A nun who has spent more than 20 years travelling to every continent except Australia and Antarctica stopped in Smithers earlier this month.
Sister Eva Maria became a nun in 1971 after a tragic accident involving her brother’s family being killed in a carbon monoxide leak.
In the 1990s, she began travelling the world and spreading the word of God across the globe, with the organization she worked for paying for her flights and expenses so she could spread the church’s message.
Smithers resident Brigitte Kloosterman first met Sister Eva Maria when she was volunteering with the Salvation Army near Nuremberg between 2010 and 2017.
She said the two struck up a friendship quite quickly.
“She had come to us a few times so I’d seen her presentations and they’re really very nice, very good and very encouraging,” said Kloosterman.
In 2017, however, Kloosterman left Nuremberg, eventually returning to Smithers in January 2018.
But not before making a commitment to Maria.
“When she heard that I was moving to Canada she said ‘I’d like to come to visit you’ [and] I said ‘well, I’ll see that you can also have a little presentation here’.”
Kloosterman did just that, arranging a date with her pastor at the Smithers Evangelical Free Church (SEFC).
And while it took a while to iron out the details, eventually a plan was made for Maria to come to Smithers in early September 2019.
Maria said the friendship the two struck up was something special.
“We clicked right away when we first met in Germany … with some people you just click right away and become friends and that’s what it was like for me [and Brigitte],” she said, with Kloosterman translating her answer from German to English.
Discussing her life before she was a nun she noted she worked in graphic design and was not overly religious in any way.
However after the tragedy involving her brother’s family, she said there was a moment where she saw a vision of a church she recognized and heard a voice tell her she needed to go to it and become a nun.
She initially ignored the voice, but after a health scare mere weeks later, which she felt could not be coincidence, she joined the church she saw in the vision.
“When I [heard] this voice I thought this is my chance, I have to take this chance,” said Maria.
“We have these opportunities in life and either choose to take them or not. Life is limited, and the opportunity to recognize God is limited.”
She said her favourite part about her work is she gets to travel the world and see so many diverse, unique cultures.
She said it’s also exciting when she meets other believers in other countries and that it’s always an incredible feeling to get through to someone and get them interested in learning more about Christianity, especially if the country is not majority Christian.
Kloosterman said she hopes to be able to go back to Germany one day to spend some more time with Maria, adding there are a number of other families from her time working with the Salvation Army there who she misses.
The event, held at SEFC on Sept. 9 was centred around Sister Maria telling stories about her adventures and sharing some photos she has taken along her journey.
But for Kloosterman, it was also a chance to reconnect with an old friend.
“She’s just a person with lots of love and joy — just a very encouraging person.”