Monday, August 25, 2014

3rd letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 9

Elder Benjamin Steenblik
In Town Square, there was a huge picture made out of flowers and it was as long as a football field.

Elder Benjamin Steenblik
I got WET!!!!!!!
This is our ward house here in Leuven, Belgium

This is our chapelToday is my 2 month mark of my mission! Wow.  I feel like it has gone by so fast but at the same time, I feel like I haven't seen any of you in years.  Missions are a time warp. 

Any-hoo,  what another great week it has been here in Belgium.  This past week was pretty crazy because I did 2 splits and also a "Blitz."  Last Tuesday, after our district meeting, we blitzed Leuven and what that means is that our whole district did missionary work here in Leuven for a couple of hours.  We had 14 missionaries in one city and it went very well! We got like 20 referrals from it. 

After that, I went on a split with one of the Zone Leaders so I went up to the beautiful city of Antwerpen for the night.  It was fun to be in a new city just to change things up for a day.  The best part was, Antwerpen has a car so we drove everywhere.  That actually kind of sucked because on the way back to Leuven the next morning, we sat in traffic for 2 hours.  Good gravy!!!!! That is one thing I don't miss about the "real world" is traffic. 

On Thursday, I went on a split with Elder Elkins in Genk.  Genk is a 4 man apartment so it was super fun. That is where Elder Andrew is so it was cool to see him again. 

The first thing I noticed about going on splits, is how nice their apartments were.  Apparently Leuven has the oldest apartment in the whole mission and it's pretty ghetto!!  I have a strong feeling someone got stabbed in our living room a couple of years ago.  We don't even have an oven. They ordered one about a month ago, but we haven't heard anything about it.  The mission office called the oven place the other day and they told them that they had delivered it.  NOT!! They basically gave our oven away to some random dude!

This week, I experienced my first Belgium rainstorm on a bike! It was a clear blue sky and then like 5 minutes later it just dumped, hardcore . My pants literally felt like I had just jumped in a swimming pool.  You can see in the 2nd picture above. 

So, day to day we basically do everything that missionaries do.  We knock doors, contact, place Books of Mormon, lessons with less actives, teach investigators, the whole 9.  We have a big list of investigators, but it is hard because it's really hard to make and keep appointments.  It is so frustrating when people just keep cancelling on us.  We get to their house for the appointment and they are busy or they just don't even answer.  We have a lot of lessons scheduled this week so hopefully they will all work out.  At church yesterday, we also got a lot of the ward members to come with us on joint teaches so it is gonna be a good week. 

We are also working a lot with the less active members of the ward.  There are quite a few of them so they keep us busy as well. 

The missionary work out here is so hard, but I have loved every second of my mission so far! It has been a roller coaster, but that's what makes it interesting.   I have gotten more middle fingers than I can even count, and cussed at everyday, but it is good to be a missionary! Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

This is not easy work, but it is the Lord's work.  I see His hand in it every single day.  Ladies and gentlemen the church is true and God loves you! 

                                                               Elder Steenblik 

Just in case you were wondering --  Leuven is pronounced low-fen with a British accent. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2nd letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 8

This is right by the mission office in Leiden, Netherlands.  SO MANY BIKES!!!! This picture doesn't even do justice.  There are more bikes on both sides of this thing.  It is insane.

This is one of the government buildings that is right down the street from our apartment.

Week 2 in the Holy Land!

Yet, another eventful week it has been.  Every day is a new and interesting day on a mission, but that’s what makes it fun.

I will start off with the most important part of my email.  I had the BEST waffle that I have ever had in my entire life yesterday! Oh man, It was at a little waffle stand at the train station.  It was a warm sugar waffle covered in melted chocolate and whipped cream.  Holy toledo folks, I get goose bumps just thinking about it.  Haha.

This week we had our first district meeting and I got to meet our district.  They are all super cool. We have district meetings every week so I get to see them pretty often.

The other night we were at a dinner appointment at a man’s house and he is a chef so he made some way good food for us.  We asked him what the meat was and he told us and then Elder Losee started laughing.  I don’t speak very good Dutch so I didn’t know what he said.  Then he said it in English and it was horse meat!! I don’t even know if that legal in America, but I had horse for the first time and it was delicious.  Of course, I made the "I’m so hungry I could eat a horse" joke.  A special shout out to Jim Greene for teaching me everything I know when it comes to quick “one-liners.”

