Tuesday, December 30, 2014

She is back!

Natalie has been released from her mission on Temple Square! 
We thought that we would take a picture this last Sunday when she was given her missionary plaque that has been hanging up at our church building for the 18 months she had been serving.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sisters on a cold night!

Sister Stephen's last letter as a missionary

Hello y'all!
This is a pretty scary subject to be writing on... Serving a mission has been the very best thing that I have ever done.  I am so grateful that Heavenly Father sent me on a mission to do his will.  There are many people who would have been better for the job, but that is not how Heavenly Father works.  I have been changed from the inside out and I am so so grateful for that.  I love missionary work because I can help people to really feel the love that God has for them.  I love the atonement of Jesus Christ and I know that He died and atoned for each one of us.  I know that God has restored His original church and that it is for everyone.  I love the mission so so much!!
On Sunday, we went to Music and the Spoken Word and we were recognized as sisters who had finished their mission on Temple Square.  After the broadcast, Lloyd Newl announced where each of us was from on the mic and everyone in the conference center applauded for us.  I was overwhelmed with the way I felt.  I felt happy, sad, shy, proud, and grateful.
On Monday, we had transfer conference and each of the departing sisters had the chance to shard 1 minute of advice that they would give to a sister coming on a mission.  This was my advice:
Be willing to trust God and let go.  That is the scariest thing that you will ever do because your natural man/woman wants to be "in control".  The only way that you will every really change and do the work the way it is meant to be is if you let God be in control.  That is the way to progress and to be truly happy.  It is terrifying and scary, but it is the only way to become who God wants you to be.
After that, we all lined up and the mission sang our mission song.  Yes I cried.  I will miss the sisters and the mission so so much.
On Tuesday we went to the temple!!  We had a meeting with the Temple President, his wife and President and Sister Poulsen, then we went to the 10am session.  The spirit was so strong and I learned so much and received a lot of revelation for what I need to do after my mission.  I love going to the temple so much!  I know that Heavenly Father is aware of me and that He loves me.
Wednesday was really strange because so many of my close friends went home and have been released.  So strange!  But I also got so see so many dear friends that came back from outbound.
Tomorrow I have my departing interview with President Poulsen. I will also have to check out with the mission secretaries who will make sure that I left everything nice and clean.
Well I have to go now... But I will see you all soon!
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cute Christmas

Sister Davis and Sister Stephen are sure excited for Christmas!!!

It is almost the end...

Hello family!

Relief Society today was wonderful!!  We actually met in the Relief Society Building and The Relief Society Presidency spoke to us.  Yes you read that right. The Relief Society Presidency!! :D  Sister Reeves gave the lesson and it was wonderful.  One of the things that I got out of it was the wonderful privilege that it is to be a member of the Relief Society.  The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was not fully restored until the Relief Society was formed.  It is such an inspired organization and I know that miracles can happen if we only choose to sacrifice and do what the Lord asks when He asks it.  I want to always be a part of those miracles.

This week has been really great!!  Christmas is in full swing here on Temple Square!!  The lights are attracting tons of people and the video "He is the Gift" is changing lives!  I absolutely love Temple Square during Christmas!!  We have been busy talking to lots of people every night and the weather has been so warm!  It makes it really easy to talk to people everywhere!  Christmas is such a beautiful time of the year to talk about our savior and what is really important in our lives.  The Savior is the ultimate gift that was given to each of us so that we never have to be alone and so that we can return to live with God again.

We got to see Sister Davis' Sister and her family.  They are so cute!!

I can't believe that this is one of my very last emails as a missionary!  I don't really feel like my full-time mission is ending, but at the same time, I know that my time is far spent.  I have learned and grown so very much.  I feel so very privileged that I was called to serve my Savior Jesus Christ on Temple Square.

I hope you all know how very much I love you!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Be thankful, He is the gift

Dear wonderful family,

Happy (late) Thanksgiving!!!  I hope that you all had a wonderful day an a great chance to be thankful for all of the blessings that we have in our lives.  I thought a lot about what I was grateful for and the gifts that God has given me.  I made a little list in my planner of things that I am grateful for and it got really long pretty fast, and the things that I put on there were general things too!  Some of the things that I listed were: my family, the atonement of Jesus Christ, the temple, covenants with God, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, Christmas lights, yummy food, water, scarves, sweaters, my mission, books, pecan pie, the holy ghost, hugs, tears, the sky, a modern day prophet, the 12 apostles, the stars, the moon, music, learning, writing, pictures, missionaries, prayer, phones, online proselyting, the internet, answers to prayers, water, knitting, companions, the sun, trees, leaves, the mission presidency, the ability to repent and change, the church, God's love, and Jesus Christ.
We had a wonderful treat and got to go to a member's home yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner.  Temple Square was closed from  12 pm -6 pm, so during that time, all of the sisters on Temple Square got to go to a member's home for Thanksgiving dinner!  The family that had us over were so nice!  The food was really tasty too!  I have not had a meal like that for a while and it was really yummy!!  We had turkey, ham, rolls, sweet potatoes (which I like now... weird), jello salad, stuffing, salad, spinach dip and... I forgot what else, but it was all so good!  and we also had Pecan pie!! yum! I also tried a little bit of persimmon pie... I didn't really like it, but the carrot cake cookies were yummy!
We shared a spiritual thought about thankfulness and how Thanksgiving came to be. President George Washington and Abraham Lincoln actually both had a big hand in this national holiday beginning.  Thanksgiving was originally set apart to be a day to give thanks to God for all of our gifts.  Isn't that so cool!  We also shared Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 "Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."  I think it is amazing that it is so important to be grateful that God gave us a commandment to thank Him.  I don't think it is because Heavenly Father wants to be thanked all the time, but he wants us to focus on the good and the positive.  When we are grateful, we are happy.  Sometimes, we may have a hard time being grateful for things or bad situations, but we can always find something to be thankful for.  When we look for the good, we will be surprised with how much good there is around us.  It reminds me of Nephi when his brothers had tied him to the mast and his ankles and wrists were swollen, and the ship was about to be swallowed up in the ocean.  "Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions." ( 1 Nephi 16:18)  When we are thankful, we trust God and know that He will help us always.
I want to invite you to take some time this coming week to think about all the things that you are grateful for.  Take about 20 minutes (at least) and list everything.  It could be when you are driving (turn the radio off) and just list the things.  You will be surprised and the spirit will really testify of God's love for you.  It will be a strengthening experience for you, I promise.
This past week, we went to the doctor for Sister Davis.  She had been having trouble hearing out of her right ear.  She would only faintly hear the alarm in the morning, so we figured that was a problem and made an appointment to go and see an ear doctor.  She was very nervous because if she lost her hearing, she would have lost her singing ability.  Well... as it turns out, she just had a lot of wax build up in her ear.  A TON of wax build up.  It was really weird to watch the doctor pull the wax out of her ear!  Sister Davis had no idea what was going on, but she said that I made a really amazed/disgusted face when he pulled out the wax and I have no doubt about that! haha!  It was really cool because we went to an audiologist and that is the other profession I could go into with my major.  But I think I would prefer to be an speech pathologist.  :)
On Tuesday, we had a special meeting with the missionary department about a new media campaign that the church is doing called "He is the Gift" have you seen/heard about that?  It is mainly on Temple Square, but it is also all over the internet.  The church purchased many jumbo-trons in Times Square and the youtube banner on December 7th (1st Presidency Christmas Devotional day) in many countries to show this video and this campaign.  It is an amazing video!  and it came out online (officially) today!!  They have added a screen in the North Visitor Center and covered the wall around it in a beautiful nativity picture.  They also re-decorated the south visitor center for the campaign as well.  In addition, they put new pictures up in the North Visitor Center covering the normal new testament pictures and they are beautiful!  The pictures tell the story of Jesus' birth.  It is beautiful and you will get to see them!
So..Go to this website!
It has a new video that the church has put out about Jesus Christ and Christmas!!  It is called "He is the Gift".  Jesus Christ was the first gift of Christmas.  He was a gift to each one of us so that we could have hope for the future, peace in the present, and happiness always if we choose.  Christmas is a wonderful and sacred time that we can celebrate the most important things in our lives and appreciate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Over 2000 years ago, the Messiah, the promised Savior of the World, was born in the most modest settings.  He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, yet he was born in a stable and visited by shepherds on his first night.  I know that Heavenly Father loved us all so much that he gave each one of us a chance to come back to him through the atonement of His only begotten son, Jesus Christ.  This is a gift for all.  All we have to do is embrace this gift in our lives and follow him.  What a marvelous blessing.
The lights on Temple Square go on... TONIGHT!!  ekk!! so exciting!!  There will be so many people everywhere!  I think that there are more lights than last year actually.
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Friday, November 21, 2014

Build your own temples!

Dear Family,

This morning, we had a fantastic Relief Society!!  We had a special guest come... his name is Brother Clay Christensen.  Have you heard of him?  He is known as one of the most influential business thinkers in the world.  He has written 9 best-sellers and one of his books is known as one of the best business books ever written.  He is also a faithful member of the church and a fantastic member missionary.  He recently wrote "Power of the everyday missionary" and I have heard that it is a life changing book (I have not read it yet because I am currently a missionary. ;)  ).  Needless to say, we were super excited that we was coming and we were not disappointed!  His wife also spoke and she was wonderful as well.  The spirit was so strong in the meeting and I learned a lot and received personal revelation.  He spoke about 2 main topics, 1) the importance of religion in freedom, capitalism, and democracy, and 2) the power of the Book of Mormon and how to use it to answer any questions that we may have (specifically for our investigators).  The first topic was very very interesting.  I like hearing about those kinds of things, and I had forgotten that I liked learning about these things too. haha.  But he talked about how there are 2 ways to create a society that is prosperous and peaceful.  One is to have an honest dictator and force everyone to keep the rules. and the second is to have a democracy with a people that will voluntary keep the rules.  The second way is only possible when there is religion involved because the people would know that even if they were not caught by the law, that they would be caught by God.  Therefore, they will voluntary keep the rules and this produces peace and prosperity. Interesting, huh?!  He said that the work that we do as missionaries is so important, because we are producing worldwide peace and prosperity.  I had never thought as missionary work in that way before, and it is amazing to think about.  I do the work that I do because I love God and the people around them, but there are so many more benefits, like helping to create world peace.  The second thing that he talked about was how to get answers from the Book of Mormon.  He talked a lot about having real intent.  Real intent is different from being sincere.  It is actually being willing to act and do something with the answer that you receive.  You can be sincere and not be willing to act; we see that all the time and it is really sad.  But I have actually done a lot of thought about this and I agree completely.  To get an answer from Heavenly Father, we have to be willing to act on it.  If we are not willing to act on it, why would God answer us?  We will be judged according to what we know and what we did with that knowledge, and God loves us.  So why would he give us an answer that could dam us because we are not willing to act on the knowledge that we have?  He loves us that is why.  When we know how we will act on the answer that we receive, we are far more likely to get an answer.  

Lately I have been wondering if I actually should peruse a career in speech pathology or not. It has been troubling me because there are so many things that I like to do. I have been second guessing myself and what I would be good at and be able to do.  It has been an issue and I have been thinking about it a lot.  I have been wondering because I didn't know if I could make a difference there or if I was good enough to do that. Then Brother Christensen told us about his stroke and how he had to learn how to speak again. It was then that I was reminded and I knew that I needed to go into speech pathology. I have been pondering and praying about this for a little while and I am so happy that I got an answer in this way because it was exactly what I needed.  Heavenly Father really does hear and answer our prayers.  I was not expecting an answer in this way, but I am so grateful for it.

Christmas is coming!! And because of it so many things are changing and we are getting trained on a lot of new things.  Some things are the same as last Christmas, but some things are new.  Our missionary schedule is actually completely changed during Christmas time because we move back 1 hour.  So we will get up at 7:30 and then get home at 10pm and go to bed at like 11:30... I think this change is going to kill me, but it will be okay.  I was actually hoping that the normal missionary schedule would prepare me for my 8am class this winter semester... so much for that! haha!  They did not do the schedule change last year so we will see how it works this year.  There are also different assignments that we do because of the lights and all the people and we got training on that.  ALSO, do you know about the "Because of Him" video campaign?  Well they are doing one for Christmas!!  WE are getting training about that soon as well. :) Yay for Christmas!!
We are having our zone activity today.  We are watching a movie about building the SLC temple and making our own temples out of marshmallows and toothpicks!! We are also having a potluck!  It will be lots of fun!  I will tell you more about it next week! :)

I hope that you all know how much I love you!!  You are all fantastic and I love you so very much.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Temple!

All the Sister's together

Don't get trunky!!!

This week was really great!

I had a "finish strong" meeting... It is pretty much what it sounds like.  Telling the sisters in their last transfer to not give up, don't get trunky, and to keep working hard.  It was really weird to be there in that meeting.  I don't feel like I am in my last transfer at all!!  I feel like I have at least 2 more after this, but I know that this is my last... It is a weird conflicting knowledge and feeling.
Sister Davis and I had a super funny experience this past week.  We were closing the Joseph Smith Movie and so we were talking with the people who came after the film was over.  There was a middle single ward that went to the movie and it was pretty awkward... Most of the women ran out of the lobby as soon as the movie was finished and all of the men remained.  I started talking to a group of them about missionary work and it was all good, when I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by people (most of them men) and didn't know where my companion was!  She appeared next to me at that point and I was so grateful!  Because then the normal conversation got awkward.  One guy was asking about our mission and we were talking about our mission and his mission and then one of the other guys started the whole "well in MY mission, blah blah" and it just became an awkward pride mission battle...  Then one of them was like "when did you serve your mission? oh because I served in blah-blah"... He did it to show that the other guy was older than him... super awkward!  Sister Davis and I then excused ourselves and ran home!! But really we were going to be late for curfew so we did kinda run.

It is snowing!! Right now!! Crazy right?!!  I still can't believe that it is winter because I feel like it was Halloween yesterday and summer the day before that.  How does time go so fast?  That is a question that I don't think I will ever have the answer to.  Everyone says, "Time flies when you are having fun"!  Missionary work is fun, but it is also hard work.  As a missionary, you give so much of yourself to people and all of yourself to God.  It is emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting in a way that I never understood when I started out in the MTC or even in my first few transfers.  It is exhausting but also exhilarating.  There are times that you feel the spirit so strongly that you are drained for the rest of the day.  You pray so hard for these people that God will tell you their needs through the Holy Ghost so that you can help them.  You practice so hard to know how to teach well and with the spirit and in unity with your companion.  You are hurt when you get an in-bound call with a hurtful person on the other line who decides that it is okay to abuse everything that you hold dear and tell you that you are wasting your time.  There is nothing like extending a baptismal date and having it excepted and knowing that this person is making the choice to come closer to God.  The joy that you feel when you see them dressed in white and being baptized or even better, going to the temple is incomprehensible.  It is completely heartbreaking when your investigator drops you even though you know that they are not dropping you but choosing not to come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; but it still hurts because you love them.  There is nothing else that I would have preferred to do for the last 18 months than serving God by serving a mission.  I love my mission and what I have become because of it.  sorry I rambled a bit. :) God is good.
I love you all so very much!
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Friday, November 7, 2014

The new companionship

A little songbird

Dear Family,

The trees are pretty naked... or in the process of becoming so.  However, there are lights being put all over to cover up their nakedness. ;)  There are more and more lights up everyday!!  Yesterday, they started putting out Poinsettias and I was like "WHAT?? It is only the 5th of November!! You can't do that yet!!!"  But really, it is beginning to really look like Christmas... much faster than normal I think.
For Halloween, we had dinner as a mission (yummy potato bar) and then we went to the temple!  The ENTIRE mission went to the 7pm session at the temple.  It was crazy and the poor temple workers didn't know where to put everyone because the session was so full.  To think that there were about 200 sister missionaries there plus the senior couples and part of the mission presidency and the normal people attending the session.  It was so beautiful to see all of the sisters in the Temple.  I had a question and actually got a different question that I didn't realize that I had answered in the temple.  It was a wonderful spiritual experience. 
This past Sunday was fast Sunday and for the first time on my mission, I bore my testimony during fast and testimony meeting.  There is usually so many sisters, that it is impossible to go and bear your testimony, but I really felt like I needed to go this Sunday.  I felt like it was not a crazy profound bearing of my testimony, but I did feel the spirit strongly, and many other sisters thanked me for sharing.  I got some of my silent prayers answered from other sisters testimonies.  And to think, that a long time ago before my mission, I disliked fast and testimony Sunday. haha!
On Sunday, I also announced for my last time.  That is when after Music and the Spoken word you hold up a sign saying what language you speak and take turns talking into the microphone at the giant crowd coming out of the Tabernacle and invite them to take a tour with you.  You also really dress up so that you look really cute.  It is a big deal to announce. :)  I will sent you pictures next week because I don't have them/ have not gotten them yet.  We had 3 people come on a tour with us and got a potential investigator as well.  It was really good.  :)
On Tuesday we had our Mission Leadership Council which was really good.  The assistants asked us to sing a musical number at the training.  Sister Davis is an amazing singer and would be on broadway if she did not come on a mission and change her career plans.  And I believe that she would be on broadway too. haha.  The assistants asked her to sing and then turned to me and said that I could sing too. :)  So we sang a song and it was really beautiful.  It was too the melody of "Nearer my God to thee" but with the words of hymn 101.  It went well.  (I saw President Poulsen later, and he told me that I sang like a songbird.  And told me that he didn't know that I had that talent.  :)  That is the first time that I have sang in a public setting on my mission because I feel like I am showing off or something like that.  I really enjoyed the meeting because I learned so much.  I learned more about how important it is to teach sisters and not make the choices for them.  That is something that I didn't realize, but that I really need to improve on.  I have been giving the sisters a fish, but not teaching them how to fish.  I need to work on improving this teaching skill.  I hope that I can master it (or at least improve a lot) in the little time I have left.
Sister Davis and I have been working hard.  We have a good teaching pool right now, and I am sifting through the people that we have so that we will only focus on the prepared.  Sister Davis is a great teacher and a wonderful missionary.  I love her a lot.  We are working a lot on our Zone Training Meeting that will be this Saturday.  Wish us luck! haha!

I still can't believe that this is my last transfer... It is a weird thought that only comes to me every once in a while.  I hope and pray that I have done and learned everything that the Lord wants and needs me to accomplish.  I hope that I am different and it is easily noticeable when I go home, because that will mean that I changed.  I really love the mission and everything that I have learned.  I don't think it was a fair trade; 18 months of my life in exchange for everything that I have learned and experienced.  Heavenly Father is too good to me.
Well I have to go I guess. I love you all so so much!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mission Update

Just to let all the readers know, the time has really flown by. Sister Stephen only has 6 more weeks as a missionary on Temple Square. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Transfers....and Halloween!!!

ALOHA!  (aloha means both hello and goodbye)
Well it was transfers on Wednesday!!  So of course, craziness happened!!  I am still a zone leader for the south 2 zone, but this transfer, I am training a new zone leader.  Her name is Sister Davis and she is from South Jordan Utah.  We have only been together for 2 days now, but she is loving, spunky, funny, diligent, tech savvy and has an amazing testimony.  I am excited to learn from her this transfer and to work hard with her. 
There are lots of sisters in the zone that I have not served with before, and I am excited to get to know them.  We have 2 sisters who are training, 1 sister back from Outbound and many sisters in their last transfer.  We have such a diverse group of Sisters, and they all have different concerns, but to help them to resolve their concerns, we have decided to focus on "How do you measure conversion" this transfer as a zone.  Many of these sisters don't know if they are converted or need to be more deeply converted.  We know this from many of the ways that they act and treat others and themselves.  We have some pride in our zone and we are going to try and root it our with becoming really converted and serving because we love God.  I think this will really help the sisters.
It was really hard for me to say goodbye to Sister Magidson yesterday.  I also had so say goodbye to, Sister Thacker, Sister Ellis, Sister Luki, Sister Bailey, Sister Hancock, Sister McQueen, and many others.  Saying these goodbyes broke my heart and I did cry.  I did not cry as much as I thought that I would, but I did cry a lot.  I kept a lot of tears inside of me.  I have learned so much from these sisters and have been companions with 3 of them.  They have taught me so much from their examples, actions, and words and have helped me to develop into the sister that I am today.  I love each of them so very much and I hope I can continue to keep in touch with them.  The mission is so good because you get to see so many people all over the world that all know for themselves that the gospel of Jesus Christ is restored on the earth.  but it is hard because you can not stay with them forever in this life, but if we all keep our covenants, we will see each other again with our Heavenly Father with our families.

This past Sunday, I gave my talk and it went really well.  I did my talk in about 7 minutes which was my time limit. yay!  ;)  The spirit was really there and I really had prayed for help to know what to say and what the sisters needed to hear.  I actual had one of the hosts in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building recognize me and thank me for my talk! That was pretty cool.  I think I already shared my topic with you last week, but here it is again.  "In one who is wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died, and substituted therefor is a love of God with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments. Latter-Day Saints who are wholly converted dedicate their lives to service and simply "press on"."  I started by talking about what conversion is and when we are converted, our desires change.  When we are really converted, we will obey because we love Heavenly Father.  I shared when I became fully converted.  It happened when I was outbound.  I realized that I was not giving everything to the Lord and what I was giving, I was giving because I knew I was suppose to do it.  I realized that I needed to do things because I love my Heavenly Father.  The change of heart that I had, changed my life and has changed the person that I am.  That day changed my life.  I am so grateful that I was able to have that humbling experience.  I then talked about how conversion is a process and we constantly have to learn and gain testimonies of different principles.  When we truly love God, we will dedicate our lives to him and serve him always.  We covenanted to do this when we were baptized, and our opportunities to do so are endless!!  There are always chances to serve and help others.  :)  The spirit was very strong during my talk and I felt guided by the spirit. :)  The talk helped me and I hope and pray that it helped others. 

For Halloween tomorrow, the square is closing at 5pm and we are going to go eat dinner at the church office building and then go to the7pm temple session!!  I am so so excited!! 
I love you so so much!! I hope that you are all doing well!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kent got baptized!!

A big birthday wish come true!

Aloha Family!!

Fall is officially here!  There are leaves falling everywhere and temple square is so beautiful!!  There is one tree by the tabernacle that is a beautiful bright yellow.  I have started wearing sweaters again too. :)

So on Temple Square because our ward is made up of the Sister Missionaries, we are the ones who give the talks.  You only talk once during your mission and it is at the end of your mission.  You are given a topic by President Harmon (1st councilor) and it is usually pretty inspired.  The sister speaks and shares all of their hard won wisdom and it is usually very powerful.  Well guess what?  I am speaking on Sunday.  This is the weirdest thing ever!!  I never thought that I would be the one on the stand speaking!! ekk!  anyway. I have prayed a lot and what I should say just came to me when I wrote my talk on Tuesday.  I hope that everything goes well.  I don't have the paper with the topic on it with me but it is something like this: In one who is wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died, and substituted therefor is a love of God with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments. Latter-Day Saints who are wholly converted dedicate their lives to service and simply "press on".  So I am going to be speaking about conversion and what it will lead us to do.  I hope that the spirit will be here

Today is my last p-day with sis Magidson!  And her last p-day on her mission!  How did this transfer go by so fast?!  I have no idea!  We were talking about it, and we feel like we have only had about 3 weeks together... not 6!!  I have learned so much from her about humility, charity, kindness, being kind to my own self, time management (I have improved so much! but I still have a ways to go), her love for the gospel and so much more.  I love her so much and I miss her so so much!!  It is funny because she is so logical but also so kind and worried about others.

This past Monday was Sister Magidson's b-day!  She is now 24 years old!  :)  I tired really hard to make it a really special day for her. :)  When we were in west gate, I sent out a text to the whole mission telling them to call or come by to tell her happy birthday. haha!!  Literally almost everyone came and sang to her or called in or something!  It was so great!  Then her two of her collage friends came by and surprised her with a big birthday present.  I worked with another sister to make it a surprise.  We went out for dinner at a hamburger and shake place.  The day before, I had given our roommates money to get some things for a surprise party for when we came home from the square. :)  We had brownies, ice cream, and those birthday oreos!  It was so much fun!  I used up the last of the balloons from my birthday and we got to use the candles and the birthday sign too!  :)  It was an awesome day!

We have been working on preparing for our last zone training meeting for the transfer.  It will be this Saturday and I think it will be really good.  We actually finished it this morning.  We are focusing on conversion and how that leads to joy in missionary work and the desire to do what Heavenly Father asks us to do as missionaries and as his children.  I feel really good about it. :)

This week we have had to drop many of our investigators.  Mark and Nicola (the couple that was working to quit smoking and had a baptismal date) dropped us.  They said that they didn't really want to quit smoking and this was not a good time for them. It was really sad.  We also got a hold of an investigator that Sister Magidson had transferred to her and he was anti and not willing to pray to Heavenly Father to know if what we were sharing was true.  We told him that we can't help him unless he goes to God and asks him.  It was interesting because if you really listen to an anti, they make no sense at all!  He told us that we needed to re-evaluate what we were doing, and I told him that I don't need to do that because I have prayed and asked God if this is true and I know that it is.  I invited him to pray and to ask God because that is the ONLY way that he is going to know for himself.  We then said goodbye and dropped him. :)  The gospel is true!

Another really exciting thing that happened this last week, is that Kent got baptized!!!  I will send you pictures!  He really is converted and is so excited to serve in a calling.  I am so so very happy for him!  Today, we sent him a card and a temple recommend holder (we also sent one to Ledix) that way he can have a good place to put his recommend and understand how important the temple is.  I am so happy for Kent!  "How great shall your joy be if you shall bring save it be one soul unto me."  That statement is so true!  My heart is so full that the Lord used me as an instrument to help him to make this covenant.  I am so glad that he made this choice to come closer to his Heavenly Father.  

Now I have something super excited to share wit you!!!  Do you remember when I saw the whole quorum of the Apostles when they leave the temple from their weekly meeting about a year ago?  Well, Sister Magidson asked me if we could try to see them as her birthday present.  We tried last week, but only I saw Elder Bednar.  We were talking to a security officer and Sister Magidson did not notice him.  I had prayed that we would be able to see the apostles and the prophet this week.  It was all that Sister Magidson really wanted so I really wanted her to see them.  We went to mail the cards for Kent and Ledix and went through the Church Office Building garage (that is where the apostles travel from building to building on the church campus).  We were coming back from the post office, and I thought that we were going to miss them.  I was okay with it, because I had asked the Lord to make it his will.  Well we were about to leave the garage into the tunnel that leads us to the square when the sister security officer asked us to stay at the side of the hallway.  She told us to stay there and we would "get a good show".  Well we obediently stood by the wall and out wheeled the PROPHET!!!  A security officer was wheeling him in a wheelchair!  He spoke to us too!!  He said, "Hello sisters! On my right and on my left!"  (the female security officer was on his other side) All I could do was choke out a huge smile and a hello!  But it didn't stop there!!  Next came a golf cart with President EYRING and President UCHTDORF on it!  This time, I got out a greeting and said "good morning!"  They waved and said "Hello Sisters!"  So much happiness!!  After that, the security officer gave us the okay to continue on. :)  We looked down the tunnel that goes to the temple and saw many more Apostles coming.  I saw Elder Anderson for sure.  We went into the tunnel that goes to temple square and squeaked and hugged each other.  :D  I thought that I was going to die of happiness!  I love President Monson and the Apostles so much!  They are such an amazing example to me!!  I am still in shock about this whole thing!!  I can't believe that we were able to see President Monson, President Eyring, and President Uchtdorf!!  ekk!!  So much happiness!  The spirit was so strong!  I know that these men are called by God to lead and guide the church.  I know that they really are Apostles of Jesus Christ and that they lead and guide us the way that Christ himself would if he was here on the earth.  I am so very grateful for this knowledge, it is proof to me that Heavenly Father loves us.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 3 D's: David, David, and Dirt


I forgot to tell you 2 things last week about General Conference!
Apparently the Kosmiki family came out to General Conference and went to the Saturday Morning session in the Conference Center and they met some sister missionaries there!  They told me that the Kosmiki's were there but I never got to see them!  So tell them hello for me!  I prayed really hard that I would get to see them and I was really excited, but I guess it was not in the Lord's plan and that is okay.  Sister Magidson were where the Lord needed us to be. :)

I was not able to share one of my biggest miracles from General Conference.  To begin it all, Sister Magidson and I just got done eating and were going back upstairs in the South Visitor Center to go and contact more people.  Before we go to the square, we always pray.  When I prayed, I just got overwhelmed and had to take a moment to breath and not cry.  I had prayed that we would be able to find who the Lord wanted us to find, and that prayer was answered.  We met a couple in the South Visitor Center and they asked if they could just walk through the visitor center.  It was easy to see that something was not right.  We started talking to them and learned a little bit about them.  Their names are Jennifer and David and they are engaged.  She had been previously married, and I don't remember if he had or not, but Jennifer was not doing well.  She really needed to be reminded that God loved her and that He was aware of her.  The spirit was so overwhelming when Sister Magidson and I told her this.  Jennifer and I really connected and I think that I really was meant to talk to her.  She started crying and I was crying because the spirit was so strong!  (I looked like a scary mess afterwards though! haha!)  And Sister Magidson and David just don't cry (sometimes that is a talent I wish I could have. haha!).  I honestly can't really tell you what we said, only that it came straight from the spirit to them.  We shared a scripture with them about how Jesus Christ died for each one of us. We talked to them for a long time and the spirit was just flowing.  We said our goodbyes and sent them to go see the Christus statue, but the miracle did not end then. As we were going to our mission's meeting after conference was finished we saw Jennifer and David again!  They were at the bottom of the ramp to go up to the Christus talking to Sister Park and Sister Taito!  They had told them that we were their angels. What happened was that as David and Jennifer were walking to the North Visitor center, David's heart was softened!  David is a big military guy who just doesn't feel any emotions and thinks that he is always right.  When they walked in the doors of the North Visitor Center, David told Jennifer that he was sorry for the way that he had been treating her.  He had not been listening to her and had been expecting her to change to him and not being willing to change at all for her.  He told us that she was an answer to his prayers and that God brought them into each others lives, but that he was not treating her the way that he needed to.  He was not treating her like he should treat his future wife.  When we met Jennifer and David in the North Visitor Center, they were completely different people then when we left them at the South Visitor Center and especially when we first met them.  It was amazing to see how the Lord can soften hearts and lead us to do what is right.  I know that Heavenly Father loves each one of us and he will always send help to us, even if that help is just 2 sister missionaries, but he will always send help our way.  Sometimes, it is hard to listen to that help or advice, but it will always come if we will listen.  We got Jennifer's contact info and we are staying in touch with Jennifer and David.  This was one of the most amazing and spiritual experiences on my mission.  All through General Conference, I really felt like a tool in the hands of the Lord and it is a feeling that I will never tire of.  :)

So, you are really not going to believe what I am going to tell you next.  David Archuleta came to our mission last Sunday and did a fireside for us.  Yes you read that correctly.  David Archuleta came and spoke and sang to our mission. :)  It was really cool!  I have always liked his music, but I was not a crazy fan but now I really respect him.  He is a wonderful RM and shared a lot of spiritual experiences with us.  We had an open Question and Answer session with him which was pretty cool.  He shared about his own personal conversion with us and how it took him time to realize why certain things were important and to follow promptings.  Here are some things that I learned from him.  He shared some advice about how to continue growing and developing after our missions: pray always, make church happen, go to the temple, read the scriptures, and when you make a commitment (especially to the lord) do everything to keep it.  He also said that it is okay to go slow when you get off of your mission.  He is not ready to come back into the music spotlight and explained that he is trying to figure out what he wants from life with a perspective with Heavenly Father.  It made me think about what I want and what I need to do to be able to achieve those things.  I also learned the power of one righteous member.  David's keyboardist, Kendra, is a member of the church and it was because of her example, that he started going to church and the temple while he was on tour.  It was only because of her offering and setting an example of doing the important things that David realized that he could keep his covenants and do what he knew to be important.  Overall, it was a wonderful and spiritual fireside. :)

Last p-day, we had our zone activity!! It was so SO fun!!  We did lots of little fun activities and ate funeral potatoes and sloppy joes. :)  It was really yummy.  The first game that we played was with flour, a knife, and a Hershey kiss.  So you take a mound of flour on a plate and press it with your hands into a tower/mountain and put the chocolate on the top.  Then you take turns cutting the flour tower from the top to the bottom.  It is a lot like Jenga; you don't want it to fall.  If the chocolate falls, then you have to put your face in the flour and get the chocolate with your mouth!  You end up getting lots of flour in your mouth and all over your face. hahaha!  It was so much fun!  Then we did another game where we had the districts guide their blindfolded district leaders to make a sandwich with all sorts of weird and normal ingredients.  The results were hilarious!!!  The district leaders had to take a bite of the creation their districts had helped them make.  I think some of the district leaders wondered if their districts even loved them at all! haha!  They were really great sports about the whole thing.

Then we did a mummy race!  We had the districts pic someone and wrap them up like a mummy.  They looked awesome!!!  They really did!  Then we had a little race!  It was so funny!  in the end, we had a toilet paper war happen in the hallway of our apartment complex! haha!!
Then we ended with making dirt cups!  We put the big bowl of chocolate pudding and some crushed up oreos and gummy worms on the table and I told the Sisters for dessert we were having dirt cups.  The international sisters looked at me like I was crazy. HAHA!  They were like "real dirt?"  I said yep!  Here is the mud (pointing to the pudding), here is the dirt (pointing the the crushed oreos), and here are the worms!  They tentatively started following the example of the excited Americans and realized that it was not real. haha!  We made 3 big boxed of pudding and it was all gone!  We had so much fun together and it really unified the zone!  I think that everyone had so much fun!  I have not gathered all of the pictures yet because I need to buy another flash-drive today to hold more pictures!  I will be able to send more pictures next week. :)

There is not other way to be happy but to put the Lord first.  And remember, you are the miracle, but it your choice to become the miracle.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The goodness of the Bible and Book of Mormon

Hello Hello! 

This last week has been crazy and fantastic!!  General Conference was fabulous!  We were able to go to the SundayMorning session and got to hear the Prophet speak!!!  We also got really good seats.  I was about 15 meters away from the 70s.  I could see the speaker pretty well too! :)  I really enjoyed my session and learned so much.  I really enjoyed Elder Eyring's talk about personal revelation because that is something that I have been working on lately.  I learned more about what I can do to better receive and recognize revelation.  I also loved listening to the prophet.  I know with all my heart that Thomas Monson is the prophet of God.  I loved hearing about how we need to be better disciples of our Savior and walk as he did.  I had a beautiful experience when I really felt the spirit testify to me. I felt the spirit so strongly in the Conference Center!  It truly was a spiritual feast and I only went two the women's broadcast and the Sunday morning session!  I can't wait for the ensign!!!  Overall, I learned that I need to trust my Heavenly Father more and strengthen my faith in my Savior.

That is not all of conference though!!  Conference was very draining spiritually, mentally and physically, but I loved every second of it!!  We talked to so many people and had so many spiritual experiences that I am just amazed!  And I cried a lot!  Good tears though so don't worry.  There were easily over 25 thousand people on Temple Square all gathered to hear the prophet speak!  (conference center + Tabernacle + Assembly Hall+ Theaters in the North Visitor Center and Joseph Smith Memorial Building + everyone on the grass and planters outside= a ton of people!)
On Saturday, we met a couple outside of the Tabernacle who looked like they had cried a little after the morning session.  They said that the session that they went to was just for them.  They received all of the answers that they needed from Heavenly Father.  As we talked with them, I started telling them how much their Heavenly Father loves them and they were meant to be in that session of General Conference.  I started crying and so did they.  They actually found us the next day and took pictures with us with his kids.  She was disfellowshiped but is working to go to the temple and He lost his wife a little while ago and is working on going to the temple as well.  It was an amazing experience.

We met a part member family who were so sweet.  The Mom told us that she was hoping that something would touch the dad's heart and he would feel the spirit and he agreed.  They were hoping to get tickets for the priesthood session so that the Dad could go with their older boys.  We promised them that they would be able to hear what they needed to know from God if they listened with the spirit.  We saw them on Monday after conference and they got to go to the priesthood session and the Dad really felt the spirit!  God answers prayers of a righteous mother that is for sure!
On Sunday we were walking to go get our dinner and I felt like we needed to stop and talk to a guy who was sitting on the planters.  He just looked sad and like he needed someone to talk to him.  It turns out that he really needed to know that God is there for him and has a plan for him.  He is going through lots of trials right now and feeling lost and like how he does not know what to do.  I shared Isaiah 41:10 with him. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."  Sister Magidson and I testified to him that God had a plan for him and is so aware of him.  He started to tear up.  I also cried when I was telling him about God's love for him.  The spirit was so strong!

We met a sweet little member who is from Japan.  Her name is Sister Honda.  She is the only member and joined the church after her friend passed away and the missionaries shared about the plan of salvation with her.  Her faith was so strong!!  She was an amazing example to me of living the gospel.

We met mother and her daughters who was so sweet!  She didn't serve a mission but she talked to us about how she is helping and working to have all of her children to serve a mission.  She was so sweet.  I also cried when we talked to her because I know that she is doing all that she can to help raise her children in righteousness.  We shared Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  It was an amazing spiritual experience.
We also got 2 new investigators who both speak Arabic!  Crazy!  We will see how sincere they are. :)
We talked to so many more people than that and they all have stories that Sister Magidson got to hear and be a part of.  One thing that I really enjoyed is just feeling God's love for each person and telling them exactly what Heavenly Father would have them know.  It is the very best feeling in the world to know that I am being a good tool in God's hands and telling his children what He would tell them if He was here.

By the way, I did not cry in every contact!  Just in many of the powerful experiences that I have shared with you.  Also I had the bible with me, that is why all the scriptures that we shared were from the Bible. :)  I love General Conference so so SO MUCH!!!  Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."  If that is true, then General Conference is when We get to hear all of the secrets from God!!  Isn't that exciting!!

We have had an amazing miracle yesterday and today!! Sister Magidson and I have been working hard to achieve our baptism goal this transfer and I have been getting worried about it.  I have had an investigator since the beginning of my mission that has not seemed to be progressing very fast, but I would call him every once in a while. When ever he seemed like he was progressing again, he would stop answering the phone. Yesterday he texted us and said that he was getting baptized on the 18th of this month and asked if we are available to skype him!! I was in shock and I still am! We just got off the phone with him and the baptism is real! He is talking to the Elders later today about setting up the skyping. He gave me the biggest compliant ever and told me that because of me and Sister Olongayo (she finished her mission a while ago) he is getting baptized. We have been the ones that have talked and kept in contact with him for the longest and and steadiest. I don't feel like I did anything, it was all the Holy Ghost. I just took him longer to realize that the Holy Ghost was telling him to join the church. General Conference really helped him as well. In the session he watched in Virginia they answered all of the things that he had wondered about. He said that he learned more in those 2 hours then he did in going to seminary school for 2 years. :)  We are also helping 2 investigators to stop smoking so that they can get baptized on the 18th as well. We sent them a homemade quit smoking package today. :)  I gave up peanut butter to support them. :)

We went to the Temple on Tuesday and it was so wonderful!!  I loved it so much!!  I didn't really go to the temple with a question, but I got questions that I didn't know I had answered! :)  We stayed in the celestial room for a little while and just enjoyed the spirit there.  I just felt God's love for me and that He is proud of me.  It was something that I really needed to know and be reminded of.  :)  I just love Heavenly Father so much!  He knows me perfectly.

Are you going to go see Meet the Mormons?  Our mission got to see a pre-screening of it and it is FANTASTIC!!!  I loved it so much!  The spirit was strong and it was such a good missionary tool.  I thought about how I would feel watching this as a non-member and I think that it would be a really good experience.  So don't be afraid to invite your friends to go!  It is a very well done film that shows a very honest perspective of who we are as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is an awesome missionary tool! :)  I really hope that you get to go and see it.  There are some really funny parts as well!  I was dying with some of the comments in the begin. 

I shared this with Audrey earlier, but I want to share what I learned from PMG this week!  I studied Patience and found a scripture that I learned a lot from.  This was a really good scripture for me Alma 31:31 "O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people."  I learned a lot from this one scripture!  I learned about then enabling power of the atonement and how we can gain strength from the Savior.  I also learned that sometimes we have situations that are not our fault, but we still have to be patient and learn from them.  When we are truly patient, it means that we have faith and are willing to happily endure whatever situation be it good or bad knowing that God is there for us and all will be for our good.  That is my definition anyway.  I hope that all made since.  I am working on being more patient. :)

This was a really long email, but I didn't even share all about conference!!  It was an amazing experience.

I hope you all know how much I love you!!
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Friday, October 3, 2014

How exciting

At Womans Conference 

Ledix on his baptismal day.

General Conference!!!!

Dear Family,

This week has been really good with a lot of different things.  We had the MLC with just the Zone Leaders that I learned a lot from, I finished my application/re-registering for BYU, we had our ZTM, we went to the general woman's conference, we deep cleaned our apartment, decided what to give up to help our investigators Mark and Nicola to give up smoking, and a member bought cheesecake and chocolate cake for us!  It has been a full, productive and wonderful week!

Sister Magidson and I are teaching two people who are working on quitting smoking.  They are an older couple that live in a care center. We are really concerned about them being able to quit by their baptism date.  Their baptismal date is October 18th. To help them, Sister Magidson and I are each giving up something so they have something that they can keep us accountable about.  Sister Magidson is giving up pealing her nails and she will now paint them and I am giving up Peanut Butter.  Yes I love these people so much that I am willing to give up peanut butter.  It is going to be tough but it will be worth it!

The whole mission deep cleaned our appartments and it was an all day job!  We cleaned from 10am to 7pm.  It was crazy!  But our apartment is now celestial and beautiful!  I also found a slc temple schedule from 1999.... 

We had a miracle happen!  We both decided that we had had enough for the day and went to go and buy cake for sister Magidson and cheesecake for me from the cheesecake factory.  As we ordered, a member appeared out of no where and paid for it.  Such a wonderful blessing!!  Every time someone pays for me I am just amazed at the goodness that is in people and how loving people can be with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I also almost cry every time.  The member was there with his girlfriend and we visited with them for a while.  They were so cool and so very kind.

Can you believe that General Conference is this week?!  I can't!  It really snuck up on me, but I am so so excited!!  Our zone is attending the Sunday morning session of General Conference and I am pumped!  That means that we get to go to Music and the Spoken Word as well!  Yay!  I know that General Conference is going to be exhausting, but I am so excited to talk to tons of people and uplift them.  Unlike my last General Conference on Temple Square, we are only focusing on uplifting the people that come to Temple Square and not receiving a certain number of referrals.  I like this much better because I want members to like talking to the sisters.  I like talking to them! :)  I really love uplifting people and sharing the savior's love with them.  I think as members, we often forget the happiness that we have.  President Spencer W. Kimball said, "We have all of the blessings that can make us the happiest people in the whole world, because a boy of fourteen went out into the woods to pray."  It is so true!  We have so much to be happy about.  Think about it, we live in a period of time when there is a prophet of God on the earth.  We are members of the only TRUE church on the earth and have the whole gospel of Jesus Christ because it was restored.  We know that the heavens are not closed and that God can speak to us today like he did in the old testament. If that is not something to be happy about, I don't know what is.  I am excited to get direction from the Prophet and the Apostles.

Do you have questions that you are bringing to General Conference?  If you do not, I invite you to think of things that you would like to learn more about or concerns that you have and write them down.  Elder Holland said, " If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.” I want to double testify of what Elder Holland said.  I know that this is true because I have done what he said.  I have gotten answers to many of my questions during General Conference.  I know that you can get answers to your questions as you prayerfully listen to the speakers at General Conference.

Here is one more cool promise from a Prophet about listening to the word of God.
President Hinckley said, “If we will live the gospel, if we will put our trust in God, our Eternal Father, if we will do what we are asked to do as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we will be the happiest and most blessed people on the face of the earth”

Also I have made it a goal to read from the scriptures specifically the Book of Mormon every day!  It has made a big difference in my life.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen