Sunday, August 18, 2013

♪♫ Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel ♫♪

(excerpts from letters sent on July 9 & 16, 2013)

Well, to tell you the truth, the title of this post has become our theme song as of late - and for many reasons.  Yes, missionary work is just that - work!  Lots of studying and scheduling and studying and teaching and meetings and studying and appointments and well, studying!  But the past while we also have had the opportunity to really give our blood, sweat and tears per say to serve others.  The missionaries in our Zone helped the people of High River on July 3rd, 4th and 11th and the people in the Siksika Nation Reserve on July 15th.  What an experience!
It's one thing to see reports on the news, the pictures, and hear the stories, but overall, you don't realize just how devastating it is till you are there. It is literally a war zone! We would drive in with our Mormon Helping Hands shirts and vests and in some places would get rounds of applause as we came in from neighborhoods, we would have people waving and smiling - our mere presence uplifted and brought hope and comfort to so many. I wished that I could multiply myself so as to help to every single person who really needed it. Even if it was to just give them a hug and to tell them that everything was going to be okay. It broke my heart - it really did.
In the days we were out in High River alone, our Zone combined helped with 5 houses - one of them was the missionaries residence. Everything was destroyed! The water had gone up to the ceiling and therefore the insulation all came down and destroyed even more furniture and such. Their basement dwelling was filled with water, mud and the sewer pipes burst, so it was also filled with poo! By the end of it, I was literally covered from head to foot with the stuff. The missionaries' suitcases, suits, journals, scriptures, etc., were all destroyed! What broke our hearts even more, was when Sister Martin picked up one of the journals, and the place it was opened to, where the first sentence said, "It's been another rough week." What a way to start off a clean up such as this!

The High River missionaries residence with all their lovely "stuff"

At one of the other homes we cleaned, this lovely lady was such an example to me. We brought up so much of her stuff that was destroyed and she would crack jokes about how before moving in, her husband and her had down-sized but how apparently they needed to down-size more. She was so strong and so good about the whole thing, as well as extremely appreciative of our good hearts and efforts to serve her.

Me with "Mickey", a kind woman whose home we cleaned out for her.  She gave me this hat in appreciation!

So back to "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel" - when my Zone and myself were cleaning out one of the homes in High River, the missionary residence to be exact, we all broke out singing that hymn! And then we started on some other hymns followed by Hakuna Matata from The Lion King and See the Light from Tangled (because we had been working in the dark for the most part until one of the owners got a generator going for some light bulbs he had strung throughout our area - gotta love it!)

Me and Sister Martin, my companion, cleaning at another house in High River

I can tell you this much, the whole way home, I have never been so quiet. I learned so much in helping these people who my heart aches and reaches out to. I learned of the value of what really matters most. Of where to place my true treasures and it's value. And the incredible importance of not only serving our fellow brothers and sisters at all times, but serving them with a loving, open, willing heart. It really is so vital! I'm so glad I got to help out and that I have the chance to continue to do so with my Zone.
I gain a stronger and more firm testimony everyday of the truthfulness of this Gospel.  I love my Savior and Father in Heaven and the fact that Christ's atonement is not just for sin but for lifting any burden that we may bear.  I love all of you and I love the fact that I am out here - it has and I know it will continue to make and shape me!

All my love again and God bless and be with you all till we meet again!
Sister Stephanie Blommaert

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Canada Calgary Mission, presenting............. Sister Blommaert!!! :)

Yes!  I am back in the land of the Great White North!  (not so white right now and I'm sure glad for that!)  So happy to be back in my home country and ready to serve the people of the Canada Calgary Mission!

It has been a busy 3 weeks since I have arrived.  So first off, my first meeting with President Nicholas was great!  He is such a sweet, funny man whom I love, adore and respect greatly.  The moment he asked to see me he put his arm around me and said, "So, you are from Edmonton and called to does that make you feel Sister Blommaert?"  I told him that I was proud to serve in not only my home country but my home province too and that I'm ready to go!!  He smiled, laughed and said he had confidence in me and that I would fulfill the purpose of my being here, he had no doubt.  His wife is a sweetheart! She reminds me so much of my Grandma Shields.  She is a loving, incredible woman.
Me with President and Sister Nicholas

 My first assignment has brought me to the wonderful Chestermere Ward, of the Calgary East Stake, located on the eastern border of the City of Calgary.  My area covers a small eastern chunk of Calgary, Langdon and Chestermere.  It is a beautiful little town, well actually small city sized (15,000 people) that is situated on a lake and, oh yeah, the ward is great!!  More about that later......

My new companion's name is Sister Martin and she is from Highland, Utah.  She has been out for about 3 months now.  She has a bright personality, is super sweet, has a great knowledge and testimony of the gospel and connects well with the members and those we teach.

Here is a picture of her and I on our first day together along with some of the Airdrie sisters, Sister Lamont and Sister Mortensen (she was in the MTC with me!)

Sisters Mortensen and Lamont and my companion, Sister Martin and me!

So back to Chestermere Ward.  The members are super sweet - there are a lot of older couples that love to talk with us and give us advice in helping the missionary efforts move forward.  There are also lots of great families with young children and older kids too that are excited to serve missions when their time comes.
Our apartment is on the top floor of our building and it's actually quite nice.  We have our bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, living room/exercise area, study room and dining/kitchen area with a balcony.  It's one of the nicer apartments in the mission so we are kinda spoiled! :D
We have 5 investigators currently:  a wonderful single mom with 2 small boys, a single young woman, a middle aged single man, and a young couple with a young daughter.  They are all so awesome and have open hearts to listen to our teachings.  They are all at different stages of learning and testimony growth but excitingly enough, our young couple will hopefully be able to be baptized soon!

Twin girls of a family in the ward who are aspiring to be future "sister" missionaries!   Aren't they cute???

 So you all are probably wondering how we faired during all the rainstorms and the flooding in Southern Alberta.  Rest assured we are safe and sound!  We obviously have been stuck in this crazy rainy weather for awhile!  We sure have had our fill of it but thanks to hot cocoa we have gotten by on those rain soaked days.
The day of the flooding in Calgary we had permission to go teach some investigators at their shop in the south end of Calgary.  Since we do not have a computer, radio or TV, we had no way of knowing what was happening to our fair city and southern Alberta.  It is kinda funny and makes you think about how the Lord works sometimes and is watching out for us.  We were just about to leave for our appointment when some of the elders in our district called and asked us our plans for the day.  We told them where we were going and they were quiet and then told us what was happening with the flooding and all.  We rushed to a member's home and they showed us some pictures on the internet and we saw some of the TV news reports.  We were shocked beyond belief about what was taking place.  We went back home and called our investigators and found out they were ok.  We then had a companionship prayer for all those in harm's way.
I can report that all the other missionaries that were affected are safe and sound;  staying with members or at the mission home.  We have all been organized in helping the flood victims in a variety of ways.  I'll report more on that in my next post.  One thing our Ward Relief Society sisters did was make over 1,000 sandwiches and food stuffs for those in need and for the volunteers working non-stop to help.  It warms and uplifts my heart to see the true kindness of humanity towards those around them who are in need.  I am so ready and willing to help do anything to get this city back on it's feet and to reach out to my fellow brothers and sisters in dire need at this time.  I know that this will definitely provide more missionary opportunities for all of us as a mission.

Thanks again to everyone who has sent me letters and emails.  I LOVE receiving them!!  And I will write back too (it might take a bit of time, but I will write back!)  I strive to be sincerely happy everyday, but it is so easy when you love the people, you love your companion, and you love the work.  I can't help but BE happy!  :)

God bless and be with you until we meet again!  Oh, and HAPPY CANADA DAY!!

Love always,
Sister Stephanie Blommaert

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Greetings from the MTC!!
(exerpts from letters sent May 25th and June 1st, 2013)

Hello!!  It's the one and only Sister Blommaert here and I can't tell you how awesome it is to be here at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in beautiful Provo, Utah!!  I want to let you all know that all is well in Zion, as this place is indeed a sacred, dedicated place of love, learning and growth - immense growth!  On the down side, I only have 30 minutes computer time to read and send emails each week!  Definitely not enough time for me to describe all that I am learning and experiencing at this wonderful place but I will do my best!

Entering the MTC on May 22nd with my "host" sister
Looking back at who I was even a short time ago to who I am now is mind-blowing and extremely inspiring.
I LOVE my companion!  Her name is Sister Amy Lanham from Layton, Utah and she is such a sweet, reverent ray of sunshine!  She has a quiet disposition with a heart full of love and kindness.  She inspires and uplifts me time and time again, and to be honest, I couldn't have asked for a better companion.  We do everything together, not just because we have to, but again, because of our great love for each other, for the work, for the people we teach and especially for our Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Me, my companion, Sister Lanham and her monkey, Romeo!
I also have a great District consisting of 6 sisters and 4 elders.  All of our learning and class time is spent together.  Some of them like to bug me about being Canadian, although there is also another missionary, Elder MacMichael, who is from Nova Scotia.  They don't bug him as much as me since he attended BYU in Provo for a year before his mission so they figure he's already been "Americanized" a bit so they like to poke fun at me when I say things differently or whatever but they are really funny and nice about it. We are all pretty musically inclined and our district theme song here has become, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives".  We have such a unity and spiritual strength when we sing that hymn and many other hymns for that matter.  Our Elders are awesome and provide service to all of us by giving blessings of reassurance and comfort.  I love my district!

MTC District Sisters: Sister Matangi, Sister Hansen, Sister Lanham, me, Sister Butler, Sister Stukie
MTC District Elders:  Elder Tolman, Elder Rasher, Elder MacMichael, Elder Condie
One thing that I have learned that I have truly taken to heart is that if you give yourself entirely to the Lord and have full trust in Him, the Spirit is who truly inspires and guides the lesson, for without the Spirit we cannot teach nor succeed overall.  Again, I am so grateful that I am here (if only for two short weeks!) but I also can't wait to be back on my Canadian turf so as to get to work and to also learn and grow and touch who the Lord would have me come in contact with.

Thank you to Yara Nasif, Tanya White, Stephanie Smith, Mitchell Chalifoux and my wonderful family (thus far!) for your sweet letters of love and encouragement.  They are pure gold!

Next time I post will be in the wonderful mission field of the Canada Calgary Mission!  I can't wait!  Love to you all and God bless!

Sister Blommaert :)