Monday, March 30, 2015

4th letter from Hengelo, Netherlands -- Week 40

Hoi,


We started the week out with a Zone Training in Zwolle.  It was fantastic! Elder Frisby and I gave a presentation....five times!!! There were 5 different groups and so we had to do the same presentation 5 times.  I was ready to kill myself, but hey, at least it wasn’t 6 times.  There was a quote that I loved. "Do you have the faith to move a mountain? Give me a shovel and I will get started!" Great, right?

After Zone Training, I went on an exchange with Elder Eli Andrew! It took me back to the glory days in the MTC.  It was super fun! We have both learned so much since we were teaching with each other in the MTC.

Well, just when we thought we were finally to spring, nope.  It was terrible this week! Freezing cold wind with rain.  So much rain! It sounds like I have missed the warmest winter ever back home.  Dang! I am just ready for the sun to come out!

We got a new investigator this week named Faroyk.  He is from an island off the coast of Madagascar. We went over to his house and taught him about the Book of Mormon and ate dinner with him.  He can’t read, so we are also helping him with that.

We met with Anja this week as well.  She now has a baptismal date for May 16th! She is from Germany, but speaks fluent Dutch.  She is really scared to tell her mother about her baptism and also feels that she still isn’t good enough to get baptized.  We had a great lesson full of the spirit and told her how we don’t need to be perfect to be baptized.

I went on an exchange with Elder Bean this week and also went on splits in Enschede on Saturday.   It has been a crazy week! I was only with Elder Frisby for a couple of days.

We finally got to throw all of our garbage away!!!! I don’t remember if I told you guys, but according to the government, nobody lives in our house because all of the missionaries are registered at the address of the mission home.  Seeing that they wouldn’t take our garbage, we had about 20 bags of garbage in the backyard as well as an old toilet, a microwave and wood everywhere.  Today the church rented a big ol’ dumpster, so we spent all morning cleaning out the backyard and throwing everything away.

After church yesterday, they asked us to do ward choir.  They have been asking the elders to do it for a long time, so we figured we would.  I imagined that we would just show up, sing a couple of hymns and be on our way.  Not even close!! It was like the freakin’ Tabernacle Choir! We got there and they were asking me all this stuff about music that I had no idea about and they were expecting me to hit all these notes.  I was the only bass there and I was terrible! Not to mention the fact that I didn't have a clue what was going on.  They started to get a little bit snappy with me, and then with each other.  Somebody literally stormed out of the room in a furious rage! Haha.  Oh man! There are very few things I truly hate in this world, choir being one of them.

It has been a lovely week.  We have some good stuff planned this week, as well as General Conference! I am pretty pumped about that.

I love you all!!!!!!!

                                                        -Elder Steenblik

Monday, March 23, 2015

3rd letter from Hengelo, Netherlands -- Week 39

Elder Ben doing a little reading

Ben's Kitchen
Ben's eating area and garage
Ben's front room
Stairway to heaven
Heaven after a LONG day
Ben's study area
Ben's bathroom
Hallo,

Well, we started the week out teaching Mike.  Mike is a cool 19 year old who was baptized the week before I got here.  We are now re-teaching him all of the lessons.  I also went on splits with him this week which was fun.

I was on an exchange this week in Enschede again.  We didn’t have any lessons scheduled, so we spent the whole time finding and knocking doors.  That always makes for a long day.

We had another lesson with Angela this week.  We finished the Restoration lesson and it was a great lesson.  She is always super happy to have us over.  She has trouble reading the old language of the Book of Mormon, so we read a chapter with her.  We have another appointment with her this week to teach the Plan of Salvation.

On Friday we had a service project with our district at the library.  We read to little kids and old people. My book of choice, “Where’s Waldo.” I read to some cute little 3 year old girl and she was freakin’ good at it.  I was talking to her about princesses and asked her if she had seen “Frozen.”  Rather than saying yes, she decided to show me.  In the middle of the library, she showed off her talent and belted out “Let it Go.” Haha, it was adorable! All of the little girls here know every word to “Let it Go,” even though they have no idea what the words mean.

We also had a volleyball night with the YSA’s.  We played volleyball and soccer all night which is always a pleasure.

We had a service project on Saturday with a woman in the ward.  We helped her weed her garden and of course it started pouring rain.  Gotta love the Netherlands! It was a big muddy mess, but that garden is lookin’ faaantastic!

Our translator with the Torosian's fell through this week, so our whole lesson was basically a big game of charades.  Maybe I will just have to learn Arabic!

We had such an awesome lesson this week! It was with a guy named Edward.  He is a Dutch Marine/Doctor.  He is just a bro! We taught the Plan of Salvation.  He is religious, so he had a lot of good questions that we answered using the scriptures.  We were there for 2 1/2 hours and the spirit was super strong.  At the end of the lesson, he prayed for us and asked the Lord to help him know that what we shared was true.  We are praying that he will be able to get that confirmation.

