Friday, December 24, 2010

The beautiful architecture here in Europe is like nowhere else.  They really love their war heroes.  The Battle of Waterloo was fought not far from Brussels.  I hope we get over there before we go back to Utah.

What a gorgeous sight.  I'm loving every minute!!

This is an interesting little guy.  His title is "Mannequin Pis".
Yes, he is really doing what it looks like he's doing.  And no, he isn't usually dressed.  Sister Tibbitts said this is the first time she's come to this statue that it has had clothes on it.  Someone must have thought it looked cold.

A close-up view.  The story goes that this little boy got lost.   His father was an important government official and sent out everyone in the city to look for him.  He promised that when they found the boy a statue would be created of him in  whatever activity he was found.  I guess he was a man of his word!

Here we are enjoying the most delicious Belgium treat we tasted.  The Belgium waffles are delicious!  They have a crispy sweet crust, and they top them with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream (or whatever else you like).  Mmmmmm.  These were to die for.

Remember that name.  We want to find more of these!

This was a beautiful church just across from the Grand Place.  It looks like it is about to tip over - (Brussel's version of the leaning tower of Piza) but it is only the photographer.  She is definitely tipsy after that Belgian Waffle!

Our final evening in Brussels.  This is a pretty arch outside our apartment building.  Tomorrow we head north to The Netherlands.  Our destination will be Dordrecht, a city just south of Rotterdam.

We've arrived in The Netherlands.  Our apartment building is directly behind Elder Beckstrand.  We are going to be here for several months and then we will probably be sent up to Amsterdam for the remainder of our mission.  The Young Adult Center in Rotterdam has a Senior couple (The Andersons) who will be teaching us the ropes so we will be ready to take over the Amsterdam JoVo Center when the Senior Couple there (the Pankratzs) go home in April.   In Dutch the words for Young Adults is Jonge Volwassen, which is shortened to JoVo -( we pronounce it Yo-Fo.)

There was a severe winter storm the weekend we arrived.  It was more snow than this country had seen in decades - probably 40 years.  The trains and buses stopped running, and many airports closed.  Heathrow was shut down for several days.  Some of the missionaries who were scheduled to return home on Saturday didn't actually get a plane out of The Netherlands until the following Wednesday.  Ireland and England were especially hard-hit, but Germany, France, and about every western european country was effected.  It wasn't anything like the big winter storms we have in Utah, but they don't have the equipment here to handle a lot of snow.   I wasn't thrilled that they saved their really awful weather for our arrival!  The branch here didn't hold any meetings on Sunday - no one could travel.  It is especially hard for those who depend on their bicycles for transportation to get around.  None of the sidewalks or streets are cleared.  It packs and gets very slick.

This is the church in Dordrecht.  It is actually in an old historic home in the center of town.  It is a lovely building, but the problem is that the city won't allow the church to make any improvements on the building because it is an historic site.  The church is apparently looking for another place where they can hold their meetings - they want the authority to make changes or renovations as needed.  Dordrecht Branch is the only branch in the Stake.  The rest of the units are wards.

We met the other missionaries in our district on Tuesday, Dec. 21st, when we had district meeting.  I volunteered to bring the ingredients to make sandwiches, and after our meeting we enjoyed lunch together.  The missionaries are fun and full of enthusiasm.  After we finished here we took the sisters to keep an appointment with an investigator, then we all went to Utrecht for dinner and a program in the Utrecht Ward.  We didn't return home until around 11:00 pm - a little past our curfew, but a busy and productive day.

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