Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our new "woning" in Amsterdam

Our sojourn in Dordrecht ended on March 18th.  As we leave the city we enjoy the daffodils that grow between the roads.  Yellow is such a cheerful color - especially after all the grey from the long winter.
We arrive at our new apartment in Diemen, which is just inside the southern boundary of Amsterdam.  The first positive feature - we enter from street level.  No more packing cakes, cookies, casseroles, grocery bags, suitcases, etc. up 6 flights of stairs.  Oh, wait - all the stairs are INSIDE the apartment here.

This is the living room.  The sofas are leather, and very comfortable.  A small TV keeps us in touch with the outside world.  I'm not going to love the laminate floors, but you can't have everything.

There is a large dining table and china hutch across the room from the living area.  The table seats eight people as is - but there are 2 more leaves waiting for additional guests.  Lots of visitors can be seated for dinner.  Any takers?

I love the large, cheerful kitchen - plenty of working space and lots of light.  Sister Pankratz left 12 potted plants in the apartment.  They are fearing for their lives as I type this.  Tending the plants will be Elder Beckstrand's assignment!

There is a WC (Vay Say) on the main floor, and I LOVE the ladybug floor mat.  Isn't he cute? 

The down-side of having a street level apartment - all the stairs are on the inside.  This first flight goes up to the bedroom and office area.  The stairs are very narrow on the left side, making it a little uncomfortable negotiating them in the beginning.  How on earth did they get the bed up these winding stairs?

The master bedroom - a lovely queen-sized bed, and lots of room to move around.  The closet space is limited, however.  Elder B. offered to hang his suits in the spare bedroom to leave the closet space for me.  Isn't he a great guy?

This is the office.  There is only one desk, and it is smaller than either of the ones we had in Dordrecht.  We're missing our 'his and hers' desks.  I guess we'll have to learn to share.   (It's probably way past time.)

This is the spare bedroom.  The bed on the left pulls out to make a queen-sized bed.  The room is pretty crowded when both beds are in use, but it will work for a few nights for overseas guests and their children.  (hint, hint)

The second floor WC.  It is rare to find a toilet in the same room as the shower in this country.  I think it is a very good idea, especially if you have anyone in the family who's a 'reader'.

The piece de resistence - A BATHTUB!!!  Elder Beckstrand is going to be very much at home here!

Across from the bathroom there is yet another flight of stairs.  This one leads to the third floor and laundry facilities.  There are 13 stairs for each flight.  That's 26 stairs.   Will they take care of all the cookies, cakes, and other goodies I'm eating???   (I can't seem to resist sampling the things I'm making almost daily for the JoVo's.)

The floor boven.  There are two more twin beds up here plus the washer and dryer.  And right in the middle of the room....
Ta, da,da, DAHHHH!

                I have the use of this Singer sewing machine for the remainder of our mission.  Life is good.   Now, if I just had time to sew.

The final chapter of the 'apartment' story takes us back to the kitchen.  This is the infamous microwave/convection oven in which I am supposed to prepare gigantic meals for hungry young people.  It's impossible!  It takes twice as long to cook everything when it has to be baked in such tiny little amounts.  Can't someone help me?

My fearless, loving, considerate, eternal companion, who hates to see me cry, took me shopping.  Ta dah!  A brand new, shining, almost BIG oven! ( It's big for The Netherlands, anyway.)  We made the decision that if the mission wouldn't spring for a new oven, we'd pay for it ourselves.  It would have been a long two years trying to bake for the JoVo's in that tiny microwave-sized oven.  ( P.S. The mission came through.)

A shot of them side by side illustrates the David and Goliath syndrome.  I never thought I'd cheer for Goliath, but here goes - "Hooray for Goliath!"  Now I'm SURE we will be very comfortable here. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Goodbye to Dordrecht

Our last district meeting with the Utrecht district was held on March 15th.  When we said goodbye there were a few misty eyes - I wonder if that was because they will miss us or the Lion House rolls that we brought for lunch.  Elder Frahm (the tall one on the back row) ate 6!  With legs that long, it's no mystery where he puts all the food he eats.

The same group with Elder Beckstrand.  We're being transferred to Amsterdam on Friday.  Elder Hanks, next to Elder Beckstrand, will be going to Amsterdam also.  It's nice to take one of our 'kids' with us to our new area.

Our final Zone P-Day activity was a trip on a Pannenkoeken Boot (Pancake Boat).  The boat docked right across the street from the Euromast that we visited on my birthday.

All aboard the Pannenkoeken Boat.

Our Zone Leaders, Elder Robinson (left) and Elder Sanford (center) organized the outing for the Rotterdam Zone.  Because the boat was only available in the evenings, some of the elders and sisters already had teaching appointments. 

Those that could be there had a great time.  From front left they are:  Elder Robinson, Sister Anderson, Sister Beckstrand, Elder Beckstrand, Elder Sanford, Elder Anderson, Sister Garvin, and Sister Rich.

We each took a dinner plate-sized pancake (more like a crepe in America) and put whatever toppings on it that we desired.  Pannenkoeken are a favorite of the Dutch people.  They have been served for supper at the JoVo Center on several occasions.  I especially liked the ones that had slices of apple cooked into the pancake.  Mmmmmm.

As we ate we sailed up the river enjoying the beautiful evening.  On our right was the Rotterdam - a luxury oceanliner from the mid-1900's. 

Looking back we could see the Euromast.  On my birthday we didn't have the energy to walk up the steps to the very highest lookout deck.  Maybe if we hadn't eaten such a big lunch we could have made it....

Everyone is enjoying their pancakes.  The boy on the right is an investigator that the zone leaders brought.  If we can interest him in the church through his stomach, who'd complain?  Our mission motto:  "Whatever Works!"

How on earth can we put away this much food?  (And this was only our lst time through the line.)   Some of the elders went back 3 times.  I was groaning all the way back to Dordrecht.

We were starting to lose the light, but it was such a beautiful evening that I couldn't resist going up on the top deck and looking out over the river towards the city.  We'll miss this area when we move up north to Amsterdam.

Elder Sanford's 1,000 Watt smile is as bright as the reflection of the flash in the window.  He has a beautiful singing voice and loves to accompany himself on the guitar.  There is a definite 'country' style to his singing.  When he and Elder Robinson sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" for sacrament meeting in Rotterdam North, we had to remind him not to put too much country twang into his voice. 

Elder Robinson doesn't mind sitting next to Sister Rich and Sister Garvin.... Just because you're on a diet it doesn't mean that you can't look at the menu! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

In order to make this day memorable I chose the Euromast in Rotterdam as our first destination.  There is a restaurant in the odd-shaped building at the top of the tower.  It is suspended 300 feet above the ground and has a magnificent view of the city in all directions.

We parked our car and walked across the street to the round entrance hall.  From there we took an elevator to the restaurant. 

The walls were all glass so that we could see the city from all directions.  The view over our shoulders is of the Maas River.  Ships were going up and down the river constantly as we sat enjoying our meal.

After we finished eating we stepped outside onto the observation deck.  From there we could walk around the perimeter and see the city from all directions.  It helped that it was a clear day, but the wind made the temperature quite cool at that height.

The rivers that surround Rotterdam have made it a very busy international port.

The city has many high-rise buildings to handle all the business the ocean traffic generates.

More of the city.  I'm walking around the observation deck and clicking photos from every direction.

I'm walking,  I'm walking.....  There are two major rivers that flow past this city to the Atlantic.  The Rhine (which originates in Germany) and the Maas (which originates in France.)

The downtown part of the city was completely destroyed in 1940 when the Germans bombed it during WWII.  It has been rebuilt into a HUGE and beautiful city in the past 60 years.  People who survived the bombing but literally starved to death in the months following would be amazed to see how it has risen from the dust and become a major economic center in Europe.

If I had any sense of direction I could say which direction I am facing now, but.....  I'm walking, I'm walking...

Another view looking out over the River Maas.  Water, water - every direction you look.

This is the "Rotterdam", a ship that has been turned into a museum.  At one time it was one of the largest, most luxurious ocean liners on the seas.

After leaving the Euromast we drove into the centrum and viewed the oldest building in the city.  This church, St. Laurenskerk, was built between 1449 and 1525.  It was destroyed during the war, but restoration began in 1952 and was completed at the end of 1968. 

Spring may be just around the corner, but the wind today makes a coat and scarf a necessity. 

This is a very poor picture - we were driving through the city and couldn't stop, but these buildings were amazing!  They looked like a set of children's blocks that had been toppled over and then perched on top of the bridge.  WEIRD...

The next destination on our Rotterdam exploration was the Schielandshuis - The Historical Museum.  This is the only 17th-century building that was spared the bombing of May 1940.  It has been completely restored and is now a museum that gives a rundown of Rotterdam's history.  We were especially interested in the film that showed the events of WWII.

Inside, the moldings and paintings on the walls and ceilings were beautiful. 

This table was set in antique china and silver.  The upper floors contained the historical part of the museum. It was all very interesting.  We spent two pleasant hours walking through the exhibits.

Leaving Rotterdam on the way to Dordrecht always takes us along the Maas River.  The traffic along this stretch at 4:30 in the afternoon was a parking lot.  It took us over an hour to get from the museum to the freeway.  We were tired by the time we returned home, but it was a lovely day.  Now, if I just hadn't turned a year older everything would be perfect!