Things in Hengelo are going great.  We are having lots of opportunities to teach lessons, always better than knocking doors.  We are going to be super busy this week as well. The ward here is awesome! We have a dinner appointment almost every night.

Have a spectacular week friends and family!

                                 -Elder Steenblik

Monday, March 16, 2015

2nd letter from Hengelo, Netherlands -- Week 38

Elder Ben.... Just clowning around
After 4 LONG months, Elder Ben eating a delicious Belgian waffle
Elder Ben's big apartment in Hengelo, Netherlands

Yooo,

We started this week off with a District Meeting.  In our district it’s kind of weird because we have district meeting in a senior couple's home.  It’s literally in a living room on nice big fluffy couches.  I guess it is better than at the church, but it is just so different! It is pretty easy to fall asleep as well.

After district meeting, we went on splits with the Enschede Elders in Enschede.  We spent the day looking people up and contacting with them.  Enschede is a super old town on the German border.

On Wednesday and Thursday I was on an exchange with the Daventer Elders.  We spent the day working in a city called Zutphen.  It was a super cool city! We walked around for hours and knocked on doors.  We had a little lesson with some black pastor of some local church who basically told us we were of the devil.  Greeeat!!

On Friday we took a road trip down to Belgium! I had to go to Brussels to submit my papers for a driver’s license.  I miss Belgium so much! Just the cool buildings, the smell of waffles, the fries, the chocolate and everything.  We spent a couple of hours in Brussels afterwards walking around and eating lunch and what not.  We got huge freakin’ Belgian sandwiches that were covered in fries and just greasy deliciousness.  We were all so full, but we were in Belgium so you must be crazy if you thought I wasn’t gonna get myself a waffle.  I got a nice big sugar waffle covered in whipped cream, chocolate, and strawberries.  I was so full it hurt, but it what a great feeling! We had to drive back and then take a train home.  We left at 6:30 AM and didn’t get home until 9:30 PM.  It was a super long day, but a fun road trip.

Sunday we had church.  One of our investigators named Belloh came and she thought it was great.  She is from somewhere in Africa.  Right after church, we went straight to look up a referral that we got.  They live super far away so we had to take a train and a bus.  We got there and were thrilled they let us in.  Turns out, her sister is a member.  We taught them the 1st lesson and it went really well! They had a ton of good questions and were willing to read the Book of Mormon.  We made a follow up appointment with them for this Thursday so we are super excited for that.

We had a great lesson with the Torosian's this week.  They are from Syria and only speak Arabic.  We were able to set up a translator via Skype and teach them some of the Plan of Salvation.  We didn’t get too far in because our translator had to go.  The Torosian's are both so loving.  We can’t really communicate with them very well, but they are truly amazing.  I can’t wait to find them in the next life and talk with them.  They always use the few Dutch words they know to tell us how much they appreciate us and love us. They are great people!

Well, my first week in my new city and I was gone for 4 days.  This week we will have lots of time to work here in Hengelo.  The weather is getting warmer which is just lovely.  Things here are great!

Houdoe!

                                              Elder Steenblik

Monday, March 9, 2015

1st letter from Hengelo, Netherlands -- Week 37

Wow, it has been a crazy week! So much change in such a short amount of time.

Last Monday after we finished emailing, we went to dinner with our district.  We had 3 missionaries going home in our district, so it was basically our last supper together.  We went to some fancy all you can eat Japanese Steakhouse.  Oh...my...gosh… It was amazing! All you can eat sushi, chicken, steak, duck, lamb and salmon.  You name it! Restaurants are super crazy here and charge you like 3 bucks for every glass of water you get, so we had to ration it.  We were dying of thirst and had the genius idea of going to the bathroom and drinking out of the faucet.  Every missionary at our table made like 3 trips to the bathroom every couple of minutes, but they never caught on to our crafty plan.

Well, Elder Alston is home now! It wasn't too hard this transfer having a companion that was going home.  I will be honest, his last 3 days were pretty hard for me.  Seeing him pack up and get ready to go see his family and friends and everything made me a little homesick for a couple of days, but nothing too extreme.  The day after he left, I was back at it and forgot all about it.  I had an amazing transfer with him.  I learned so much from him and we had a blast together!

On Wednesday I arrived in the great city of Hengelo.  On my first day here, I got to give a Baptismal Interview! Luckily in English and it was a super cool experience.  She was super ready and wanted to be baptized.  She is from China and her grandma had taught her about Joseph Smith when she was a little girl, so she had been prepared.

Our house here is freaking huge! It isn’t as modern and fancy as my last one in Lelystad, but it is enormous.  I think that it is the biggest in the mission, so that is awesome! We live in a cool neighborhood and the kids are always out front playing.  Elder Frisby and I were upstairs planning and we got some Nerf guns and were shooting the kids out of the window on the roof.  Then a huge Nerf war broke out between us and these kids.  We let them know who the boss in Hengelo is.  You better believe that!

