Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An act of kindness, a baptism, and many more miracles!

Dear Super Family!

This week was really great!

We had an amazing miracle last p-day.  Sister Thacker and I were buying some things for our Zone activity and ourselves at costco with some other sisters.  (Sister Thacker has a costco card. yay!)  When suddenly, a man walked by who was a manager at that costco, gave the checker his card and walked away.  He paid for ALL of our things.  We didn't totally understand what was going on until it had already happened.  I almost started crying.  I was just in shock the rest of the day for that amazing act of kindness.  There was so many things that we were buying for our zone activity as well as for ourselves.  I know that the Lord will bless him.  Sister Thacker and I found him and thanked him for what he did.  I have had a few times when someone has paid for my food but no one has ever paid for my groceries.  Every time it happens, it is when I least expect it and when I really need it.  I am amazed by how the Lord takes care of his missionaries and the goodness that people have inside of them.  I am truly humbled that I can be the recipient of such kindness and pray that the Lord will bless these people ten fold.  I know that he will and that he loves and looks out for each one of us.

On Wednesday we had our Zone conference!  Yay!!  It was really good and I learned so much!  I learned about not being afraid to open up and personally connect with people and was reminded about the importance of truly listening for the whispering of the spirit and to the guests/investigators to know what their needs are.  I also learned about the importance of always teaching immediately with everyone I talk to whether it is on the square or through and inbound call or chat.  President Poulsen also instructed us about the Holy Ghost and receiving revelation.  Some of the things that he shared may have blown my mind about the gospel, but it was so amazing true and good!  He shared with us about how God can listen to all of our prayers ans answer each one of us.  I don't completely understand how it all works, but the spirit that we feel is kinda like the radio waves.  They are all around us, but we have to be in tune to them to hear them.  It is amazing to think about and I think I will have to ponder a lot about it. Sister Thacker and I also presented about "the Magic of the Daily Schedule".  We got complements on it but I think that they are just being nice to us. haha!  It was totally lead by the spirit because we had very little preparation time.  We were told that we were presenting something but we were not given the power point to go off of until Tuesday afternoon... on our p-day to present the very next day.  We looked up some scriptures to share about different topics and the spirit was there.  We talked about how everything in our schedule is connected from our planning the night before to exercising the next morning.  Basically the importance of obedience to the schedule and how it is given to us this way for a reason and blessings will come from following it.  I have learned that all of the commandments that Heavenly Father gives us are not just for us here on earth, but they all effect our spirits as well. D&C 29:34 "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created."  The spirit was really there and I was nourished spiritually.

On Thursday we covered for other sisters at the humanitarian center so that they could go to Zone conference.  It was really fun and I think that the church is so amazing and true.  It is because of the restoration of the gospel that we can have turn away from our natural man and serve others.  When you all come to SLC again, you have to go to the humanitarian center.  It is so so amazing to see what the church does with the humanitarian funds.  These funds are different from fast offerings.  You can see what happens with fast offerings at the Welfare Square which is also in SLC and totally worth going to see. :)  The church is so true!!

This Friday, Sister Thacker and I wanted to see a miracle, and we did!!!  Ledix gave us a referral of one of his friends who is also from Haiti.  When he referred him to us, he was actually over and we talked to him on the phone.  Ledix said that his friend "will go to church, meet with the missionaries, and be baptized."  We were so excited to teach his friend and help him come closer to Heavenly Father.  Well Friday we were able to teach him for the first time!!!  He is so amazing and wants to be baptized and come to church!!  We are so so excited for him!  We invited him to get baptized on September 13.  His only objection was that he might not be able to see us by then.  We explained that we will teach him on the phone and the local missionaries will meet with him too.  We told him that maybe we could skype his baptism and that sounded good for him.  He is so amazing!  And it is also an answer to a prayer from me for Ledix.  I have been so worried about him not having any friends at church, but now he will have a friend from his own country who speaks French and creole.  So amazing!!

