Monday, January 30, 2012

tears filled his eyes

I'm doing so well!

We have a baptismal date! We love teaching her. She's amazing! She works on Sundays but she was the one that commented that perhaps she needs to find new work so she can go to church and be baptized. She’s so great! She was a referral from a member. She’s a single mom. She’s amazing!

We’re so grateful for our members! They are amazing. They help us so much. We had an activity on Saturday. We watched The Testaments. (Such a good movie! I love it!) Our members were so helpful in pulling it all together. We had hot chocolate and popcorn. Hermana Clayton and I made it ourselves. The way we do at home, from scratch. It was so fun and everyone loved it.

We also picked up a new investigator who accepted the baptismal invitation just not a date. He feels he needs more time to know, learn and understand before he can commit to a date. Which is good that he realizes the importance of that covenant. Our lesson with him was so good. As we taught him the Spirit helped us answer his questions and concerns. And when we recited the First Vision tears filled his eyes. He knows it's true and I love it when people have such faith and recognize the Spirit.

This afternoon we're going to Bodega Bay with the elders in our district and two members. One of them being a recent convert as of Saturday! We’re pretty excited. I’ll probably make some cairns and take pictures. :)

So the quote Andrea sent I just made my Facebook status :) Wish you could see it!
The quote is:
“When in the pursuit of happiness
one should stop, and just be happy...”

We haven't had any rain this week. I still can't believe that it's the end of January and it's been warm enough that I don't need a jacket during the day. At night yes, but not when we're tracting from 3-4:30.

Well time's up!
I love you tons!
Hermana Stephenson

Friday, January 27, 2012

It’s an amazing work and it is glorious!!!

Okay, so Hermana Clayton and I realized that the 18th was our "mission birthday" so we added up how many months we'd been out. We had to do the math multiple times before we got it into our heads that we hit our 8-month mark. So when you wrote that we're 3 weeks away from our halfway mark we about died. Hermana Clayton’s words are, "I'm having a mid-life crisis."

We email here at the church in the family history center and so do the elders. So we end up distracting each other and telling funny stories and basically reading our emails from family to each other.

I'm excited the kids are using planners. I’m sure the elders can help you know how to use them. :) We live off our planners.

I’m excited to receive a package. We haven't had mail for the past week or two. You should also be receiving a package. I sent it last week but they said it would take a week to get there because I didn’t' use a priority mailbox. Oh well. It’s what I had.

This week has been so good. We’ve had so many great experiences. We’ve found some people who are so prepared by the lord to receive the gospel message. We found a couple, rather, they found us. They called us wanting English classes, we ended up teaching them about the plan of salvation and the family proclamation. They aren't married yet. But they want to start their family off right. They want to learn English so they can help their future children and they want to do what's right. We are so excited to teach them and help them prepare for baptism. We talked with them about temples. The man has been to Temple Square. He was in Salt Lake for 15 days and he said that every day he went to Temple Square. How cool!!! So as we told them about temples and eternal families they expressed their desires to have an eternal family. And without us saying anything they expressed and understood that they need to do things to prepare and it is by small steps and small things first. They understood that it 's kind of like a ladder. They first need to be baptized and continue on the path before they are worthy and ready to enter the temple. It was so cool!

There are so many stories from this week. :) Its’ been amazing as I’ve felt the Spirit guide me and help these children of the Lord that we're teaching, and with everyone we come in contact with. I love learning more about the gospel and more about myself each day. We are helping so many of our members prepare to enter the temple. I’m amazed at how many of them have not been through yet. They are all excited and I’m grateful to be here to help them prepare for that and enter into those covenants with the Lord.

It’s an amazing work and it is glorious!!! I love it!

I love you!!! I hope you have a great week and get more snow. We are happy the sun is shining today. It’s been raining since Thursday. But it's been good. We haven't had rain in months. I’m grateful for my boots. Or in Spanish, "mi botas" :)
Hermana Stephenson
until next time

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I love bearing my testimony on the street.

I'm so excited that G's Eagle project is done!! I'm excited to see pictures.

I did get Janet’s letter. I’m so grateful for the elders that they are taking care of her. I was worried about her. I can rest at ease because I know she's in good hands. :)

Something Hermana Clayton and I have been kind of joking about this week is being filled/full. There’s a saying in Spanish that says, "estoy llena, como la ballena." it means; "I’m full, like the whale." It’s a funny saying that makes us smile but it also has made me think about the gospel. We need to be filled with the Spirit. It's something I’ve been working on this week, to be filled with the Spirit and the work of the Lord. I’m learning to give my all to the work of the Lord and give all my heart, might, mind and strength to his work and his children. It’s tough, but so worth it!

I'm in a branch now. I love it! The members are great! We’re helping one sister return to the temple. We’re teaching the husband of another and finding those prepared to receive the gospel message. We don't have any baptismal dates but there are a couple potentials. We’re working hard on bringing the branch together and to be more unified.

Oh, I didn't have to play the piano yesterday. The Relief Society president came back from Mexico so she did it. Yeah!, because I didn't have any time to practice this week.

I went on exchanges on Saturday with Sister Charles to Petaluma. She’s so full of energy and I learned so much from her. She came out the same time I did. We had some excellent lessons and the Spirit was pretty powerful in a couple.

We had zone conference on Tuesday and I learned so much! Something I’m working on is teaching whenever we get the chance. We teach in contacting, in tracting, and of course in lessons. It’s been pretty powerful and neat. I love bearing my testimony on the street. As a district we have a goal to contact 10 people each day. It really stretches you and we've found some good referrals for the elders.

How is studying Preach My Gospel going? I love studying it! I learn so much that I have to keep a list and it's getting pretty long! Besides the Book of Mormon, it's become my favorite book.

I hope you all have a great week. It’s going to be a great week here. We have lots planned! It’s hard work, but we love it and it is so worth it. I love the work of the Lord and I love my mission.

I love you dad. You’re the best father ever!
I love you mom. You’re the best mother ever!
I love you Andrea, Grant, Lydia, and Nancy. You're the best siblings ever!
I haven't heard from Andrea yet. Oh well. She’s a busy college girl :)
Have a good p-day! :)
Love you!
Hermana Stephenson

P.S. I'll be getting a package out tomorrow. The post office is closed due to the holiday. (We completely forgot about the holiday!) We would love more homemade granola bars?! But only if you have the time and means. It’s not a need, just something that we love and would enjoy.

I was asked to play the piano in Sacrament meeting.

This week has been amazing with Hermana Clayton!!! Our Spanish has improved. It’s so cool to see how we've improved both in Spanish and in missionary skills. We’re loving every day together. We’re really hoping that we’re together again next transfer so we can be together for our half way mark. We’ve worked hard and had some neat experiences. We had a 20 minute conversation with a man on the street about the Book of Mormon and the church. We referred him to the elders. They should have a fun time with him. He’s pretty liberal.

Being in a Spanish branch again is so fun! I love the members and the members are great. It was an exciting first day in the branch. I was asked to play the piano in Sacrament meeting. AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I only played the right hand and choose easy hymns. It was kind of fun. That is after the shock of it all and the nerves settling back down. I’ll be practicing this week so I can be better prepared. It’ll be fun!!! :) The whole time I was playing I was thinking about you, dad. And you saying that I should practice because I’ll have to use it at some point. I was laughing last night about it. :)

I’m so happy to hear Andrea is doing so well. Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is the need to continually progress. It’s when we don't seek to improve that we fall and become weak. I’ve found I’m happiest when I’m working on something.

I’m excited to receive your notes. I just finished my study journal so I’ll be sending that home soon. Along with a couple other things. I didn’t get the chance to go through my things as well as I’d hoped before transfers. I’m so excited to get my Zig pen!!

We’re emailing at the family history center today and the district leaders are here too. We’ve been getting distracted. They’re really fun elders. They’re more like our older brothers than our younger ones. Which is really nice. My district leader is Elder Elison. His companion is Elder Russell. They’re both from the Washington/Oregon area. Then the other companionship is Elder Ram (from Fiji, he speaks Fijian and Hindi) and Elder Verdugo (from Spain, born in Argentina, lived in Arizona since he was 14) they're all cool. We’re having fun speaking Spanish with Elder Verdugo.

Oh! Tomorrow is Zone Conference in Napa. We’re pretty excited. A member that is preparing to serve a mission will be joining us. I haven't actually met her yet so it will be a great day tomorrow with her and seeing other missionaries.

I cannot believe Grant is going to be 18!!!!! How did that happen?! He’ll be going on a mission in a year! How crazy! I hope his eagle project gets finished quickly. What are the plans for his birthday? Anything exciting? How cool that he'll have his first green birthday. Mine will certainly be green :)

Oh, I saw pictures if the Laconia elders online. If you go to the ward directory my picture and their pictures are online. It’s pretty cool!

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let me know if there's anything I can do for you. Sorry I haven't been good at writing letters. Just remember I love you and we'll be together again sooner than you think.
Hermana Whitney

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Saying goodbye to people in Vacaville was hard.

Hi! I'm being transferred and don't have much time. I'll be in Rohnert Park with.... Hermana Clayton!!!! I'm so excited to be with her again!! Rohnert Park is kind of a suburb of Santa Rosa. I actually went on exchanges there once when I was in Santa Rosa. So I had a sneak peek and am excited to serve there. It’s a Spanish branch that is pretty good size. I’m excited to attend Spanish church again. My Spanish will improve even more.

It’s been crazy covering two areas with Hermana Robinson and Sister Orrock. We’ve had so much fun and met some interesting people.

Saying goodbye to people in Vacaville was hard. One of our group leaders told his wife to give me a hug for him. I noticed his eyes were teary as I hugged her. I’m so grateful for the love and support of all those that I have come to know and love. I can't wait for you all to meet the people I have come to love and to see where it is that I worked.

I love Sister Monson!!! I’m so glad we had Christmas with them. They are some of the people I want you to meet.

I was sick on Sunday. I slept for two and a half hours after church. I felt bad because it meant the sisters were stuck inside all day. I’m not 100 percent but I’m getting better. My head hurts, but otherwise I’m fine.

California is beautiful. It hasn't rained but once. It’s pretty dry. My hands are so dry.

This past transfer has been amazing. I can't believe it's already over. I’ve grown in many ways and have learned so much. I try and keep up my journal but most days there's so much that happens that it's impossible to write everything. So I have to prioritize and make every minute count. It’s funny but even within the past week I’ve come to love writing in my journal even more. I love that time that I have to reflect upon the day and remember what I’ve learned and the miracles I saw.

I love you and am so grateful for your love and support.
Hermana Whitney

She has been a great blessing to our ward. [From a sister whom houses the missionaries]

Hello, I snapped this picture this morning as Hermana Stephenson was leaving. She has more baggage than when she came out, doesn’t she? It has been wonderful having her with us. She was ill last Sunday but is better now. It was a flu/cold thing.

She has been a great blessing to our ward. We’re hoping she meets our son when he finishes his mission. He is serving in the Kennewick, WA mission until next Christmas. I hated to see her get transferred but that’s the way it works.

Thank you for raising such a sweet, kind, loving, righteous daughter.
Love, Joanne Monson

We were ... practically skipping because of ... the joy of the season. [From 26 DEC 11]

It was sooooo good to hear your voices yesterday!!! It was the best gift to receive. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

The rest of my day was really good. Dinner with the Nichols family was good and then the evening with the Beauchaumps with the entire zone was the best! They have five children, ranging from 4 to 13. They are all so fun and energetic. The smallest one reminds me of Olivia Flanders. And their middle daughter reminds me of Nancy when she was eight. I could have hugged her all day. I hugged her for a long time at church and then many times at their house. It felt like a real Christmas with young children showing us all their gifts and being so excited about Christmas and having missionaries over.

This morning we're having a zone brunch at the stake center. We’re bringing all our goodies and sharing. It should be fun and crazy. When we get together we go a little nuts. It’s fun just being together as missionaries and friends. There’s always some joke going around and all the elders enjoy telling us about their little pranks and funny things they do to each other.

I don't really know what to say since we just talked yesterday. There was frost on the ground this morning. But now it's up to 40-45 degrees.

Thank you for all the gifts. I’m so excited to use them all. Actually I started coloring the book last night at the Beauchaumps. The socks are so comfy and warm. My feet are, as always, freezing. The hot chocolate is coming in handy in the mornings and evenings.

Give my love to everyone. I can't believe that I’ll be home this time next year!

I’ll hopefully be sending home the tree today and all the bags and such. I loved having all the Christmas decorations. It made our little room feel Christmas-y and homey.

The whole Christmas season was amazing! We were walking down the streets and practically skipping because of joy and the joy of the season. It was so fun to call out "Merry Christmas" to everyone.

I LOVE YOU TONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All right I'm signing off. Remember I love you for always and forever. You’re my heaven and whom I want to be with for eternity.
Have fun today!!!!
Hermana Whitney
tata for now