I also cut hair for the first time in my life.  Apparently haircuts here are super expensive, so Elder Losee trusted me.  Not gonna lie, it sucked, but in the end, it turned out pretty darn, decent.  Maybe that is something I can do when I grow up.  Or, maybe not.

On Saturday, we had a ward BBQ.  It was actually pretty legit.  There was meat.  MEAT! Not a lot of that over here.   It took me back home to America.  We played soccer with the ward members and just had a good time.  There was also a bounce house.  Yes, a bounce house.  We go hard here in Leuven.   There was a lot of less active members that came for the food, and then ended up showing up to church the next day so that was cool.

On Sunday, I had to introduce myself and bear my testimony in sacrament meeting in Dutch. Oh boy!!!

Sorry I am a day late with this email.  Yesterday, we had to travel up to the mission office to do some legal stuff.  Loooooong story short, we were on trains for like 8 hours, and I am still not even "legal" in the Netherlands so yesterday was basically the worst.  And we will have to do it all over again so I can sign in to the Netherlands.  Ugh.

Yesterday while we were on the train, we heard something squeaking and then we saw this little puppy poke its head out of some girl’s purse that she had snuck on the train.  Mom, it reminded me of when we were at Stephanie’s ward and Brittney brought her dog to church with President Monson there.  I remember how you put your head in her purse to say hi to her dog and the dang thing almost bit your nose off.  Too funny!

Well, yet another adventurous week here in Leuven.

Ball so hard!!!

Love all of you so much,

-Elder Steenblik

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Another sweet email from Sister Hilde Van Achten in Ben's Leuven, Belgium Ward. Email received on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Pictures taken on Friday, August 15, 2014

Ineke Van Kerckhoven, Elder Hayden Losee, Elder Benjamin Steenblik and Hans Van Kerckhoven
Elder Hayden Losee, Elder Benjamin Steenblik and Hans Van Kerckhoven
(Ben, ALWAYS trying to be the tallest person in the picture.)

Dear sister Steenblik Yesterday, elder Losee and elder Steenblik came to our house. They were a huge help tackling chores in the garden. We ate lunch together and in the afternoon, we snacked on homemade chocolate cream & cherry sponge cake. My daughter Ineke and my youngest son, Hans, are also in the pictures. We all enjoyed having the missionaries over! Enjoy your weekend! Hilde

Monday, August 11, 2014

1st letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 7

Elder Benjamin Steenblik
Just a cool windmill shot by the mission office in Leiden.

Elder Benjamin Steenblik
Check out these old ghetto urinals right along the streets.  I may have contracted a couple of diseases from peeing here.  We will see.  (Only Ben!!!!)

This is one of the buildings right by our apartment.  When we go to the cooler places in town, I will make sure to snap lots of pics.

Whad-up Homies?!

So yeah, I am in Belgium now! I have been assigned to the Leuven, Belgium area.  Down here in good ol' Leuven, they speak Flemish.  That is basically a form of Dutch.  So now, I am learning Dutch AND Flemish . I guess the Lord thought that Dutch just wasn't enough!!  Ha Ha.  When we talk to people, to me it sounds like they are speaking French, but I know the Lord will help me learn.

Leuven is such a cool city! There are so many cool old buildings here.  Belgium is a lot more, European than the Netherlands. 

The first thing I learned when we got here is that the soda sucks.  My first day, I got a Sprite from the vending machine all excited. Well, it was horrible! All of the European soda just tastes flat so I am quite a bit T-O-'d.

The single best part of Europe is the police sirens.  When I hear them, I feel like I am Jason Bourne!

Its really funny because EVERYONE here rides bikes.  Businessmen will be on their bikes in their suits.  70 year old ladies will just be out riding for fun.  It's madness, plus cars are over rated anyways. 

