Zuster Fox?

Zuster Fox?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Back to the North!

Well, the Northern Netherlands has called me home for winter. Woohoo! Transfers are complete, and I love Leeuwarden. I even got to enjoy it in the sun for a couple days/hours before the super cold, wind and rain set in.
We will not forget you, beautiful Gent!
What is it like here? It is the strangest feeling. My first few days were seriously a combination of culture shock and coming home. Nederland is so different from Belgie, in ways I'm not even sure I know how to describe. The bike paths are so nice and netjes. Helmet harassment is a thing... punk teenagers biking past us and shouting in English, "safety first right? safety first!" It's modern and clean, just so... uniquely Dutch! I love the beautiful flat, green farm fields, the windmills, everything.

Leeuwarden is a unique city. It's fairly close to Assen, where I started my mission, so weather wise, it is also super chilly this time of year. But the culture itself is even a bit different. It's in Friesland, so there is a sub-language, you could say- Fries. It really is different. So sometimes signs have both languages on them. It is an adorable city; our bike ride home from the station takes us through the centrum, which is lit up with lights in the trees, and we go through canals with sailboats- I'll try to take a picture of it this week.
Arriving in Leeuwarden
On Saturday Sinterklaas rode into town with much fanfare and ado. It was pretty fun to see, and we were glad we happened to have a free moment to witness it. It is a huge cultural event here!
The big man himself. No, not Santa. Sinterklaas. Who comes in on a boat from Spain, then rides in on a white horse and distributes presents to the children over the course of a couple of weeks. There is much festivity when he arrives!
Sinterklaas Photobomb
The time of the zwarte Piet is upon us once again
Also, I ADORE Sister Jaramillo! She is from Aruba, and thus fluent in Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento, and English. We had the opportunity to teach a lesson in Spanish a couple of days ago, and I was able to participate. My Spanish has basically been dormant my entire mission, but if she speaks to me only in Spanish, it's amazing how quickly that capability is returning! Back to Sister Jaramillo: she is talented, a great cook, motivated, and an incredible missionary and teacher. I have so much respect for her. This is her last transfer, so I'm really glad I caught her before she went home! Fun fact: the third exchange I ever went on in my mission was with her. We looked at the date, and it was November 13th, 2014- and almost exactly a year later, we became companions. Cool right? We are excited to be working together and loving it so far! The work is popping here in Leeuwarden and there is lots to do!
One of sister Jaramillo's masterpiece culinary creations.
Elevator Selfie
With the Heerenveen elders (they also serve in our branch) Elders Higham and McConkie when we saw Sinterklaas!
Much as I love it here, I miss Gent as well. It is hard to adjust to completely different surroundings so quickly, and I truly loved my time in Gent. Fortunately, we had a great last p-day there in the centrum amongst the gorgeous castle and cathedrals with some of the Elders from our district. I ate a last Belgian waffle, bought an adorable fox hat, we made memories. The members were also so kind and really helped us feel loved those last couple of days. We had a great district meeting and I'm glad it was such a good transfer. I'm so grateful that I got to serve in Belgium! Adieu!
Goodbye Gravensteen!
The sweet Buysse family threw a mini going away party for us... complete with this gorgeous homemade cake and homemade chocolates. I love them!!

Last P Day in Gent

 I love and will miss zr Robbins!
Life goes on and the work goes forward. The branch here is great and I am so happy to be here. I know Heavenly Father has called me here. and I know that He is intimately involved in each of our lives.

Lots of love,

Zuster McKinney Voss
My District in Gent.

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