The trio! Love them!
Hey Familie Van Rijlie,
So good skyping home, you all look and sound and are great and I love you all so much. So the big news this week is that we have a third companion for at least 10 days- Zuster Nyakoh (or "Baby Koko" as we call her)! She's originally from Ghana, but has lived in Gent, Belgium for the past 4 years (I knew her as Jessica the awesome Jovo joint teach when I served there).. she was supposed to report to the Preston MTC last Wednesday (called to this mission but already speaks the language fluently), but because of paperwork problems at the airport, she'll be serving with us in Zoetermeer until everything works out for her to go to the MTC. She's a champ and has us all cracking up a lot, but it's also been pretty rough for her with all these unexpected disappointments and changes.. I guess this just means that there's someone in Zoetermeer who needs her right now. Haha
We were teaching this older guy J on the bench in front of the temple, who we met a week ago on that same bench, and he's an interesting guy- grew up Catholic, went to the temple open house years ago and has been fascinated with photographing the temple ever since, says he knows a lot about us (but still wants to meet and clear up questions ie why we have to give half of our salary to Church [members choose to give 10% of their income to Church as tithing]) and it was a solid Restoration lesson until he got sidetracked and ended up telling us that because of certain experiences, he literally thinks he is God. Also, he remarked on how it was interesting that we all had green-ish eyes, and Zuster Nyakoh just glared at him and said, "um, mijne ogen zijn BRUIN" haha it was really funny.
It was pretty disappointing getting a text from J (this super cool Jovo former investigator who we felt like we needed to look up and did and she was so excited to see us and we had two great lessons and she said that same morning she'd been feeling like she really needed to make a decision and choose one church that would lead the rest of her life and then we showed up..), the text essentially said that she doesn't want to be pressured into becoming a member and would like missionaries to please stop coming by- she'll contact us if she feels the need to. It's weird because apparently that has happened twice before with her texting something that contradicts her enthusiasm in person to see us, and we'd even called her two hours earlier to confirm going to yoga and having an appt. at the church the next week. Something cool is that even though a few of the former investigators we are looking up are not interested in meeting up any more, they are still so excited to see us because of their great experiences and relationships with previous Sisters, so that's given me a lot of respect and gratitude for the missionaries serving here before.
We got a Headquarters referral that led us to an adorable little Dutch family- turns out the cutie 12- year old son is doing a report of Mormonism in his religious studies class at school, and wanted a Book of Mormon. They've really been enjoying learning about our faith, mostly via church websites, and unfortunately don't feel the need to meet with us, but are interested in coming to church (esp. if T, the son, gets extra credit), but this was another reminder that the Lord's timing is different that what we might want, and sometimes it's just important that the "seed was planted" and positive contact associated with our Church is made.
L and R are so solid- they've been having a hard time, with some unexpected trials ie Br. De Vries ending up in the hospital, but they were still at church yesterday and are still doing everything they can to have their baptism go through for this Saturday. We were showing Z. Nyakoh the secrets of door contacting last night, and approached a door that had a note next to the doorbell that essentially said "Sorry, I don't buy things at my door. Yes, I already donate to good causes. No, I don't need to be converted," and while we were reading that- we hadn't even rung- the door opened, and a middle-aged lady opened up, saw our nametags, pointed to her little sign, started to close the door.. but once we clarified that we just wanted to share thoughts about God's plan for families and we personally wouldn't be convincing or converting- it's gotta come from herself- we ended up having a 30 minute friendly discussion about beliefs.. she wanted nothing to do with books/ bibles/ organized religion/ coercive rules, but believed in personal accountability and agency and life before and after this mortal existence.. definitely a lot of truth in her beliefs, but she contradicted herself ie with how this life is to learn and progress- but she knows everything she needs to know, or that she knows if something is right for her/ if it comes from God by how she feels, but at the same time isn't willing to try to see how she feels with something new.
We're going to meet up with A, the cool German Keukenhof worker, later today and talk more about our thoughts on faith, and she's going to show us around Leiden (where she lives)!
Happy 14th B-day, J-dawg!
Zuster Riley (:
Thanks for all the mail btw, I esp love the testimony mtg notes.. fun to hear how the home ward is thriving. Love you!!! (: