Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 8 photos

Windmill pics in Leiden

In Leiden with some awesome Elders, and at the PannenkoekenHouse (or in my case, the soup and salad house...)

 97-year-old Tex

 Before the baptism...

And after the baptism

Week 8 - Groningen

Hoi! Wow, this week was great, a highlight was definitely K's doopdienst (baptism) on Saturday! One of the speakers got sick, so I actually got to give the first talk on baptism... it actually went well, but wow, didn't think I'd be speaking at a baptism in front of his 30 smart-looking debate club fraternity college friends and family who is a little wary of why he's changed so quickly ten weeks in, intimidating!.. but it was so neat, K is such an example to ME! I've noticed that Dutch converts here won't just make life changes for social reasons, so if they're joining the Church, they know what they're getting themselves into and are strong members for life. H, who baptized him, is awesome and rad and has a band called Harm's Fork. 

Yesterday we visited one of my favorite people here so far, "Tex," who is 97 years old and speaks Spanish and English and Dutch and used to be a Seventy General Authority. He repeats himself a lot, so it's a good thing he has hilarious stories, and talks about when he was serving as a missionary in Belgium and met this missionary who "had these little radios in his ears [headphones] and didn't wanna work so I beat the he_ _ outta him... do any of you Elders wrestle? C''mere," and then he puts ‘em in a headlock with his frail little body, it's so funny, and he's such a spiritual giant and always has his gospel doctrine and living prophets books out and says "okay missionaries, teach me something I don't know about the gospel" and says he's so proud of us for preaching up the gospel and building His kingdom and the reason he's so old is because he's always on his knees praying  and when I sat next to him on his bed to pray (so he can hear- we have to yell 4 or 5 times every time we say something) he winked at me and said "now don't get too comfortable here," oh what a jokester, but such a spiritual giant too. 

We also have a 46-yr old flamboyant Indonesian (semi-)progressing investigator who is really nice and loves meeting with us (his mom is a member and sits in on the lessons, too) to talk about "'Liefde'' and good vibes and who said "Zooooooster, do you play the violin? I knew it! I heard violins when I shook your hand," and doesn't leave without a gift. I got a bouquet of flowers with a NL flag and soap and conditioner hahah. 

On Friday we were looking up a referral and got caught in some heavy rain (my first real NL shower) and huddled under a tree looking at a map, and everyone in the appt. next to us were looking at us Americans like we were crazy, and a mom even lifted her toddler up so she could see us better! I think they missed the part where one of them invites us in to stay dry, and we share a message, etc.... 

Sweet M, who we had set a baptismal date with, decided to push it back because of doubts/ school mentor and family encouraged her not to rush/ maybe she should read and learn more, but she still loves church/ institute/ lessons/ the gospel! 

Josh, you're a teenager!!! Wow! I went down to Leiden for some legality paperwork, and got two letters from home, aw thanks! 


Zuster Riley (: 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 7 photos - 1st week in the Netherlands!

Biking home! We live in Leweborg, in Groningen 
 Downstairs where we eat/ study,

&We even have a piano! Too bad we're never home! 

 Front of our house- hoiiii Zuster Meier! 

 First full day- got a bike!

 "Dutch lunch" is bread/ crackers/ rice cakes + spreadable cheese or other cheese or hoemoes (hummus) or pindakaas (literally means peanut cheese, hah it's peanut butter), yum! 

 SO PRETTY, love canals and the sun! 

 Companions, canals and craziness

 Groningen Ward bldg! 

 Juliana Street for my camel from another mammal, Juliana Mikolajcik!

 My first "picture date" (not allowed at the MTC hahaha) with Elder Knudsen, we have a mutual friend at the MTC 

 Our back yard! 

 2 sets of stairs in a missionary "appt" - not too shabby haha

 Where we sleep! 

Our neighborhood! 

Week 7 - Groningen - 1st week in the Netherlands!

Hoi! I love it here! I've been in Groningen for 5 days so far (arriving a day late due to an exciting adventure of airport delays), have the best trainer ever, Sister Meier, from West Valley, UT (near Salt Lake) (we have some mutual friends including both of our good friend Maddy Thompson), and the people here are awesome.

I love talking to people in DUTCH, it's so fun, and it's been beautiful, sunny, Florida-status weather here (I was teasing the ward members yesterday about the weeks of constant rain in Nederland being a false rumor), which means the city parks are filled with people laying out in pleasant moods because of the sun = hello contacting. In fact, yesterday I was joking about how "the fields are white [with pale northern Europeans who are trying to tan] and ready to harvest" haha. But, Sister Meier's had so many appointments planned for us that we've hardly had time to  contact, although we did for about an hour on Friday, and also I did talk to two different college-aged students on bike while we were waiting at a light to cross, which Sister Meier thought was so funny, because when the light turned green (yes, they have bike traffic down here, I mean they have to, it's the top form of transportation), we kept talking, biking side by side haha. It's great, because I can always just say some type of small talk, like, "I like your shoes" or "aw, what's your dog's name?" etc., and then apologize for my nederlands- I've only been here for 3 days, and then they say "oh wow no that's awesome, are you studying here?" and I tell them that I took a break from studies to serve a volunteer mission, etc. It's nice to be able to pull the "I'm new, let me practice my Dutch card".

There is this awesome investigator who I will call K, who was an atheist philosopher a few months ago, is 28, and is so smart, and is getting baptized this Saturday! He is so cool to talk to, so strong, and apparently changed so much in the past few months (making changes while still maintaining his awesome and individual identity, of course - this seems to be something that people are scared of here, that if they become religious, their individuality disappears). But a good counter-example is H, the Gospel Principles teacher in our ward who is a total hippie musician who was converted 13 years ago and LOVES the gospel and is seriously so cool and popular and hilarious.

Mission home in Leiden

My first day Elder Melligan and I met President and Sister Robinson, the assistants and our trainers in Leiden, we signed some legality paperwork, and then I hopped on the train with Zuster Meier to Groningen, way up in northern Netherlands, and we had an appointment with K (and his cool friend W who sometimes comes over when we come, he smokes in the corner and has read some chapters from hBvM and thinks it's pretty cool and is a crazy good pianist and will play at K's baptism) which was great. I've met so many awesome ward members, investigators from Cape Verde, Saint Martin, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Nederland of course, you name it, but I don't have much time to talk about each one! Groningen is pretty diverse, and there are lots of students- University of Groningen just celebrated its 400th birthday- and is beautiful.

Sister Meier and I live in a house (yes, a 3-story condo previously owned by members!) in a neighborhood out in the countryside, about a 45-min bike ride from the church, and 30 mins from the downtown station. So I get to see cows, sheep, ducks, countryside canals and even a Windmill on our quick morning run (wish it was longer!), and get to see diversity, cute cafes, bikes, bikes, and more bikes, and cool-looking old buildings as well as cool-looking architecture in the city, it's great. I love the ward here, it's so great, I was invited to introduce myself/ bear my testimony in Sacrament Mtg. which was exciting! And I met the Van der Puts' son who is in our ward and showed him the picture of us with his parents which was really cool. (The Van der Puts were a missionary couple from the Netherlands serving in England when we were there in 2002-2004. Our children loved them and we had them over often, and Sister Vanderput spoke at Eliza's baptism. Eliza is carrying around the photo of our family with them, to show to them when she finds them. )

The members are so fun to talk to, it's funny because I tried to be sly about not loading up on the Dutch sausages at a dinner appointment, and they totally pried and kept asking if there were certain things I don't like, and when I casually mentioned that before my mission I didn't eat meat/ cheese/ etc. and was seeing if it would work to keep that up here, they were like, oh cool yeah don't change, but you have to tell people, we'll make an announcement in Relief Society, and it's been such a blessing because the Dutch pride themselves on being accepting of differences and actually think that's so cool, and Sister Meier already eats stuff I like, for example the first day she suggested Dutch muesli (so good) with hazelnut milk, and beet and pea salad.

I got a bike! She's a beaut, only 80 Euro, but rides like she was 150 Euro, one of my investigators is gonna help me spray paint it a bright color which is the trending Dutch thing to do. Ah it's been so great, the people here are so cool, and I love talking to people about my beliefs and how we're really not that different. Something so neat was yesterday, I met M, a 28-year old who has been coming to Jo-Vo (young adult- they have a great, fun Institute program here) activities and church and learning so much with the missionaries, and after talking about the what and why about baptism with her yesterday, I asked her if she wanted to, and we set a date as a goal to work towards! She's so great. Little kid Dutch is so cute, and church in Dutch is so powerful, we had a great High-Council speaker yesterday about why hard things happen and how to stay strong, ah it's great here. 

I love you guys, and I love it here, I'm so excited to be engaged in the work and look forward to talking to and teaching and befriending so many people. I'll try and send a few pics real quick, but really not that much time! Tot volgende vorberidingsdag! 

Zuster Riley (: 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Week 6 - Arrival in Amsterdam !

windmill near the mission home

Dear Families:
Yesterday at 12:30 pm your missionaries arrived in the Belgium Netherlands mission.  As you may or may not know, due to storms in the US, their flight was delayed and they missed their original flight to the Netherlands.  Monday night they spent the night in the mission home of the Dallas-Fort Worth Mission.  Tuesday they flew to JFK in New York City where they caught the flight to Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.  They have had quite the adventure.

Sister Riley is serving in Groeningen with Sister Meier as trainer and companion
President and I want to thank you for your faith and love in sending your missionaries out to serve the Lord.  You are in our prayers and we are looking forward to wonderful events and experiences.


Sister Robinson

  Zuster Riley with her mission president and his wife, and Elder Melligan (who traveled with her for 2 1/2 days from Provo to SLC to Abilene to Dallas to NYC to Amsterdam)

With their trainers

Note: On Eliza's flight from SLC to Dallas on Monday, thunder storms (and running out of gas) forced the plane to land in Abilene, TX. Eliza and Elder Melligan had made friends with a nice LDS man on the flight (who is the father of a missionary in Ohio) and they rode with him in his rental car for 3 hours to Dallas. After spending the night at the mission home in Dallas, Eliza and Elder Melligan flew to NYC where they "contacted" and handed out mormon.org cards during their 8-hour layover Tuesday afternoon. Finally Tuesday night (late) they flew to Amsterdam and arrived at lunchtime Wednesday. The GOOD thing about all of these delays was that I got to talk to Eliza several times! She is allowed to call from airports when traveling to her mission, so she called with a calling card from the SLC airport, then she called on the nice man's cell phone while driving to Dallas, then she tried calling me from NYC with her calling card. I was chaperoning Josh's band concert Tuesday evening and couldn't answer the phone while getting the performers on stage, but after my group's performance was over, I checked my phone and had 2 missed calls. I felt awful to have missed my last chance to talk to my daughter for 7 more months, so I ran outside and called back the phone number. And what a tender mercy -- the call to the pay phone went through and Eliza answered! Her calling card had run out of minutes after she'd left me a message, and she was sitting sadly by the pay phone. We got to talk for a while, but when I figured I'd better get back to corraling the rowdy middle-schoolers, I told her I'd give Dad her number so he could call her, too. He called the number and talked to her for about 20 minutes before the call cut off. Then when he (and later Josh and I) tried to call back repeatedly, all we got was a sound like a fax machine. But we were so grateful that we were able to call her and talk to her one last time before she flies to the other side of the world! She was in good spirits, and the delays didn't really phase her; this was nothing compared to her airport adventure in December (trying to fly home for Christmas the morning after getting her wisdom teeth out, getting delayed and spending the night in the airport with no pain killer and trying to negotiate switching flights while her mouth was swollen and bloody). This time, she was healthy and not alone!

 Our "3 Nephite" with our first of 2 rental cars, in Abilene, Tx (I would've been on the plane to Amsterdam by then haha)

 New York skyline (taken from the airport window)! So tempting to go there in our 8 hours, but our instructions to stay at the airport were pretty clear.... 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

6 - Last photos from the MTC

 Here's the record board in the gym at the MTC! Eliza's companion sent these photos, with one of the new "Dutchies" in the pic.

 Last big map pic in MTC

 MTC zone, sayin' bye 

Last day in MTC- found the Robinsons!

Krispy Kreme donuts with the zone

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Week 6 - MTC photos

 At the top of the JFSB last P-day! 5 Missionaries in our zone went to BYU. 

 Sister Modersitzki and I taking in the beauty of BYU campus (after Sacred Gifts) that Elder Henderson took.

 Elder Melligan's brief tour of BYU included a stop at Jamba Juice! 

 Elder Sweat (Sweden-bound) and Elder Peterson (Russia-bound) and I were all in BYU Provo YSA 111th Ward together! 

 Brother and Sister Hodges, from our MTC Branch Presidency! 

 Taking a quick study break from memorizing the First Vision (in nederlands, naturrelijk)- debuting Elder Melligan's "fashion lenses"