This week, we had the chance to bless a members home.  They said it just had a bad feeling to it so we went over there to leave a blessing there.  The wife was not a member so it was cool that she let us come. They made lunch for us which was really nice.  This house was ridiculous.  It didn't have a big backyard at all, but they had dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens, a garden, and a huge fish pond. It was really cool. 

We also go out to Brussels every now and then to teach the Dutch people in the city.  Brussels is so beautiful! We had a service appointment with a lady to help her sort through some clothes and stuff.  She ended up giving us a ton of free clothes that are pretty awesome.

We had church yesterday.  Here is Leuven, we are blessed with an actual ward and church building.  We have about 45 active members in the ward.  They are all so nice and it was fun to meet them.

Our Bishop here is the man!!  We get to eat dinner at his house every Sunday and he is American so we spoke English the whole time.  His family made an awesome meal of mashed potatoes, asparagus, and lamb.  We talked with him for almost 2 hours about funny movies,  TV shows and sports.  Sports! Ahhhhh how I have missed talking about sports.  For those of you trying to get an image of my Bishop in your head, think Jim Gaffigan.  He reminds me so much of a bigger Jim Gaffigan.  He looks like him and talks just like him too.  He is the boss!! 
Picture of Jim Gaffigan
My companion is Elder Losee.  He is a way cool trainer.  He is from St. Geezy.  We get along really well and he is doing a good job of trying to figure out what the heck is going on. 

On Saturday, we had our weekly planning meeting.  It lasted so dang long and we didn't even leave our apartment until 4 that day.  So, I was sick and tired of being inside all day so I figured the day would get better.  We needed to get me a bike and all of the bike shops around here are way expensive so we took a bus out to a bike shop.  We got out there, and found out that it was closed on Saturday's, but luckily for us, there was a pawn shop right around the corner.  When we got there, they were closed as well so I still don't have a bike.  We went back to our area and decided to contact 3 referrals that we had.  Two of them weren't even real numbers and the other one wasn't interested so that didn't go well either, but we at least had two appointments that evening.  Both of them cancelled!!  Then on our way back to the apartment, we had to stop to get some food for dinner.  We literally waited in line at the store for 45 minutes. It ended up being a hard day, but I thought of a video that we watched at the MTC that night. Hey, everyone reading this, go to "youtube" right now and watch this video!!! It's called "Missionary Work and the Atonement."  It's a talk by Elder Holland and President Eyring and it is amazing.  In it, he talks about the trials of missionary work and how is isn't easy.  I have quickly learned why it is called missionary WORK.  It is tough, but it is so rewarding! I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't know this gospel was true, and that's for sure. 

And by the way, sorry my grammar is horrible.  I am using a French keyboard so it is really hard.

Well I am here! And it is awesome! The church is true and God loves you! 

                                               -Elder Steenblik

Sunday, August 10, 2014

After 6 days of wondering where Ben is living and who he is living with...... Today we finally found out!!!

Elder Benjamin Steenblik reading his assignment on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 in the mission home.  He will be serving in Leuven, Belgium and his trainer is Elder Hayden Losee from St. George, Utah.  
(Elder Eli Andrew is serving in Genk, Belgium.)

Elder Hayden Losee and Elder Benjamin Steenblik 
meeting for the first time on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.  
(We are pretty sure that when Ben met Elder Losee, he said to him..."Brothers don't shake hands.  Brothers gotta hug."  
A famous quote that he LOVES from the movie "Tommy Boy.")  
This picture is priceless!!!!!

Sister Hilde Van Achten in Leuven, Belgium sent this picture and email this morning. Thank you for this tender mercy!!!!!!

Elder Hayden Losee (Ben's trainer) and Elder Benjamin Steenblik

Dear Sister Steenblik

This morning in church, we had the privilege of meeting your son. He arrived in Leuven at the right time to join in a farewell party for two families who are moving abroad, so he was able to sneak a taste of Belgian pastry and cake. Elder Steenblik is doing well, he is blessed with an enthusiastic trainer, and later this week, he and his companion are coming over to our house for a meal and a spiritual message.

When my oldest son had finished his training in the MTC and he had spent his first Sunday in the mission field, a sister from his ward took a few pictures of him and sent them to me, accompanied by a small message. Apparently somebody had done that for her when her son was serving a mission, and she wanted to pass on the tradition. This gesture meant a lot to me and I decided to do the same thing for every new "greenie" missionary that came to our ward.

