Monday, January 6, 2014

From Sis. Stephen's letter dated 1/4/14:

First off, I am so sorry I am emailing you all so late!  For P-day today my zone had a service project where we went and cleaned a church building.  This poor church building needed a good scrubbing because the ward that attends there does not have a sign up sheet for cleaning.  Never fear, Sister missionaries are excellent cleaners!  The whole building looks so nice now!  Cleanliness is next to Godliness!  Sister Davis, Sister Esquivel, Sister Ngo, and I cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchens together.  We had lots of fun singing Disney songs together as we scrubbed the dirtiness away.  :)  Then we had some yummy pizza provided by President Seppi (he is in the Mission Presidency).  He is a wonderful and kind man.  

Today, we saw the groundskeepers taking down the nativities.  So sad!  I don't know when they will start on the lights.  Some of the trees are already down as well.  I will miss all of the festive decorations and all of the people.  All of the sisters that have been here for a while tell me that January and February are very slow.  But that's okay! It just means that we get more time to teach our investigators over the phone!  I am so excited for that because they need some attention.  They also need to improve on answering the phone.  _____ (a less active we are working with) is doing awesome!  He made his own goal that he wants to be able to get his temple recomend back this year!  I am so very exited for him!  I know that he can do it!

While sharing my testimony at the Christus a few days ago, I realized something.  The New Year celebration is really only possible because of the atonement.  It is because of the atonement that we can change and become who God and who we ourselves want to become.  Because of the atonement, we have the hope to change and the opportunity to do so.  I think it is interesting that right after we celebrate the birth of the Savior during Christmas, we celebrate the use of his atonement at new years.  I am becoming more and more aware of the atonement in my everyday life and how it blesses and influences everything that I can do and who I am.  I am so grateful for the atonement and the beautiful gift that was given to each of us.  It is really crazy to think about how New year's is a celebration of hope and of the chance to start again or to try again, which is what the atonement is all about.  It is so amazing.

There is a cool video that I would love for you all to watch.  It is called "Look not behind thee".  It tells a story from the bible about Lot and his family.  I don't want to give away the whole story, but it really helped me to think about the new year in a different way.  We can't go back, we have to keep moving forward.  We can learn from our mistakes and actions, but we can't look back because we will not ever grow that way.  When we look forward, then we have the chance to change.  The new year is also a time where we can reach out to God and really trust him because we know that he has blessings and trials in store for us in this coming year, but that he will help us through them.  All in all, 2014 is going to be awesome!  Please watch this video and think about what this story of Lot and his family means to you!  I would love to hear your insights!

I hope you all know how much I love each and every one of you.  I miss you all very much.  I feel like my love for each of you grows each day and I worry and pray for you.  I hope that you are all doing well.

Love Always,

Sister Stephen

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