We went on exchanges with some of the sisters in our zone on Friday and also on Monday.  It was a great chance to get to know the sisters better, know their concerns, and learn from them.  I went with Sister Cummings (Hawaii) on Friday and Sister Thacker went with Sister Lunddahl (Denmark) and Sister Barros (Brazil).  Yesterday I went with Sister Dantas (Brazil) and Sister Chen (Tiawan) and Sister Thacker went with Sister Esikia (American Samoa/Tonga) and Sister Ye (China/Australia).  Yes we are going in Trios with the Sisters so we can help their companionships.  We have lots more exchanges planned for this week.  I love these sisters so so SO much!  The church is so true!  Yesterday, Sister Thacker and I met with President Poulsen and the Assistants to discuss the sisters in our zone.  We talked about each one of them and what they need to develop to fill different roles and what their needs are.  I was terrified to meet with them, but it was really great.  :)

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pictures from the letter!

Super Birthday for a Super Sister Stephen!!!!

Dear Super Family,

I got my birthday package yesterday (we don't get mail on Saturday) and it is so awesome!!  Thank you so so SO much!!  I LOVE IT!  Thank you all so much!  I have not been able to read all of the scriptures on everything yet, but it is so sweet and thoughtful.  Your packages are so great! haha!  A sister told me that she understand more about me and my family just from looking at all of the superhero stickers on the box. So true!!

We used the cake mix, brownie mix to make treats for our zone.  We made the treat for our Zone Training meeting on Sunday.  I will send you a picture of the cupcakes.  They have W1 on them because we are in the West 1 zone.  West One is the Best One!!  Sadly, we had to last minute reschedule our meeting because of all of these other meetings that were scheduled even though we scheduled first.  It all worked out though! yay!  We had our ZTM this morning and the spirit was so strong and powerful!  I loved seeing the sisters role play (practice teaching situations with each other) and seeing them look at each other with so much love.  We did 2 different role plays.  In the first one we had them do How to Begin Teaching and then teach the restoration with their companion.  One missionary was pretending to be the guest and the other was the missionary.  But, when the missionary asked a question, they would change roles and have to answer that question as a guest/investigator and the other sister was then the missionary.  It was really good.  Then our 2nd role play was really special.  We prayed about who needed to be with which sister for this role play and we split up companionships.  They then had 20 minutes to solve the personal concerns of each sister.  The spirit was so strong during this role play!  It was so thick!  I was not with any sisters during the role plays so I got to time everyone, observe, and feel the spirit.  I had some of my own concerns resolved as I listened to the spirit and read my BoM.  We focused a lot on the Atonement and what we can do because of our Savior Jesus Christ.  We also showed some other videos to the Sisters about the atonement and how it applies to us and missionary work.  It was such a spiritual experience.  It was amazing how the Lord was really in control of the whole training.  When Sister Thacker and I planned and put together our powerpoint/training, the spirit really guided us to know what the sisters needed.  I know that the Lord has such an amazing hand in his work.  As missionaries, or as leaders, we don't do much.  We just follow what the Spirit tells us to do and then miracles happen and the Lord's children (missionaries, guests, members, and investigators) are taken care of.  I LOVE being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. This is the scripture that we shared with our zone for our zone focus for the transfer, and I love it!!

Mosiah 27:36-37 
"And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth."

This week, I have had an awesome time with Sister Thacker.  We have had a lot of fun and been able to teach a lot of people.  I have really learned how much the Lord loves the sisters in our zone and thus all his children.  We have gone on 2 different exchanges so far and it is amazing how the Lord tells us who to go with and what that sister needs.  It was not like the spirit told me this is what you must say, but he guided me to know what to say to these sisters and how to help them.  I know that God loves each one of his daughters so so much.  I am so grateful to be able to help them and to be guided by God to do so.  The spirit is so powerful.  I love serving others.

I hope you all know how very much I love you!!  My time is far spent, but I love you!!!!!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Monday, August 18, 2014

The best vacation day ever!!

These are some pictures we took when we visited Sis. Stephen this summer! 

As a Zone Leader

Howdy y'all!

 They have started putting Christmas lights on the trees on Temple Square.  CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!  What?  Sister Thacker and I have been making up a song about this and it goes to "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas":  "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Lights on all the trees.  We haven't had Halloween, or that Turkey thing, but yet the lights are all over the trees!"  It is a work in progress, but it is coming along. :)

Being a Zone Leader is crazy.  I am enjoying it so much because I have the chance to serve so many sisters!  One of the hard parts, is being able to get close with each one of the sisters because we have 9 companionships in our zone.  Sister Thacker are planning on going on exchanges with everyone by going in trios with each companionship.  We both will not be able to go with each companionship, but this way, we will be able to help the sisters more.  It is amazing how much we talk about the sisters in our zone and how much I love them already!  I am so excited for this transfer!  I hope that I can do enough to help the sisters and let them know that they are loved.  We have been working on making our zone focus for the transfer and what we can do to help the sisters achieve their baptism goal for the transfer and also how to feel like successful missionaries.  I am amazed by how much time and effort goes into these things.  It makes me think back at my past zone leaders.  I love all of them, but there are some that I see now, that did not magnify their calling to the extent that they should have.  I hope and pray that I will be able to magnify my calling to the fullest extent.  Sister Thacker is an awesome zone leader and I know that she will help me fulfill this hope/goal.

On Sunday Sister Andrea Scott and her two kids as well as Sister Burgoyne or Cristal (one of my companions from outbound) came and found me one the square!  It was really cool and we were able to take them an a really good and spiritual tour.  it was really good and the spirit was really strong.  Cristal and Caitlin (sister White- my other companion from outbound) are going to come and try to visit me on Thursday.  I told them, that if they found me then great but that work came before and they totally understand.  I am really excited to see them though!!

This week, I studies a lot about baptism and what it means and why we need to be baptized.  This is something that I have thought a lot about my entire mission.  In PMG, it talks a lot about covenants and that we make covenants to strengthen our relationship with Heavenly Father.  Covenants are also another opportunity to grow and to show God that we love him through our actions and choices to keep our covenants.  God sets the terms of our covenants and it is up to us to accept the terms or to reject them.  We make covenants with God through an ordinance which is a sacred ceremony that show we have entered or made a covenant.  I still don't know everything about baptism, but I do know that is is an essential ordinance in order to live again with God.  It shows that we will give up our old lives and commit to follow the Lord Jesus Christ to return to live with God.  It is a covenant that we will always follow God and not just for a short time here on earth, but that we will follow him for the eternities.  Covenants are not something to be taken lightly, but they are such a wonderful blessing to make with the Lord.

Mom reminded me that I did not give any of you a commitment when you came and visited me on Temple Square!  Shame on me!! How can I call myself a missionary and not give you an commitment!  But the atonement is real and I am now going to repent and give you a commitment.  This commitment has two parts.  Part one, Will you study from the Book of Mormon every day for 2 weeks?  Start your study with a prayer and ask that the Holy Ghost will help you to learn from what you will read.  Please read at least 3 verses.  Part 2, at the end of 2 weeks, will you pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is the word of God?  It does not matter if you have already prayed about the Book of Mormon or not, but this will help to strengthen your testimony.  I know that God will answer your prayer when you pray with real intent.  Real intent means that you really want to know the answer and that you will act on your answer.  God knows you and will answer your prayers.  I know that he will because he has answered my prayers to know that this Book is from him.  When I first started my mission, I had come here because I knew that the Lord wanted me here and because I wanted to come closer to him.  Those things still matter to me, but the reason why I am here has changed.  The reason that I am here is because I know that this is the true church.  I am here because I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that the Gospel makes me so happy and I want to share that with others.  I want each of you to have a firm testimony of the truth of the Gospel so when things happen that you will know the truth and be unwavering.  I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and that they called him to be a prophet and to restore the church of Christ here on the earth.  I know these things are true with all of my heart.  I want you to know them as well.  I love each one of you so very much and that is why I desire for you to know this for yourself.  Don't wait to find out or to re-find out.

