Friday, December 20, 2013

Transfer 6 in Louisiana

December 17, 2013

We had Zone Conference on Tuesday and it was awesome. (Side note- we were SO busy Monday we didn't have time to vacuum our our car so we took the floor mats inside and vacuumed them, but had to get a bunch of tape and go out and use that to clean the rest of the floor. It was miserable. I'm over that car.) We mostly went over what Elder Zwick taught us about simplifying and intensifying our lessons. In the middle we got to have a gift exchange, where you roll the dice and have to open the stuff with gloves, it was really funny. I thought they would do one where everyone got a gift but it was just a free for all. People were going crazy, using their teeth and punching boxes open and fighting over the gloves, it was quite the sight. At the very end of Zone Conference we all got mail from family! It was the best part, it was so good to hear from everyone that wrote, thank you! The testimonies really were the best part. I was cherishing every word, you can tell the conviction in a testimony even when just reading it. You know when the spirit feels kinda like a knife? That's how it felt in there. Everyone around me was crying, Dad's letter almost got me but it was just too happy to cry.
Sister White and I are together for another transfer! I am really happy. I'm a little traumatized from being torn from Sister Stevenson after training only one transfer. We have a lot of work to do. It's funny, everyone thought Sister Brimley and I were great together but it is even more so with Sister White. Like the AP's and President and everyone are just obsessed with our companionship, President only said like one thing to me personally at Conference and it was that he nicknamed us, "firecrackers, small, but powerful!" He is so funny.
Wednesday was exchanges and it was really fun, I went with Sister Jenkins who has been an STL since I've been here, so yeah, a long time! But I have never gotten to be her companion on an exchange til now! And she goes home tomorrow! It was interesting because we are a lot alike, which I never knew. We just have the same approach and teaching style. Also the spirit talks to us similarly. We talked about our difficulties discerning the spirit, ever good thought comes from the spirit, but there's a point where you have to draw the line. For example, the spirit tells me to talk to every person I see but I can't stop every 2 seconds on the way to an appointment I'm already late for. She is the only other Sister I've met who feels that way, she said she never quite figured it out but to remember that miracles will always inconvenience you. If you are in a hurry, if you are confused, if it's bold, then it probably needs to happen. The struggles of missionary life... haha
On Thursday we had a really strange day but it ended with us being able to go to Ruston to march in the Christmas parade! There were about 12 missionaries and most of us walked along the float. The float was Mary and Joseph and the manger (everyone wanted me to get inside... typical.) There was spiritual Christmas music playing. It was really good because all of the others were all about santa and had fun music, and ours was the only one that was about Jesus so people appreciated it. They also appreciated the hundreds of Joy to the World DVD's we passed out, and pass along cards with candy attached. It was the funnest. We were running to keep up and eating candy off the road as we went.
I don't know how much I have said about Tameka, on Monday we had Courtney come teach with us and they related so well! It was perfect! Courtney was just like, "Trust me! This is the BEST thing for your family!" She finally came to church too with her 4 kids this Sunday! It is never easy to take care of 4 young kids in sacrament meeting but she still enjoyed it so we are really excited. We had her and a bunch of returning members we have been working with come. Sister White and I taught Gospel Principles as usual and the lesson this week was on the Law of Chastity... We taught an entire hour about it, and survived!
One more exciting thing is that Sister Brimley got her Visa! She is either in Brazil right now, or still on the plane! Craaazy stuff, no one had gotten their Visa for so long it didn't seem like anyone's would ever come. It's a little scary because we got our calls on the same day and submitted our Visa stuff within days of each other. It has been really hard to take my language study seriously lately so it was a good wake up call and reminder that it could happen any day.
Miss y'aaaaaallllll! Hope those in Hawaii are having fun and that those that aren't are just as jealous as I am.
Sister Stevens
PS Send the questions you want me to answer on Christmas please or I won't know what to talk about!


December 9, 2013

Howdyz. We had a pretty good week! We have a lot of things but they are all moving a liiiitle slowly. But we were blessed to see that the Lords hand was definitely in our work this week.
On Wednesday we went and helped Sister Parker rake her leaves, she has a big yard and big trees! We raked for about an hour and then we heard a car going really fast out of the driveway so we looked up just in time to see it smash into our car... Not fun, and then he got out looked at both cars, told his Grandma(Sister Parker) that he had to go get his fiance and he would be right back, and guess what.. He didn't come back! But he did call his insurance and we after a couple hours got all the information we needed. It was a little ridiculous, there are so many formalities for church cars, I understand why but it was just sad to see a day of good work go down the drain cause we had to deal with that. 
We ended up having a really amazing experience that night. We went to a normal lesson with an excommunicated member- now investigator and before going in, changed our lesson plans and decided we were going to read 3 Nephi 11 with her. Right when we were starting one of the woman's friends came in and just sat on the couch, we obviously pounced and gave her a BOM and told her a little about it and had her read with us. She was pretty blank and quiet and just listened as we discussed the passages and story, but when we got to verse 15 and by the time it was over she was sobbing and couldn't even read. I felt like I had never felt the spirit so strong, it was strong it hurt! We finished the last two verses and bore testimony of the Book or Mormon and Christ's love. It was so cool, we didn't know why we were changing our plans, or why we were just reading when we knew she needed the lessons, but Heavenly Father showed us that it's not about us and our plans, or even the person the lesson is intended for, whoever it's for will be the person who needs it the most. 
Some other highlights of the week... 
On Thursday we got to go and see Christopher and Rebecca at the hospital and we actually got to go back in the NICU and see baby Devlin! He was so cute! 
Friday we went all the way to Brandon Mississippi to hear Elder Zwick of the Seventy speak. It was just as incredible as when Elder Kopishke came. He didn't plan anything just went for it and taught us so much! 
We have been implementing his technique for the past couple days and it is beautiful! Teaching simply is harder than it sounds, so he gave us actual steps to go by. We condense information and it is so powerful, even if they don't understand every aspect they understand that it is important and applies to them, it allows the spirit to teach them as well. The first thing he told us was that if we are not willing to change, we wouldn't get anything our of the meeting. He said that we have to trust that if we are willing to change, the spirit will be with us. I don't want to go on about it but one of my favorite things was his blessing for us at the end. He promised that if we offer pure service, we will be accepted. I loved it because it had two parts. The Lord will accept our work, and members, nonmembers, strangers, everyone will accept us because you can't hide pure discipleship. 
I really loved the Christmas devotional, we are excited to really take advantage of all the open hearts this season and reach out to as many people as we can. Sister White gave a talk on Sunday about reaching out in words and actions. Baring testimony and serving others like he did. 
Have fun in Hawaii Dad, Mom, Kelly and Nat.
Sister Stevens

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Week

Us with our APs, ZLs, and our DL at interviews

December 2, 2013

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! 
It was real cold this week, and we biked and biked in it. Thank goodness I brought a pair of tights. 
The week was good for us, we taught Tameka with Sister Clark which was SO good! She came and for her first time ever we didn't get porched! She seemed to be cursed from the beginning, even when she went out with the Sister's who were here in March, no one was ever there, and trust me, we've tried with her many times before! Anyways we taught the second half of the Plan of Salvation and it was just what she needed. Also her and Sister Clark were able to connect so well because they both had miscarriages in the third trimester. It was very spiritual, Tameka is committed, but she's taking her time with it. Even though we had asked and talked a little about how praying about it all was going I felt like we needed to follow up more so we asked about the answers/feelings she had. She said she got her answer that she needed to join the church but is having a hard time leaving hers behind because she has been going there for so many years. We were shocked! First of all, she hasn't even come to church yet! We are praying really hard for her to have the strength she needs. 
I don't even know where to start with Thanksgiving. First of all, they go all out! Like I always thought we went all out, until I experienced it Southern style. On top of all the usual there's more casseroles, a whole ham, mac and cheese is normal, there's ever type of vegetable that can absorb butter, and sooo many desserts. It was everything I dreamed it would be. After round one we went over to the Clarks and threw a football a little bit, explored their property, met there whole family, and then had room for MORE! It was really fun. We also went to the Taylor's but at that point there was no more room for anything. Same with Chris and Rebecca, I was so glad to go there, even though it was a holiday we were able to teach a legit lesson. Rebecca is a sponge! We ended up not teaching very much but just relating the importance of the gospel, and it wasn't just us, she was relating it to herself, it was so cool! She was like- so it's choose this path and receive blessings and eternal life, or go this way and... It was so cool. She was connecting all the things that have happened to her in the last couple years with how they prepared her for this path, for her family. Also she went into labor the next morning! Sad we won't be able to really teach them for a while and she won't be able to come to church but we got the basis in. She knows she wants it so that's all that matters right now. Christopher actually came to sacrament meeting anyways, still wants it so bad for his family.
Friday was a really interesting day, we tried fried turkey, and it was really good! Much less dry than your average turkey. But the interesting part was the Stake President came to our lesson with us. Johnny is from Mexico and married into a big mormon family. He sees how it blesses them, knows it's true, but is still nervous. I thought it was going to be a really chill thing and he would just talk to the investigator in Spanish a lot and make him more comfortable, but as soon as we got in all the attention was on him and it was our first time really teaching him and it was terrible. But President swooped in and got down to business, and just testified of all the blessings that come from the gospel and how the Lord is going to bless him and make loopholes for him. He even set him with a date to work towards. It was so perfect because of how similar everything he went through when he was converted was. Ended up being super spiritual and Johnny actually came to Gospel Principles on Sunday and the lesson was on eternal families, which we know he wants so badly. Hope he can pray sincerely and find the answer that is already there waiting for him. 
One thing that wasn't good that happened this week was Courtney got very offended by a ward member, who came into her home and was so racist and judgmental I can't even believe it. It felt like old times when we came just in time, just hours after we felt like we should go visit her and even when we left she was still a little heated about it. I was so scared forSunday, luckily she still came and even got up and bore her testimony again, and it was better than the first time, which I didn't think was possible. Also Trynitee went and did baptisms for the dead and wore a skirt instead of jeans for the first time on Sunday. Superstars over here. 
Anywayssss sorry this email has been so full of just information. I need to get better at condensing and only telling the really good stories. But I do have one thing I forgot to write about last week, or maybe was just too embarrassed. Everyone drives on lawns here, it's just normal to park in them, and turn around in them and Sister White was doing a U-turn and we went in someones lawn and there happened to be a mud pit/sinkhole under all the grass. We sunk like all the way down to the license plate, it was horrible. So yeah I'm still an idiot, grateful for Southern hospitality and the fact that everyone in the neighborhood had a giant truck so one was nice enough to pull us out, and then the peoples whose lawn it was even hosed our car off. 
I can't believe Christmas is so soon and that I get to talk to you guys so soon! Every time I look at the date I can't believe it's another day closer. Email me questions so that I have things to say. Miss you guys and even though the South was real good to me, it doesn't beat being home for Thanksgiving.
Also Happy Birthday Ben!!!! Hope it was good and that you and Tash had a fantastic Kenyan celebration. It was probably one of your first years ever without score cake, I miss it too.

Love you!!
Sister Stevens

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Sister Stevens and Sister White

November 25, 2013
Oi Familia!
It has been another awesome week in West Monroe.
We were able to help a lot of people, too small of a number of them became legit investigators but the Lord never fails to send us to people who really do need a comforting message of Jesus Christ and his spirit in their homes.
We had a lesson yesterday with Chelsea and Mike a couple investigators. Apparently they told their church that they were meeting with the Mormon missionaries so they had A LOT of questions. Dealing with the deepest doctrine and all that good stuff. Luckily I was pretty well equipped from teaching so many preachers, but it was definitely all thanks to the spirit we were able to explain. It led us right to the scriptures we needed to share, they accepted it all pretty readily. The hard thing is, with doctrine like that you have to understand that it takes explanation from a prophet and people get a little frustrated cause they don't necessarily believe it yet. But can't say anything against it just because they aren't equipped to. Like they wish they had a come back or something to say otherwise, but they don't. BUT it was very spiritual still, like I said a couple weeks ago, the spirit testifies of eternal truths. They are both very smart, so it's a good thing the gospel makes so much sense! I love that when you look at the big picture everything falls together, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
We have been working really closely with a returning member, Sister Gatlin. She is ready to come back but has a few things holding her back, we will be doing the stop smoking program with her next week but already her cigarettes have been burning her throat and lungs and tasting horrible. Her Father is a Branch President and she knows it's all his years of prayers for her being answered. She was doing a pack day and is already down to less than half. We could to the program tomorrow and she'd be all set! (but she wants it to be dec. 3)
We had one miracle this week when we were in Book of Mormon class and the 2nd Counselor walked in and handed us a piece of paper with a name and phone number and said, "this man hasn't been to church in 6 years, but he's coming back and wants his fiance taught the gospel." It felt like the holiest piece of paper I've ever held! We went and met them on Saturday and they are so nice! His name is Chris and he has a pretty sweet conversion story and such a strong testimony! His fiance is 9 months pregnant and ready to burst. She is open minded we just have to be careful not to overwhelm her. They are having us for dinner tomorrow so we're excited. He is way funny, played guitar with some country singer(too bad I don't know any so I can't say how famous or remember the name) and then he was did stand-up comedy for 6 years. He didn't want to come to church until he was worthy but he came anyways! It is so awesome how he wants it for his family when we left he sent us like 5 texts that said, "that went pretty well", "we like y'all", "I hope I can to this, hope she crosses over", "I need to learn not to be so talkative, I'm bad but man I love my church".  So funny. Already some new favs.
Funny moment of the week- An investigator was reading 3 Nephi 11:11 and accidentally read "I have drunk out of that butter-cup which the Father hath given me"... Instead of "bitter cup". Imagine it with a nice thick accent too. I was losing it, but by the time she got done reading I pulled it together and bore testimony so the spirit could come back. It was one of the hardest moments of my life though, I've never been so close to bursting without showing signs of it.
This week will be interesting with Thanksgiving and all but I think we'll still be able to get some good work done. Guess what, I got a call this morning from someone who invited us over Friday for a another Thanksgiving meal and they are deep frying a whole turkey! Like taking a 15 pound turkey and dropping it in a giant boiling pot of fatty oil. Apparently that's pretty normal here and several houses burn down as a result every year. But yeah, I'm getting pumped cause from what I hear they know how to do Thanksgiving down here.
This email has been all over the place so I'm sorry but I wanted to end if with a few things I am especially thankful for. First of all the gospel. My testimony has become my most prized possession, along with the most precious gift the Lord is capable of giving us, the gift of the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and to have the knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He restored his gospel and still reaches out to us today. And more than that I feel His love each day. I can't imagine my life without it. There would be no complete or lasting happiness or peace. I am thankful to be able to share that gospel with others each day. Not only do I have a loving Father in heaven I have parents here who taught me that gospel and are supporting me as I share it! So eternally grateful for my family. I was running with Dad before I left and told him how I was nervous I wasn't going to be able to connect with people who's families were broken, or who didn't have loving parents. The good news of the gospel is that they do! While we're here on this earth we have the Atonement to allow us to find relief, forgiveness, happiness, strength, and ultimately allow us to get back to Him and have that forever! Wow too much to be thankful for, too little time. Thanks for supporting me so I can be out here to spread the love and knowledge of the gospel and do a whole lot of learning and growing myself along the way.

Only a month till we can speak words through a computer! Yay!
Love you!
Sister Stevens

Life is full of miracles

November 18, 2013

Hi Family,
We had a really good week here. We are working hard to increase our teaching pool. Right now it's kinda empty of people who are keeping any commitments. But the finding has been going really well!
Remember how TJ had that vision? Well, when we went back Tuesday, his countenance had changed a lot and he told us he was now sure that he wanted to leave his church, but that he wasn't sure about joining ours. It was so sad, we'll probably have to drop him this week and make sure someone tries again in a month or so. It is so sad that if your heart and faith aren't in the right place, it doesn't matter how big the sign Heavenly Father gives you. Nothing can convince someone of something they harden their heart against. I know he'll come around eventually, the Lord's hand is always outstretched, and the spirit is not something you forget.
We had interviews with president which was great as always. He answered all my questions and helped me pinpoint things with my attributes and goals to work on.
Yesterday we went to Winnsboro to speak, their branch is about 20 people with 15 over the age of 60. So they call for other speakers quite often. I gave my talk on diligence. I talked about how they opened conference saying the division between the righteous and wicked is growing and what is going to keep us from the other side is simple diligence in our every day lives. We ran into a guy this week who waved to us and we had the best conversation! He talked about how we shouldn't be content with our lives right now, how everyday we need to be better and we should never stop changing. He said every time we come in contact with people we should leave them feeling better than when we met them. I loved every second of it. He was 100% right. Then when he prayed for us at the end he put his hands on our heads so that was uncomfortable, but he doesn't know any better. We laughed about it later. Anyways, I loved that he told us to not be content with our lives. That's something that everyone needs to hear but it's hard to say without offending people. It made me want to be more bold, and not feel bad about inviting people to repent, especially when it is genuine and out of love. Helping people to change and repent everyday is a blessing, and being in the South where someone will tell me the same thing is a blessing too!
I have been working on noticing miracles this week. There are just so many. I choose a few to write down everyday. By the time I get going I never want to stop. One night I thought I was done writing them and then it was like- Oh yeah! And Sister White survived getting hit by a car!
 It was definitely a miracle, her whole bike just moved, she somehow stayed on it and pedaling. Couldn't have been anything but angels! The Lord is watching out for us! There are so many reasons to love His work!
PS who knew the South could get sooo cold, the humidity makes it bone chilling.
Sister Stevens

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Training Round 2!

So I had a pretty good week, it was kinda rainy and dreary but we were in the car so it was all good. I felt like a wimp one day because I was like- ehhh lets follow up and see returning members with our extra time today, because it was raining. Oregon would be ashamed of me.
But anyways it was still a successful week despite transfers!
We have been getting frustrated with one investigator who I've talked about before, TJ, cause he's not progressing like he should be. We went all out one lesson on Thursday and then went back Saturday to drop him. But on Saturday he was excited to see us and as soon as we sat down he went right into talking about how he finally prayed about everything we've been telling him in terms of if it's true and what he should do. Then he had a vivid dream of himself walking all around our church. Cooler when he tells it, so great! I am so glad I didn't give up on him before. Now we just have to get him to remember that and have the strength he needs to actually leave his other church(RLDS/Community of Christ)! Which his whole family has been going to for many generations. There are hard times ahead but it's just like anyone that finally gets an answer they've been searching for. I know from experience the Lord would only give him that answer if he is ready to act on it. I love how one of the main factors was him studying out the doctrine his church is teaching and church history. His church has recently made changes concerning tithing and homosexuality that he just can't agree with. What a great testimony builder for me that you just can't beat eternal truths! They're there and once you know them, you can't argue with them. Which sounds binding in a bad way but it's a good thing! Knowing makes you happy and makes you free. Wow cheesy stuff, but I am just so grateful for the fulness of the gospel.
I love working with my new companion Sister White. She's from Utah, we are pretty alike but different enough that we get along really well. She's real fresh but I've already learned a lot from her! Being a trainer for her is more of getting to know the rules, and schedule, and expectations than anything. I just have to be there for the "always" things, always start and end with prayer, always extend a commitment, always ask for referrals blah blah blah. She listens to the spirit and is learning fast how to present the doctrine of the lessons. We get better at teaching together every time we teach. We both bare testimony off each other which makes for more bold approaches which I love.
Courtney is still doing awesome. She came to BOM class and talked about how her family missed her at the church they all go to on the first of the month. What she said about it was that, "they're going to let those traditions drag them down.." Awesome that she found what's right and is holding to it no matter what even those she is closest to think. She is so strong to give that up, she told her kids they are still family but that they also have a new family, their ward family. I love how she is getting rid of all the negativity in her life(smoking, some friends, etc.). It makes me want to work harder at giving up things like that might cause any negativity in my life.
Tracting was funny this week, a lot of people we met aren't going to go anywhere at this moment as far as the restored gospel, but I wasn't too sad about it. Everytime we went out we had someone crying because of the spirit and gratitude for the Savior. It was just a blessing to witness so many people feel the spirit in their lives, and be able to feel it myself! Whether they are ready now or not they are reminded of how much Heavenly Father loves them and the seed is planted.
It is getting really cold here. I thought this day would never come. I'm kind of in denial of it but it's happening.
I love you guys a lot and really miss you! Thanks for your support and love:)
Sister Katie Stevens

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crazy last week of the transfer!

SO I'm a little disappointed, does anyone read my emails? Did anyone hear that Courtney and her family might be getting baptized?
Whether anyone else in the universe is excited about it or not, doesn't matter cause my excitement and happiness can make up for anyone's lack!
We taught the Washington kids Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, they had their baptismal interviews on Friday, and YES! On Saturday they were baptized and on Sunday they were confirmed! Might have been the craziest week of my life.
Teaching kids is always hard, we check for understanding over and over again, and try to keep it super basic. Courtney was such a help, we would introduce and five the basics of a point of the gospel and she would break it down for them. How great is that for a Mother to give her children understanding of the fulness of the gospel, of their purpose here, the path that we should follow, everything! We could never make them understand like she can, it was beautiful. A highlight was when we were teaching about how you can become clean from sin. I explained how sin is like red paint getting on a white shirt and how when you are baptized it will wash all of that away, "you can become white". Amariaye jumped up and said "when we baptized it's gonna make us white!?!!?" (skin) and Sister Birmingham, Courtney, and I in unison, "NOOOO, no, no, noooooo!" It was the funniest thing in the world. Also every time we came over Cyrion (5 years old) to Courtney , "are you gonna get bat-ma-tized today? Why can't I be bat-ma-tized?" Overall it was just awesome, and the friendships they have made with ward members have been awesome too, the 13 year old Trynitee became best friends with a girl in the ward immediately.
The baptism itself was good to begin with, the talk was great, a lot of members showed up, everything was going smoothly.... Until they opened the doors to the font and steam started filling the room and when Elder Hamp tried to walk in he jumped out immediately and informed us that the water had seared his feet..... Of all the things to go wrong, I did not see that one coming, the Ward Mission Leader had filled the font a few hours earlier, but only pulled the hot water lever. So for about 15-25 minutes of running the cold water and singing some hymns as we waited and as Courtney paced back and forth at the back of the font I just wanted to sink through the floor. Finally she couldn't take it anymore and they got in the boiling water and let me tell you, I have not only never seen Courtney smile that big, I have not ever seen any person smile as big as she did when she came up out of the water. I was so happy, all the stress melted away, the spirit was so strong. Next was Trynitee, and despite of her 2 complicated middle names Alyndria Glazhane (Courtney apologized earlier, "I'm sorry ya'll, I was young..." hahah) it went well. For the 9 year olds, the older went to get in but couldn't do it cause it was too hot, so the younger one literally pushed him out of the way and said he would go first, but after putting both feet in the water turned right around, but it was too late his mom pointed at the water and told him to get back in there so then he went and then Mandrell, they were dramatic but got through it! Elder Hamps legs suffered the consequences for many hours after but it was worth it, when he saw them in the hallway after he yelled, "we burned the hell out of you!"
Anyways the next day Courtney's car wouldn't start a half hour before church and her confirmation, luckily the Elders only live about a mile away and were able to fix it. They were all pretty late but it was fine. The confirmations were beautiful. Then they asked Courtney to go up and bare her testimony and that was the highlight of my whole mission. We got to hear her side of the story of how we found her and the spirit told her to let us in, how we came in the nik of time for her and her family, how she has never been so blessed and happy, she doesn't even know how she was living before she had the fulness of the gospel. I can't explain how good that was, I thought it was happy to see her be baptized but to see her stand as a member and bare her testimony of the Savior and that she knows the church is true, nothing compares to that. What a weekend! Sister Birmingham and I's last weekend together too! We found, taught, and baptized together.
Hearing that testimony washed away all my fear of telling people the gospel will change them and bless them SO MUCH. I saw the transformation before my eyes and she is just so happy! They all are! And so am I!
Sorry that was all story and no feelings, it was just so ridiculous I had to share. The Lord truly prepares people for the gospel, he prepares them to enter in his fold. He knows them so well and HE saves them. The spirit is the only teacher, we can't share the gospel or know truth without it. I don't know how I ever became worthy to find and teach such an amazing family but I thank Heavenly Father every day for allowing me to be a tool in his hands, and allowing me to feel just a portion of the love and happiness that He feels when they come unto him. He takes care of us, He provides a way, the adversary may be powerful but nowhere near as powerful as the Lord. He's real and the reward is real.
There is nothing like feeling loved every day, feeling guided every day, and having a purpose every day. There is one way, and being able to help someone find it is better than anything.
A lot more happened this week but nothing I have time to write about.
Love you guys! A LLOOOTTT! I will never get tired of saying the words "the gospel blesses families".
Sister Stevens
PS I'm training again! Yayyyy! her name is Sister White. We've only been together a couple hours but she is great, we are a lot alike! I can't wait to teach her all I know and show her how great being a missionary is.

Missionary Work in "the Boot"

Lets start with the most important update! We had our stop smoking celebration with Courtney last Tuesday, she brought her whole family to the Bishops house and their kids got along great! Courtney is so happy to have that addiction out of her life. She says she still sometimes wants one out of habit, but the craving is gone and she's not going back! I'm so proud of her! Ok the really big news is that she changed her mind and it is now set on having her 3 oldest kids baptized with her! On Saturday! So we have gotten through about a fourth of the material, and yeah. It's going to be a busy week. But also the best week ever. Yesterday Courtney leaned over to me in Sacrament meeting and was like, "I'm so excited to be baptized." No one has ever said anything that made me feel better than that right there. I am beyond grateful to be able to teach someone so prepared for the gospel. Her preparation started long ago and we just got the privilege of meeting her now when and inviting her to make the best decision of her life!
We taught her kids yesterday and it was awesome, when we asked if they had questions the little 9 year old Amariaye whispered, "Do you have to be white to be Christian?" It was adorable. We told him yes, you have to be white. Just kidding! Another great moment was when we asked how the gospel has and will bless their family, Trynitee said, "it helped my Mom to stop smoking and drinking so she can live longer and see my success!"
We helped a returning member set up a display at the Monroe airport, that was pretty fun service! They had some really well preserved old army suits and stuff we got to set up.
Everything else is pretty normal! We have been working hard. One thing our President told us to implement is baring testimony at the door, even if the door is closing. It's for when a Southern Baptist opens the door and is not havin' it. I always say I love baring testimony of the gospel every day and have been really trying to do it at every door. It really is a challenge for sure, but makes a difference in the way we present ourselves and approach everyone. It is going to be really good.
Anyways that's all I can think of..
You guys gotta start replying and asking questions so I have more to say!
Love ya'll!!!!!
Sister Stevens

Golden Mop "Star" Award!

We received an email from Sister Stevens' mission president informing us that she and her companion won the award for cleanest apartment last month...if you have ever lived with Katie you know this came as a surprise to all of us :)

Fall is in the air

First before I forget. We visit this returning member named Sister Herren and she does a TON of work for Sellman Fields Air Force Museum. The majority of people there were training for B-17s. Crazy right! So she has this little documentary DVD of it coming out soon and it has a lot of the vets stories and everything so I gave her Grandpas address and she's gonna send one over next month when they come out! When she tells all their stories it makes me want to sit and listen to Grandpa again.
So I actually was able to tell Bishop Clark and Sister Clark about Tony Russell the same day I got the email! They thought that was so funny, connections everywhere. We got to see them because we did the 15 Steps to Stop Smoking lesson with Courtney! We were nervous because neither of us have done it but it went so well! She signed the contract and I'm glad to report a pack-a-day smoker of 15 years is now on her 7th day cold turkey thanks to "grapefruit juice and prayer". The program is so cool! It works! I want to use it for everyone!
We are so excited, Courtney is so prepared. She brought all 5 kids to church yesterday They are 13, 9, 8, 7, and 5, also she is only 29. 3/5 had a good time so at least more than half. Sacrament meeting was rough though, her kids just aren't used to sitting for that long and I don't know if she heard anything, but Sunday School and Relief Society went well. She is AWESOME and progressing towards her baptism date.
One other investigator, TJ came to church, he is sooo close, and yet so far. We've taught him everything and he understands and really wants to be baptized, he even understands why he needs to be and wants the gift of the spirit but, "the only problem is I help with the program at my church so I have to be there every Sunday, and no one else knows how to do it." He's being serious, because everyone is over 70 years old but he just won't make the change! It's hard when someone is so close to the truth and blessings and so much happiness but get caught up in the  not so eternal perspective.
This week we miraculously found an excommunicated member and got permission from the Bishop to start teaching her. We were at these apartments where we have like 3 investigators and 2 potentials but none were home! It was one of those things where you feel like you've failed but then the Lord reminds you nothing is a coincidence and He will place you right where you need to be. I never imagined myself working with someone like that, it is really hard. We have to remember she's an investigator, not returning member, she remembers what the Spirit is and feels like, but doesn't have the gift anymore.
The members are starting to help us so much! Us missionaries and the Bishopric have been pushing it so much, it has taken a long time but things are going into effect. Now we just need more legit people to take them too... We have legit people and teach sooo many but people just don't know what appointments are here.
Anyways, I am loving life. Trying to make the most of everyday that I have this opportunity to vocally bare my testimony and bring people closer to the Savior. Feeling the spirit speak through you is the best feeling in the world.
Miss you guys! Love you lots!
PS it's getting cooler which is weird. Feels nice biking but I hate cold.
PSS a guy who recently moved here from Utah got up to speak on Sunday and I was like- what's with his accent?

Seester Stevens

Week 8 in WM

I have like 2 seconds to email so I apologize in advance.
This was a good week, the beginning was super productive, we taught a lot of legit lessons rather than like 10 minute standing ones that we do pretty often.
We taught an awesome lesson with Courtney, she wants to be baptized so we're gonna help her stop smoking and making the necessary changes. We promised her that if she brought questions to church she would get her answers. We've promised people that before but she ACTUALLY brought questions and got specific answers! Thank goodness the Lord has our backs, it is so important that he is who converts them. It's like in King Benjamin's speech, it is one of the most powerful sermons ever given but when the people are repenting they tell are clear in saying it is the Lord who changed their hearts.
Conference was awesome, something about being a missionary, I've never loved it so much. All of the talks were amazing, I just glanced at my notes and there is not even room for how great it was. I especially loved when Elder Bednar talked about subtle but substantial blessings. It's so true! People always look at us like we don't know anything because we were born and raised in the church. My personal conversion has everything to do with exactly what Elder Bednar said. It came over time with many large blessings, but especially came with the countless subtle blessings that can be so easily overlooked. Even though I look back and still can't put a finger on the moment I knew any truth, the blessings and manifestations are so obvious in every single day. 
We had tracting planned after the Saturday afternoon session which was perfect because of Ballards talk. It's true you have to find people to teach. Unfortunately tracting was and always is a testimony to the fact that it needs to be the members finding, especially here in this country. We do our best and have some success, but we pray every day multiple times a day to find people, I can't imagine the success we would have if every person with the truth did the same thing.
Sunday was just as powerful, fun fact- two of Elder Ochoas kids were in my ward last year! It was so cool to hear from their Dad! It was awesome because they all spoke on simple doctrine and yet answered such deep questions people have been struggling with.
Hope everything is going well, sounds like it is! Loved conference more than ever but couldn't help but miss the days when we would huddle around the computer in the tiny office and listen together.
also bad news I got ring worm on my leg... gross.

Sister Stevens

6 months

Guess what. This week I hit my 6 month mark! AH. It's weird, I don't really like it. I'm not ready to be so old, I still have so much to do and teach and learn and improve on! I don't even know what else to say about it, I just can't believe it! Doesn't feel real. Time started passing reaaaally quickly. Can you believe I've been waking up at 6:30 everyday for 6 months!!!! Yeah, still not easy.
I don't know where to start this week... Let me start with Courtney. Last weekend was rough since she dropped off the planet, but Sister Zemp (exchanges) and I were biking around that side of town and I was scared in case she got anti-ed or something and hated us cause she disappeared, but once again, we came just in time. She had a 5 day eviction notice on her house..... SATAN. The adversary is attacking her from all sides, I've never seen anything like it. BUT she is relying on the Lord, she always says, "He's always be puttin me in a position where I got no one to rely on BUT HIM. " She wasn't able to make it to church yesterday because big surprise her car with no problems wouldn't start! But later it started just in time to have to take her niece, whose car also broke down back to college so she could be at class in the morning. Of course no one else could take her during the same hour Courtney was supposed to stop smoking. This all makes it sound like she's making up excuses but trust me, in her words, "ain't nothin but the devil." It's okay! Tonight, we are doing to the 15 steps to stop smoking lesson and by the time I write you next week she'll be living the Word of Wisdom!
Linonel is giving us trouble. He's come to church, general conference, and a baptism now. It's all coming down to the Book of Mormon, he just can't accept it and won't read it. We've testified out of it so many times, and teach out of it every lesson, he doesn't disagree with any of it. It makes me so sad, the truth is right there in his hands!
Exchanges were so good, my companion was super bold, we worked pretty well together. It was awesome, I think since the last exchanges were so rough it was made up for this time. We did so much work and everything fell into place, miracles happen! We got to go to a Community of Christ (RLDS) church for a church swap we are doing, it was their Contemporary Service. It was good but again, a testimony that the spirit is the only teacher for spiritual things. The topic was faith, I agreed with everything the Preacher was saying but... I couldn't remember much after, it all got in my mind, but none in my heart to teach me and direct me to change and apply the things I heard. Also we closed our eyes for closing prayer, and when we opened them there was a disco ball and the lights were off and a Christian Rock band with lyrics came on the screens for the closing hymn. Good fun. It's hard cause if TJ leaves, their attendance will go from 8 people to 7 people. His family has been in that church forever. The spirit is working on him though, as soon as he's ready for change he'll get his answer.
We had to say goodbye to one of my favorite investigators moving to Delaware! It was so sad. We are referring it and making sure the missionaries go right over.
Yesterday our Stake President met with us for a minute and then came into Relief Society and called out all the Sisters for not going on splits with us. It was a good moment, a little awkward because he was a little harsh about it and automatically all the attention was on us, but it needed to happen. During the lesson my companion was talking about the blessings they get from helping us and the teacher was like, "yeah so feed the Sisters". I was like NOOOO. If they're going to give us one hour a month let it be teaching with us not feeding us, maybe I'll get up the guts to speak those words next week... Or maybe I'll have found a nicer way to say it. Anyways... Help the missionaries! Has anyone been able to go out lately? Any cool experiences?
My leg is pretty much healed! The last of the scabs are almost gone. Scar is nasty though:/
Anyways, don't worry about me just loving life and my calling and the Lord. Welllll I love you all a looooot!
 Tchau Tchau

Sister Stevens

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Turd the cat sends me to the ER

Wellll I guess I'll get the Emergency Room story out of the way since it's probably all your really wondering about. But I have to tell about my whole day Thursday.
It was just a normal thirsty Thursday, started out great until I decided we needed to check up on some people before our 1:30 appt, so we end up taking the long way to the church and some psycho lady doesn't see me so I'm swerving out of the way just in case and go off the slanted curb and immediately try to get back on without taking it at an angle and my bike started skidding out and I supermanned the side walk. Not too bad though actually, mostly my right leg is missing skin for about 6x2 inches. I was like lets just get to the church before the adrenaline wears off and it starts hurting. I cleaned it and we taught Travis the preacher and Chase, and it was a normal lesson but at the end when they tried to schedule we had to drop them:( it was so sad. The mood in the room just dropped, there was sadness all over everyone, besides my companion she was glad about it. It had to happen I guess, we just had to explain that as missionaries we can't continue to teach them without any progression. Then we just told them to call us when they had read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. It was way harder than I thought, and they were way more upset than I thought they'd be. We had an x-police detective there teaching with us and he was like, "y'all were getting to them!" Anyways, it was more pain on top of a painful day. Did I mention I think he's Duck Dynasty's preacher? I'll know for sure soon.
Whoa this is the longest story in the world. At dinner than night we were at a members house with some cats, we eat there all the time and I just don't rub my eyes and I'm always fine. Until the stupid cat whose name, no joke, is "Turd" rubs all against my uncovered wound. My eyes and skin started itching really bad so I made us leave. Then in the car I felt my eyes swelling almost shut and my throat swelling too. Sister McDonough heard me wheezing over the phone and said to go to the ER. I thought they would just stick me with an epi-pen and let me go but noooo before I knew it I was on a hospital bed with heated blankets, hooked up to oxygen, and an IV in my arm. You'd think I was dying. It was a little ridiculous but they said it had to happen and about an hour later I was all good. I really hate needles so as the nurse was doing the IV she was praying. It was so funny, just prayin' out loud for me, only in the South.
I only have time to tell about one other thing that happened. We went to check up on our investigator who we love Courtney. She was a little skeptical about telling us about her week but we got it out of her. Turns out there was an evil spirit in her house. It was in her young daughters room and some freaky stuff happened. We were able to get some Priesthood over there later that night and they gave a blessing on the home and we told her how she can get rid of it. We were also able to tell her that because she had committed to baptism and was doing so well, the adversary was working as hard as it could. Doing anything it could to scare her. She had called a bunch of other Preachers and whatnot but said the house had been great since we came and the blessing was done. She came to church on Sunday too!
Other than that we did a "church swap" with a guy named Linonel. He came to our church in the morning, and we went to his Pentecostal church last night. It was pretty much everything I dreamed it would be with preaching and shouting and speaking in tongues. Half of it was like a Christian rock concert, you bet I was up clappin' to the music with everyone. Everything the Preachers were saying was good but they were disorganized and speaking so fast and so loud that nothing could sink in. There was no room to think of anything for yourself. It was missing the why and the how of things. Just a testimony to how the spirit is the real teacher when he impresses things on our minds.
Thanks for all the exciting news and support annnnnd everything. Love you guys a lot and have to try not to miss you too much!
Sister Stevens

Mesma Coisa

At stake conference

Another week and another transfer in West Monroe! It's t-day can you believe it. Starting transfer #4 in the MJM. I am just loving life as usual. We were on bikes this week, we got caught in the rain so many times, ended up having to go under abandoned porches to wait it out a few times. Cause when it rains it RAINS, 3 seconds in it is worse than 3 seconds in a shower.
This transfer we got the required tracting hours every week! It was so good! Tracting is not as successful here so we have covered a ton of ground. This week we have had some really good moments though. One lesson was to this old black lady just sitting on her porch, we were telling her about the Book of Mormon and she just kept being like, "Are you serious!?!" and we were like, "YES! It's a big deal!". Can't wait to go back to her tomorrow, she called to tell us she couldn't make our appointment and rescheduled, that's how you know they're gold! We also went into this girls house, like the first time the whole week someone actually let us IN. We taught the whooole restoration and she wouldn't say much, even when we would ask questions. Which is so different cause let me tell you, people here like to taaaalk. She just listened and looked at us mesmerized, but it was hard to tell if any of it was getting through. Then at the end she kept saying, "I learned something" and "thank you for teaching me". It was so good! We go back there tomorrow too.
It was Stake Conference, which was sooo fun! I got to see so many other missionaries and catch up with the Bastrop Sisters, and the Bastrop members! I got to just stand and talk to all the people who used to take care of me it was the best. Just as good as seeing people was all the talks and topics. Our Mission President got up and spoke about missionary work. It was a lot of what Elder Kopishke said but with his own twist. As members we have so much knowledge that is so incredibly important, it is what we need to be sharing, even if it's just clearing up misconceptions. People that hear the message of the restoration are better off than they were whether they accept it at the time or not. That's what we have to keep remembering, people have their agency, it's more than accepting the gospel, it's acting on it, that's that hard part! President also talked about how Christ is the author, AND finisher of every persons faith. We can and need to invite as much as we can so that everyone has the opportunity to allow Christ to give them more and more, to continually add to their faith.
I just love these people here. I need to work on loving those with harder hearts as well as those with open hearts. I reeaally tried that when we tracted for 3 hours on Sunday, no matter who it was I told myself I loved them so much and that whoever answered would have so much potential. It ended up making it so that when we rejected I couldn't even hide the disappointment from my face, I think it made them feel awkward and bad for saying no. Usually I'm pretty good about hiding it and just cheerfully moving on but not when I made an extra effort to love them. On the bright side, whenever someone did let us teach there was extra enthusiasm.
It's good to hear from home! I can't believe it's fall! I also can't believe Kelly turns 18 in less than a month!
Keep up the good work y'all. I never thought I would say that. I don't even notice peoples accents here anymore, and if you can't tell by the emails, my English is going downhill faster than my Portuguese! Oh well.
Love you guyzzzz,

Seester Stevens

West Monroe Week 5

Sorry about last weeks email. I hate emailing in the middle of the week. Also we were having a day of disappointment, we were 0 for 4 for our set appointments. BUT the fifth one went through with a really cool lady who we get along with so well. She has kind of a tragic story, raised in the church by her aunt (parents died when she was about 10) and then her aunt left it when she was 17 and so she ended up fading out of it. She's at a point where she knows her life is wayyy better when she's doing the things she is supposed to and living closer to the Lord. She's from the West so not that I don't love the South but it's refreshing. We just get each other! We are going to start teaching her husband the lessons as well so that is super exciting.
On Thursday we were walking around the ghetto and this guy yelled at us so we went and talked to him. Turned out he's a youth pastor and just wanted to bash, this is what we get a lot of. He took my Bible opened to Genesis "we have the beginning!" then to Revelation "and the end! Now how you think you gonna add any!? Bible's got it all, none of this Book of the Norman ya heard?" (that's really what people call it) All of that is normal the funny part is that on our way to that house I found a little sheath and thought one of elders might like it so I picked it up and in the middle of explaining the importance of the Book of Mormon one of his friends saw it in my bag and was like, "we got the sword to go with that" and then one of them came out with two huge swords and before I knew it one was in my hand and he was yelling, "aight we gonna fight! Latron get this on instagram!" So right as we were about to go head to head the other guy grabs it out from my hand and charges him with it. It was some good comic relief for that day. And I got a dagger out of it.
We continue to teach Karl and Travis the Preacher, it's going pretty well, they are still stuck on some anti stuff but really liked our gospel discussion. This week is going to be big though, he wants to learn about the Priesthood because he performs ordinances without it. Pretty nervous, but the Bishop is most likely going to be there so it's going to be really good. The Ward is starting to take us seriously and the damage reversed one member at a time.
The one thing I wanted to write about last week is the bike crash I got it. I was adjusting my little lantern and trying to get it on the right setting and lost balance and ended up jumping off my bike and throwing it in a ditch. Well I had to go in and rescue it but there didn't seem to be any damage... Until we got to a stop sign and I found out it had disconnected the brake wires just in time to crash into my companion. It's a miracle that's the worst wreck at this point.
Can you believe I've been out 5 months!? I can't. I always want to write you a testimony but I just don't know where to start, I cannot even start because there's too much to say and any words I can type just wouldn't do!
I miss you all a lot, thank you for being the best. Especially for being such good examples, would not be here without you. Everyday I think about how I'm not even worthy to have such an awesome family. Love you guys a looot.
Seester Stevens

A Quick Update

Our library was broken on Monday so here I am now. Not much to say about this week. Biking this week was wayy better than biking last week, except for yesterday because we got booked on the farthest parts of our area. 
We had some meetings with the President on Wednesday, which are always a pleasure, he is the absolute best. Then on Thursday we did exchanges. It's the second time my trainer Sister Johnson has come for exchanges and both times she has gone with the other companion(s)! It's the wost! It was Thristy Thursday and my comp couldn't ride a bike so we were on foot in this part of town where we have tried a lot but have like no potential. We were outside and on our feet for 5 solid hours, usually in an hour you get into sooomewhere but no. That's kind of how a lot of the week went, it takes a lot of searching to find those prepared. The South has an awesome number of people willing to die for Jesus, but a small number willing to change their lives for him.
I wish I could remember something that happened to tell but it has just been so crazy all the days blur together. It has been really good though, I have a lot of hope for this area, I feel like I'll be here through the end of the transfer so that will be good.
I went to my first "viewing" yesterday. I've still never been to a funeral so this was a good first step I guess. It was for a man in the ward who I never met, but still pretty sad. I was super nervous cause I've never seen anyone in a coffin before, but it turned out just being really peaceful.
Miss you guys, thanks for being the best.

Sister Stevens

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

West Monroe Week 3

So it sounds like I had a similar experience to Dad this week! On Wednesday we had our Zone Conference with Elder Kopischke from the Quorum of the 70.
 It was awesome, it was allll based on our questions and needs here, it felt like he had prepared for hours to answer each question, but really he just has had a lifetime of preparation and a master at teaching by the Spirit. All 100 of us wrote down a few questions that we wanted answered as far as I know, he didn't fail to give everyone an answer. I just wouldn't even know where to start to say what he taught us. By the end of the day I was spiritually exhausted. He even sat by my companion and I, and the Bastrop Sisters(so happy to see them!) at lunch. I was like AH why this table!? He was the nicest, he wanted to hear about our lives, and our favorite part of our missions, and answer any questions and everything. So we're pretty much tight, I don't remember why but he even almost gave me his sons address haha.
I guess I can share one thing I loved especially that he told us was that, "his sheep hear his voice". He went into a ton of detail that I think is really going to improve our teaching if we can impliment it correctly. Sometimes it's hard but if people don't hearken to the message and the scriptures we need to move on and find those that know their shepherd and are ready to be found. For us it means a loooot of searching, yay tracting.
It is my first full bike week, just 2 more days! You just can't even imagine what people see when they open their door... It's me, after biking miles on a child size mountain bike with flat tires in the August Louisiana heat AND humidity, in a dress, and a helmet. Lets not forget what happens to my face, I think Alex said it best when he said, "girl, you is redder than the devil himself."
But anyways... Brazil will probably seem mild comparatively.
A funny story that happened this week is we biked to Elijah, about 60 and black. As soon as we got there he walked out, walked right up to Sister Birminghams bike started adjusting the seat and said, "I'm gone borrow this alright?" and as he was riding away, "watch ma house, and if anyone comes lookin fo me tell em I went to da sto and I be right back!" It was unreal, we just sat on the porch and enjoyed the grape drank he brought out for us and prayed that he would come back!
Last story, we brought this older white guy to teach a black lady and we were pretty nervous, but they ended up hitting it off and she just really trusted him immdiately for some reason. Not only did he end up teaching all 3 lessons in 2 hours. I would start to talk to her about praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true and he would interrupt her answer and say, "No I could tell when I walked in, you already know that book is true don't you?" and guessed what calling she would have when she aparently becomes a member and yeah.... Luckily! She was actually pretty cool with 90% of it, I was like WHAT'S HAPPENING! Her name is Brenda and we are gonna wooork on her family, they are so awesome! Satan is working hard too though. Not long after we left her old church stopped by for a visit and demanded they come back to church....
I also gave a talk on Sunday. It was on Elder Hollands talk last April. I'll write about that next week. Love you!!!!!!! Good luck everyone starting school, and Kelly send me a pic of your chipmonk cheeks!!!
Seester Stevens

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

West Monroe Week 2

It was a really weird week. I got to meet everyone we work with which was good. I don't really know what to say about it, it's wayyy different than Bastrop. The people here are a lot more snobby, still nice though. The ward was pretty welcoming, it's awesome to be in a ward with a good size youth program and a Bishopric that actually comes to church! I did get initiated, we were tracting before a dinner appointment and this member pretended to be a  rude psycho inviting us in and then when we went I saw the Elders and knew it was a joke. Speaking of rude psychos we met one on my very first day, I legit have never had someone hate me so much, she was attacking our religion and me personally, about my looks, what I'm going to do with my future, everything, but she loved my companion! It was funny, I don't know what it is about me I never expected grown adults to be so ok with putting down someone so innocent looking.
We had a few interesting teaching experiences, one was with this guy who we gave a BOM and then set up a return appointment and when we went back there was an extra car in the driveway so we thought he forgot us. Turns out he had invited a friend, then turns out they were devoted members at the Church of Christ, they did their research the night before and had a thousand questions that no amount of scripture or explanation seemed to satisfy. BUT they were very nice and also willing to read the BOM so we are meeting with them again and this time bringing members. The other one was a dinner appointment where a member had his sister over and wanted us to practice the first discussion with us, he ended up taking over and breaking every missionary rule in the book, for example telling her that her marriage of 27 years is invalid, and a lot more. But hey, it's his sister and she said she had a lot to think about and I mean when you lay it all out it's hard to disprove unless you're extremely familiar with your faith. 
Thirstay Thursday was everything I thought it would be on bikes. Also they gave me like a tiny bike with small wheels so within like 10 pedals I'm a quarter of a mile behind my companion. It's ok though I need the work out. Every Thursday we start by biking to Bangkok Spice a Thai restaurant owned by a member and eat for free, yum!
One funny thing that happened was that we were tracting a street that some Vivint salesmen (RM's and from Provo of course) were also going door to door on, they looked just like missionaries but in bright orange shirts and visors instead of suits and ties.
That's all for now, I like my new companion alright. We have nothing in common in terms of the mission and real life but we still get along and are getting closer and working together better everyday so it's good.
I love and miss you guys a lot!!
ps the first time since age 5 I haven't had to go back to school in the fall... so weird!

Sister Stevens

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Greetings from West Monroe

So this week my world was shattered. I don't even want to talk about it. But I will....
At interviews President told us he was thinking about switching things up but he changed his mind during my interview and told me we would be staying and stuff for another transfer. I really thought I would just be in Bastrop until I got my Visa because usually missionaries here stay in an area for about 6 months. Anyways, got the call Friday morning that I was getting moved to West Monroe. It's smelly (paper mill), it's rich, and it's a car-share. They are having Sister Stevenson who I only got to train for 6 weeks train a new girl coming, under the supervision of Sister Brimley. I don't really know what happened. I also don't know what my mission even is without Sister Brimley, I've been with her since day 1. The President sent me here with the intentions of me being the experienced missionary, he forgot I came out with the same group as my new companion. It is so weird. I was like- I can't leave Bastrop, I grew up here!
The Branch wasn't too happy about it either, when my trainer left they were mad cause she was only there 6 weeks and they loved her, and then I was only there 12 weeks. On Sunday I got to go up and bare my testimony, it was rough cause I was looking out and Keith AND Shirley were crying. I love them so much, and their progression is just amazing, so obviously it was time for me to leave. I was stressed out all week about who to tell the new Elders to make their priority and how do we make sure they take care of them. The Elders didn't get one progressing investigator we had given them a ride to church, I was so upset, it should never be the missionaries fault someones baptismal date is pushed back.
Anyways it really has been a great week, we worked and worked until the last minute (even got a new record in our lessons box). We taught some awesome lessons, one to a lady I've been waiting to teach since like the day we got here! Also every day is the sweaty-est day of my life the temperature went UP this week, it's gross, I don't know how I'm going to survive on a bike. One awesome lady we met this week was Makesha, she met with the missionaries 8 years ago when she was pregnant with her son, and now she is pregnant again and so excited that we found her again! She said they just never came back, so that was a wonderful miracle. It was one of those things where we were just knocking on apartments and, of course, she was the very last door.
Sorry about how scattered this all is, it has been a way crazy week, but I'm really happy. I know the President is an inspired man, I must be meant to do something here in West Monroe, maybe I'm here to convert Duck Dynasty (they live in this area)? I think that's it. Sold.
Love you all a whole lot, hope you told everyone at the reunion I love them too!

Sister Stevens

'by his skripes we are healed'

HI FAMILY. I love you all as usual. But back to me! HA just kidding, I would rather talk about you guys than me. It has been a great week though.
Things are good in Bastrop. The Elders moved down this week and took half our people we see so that was good. Somehow we still have a lot to do!
First a funny story, we were just walking down Shelton Hwy and recognized a guy, Antonio, walking the other direction, we were like "heyyy you live with Amanda we know you!" and he goes "Oh yeah you're the uhhh... the uhhhh... like you guys go around and kill people right?" We ended up figuring out he was having some confusion about the "mafia", and "mormons".
One gem this week was seeing Miss Shirley I wrote about last week, she is the best, we brought her everything she requested for her birthday. She is pretty much the most fabulous 61 yr old I've ever met. We had a party, but also taught her the second half of the Plan of Salvation, which people usually don't really understand but agree to agree. Not Shirley, the spirit was SO strong, we sat there until she got it. Usually the spirit is the strongest when we testify of God's love, the Atonement, Joseph Smith, the BOM, stuff like that, but it was like whoa since when did talking about the Spirit World and Degrees of Glory could bring it this strong. She said that all of our lessons have been great and make her "itchy"(how she feels the spirit) but that this one was different.
On Saturday I got to see my trainer Sister Johnson because her and the other STL's came for exchanges! First of all, it was my first time EVER teaching real lessons with Sister Brimley, so that was weird. I ended up going out with Sister Mapu--Tongan/Samoan, going home next week, and Sister Chai--Malaysian, been out 19 months, having trouble getting a Visa to go home. So they put me in a trio with the 2 most experienced missionaries in the mission for the day, it was intimidating at first but SO GOOD! We did so much work. Taught a preacher and his wife, a preachers wife and kids, passed out 3 BOMs, and more! We taught a woman Beatrice and it was going so well, despite my desire to not invite her to baptism for the third or fourth time and have that conversation again I sucked it up, and she said yes this time! It was so good, the spirit was so strong she couldn't even deny or question that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that has never happened before.
We had some investigators in church this week, one of them, Huddle-House-Kieth, got up to bare his testimony, it was terrifying, but so good! We were nervous cause we finally got some members to a lesson with him this week and he got wayyy intense and was yelling about how everyone has the power of God(Priesthood) and us missionaries should be able to open up our own church if we feel like it(cause that's what people do here). But like I was saying, it turned out good, he enjoyed church a lot!
We went to Arkansas again but our air conditioning in our car remains unfixed, you know when you open your car on a 100 degree day and have to wait a while outside of it because it's an oven? That's our life, but then we have to get inside. I'm not trying to complain, just explain, I figure if I can make it through a Louisiana July I can make it through a Louisiana August. Another thing my bug bites are finally healing, I always have a steady stream of them but one time in one night I got 18 on one ankle and 26 on the other and those are finally going away. Bugs on bugs down hur.
We also had a pioneer activity this week, we thought there would be food but there wasn't, so we ended up eating ice cream for dinner twice plus both of the Samoan families fed us. I don't think I need to say any more about that, you know what I'm getting at.
The people are still hilarious, my subject line happened as an 8 year old girl read that scripture, we also heard a knew one, "he was fuskrated".
K times up, LOOOVE YOU BYE!
Seester Katie Stevens

Email from July 29, 2013

Things are pretty much hoppin' in Bastrop.
This Sunday was crazy, I don't even know what happened, we had everything set up for rides and then suddenly everything fell through and we were sprinting in the church interrupting the adult meeting and taking like 4 of the 12 people in it out to give rides, and we were late to church! BUT it was the most people the Bastrop chapel has seen in years. Remember when our top investigator broke up with us? She came to church on Sunday. (My companion Sister Stevenson relates every relationship with an investigator to a real relationship, when they don't want to see us anymore they broke up with us and when we have to schedule a new baptismal date it is like postponing the wedding, so funny.)
The sacrament meeting topic was eternal marriage, two investigator couples (but not serious) were there, one whose marriage is barely hanging on, and one who has expressed to us how badly they want to find a wife. It was kind of funny. then we talked about "work" in Gospel Principles, in the middle of the lesson one guy there for the first time in forever was like, "you know not all churches teach this right?" Yepp, pretty much no churches around here teach it. I think everyone their time though. We are really excited about that.
So we have an investigator named Shirley, and she is just the light in the dark every week, we can always count on her, every time we go over she says she's been waiting on us. She is 60 and the only member of her family left. We were walking in the grocery store over a month ago and she yelled at us and it started like "excu-me where are ya'll from? what do ya'll teach?" and ended like, "I think I met some angels today." But we didn't end up seeing her for weeks! But when we did it was perfect timing. She cooked us some collard(sp?) greens, yummm. It became my favorite southern dish, everyone always talks about "greens" but no one would ever cook them. Anyways, she always talks about how this is a time of change in her life, she really doesn't want to be anything but Baptist, sorry I'm not sorry, she will be Mormon in no time.
We also had interviews with the President this week, we had weekly planning (so 5 hours of study/planning in the morning) and then were at the building in West Monroe (10 minutes from Duck Dynasty!!) until 7:30 at night. It was really good though, the President is too nice, and same with his wife, I don't know how he keeps track and loves so many missionaries.
That's all I can think of at the moment besides that I love you guys!!!! laterz.
Seester Stevens

2 months in MJM

Well the computer just deleted my entire email home:( so sorry if it's shorter and stupid the second time around. We have just been working hard in Bastrop. It's a small city but there is so much work to do. They are actually moving a set of Elders down next month. Sometimes I feel like that's gonna be a bit crowded but it will be good. I read 2 Nephi 28 this week and I swear Nephi was looking right at the South when he wrote it. I was just loving it agreeing with every verse, and I read v32 and it is just so true. Two sets of missionaries in this tiny of a city, the Lords arm is truly lengthened all the day long. On Friday night we got a text "reminding" us that we were speaking Sunday, HA you can't remind someone of something they never knew about in the first place. They want us to speak out of PMG and my studying led me to the verse that says if you don't have charity you're nothing, and that's when I decided to speak on Charity and Love from the Christlike Attributes chapter. Just like any subject I ever choose it led me right to the Atonement. I talked about how charity is an action word, and the greatest act of charity ever performed was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Christ didn't just stand by and watch anyone suffer, he atoned for all our burdens, all our suffering, it showed more than anything his "pure love." When we were baptized we showed Him that we are willing to do our best to lighten the burdens of others(Mosiah 18:8). I was probably prompted to speak on the topic for myself but charity is something none of us can be reminded enough of. We ran into two preachers this week. One of them came out and was telling us how he was just praying about the salvation of souls. Didn't seem like a coincidence to any of us, but his thoughts were a little different than ours. He didn't hide that he thought it was that he needed to tell us who go around working for just that we're going about it all wrong. We were excited to discuss at first but after a 45 minute sermon with about 5 words from each of us stuck in there we really just had to turn and walk. (we should have known it was bad news when he went back inside and brought out ONE chair for himself to sit on and 0 for the three girls haha...) It is so frustrating trying to talk to them, but it just makes me happier, more grateful, and with a stronger testimony every time. I've been out 2 months! It doesn't seem real. It feels like I've lived in Bastrop my whole life, but it also seems like I couldn't have possibly been in the field two months yet! We have some really great investigators and stuff I wish I had time to write about but not this week! Disclaimer though, one has the most fantastic gray/silver mullet of all.

Love you everyone! Thank you for your prayers:)

Sister Stevens

Email from July 15, 2013

Looks like everyone thought my P-day got changed to Wednesday cause no one emailed me this week. It didn't get changed we just had special circumstances two weeks in a row.
I don't really know what to say about this week, it was pretty crazy, we did a ton of work but it's hard cause the progress is looking minimal at the moment. 
Saturday was rough, we kinda lost (not for sure but kind of) our two most promising investigators, both in really shocking and sad ways. I went to bed that night and for the first time I was like-- so this is what it feels like to go to bed with a broken heart. I was so sad, all I could do was just pray for them at that point. I don't like writing about it it makes me sad again. But Sunday was a good day, I remembered the testimony I bore just one week previous about trusting in the Lord, and his love for his children. I know He will provide a way for those who He desires to receive the gospel at this time to receive it. I thought as a missionary it would be a lot more clear who those people are, but it's not. All we can do is keep loving everyone, and teach those willing to listen, and bring the spirit into as many peoples lives as possible. For those that push us away after feeling the spirit so strongly I just have to trust that it is in the Lords hands, and He won't let them forget it. For this moment we did all we could, but as heart breaking as it is for us it is infinitely more heart breaking for our Heavenly Father. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we are helping Him help them, not the other way around. His hand has been in their lives a lot longer than mine! So all I can do is keep praying for each and every one of them, and have faith that He will hear those prayers, and in His time if it's His will they'll be answered. 
We met out first person obsessed with the black Jesus. It was the first thing that he asked us. "You believe Jesus is black?" and I said, "I don't believe it makes a difference." But he lectured us for a while, it was way funny. He also told us that black people are the only ones who can produce Vit D, and their hair growing towards the sky instead of towards the ground makes them the chosen people. 
One thing about the South I haven't talked about is the thousands of dogs! Everyone has one! And most people have more like 3-6. Every morning a dog runs with us and at least 80 others bark and chase us. They all love little dogs though, the most ugly mixed bread little dogs! I swear they are all pug chihuahua mixes. But there are some cute ones, and one cool thing I can think of is a less active here has a 75%Timber wolf 25%Husky. I was so distracted but they don't mind when we give it attention because they are in love with it too! Speaking of love I recently got a boyfriend, his name is DeCameron, he is 5 and has gold teeth and always makes us drop a beat so he can rap for us. He even walks us to our car, what a gentleman! 


Seester Stevens

On my birthday

Mer Rouge, a pretty town just outside of Bastrop we do some work in.

A few of the last of the mtc pics I never sent..
All of the people from my district going to Bahia.
me and Sister Brimley pointing to both missions

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


HI familyyyy,
From what I've heard the wedding sounded amazing I'm so happy everything went well and sad I wasn't able to be there. I also saw a few pics and they were the best! Michelle looked GREAT! Love the dress, love the shoes, why do all my sisters have to set such high standards... haha But I'm going to be honest it was always in my mind but it took me until saying my prayer Saturday night to realize it happened that day!
Sunday was great, finding rides to get people to church was extremely stressful because pretty much every Priesthood holding mail has a big calling with meetings in the morning. But it worked out, we put everyone to work.
First of all our new investigator came to church in a brown velvet suit with a brown and orange striped shirt, it was the best thing I've ever seen. Second, it was testimony meeting, and you can imagine my heart as he started walking up to the pulpit, but I was just beaming anyways. Yes he mentioned weed in his testimony, yes it was still great. Having that new investigator plus more less actives and parts of their families (who hadn't been in years) was one of the happiest moments of the mission. All our hours of sitting in Ralph's house dying of second hand smoke paid off! 
We tracted into more Bible-bashers this week. I haven't told you about the all-you-need-is-faith type I don't think. But this ooold lady opened the door and just looked like she felt SO bad for us. She kept saying "we don't have to work or nothing, Christ said, 'only believe'." Ok I'm a terrible missionary but I laughed, it just came out. It's funny, it is such contradicting doctrine that she ended up justifying herself 30 seconds later when we asked for referrals. She said if anyone needs the message she goes and tells them herself, we told her how wonderful that was of her to do and she realized we were so happy that she was doing the Lord's WORK and freaked out and started preaching again. It was good stuff. I'm so happy our religion is inclusive of the whole Bible, cause if I had to read it every day as a missionary of any other faith what would I be teaching all day? Just a bunch of stuff I would know contradicts itself. 
Ok one more funny story, I'll have something spiritual to say next week. We were talking to this 12 yr old kid outside his door and asking him if he prays. He said, "Yes mam my mother tells me to pray every night before bed so that if I die in my sleep I'll still go to Heaven." We tried to teach him that you can say more than that, but anyways, he ended up praying for just that before we left, I was a little sad that we didn't get through to him, but hopefully he'll try it sometime. 
Wellll just the South everything about it great, chicken, people, lifestyle. Everything about being a missionary too, church, testifying, prayers on prayers.
Love Y'ALL very much! tchau! 

Seester Stevens
Pics on pics!
Playing with a baby raccoon

On my birthday

The sketchy tamale shop, mmmm

Happy Independence Day!

With my companions on the 4th.