Monday, February 29, 2016

Exchanges in Amsterdam

Hey everybody!

So this week has been pretty good.  Just like every week on a mission I guess.  No wait that's wrong.  Every week is amazing!  This week stayed pretty normal until the end but I'll get to that.  We got to go to the Leuven District meeting this week, which is always super fun.  Afterwards we went with them to sing old Dutch and Flemish songs at a retirement home.  That was super fun.  Then on Thursday we had exchanges with the AP's, all the way up in Amsterdam.  That was super fun because I got to work with one of my long time mission friends, Elder Bonner (from Arizona).  

Mission AP's, Elder Bonner and Elder Hirsch
picture from Mission Blog  

We had a pretty successful day, finding a few new people for them to teach. Then that night I got to drive through the super narrow, canal filled, gorgeous Amsterdam streets.  I wish I had gotten a video, that was a cool experience.  If I didn't know I was in Europe before, I sure did then. I love serving the Lord and His children.  It just adds to the experience getting to do it in two countries that are so unique and beautiful!  

Amsterdam Canal at Night
picture from Google

Amsterdam City Lights
picture from Google

Then this weekend we had a little less success than we did last week getting in contact with people.  So we went finding and had some adventures.  We got let in by a super loving Islamic family who listened to our message and shared some ideas from their own beliefs.  They wanted us to stay for a meal with them but we had to go, so he got our number and wants to set up a time we can go back and share a meal with them.  Probably won't go anywhere but they were super nice.  I have really come to appreciate the family centered aspect of the Islamic faith on my mission.  Nearly all of the people I have met on my mission who are Muslim really do love and take care of their families.  Just goes to show that large parts of truth can be found in just about any religion.  It makes me even more glad to know that the complete and whole truth is restored here to the earth, and is to be found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We did get to go back to Txx and Hxx's this week. (Two neighbors that are super chill with each other)  We were able to tell Txx a little bit about Primary because she is looking for a way to teach her little girls morals, and standards, and self worth.  Where better than Primary and later Young Women's?  Axx has a new baptismal date for May 1st just to give her time to get through legal stuff.  

For the Strength of Youth

We're going to play Soccer today for P-day as a zone.  Should be super fun!

Love you guys!

-Elder Hayden Lott

Monday, February 22, 2016

Zone Conference Craziness

Hey Everybody!

So this week was super good, a little scattered, but still super good!  We had zone conference this last week which is what caused so much of the craziness. It was originally supposed to be here in Antwerpen but less than 24 hours before it was supposed to start we found out that we wouldn't be able to use this building, so we had some quick phone calls to set up another place, and had to move zone conference to Eindhoven.  Which led to more phone calls and quick planning on getting all of the missionaries up from Belgium to the Netherlands on short notice to sleep over and be in conference the next day.  Fun stuff though, it was a great conference.  We talked a lot about the understanding and recognizing the spirit, chapter 4 in Preach My Gospel.  Super good.

Vicki F. Matsumori
October 2009 General Conference
Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit

Other than that we were able to meet with all of the people we needed to this week, even though we only had appointments for 1 of our investigators!  That was a super big miracle, just finding people home.  We were even able to find quite a few new ones along the way.  Axx is changing her baptismal date so that she can work around problems getting marriage papers.  Bxx is no longer on date until we can get a good start on stopping with smoking.  Fxx is going on vacation to Suriname.  Some of our other investigators that we've met with for a couple times now include:
- Kxx (Belgian lady who stopped me on the street)
 -Rxx (Belgian Guy) 
-Jxx (cool 18 year old kid from Africa somewhere) 
-Txx and Hxx (two super fun neighbors, one from Lebanon, one from Belgium
-Fam. Pxx (Italian Family we met door to door, this family is a miracle, our patience really payed off on this one. We had to wait nearly 3 weeks to teach them but they are super positive!)
-Axx (from Paraguay, studying here in Antwerpen)

and there are quite a few others but that is a taste.  It is so crazy, we really are seeing quite a bit of success here.  I'm loving it! The Lord is blessing us!

I love you all!

-Elder Hayden Lott

Question of the Week:  Are the Marion (Mary and Jesus) statues all the same, or different from street to street? 

Answer:  Yeah there a lots of those kinds of statues on street corners, not on every one and not all the same, but on quite a few for sure.  

Marion Statue on a street corner
picture from Wikipedia
These statues are featured on many of street corners in Antwerpen.

This was our p-day last week.
Tower/Cathedral in Mechelen

View from the Tower/Cathedral in Mechelen

Another View from the Tower/Cathedral in Mechelen

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hard Work Brings Miracles

Hey everybody!  Happy Valentines Yesterday!

