Monday, September 22, 2014

The Church is True!

Hello Hello!!
Don't get use to this 2 emails a week thing because it probably will not happen again for a while...if it does happen again ;)

Sister Magidson and I had an awesome first day yesterday and we saw so many miracles!!  We took a motorcoach and it had a bunch of older people.  Older people are usually not very open to change and are set in their ways but we had a miracle.  I did not think that the tour was going very well and neither did Sister Magidson, but we testified anyway and we invited people to read the Book of Mormon for themselves.  The spirit was strong as we explained the promise given to us by Moroni and what he went through to give us this promise and  to protect the records from prophets testifying of the Savior.  He was the last Christian in the Americas!  Sister Magidson bore a beautiful short testimony about how she new that the Book of Mormon was true and guess what, 6 people asked for Book of Mormons and gave us their information!!!  It was so amazing!!  Usually we don't have many referrals on Motorcoaches (unless they are Chinese) and especially not when they are old!  It was a huge miracle!!  
Then a member walked up to us with his bike and asked if we wanted a flower.  He gave us little paper flowers that he had folded!  He is preparing to go on a mission.  We asked if he had any questions about preparing for a mission and he asked really good questions!  I have asked that lots of youth if they have questions about missions and I have never had anyone ask questions like that.  He asked what we sacrificed to go on our missions and why we did it.  He asked if there was anything that we wished that we knew before hand.  I will answer the questions for all of you.  I sacrificed being with my family.  I still can't believe that I left all of you in 16 days, but I am so glad that I was willing to do that.  But one thing that I have learned is that by leaving you all, God has taken care of you much better than I ever could.  I know that Heavenly Father has taken care of my family because I was willing to leave to serve Him.  He has done a much better job at helping you than I ever could if I was at home.  I am so grateful for the many many miracles that he has sent you. 

 I knew that the gospel was true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's restored church on the earth, but I did not realize how big that knowledge was.  Now that knowledge is a much bigger part of who I am and who I am becoming.  I always said I was a Mormon, but now I am overjoyed to be a member of God's true church on the earth.  It was something that I knew in my head, but I did not understand fully in my heart.  I now better understand it in my heart and am now more converted to the gospel.  I don't know if that made any sense at all, but I hope that it did.

Our last miracle of yesterday was that we found a new investigator in the Assembly Hall!! He is wondering about if he should have a relationship with God or not.  We taught him a lot about faith.  I don't think that he is even very sure about what he believes so it will be interesting to see where our lessons go with him.  I think we are going to start out very basic with the restoration and our relationship with God as his children.  I really like teaching with Sister Magidson because she is so genuine.

I hope you all know how very much I love you!  I am so glad that you are in my family!!  I am so very grateful to be a missionary and to be part of spreading the good news.  I love the gospel with all my heart.  I know that Jesus Christ died for each of us and that he felt every little thing that we have and will ever feel.  This was not just limited to physical pain but also emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and anything else.  He did this because He loved us and wanted us to have the chance to live with our Heavenly Father again.  But this was not all that he did.  After 3 days he lived again and was resurrected.  What a miracle and marvelous gift!  Because he lived again and lives today, we know that death is not the end and that we will live again too.  I know that God still speaks to us through a prophet today named Thomas Monson because he is unchanging and because he loves us.  I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and that it was translated by the power of God.  I know that Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet of God and that the Priesthood keys were restored through him.  I know that the priesthood is a real power and that is is necessary to be baptized by that authority from God to return to live with him.  I know that temples are literally the houses of God and that Families really can last forever.  I know that I am a daughter of God and that God knows each of us individually and loves us.  That is why he gave us the Gospel of Jesus Christ and gave us a savior.  I know these things with all my heart and I have a firm hope that I will live with God again with my entire family. 

I love each of you so so much!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

A new zone, new sisters, and Nebraska

Hello Family!!!

Tomorrow is transfers!  It is so crazy how fast 6 weeks goes!!  Sadly Sister Thacker and I are not going to be companions next transfer.  My new companion is Sister Magidson from Northern Virginia.  I was her roommate when I was in fleet.  We are going to be zone leaders together for the South 2 zone.  (Sister Thacker and I were in the West 1 zone)  I am excited to be her companion because I know that I will learn a lot from her.  But I am really sad to not be companions with Sister Thacker.  But she can't get rid of me too easily because she is in my zone still!! haha!  I am killing off Sister Magidson because this is her last transfer.  There are a lot of sisters gong home next transfer which is really crazy to me.  There are actually 4 in my new zone.  I can't believe that I am in my second to last transfer!  That just means that I am going to have to work really really hard!
Other changes for this next transfer: my p-day will be on Thursday, so you will probably hear from me twice this week. :)   Also part of South 2's responsibilities is Guest Services and West Gate.  The Sisters in South 1 and South 2 have differnt shifts in these roles.  When people schedule tours they call guest services and talk to sisters there who schedule the tour or other event and find sisters to take the tour.  Pretty much they are the ones you call when you don't know if there is something open or what is going on. ! Now I get to be the one that tries to find the answers.  West Gate is an information booth by the west gate of temple square.  They are the sisters that sisters in the buildings call when people request a tour.  The sisters in WG then text all of the Sisters on the square to find sisters that can take the tour.  They also record all of the info about the tours so we can report it to the mission department (how many guests and members? referrals received?).  They also get materials ready for Sisters who are taking big motorcoaches (bus tours).  The Sisters in WG also answer lots of questions from guests and direct them to the right places.  They are in an information booth. ;)
I am really excited to get to know the sisters in my new zone because I don't know many of them very well.  I do know a few of them though. :)  I think that we will have lots of fun and that I will be able to better magnify my calling this transfer because I better know what I am doing.

I am really going to miss our West 1 zone though.  I have really learned to love these sisters so much!  Each one of them is so beautiful and a wonderful missionary.  There is Sister Ellis (Singapore)and her district.  Sister Occolier (her companion-Martinique- a french island in the Caribbean) Sister Tuinukiafe (Tonga), Sister Polanco(Guatemala), Sister Dantas (Brazil) and Sister Y. Chen (Taiwan).  Sister Ranama's (Fiji) district: Sister Tiritilli (her companion), Sister Tanjarantham (Thailand), Sister Saet (Philippines), Sister Casagrande (France), and Sister Skaggs (Cali). And Sister Brink's (Tennessee) district: Sister Jarrett (Hawaii), Sister Lunddahl (Denmark), Sister Barros (Brazil), Sister Esikia (American Samoa), and Sister Ye (China).  They are each so different, but I love each of them so much!!  My heart has grown so much this transfer!!

Super exciting news!!!!!!!  There are Sisters from Temple Square going on their outbound to the OMAHA NEBRASKA MISSION!!!!!  We found out on Tuesday and they announced the place where the sisters were going before they announced who was going... I screamed like crazy!!!!  I may have actually damaged Sister Thacker's ears.  So sorry companion.  My throat hurt all day from screaming... I got a little over excited. haha!  But this is the first time that they have sent sisters to Nebraska!!!!!!! Please look for these dear sisters.  I know both of them and love them a lot.  Sister Eldenberg from Sweden and Sister Hirro from the Philippines.  I really hope that at least one of them serve in our ward.  They are both really sweet sisters.

Sister Thacker and I got an awesome new investigator this week.  We took him and his girlfriend on a tour.  No one else was able to take the tour so we took it and there were huge miracles!  He was with his member girlfriend.  He really wanted to learn more and has an awesome faith in Jesus Christ.  We have been keeping in touch with him over text and this morning he asked if he could meet with local missionaries as well as with us!! YES!  That is exactly what we want because you can't get baptized without meeting with the local missionaries!!  He will be baptized in a few weeks, I am sure of it.

I love you all so so much!!!

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cakes and Scripture

Dear Fantastic Family!

Zone Activity was so much fun!!!  I think the sisters really enjoyed it.  We went to a park and just hung out, roasted hotdogs, ate lots of food, made smores (many of the internationals had never had smores before!), had a silly string war, spray painted t-shirts, had glow sticks, took lots of pictures, had a spiritual thought about refiners fires, and drove home.  We had a few crazy things happen like sisters came about 2 hours late and were lost for about 30 minutes and would not listen to our directions, but they eventually got there! :)  Also a random guy showed up and the sisters fed him and started teaching him.  He joined us for just about everything and it was really awkward... and we don't think he is a real investigator because he has given his information to other sisters before by another name... weird.  But overall it was so much fun, relaxing, and spiritual. :)  I will send you some pictures from it.

Sister Thacker and I saw some amazing miracles this week!!  We got 3 new investigators from 1 tour on Friday!  3 on 1 tour!!  It was one of the very best tours that I have ever taken on my mission!  It was our flagpole tour (our assigned tour that we offer week on the hour) and those tours are usually really hard to get new investigators from because there are many different types of people who show up for the tour and they have different ranges of interest level.  Well... Sister Thacker and I originally spaced that we had the tour!  We thought that the tour was at 6 and not at 5!  We got a call from West Gate who asked us if we were coming to take our tour so we ran over and got there a little late, but we were able to take the tour! We started out with 14 people on our tour and we ended with just 4 people. We first took them all up to the Christus Statue in the North Visitor Center.  Then we went to the Handcart monument and then to the Assembly Hall.  A father and her daughter referred to us and another woman as well!  They also accepted local missionaries which means that they will be able to get fellowship at church and be able to progress faster and get baptized!  They can't get baptized unless they meet with the local missionaries.  Also on Friday I had a woman call in for a Finding Faith in Christ DVD and as we got talking I told her about the Book of Mormon and how it has strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ and that I knew that it could do the same for her.  She asked me for 3 copies of the Book of Mormon- one for her, one for her daughter, and one for her husband!  We are now teaching a family!!  So exciting!!  Also on Friday, Sister Thacker got a call from a member who referred his friend John.  On Saturday Sister Thacker contacted John and he is another new investigator!!!  He really really wants to have the Holy Ghost in his life.  Hopefully the missionaries will contact him soon so he can get baptized!!

We also had a Zone Teaching Center pump up.  This means that for 2 hours, we all were in the teaching center and we worked on contacting our referrals and potential investigators.  Two companionships actually found out that some people had been baptized!!  We had 4 baptisms in our zone this week!! That is so awesome!!  We also had a Zone meeting on Monday that also went very well. We had everyone in the zone roleplay the restoration in 1 minute. They had to stop where ever they were in the lesson when they reached their minute mark.  It really amazed the sisters and helped them to see why it is important to teach simply. Then we had a little demonstration. Many sisters in our zone have a hard time understanding the importance of developing teaching skills specifically "How to begin teaching" (PMG chapter 10 developing teaching skills).  These things are vital when we begin to teach people because it helps them to begin to trust us and also it helps us to establish our purpose with them.  It lets them know that we see them getting baptized and how the gospel will help them.  We had some little hostess cakes which we started handing out to sisters to eat. We nicely handed the cupcakes to the sisters and then we shoved one in a sisters face (Sister Polanco). Everyone started laughing and was shocked. We explained to them that the gospel is like the cake. We can't shove it in people's faces because then they will not want it. That is why we do HTBT and why we develop teaching skills so they will want the cake. The Sisters really got the demonstration. We also made a companionship study plan for our zone for this week so the sisters can learn to have productive companionship study and build unity.  I am so excited to see the sisters grow and become better teachers!!!  They are so great and Sister Thacker and I feel that this will help them to become even better teachers and missionaries.

Relief Society was really good this week as well.  Sister Rodgers from the Relief Society General Board came and spoke to us.  she talked about the importance of living up to our privileges not our potential.  3 Nephi 2:12 "Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty."  She also told us the story of Nehemiah From the Old Testament, He was rebuilding Jeureselum and so many people were trying to distract them from their task of rebuilding the city.  The city had been destroyed and Nehemiah was leading the people in helping them to rebuild it.  Nehemiah 2:2-3 He was doing an important work so he told them that he could not come down.  We can learn a lot from Nehemiah's example about not letting the world distract us from what the Lord has asked us to do.  Don't get distracted from the Lord's work!

By the way, I thought I would share one of my favorite scriptures with you.  Isaiah 41:10
"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."  Also "How Firm a Foundation" is my favorite hymn.

Love Always,
Sister Stephen

From the W1 zone activity