This week has totally been crazy!! I will begin my letter by answering your questions!!
Here is a picture of the bike garages in Delft. It's crazy how many bikes they have here...and that isn't even the biggest bike garage I have seen. A lot of people ride their bikes to the train station and then park it there. The bike garage in Rotterdam is four stories high. CRAZY!!!
Mom: White-washing is when both you and your companion are brand new to an area. Usually they keep at least one sister (or elder) in an area and transfer another one in....but not this time. There were three sister cities that white-washed this last transfer. I guess they are trying to prepare everyone to get ready to open up new areas because by April we will be doubling the amount of sisters in our mission. That's right. We are going from 15 sisters to 30 sisters. That means by April I will be training someone new. A new 19 year-old-ish young sister who is joining the work!! CRAZY!! But yeah. It's been pretty interesting white-washing because both of us are pretty lost all of the time!! Luckily we have a GPS on the phone we have...but we still get lost at least once a day.
Money here is kind of crazy. We have a card that we get from the mission that has our MSF(missionary funds) that they put into an account every month. We get 160 Euro each month to pay for things like travel, food and other necessary items. We don't spend too much money on travel though because we have bikes and because we eat with members a lot we don't spend too much money on food...but we still have the money in case of emergency. Like for new bike tires. I inherited a bike from a sister who went home the same day I came in and it's old but it works. The tires are just really bad so I have to get new ones so that I can stop having flat tires all of the time. I went in today to exchange the money I came here with the the exchange rate is really bad. I got about 207 Euro from the $300 I came with. But that's ok. The big sales are coming in January so I am waiting until then to get my souvenier from Den Haag/Delft.
We are eating really well. There are a lot of Indonesian members, African members, Philipino members and Dutch members so we get a large variety of things. My favorite thing that we have had so far is ollebollen. It is a delicious doughnut type thing. But it is way better than a doughnut. I really can't describe it...but it is delicious. Also, the juices here are TO DIE FOR!!! But for real!! I have no idea why....but they really are. The food here is really just great. The cheese here is way better than anything we have in America and when you can get fresh bread it is really a wonderful day!!!
My companion and I are really getting along great!! We have different personalities but she really likes sports. Actually she trained for the Olympics in speed skating and she quit because she decided that she needed to go on a mission!! Yes, she knows Apollo Ohno!! Yeah, there are naturally some things that we have to get used to about each other but President Robinson is really good at putting people together that will get along and help the work move forward together!! My companion has been out for about 11 months and she tells my everyday that she is glad she has a greeny to help her to continue to be enthusiastic about the work. It is hard here in the Netherlands because there are maybe one person out of the thousands you talk to every week that wants to talk to you.
Our ward is the largest in the Netherlands. We have maybe 350 members in our ward but only 150 that show up consistently every week. The missionaries here in the Netherlands are following the plans that the stake presidents have put forth for missionary work here in their area. President Oddens has come out with a program called 'Finding the One'. The missionaries are working really hard with the members to make this work. We are encouraging the members to find an inactive member that they can help rescue and then we have what we call the snowball effect where we go with them to that less active member and we find new investigators at every single inactive member we go to. We try to meet with 4 active member families a week and then the following week go with them and start to fellowship the inactive member they have selected. From our efforts this last week we now have 4 potential investigators where we had 0 the following week. It really is an inspired message and the members have been committed to it so they are working really hard to help us too. They see that the missonaries are not just here to get baptisms but we are here to support the members and help keep those who have already made the decision to follow the Savior.
I don't really know about the crime here in Den Haag. I know it is a lot safer than a lot of other areas in the Netherlands. Sisters aren't even allowed in the Northern part of the Netherlands like Leyliestad is the most dangerous place. Elder Muse, he is from my MTC group, is serving there and he has already been attacked...his bike stolen and his companions bike set on fire. His companion actually knows Taylor Israelsen and told me to tell her Hi for him. His name is Elder Shoemaker. (yes....I asked him if me makes shoes....he didn't think that was funny.) But yeah. We haven't had any problems so far with crime.
Sinterklaas(their Christmas) was fun. It really is just Sinterklaas(or Santa Claus) and Zwarte Pete going through the streets and giving out gifts and things. Zwarte Pete is my favorite because he just causes mischief all day. It's almost like April Fools but he pulls all of the pranks. The streets are still covered in the small ginger cookies he throws everywhere. We didn't get to see very much because we were studying most of the time they were in the streets. And also....Sinterklaas actually makes his first appearance in November.
Our typical day.....
6:30: we get up and exercise. We like to go for walks/jogs in the morning to help us wake up.
7:00-8:00: Prepare for the day
10:00-11:00: Language Study
3:00-4:00: 12-week training. They have a training program that I go through with my companion and I am supposed to be ready to train at the end of 12 weeks
9:00-9:30: Dailiy Planning
9:30-1030: Prepare for Bed
So this week....we had another baptism in our ward. We have 6 missionaries in our ward and the District Leader and his companion found a cute little Philipino lady this week....taught her everything this week...and she was baptized on Saturday. It was really a miracle. Her name is Sara and she returns to the philipines this week. She wanted to be baptised before she went home and so it was approved. It was SO COOL to see that!!
I extended my first baptisimal invitaion to our only investigator this week. She accepted and we are working toward January 26 for her to be baptised. She came to church this Sunday and she is already loving it. It is so cool to see how much our Heavenly Father really does prepare people to hear the gospel and helps us to find those who are ready. Everything we teach her she just knows and feels is true!!! It really is a blessing.
I am using my Spanish skills here....who would have thunk? We have a family that we are teaching from the Dominican Republic so I am learning and speaking Dutch and Spanish at the same time. I guess that really isn't abnormal. Elder Andrews learned French here as well as Dutch...there are a lot of people who are from other places that live here in the Netherlands. That makes it really cool and also really hard to communicate. Next...I need to learn Polish because we run into a ton of polish people here who don't speak English or Dutch.
I met Zuster Stout yesterday!! I already LOVE her!!! She is SO funny and she really just made me feel welcome into the mission. Actually, earlier this week she randomly called us here in Den Haag on a day that I was really having a hard time and made me feel so much better. I love Sister Stout!!! I hope that I am able to serve with her before she heads back to the United States!! (There is a picture of me, her and her companion Zuster Rigdon attached)
I also have a picture of our laundry. I was really sad because I came here and we have a washer...but no dryer....so we have to hang everything up. I thought you would like to know. I do loads of laundry many times during the week so that I can keep up and have dry clothes. And mom, I wear my other skirts too. It's just...it's really cold here right now so it is nicer to have longer ones to that I don't die. But I have biked with every type of skirt I have here and they all work. Also...I haven't taken very many pictures....I'm still trying to get into the swing of things and I forget all of the time. But I promise...I don't wear those very often.
I a really loving it here. It is so hard to learn a new language but I am holding up alright. It gets better and better every day!! Jake, I think my English is getting better because I don't have ea foreign companion so we still speak Dutch...but when we speak English it is real English!!
I love being a missionary and I love it here in the Netherlands!! I can't wait to talk to you soon!! I hope you have a great week!!! Keep me updated!!
P.S. We have arranged to skype at the senior couples home here in Den Haag. I will be skyping at 7 pm my time which is 11 am your time. I think I am just going to use their account so I know that it works from here in the Netherlands.. If you can send me the account name you will be using. I get to email before I skype on Monday (my pday) and Christmas is Tuesday. So I can add you. Have the computer open and signed in a little early. I have an hour to skype that day!!
I need to think about where the kindle charger is....and I didn't have any problems with it so I hope you can get it fixed. Look in my backpack....under my window sear.