I love you all so so very much!!
Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's August 13th!

Happy Birthday Sis. Stephen!
I hope you have a very happy day on Temple Square!
You are very loved by all who have had their lives touched by you!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Zone leader on Temple Square

Mubuhay everyone! (that means hello in Tagalog)

Audrey asked a good question about what my responsibilities as a Zone Leader will be verses what my responsibilities were as a District Leader.  So a zone leader is responsible for an entire zone or group of sisters.  In my zones I have about 9 companionships to watch out for (and one of them is a trio).  With my companion, we will report directly to president how well the sisters are teaching and achieving their goals, how they are progressing spiritually, how we can help them progress more, and if there are any problems.  We also take care of any sisters who get sick and help to make sure they get the proper attention and care.  We represent President Poulsen in our zone and help the sisters to be obedient.  We are a big part of the leadership chain because we report directly to President. So if a sister needs to get something approved, it goes through their district leader and then to us.  Often times, we can just approve it, but if it needs to go higher, we will take it to the APs or President.  We also tell president who we believe is ready to be a district leader or to train.  We also have the authority to call local bishops to check up on sister's investigators when they have not been contacted for a long time or when something is going wrong.  We receive training from the APs and President Poulsen and then we train the district leaders so they can train the sisters in their district, or we train the whole zone in 1 meeting.  
As a West zone leader, I am also in charge (with 3 other sisters thankfully) for setting up the trainings for sisters serving in Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center.  I also have to find sisters to serve or cover there where there are big tours or tours not in the normal hours we serve there.  That also means that I get to go to the trainings and that I can serve or cover there if needed! yay!  (We actually scheduled the trainings today and got everything all set up. and the transfer has not even started!  I honestly didn't do much in setting them up.)  The big difference between the responsibilities of a ZL and a DL is how many sisters you are in charge of, dealing with medical issues, calling bishops, and reporting to President Poulsen directly.  I hope that made sense... I honestly don't know everything that we will do, but that is what I do know! :)  I know that we are really busy taking care of our sister's needs and making sure that they are all taken care of.  I am really excited to serve so many sisters and hope that I can make a difference for them.

I really enjoyed seeing Mom, Audrey, Hyrum, Eve, Elora, and Joseph yesterday!! Along with the Hakalas and Debbie and kids and Mima and Papa!  It was so much fun!  I really felt the spirit taking you all through God's Plan and to the Christus.  I hope you all know how much I love you.  Sister Torino really enjoyed herself as well.  She love you all.  We did get soaked last night!  Sister Torino and I think it was the Lord saying that we needed to end our visit. haha!  We ran across the street and inside the North Visitor Center.  We got inside a little room where sisters put their belongings and tried to dry off a little bit.  We had been their for about 10 minutes when something crazy happened... the power went out!!!  The power in the North Visitor Center went out because the Church Office Building was struck by lightning!!  Can you believe it??  We had some emergency lights on but that was about it.  Sister Torino and I went to go contact people in the dark-ish basement. :)  It was lots of fun and we talked to a really cute family.  Oh and by the way, the present is really heavy!  I can't wait to open it even though I have to wait like a week and a half!  

I wish that I could email more, but I have to go pack and move!  craziness!!  I will have lots more craziness to report in a week! I am really excited for this new transfer and how I will stretch and grow.  I am really sad to say goodbye to Sister Torino because I love her so so much, but I know that it is time for both of us to get new companions and to learn new things.

I love you all so so SO much!!  I hope with all my heart that you know that.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen