Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 19 - Transfer 3 - Gent, Belgium

downtown Gent

Familie Riley, groetjes vanuit Gent.

You know you're in Belgium when you feel like you're in Disneyland (but better because REAL life with all the adorable old, cute, colorful buildings); no one bats an eyelid if the bus comes late/ train doesn't show at all; there's a postcard-worthy historic church or cathedral on every corner; you catch a whiff of the famous 'Belgian Funk' scent every once in a while (we're not talking fresh Belgian waffles either); people say 'salutjes' instead of 'doeg' or 'doei' for 'see ya'; there are apparently lots of different cafés that serve the world's best Belgian frites (and all different brands haha); there's a 6:1 Ghanaian: Belgian ratio of people we're teaching; there are beautiful surrounding dorpje (village) neighborhoods with huge and freshly painted and cute cobblestone cottages with lush, fruit-tree-filled yards; branch members sometimes have really cool E.U. or U.S. Embassy jobs; you run into hills and cornfields instead of windmills and canals; you smell fresh pastries mixed with cigarette smoke and exhaust; everything is labeled in nederlands and francais; you try not to laugh because missionaries weren't exaggerating at how different Flemish sounds from Dutch; graffiti is an art here; everyone speaks and understands French and English in addition to vlaams (Flemish); biking/ bussing an hour to a dinner appt. is close; you live in the same appt. building as the Elders, a 5 min. walk from the church and a front window view of Ikea; for every 'ongelovige' (non-religious) person in Groningen that we contacted, there's an inactive Catholic here. I love it.

There definitely is a different vibe in Gent compared to Groningen.. a lot more time spent finding and getting stood up for appointments than the rushing to and from consistent appointments with progressers that filled our weeks during the golden days in Groningen.. but it's a small price to pay for serving in this beautiful city whose downtown makes Disneyland look drab. I feel like I should be taking my passport on my daily world tour of contacting.. we've met with people from Turkey, Somalia, the Philippines, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Crimea, Nigeria.. I love the diversity! It was disappointing having one of our most positive progressing investigators be forced to drop us because her husband didn't like what he read about our Church on the internet, but I'm very inspired by the strong branch members and earnest truth-seekers I've met here already.

Zuster Stevens is from Colorado Springs, but doesn't think she knows our Riley cousins.. but she is super calm and sincere and a hard worker and is great.

We're going to the centruum today and I can't wait, we took the tram through it and I felt like I was on vacation. I hope I can remember my petit peu de French.. there's no shortage of people to practice it with here, that's for sure.
Love you all, and salutjes!

Zuster (Soeur?) Riley

The 0.0% beer was disgusting, pretty disappointing for all the hype.. but people don't drink it for the taste I guess.

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