Talking about the ever-changing weather has proven to be a good conversation-starting technique here, so why not begin with that? We went from biking home in the pouring rain bundled up in thermal tights, two jackets, gloves, and a hat on Friday, to ending Stake Conference a half hour early because of the 32+ C weather and no AC... I haven't complained (noticed) the heat yet though, because I love it- I guess my two years in Niceville (or Guam) make me a true sun-lovin' FL girl!
Some highlights of this week include almost getting mauled by a Hunger Game-status dog one evening, but our bikes/ being protected by the Lord won (we just biked as fast as we could without looking back [but could still hear it], and when we turned a corner, it was gone); J feels like she's making progress and really likes the Restoration story but scares us by checking us with the all-reliable source of truth: google (she made the astute observation that people don't always have the nicest things to say about us! We encourage her to use even more reliable sources, such as prayer); went on exchanges with our cool STL Sister Clement in Leeuwarden and talked to (and gave mormon.org cards to) really cool people- including a catholic lady with a huge dog who misses living in Amsterdam in the good ole' days before the world got crazy, a young adult on the bus from Vries who told us all about the language's history and thinks it's really cool what we're doing, and a piano tuner who gave us his business card aka contact info, but later told the Leeuwarden Sisters over the phone that he was a lot more interested in the Sisters personally than in their message, a young Christian dad with two kids who we talked to for a good 15 minutes about the Book of Mormon and was really close to having us drop one off later, but then decided he knew what that entailed and didn't want to get roped into anything, and Sister Brown (I exchanged with her)'s bike also got towed at the station before our very eyes right as we got there; After meeting with J (board of Christian fraternity, we meet at their cafe/ hang out/ study spot building), his friend M who works there asked if he could sit down and wanted to know what we were doing and wanted to know more about het Boek van Mormon- he picked one up at the missionaries' table downtown on King's Day because he saw it was about Jesus Christ- and we laid out the whole Restoration and gave him some favorite chapters to read (we wrote down Alma 32 and Moroni 7 if he needs a good place to start), and he is so nice and cool and good. Speaking of J, we talked about temples, and with doop voor de dood (baptism for the dead) he brought up the parable of Lazarus and Abraham in Luke 16 which we related to Alma 34, and he said that while he recognizes the positive effects of physical baptism such as internalizing the commitment, he has a hard time believing that it is a requirement for salvation- and admitted that that is the biggest thing keeping him from baptizing into Mormonism, but he does think Mormons do a great job of living their faith and wishes more of his friends would understand and live their beliefs similarly. He is so cool, too. We had stake conference this past weekend, and Saturday M joined us for 7.5 hours (including 2 hr each way travel and two sessions) which was great, and on Sunday we heard from Pres. Teixeira, Elder Anderson, Sister Reeves, and Sister and President Uchtdorf via Western Regional Europe broadcast from Bern, Switzerland. They talked about decisions and how one family can make all the difference (which I've totally already seen here- the coolest family in our ward has 9 really cool and successful and active in the Church kids, including the youngest who is our bishop [another son is the Rotterdam Stake Pres., the mom was found on the doorstep by Elders when she was 24]) and to 'stay true to your testimony and hold on a little longer'.
One of the saddest things is meeting with part-member families who want so badly for their spouse to embrace the gospel with them- and it always amazes me how people are not afraid to open up to missionaries and tell us so much- but it's great talking to them. K is so strong and asked the Elders if he could go on joint teach with them after being a member for a week, and we still meet with him and teach him twice a week- I love how he thinks, and it's so interesting the scripture verses/ ideas from talks that stick out to him. A classmate of his, who is a journalist for the University newspaper, recently interviewed him which is turning into a really neat article that I think students will find non-threatening and interesting about the former atheist and current philosophy student's sincere and honest search for true answers. Zuster Meier is so patient, fun, scripture-savvy, has entertaining stories, has the same taste when playing matchmaker with the JoVos/ our investigators, and loving, it's great. There are now two sets of Elders here in
Groningen- one, Elder Lind, is
from Tallahassee- Florida
represent (besides an occasional missionary from Brazil/
New Zealand/Taiwan/ Belgium/ Canada/
Netherlands, eeeveryone else
is from )! Utah
Love you guys! Ah Madi, you're home! K has a really cool friend W (I mentioned him before, he sometimes listens in and reads and smokes in the corner) who has great shoes and hair and is a ridiculously good (Isaac Riley status) pianist and he's an identical twin! Which automatically makes him 23549x cooler!
Zuster Riley (: