Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm writing President Bunker today. It’s the last one

I'm writing President Bunker today. It’s the last one I’ll send to him. President Alba comes on Friday. We meet him Saturday. It will be good. Different. I'm looking forward to getting to know him and see what happens.

This week has been the best! We are so happy! I haven’t' laughed so much in a long time. It feels really good! Together we're working on many things. I’m so grateful to be with Hermana Garo! Basically all my journal entries have been expressing my gratitude to be with Hermana Garo. We’re sisters. We talk openly about everything. She is helping me do so and I’ve gotten a lot better just in this week.

We’ve had some adventures. :) One is; we were knocking a door and as we walked away she fell. We have no idea how it happened because she didn’t' trip over anything. I was in front of her and heard her make a sound and then the sound of crunching leaves. I turned around and didn’t see her. Then I looked down and saw her on the ground. You know me; I forced myself not to laugh. As I’m writing this I’m laughing. So I can't type well. :D After making sure she was okay and after she started laughing I did  let loose. I could barely walk I was laughing so hard! This was Wednesday. And we’re still rolling with laughter!

That was just the beginning! Other things happened each day that caused us to laugh. Well, just life makes one laugh if you look for what's funny.

I was reminded many times this week of the great desire of Heavenly Father that we are happy and filled with joy. Why should life be boring and not filled with smiles and laughter? We have but one!

We’ve had some neat miracles this week. First is a new investigator. During the lesson tears streamed down her face and she questioned with real sincerity if God knows her and understands what she feels. Joy filled my soul as we testified to her that He does know her. She is his beloved daughter. And that Christ knows all the difficulties of her life. Then the next day she called us just to tell us she'd read what we left in the Book of Mormon. And that by doing so she felt God was there and knew her, that he loves her. Her voice was filled with joy and peace. Where before had been sadness. And all because she read in the Book of Mormon and prayed. How good is the Lord?! His plan is perfect and He is amazing! Can one glory too much in the Lord? I think not. My heart this whole week has felt to sing great songs of joy and happiness and praise.

Oh! Our district consists of Elder Van Gilder, Elder Noris and us. So it's a Spanish District! We’re all very excited about it. Our meeting was in Spanglish. Mostly Spanish with some English thrown in. It was amazing! So fun!

So last night, we got a call at 10:28 from the mission office. Both of us freaked out! Hermana Garo answered. Come to find out it was just an elder calling to let Hermana Garo know she needs to report her numbers for Facebook. We were freaking out. Both of us thought something happened with our families. Nope just a call that could have waited until the morning.

Anyway, my life is great! And I love it!
Glad to hear you had a great week and some family time with everyone. Have another good week!
Love you forever!
Hermana Stephenson

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I am here

We had transfers. I'm now with Hermana Garo in Novato! We are so happy to be together!!! It's going to be a great 6 weeks!

Hermana Garo is from the Dominican Republic. She was with Hermana Anderson in Santa Rosa and Hermana Clayton in Rohnert Park. And yes, I have had a few exchanges with her. She’s the one that I shared the carrot analogy with. She loved it! The last exchange we had was so good! We’re like sisters. It’s going to be a great transfer! We are so excited! We’ve already made some goals and plans. I’m so grateful to be with her. Both of us can hardly believe we're together.

Here are links to new articles about some missionaries in our mission. I know them. So cool! I love it!

Hope you like them. I still haven't read them all the way through.

This past week we had a few miracle lessons. One was with a less active we have been trying to see for 4 months. We saw her a couple times but she was always running out the door. And she lives with some investigators! So we finally found her at just the right time and had a quick lesson with her and got to know her a little. We have another lesson tonight.

Oh! Katiuska didn't get baptized. She decided she wasn’t ready. Half of her wants to but the other half has all these questions and she had some opposition. Lots of people told her she didn’t need to be baptized and they asked if she was really sure about it. She likes to question and think about everything. So she decided not right now. We were sad but we know that she'll be baptized one day, just not then. We’ve been praying hard for her and for inspiration ever since.

Besides transfers and a few miracles finding people ready to receive the gospel it was pretty much a normal week. I love being a missionary. Every day is an adventure and learning experience. Its’ the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding. A hard week becomes amazing in one moment when someone says they know the Book of Mormon is true. When they tell you they've prayed and felt Heavenly Father heard them. When they come to church and love it. When you see their hunger for more knowledge and their desire to know if it's true. I’ve learned so much. I just hope I can remember everything and apply it. If what we taught weren’t true I would have given up long ago. But because I know Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and that He lives, I am here. Because I know he has called a prophet today and we have the authority of God once again on the earth, I am here. And because I know God is our loving Heavenly Father I want others to know and have a relationship with him, I get up every day and I talk with strangers. I am here. It’s wonderful!

I love you so much! Have a great week! Have fun in NY. Give everyone my love.
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I guess we just needed to let the Lord do the miracle

We had a good week. We taught a lot of lessons and a lot of our investigators and less-actives are progressing well. Actually, we were able to contact a less-active family we hadn't seen in a while. The mother was really happy to see us. She welcomed us right in. She was preparing dinner and invited us to eat with them. They have three sons. The oldest is almost my age and the youngest is Nancy’s age. The oldest is a member, the other two are not. The mom asked us if we could come by each week to teach them. Miracle!!! We had been trying to figure out how to help them return. We’d tried a few different things. I guess we just needed to let the Lord do the miracle. :) It was amazing! I’m really excited to teach them and see their progression and return.

Kaituska is all set for her baptism on Sunday. She might be going to San Jose with her sister, so now we’re just hoping she'll be in town for her confirmation the following week... keep praying for her. She really needs it. Actually she had a project for school; making a pie. She had no idea how to make it so we helped her after church. It was so fun! We took lots of pictures. It felt so good to have dough in my hands again!!!! I could have kneaded the dough for a while.

Last night we were a part of a fireside at the Fijian Branch. We sang Called to Serve. It was really neat because it was mostly in Fijian. But we still felt the Spirit. The church is true in any language! My testimony was strengthened as I listened to theirs. It was really neat!

We helped move a family this morning.

I forgot about Bike Week. Actually, I saw a few motorcycles yesterday and remembered counting bikes on our way to church.

Well. I love you all! I hope you have a great week! It’s the last week of the transfer. I’ll probably stay, but one never knows. :)
Forever Love,
Hermana Stephenson

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Katiuska has a baptismal date

It’s been great! Katiuska has a baptismal date for the 17th. Two weeks! We’re so excited!

So after church Katiuska came up to me and said she had something to tell me. She then said she'd decided to be baptized! I was so excited! I would have jumped for joy and shrieked but we were in the chapel. So I just celebrated quietly. She explained that she realized there was more to life than temporal and superficial things. And she knew that the gospel is what matters. It’s the eternal things that matter and will bring lasting and eternal joy and peace. She picked the 17th because it's the Sunday before transfers. Just 2 weeks! We are very excited. So is the Branch. They’ve all come to love her. Its’ going to be amazing!

The branch is very helpful. I love them all! They’re great! Our teaching pool is pretty good. We are teaching a couple families and our less-actives are progressing well. It’s so good to see their progression!

I’m doing really well! I had some rough days this past week, really hard. But I realized something and it has given me tons of help! My energy and desire to keep enduring to the end has been strengthened.

Thursday night was one of the hardest because I suddenly had a fear for you all. I was really worried for you all. But as I prayed I had a vision of us all in white in the celestial room of the Boston Temple. It was really clear and it brought me so much comfort. And every time I started to fear again I thought of that image and peace flooded my heart. Prayer is amazing!

This week has been a lot of ups and downs for me. One moment I'm on the clouds and happy, then the next I'm wondering if I even know what I'm doing, never mind able to do it. I've learned a lot about humility and relying upon the Lord in prayer. Sometimes I'm not very grateful for my weaknesses. Especially when they are manifested in front of the members or other missionaries. But I learned, or rather, re-learned a principle through all of this. The Atonement is real. Imagine that! It's real! And, it works! Not just for those who have committed major sins but also for me and the weaknesses that "do so easily beset me." At the end of each day I look back upon those things that I did well. Not on those things I didn't do well, or didn't do at all. I think of what I've accomplished, of how I'm that much closer to exaltation and to my Savior. Then I resolve to give my best and work just a little harder the next day. Heavenly Father understands that I'm human and will not have a perfect day. He understands that my best, most of the time, just is not enough. My testimony of the Atonement and the Savior's love and forgiveness has been strengthened. I know without doubt that the Atonement is real. I know as I am prayerful and do my best I will obtain eternal life. I love this gospel! And I love my Savior, Jesus Christ! He is my best friend.

Andrea - I did read your email. It helped a lot. It helped me realize the important things in life, that what's important is a strong testimony in the Savoir and his atonement, to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. It was kind of cool because a day or two later I read President Monson’s talk from the YW general broadcast.  I was reading it for the purpose to help an investigator but it ended up helping myself. As well as Elder Scott’s talk about personal revelation and inspiration. Both talks really helped.

Have you looked at the pictures? !!

Oh! President called me to let me know my release date is October 23. It’s a Tuesday. So I’ll probably fly home on Wednesday. Which reminds me about something. I heard about something I thought would be neat. Before being released I thought it would be cool to go to the temple and do a session as a missionary. If it doesn't work out it's fine, just a thought. When I get more information I’ll let you know. But it probably won't be until about 2 months before my release date.

It’s funny because it seems a lot of people are asking me now what I’ll do when I go home. I just smile and tell them "I don't know" besides the holidays and just being with family, I have no idea. Nor am I going to think about it until then. Well, at least not right now. I don’t' want to be "trunky."  We'll see as time progresses.
I love you all forever! I'm so glad you're my family! I couldn't have asked for any better!

Hemana Stephenson