Monday, October 27, 2014

12th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 18

District bake-off.  Can you guess which one is ours? That's right, the pile of uncooked food.  We took last place!
We found a fountain that shot a stream of water back and forth.  I had the genius idea to catch some in my mouth.  It didn't work as planned.
We made sushi. Hoooooow super hard core is that?!
Mom, here is the view from my window that you have been dying to see.  Haha
Hey, yaaalll,

So, this week hasn't been as crazy of a week as the past couple of weeks, but has still been awesome! 

On Tuesday, we had a district bake off at our district meeting.  It was super awesome! Of course the Sisters won and we came in last. No surprise there! Look at the picture and see if you can tell which one was ours! Haha.  After the district meeting, I had an exchange with Elder Clement here in Leuven.  We had a big list of like 30 referrals from the Facebook project that we had to call.  After the meeting we just stayed at the church and updated all of them on the computer and called everyone.  I was at the church from 9 in the morning until 6 that evening and I have to admit... I wanted to be out on the streets knocking doors.  I got a sweet taste of what it would be like to be an office Elder, but I think the Lord knows that if he ever made me an office Elder, this mission would probably shut down so I don't need to worry about that! 

This past week was freezing cold and I'm surprised it didn't snow! What stinks about the weather here is when it is freezing cold, it just rain and then you get wet and it freezes.  The weather here is as unpredictable as Utah! One day it will be freezing cold, and the next will be nice and sunny. 

Two days ago, I swallowed and it kind of hurt and just thought, "crap I'm going to get sick" and sure enough, a couple hours later my throat was burning.  Then when I woke up in the morning, it killed, so I am a tad bit sick at the moment.  My body is just fatigued and tired, but the work of the Lord must go on! One bright side to this is that my voice has gotten a whole octave deeper, so that is pretty cool.

We had a lesson with an inactive family this week and they are so awesome.   They are probably around 60 years old and they pulled out a photo book of all of the missionaries they have met and photos from their baptism back when they were in their 20's.  They love the missionaries! We went over to their house and talked with them and showed them pictures of our family and friends and gave a lesson about the shield of faith.  We made a shield out of cardboard and wrapped it in tinfoil, so it was pretty legit. 

Oh, my gosh!! one of the families in our ward lives next to a sugar factory.  You would think a sugar factory smells awesome right? Heck to the no! Oh man, the whole city smells from it! It is even worse than the smell here in Leuven.  Here is the absolute best way I can describe it, and it is pretty dead on.  One step you take it will smell like old kitchen garbage, the next step will smell like rotten peanut butter, and on the 3rd step you smell poop, and then the pattern restarts all over again.  We ran to the bus stop just to try to get away from the horrible smell and we couldn't escape it.  It is by far the worst smelling city I have ever been in and all because of a SUGAR factory.  Who knew?!

Today we have another zone P-day in Antwerpen playing football and jazz.  It is the last p day of the transfer so everyone will be saying their goodbyes.

So, nothing too special happened this week.  Elder Losee is getting transferred up to the Netherlands on Wednesday and I will be getting a new companion.  That should be very interesting! I am excited to meet him and show him around the beautiful area that we serve in.  Well, that is basically all I got. Tot Maandag! 
                                                               -Elder Steenblik

Monday, October 20, 2014

11th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 17

We were a bit lost on the way to the temple and couldn't find it.  We turned the corner and BOOM!!!!
Elder Martinez, Elder Perez and I doing work at the chocolate factory.
Goede Dag Mensen!!!

Hoooooly Toledo, it has been a crazy week! I have been all over the Netherlands and Belgium.  From Burges to Rotterdam to Rooesndal to The Hauge to Antwerpen to Brussels. 

To start the week off, we had temple conference in Den Haag! We are clear down in Belgium so we stayed the night in Rotterdam.  Oh man, what a mess that was! We left a little later for Rotterdam than we had hoped for and barley missed the train by a couple of minutes, so we had to wait for the next one.  Then we got to Rotterdam and had to take a train to the apartment we were staying at.  We were walking up the stairs to the train and we heard the whistle blow, so we just started booking it.  The doors were closing, so I ran and stuck my freakishly long arms in the door and had some big heroic save and pried the doors open with my bare hands! Aaaaaand, it was the wrong dang train! To make a long story short, we didn't get to the apartment that night until 11:45 pm and then we had to leave at 6 in the morning to get to the temple. I miss just being able to drive 15 minutes down the road to the temple.  It's a lot easier! 

The temple was siiiiick! It was so cool to hear it Dutch.  I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't know what was going on because of the language, but folks let me tell ya, that was the most Dutch I have ever understood in my life.  The Lord blessed me so much! It was so cool to be in the temple with all of the other missionaries and President and Sister Robinson.  The spirit was amazing! 

This week we were so busy with traveling and everything that we didn't get much work done.  We had a lesson with a French woman named Bea, and had her daughters translate for us.  We taught her the restoration and challenged her to read the book of Mormon with her family and pray about it. 

On Saturday night, we had Stake Conference in Antwerpen.  The stake is the whole Dutch speaking part of Belgium (basically the north half of Belgium) and a couple of wards in the Netherlands.  Afterwards, some of the Netherlands elders spent the night with us. On Sunday, we had another session in Brussels.  I got to meet a lot of the members from all over Belgium and they were all really cool.

Today, was perhaps the greatest day of my life! For P day, we went to Brussels and spent the day with the French Elders.  One of them is actually from France and he is a stud! Elder Perez and Elder Martinez. We went to a Belgian chocolate factory! I felt like Charles himself touring the great Wonka Factory, but here is the best part... ALL YOU CAN EAT CHOCOLATE!!!! I literally have never eaten more chocolate in my entire life.  We hadn't eaten lunch so we could eat as much as possible and it was the expensive stuff too! Some of the boxes had 24 chocolates for 60 euros.  That is $75! And you could just go up to the box and take whatever chocolates you wanted.  The whole time I was singing "Oompa Loompa, doopety doo!" People just looked at me and laughed because I had chocolate all over my face, haha.  I mean come on, if you give me an all you can eat Belgian chocolate buffet, it's gonna get a bit messy....and it did! I would die if I lived next to a chocolate factory. 

I had an absolutely fantastic week! Temples and chocolate!!! I hope all is going good in the real world with all of you! I hope yallz have a peachy keen week!

                                                             -Elder Steenblik 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 16

Elder Benjamin Steenblik
I LIKE waffles!!!!!!
This is the canal our boat tour was on.
One of the enormous buildings in the city of Burges.

It has been a pretty crazy week here in Belgium! Oh man, where to start. 

So, on Wednesday, we had interviews with President and Sister Robinson.  It was in the city of Turnhout. We had to be at the church by 9 in the morning, so on Tuesday night, we slept over at the Turnhout Elder's apartment and so did the 4 missionaries from Genk.  We had 8 missionaries in one apartment! It was a blast and pretty crazy as you can probably imagine.  The next morning, we had our interviews and we have them every 3 months.  President and Sister Robinson are super awesome, so it was fun to talk with them.  On the way home, our bus got stuck in traffic so we sat on the same bus for 3 and a half hours.  Ahhhh man, it was horrible! It was a million degrees inside and smelled very strongly of aged B.O.  Haha.  I was very happy to get off that bus!

For P day, we went to the beautiful city of Bruges.  Holy cow, it was amazing and such a cool city!! There are big stinkin' castles and cathedrals everywhere you look.  We spent the day with the Bruges Elders, Elder Childs and Elder Henderson.  We took a boat ride through the canals and it was siiiiick! I have a picture above.

On Saturday, I was in Genk on exchanges with Elder Elkins.  In the morning, we were in a neighborhood knocking doors because we had an hour until our bus came.  When we got back to our bikes, we found that he had a flat tire.  The bus was going to leave in 15 minutes and we were still way far away, so we parked his bike and just took off running.  As soon as we started running, it began pouring rain on us.  We sprinted the whole freaking way and barley made it to the bus! We got to the bus and just collapsed.  We finally got to the house that we were supposed to look up, and they weren't interested, but we figured that the Lord didn't send us all the way out there for nothing, so we just knocked on doors in the area.  We found a lot of potential investigators and scheduled a lot of lessons with them for next week.  We contacted and knocked doors all day.  I don't even know how many doors we knocked on that day, but we were both exhausted. When we got back to the apartment that night, I just fell down dead tired.  My body ached from a long day of doing work and I felt like I could sleep for a year.  That night in my prayer, I could honestly say "Lord, I gave today everything that I had."  Then it got me thinking about my mission in general.  I want to serve my mission in a way that when I am on that plane ride home, I can look out that window and honestly say, "Lord, I gave it everything that I had."  The only way that can happen, is by WORK! It sure isn't easy, but it is well worth it. 

