Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oma's Pages #29

Oma’s Pages #29
We were invited to celebrate the coming in of the New Year at the home of one of our investigator JoVo’s (Young Adults). Her name is Melissa. She lives right downtown in Groningen. She and her brother, Bruneau, hosted the evening. There was a mix of JoVo’s and young people I did not know. 

We had oliebollen and apelflappe. These are kind of like donuts with currents or pieces of apple. Notice on the picture what they used for napkins on the table. We have been in many houses where they used toilet paper for napkins. That is very different from home.

Melissa’s best friend is Joanne (which here is pronounced Yo-Awe-Na). Joanne is a recent convert. She is a really faithful member even though her family does not understand her commitment to the Church. Joanne’s work is taking care of young babies in a childcare facility. You have to have a degree from a school to do this job in the Netherlands. 

Joanne just received her mission call. She is going to serve in the England, Manchester Mission. She leaves March 1. We are so excited for her. Her boyfriend, Albert Job, also from our JoVo’s is currently serving a mission in Suriname. We are having great success with our Young Adult program because we have so many kids going on missions and getting married. That is what is supposed to happen with this program, however, it also means that we have to keep finding new kids to come and that part is difficult. We just get a really good group going and then their testimony grows and they leave to greater service. Our success is also our frustration... ha ha ha ha.
Randy was another young man we met that night. About halfway through the night he confessed to us that he was a member of the church but he had married out of the church, had two very young sons, and then his wife did not want to be married anymore. He was so depressed and discouraged. We invited him to come back. He said he had made too many mistakes to come back. We told him to come to JoVo’s. He did. 

We became really good friends with him. He and Opa seemed to be kindred spirits. Opa gave him a Priesthood blessing, that coupled with the changes he was making totally changed his perspective. He not only became active, he was made a counselor in the Branch Presidency in Assen and then he married another one of our JoVo’s named Wobina in the temple. 
When at last midnight came it sounded like the world was coming to an end. I have never seen such an explosive night. 
In the apartment they burned sparklers. I was afraid they would catch the place on fire but it was all okay.

What goes on in the city is another story. They burn old christmas trees in the streets and anything else they can find to burn. There is a lot of destruction that happens that night. I did not like it at all. I was just glad to get home safely. It appeared that many young people go crazy that night. It is not good. Here are some of the pictures I took the next morning leftover from some of the fires. I am so glad this is not what happens at home.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oma's Pages #28

Oma’s Pages #28
Christmas Day....
I have never celebrated a Christmas Day without family. This was my first. We slept in until about 10:00am. We both needed to do that and so that was probably our best present. I had shipped a lot of boxes to myself which we were using as our Christmas tree. We decided to open them as our Christmas presents since many of them were sent two months ago and I could not remember what was in them anymore. It was all the stuff that I knew I wanted from home and either could not buy or did not want to buy over here.

I gave Opa a soft white blanket from IKEA. It was the only surprise I could muster since we spend every minute of every day together. I bought it one day when we were at IKEA and he went to do something and I said I would wait for him at the check out stand.
Mary Kay sent me pictures of my family. So that was my surprise.

I had my all time favorite Dutch dessert “Apple Bol” I think I could live on Apple Bol and never get tired of it. It is an apple baked inside of a crust. That’s it. Every bakery puts something different in the middle of the apple where the seeds were. I have never tasted an apple bol that I did not like. 

We went for a short walk around our neighborhood and took some pictures because it was Christmas. There is a large courtyard where the apartment is. In this courtyard are some play equipment for children and in the middle of it was droopy sad looking Christmas tree. Somebody had tied it up with wires and heavy string just to keep it from falling over.

Later in the day we went to Brother and Sister Kees (pronounced Case) and Ina (prounounced Eena) De Jonge’s house. Bro and Sister De Jonge are the matriarch and the patriarch of the De Jonge dynasty here in Holland. It isn’t really a dynasty, but it is a family with 10 children who are all adults who are active and holding leadership positions in the Church all over the country. They are an incredible family. We worked with Thies de Jonge in both the JoVo’s and in the 150 year anniversary arrangements and he is putting up the money to print the 150 year anniversary book. Sister de Jonge had us stop and see the skater's on the Paterwoldsemeer hoping to get ready for the elfstaden.

Bro and Sister de Jonge made dinner for the JoVo’s who did not have anyplace to go and also for the missionaries. We were there for several hours.
We came home and called all of the family and talked until about 2:00am. It was a great Christmas.We were exhausted when we got home... we were still suffering from jet lag and trying to figure out what we were supposed to be doing here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Oma's Pages #27

Oma’s Pages #27
Well, I think this story has come up to Christmas Eve of last year. We were invited to go to the home (which is actually an apartment in a high rise building... but here they call wherever you live a house or a home. This was confusing to me when I first started coming to the Netherlands back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s but now I am used to it.) of Puck Boorsma.

Puck is a tiny widow with a big heart. She has one adopted son who has never married and who visits her for Christmas and I think she sees him a couple of times a year but that is all. She also has an older daughter who lives in the United States and she hardly ever sees her. Puck is always smiling. She is very much alone and is starting to have the kinds of problems that older people have and yet she is always smiling.

Her Christmas tradition is to invite the Missionaries over to her house for Christmas Eve each year. She also invited her friends, Hans and Doris. They don’t have any children. They have two dogs that are their children. These dogs act just like children. In one of the pictures Doris is giving them their Christmas gift and they acted just like a couple of kids who were so excited to open their gift. And they opened it by themselves. They are Tibetan Terriers.

It was an interesting dinner. When we arrived we had a small bowl of soup. Later she called us back to the table and she placed this work of art salad that I have posted a picture of. We all took a small helping of the salad. That was our dinner.

We opened the gifts and then we came back to the table and had a dessert. The Elders had to go home at 9:00 so we all excused ourselves and we took them home. 

Then we went home and prepared their Christmas stockings for them. That was a fun thing to do.

We went home again and used up some of our Vodafone prepaid minutes so we could Skype with the family for Christmas. It was long after midnight when we finally dropped into bed. I was so glad I could sleep in for Christmas... since we hardly ever got to do that.

Do you remember talking to us last Christmas Eve Day?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Oma's Pages #26

Oma’s Pages #26

We arrived in Groningen on December 11, 2010. On December 17, 2010 there was a dinner for all the older people in the Groningen Ward. We were invited. It was Opa’s birthday. We went. It was the first time we met the Gout’s. Buddy and Beryl Gout would become our best friends here. Buddy was made Opa’s counselor in the Branch Presidency in Leeuwarden. I have worked with Sister Beryl Gout in the Leeuwarden Primary.
In the first picture you can only see Opa’s arm reaching across the table. The first couple by Opa’s arm who are sitting across the table are Beryl and Buddy Gout.
In the second picture you can see the back of the white head of a lady in a wheelchair. I have a picture of her when she was a little girl in the Groningen Primary. It was in the photo album of Opa Pouwel Van Komen that Tante Jellie gave to me.
Also even though it was a dinner for the older people you can see lots of children in the pictures. It is because people here have to travel a long ways to come to the Church. So, if the parents have to be involved in the Church activities they bring their children with them.
On the picture of the white haired wheelchair lady, if you look way down to the end you can see Beryl and Buddy Gout. The man sitting next to them is the Groningen Ward Bishop. His name is Harm Jan deJonge. His wife and children are sitting next to him on down the table. He is part of the “deJonge” family that are the major part of the leadership of the entire Church here in the Netherlands. His brother Martin is the Bishop in Amsterdam. His brother Ekke is the Bishop in Zwolle. His brother Jellmer is the Stake President in Rotterdam. His sister, Marta is married to the counselor in the Stake Presidency of the Apeldoorn Stake. His brother Thies was a Bishop, and then a counselor in the Stake Presidency, and now he is the man we work with in just about all the things we do.
I bet those names are not like any of the names you have ever heard of before. When you try to say the names remember that the “J” has a “Y” sound. And when the letters “i and e” or “e and i” are together the last letter is the one that makes the sound of itself. For example Thies is pronounced Teese. They do not have the same “th” sound that we do.
This year we attended the same dinner on December 16th. We were supposed to bring an older couple but they didn’t want to come so we went by ourselves. I would have taken some pictures but they would have looked just like these pictures I already have.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oma's Pages #25

Oma’s Pages #25
The day we arrived the Elders in our town were told to stay with us and help us in any way we needed. All I wanted to do was to sleep. I was so happy when they finally went home. However, our first introduction to what our duties were was at District Meeting. 
We were supposed to make dinner for the Elders every week at their District Meeting. On the day before the missionaries have transfers they all take pictures of each other. All of them except for Elder Sanchez. He hates to have his picture taken so you can see what the Elders did to “sort of” have Elder Sanchez in their picture. Elder Sanchez took the pictures for all the other Elders with their cameras. While he was setting things up I took his picture.
Elder Alexander is the redheaded Elder in front of us. He is one of my favorites. I love all the Elders but some of them we just get closer to than some of the others. He is definitely one of my favorites. I think all of the other Elders in this picture have gone home now. Elder Nielsen is still here too, but he did not make it into the picture that day.

Elder Sanchez always volunteers to take the pictures so I was sneaky and turned around and took his picture when he wasn't looking.

Elder Robert.... is the one in the front with the really tight gray suit on. He was the first of our Elders to go home. Elder Adams is the really blond Elder in the back. He was the second Elder to go home. The rest got transferred to other places so I don’t know when they each went home, but I know they are gone.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oma's Pages #24

Oma’s Pages #24
One year ago today when we arrived in the Netherlands and drove to where we were going to live in Groningen, this is what our street looked like right by our apartment on Albertine Agnesstraat. If you look very closely you can see that the road is made of bricks. Each brick is put into place one at a time. The road was under construction. It was not very wide and with the construction it made it even smaller. We had to drive very carefully. I have included pictures of how the roads are replaced one brick at a time. 
Have any of you ever seen a road that cars drive on that is made of bricks?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Oma's Pages #23

Oma’s Pages #23
From our apartment we can see the apartments across the small road. As you can see none of the people across the way drive cars. They ride bicycles. You can go anyplace in this town faster on a bicycle than you can in a car. The brown thing you can see is a baby carrier on the front of the mom’s bicycle. 

Things are very different here than they are at home. How do Mom’s carry their babies around where you are? Do they have bicycle carriers like this one?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oma's Pages #22

Oma’s Pages #22
After we got our big bed and some pots and pans, things began to settle down a little bit and I thought maybe we were getting into a kind of settled routine. We were still looking for another place to live and it was freezing cold in our apartment, but I was getting used to all the little nitty natty details and they did not bother me so much.
Getting comfortable as a Senior Couple missionary for me must not be allowed because as soon as I think things are finally going along okay.... something happens.
What happened this time was Opa and I had been out working all day. We were at JoVo”s until very late at night. We came home to find no place to park so we had to park over by a flooring store and shopping center. We had to walk about half a kilometer home in freezing wind. The road we had to walk home on went up a small hill and then down under a bridge, so it was very slippery. And I always have to wear church clothes so I also have to wear Church shoes that are hard to walk in even when the  weather is good.
It was nearly 1:00 am when we finally got back to the apartment. We were both exhausted. By the time we got everything put away and knelt down by our bed to say our prayers it was 2:15 am. We leaned on the bed and started to pray......
All of a sudden..... Boom..... The bed caved in on the side where we were praying. We now had a slippery slide for a bed. OH Darn!!!!!!   We were sooooo tired and it was sooo cold kneeling on that cold floor..... and the bed we were going to finally be able to sleep in, just broke. We both just dropped down on our behinds and started to laugh. 
Opa looked around the apartment. We had no tools to fix the bed with. Now that was a first... Opa with no tools! We had no bed, no tools, and no heat. It was 2:30 in the morning and we were to tired to think of anything else to do.
We each grabbed an end of the mattress, pulled, shoved, and pushed it into the living room. That mattress took up every bit of space we had in the living room and that was after we pushed all the furniture flat against the wall. Opa left a small space at the bottom of the bed so we could walk past the bed to get to the toilet. I put an extra pair of socks on my feet. We pulled our dek bed (duvet) over us and fell asleep.

The next day we had to find a home improvement store so Opa could buy the tools and parts he needed to fix our bed. The underneath part (like the springs part, or the box springs) of our bed is made out of bowed boards. We do not have box springs or springs of any kind like you have in your beds. Have any of you had your bed fall apart just when you wanted to go to bed?