but I didn't, getting taken out from the waist up by the door.  (Again my bike was just fine; I'll probably ditch it though, and try and find a bike with good brakes from an elder that's done this transfer.) The bike then ran out from under me, my feet flying up and I landed on my back. I ended up with a concussion, countless bumps and bruises, and a dislocated thumb (which I ended up relocating myself later!). That wasn't fun.  I am learning so many things from this experience, but I don't quite feel like I can put most of it properly to words at this point in time.  For now though, I do know a few things.  One is that God, our Heavenly Father, is very much there and looking out for us.  Sometimes he allows things happen in life, but it is in defense of our free agency, which is a much greater gift than any of us truly understand.  Sometimes we make dumb decisions or ignore spiritual promptings, but He still looks out for us.  His hand is in our lives more than we ever see.  Everything will work together for our good if we are faithful, with all of our losses being made up in the end and His promises also being fulfilled, if not in this life, then in the next.

Agency allows us to be tested and tried to see whether or not we will endure to the end and return to our Heavenly Father with honor. … Agency permits us to make faithful, obedient choices that strengthen us so that we can lift and strengthen others.”
—Robert D. Hales

The second part of this email will be about transfers.  Surprise!  I am getting transferred!  It is something even more perfect than I could have ever imagined too!  I going back to Belgium!  I'm being transferred down to Brugge, Belgium!  My companion with be another young elder, Elder Groesbeck.  He will be on his second transfer.  So I will be his breaker. I guess that's my role in this mission ;) Fun stuff, Brugge is a beautiful city!  One of the prettiest in Europe, so that will be nice.  I love Belgium so much, I might start trying to learn some French with this second go around.  So great, so excited.

Brugge Square - picture from Google

Canal in Brugge - picture from Google

I love you all so much!


-Elder Hayden L. Lott