12/16/2013  Now that it's winter here the sun does really weird things. You know how the sun is supposed to go up into the center of the sky and you look straight up to see it? Our sun is lazy. It never leaves the east horizon. it just kind of jumps up a little over the horizon, goes up a ways and then falls back down. It goes up at around 7-9 and goes down at 4-6. Most nights it's completely dark by 5:30. Good things we have lights on our bikes :). One time I tried to tell direction from the sun without knowing this. Yeah we got lost...especially since I thought we were going west. But now I know :). So weird how even the sun is different over here.

12/3/2013 - Sinter Klaas

Sorry I haven't said much about Sinter's just hard to notice it. See on the 5 and 6 of December is the Sinterklaas Feest. Basically there is a man named Sinter Klaas who lives in Spain. He travels for three weeks by boat to get to Nederland and Belgium with his helper people (like elves). They are called Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) and are there to deliver presents to all the children who are good and stuff all the bad children into sacks. I've only seen the Sint one or two times cause he's usually in the houses talking to the children but I see the Zwarte Pieten all over the place! It's kind cool, but sometimes creepy...look them up, you'll see why haha. Anyways nothing is really decked out quite yet because SinterKlaas is more based on the children with Christmas being for everyone. So you see things in stores for the Sint but I've only seen a few lights go up. That will happen when everyone is getting ready for Kerstmaas (Christmas) and that's like normal.
Keep in mind we live in a pretty small city so there probably won't be anything too excited for Christmas or New Years. Lots of fireworks though...maybe. I'll keep you updated :)

Elder Mathis heading home. He was Elder Cooper's trainer.

What to do once it's your time to go- At least for us, Transfers are on Wednesdays. The people who are all going home ride up to Leiden and wait there in a big group. They spend the day with the Mission President and is wife and stay the night. They have a testimony meeting before bed and then in the morning it's off to the airport and then home. So actually we get home on Thursdays. It ends up working out alright because the Zone Leaders figure out who needs companions and how they're going to get them to their companions. Usually you go with your companion to a major train station so it makes switching easier. If I was with Elder Mathis
now, we'd go up to Antwerpen and then we'd switch with someone from his group. He'd go with the guy from his group while me and the other companion wait in Antwerpen for our companions. 

Stuff like that happens all over the mission on Wednesdays so they're usually chaotic but for us it will be really calm this time seeing as we're both staying. Yup nothing is changing for transfers this time around. :) The District is changing a lot except for me and Elder D and we'll have three different missionaries here by Wednesday. Should be fun!

Staying together! 

11/19/2013  Peanut Butter  Cultural Noted: WHERE IS THE PEANUT BUTTER?!?! Fun Fact- Belgians don't eat peanut butter! I don't know how I missed this before (well I do, there were two big jars of Skippy, no idea how, in our apartment) but in Belgian stores Peanut Butter is no where to be found. Asked a Belgian member about it and they said, "Yeah, we don't eat peanut butter down here." There's no reason behind it it just is. So sad. They really are missing out. 

11/11/2013 Temples  Right now there's some issues between the England Temple and the Netherlands Temple. The Netherlands one is open less and less because nobody goes to it and everyone goes to the England one. There they can spend a whole week in a church hotel thing across the road from the temple and spend all day in there. They usually make it a kind of vacation and everyone looks forward to their 'Temple Trips'. In Netherlands there are certain hours and certain days you have to go, with no hotel to stay the night in and a long drive to get there. The Temple President just sent out a call for everyone to return to the temple they were assigned. Don't know how it will go but maybe it will go well, after all Papa Vonckie built a small shrine thing to help it along in his house...what a good soul he has :). 

10/28/2013  Wind    The wind was 160 kph today which is roughly 120 mph so as elder Armstrong put it "60 mph winds...well that's uncomfortable". Was actually closer to 60 inland where we were but STILL!  

10/21/2013 Pizza Hut  We went to Pizza Hut. Oh that small little store where you order pizza and they take it out of the oven thingy and give it to you? Oh no. Here in Belgium Pizza Hut is a RESTAURANT! It's got waiters, tables, a second floor, it's legit! We had the buffet which was unlimited pizza and fountain drink; best lunch EVER! 

10/21/2013  Transfers  Transfer Days. What exactly happens on Transfer Day? What is it like? In today's episode of Culture Note we discover what exactly a transfer

I've kind of explained the calls, so imagine as soon as you get that call you have two days to: pack, go to your last district meeting, take pictures with as many of the members as you can reach in time, e-mail, and pack (I said pack twice but that's ok cause it deserves two!). So you do that and wake up early the next day so you can reach the designated meeting place by an assigned time given by the ZL's (ours was ten in Antwerpen Central). Who ever is leaving loads up their two to three suitcases and bike along with at least one other elder, but it's usually four or so, into the train, you give hugs and off you go. 
Anyway then you just wait until your companion comes, hop on the train with his stuff and lug all your luggage home. And that's a transfer. Hard to explain the chaos of it all but they are definitely an adventure every time.

10/14/2013 Soccer  Super big deal this week. BELGIUM SOCCER TEAM IS GOING TO BRAZIL!!! I don't know, apparently that's like really good or something. It was a REALLY big deal the other day. In the Centrum they set up a giant monitor and were playing the game. People just stood in the Centrum and watched and if not you could always catch glimpses of it or hear it while you were shopping or eating in the nearby stores. We walked by right as Belgium scored the point they needed to go to Brazil. I thought some sort of explosion had taken place, it was SO LOUD! I was just captivated in amazement. Man they love Voetbal over here! Makes me want to start following it when I get back. Maybe it becomes something that ends of representing our missions. Guess we'll see

10/7/2013  Garbage Cultural Note (Belgium Style): Garbage. EVERYTHING has a different bag. They are HUGE into recycling down here and it shows. Garbage men are paid by the money made from the garbage bags and each bag is 2 Euros! There's blue, black, green, orange, pink, you name it and each has a different job such as plastics, vegetables and lawn stuff, cardboard, random things and so much more. It's like a game when it comes time to throw everything away haha! Look at what you have, find it on a chart and then throw it away. Then you look at the garbage pick up day and figure out how long you have to hold out till they'll come to pick up your specific color of trash. Who knew garbage could be such an adventure!? haha :)

9/30/2013  Religion Lost This one is a little on a national epidemic here in Belgium and the Netherlands: religion is being lost here, literally vanishing. I can't even count the number of old, have stood for centuries churches that have been closed and are now being renovated for another purpose. We found out the other day, at an appointment, that where well over a hundred (he said a thousand) priests were licensed every year in Belgium, this year so far only 5 have been licensed. The world just doesn't want it any more and is starting to reject it out of it's system. Super sad to see, but amazing that amongst this spiritual desert our church only continues to grow.

9/16/2013  Door Knobs  Door knobs? non existent here. I know what you're thinking, how do they get inside?! I know that cause that's what I was thinking too! You HAVE to have the key to get in. Keys here Are the door handles. You put the key in, unlock the door, and push to open it. Weird huh? SO easy to get locked out. Let it happen to us once in Vlissingen (we had to pick the lock with the binding to one of my notebooks but I told you that story right?) and the other time an inactive member in Almere let the door shut behind him. I had to scale his house and climb in through the bathroom window. Seriously most legit thing ever :) called me a superhero/movie star from that point forward. Anyway door knobs, who knew?

9/9/2013  Belgium Stuff ...Ah well nothing to do but work and try to be the example... But back to the original point haha sorry bout that, we're basically working with nothing here and I love it! Starting from scratch is the best. Know what's better? Getting lost in the maze of old tightly knitted houses and streets named Sint-Niklaas. It's such a pretty place. And Flaams (as it is called here) sounds like speaking Dutch in an Irish accent :) so stoked to show you the difference one day.  The milk here, oh boy. Milk is not refrigerated here in Belgium! Some sort of preservative is used so it lasts forever! But it makes it taste weird and the thought is just weird, Belgium is just weird sometimes but in a way that I love!

9/2/2013 Birds  The Birds. There are SO many birds here it's crazy, but I can name all the ones I see every day: Pidgeon, crow, "mouse bird" (no idea what it's called), duck, goose, and swan. They just all chill by the river eating, sitting and swimming. Although one time we saw a Vogel War (Bird War). Two sides of road. A group of twenty or so ducks on one side and fifteen or so geese on the other. At a random point in time the geese charged into the group of ducks and began to fight them! It was crazy! I got a video but it's blurry and you can't see it well, but yeah the animals here are crazy. Like the time we saw a wasp tackle a giant spider and watched them go at it. That was cool :).
7/29/2013  Religion  Religion here. Jehovah's Witnesses are HUGE in the Netherlands! 6 or 7 out of the ten people we contact are either Muslim, JW, or Atheist. You have to be super careful when contacting in this way. If the person is Muslim, has a strong Muslim family, lives in a Muslim neighborhood, or plans on going back to a Muslim country we are not supposed to begin teaching this person for their own safety. It's easy to avoid the women, they all wear Hofduks, but you can never tell with the men. With the JW's they will always try to 'Bible Bash' you and say that their Bible is the right one and they'll go all missionary on you in a heart beat. The only thing you can do there is be pleasant, bear testimony, and love em :). With the Atheist you just need to know how to keep them there after you mention Jesus Christ or religion but once you can do that they're all pretty friendly. Cool thing is I have respect for all of them, for they are all just trying to do their best in this world. What a beautiful place the world is!

7/22/2013  Playgrounds   The Playgrounds here are EPIC!!! SO dangerous but awesome! There was a boat themed one, like you're playing a a ship (had a crows nest and everything), one had two diagonal mini-rockwalls that led to a small bridge, one of them had like a twisty net in the middle that you could climb across, they're crazy! All I want to do is play on one SO bad! But I need my brothers to do that :(. We would have SO much fun on them it's ridiculous, especially me and Sam :). Hard to describe, but I'll see if I can't grab some pictures.

7/15/2013  Policemen  The policemen here are very interesting. They all wear white shirts, slacks, and ties....sound familiar? We get mistaken for cops ALL the time! Sometimes cops even think we're cops haha! We usually respond to "Are you policemen?" with "Yup, church policemen!". Gives us a good laugh. They have some that drive cars, some which ride bikes, and some which walk. Sometimes they wear bright green-yellow vests like traffice policemen and they also have hats. The sirens here are different too! I don't even know how to describe it but they're super different from American sirens (ambulances and cops). Finally their cars are little box like things. I always think of Pink Panther when I see them (although they're not that small). They just don't look sleek and since I don't know cars it's hard to describe. Maybe you can look it up? Anyway that's my culture note for the week :).
Love you!

7/8/2013  Dinner Time  Today we'll touch on dinner. Every single night the Dutch eat dinner together usually as a family. They're really strong like that and a lot of them have really strong emphasis on their family. Super cool to see. But yeah, if you're any sort of decent Dutch family you have dinner between 5 and 5:30 are finished somewhere around six and the rest of the night you watch TV. Oh the Dutch LOVE their night times. If they don't have anything else to do, they just love their dinner and TV pattern. Super dangerous to interrupt haha. That's why we avoid knocking doors after 5-6, it never ends well...haha.

6/24/2013  The Wind  And the clouds here! They move SOOO fast! You know how there if you stare really hard you can see the clouds moving? Well here it's impossible to think that the clouds stand still! The wind is RIDICULOUS! SO strong! Someone check wind speeds in Almere and hopefully it proves my point. Either way it makes riding a bike exhausting...cause the wind seems to ALWAYS be against you. But hey, that's the Netherlands.

6/24/2013   Graduation  Here's some cool culture stuff: Graduation happened recently here and you can really tell. The tradition here is that if someone graduate from the school system you hang up the Netherlands' Flag and attach your backpack to the flag pole. So we see this on tons of the houses out here :). Pretty cool.
Have you guys heard of Prawn Crackers? The Dutch eat them ALL the time and they are SUPER good! I think they might have them in America...not sure but you should try them (make sure you eat them with a meal though or they're not as good). But I'm pretty much addicted to them.

6/10/2013  Shopping Bags  Here in the Netherlands you don't get plastic shopping bags. You get some giant bag made out of a thicker material that you take home and bring back every time you go shopping. We have like 4 of them and use two for our shopping. It's kind of a really cool/good idea. Makes it super simple to go grocery shopping I guess. Man do I love it here! After discovering that Gijs our mission leader, is going into film I determined to move here, or have him come to BYU. I flippin' love this man! We were meant for each other! He's possibly going into graphics and we both LOVE superheroes (He loves Injustice and tells me all about it). Love how the Lord puts people in our path like this.

6/3/2013   Market  Every Wednesday and Saturday they have this thing called Market in the Centrum. Tons of big tent/booth things are set up and people just sell things. Food, toys, phones, you name it and it's there. The smells always come up to the apartment and the noise too, but it's super cool cause you can feel the energy of the city and it's a really cool feeling.

5/27/2013  Different Living :) 
I love my backpack! It holds so much more stuff in a better way than backpacks although it does hurt my neck. It´s super handy.
This week in the Centrum we were privileged to see not only a man playing songs on horns taped to his body (like bike horns), and not only an all African American dancing 14 man drum line with trumpets, but a real life tank doing doughnuts and drills with soldiers! It was SO cool!
As for living above McDonalds, it´s a common thing for the Dutch to live above stores. There are people living above all the clothes and grocerey stores too. Super interesting to be shopping, look up, and see someone watching you through the window. A lot of the time it makes it look as if a section of it could fall off into the street. Super cool though!

5/13/2013  Dogs   The Dutch LOVE dogs. Every Dutch person has a dog. Every single day I see as least five dogs being walked on the street and there is dog poop everywhere! I don't know what it is but the Dutch love their dogs. There's big ones, small ones, every sort you can imagine. But yeah. They have some cats too but mainly you just see a million dogs haha.

5/6/13 - Almere   I LOVE this place! The members are PHENOMINAL (and young which is refreshing aka the ward won't die out in 20 years)! Almere is BEAUTIFUL and I love riding my bike around it. It's a super young city, about 40 years old. So everything is new and it reminds me a lot of a more spacious and beautiful New York. We live in the middle of a centrum. It's kinda like living in Times Square but not half as many lights...shaped kind of like it and function is super similar.

Almere Culture: There's this thing called the Spoorban (I call it the Autoban :) ) that they use to get around here. It is a giant fietspad (bike path) with two lanes that runs below the railroad tracks (the trains travel above and to the side on a hill) and spans the entire length of Almere. This allows you to bike from end to end in about an hour! Super good considering you're on a bike! Scary thing though, my brakes are out...thus I can't stop...thus I may or may not have attempted to take a sharp turn, gone flying down the hill (because I missed the path and it was a steep drop off), nearly crashed into the ground, riden through a field and found my way back to Elder Sanderson further up the street. :D.
Also here everything is brand spanking new! There are no old WWII things or old churches because it was built like 40 years ago. It's like living in the future and I love it :) Almere is so great. I am SO blessed to be here. The Lord needs me here and I'm not about to let him down.

4/29/13 -  Centrums  As for culture today it is on the houses and centrums. Most of the people here in the Netherlands live in these vertical buildings that can't be more that 10 ft. across and their side walls are all connected, so you'll just get these strings of houses like in some of the pictures I've sent. It makes the whole set up of Europe different than America. Instead of like Wal-Mart and other stores they have these things called Centrums. It's this open and wide street with stores and either side. There's always tons of people there and you can just walk through the centrum and window shop all day if you had time. They're super cool, maybe I can send a picture sometime.

3/18/2013 -  Sparkling Water - The food here is SO GOOD! Seriously there is not a single thing here that I haven't liked. Indonesian, Panakouken, everything is SO good! There's this thing called Sambal that you eat with every meal, which actually is really good, and I don't know if you have it over there in America but if you do try some :) it's super good. And you know that sparkling water stuff in America? With EVERY meal. No one drinks normal water, it is always that sparkling water. Super gross at first but now it's becoming super delicious to the taste. I'm transforming here! Haha.

No comments:

Post a Comment