It’s finally getting warm here! On Saturday we drove to a baptism in Apeldoorn with the Zone Leaders and had the windows down cruisin.  We even hit up the McDonald's drive-thru on the way. Oh how I have missed a good drive-thru! On the way back from the baptism, we had to fit 4 people in the back of this tiny European car.   I could barely fit if I was the only one!  We had people laying all over the place and were crammed in.  Worst 20 minute car ride of my life, but it was fun!

We have had a couple of lessons this week with Arabic speakers who only speak a little bit of Dutch or English.  It is super hard to teach them because Arabic is such a different language.  At least with French and German, it is at least in the same ballpark.  Even the names of the books in the Book of Mormon are different, so it takes like 10 minutes just to find one scripture.  We were still able to get through a lesson with them and answer their questions using the Book of Mormon.

We had church here on Sunday and the ward is amazing! There is about 50 active people and they are all super strong in the gospel.  Everyone has callings that they fulfill and are such a loving ward. Every ward I go to, people seem to know another Elder Steenblik from the past.  Some of their parents were baptized by Steenblik’s, and there are a lot of people who got their patriarchal blessings from an Elder Steenblik way back in the day.  They were all happy to welcome a new Elder Steenblik to the ward.

And once again, they speak a different language here.  Every time I get transferred somewhere, they talk completely differently than the other people! Haha!! So now I have to learn the language again. Greeeat!!!!!!

I am super pumped for this transfer in Hengelo.  It is going to be fantastic!!

Ya’ll take care now.

                                           -Elder Steenblik

Monday, March 2, 2015

12th and last letter from Lelystad, Nederland -- Week 36

Hoi Hoi,

We started this week out with Zone Conference on Tuesday and it was awesome! No bomb threats on the way there this time, so we actually showed up on time.  I got to see a lot of my friends that I haven’t seen in a while.  President and Sister Robinson spoke and then the AP's did a training.  After lunch, we got to watch “Meet the Mormons” and it was super good.  It sure made me want some College Football, that’s for sure.

On Thursday, I was on an exchange with Elder James Bernier.  (He’s the missionary that lives in Tyler and Becky’s ward back home.)  Elder Alston and I headed up to The Hauge to meet with them.  The 4 of us ate lunch together and then Bernier and I returned to Lelystad.  It was a huge mess! For whatever reason, all of the trains were messed up, so what should have been an hour ride took 4 hours.  I’m not exactly the biggest fan of public transportation! After all of that, we had a great day together.  Elder Alston had to go to Belgium on Friday, so I spent the day working in Almere with Elder Brown.  I love going on exchanges with the other missionaries.  I always learn a lot from them and it is a nice change up every now and then.

On Friday night, I met back up with Elder Alston and we took the train to Leiden for a devotional.  There is a group of 4 Elders here who have formed a little singing group and they go around the mission and put on devotionals.  They were amazing! The spirit was super strong and the people loved it.

We taught a new guy this week named Tico! He is from a small Island in who knows where.  When we got to his street, you could just hear gangsta thug rap blastin’! We were down the street and you could still hear it.  He was bumpin’, but he turned the music down and let us in.  He has 3 of the biggest dogs I have ever seen in my life! I’m pretty sure they were the same kind of dog as "The Beast" in “The Sandlot.”  One of them was eating a bone the size of a chicken!  Aside from all of that going on around us, we were able to have a good lesson with him.  We talked about the Book of Mormon and he said that he was interested in getting lessons from us, so we are going to start teaching him every week!

Our hot water was fixed, but at the end of the week it broke again! We are tired of boiling all that water to fill the bath tub and the gym is closed on Saturday and Sunday, so we just went for it.  We showered in the fresh glacier water! Both of us were just screaming and squealing when it was our turn because of how cold it was! I’m sure the neighbors aren’t our biggest fans.

On Sunday, we were able to pick Leny up and ride to church together.  It was her first time back to church in 6 years and she had a great time.  The branch did an amazing job of making her feel welcome.

We were also able to have a lesson with Rebeckah on Sunday.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation.  She is Baptist and had some different beliefs, but was super open to talk about it.  She had read what we assigned her in the Book of Mormon last time, so we gave her another chapter to read about the Plan of Salvation.  She’s excited to read it and is doing great!

I am getting transferred on Wednesday! I will be heading up to the city of Hengelo to serve with Elder Jordan Frisby.  I don’t know anything about it other than it has an amazing ward.  I am super excited! Now I get the joy of packing all my stuff up today and tomorrow.  Serving in Lelystad has been amazing! I have learned so much here and have had a blast.  I am super sad to leave all of the people that we work with and the amazing branch, but I’m sure Hengelo will be just as great!

 Tot ziens!

     -Elder Steenblik

Elder Jordan Frisby (on the right) will become Ben's companion on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.  They will serve together in Hengelo, Netherlands.