Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Goodbye to Holland

The Amsterdam District meets for district meeting on December 6th - our last district meeting in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission.  Around the circle from the right:  district leader Elder Guanuna, Sister Jeffs, Sister Larson, Zone Leader Elder Andrews, Zone Leader Elder McCarlie, Elder Mueller, and Assistant to the President, Elder Michelson.

 The combined Almere and Amsterdam districts pose for a final picture before we leave.  These awesome elders and sisters have been an inspiration to us and we will miss them terribly.

Just us 'girls'. (Sister Salden and I are still girls - right?)

We feel so honored to have rubbed shoulders with this "fine as frog hair" couple, the Saldens.  They work harder than anyone in the mission.

And in a close second place, the equally hard-working Pankratz, don't waste any of the Lord's time in their service to the mission.  When they're not busy in the office they're out finding apartments for the missionaries.

After checking out at the mission office we arrived at the mission home to find a beautiful Christmas display in the front entrance.  Sister Brubaker does a beautiful job decorating every corner of the home,  making it lovely and inviting.

A gorgeous nativity scene was set out on the china hutch.

Our wonderful mission president, President Brubaker and his equally wonderful companion.  They have been an outstanding example of love and service during the year we've been here.  We have learned so many valuable things from their inspired leadership.

We arose early on Friday to get to Schiphol to catch our return flight to America.

President Brubaker buys tickets for the train to Schiphol.  He's an old hand - having done this for missionaries since the mission office was moved to the Netherlands last April.

It's hard to believe that we're really leaving.  We'll miss this beautiful country and all the wonderful people we've met and learned to love.  Goodbye.....but hopefully not forever.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanksgiving at the Mission Home, Makkum, and Sneek

It seemed almost like over-kill to have yet another Thanksgiving dinner (the third for us this week), but it is impossible to turn down an invitation to go to the mission home and meet with the other senior couples for a lovely meal and good company.

Sisters Anderson and Van Komen with the Bushes.

I love Sister Van Komen.  What a spiritual, talented, capable woman.

President Brubaker seems to know his way around a kitchen.  It looks like he's in charge of dishing up the potatoes.

Caught in the act of mashing the potatoes, the Brubakers show their pleasure in having the senior couples at the mission home.  They are wonderfuls hosts.

Elder Van Komen is on his way to the microwave with the stuffing.  Mmmmmm....

Some of the men knew they were better off to stay out of the kitchen. 

Sister Anderson makes herself useful by filling the water glasses.

Everything tastes wonderful!  These couples know how to cook, and enjoy the proceeds.

No one should go home hungry today.

Elder and Sister Everton.  Is she sleepy or just meditating?

Elder and Sister Van Komen.  We'll miss these wonderful friends we've made while serving here in the Netherlands.

The following Saturday we took a road trip to Makkum, a small dorp (village) in the northern part of Holland.  This is the home of a second famous porcelein produced in this country. 

Along the way we saw farmhouses with very steep, pitched roofs.

The Makkum factory is called Tichelaar.

The main difference between Makkum porcelein and Delft Porcelein is in the color.  Delft is always blues and white, while Makkum is very colorful - using almost every color in the spectrum.

I actually like this kind better because of the variety of colors.

This is a charming farmboy milking his cow.

This beautiful windmill was painted onto tiles.  So pretty....

This vase is beautiful, and the price reflects its value - it's on sale for 864 euros.  A steal!

Even more costly was this pretty platter.  It was over 1200 euros.  We didn't buy any today, for obvious reasons but it was a pleasure to see.

Outside the factory we caught this man trying his hand at catching some fish.

He wasn't the only one enjoying the pastime.

We traveled on to Sneek (pronounced Snake) where we enjoyed the atmosphere of this old city.

This old water port is famous in Friesland.

It is one of the gates through which the ice skaters who are in the eleven city skating race pass through.

The race was scheduled to happen last year because of the extremely cold winter.  This year, as you can see, the water isn't frozen at all and it is December already.

There is nothing more unpredictable than the weather in Holland.  We've had a very mild fall and winter.

A final picture as we leave the city of Sneek - the ever present water tower.  They are always a work of art.  I will miss this beautiful country.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Those WONDERFUL Jovos and Missionaries

For a holiday service project we decided to make fleece blankets to give to children in a rehab center.  Ramon and Elder Guanuna make cuts along the edge of the fleece to tie knots.

Elder Mueller and Sjaak get into the project also.

Jan chose a tables where girls were working for obvious reasons.

That blanket certainly looks colorful.  The Batman theme will delight some sick little boy.

Kim finds working with an injured right hand somewhat of a handicap, but she doesn't use it as an excuse.  Laura and Sjaak are engaged to be married in December.  They've chosen the London temple, where she served her mission, to be sealed.

We have a new member!  Godfred was baptized on November 20th in Amsterdam.  Sister Jeffs and Sister Larson taught him the lessons and challenged him to be baptized.  Their smiling faces reflect the joy of seeing one of their investigators accept the gospel.

Elder Beckstrand and I welcome Godfred into the Young Adult program.  He is 23 years old - one of our "Jonge Volwassen".

 Monday rolls quickly around again and the blanket project continues.  Lindsay (left) and Vanessa (center) have joined us this week from Almere.

Jan and David (brothers in real life, not just the gospel) show Elder Beckstrand how to tie the knots.

Roland is stitching some fun cartoon characters onto this plain brown blanket.  Elder Mueller is having trouble threading his needle.  Can I give you a hand, Elder?

Elder Guanuna and Isabelle work on a blanket together.

Ramon is determined to finish the blanket he started last week.  I'm impressed at how well the boys have taken to this project.  They're working just as hard as the girls.

Kim and Lindsay take a moment for a photo-op.  Kim (left) is an amazing FHE chairperson.  She works so hard to be sure the young people enjoy the FHE activities.

The following day we served Thanksgiving dinner to the elders and sisters (sisters?  I can't see any..) at district meeting.  They were so excited to have turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls, sweet potatoes, salad, and pumpkin or apple pie for dessert.  What a feast!  We had 17 at our table.

Then the next night we did it all again!  Sister Panktratz was an angel and came from Rijnsburg to help us.  Elder Beckstrand is cutting up the turkey while Sister Pankratz gets the mix master ready to mash the potatoes.

The food is laid out on the table and LOTS of hungry Dutch young adults enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  We had the best attendance of the year - a total of 41! 

It was fun to see the young people enjoying each others' association as they ate their meal.  The cultural hall at the Amsterdam church was full to overflowing.

Jan is back for seconds.  I was curious how these Dutch kids would like stuffing since sage isn't a familiar flavor to them.  It had mixed reviews, but most of them tried it. Also true of the sweet potato casserole and the pumkin pies.  Maybe we could make Americans out of them if we had enough time.
Those plates look pretty full.  These young people can put away a LOT of food!

This is our Ghanaian investigator with Sister Larson.  At first she called me "Mom", now she's changed my title to "Auntie".

These young men express their appreciation of the food.  Thanks guys!

Kim looks about ready to head back for more.

Elder and Sister Pankratz finally get a chance to sit down and eat.  This is the 'old folks' table.  Of course Mathea isn't old, but she came to sit with her father so he wouldn't be among strangers.  She graciously consented to teach the institute lesson tonight for Brother Noot. 
 It has been a crazy couple of weeks, but everything went so well that it leaves me with a very satisfied, grateful feeling for the opportunity to serve these amazing young people.