Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Letter from July 22nd :) We all need a conversion story!!!!!

Hello Sweet family!

The Gospel is true and it just brings so much joy to everyone!  I love helping people to see the joy that the gospel brings and to help them to have that joy in their life as well.  I just love it!  

I ran into some family yesterday. ;)  Everyone looked so much bigger. It was so wonderful to take them on a short tour that turned out to be pretty long because we had to wait for about 20 minutes to go into a certain presentation.  But the spirit was really strong.  I hope they all felt it.  I invited my cousins to pray last night to know if the Book of Mormon is true.  I hope that they followed trough on their commitment and did pray.  I am so glad that I prayed at an early age to know that the church was true.  I am so so grateful for my personal conversion story.  We all need to have a conversion story even if we were born into the church, that does not matter.  

I am learning a few words in Tagalog!  It is about time because I claim to be 1/2 philipina because I have had 4 transfers with filipinas.  This is how you say I love you: Mahal kita. I am working on memorizing the church's name is Tagalog.  Every transfer each language has a meeting were the sisters get to talk in their native tongue and talk about how to help their investigators who speak that language.  Then after teh meeting, they usually eat food from their country.  This past filipino meeting, I made pineapple pie (it is a Philippines thing) for the feast and it was really yummy!  I ate a lot of yummy filipino food. yum!

This week my personal study has not been as good as it has been in the past.  I don't really know why, but I am working on making it better.  But I still learned from my studies.  Today actually, I learned a lot about repentance.  In the first chapter of PMG, it talks about our purpose as a missionary.  I read on page 8 about helping people to keep commitments and how that leads to increased faith and repentance.  I learned that true repentance requires, a change of heart, a desire to forsake sin and serve God, humbly yielding to the spirit and submitting to Gods will.  It also requires an sincere and really lasting change of not just our actions, but also our thoughts desires and habits.  I thought that this was so interesting because it made me think about how repenting changes every part of us, not just a single part but our entire selves.  I thought about my experiences with repentance have changed so much of who I am and who I desire to become.  It is an amazing thought to think about who the atonement allows us to become if we are willing to give up what we have for something better.  I hope that I can always be willing to give things that are keeping me from God up for a better relationship with my Father in heaven.
I am also starting a challenge to read 1 section from the Doctrine and Covenants everyday for the rest of my mission so that I will complete it by the end of my mission. 

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Cute Sister Missionary pictures!

These are a bunch of pictures that the Sisters took where they announce tours in different languages :)


This is Bert. The pigeon that lives outside of Sis. Stephen's apartment on the light.

Adventures at Girls Camp!!!

My district!!!

Sis. Torino blindfolded for the life line!!

The package

The Stephen family sent Sis. Stephen a package with the theme of 'Neon'

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sis. Torino is pretty funny!

Dear wonderful family!

First off, I want to tell you a funny story...  Sister Torino and I were coming home late from the square and in the complex where we live, there are lots of senior missionaries that live there as well.  The senior missionaries were have a little potluck/get together in the lounge area of the building and they saw us and a few other sisters and told us to come and eat.  they made us take some food/ goodies home with us too.  I made sure Sister Torino had gotten some Doritos because she loves them so much.  So when we finally got back to our apartment, we were snacking and planning for the next day.  Sister Torino loves Doritos and she loves Nutella...  She decided to combine the two and luckily I got it recorded on Camera. haha!!!  She dipped her chip in the nutella and ate it.  Then she chewed in silence for a few moments looked at me and in a surprised voice said, "It's not good!"  "Don't try it, trust me."  HAHAHA!!  I died laughing!
Ledix received the Holy Ghost this last Sunday!!  I am so so happy!  It has been amazing to see the joy of the true gospel so evident in his life!  As members, sometimes we forget all of the blessings that we have and the joy that we should feel everyday with the true gospel in our lives.  We should be the very happiest people on earth!!  I forgot to get his baptism picture on my flash drive but I have a funny selfie that he sent us.

We had an amazing miracle. Lately, I have been praying for a baptism miracle.  Sister Torino and I made a goal of 2 baptisms for this transfer.  Ledix was our first baptism and I have been praying that the Lord would send us a miracle so we could fulfill our goal. In response to my prayers, the Lord has sent us lots of miracles, not another baptism yet, but lots of miracles. Yesterday morning, we were contacting people out by the relief society building, Joseph Smith Building, and Reflection pool. We talked to lots of people, but they were all very rude to us and the saddest part about it was that they were all members! I was really having a tough time because they were... well rude members! They should have been kinder. However, we kept trying and talking to people. 

We were heading back to the square when Sister Torino offered to take a picture of a couple and the temple. Their names were Shelbee and Tuks (said like "tooks"). We got to talking and found out that Tuks was from Fiji and that he wanted to learn more about the church! Shelbee's parents had served a mission in Fiji and she had gone to visit him and that is were she met Tuks. The family had paid for Tuks to come and visit their family in the United States down in Saint George. Shelbee was really hesitant when we first started teaching the restoration, and told us that the missionaries in Fiji had his information. But soon she jumped in and shared her testimony as well. (It was not my finest teaching of the restoration, but the spirit was there when we spoke about the Book of Mormon and Moroni's promise.) We all went to the south visitor center and got Tuks a copy of the Book of Mormon in English and Fijian and exchanged contact information. He has read the introduction and a few other parts of the Book of Mormon. He went to church and has prayed about the Book of Mormon. He is amazing! The only thing I feel bad about is that Sister Torino are teaching a Fijian when the Fijian sisters don't have lots of Fijian investigators. I am so very excited to see Tuks's progression and how he comes to know that all of this is true! :)

This week in PMG, I focused a lot about improving my teaching skills.  I feel like I have gotten into a routine with my teaching and I am trying to make sure that I am teaching people and not lessons.  I am working on using more questions and scriptures in my teaching.

I hope that you all know how very much that I love you.  I have been thinking about how much I love you all lately and how grateful that I am to be in this family with all of you.  I have also been thinking about the changes I have seen in each one of you as I have gone on my mission and how grateful that I trusted the Lord to take care of my family while I have been away serving Him to the best of my ability.  I love you all and I know that this gospel is so incredibly true!!

Love Always, 
Sister Stephen

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Late letter!

Sorry that this letter is so late. It was from this last Tuesday. It just didn't get to me until Today, just in time for Sis. Stephen's next p-day letter :)
Well, I hope you enjoy it. This letter is a pretty cool one!

Trust and Humility

Hello Sweet Family!!

 I love my district so so SO much!  They are so wonderful!  I remember when I was set apart as a missionary, I was promised that I would know that I needed to be.  I know that these sisters are suppose to be in my district.  As I have gone on exchanges with them, I have felt Heavenly Father's love for them.  So many of the trials and things that they are struggling with are things that I myself have struggled with.  It is so amazing to see how the Lord has prepared me to be here for these sisters and to help them with the very best of my ability.  I love these sisters so so much!  I have so much to learn from them.

On Saturday, our mission had a fun trip to Brighton Girls Camp!!!  It was just like last year.  I had so so much fun!!  We got mission shirts (now I have two, YES!!) and we got to do lots of fun team building activities and games.  Sister Torino conquered her fear of heights and repelled off of a rock/cliff.  I did it too and it was really fun.  We also played lots of games with a group of sisters.  One game was called Tomahawk walk and it was like walking across a tight rope with a few ropes hanging down.  you had to hold on to the rope above and reach for the next one.  Everyone would cheer for you as you tried to get across without falling.  It was so much fun.  Some sisters cheered for me saying, "you are from Nebraska!"  Go Nebraska! Be strong like the pioneers were in Nebraska! "  haha!  it was really funny.  Another game was called Nitro.  In this game we were standing on a "bridge" and we had to swing on a rope to a little platform where we all had to fit.  There were 12 sisters in our group oh and we were not allowed to talk.  At one point in time, we all fell over. haha!  There was one sister that was allowed to talk (it was a sister that was able to see what was going on.  The leaders just had us start over and I had a sister on my shoulders so we could all fit on the platform! haha!  But we did it!  We also played a game called home base where we had to swing from platform to platform and switch spots with other sisters.  It is kinda confusing to explain...  I always had to lasso the rope that we would swing on so now everyone thinks that I am a cowgirl. :) There were so many spiritual applications to these games!  It really amazed me.  From the Tomahawk walk, the ropes that we held on to were like the scriptures, the prophet, church leaders and so on because we can not make it back to Heavenly Father without them.  From the Nitro game, it was about humility and listening to your leaders, trust, and team work.  The home base came was about teamwork and trusting that those around you will catch you when you swing.  We also did the life line again this year.  I don't know if you remember what the life line is so I will tell you.  All of the Sisters were blindfolded and had helmets on and we were lead one at a time to a rope.  We were given a few rules 1) don't let go of the rope, 2) No peaking, 3) No talking, and 4)you will know when you have reached the end.  We then hold onto this rope and try to follow it as it winds through lots of trees.  Sometimes we would come to a tree and there would be lots of ropes coming off the the tree.  I would feel the ropes with one hand while I kept a firm hold on the one that I knew was right until I could find which was the right rope for me to continue on with.  I continued on, at one point in time, I was stuck in a big group of sisters who were trying to figure out which way to go.  It was hard to wait when I was being pushed around.  Some people touched my hands and tried to get me to move.  At the end, President Poulsen put his hands on my shoulder and said "Well done Sister Stephen.  Welcome home."  Someone then took my hands and led me to a place to sit with other sisters who had finished already.  We held hands with the sisters next to us.  I imagine that is a small portion of what it will feel like to go home to Heavenly Father.  I felt so good and safe.  This was my second time doing this and I learned different things this time.  This time, I was so much more patient and slow in my "journey".  I just sang hymns in my head when I was worried about being lost.  As soon as I realized that a rope was not the right one, I let go of it immediately and looked for the right one.  I realized how good it would feel to arrive at home and how much joy Heavenly Father has when we make the right choices to return to live with him again.

Yesterday, I had an exchange with Sister Cheng from Hong Kong.  She is my Zone leader, and we saw so many miracles on chat from !!  I got 1 new investigator and a recent convert that is wondering if being baptized was the right choice.  It was the right choice, but she is having a hard time recognizing the spirit.  Sister Cheng and I also took 3 mandarin tours!  The mandarin people are so much fun!!  Did you know that I can introduce myself in Mandarin?  well I can!  I can also say, hello, thank you, come come come, and good bye.  yep that is all the the mandarin that I can speak!  I had a really fun time with Sister Cheng and we go so much done.

Our investigator is getting baptized on the 20th!!  He is so excited and we are too!  He is excited to go to the temple and get his mother's work done.  He also wants to be worthy of the priesthood and is excited to receive it as well.  He is just loving the gospel and is eating it up!  He is such a miracle!  Sister Torino and I are going to try and skype his baptism.

I can't remember if I told you all, but we went to the bountiful temple last p-day because the Salt Lake Temple is closed.  It was so so wonderful and I loved it!!  I am so greatful that we live close to a temple!

Today we have our Zone activity and I will send you pictures from that next p-day!  We are going to the Howell's home.  They are a wonderful senior couple who are the mission secretaries.  We are going to have a barbecue!!  I am so so excited!

I have been having such a good time with Sister Torino!  She is so so wonderful and is always there for me!!  I love her so so much!

I love you all so so SO much!  I talk about my wonderful family when I testify of the Temple and eternal families to people that we meet on the square.  I am so glad that I am sealed to you for time and all eternity.  I love you all so so much!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A great week in a short letter

Dear Family,

I am so sorry but this is going to be a super short letter from me this week.
This week has been so so wonderful!  I have gone on lots of exchanges and learned so much about the sisters in my district and how to best serve them.  This is my 3rd transfer as a district leader, and I finally feel like I am magnifying my calling and really being there to help the sisters become the very best that they can be.  I LOVE IT!!  I am so much happier because I am serving them more.  I am also being blessed with so many miracles because of it. 

This week I had a huge miracle with our investigator.  He was on-date for this Saturday, but the local missionaries had not visited him yet.  I had escalated the referral twice and we had had a really hard time getting a hold of him because of his English class and work.  But yesterday, we got a hold of him and he met with the local missionaries, went to church (he had needed a ride to go to church) and is on-date for July 20th!!!  He bore his testimony to us and it was so beautiful!  I was actually on exchanges when I we talked to him and I was with Sister Occolier who speaks french!  His first language is French!  He has been so prepared for the gospel and it is amazing to see how it is changing his life!  I am so excited to see him embrace the gospel.  I love being a missionary.  I know that this miracle happened because I have worked my hardest and trusted God.
I love you all so so much!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why the picture change??

I changed the picture from the Salt Lake Temple to the Assembly Hall (also on Temple Square) because the Assembly Hall is one of Sister Stephen's favorite places on Temple Square!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

An awesome weekend!!

I got to visit Sis. Natalie Stephen on Saturday and get a pretty cool personal tour
This is her past companion (on the left) and her current companion (on the right) 

AND....the Brandvold's ran into her on Sunday!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's already been a year!!!

Happy Independence Day!!  Now a few quotes about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the United States.  :)
“The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner.” -Joseph Smith

“[The Constitution] was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty.” -Brigham Young

“This land shall be a land of liberty … and there shall be no kings upon [it]. …
“… For I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words. …
“… For it is a choice land, saith God … wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me.” (2 Ne. 10:11, 14, 19.)

Without the freedom found in America or the United States, the church could not be restored.  The United States was the only country in the world with enough freedom to allow the restoration to occur.  It only had just enough.  The early saints, still went though many persecutions, but they were free enough to follow the modern-day prophet and to have the restored gospel once again on the earth.  Think of that before you go and light off all of the fireworks and eat yummy berry trifle. :)   Remember that God prepared this country so that He could restore Christ's church on the earth.  I know that God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and to translate the Book of Mormon.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. I know that the Lord prepared this country to be the home of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful to God that I have the opportunity to share this message with the world. We are so lucky to have this Gospel in our lives and to live here in America.

So... Last week on Thursday, I hit my year mark.  ekkkk!!  What in the world just happened????  How did a year go by so fast?    I can't believe that I have served the Lord full time for 1 year.  I don't want it to end.:)

Update on my new district.  There are 4 companionships in my district.  First Sister Torino and myself.  Then Sister Vosaniyagona (or Sister Veeh) from California/Tonga/Fiji and Sister Lunddhal from Denmark.  They are in member events which means that they run all of the youth conferences that are held here on Temple Square and there is one almost everyday!  There are 4 companionships in charge of this though.  Next is Sister Esikia from Tonga/American Samoa and Sister Occolier from a French Island in the Caribbean which I forgot... oops ;)  It starts with a 'c'!  They are also in Member events. And then Sister Balledos from the Philippines and her trainee Sister Caramia from Italy!!  We have such an awesome district!!  We are going to get so close and be awesome friends!  Also we are going to become more converted to the gospel and it is going to be fantastic!! I am so so excited!!  I had my first District meeting this week and I am really excited for the transfer. :)  Oh also, Sister Ngo is training Sister Radamason from Madagascar!!  So cool right?!  

I have seen so many miracles lately!!  Yesterday alone, I saw 3 of them.  I was on exchanges yesterday with one of the sisters in my district.  Her name is Sister Esikia and she just got back from her outbound in California.  I think it was because of the exchange that I saw so many miracles. :)
I got a new investigator after the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration film!  We introduce the film and then also are there when the film ends to talk to people and to invite them to learn more or refer their friends.  Well this woman is out here visiting her daughter and was so impressed.  She really felt the spirit.  She wanted to learn more, but she was also really nervous about it, but she gave me her email and said that I could teach her more.  She was really touched by how nice the 'mormons' at her daughter's work had been to her daughter.  It was a really cool experience.  
Then, I met another one of our new investigators at the Joseph Smith Movie again!  Sister Torino had met him in the tabernacle while we were talking to different people!  I was able to set up an appointment for Sister Torino to teach him while I was at Mission Leadership Council today.  She said that the lesson went pretty well.
I have an eternal investigator.  He has been passed down through many sisters, and yesterday he told me that he will be baptized in the first few weeks in August!!! yay!  He has a word of wisdom problem with smoking and drinking that we are helping him to get over.  I am so excited for him!!
Last week, we were stopped by two guys who asked if we were converts, Sister Torino is a convert and joined when she was 11 years old.  Her story is so awesome.  At first, we were afraid that they were anti or something like that, but they were not at all.  It turns out that one of the guys is investigating the church and that his friend (a RM) was helping him out.  He is getting baptized on the 5th but was really not sure if this was the right thing to do.  Sister Torino bore her testimony to him and told her how she came to know this was the restored church.  The spirit was so powerful!  It was not sister Torino speaking, but it was the spirit speaking through her.  I asked him afterwards about how he felt about his baptism, and he said that he felt better because of what Sister Torino said!  he turned into our new investigator and he is having his baptismal interview tomorrow!!  He asked us to call him right before so he is not so nervous.  He is still struggling about Joseph Smith, but because we have encouraged him, he is reading the Book of Mormon and praying and fasting about Joseph Smith.  We have been texting him almost constantly and I think that he is ready.  :)  He will be baptized this Saturday!!! yay!!

Today I went to Mission Leadership Council (MLC) and it was awesome!!  I learned so much and I am so excited to train the sisters in my district about it.  One of the things that President talked about was how to help companions to get along.  Apparently, the closest thing to a marriage is a missionary companionship.  That makes a lot of sense actually.  So we learned some ways to help resolve conflicts and I got to roleplay to show how to use a certain counseling technique.  It was really helpful.  Also President talked about how we know if our investigator is ready for baptism.  It was really good.  We went over Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and broke it down and it was very insightful.  :)

PMG! This past week, I studied the BOM for District Meeting, and parts of Chapter 8 (using time wisely) for Mission Leadership Council (MLC).  I had one paragraph really stand out to me in Chapter 8.  It is on page 151 and is the 1st paragraph after the bullet points: "Accountability does not come only at the end of your mission. It is a principle that influences how you begin, how you think and feel about the responsibility the Lord has given you, how you approach your work, and how well you endure. The attitude you have toward your mission experience is a reflection of your love toward your Heavenly Father and His Son and your respect for the priesthood."  This paragraph taught me a lot!!  I love it!  The way that I account for my responsibility will effect every part of my service.  It is a reflection of who I am and how converted I am to the Lord and his service and how much I love him and the responsibilities that He has given me.  I never realized what accountability reflects.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

P.S. There is an article with pictures of Temple Square sisters in the July Ensign holding different signs that say their language on them.  That is what announcing looks like! ;)  We do it after music and the spoken word and invite people in different languages to take a tour and learn more.  The sisters in the magazine are wonderful and I know each one of them.  They are awesome! the article is called The Book of Mormon, the Gathering of Israel, and the Second Coming