So this week has been pretty great.  It has been one of the most successful weeks numbers wise on my mission.  We were able to teach a ton of lessons, and were able to get 7 new investigators! Super cool!  We saw miracles this week from talking with everyone that we saw and just being willing to go out for hours at a time and just work.  We have a good mix of Belgian, African, Middle Eastern, and South American investigators now.  Can I just say though that I love teaching about Christ and the restoration.  For the honest listener and truth seeker, it just makes sense when the spirit comes into the room.   We had to drop Bxx from date because we haven't had contact with him all week, and he's had trouble with smoking still.  We'll have to move Axx's date; she and her boyfriend still need to get married before she can get baptized, but they are working on it.  They had been even before we started teaching her.  It's just funny stuff with paperwork holding them back, but their lawyer thinks they are close.  Fxx is still good for his May baptismal date.


Nice Church Behind a Neighborhood

[Mom note:  This picture is probably in response to a musing I had about whether Antwerpen had any skyscrapers or modern architecture, or if it was all ancient buildings.]
Well....  Antwerpen and Belgium isn't all cool old buildings, they do have some flats and skyscrapers.  

This week we had a wide variety of etenafpraken (meal appointments), ranging from the classic Dutch Boterham (single slice of bread, butter and one topping sandwiches) which was super good, all the way to African Fufu.  Super cool to see and experience such diversity! 


FuFu Party!

I love the Lord and His gospel.  I have a strong testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Lord truly is loving, because after centuries of confusion, just as He has before He prepared the way for His gospel to be restored through a young man, Joseph Smith, who had honest questions about how he could come closer to God and which church would bring him to that knowledge and truth.  In answer to his prayer, God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ truly did come to him, and answer his prayer personally, that no church had the complete truth or authority.  They also gave him direction, (because he was willing to act on his answer if I might add) that he would be called as prophet to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  To top it all off the Lord has given us a way to know that Jesus truly is the Christ, our savior and redeemer, and what His true doctrine and gospel is. Also to know that Joseph Smith truly was His chosen servant to help restore His church and gospel on the earth.  That way is the Book of Mormon.  It has had a greater influence on my life for good, and for Faith in Christ and His Atonement than any other thing that has come into my life. I know that Jesus is the Christ, my personal Savior and redeemer, and that He is so for everyone else as well.  The Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Him.  That is my testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Joseph Smith's First Vision
Restoration of the Gospel

Love you all!

Elder Hayden Lott

Question of the Week:  Is Valentine's Day celebrated in Europe?

Answer:  Yes, they do celebrate Valentines day here. It's about the same as in the states.  The ward here in Antwerpen put on a Valentines dinner for couples from the ward to come.  Funny enough they told us we couldn't come, haha imagine that.

Monday, February 8, 2016

February Blues (but not really)

Ça  va? Ja, ça va.

It's funny the traces of French that make it into Vlaams (Flemish).

Coming out of the Tram Stop in Antwerpen
Elder Reese, Elder Hill and Elder Lott

This week has been a wild one.  First of all, I want to say this week was great!  But before I talk about that I'll talk about February Blues.  Even though this last week has been great I found myself feeling a little down which was super weird.  Then I started reading in my journal for some random reason and I realized that same thing happened last year around this time.  It's the February Blues!  In the winter here the sun hardly ever comes out, in fact last year I kept a tally of how long I went without getting direct sunlight, it was 3 months. This year hasn't been quite as bad, but the effect is the same.  So today I'm going to go get some Vitamin D tablets, that seemed to fix it last year.  I guess that's a tip for anyone coming here to Europe during the winter.  Also, I don't want it to seem like I'm super depressing because I'm not, I'm loving life.  But a funny story from this week would be that our hot water has been pretty unusable this week because one of the heaters in our house sprung a leak.  So we had to borrow a space heater from a member, and to have a warm shower the other person had to run around like a bucket brigade catching the water from a leaky heater for as long as the other wanted to take a shower.  Ok, end of sad stories, now we'll talk about how the week really went. :)
Broken Heater

We were really able to get some good work in this week, looking up some more people Elder Reese knew when he was here the first time and one of the people we looked up we were able to set on Baptismal date!  His name is Fxx and he is from Suriname.  He is a super cool miracle.  Its crazy how many people have fallen through the cracks that we are picking back up.  We were also able to get some solid finding in to get some new investigators.  On Saturday morning we found a golden street. We were able to find 5 new people, and 2 families to teach!  It's crazy how much success we can see as 2 older, obedient, hard working missionaries.  The Lord truly blesses, guides, and helps us and all his servants.  I am convinced that any missionary who is willing to give themselves completely to the Lord and go out and work hard will not struggle for extended periods of time to see success on their mission.  Maybe it won't come in the amounts or in the timing that we would like, but this is His work and it will get done in the Lords time and His way, and He will help us progress along the way.  

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Ensign, October 2003

This week we were also able to have our first exchanges under the new system.  (I don't know if I've explained this in previous emails.  The old way we did exchanges was that zone leaders would exchange with everyone in the zone during a transfer, which meant that we would almost always be on the road, going from one exchange to another.  The new way that the Quorum of the 12 and First Presidency would like us to do it is having zone leaders always stay in their areas. They only go on exchanges with district leaders, and the district leader and their companion both come to our area.  This is so that they can see an example of a model area to learn and pattern their work after. Also so that when missionaries get to their prime they have the biggest chance possible to see success in their own area and really make a difference rather then always be on exchanges all the time.  I feel like this is an inspired move, and that the Lord is hastening His work.) With that, we were able to work with the Elders from Brussels this week.   I got to work with Elder Roberts, from Dallas(ish) Texas.  He is a super funny kid and is amazing at contacting people, really not being a robot and treating people like people.  Super cool to work with him.  

Also this week we were able to go up to the mission home (close to Den Haag/Leiden) for Mission Leader Council.  That is always super cool to have every month, it's been good to see how the mission works and councils to overcome problems and move the mission forward.

This last week was a super good one for the Zone.  We taught more total lessons as a zone this week than we have in quite awhile, maybe a year or more, I still need to look back in the records.  Our missionaries are so solid!

Love you all!
-Elder Hayden Lott
Dag! Salut!

Question of the Week:  Does anyone in Europe care about the Super Bowl?
Answer:  Americans in Europe care about the Super Bowl.  Plus maybe one random Dutch guy me and Elder Stanworth met in Breda (Haha he had no interest in the gospel but had us come in and chat with him about American sports for like an hour).  Other than that, not really at all.

Car Selfie

Rush Hour coming back from Mission Leader Council

Monday, February 1, 2016

Transfer Week

Hey Everyone!

Haha first of all I'd like to say that from now until the end of my mission I'll repent and send more pictures.  I've realized I've gotton pretty lazy as far as that goes, and that's my bad.

For the first couple of days this week we ran around letting Elder Harrop say bye to investigators, members and everyone.  Then came transfer day, where I spent nearly a whole day sitting in the Antwerpen Train station directing everyone on where they needed to go, which train to get on, or not get on, haha that was pretty fun.  I spent too much time next to friet and waffle stands though and had probably too many.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before but when you go to a friet stand here in Belgium it's not just the classic fries and ketchup in America. The fries are super good and you have anywhere from 20 to 60 sauces to choose from.  You usely get them in either a 'puntzak' (paper cone) or a small tray.  Some of my favorite sauces are samurai sauce, Joppi sauce, andalouse sauce, or just classic mayonnaise.  I don't think I could ever go back to ketchup.

Frites with Mayonnaise
Transfer Day

More Transfer Day
Antwerpen Station (from one of the lower platforms)

Antwerpen Station (from the top)

Antwerpen Station Selfie

Anyways, so after everyone was where they needed to be and I had gotten Elder Reese, we went back to the apartment to drop his stuff off and then went to have an appointment with a less active.  That was a sad appointment, because even though he was a very nice man he is really struggling with his testimony.  He has fallen into one of the classic trends/excuses found here in Europe, deciding that religion is simply a human psychological need, and that to a point all religions are true, it is just different for everybody.  The religion that is true for you is simply the one that suits your psychological needs, and that in the end nothing really exists after we die.  So sad, because no matter what angle you take it at, it is still their agency to continue to focus more on their doubts than on experiences they've had that are very much not psychological, or other answers that help to overcome and point out the flaws in such obstacles. On Thursday though we met with another less active whose faith is really in a good place, but he just isn't coming to church because of some disagreements with some members, and some troubles with the particulars with some commandments, such as which teas are and aren't allowed with the Word of Wisdom.  He really does want to follow God though and do his best, so it was nice to meet with him; I'll really enjoy working with him.  

Come, Join with Us
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
General Conference, October 2013
As far as our investigators go, Axx, one of our baptismal dates, is really starting to do well.  We changed her date to the 28th of February so that we can make sure she is ready, but she is really starting to search for the truth and why she would be baptized into this church verses another so that is really good.  Our other Baptismal date, Bxx, is coming along well now too.  He has still got to quit smoking but he has been to sacrament meeting twice in a row now!  So good.  The rest of our investigators from before are either out of town or haven't had time lately with university exams being in the last couple weeks.  But since Elder Reese served here, he remembered some people he had taught when he was here and we've been looking them up.  It's been wonderful to see the way that the Lord gives these people a second chance at accepting the gospel.  Most all of the people we went to were open and willing to start up again. 

I love the Lord and being able to be an instrument in His hands where we do His work.


Elder Hayden Lott

Question of the Week: Are the cars in Europe manual or automatic transmission?

Answer:  Manual transition in cars does seem to be the norm here, even in newer cars.  I've been given a variety of reasons for that.  One is that it gives you a bit better gas mileage if you can do it right.  Another is that it gives you more control of the car.  There are probably other reasons as well.  Our car that we drive as missionaries is an automatic. 

Elder Harrop and Me in the Car