We have our temple conference this week! We only get to go to the temple every 6 months, so it's a pretty big deal.  We are headed up to Nederland later today to spend the night in Rotterdam.  I am super excited to get to go to the temple! It will all be in Dutch too so that will be really cool.  I have missed having a temple so close.  

Well, a very action packed week it has been and with temple conference coming up, this week should be the same.  I am doing just peachy here in the land of the waffles! 

Love you all,
                                                                                        -Elder Steenblik 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ben's apartment in Leuven, Belgium

Ben's study area
Ben's kitchen (Notice the space where the stove/oven should be.  (Seeing that they don't have one, I guess they use it for extra garbage.)
Ben's bed.  It's a good thing he's not in the Army!!!!!

Ben's bathroom
Ben's tiny shower
Ben's front room on a good day........
Ben's front room on a crazy day!!!!!!

 This is where the magic happens.... Their planning board.  (Notice the blow-up pitchfork!!!!)

Ben's closet..... Hooray for colorful ties!!!!

9th letter from Leuven, Belgium -- Week 15

Elder Benjamin Steenblik's feet (Oh, how I miss looking at those size 14's!!!!!!)
Yummy!!!!!!! Best 4 Euros I done ever spent!!!!!!!
"Barefoot Path" in Zutendaal, Belgium
My beloved district
(Left to right)  Elder Eli Andrew, Elder Benjamin Steenblik, Elder Hayden Losee, Sister Riley, Sister Aston, Elder Clement, Elder Eby, Elder Nye, Elder England and Elder Elkins
Elder Benjamin Steenblik
At the Brussels church building, they have the name in English.
My first General Conference in the land! Ha, it actually kind of stunk because I only got to see 2 sessions because of the time difference.  For the priesthood session, we went out to the French church in Brussels. We watched it, had lunch and got to meet a lot of the Elders in the Paris mission.  They were all way cool and it was fun to talk with them.  Anyways, we talked with them for an hour and then went back to watch the next session, but some hooligan put the translation headsets away and locked them up so it was only in French.  We don't speak French, so we just left.  On Sunday night we watched the Sunday morning session live at the Bishops house and it was really good. 

While we were at the Brussels church, I met someone else named Elder Steenblik.  He was one of the senior couples in the Paris mission and it turns out I actually know him.  He is Peter Steenblik's dad.  (The choir teacher at Jordan.)  It was cool to talk to him and look at our family history and how we are related. 

It was really cool because on the train the other day, I forgot to write in my pass and the conductor guy was walking toward me.  Conductor? Or is that the train driver? I don't know! The guy who Tom Hanks plays in the Polar Express movie.  Any hoo, I was scrambling to write it in and he got to me and I handed it to him.  He started talking to me and I thought he was going to give me a ticket or something, but he just said "Bless you guys for the work that you do. I really like the Mormons." Whaaaaat? A stranger spoke to me and it was a compliment.  No middle finger or cuss words? He wasn't a member, but it made us feel so good to be appreciated by some random dude.  We had to get off the train so we couldn't really talk to him, but just that small act of kindness really made my day. 

We had a lesson with Naomi this week and it was really good.  We also gave her a tour of the church. Unfortunately, the bus was late so we didn't have too much time to teach, so we just showed her around and spoke about the Book of Mormon.  After the lesson, we rode the bus back to the station with her and just chatted and got to know her better which was cool.  She is an amazing woman. 

It's so weird because I keep having dreams of home.  It's nothing even special or crazy.  I just have a dream of a normal day at school with all of my friends and family.  They are so real!! They make me miss you guys so much, but then I wake up and realize that I am a missionary in Belgium and then my homesickness goes away.  It is hard being out here, but totally worth it. 

Today we did a district P day.  We did some barefoot hike thing.  It was basically pay money to go on a hike without shoes and it was okay.  I love my district so much so we made it fun! It reminded me of hiking through the woods at home.  Haha.  Just kidding! I never went hiking at home, but it did remind me of the Utah forest.  After, we had a picnic and played American Football.  It was a good time.

Well another solid week full of adventure.  Doin' great!!!!!!

Ik hou van jullie. Steenblik out. (If you can't tell, I never know how the heck to end the email so it usually gets pretty weird, so just get used to it I guess)

Love you all,
                                        -Elder Steenblik