I thought you might like to know that your son is very much welcome in our ward. His eagerness and his ability to speak Dutch are very impressing. We are glad to have him here.

Greetings from Belgium!

Hilde Van Achten

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The "Dutchie" District left Salt Lake City, Utah at 11:04 a.m. on Monday, August 4, 2014 and arrived to the Netherlands on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 7:56 a.m. (That's Monday, August 4, 2014 at 11:56 p.m. our time.) They traveled 5,402 miles to get to where the Lord has called them to serve.

Good Luck to the "Dutchie" District!!!!!!
Leaving the Salt Lake City Airport and headed to Detroit.

Welcome to the Netherlands!!!!!!

Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands.
Sister Robinson, Sister Charlee Fredrickson, Elder Benjamin Steenblik, 
Elder Eli Andrew, Elder Billy Shaw, Elder Josh Parr and President Robinson

This is an email I received from Ben's mission mom, Sister Brenda Robinson this morning at 7:00 a.m. (3:00 p.m. Ben's time.)

Dear Families of our New Missionaries:

Sister Fredrickson, Elder Shaw, Elder Steenblik, Elder Andrew and Elder Parr arrived safely here in the Netherlands this morning.  They are currently getting some legality work done and will soon be to the Mission Home for a well needed nap.  This evening we will have a testimony meeting and fireside.  They will receive their first area assignment and who their trainer/companion will be for the coming transfer.  Please keep up with what is happening in the mission on the mission blog:

President and I are very impressed with this group.  They are solid young people.  They will be great assets to the mission.   We love them already and are so looking forward to working more closely with them.  They will fill you in with more details in their email home to you this coming Monday.

Thank you for your missionary.

Feel free to contact me if you have any concerns.


Brenda Robinson

Doing legality paperwork in the Netherlands.

The "Dutchie" District in the Netherlands
Sister Charlee Fredrickson, Elder Eli Andrew, Elder Billy Shaw, Elder Benjamin Steenblik and Elder Josh Parr
The "Dutchie" District in the Netherlands
Sister Charlee Fredrickson, Elder Eli Andrew, Elder Billy Shaw, Elder Benjamin Steenblik and Elder Josh Parr

Elder Benjamin Steenblik's first day in the Netherlands.

First meal in the Netherlands
(Left Side) Elder Bishop, Elder Robbins, Elder Billy Shaw, Elder Benjamin Steenblik and Sister Charlee Fredrickson.  
(Right Side) Elder, Elder Josh Parr, Elder Eli Andrew and Elder
(They are eating pannenkoekens.  They are between a French crepe and an American pancake.)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

6th and last letter from MTC -- 5 weeks and 3 days

Last e-mail from the MTC!

Well, I ship out in 2 days!!!!  Yaah! Man alive am I pumped!!!

I have a couple of minutes to hurry and pump out a email. 

Yesterday, we had an infield orientation all day and it was LONG.  We went over how to contact people and how to work with the members and stuff like that. Quick note, it is a lot easier to talk to people in a language that you can actually speak...... Just an observation I had.  It went from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. but I learned a lot.

We will report to the travel office Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. and then we are off! I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous.   Coming to the MTC wasn't that big of a shocker, but this is the real freakin' deal! I am so excited!!!

Do I feel confident in the language? Not at all.  In fact, I probably couldn't carry on a normal conversation with a 5 year old.  The best way to learn a language is to go out, and start talking to people. Striking up a conversation everywhere you are, and hoping they don't ask you a question as you are pretending to know what they are saying.  Ha Ha.  

I can teach about simple gospel topics, and bear my testimony, but I know that as I give this language my all and talk to everyone that I can, the Lord will bless me with the gift of tongues, or in this case, the gift of flem. 

This mission if going to give me the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows.   I will experience so much over the next 2 years and I am looking forward to all of it.  It sure as heck isn't going to be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. 

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and been a friend to me! You are all awesome.  I will miss all of you so much.  Ik hou van jullie! The church is true!  Peace out America!

                                                                                      -Elder Steenblik