Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The wonder of personal scripture study!

Hello Family!!
Happy Transfers week! Transfers are tomorrow but there are not really any big huge changes for me.  I am staying in the same Zone (West 1) and I am still a District leader.  I am still with Sister Torino as well.  The only real change is that we have to move apartments. ugh.  I so dislike moving.  Oh well.  Also there is only 1 sister from this transfer that is staying in our district.  I don't know the sisters in our district very well and I am so excited to get to know them better.  Oh and I am now a grandma.  Sister Ngo is training this transfer! AHHH!!  She is such a fabulous missionary and I love her so so much.  Honestly, we had a hard time in the first 6 weeks, but I love her so much and I am so grateful that I was able to be her trainer.

I am so excited for this next transfer and what Sister Torino and I will accomplish. I have already set some study goals for this transfer to help my personal development. I am working on completing the New Testament.Sister Torino and I have a goal to really study from PMG this transfer and how to teach the lessons simply. We will effectively roleplay everyday so that we can become better teachers and understand the doctrines better.
So I have been reading in the New Testament lately and the Lord has taught me a lot, very bluntly.  But I know who the lord loveth, he chasteneth. ;)  So One day this week, I was having a really hard time staying awake in my personal study. I was reading in Matthew 26 when Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane.  This was the scripture that I read. Matt 26:40 "And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" Personal Study is 1 hour... The spirit is willing but the flesh is week.  I have been doing a much better job at staying awake now...
The second time was today actually.  I have become an anti magnet.  I am not even kidding.  They always seem to find me, especially in the summer.  They always bugged me in my first transfer and a year later, they are still finding me.  Well this morning while I was in the shower, I was reflecting on my encounter with them yesterday.  I was getting kinda irritated and wondering why they would come and were so rude.  I was wondering why they came and wasted our time when we do not argue our faith with them and tell them that they are wrong.  This is the scripture verses that stuck out to me this morning. 
Matt 5:43-44 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you"
I need to love the anti's even though they despitefully use me.  I am working on it. :)
Our investigator is doing so well!!  We found a RM who served in France to be a member present for us and to help explain some things to him in french. I will tell you a bit about our investigator.  He just moved from Haiti to Florida and is taking classes to learn English better.  He is so wonderful and prepared for the gospel!!  He had been going to different churches, but did not feel like any of them were true.  He was looking online to see if he could find any other churches and he found the churches number called in, and I answered the phone!  He said that he loves the gospel and how close the families are in the church.  He has been reading the Book of Mormon in French and also in English so that he can understand it.  He is getting baptized on July 12th!!  Sister Torino and I are so excited and he is too!!
I love you all so very much!!
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

There she is!!

One of Sis. Stephen's favorite assignments

Sis. Stephen with the Most family!

Lots of tours!

Hello Family!!

I have had so many miracles this week and I want to share them with you!!

I got to see the Shelburg Famiy (they are in the Ralston Lavista Ward and taught cub scouts when HK was a wolf.

I heard that the Ford's came to the square. Some Sisters told me about it later.

There was an entire motor coach of people from Nebraska!! Sadly, I was not able to take them on a tour, but I met them as they were leaving. haha.  There was a lady from LaVista too.  It was really funny because sisters who took them told me that there was one man who just wanted to argue with them through the whole tour, then a couple came an apologized to them about the arguing man and told them that Nebraskans are not like that. haha!

And I saw the Most Family!!  That was such a miracle.  I announced this past Sunday and I was the first and last announcer which is pretty cool.  I was super nervous, but I practiced a lot and prayed, so everything went well.  We say something along the lines of: "Hello. My name is... and I am from... I would love to take you on a tour of temple square and tell you about the history and basic beliefs of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.  If you would like a tour please come talk to me after this presentation. Bye!"  But everyone says something like that in their own language.  So for my "language" I greeted everyone with a loud "Howdy ya'll!"  hahaha!! just playing on the perception that we are all hicks out there. haha But the amazing part was that the Most family went to music and the spoken word and were hoping and wondering how they were going to be able to find me.  They walked out and there I was!!  Sister Torino and I took them on a tour and it was so spiritual!!  We took them to the Tabernacle, Assembly Hall (1st church building), and the video presentation called God's Plan for His family.  The spirit was so strong in the God's Plan and I think everyone cried.  It was the most spiritual God's Plan that I have taken in a while.  It was wonderful and I think we all learned something.  :)  They asked me to call some of their friends, so I am working on contacting them.  No luck so far, but they will answer soon. ;)

Sister Torino and I have started planning for miracles when we plan every night and they have been answering.  One day, sister Torino and I planned to meet a group of Catholics and Methodist and to teach the restoration.  Well we did.  There was a tour that was texted out and Sister Torino called in and said that we would take the tour.  I did not really want to take it, but said a prayer and started out.  There were 3 in the group and 2 were catholic and 1 was Methodist!  They had heard a lot of things about what we believe from south park and the Book of Mormon play, so in the first building, I taught the entire restoration.  When I was telling Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision, the spirit was so overwhelmingly strong.  The Methodist man did not break eye contact with me the entire time.  I know that his spirit recognized the truth and the spirit. The other two were not so interested, but I know that they felt the spirit as well. There were lots of people in the Assembly hall, but the noise didn't affect the spirit.  They didn't refer, but I know that they felt the spirit and will remember what they felt. 

The other one was that we planned to find some troubled teenagers who would open up to us and let us help them, and we did!  One didn't know if the church was true and was beginning to doubt.  Sister Torino felt impressed to ask if he had ever read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know that it is true.  He said that he had never read it.  We invited him to read it and to pray to know if it was true.  The spirit was so strong and he said that he felt it and knew that he needed to do what we said.  Then we met two other boys in a ym's group.  One was less active, and the other was not a member.  I was able to talk to the less active one for a little bit and encouraged him to go to church again even though it is tough.  The leaders did not let us talk to them a lot, but it was wonderful.  I think that they will both come to church because of the great youth they were with.

Yesterday, we took a group of about 30 baptists on a tour.  There were 60 in total and we took half of them and another companionship took the other half.  They told us that they were here to do a ministry in the city and learn how to form/start churches.  They had come to temple square to learn more about the culture here...Lets just say that they were very concerned about the welfare of our souls and that we were going to hell.  There were not lots of questions/arguing int he first 2 locations of the tour, but then 2 Sister's joined our tour to help us.  Thank goodness!  Sister Siegle and Sister Dutra (both from Brazil) helped us in the last spot which was good because we would not have been able to finish the tour well without them.  It kinda made me sad, that so many people and youth are lost and going the wrong way.  I am so glad that they believe in Christ, but trying to arguing with missionaries from another faith is not helping anyone.  The youth only asked questions about the building and very basic beliefs, but the adults asked all sorts of deeper doctrine questions.  Why do people feel the need argue and try and fight with us.  I finally told a man, that we do not want to argue with him and that is not our purpose.  I then told him that we can only invite him to read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask God.  He then invited us to read the New Testament and I told him that I had studied from it yesterday and read about the sermon on the mount. haha he was surprised.  I think it is amazing, because almost one year ago, I was faced with similar situations, and I did not know what to do, but now, I my faith and trust is stronger and I understand the doctrine more so that I can face these situations confidently.  The Lord has strengthened my faith and trust in him so much through my mission.  I am so grateful that I know the truth and have such a strong testimony of it.  

This week in PMG I studied the chapter 11 about helping investigators make and keep commitments.  It is what I taught about in District Meeting.  When we invite someone to do something, we really inviting them to repent and change.  If we do not invite them, they will not repent and change so invitations are really important.  Secondly, there are different steps to an invitation. first the doctrine must be introduced and taught, second a specific invitation needs to be asked, third blessings are promised, and forth you testify.  Then you follow up!! and be devastated if they do not keep the commitment.  This is really an inspired way to help people repent and change and I love the power that is in it!!

I am also reading in the BOM and I am in Mosiah. :)

I love you all so so much!!  Sorry if I rambled a little.

Love Always, 

Sister Stephen

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The miracles are still coming!

Dear Family,                                                                                                                     July 10,2014

This week has been crazy for me.  There are lots of Sisters in my district that have been struggling.  This week, Sister Lee my MTC companion went home.  She has been really sick and she has not been getting better here.  I am so very sad.  Her companion, Sister Ioane, is now in a trio and is not in my district or in our zone.  :(  I still see her around though and we always talk.  I hope that Sister Lee gets better soon and will get to come back on her mission, but we will see what the Lord has in store for her.  Another companionship is having difficulties getting along.  They have quite a few differences and are both very stubborn, but they are both wonderful missionaries.  The Zone leaders and I talked with them yesterday and went on exchanges with them as well.  I think that the problem has been resolved, or atleast I really really hope it is!  I love these sisters and I hate to see them hurting each other.

I had quite a few miracles this week!  I was on exchanges with Sister Almeida and we met a young man outside the NVC.  He had been inside the temple doing baptisms for the dead when he felt like he didn't belong in the Temple, so he left.  He said that he had just prayed for help and then we walked up to him.  We talked to him about prayer and scripture reading, which he has not been doing.  He said that he just wanted to feel good in the temple.  We invited him to say a mighty prayer like Enos did.  (I had just studied Enos that very morning!)  He gave me his number and we are trying to get in contact with him again.  He was so lost, but I know that he will be able to feel God's love for him and find direction.

I also met the parents of a sister who is coming here next transfer!  When I was outbound, a young woman in the stake I was serving in was called to temple square.  Her name is Sister Merriel.  I was never able to meet her, but the sisters who were serving in her ward, told me about her.  Well her parents had just dropped her off at the MTC and came up to see Temple Square where she would be serving.  I was able to tell them what she would be doing and what the mission was like.  Her mother was so comforted.  I know that it was no coincidence that I met them on the square and served outbound in their area.  It is amazing to see how much the Lord loves each of us us and what he will do to help them.

Sister Torino and I have an investigator on date!! But the sad part is, that I feel that he needs to be transferred to a french speaking sister so that he can progress better.  He is so wonderful and I will be so sad to transfer him, but I feel like it would be better for him.  There are other people that Sister Torino and I need to find, we just have not found them yet.  I am very concerned that we will no reach our baptismal goal this transfer.  He is the only investigator on-date.  I have been wondering what I am doing wrong to not find these people and help them to come closer to Christ and receive the restored gospel.  I really want to have a baptism, but I wonder if I am really afraid to find them.  I have never had a baptism where I found and taught them.  I have always been transferred away right before the baptism.  I will have to have some personal reflection and pondering about this.  :)  I have the faith that God will help us find the people that are prepared, sometimes, it is just hard to wait on his timing.

I wanted to tell you what I learned in PMG this week like Elder Ballard said.  I keep forgeting to add it to my emails to you.  Yesterday, I read in the Christlike attributes section about Patience.  It was really needed.  I did the study activity and was able to read a few of the scriptures listed as well.  I learned that there are many reasons that we need to be patient.  One of them is so that God can use you as an example to others (Alma 17:10-11).  God will use your example to bring the truth to others.  When we bear our afflictions with patience, God promises us that he will give us success (Alma 26:27).  Helping us to be patient is how God chastens us and shows us that He loves us (Mosiah 23:21). I also learned about the importance of submitting cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.  When we submit, we are able to be taught.  When we are patient, it means that we are acting in faith and hoping for the blessings that God has promised us.  God knows better than we do and he often requires us to be patient so that we can learn a lesson.  (Mosiah 24:9-16) 

I love you all so so much!!  I hope that you are all doing well and that you have an awesome week!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tuesday June 3rd letter

Hello sweet family!
This week has been good and also very crazy. Sister Torino and I have gone on lots of exchanges and we have seen lots of miracles. When we were on exchanges, Sister Torino called one of the investigators that I had dropped back in January because we were never able to get a hold of him. His name is Juan. Apparently, he has been meeting with the local missionaries for a month, is reading the Book of Mormon, and has been going to church! That is a huge miracle! I have not actually been able to talk to him yet (because of the exchanges), but Sister Torino says that he is awesome. By the way, Sister Torino is so great! She is a hard worker and she is so funny! We are laughing all the time. I love Filipinos.
I hope that I can make a difference here for the Lord so that I do not waste his time. Sister Torino and I are working hard and having fun to accomplish our goals especially our baptismal goal for the transfer.
Mom, we had Zone training on your birthday!  I thought of you!  I actually did a training on goals which is really funny because mom and dad have been trying to teach me how to set goals all of my life... I only just have started to figure it out! haha!  Apparently I understand goals well enough to train on them now.

So I got an email from a return sister missionary, and she told me that the Captain America movie was really good, but that I should watch it only after I have gotten readjusted after my mission. haha! Do you all agree?  For the future, when I get back, please start me out with something soft and sweet. okay?  not too much action or drama or I may run back to temple square.
I think that I am completely changing!  I think my personality has changed a little bit.  I don't get as angry or frustrated quickly. Also, I don't think that I am sarcastic anymore.  I can be every once in a while, but it is obvious and people don't have to second guess what I mean.  I feel like I can be more loving that way.  I think that I am quicker to see the good in the situation and others than I use to be.  The atonement and the mission is so amazing because it lets and makes me change in ways that I didn't know that I needed to or that I thought was possible.
I will hit my year mark on June 26th... then I will have to tell people that I have been here "over a year" instead of "under a year"... NOOOOOO!!!!!!! Where has the time gone????

I love you all so so much!!  I hope that you are doing well and know that where ever you go and whatever you do, I will always love you!
Love Always,
Sister Stephen