Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just 3 1/2 transfers left. Yikes!

I'm doing really well.

We had another baptism yesterday, and Juan from last week was confirmed. Fernando thanked us for helping him and for all we did. He was so happy. The branch is growing and it's great to see! In a year there will be three more Melchizedek priesthood holders. It’s great to be a part of the growth of a branch. Last night as I thought about the recent converts and the less active members returning and all those we are teaching I could see a vision of the branch being a ward one day soon and being a strength to the stake and the other branches in the area. I’m so grateful to be a part of its beginnings and real growth.

We had interviews with president on Friday and he asked me when I wanted to go home. I explained to him that I had been thinking about it a little but hadn't prayed about it. So I’ve prayed about it and I told him October. So my release date is the end of October. I think the 22 or 23. Around there. 5 months away. Just 3 1/2 transfers left. Yikes! Crazy!

Thanks so much for the package! We really appreciate it. I love mom's scripture notes. I shared them with Hermana Garo on exchanges; she really appreciated them as well. It was what both of us needed. We both have carrots drawn by Alma 62:41 now. I also loved the notes and photo album. It made me cry and laugh all at the same time. I realized just how much I love each and every one of you and that life would just not be as joyful and fun without you.

All the elders are excited to share the goodies. Actually, the sweet bread I already ate. Well, actually Elder Mahrt who is gluten free ate it. He was at our district meeting and everyone was eating the taffy (We loved them!) anyway I mentioned to Elder Mahrt that I had a gluten free loaf of bread and his eyes lit up. Being gluten and lactose free is rough on the mission so I had pity on him and gave him the entire loaf. He shared some with me. It was really good! He was so happy!

I told the elders about the tennis balls and Elder Phipps first question was, "Have you opened them yet?" I told him no. He then asked, "Can I smell them when you do?" It reminded me of Grampa French holding a new baseball up to Grant's nose when he was a baby. I just had to laugh!

As for seeing a Lyme doctor, maybe, I may just need a checkup. I think right now, my health is being held up by angels and miracles. I’m taking my vitamins every day and getting the rest I need. I’m also staying away from dairy and meat when I can. Although it's hard when that's 50 % or more of what your given at dinners. So the Lord is definitely taking care of me.

I’m so excited to be home for your 25th anniversary!!! I threw my arms up like a touchdown happened when I read that. :) We'll have to do something special. Like maybe go to Arizona and California. A mission tour! Maybe include Brazil in there. ;) Maybe not. Probably just be together at home and enjoy each other’s company. Play games and laugh at each other’s jokes that aren't so funny. So fun! I’m excited!

I missed camping with you. Grant - Does the boomerang work? Lydia & Nancy - Good job girls for making fires. Elder Cannell is impressed.

FHE at Muir Beach Monday night was so fun! We came home smelling like campfire and the ocean. (Interesting combination.) It reminded me of camping. The FHE was really fun! Lots of people came. The one downer is that the road to get there is really windy and up and down. I had been dealing with dizziness all day and so the car ride was NOT fun. I thought I was going to throw up! For real. I focused on my breathing and did my best to not think about how sick I felt. The ride back wasn't so bad but still pretty bad. But other than that it was great!

I love you so much!!!!
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I say that every week but it never gets old.

I saw the eclipse yesterday! I’m doing really well. My headaches are getting a little worse, but otherwise I’m fine.

We had Zone Conference on Wednesday and it was amazing! My goal from it is to just be happy. No matter what happens. So I’ve been praying to be happy and it's been working. I’ve been so much more lighthearted and just happy.

Oh, last night the Zone got together with the Stake President and had a “get to know you” activity using Jenga. Each piece had a number on it with a corresponding “get to know you” question. It was pretty fun! We got all the way around and back to President Gibson before it fell, so 20 missionaries. We were impressed.

For my year mark we had a baptismal interview. Which is pretty cool otherwise it was just a regular day.

Yesterday we had a baptism and have another one scheduled for next week. We’ve had some good lessons and good contacts. I love seeing how the Lord has prepared his children to receive the gospel. I feel like I say that every week but it never gets old.

Tonight the Branch is going to Muir Beach for FHE. We’re pretty excited. It should be lots of fun.

I love how the Spirit can teach us as we are reading the scriptures and words of latter-day prophets. At Zone Conference I learned some things that weren’t even talked about. It’s as we are doing the things that the Lord has asked us to do that we receive direction and guidance. We receive peace and joy, but only as we search for it. The Spirit is amazing!

I love you all!!!
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

I loved hearing all your voices! [phone call on Mother's Day]

This past week we made it a goal to talk with everyone and we saw miracles. People who I thought might not be very interested were prepared by the Lord to hear and receive the gospel, one being Miguel. We contacted him, as we were going to tract. We just started talking with him and specifically about the Restoration. He told us he felt our meeting was God reaching out to him. He said he needs some direction in life and feels that the Book of Mormon is true. We invited him to be baptized for June 10th right there on the street. He accepted. We’re pretty excited! And others that we contacted we've begun teaching and others we sent as referrals to the elders. It’s amazing to see miracles every day and be so close to the gathering of Israel. I love being a missionary!!!!

We found this mat the other day while tracting. I thought it was pretty funny.

All the other elders just got here so now we're sharing stories from calling our families. They’re all so funny and excited to share stories.

This morning we helped Hermana Alma clean her car while our laundry was in the wash. I have no great plans for today. Just getting to know the new elders. It’s been fun so far.

This picture is from the Mother's Day activity. Katiuska is at the bottom smiling.

I loved hearing all your voices! I can tell how much you've all grown just by what you talked about and how you said things. I cannot believe how much has changed! And to think in 6 months so much more will change. I’m excited to see it all. But just like Grant said in our family prayer I know that I am where the Lord needs me. I miss you all so much but I am happy, filled with joy, because I know I am being obedient to the Lord's call to serve.

I love you so much! Just like you said, I kind of ran out of things to say in the phone call but I felt like I could have talked all day. I’m grateful you're my family.
Hermana Stephenson

Monday, May 7, 2012

I’ve realized that I can actually speak and understand Spanish.

About Mother's Day... I’ll probably call about 2:00 here, so about 5 your time.

Our week was really good. We didn't teach very much but we had good lessons. Two investigators came to church. One young woman is doing really well. We were worried about her for a while but last night we had a lesson and it went really well. It was at our Branch President's house. It was really good! She wants to be baptized, but needs to talk with her parents. I’m so happy to see her progression. I love her and want so much for her to be baptized so she can have the guidance of the Holy Ghost with her.

Oh! About transfers! We’re staying the same. I’ll be with Hermana Osorio for another transfer here in Novato. I’m excited. It’ll be interesting to be with a companion for three transfers, and to be in an area for that long too.

So I went on exchanges in Napa with Hermana Robinson. We had such a good time! It was just for the afternoon but it was really good! We both realize we need to just have more joy and be happy. Not that we aren't happy but to just have more. We also talked about how different it is having a native companion. No one ever looks at you. They always talk to the native, unless they know you and have a good relationship with you. You have to fight to say something or you just get left in the dust. It’s been a challenge for me but I’m getting better. You know me. I’ll just listen and not say anything. So speaking up and teaching has made me grow a lot. I’ve realized that I can actually speak and understand Spanish. Not that I’m perfect at it or understand all the time. But I know the gist.

So every month the branch has a FHE. This past one was really well attended. We had so much fun! We played a couple games like stick pull and another game that I have no idea what it's called. But it has to do with fruit. Maybe I’ll teach you when I come home, if I remember.

We had our last district meeting and at the end Elder Zufelt had us all bear our testimonies. It was very powerful and great to hear the testimonies of the elders in our district. I’m grateful for each one of them and their service. We have some really good elders.

I love you! Talk with you soon!!!!
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Our district last week taught 100 lessons

Transfers are next week. We actually went to Muir woods this morning with a couple from the Novato ward and four elders. It’s a redwood forest and gorgeous! I took pictures. I’m going to try and see if I can send you a picture over email. It was so fun! I’m so glad we were able to go!

We had a great week. Exchanges are going well. This week will be my last week as exchange sister. I’m kind of sad. I enjoy doing them. I love being able to help another sister and her area. I also love learning from the other sisters. They’re all so amazing!
The redwoods were amazing! It’s so peaceful. And I think I saw some lady slippers. They weren't in bloom so I couldn't really tell but I think that's what they were.
Saturday morning we had a Mormon helping hands project. The branch and English ward came together to clean up a park. It was so fun! It felt good to do some outdoors work.

But it still doesn't top what happened yesterday. We had a baptism! Michelle was baptized by her husband. It was a special occasion. The Spirit was strong and I loved it! It was amazing!

It was a great week and I can hardly believe that the transfer is almost over. The family we’ve been teaching, with the mother that was pregnant, had her baby last Monday. He’s so cute! We’ll be seeing them again tonight. We’re hoping to extend the baptismal invitation.

We have a couple other baptisms coming up next month, and many who we want to invite. The work is going really well. Our district last week taught 100 lessons. That’s 5 companionships. We’ll be aiming higher for this week.

That’s amazing that your elders had 11 member present lessons! I remember times in Vacaville when we were happy to have a total of 9 lessons weekly. I suppose Spanish is slightly different than English as well as California and New Hampshire. :)

I got Nancy’s letter and it said Dad's office is closing down. Does that mean he'll be working from home from now on?

Oh! We also went to the temple this passed Thursday. So much has happened this week it's crazy! The temple was amazing! As soon as I sat down in the chapel peace flooded my heart and I didn’t want to leave or move. I have felt so much better ever since then. I can tell when it's been a long time since going to the temple. I love it there!

Also, Friday night I got to see Ceri Christensen!!! I was so excited to see her! I wish I could go to her wedding in July.

This past week we taught 16 lessons. Over the past transfer our average has been 12-15. So we improved a little. Now it's just keeping it that way or going up is the trick.

I haven't seen Rorey. We’re about 45 min from Napa. It’s a different stake. But maybe I’ll be transferred there during June so I can see Jamie and Rorey. How cool would that be?!

No idea as far as transfers. Hermana Osorio will probably be transferred out. She’s been here 3 transfers and I’ve been here for 2. And as for exchange sister, it changes every transfer. Sometimes it doesn’t but usually it does.

The weather has been great! Hot and sunny during the day and then cool at night. In the forest it was chilly. I was grateful Sister Guthery leant me her coat. I loved being outdoors! It reminded me of family trips to go hiking and bird watching and camping. So fun!

I’m going to get off early today. We still have shopping to do and games to play with the elders.

I’m so glad Nancy’s package made it safely! I was worried. The sweater was actually Hermana Anderson’s. She gave it to me and I thought Nancy would like it. I hope she does. I also am so glad she liked the starfish. I thought she might.

I did get your letter on your new paper. I love it! Thank you so much for the scriptures and the thought about putting my shiny on. I’ve been thinking about it. I’m excited for the general conference issue to come out. I’m going to get a copy for myself when I get the chance.

That’s so great that Dad will be working from home. I’m so excited for him!
I hope you have another great week.
I love you! You’re all amazing!
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

helping others develop their own relationship with their loving Heavenly Father [From 23 APR 12]

A little while back someone read this scripture [Ether 12:27,37] and was talking about weaknesses coming from God. They said if you want to blame someone for your weaknesses; blame God because they're from Him. Thanks for forwarding this. I guess I need to apply what she said about Lyme. I need to have that perspective of it helping me be humble. Which is something I’ve been learning recently, the necessity to be humble.

We’re at the library so hopefully the Internet will work quickly and well :)

I’m laughing in the library! Thanks so much for your fun little notes! And yes Parker that did make sense. A couple wrong conjugations but I knew what you were saying. Very good job!

8 missionaries!!!!!!!!! I'm so jealous! We have half a p-day today because we're going to the temple on Thursday. So basically just get done what we need to and it's back to work.

Take pictures of the many missionaries invading the house and the house upside down. I’m not very good at taking pictures. Sorry. I’ll do better.

I’m so happy for Rorey! I’m glad he was able to visit again. And I’m glad I’ll be there for his wedding. I wouldn't want to miss it.

And yes, it made sense about the zone leader and district leader. It’s mission lingo and makes complete sense to me!

You were in the pool?! This week the weather has completely changed. Last week we needed coats and a couple layers, especially at night. And then one day it went up to 80 and hasn't been down until today. Which is overcast and looks like rain. Yet it’s still kind of warm. We’ve had the window open the past two nights. It’s been great!

AHHH! Mom you’re amazing!!!! That is exactly what I learned on my exchange with Hermana Fenn this week. I need to be myself and be okay with being different. My heart is swelling with joy and peace and.... AHHHH! I just want to laugh and twirl around because the Spirit has filled my soul. I'm so happy! A smile filled my face as I read your note.

Transfers are May 7 or 8. Not sure. So 2 weeks left. Not sure what will happen. I’ll probably stay because Hermana Osorio has been here 3 transfers and it’s been only 2 for me. But we'll see. I don't even try to figure out "transfer doctrine," as it's called by missionaries. I’m just grateful it's not my job to figure it out. I can’t imagine trying to figure out where 160 missionaries should be and with whom for the next 6 weeks. Crazy!

I did remember it's Nancy’s birthday. I’m sending her my starfish that I dried. Don’t tell her, but just so you know. She can either leave it the way it is, put it in a show case thing, or paint it. I hope she likes it. I think it's pretty cool! I haven't received your note yet. When did you send it?

So on Wednesday we had leadership training in Santa Rosa. It was amazing! We received instruction from President and Sister Bunker and then the assistants, Elder Vomocil and Elder Mahrt. They talked a lot about our role as leaders in training our missionaries; that they need to feel our love and then they will receive the training well.

Something I realized this past week with district meeting and then with leadership training and my own personal study is that everything we do is about relationships. Think for a moment about the temple. Everything we do within those scared walls is about relationships. Binding us to our Heavenly Father and then us to our spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, etc. and all of the covenants we make before the temple just lead up to that. Our first covenants; baptism and then confirmation are about our personal relationship with our Father in heaven. And then we're sealed as couples and then families.

I was reading the talk by Elder Larry Y Wilson this morning and he talks about teaching children to develop a relationship with deity. That is what, we as missionaries are doing. That’s what everyone should be doing with their homes and callings; helping others develop their own relationship with their loving Heavenly Father. It's amazing! The gospel is truly amazing! I love it!

So this past Wednesday I hit my 11-month mark. Weird. Kind of serial. Then someone asked me yesterday how long I’d been out and they had to mention I only had 6 months left. I just kind of nodded and thought that it can't be. Time just keeps going faster!

At the beginning of this week we were tracting and we found a young man, junior in high school, named Sergio. As we talked with him about the restoration his face lit up and he got excited. He couldn’t help but smile. We too couldn't help but laugh and smile. The joy, true and eternal joy of the gospel filled my heart as we invited him to learn more and then be baptized when he knew the truth for himself. Even before I could finish inviting him to be baptized he was nodding, broadly smiling and saying "Yes!" we were so excited to give him to the elders (he doesn’t speak Spanish so the zone leaders get to teach him). They had a lesson with him and they texted us right after. In their words they said, "He's so legit! He’s getting baptized on May 5th. He’ll be a future missionary one day for sure." How amazing is that?! The Lord has prepared his children and they are just waiting to hear and receive the gospel.
How cool that you've been learning the same thing about relationships! I just can't say enough of how amazing the gospel is! The Lord is so good!

The computer might kick me off sooner than my hour is up so just in case...
I LOVE YOU FOREVER! Thank you for your love and support.
Forever love,
Hermana Stephenson

I will boast in my God forever and I will rejoice in Him. [From 16 APR 12]

The sun is shining and it's gorgeous!!

Boston marathon?!!! Again so soon?

I’m so happy to hear your conference went well. I prayed for you through out the day on Saturday.

Last night our branch had a fireside entitled 'Why I Believe". There were two speakers; converts and they shared their conversion stories and why they believe. Mostly it was members who came but there were two non-members. One of our investigators and the other was the elders'. The Spirit was so strong.
We now have two baptismal dates, Michelle and Javier. Michelle is set for the 29th and Javier the 12th. We might have to change his due to a father / son campout and Mother's Day activity in the evening. We’ll see. He still has to come to church.

I had an exchange in Napa with Hermana Ordonez. I half expected Rorey to pop around some corner and scare me. Didn’t happen but we did have a great day! She’s amazing. I love the way she teaches. She uses visuals. It really helps them learn and then apply what we teach. She also has a paper with all her goals on it. I really liked the idea so I made one too. It has two sections; things to memorize and things to read with two columns for each; one in English and one in Spanish. Just making the chart got me excited. I hadn't done anything creative in a while and I loved it. It reminded me of how much I love doing crafts and being creative. We don’t' have much time to be very creative but I’m going to try and do it more.

So the elders in the branch, Elder Zufelt and Elder Noris, are pretty fun. Elder Noris has lived all over the world. So he has some good stories and adventures to tell. Elder Zufelt is just funny. Last night they gave me a blessing. I have thought to get one for a couple weeks and finally I acted upon that and asked. I’m grateful for the priesthood. I feel so much better! My energy is back and I’m more excited to go out and work. Basically the blessing helped me feel Heavenly Father's love and that he is pleased with me, that he's there helping and guiding me. I love the priesthood!

So this morning I was writing a quick note to a little girl in the branch and I wanted to put a scripture. So I was thinking about it and at this time my heart just feels exactly what Alma says in chapter 26:8, 12, & 16. I will boast in my God forever and I will rejoice in Him. I’m just full of joy and happiness! My joy truly is full! I just want to sing and laugh all day.

I’ve run out of thoughts for today. Just know I’m happy and doing well. I loved getting Grant's note. Thanks for your support and love.
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

they have been prepared [From 9 APR 12]

My first exchange was really good! I was with Hermana McKay in Windsor. This week I’ll go to Napa with Hermana Ordonez. My day with Hermana McKay was really good. I learned so much from her. I felt like I was the new missionary learning from a more experienced missionary. We had some miracles. One being we were able to extend a baptismal date. The lesson was really good and it was just natural to invite her to a baptism. She accepted and the Spirit was very strong.

We also had a few miracles in Novato. Two investigators came to a baptism. One told us afterward that he decided during the baptism he wanted to be baptized. We were so happy for him! He told us that he would pray about a date this week and tell us on Saturday. In his prayer he asked that his baptism would be soon. It was a pretty neat experience.

Our other investigator, Katiuska, is doing so well! I just love her! She’s still in high school and going through a hard time with her family. But she is seriously thinking about baptism. After the baptism we lost her and then found her in the chapel praying. We snuck out and found a room and prayed too. It was a sweet sight to see.
So we had a good week! Many of our investigators are progressing and some of our less-actives. The Lord is so good!

I feel like there's more to tell you but I can't remember.
Oh! The branch went to the temple yesterday and Katiuska and another investigator, Javier went too. We haven't heard anything from them but we're hoping it went really well. Katiuska has told us many times that she wants to go to the temple. She knows what she needs to do to enter and has been thinking about baptism. We’ll be extending a date to her and we're praying she accepts. I just love her! She’s a strong teenager. I hope I’m here for her baptism. Katisuka is from Peru. Interesting name I know. It fits her though. She’s a painter.

Which reminds me. We have a baptism scheduled for the end of the month. Michelle is the wife of a RM. She has been taught before, but this time she's more prepared. In her prayer she expressed that she thinks that all she was waiting for was to be invited to be baptized. She’s excited and we'll be having dinner with them tonight. I’m pretty excited for her as well. Her comment reminded me that all we have to do is invite them. We need to have the faith that they have been prepared by the Lord and they’ll accept the invitation. We have been called to invite others to come unto Christ by receiving the restored gospel and being baptized. It’s such a great calling! I love being a missionary!

I had an interesting experience that I wanted to share. We have two new elders to the branch and it's been interesting getting to know them and working with them. They’re good missionaries. But what is interesting is through all of their questions about what I like to do and what I did before my mission caused me to think. I don't remember what I like to do. Well, that's not completely true. I know I like to cook and sew and play with children. I know I love, more than anything, to be with my family. But besides those basic things I don't remember. What I love doing is missionary work. It has become a part of who I am. I love sharing the gospel! I love bearing my testimony to everyone. It’s amazing how the Lord has changed me! I love it!

Sounds like you had a good Easter. Ours was very different. It didn't even feel like Easter really. Besides Easter talks nothing was different from any other Sunday. I guess they don't celebrate Easter here as much as they do at home. Or maybe it's because I’m a missionary that it was weird.

I really enjoyed the package. I had a few chocolates and brought the rest to church to share with the children after. The gum I had during personal study to keep me awake and focused better. It was kind of fun! I love the little picture! I smile every time I see it. And the cards are the best part of it. I cherished every word.

I keep praying for health too. It’s a hard balance between caring for myself and getting lost in the work.

I hope you don't recognize me when I get back. I hope that I have changed. It feels like I haven't changed at all but I suppose I have in some small way.

I love you!
Forever Love!
Hermana Stephenson

I want to sing praises to my God and my Savior forever. [From 2 APR 12]

I loved Conference! I'm sad it's already over. It seemed to fly by. I took lots of notes. And then this morning I started going over them and writing down my thoughts and goals and impressions. I've only made it half way through my notes. It was so good! I felt the spirit so strongly, especially at the beginning. I didn’t realize Andrea went to conference. That’s pretty cool!

Our teaching pool right now is actually pretty good. We don't have a lot of people but the ones we have are pretty solid. Which means they're either progressing or have true desires to learn. Actually most of those we teach consist of less-actives. We’re helping a few families return and strengthen their testimonies. I have a great love for them. It’s hard to return. It can be a very bumpy road.

We teach around 15, sometimes 20 lessons a week. I don’t know what the elders at home do, but the mission standard is to teach at least 3 lessons daily. We have one baptismal date, but we have to move it because he's not prepared. But we have invited a few others to be baptized and they are praying and thinking about it.

Is Easter really this weekend? I knew it was this month but thought it was later. Hmm. Oh well. What are your plans for Easter? I have no idea what ours are.

We saw some miracles this week. On Thursday we met a number of people prepared by Heavenly Father to hear the gospel message. We also were able to do some service. One of our investigators moved so we helped her clean the apartment she left. We cleaned the walls. It was fun, especially in a skirt. It was kind of a last minute thing after conference on Saturday. At first she wasn't going to let us help because we were "too clean" but we put on gloves and dove in.

I think I may photo copy my notes from conference and my thoughts afterward and send them to you. It would be easier than trying to type them all out here. But I will share one thing. Maybe two. I know you'll be talking about conference for FHE tonight and I want to share what I learned during conference.

I learned, well it was reaffirmed to me in a very powerful way, that families are the most important thing and worthy of our very best efforts. We must remember what we are working for. We must have a vision. We must prioritize. That whatever effort or strength we exert is worth it, as far as families and eternal life are concerned. I love the quote by President Kimball that says, "No success will compensate for failure in the home." I learned so much more but that will have to do for now. From what I learned my goal is to take every opportunity to strengthen and fortify my testimony and build my foundation so that I can be a better servant of the Lord. That I may live a life of service and my life may be filled with love.

As I think back upon what I heard, what I felt, and what the Spirit taught me during conference, I feel my heart swell with gratitude and joy. I want to sing praises to my God and my Savior forever. I am filled with gratitude and love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love them! And I am filled with love and gratitude for you, my family. I have been blessed so much. My heart is full of joy!

Well time's up. Hope you have a great week!
Love you Forever!
Hermana Stephenson

there is power, great power in the Book of Mormon [From 27 MAR 12]

I’m laughing here in the library, the public library. I absolutely loved the notes from you girls. !!!!!!!!!! Sounds like you had a very exciting week, what with winter camping and such. Side note; boys usually smell bad when they've been working hard or having lots of fun. It’s just how they are. After girls camp we smell bad too, but not as much as the guys. I’m glad the girls didn’t freeze Friday night. It’s been raining off and on since Friday. We’ve had some fun trudging through puddles in our boots and tracting in the rain.

As far as coming home. My mission ends in the middle of a transfer. I’ll get the "pink slip" about 3 or 4 months before that day. So I could go home either on October 22nd or December 4th. Technically my 18 month mark is November 18.

Nothing is changing for transfers here in Novato with Hermana Osorio. Yeah! Although I did receive an assignment for this transfer; I'm the exchange sister for three areas. Which means I go on exchanges with the sisters once a week and see how they are doing and their area, etc. It's exactly what the district leader does with his district. Just I’m in charge of six sisters; the Windsor Spanish sisters: McKay and Fenn; Napa sisters: Ordonez and Robinson; and the Rohnert Park sisters: Clayton and Garo. It’s going to be fun! I’m excited and nervous all at once. Also a new Spanish sister area is opening. Well they're replacing elders in Fairfield. Hermana’s Anderson and Rupp will be "whitewashing" into Farifield. So now there are two places that I have not been.

My health is okay. I’ve been fatigued and it’s difficult to wake up in the morning. My head hurts most of the time. I still haven’t called the mission nurse. I just don't like talking with nurses or doctors. Argh. I need to though. I know I do. It’s just the actual doing of it that’s hard, for whatever reason. To help my headaches I have been taking Motrin, which just makes me more tired and my eyes want to close. Also I don’t' want to have to pop pills every day to just lessen the pain unless it's actually healing me.

Mom - all I keep hearing is your voice saying, "It's not a weakness to admit you're weak." You wrote that in one of my letters. When it comes to my health that's so hard for me, don’t know why, it just is. I need to learn to take care of myself. I guess that's what it boils down to. I think I’m not doing a good job right now. Just keep praying for me. I’ll figure it out some time.

You’re right there is power, great power in the Book of Mormon. It brings not only spiritual but physical healing. It’s amazing! We can teach everything from the Book of Mormon, every principle of the gospel. It’s why the prophets tell us to study it daily.

Which reminds me... I’m so excited about conference!

I’ll be sending home a package of some things I’m not using, like my two pairs of heels. It’ll be in the mail today. I find I don’t use them. I'm already almost a foot taller than everyone we teach. :) But I will definitely use them at home.

Last night we had a branch family home evening. It was so much fun! The family just moved in a couple months ago and they don’t have much furniture. In fact they only have four maybe six chairs. So President Mejia brought some from the church. It was well attended and everyone had a great time. One of our investigators came and she really enjoyed it. We had a lesson about the atonement and then some fun games that Hermano Alejandro related to the gospel. He's actually from Brazil! He speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English. He grew up in southern Africa and has lived in some other neat and random places. But some things he did actually reminded me of you, Dad. I’ve met a couple other Brazilians and I’ve realized that either you really are from Brazil or your mission affected you more than I realized. Maybe even you realize. He has very good hosting skills like you. He's friendly and welcoming toward all. Funny. Loves to prepare and present food. He also doesn’t untie his ties (I know because we played a game where we needed ties and he brought them out tied and all ready to put on. Just like you have your ties. There are some other things but it was interesting and comforting to see. And all of that brings me to this point; that we don’t realize just how much our mission impacts us. I don't realize just how much my mission is impacting me and will impact and change me. I could say more but times up.

Hope you have a great week! And I’m happy we'll all be together at conference. Even though we're in California, Idaho and New Hampshire. :)
Hermana Stephenson

we have the choice to be happy [From 19 MAR 12]

We had zone conference on Thursday. It was great as usual! They talked a lot about forming spiritual relationships with the members and with our investigators, but especially with the members. We also discussed this time as the defining point in our lives that we need to decide how we want the mission to change us. As well as choice, that we have the choice to be happy and turn to the Lord. It was so good!! I don't have my notes with me but it was so good!

Also one of our investigators is progressing so well. We stopped by and she said she had read. She has had difficulty reading and praying but the time before we invited her to read and pray daily. She said she is starting to try and she feels good when she does. She said she wants to feel that way all the time. We have yet to explain to her about the Gift of the Holy Ghost because we got distracted with some of her other questions. But I can see the difference in her. Her eyes are livelier and she smiles more easily and frequently. And she came to church without a reminder. The one sad thing is she might be moving. So we're praying hard that she doesn't have to.

Here is a photo of Hermana Osorio and I waiting for our car to be fixed. Here’s the story… As we filled the tires with air we found a nail in one tire. So we called Elder Neuenschwander. He told us where to go the next day to get it fixed because it was too late that day. So we continued on our way. That night we had a member with us and we were stopping by an investigator's house. Hermana Osorio was helping me back up and heard air coming out of the tire. The nail had moved and was letting air out. We tried calling the elders in the area but they didn’t answer. We tried a member that lived nearby; no answer. We were trying to see if we could fix it ourselves when a man walked by and we asked for help. He willingly obliged and got down on the ground. He was very helpful and we were grateful. The spare was put on and we went on. So the next morning we went to the shop and they fixed it for us. So the picture is us studying at the car shop while our car got fixed. It was all very exciting and quite an adventure. :)

So remember I told you about my headaches and stomach aches. Well I finally called the mission nurse and explained all that I was feeling. She told me it was anxiety, that my stomachaches and all the nausea and dizziness is a result of me being anxious about my headaches. So to cure the stomach aches I’ve been eating yogurt every day and telling myself not to worry. Which is far easier said than done. My headaches have not lessened but I’m just telling myself to not worry. Not worry about my health or any other thing that I worry about. I’m telling myself to let it all go. Honestly it's hard. With the headaches it's so hard for me to work and focus. I want so much to give my all to the Lord and the people of Novato and our members. I want so much not to have my mind wander/daydream. This week has been good and tough all at once. Good because I know I’m trying, but rough because I want to give more. Rough because most of the time I struggle with wanting to close my eyes and sleep. It’s only been this past week, well more so this week than others. I’m trying to learn how to take care of myself. To not let the thoughts or comments of others bother me or worry about what they think. So my sleep this week has been okay. Over the past week we haven’t been to bed on time. And the week before it was hard to fall asleep as well as this week. So my energy is down a bit. It’s been a struggle to get up in the morning. I’ve almost fallen asleep in a couple lessons this week. Although I think that was partly because I was taking Motrin for my headache. So it's a balance between having a pounding headache/migraine or heavy eyes and being tired. I think my anxiety came from fears of Lyme coming back. I don’t' want it back and I don't want to get so sick that I have to come home early. It’s such a hard balance.

I am happy though. The members and our investigators make it all worth it. I love seeing their eyes light up when they understand the gospel and the Book of Mormon, when they begin to have a desire to know more and read more, when they begin to delight themselves in the fatness of the gospel; the love of Heavenly Father. I love the little daily miracles. We see so many.

Sorry for spilling all my worries and stress and negative thoughts out. Emails are supposed to be uplifting and positive. Please don’t worry about me. The Lord is helping me. I have people around the world praying for me. And I have the Meinhardt family. I got a little package with St Patrick’s pudding in it with a letter from Sis Meinhardt. I love that family!

Hermana Osorio is great. We have lots of fun and laugh a lot.

I love you. I’m grateful for your love and support. Give everyone; family, friends, elders, ward, stake; my love.
Hermana Stephenson

don't fall into a state of complacency [From 12 MAR 12]

We had such a great week! We didn’t' teach quite as much as in the past but with the Elder Perry conference and a couple other things. It was a great week!

(I do love the watch!!!!!! I really do wear it every day.)

So we are teaching a young guy and he had a baptismal date for the 25th but he felt he wasn't prepared and he was having a hard time understanding why he needed to be baptized again when he was as a child in the Catholic Church. We read Moroni 8 with him and explained that children don’t need baptism. They’re innocent. Baptism is for those that need repentance and children can't even sin so why would they need a remission of sin (baptism)? We also explained that baptism is a choice. We need to choose to follow Christ. We can't have anyone else; make that choice for us, no matter how good their intentions. I won't enter heaven because of the choices of someone else. I'll enter into God's presence because of the things I’ve done and what I’ve become. Agency is central to the plan of God. He will not force us nor can anyone else force us. Baptism is a choice. We explained it all to him in a much better, more loving but bold way and he took it well. Once we were done he looked at us and said, "I want to be baptized." we asked if he felt he could prepare by the 25th or for some time in April. He said he would feel better about April. So now his date is for April 8th. He also expressed to us that he knew he needed to learn more and really wanted to be prepared. So I pulled out a blank teaching record. We showed him everything someone needed to be taught, in order to be prepared for baptism. We showed him what he had already been taught and how much he had left. Also on there are 23 things he needed to do (commitments) before baptism. As we showed him I could tell he felt better about it. He knew that we would help him be prepared to make this sacred covenant. It was a pretty good lesson. We’re excited for him.

We had stake conference this past week. It was sooo good! President Bunker was there. It was fun to see people from Rohnert Park.

Usually I get enough sleep. The past two nights have been rough with the time change and then last night we talked for a while. We had a rough lesson just before. He was a less active member and we were bold with him and he didn't really like it. Basically we told him he needed to do more in order to continue progressing.  It was interesting. Afterward we talked a lot about complacency and the need for continual progression. It’s when we get okay with where we're at and feel as if we don't need anymore that we begin losing the Spirit. It’s like it says in 2 Nephi about the people saying they have a bible and they don't need anymore.

I could go on. Needless to say we didn’t get to sleep on time because we were talking about the lesson and how we can help him progress. Along with how we can make sure we don't fall into a state of complacency.

The beach was amazing! You’ll see photos on the SD card!
Oh! Time’s up.
Love you!!!
Hermana Stephenson