Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Week 2

So my second week at the MTC is coming to a close... SO much has happened! I don't even really know where to start. We are full on Portuguese now, we have 6 hours of teacher instuction, as well as about 2 hours of additional Portuguese study EVERYDAY. It's hard to see improvement day by day, but I know that it's happening. Every night as I'm getting ready for bed I find myself repeating random phrases or words we learned that day which is a good feeling, it just makes me feel like my brain is learning. 
Last Tuesday the devotional was by Richard G Scott, it was really cool and way good. He spoke on prayer and recieving answers to prayer, AND he gave all the missionaries learning a language an apostolic blessing to have the gift of tounges, it was amazing, you could tell he was promted by the spirit to do that, it wasn't written into his talk. After devotional we have a district meeting where we talk about it, everyone bore their testimonies and it was so cool, everday in our classroom my district has the coolest gospel discussions. Someone will just ask for help interpreting a scripture, or ask for a good way to teach a certain part of a lesson, and everyone contributes and shares what they know. We all get so much out of it. 
We also started teaching lessons in Portuguese this week, it is really fun, but also really humbling. I get frustrated here cause all I want to do is serve others but it's hard when everyone in my district and stuff are doing really well already, I just want to get out and serve! But then I teach a lesson and realize that I can't serve the people of Brazil without learning the language. It's hard to know exactly what I want to say and what the investigator needs to hear, but just not be able to communicate it, Sister Brimley and I could talk to investigators in English for hours about just the first lesson! But in Portuguese we do it in 30 minutes, we just say everything that we can, hit all the important points, and trust the spirit to do the rest. I know that I'll be able to say everything I need to say, but the day where I can say everything I want to say... is going to be a good day. Two districts combined this week and taught a first lesson to two Elders in the class that are really good with the language, it was so cool how even when you are teaching to people who already know the truth the spirit testifies of it. They did such a good job, it just wasn't fair! They were professionals at teaching the gospel and teaching it IN Portuguese. I was able to follow along with everything they were saying, I just need to get better at retrieving words from my mind. Man, I hope I can be as good as them at the end of the mission, I was imagining their success with the way they taught.
Side note: I really love Portuguese, it's a great language, so much fun. My favorite word is dilligently in Portuguese it's-- diligelimente, but it's pronounced like-- jilly-jelly-men-chee.
We are supposed to be focusing a lot of study time on the Book of Mormon and I have been, I'm almost through 2nd Nephi and getting so much out of it! I wish I had more to say but it's just really great, I hope you're all reading too and doing your best to get something out of it. If I were to suggest one chapter to read though it would be Alma 36. One of the best chapters of scripture ever. 
Hmmmm what else... I have less than a month left so that's pretty cool! Everyone who doesn't have their Visa got their reassignments and stuff this week, it's pretty cool how they will get to go serve in two places and they get 2 calls! We don't spend any time worrying about Visas here, if it comes great, and if it doesn't, still great. We'll go to Brazil when we're meant to go to Brazil. 
The theme of Sunday was listening to the Spirit and its promptings, on one of our Sunday temple walks I made it a point to stop after my prayer and listen for any inspiration I could get, it was really cool the thoughts that came into my mind, none of them told me to do a specific thing or help a specific person but they were so pure and motivating in being kind to others, and using the Lords time wisely. I've never really been patient enough to listen like that but it gave me reassurance that it is something I will need to do throughout my mission to get inspiration for investigators, companions, and anything else. Try it and see what happens, nothing bad could come from it, it's a good use of five or ten minutes of your life. 
My companion is so fun, shes from South Carolina but grew up a lot in Utah, she is way funny, new quotes for the quote book every day, she also has such a strong testimony, I can learn a lot from her. We live off pb and j in the food place, also rice, and cookies, and cereal. It's bad. We get a decent amount of gym time, but I'm still getting fat.  I figure it's a good opportunity to exercise self control, if I don't the consequence is gaining and gaining so I hope I can get control soon haha. Wellll I'm doing really well and that's all I got time for, so much happens every single day I wish I could write all of it, but I will keep doing my best! Thanks for your letters I've heard from everyone as of yesterday! Your encouragement makes my day. 
Eu amo o evangelho de Jesus Cristo. Eu sei gue Deus pode ouvrir voce oracao. Eu tenho muito animado a servir e ensinar.
Sister Stevens
1. Sister Brimley and I "otimo!!!"
2+3. found Sarah cause she leaves the MTC this week!
4. Got a pic with Connor cause he leaves this week too! We tried to make it look not awkward but it looks horribly awkward, oh well! He got reassigned to Michigan if Tash hasn't told you!

Week 1

Saying goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa on the way to the MTC
So hopefully you've gotten my letter by now and know that everythings going great. I realized after sending it that I might have sounded negative at certain points in it but you know me well enough to know that nothing has phased me and its going well. Dad, Kelly, and Jenny all sent me raelly nice dearelders, thank Dad for his, and thanks for remembering me in your prayers. So Connor was my host on the first day which was really cool and he is in the classroom right next to me! He gave a talk on Sunday too! (We each have to prepare a 5ish minute talk for every Sunday and you don't find out if you're giving it till right before) He did really well, I envy his Portuguese, I'm glad he spoke before he left and that I got to be here. There are sooo many girls (and a couple boys) from BYU here. It's everyone. I've seen Sarah Nnah and a toooon of others and even 2 of my friends who work as teachers so thats cool. The Portuguese is coming along I guess, I said my first full prayer in Portuguese on Saturday I think it was. So good! I can bear my testimony a little too. The conjugations and tenses are really hard, I can put together some reaaally broken sentences but we have been working on it. So we finally got work-out time, SO GOOD! It really helps the days to get broken up a little. My district is really fun, 6 girls 6 boys, theres a lot of jokesters but we are really improving in fousing a lot, we focus, and have fun, we are becoming a little family and it is the best:). My companion is really awesome, she is so funny, and always smiling, and yes.. emotional, but not in a bad way, its just that I always feel bad for not crying like she is in the devotionals... ha. But we are learning a lot from each other and support each other and have never fought or anything like that. All 6 girls stay in the same room which is pretty fun, doesn't bother me but it is pretty tight! they are only supposed to be for 4 people so usually there are 2 bunks and now theres 3 and still only 4 closet spaces and stuff. But anyways thats just the living situation, its cool because ALL of us in the district are really close. So the spirit here is really strong, I feel it every day, and in the last letter I said that it is really hard which it is going from 7- 9 30 at night but... It really never feels hard, sometimes my brain hurts but it doesn't feel hard. And when it even starts to feel hard it never comes very far cause I know so strongly that I'm right where I'm supposed to be. There is no where like the MTC on the planet, I wish everyone could come here and experience it, someday Mom you will! And I am excited for you already. Teaching investigators is fun, we are committing our fake investigator to baptism tomorrow!! Its so cool how you can feel the spirit even when its not the real life thing, the testimonies are real life and the gospel is true and that's all that matters! So uhhhh p-day turns out to be the busiest day ever we got to go to the temple and that was super nice. I really really enjoyed it a lot. It just put me at peace more than ever. I wish I had time to say lots more and next week I will but I was supposed to be at dinner 20 minutes ago (yeah thats how busy it is). Well forward this to the fam, I love you all!  I would right a little section in Portuguese if I had time!
Love, Sister Katie Stevens

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Change of Plans and Saying Goodbye to Family and Friends

My Visa to enter the country of Brazil hasn't come yet and so I will be going to the Provo MTC for training still leaving April 10.  Drop me a line using while I'm in the MTC here's my address for the next 6 weeks:
Sister Katie Stevens
MTC Box 170
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

I've been so grateful for the love and support of friends and family as I prepare to leave.  I love you all and will miss you! Here are a few pictures.


WL friends at BYU


Ross, Cody, and Cory

My nephew Jackson
My new niece Jade, so glad I got to meet her before I left!

My sister Michelle in Hawaii



I'm adding the notes I used for my talk in this post, more for my own record than for your reading. They are just notes, and may be hard to follow.  Feel free to skip down to the pictures. It was a wonderful Sunday and amazing to have the chance to testify of my Savior on such a special day as Easter.
 Talk notes:  
Good morning and Happy Easter everyone, last time I was up here was over Christmas break when I was asked to announce my mission call, and at that time this day seemed so far away that I would be up here giving my last talk before leaving on my mission. Last time I was asked to share where will be going to which is to Salvador Brazil, and today I’ve been asked to share on what I will be doing, which is testifying of Christ.
I want to first talk about the importance of testifying of Christ,
My Book of Mormon teacher said something this year that reminded me just how important it is that we are constantly remembering and testifying of Christ, he said “When asked to teach (or testify of) anything, if you can’t connect it the Atonement, then DON’T TEACH IT.” This is so vital to remember for teachers, for parents, and for me as I testify to the people of Brazil. Christ’s Atonement was the single most important event in history, everything is connected to it, and if we can’t find a way to connect it to it in our teaching, then we don’t fully understand. For an example of this we need look no further than the greatest teacher there ever was, Jesus Christ.
Everything that Christ taught us connects back to it.
He taught us to be baptized, to love one another, and to be like him, Christ testifies of himself and his Atonement in everything he does, and that is how we as disciples need to testify of him.
After Christ’s resurrection he visits the apostles on multiple occasions, the third visit is found in the 21 Chapter of John. At this point they haven’t been in his presence for a while and without knowing what else to do Peter and most of the others go back to their old lives as fishermen. As they are out fishing Christ appears on the shore, and as soon as Peter recognized that it is the Savior there speaking to them, he gets so excited that he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore to meet him, and the Savior feeds them. We read what happens next in John 21:15-16
15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon,son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, aFeed my sheep.

After this Jesus asks Peter for a third time, at this point he has asked Peter the same number of times that Peter had denied him not long earlier “lovest thou me?” After he had asked the question three times it said Peter grieved, and in his grief and confusion Peter replies “Lord, thou knowest all thing; thou knowest that I love thee.” And Jesus’ response is the same as before, he tells Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Through this Christ is teaching Peter a valuable lesson, he is teaching him that if he truly loves him, he is obligated to feed his sheep.
Matthew 22:37-39 teaches us that Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy bheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy cmind.
 38 This is the first and great acommandment.
 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself.

From this we see that Peter had the first and great commandment figured out, the Lord knew that he loved him, what the Lord taught Peter in this instant was how to fulfill the second great commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself, by feeding his sheep.
We can all feed his sheep in one way or another, the main way is by showing our love for others, reaching out to a person as a friend, as a neighbor, as a mentor, will help them feel the love of Christ in their life, and it will provide us an opportunity to testify of him.
The call to feed the Saviors sheep is an intimidating one at times, the Savior loves his sheep, and would not put them in them in the hands of just anyone, how are we to be trusted to feed his beloved sheep? We can be trusted because we have the good news of the gospel, and that is what each and every one of his sheep need the most, the knowledge that He dwelt on earth, atoned for our sins, and overcame death. There is truly nothing more necessary in a person’s life than that knowledge.
Hopefully I have made my point about how important it is to testify of Christ, and now I would like to discuss the “why”, why testify of Christ and why is it so important.
There is a quote in Preach My Gospel by President Howard W. Hunter that says, “Surely taking the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people is the single greatest responsibility we have in mortality… We have been privileged to be born in these last days, as opposed to some earlier dispensation, to help take the gospel to all the earth.” I love this because he explains that taking the gospel to all the earth, and testifying of Christ is a privilege. Howard W. Hunter then says, “What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others.” In this he explains that the blessings of the Atonement are what drive us to want to share those blessings we feel in our lives with others. When we feel the love of Christ in our lives, our love for others is magnified.
Because our appreciation of the Atonement is what makes us want to share it, I would like to share a quote that was once shared with me that helped my testimony and understanding of the Atonement grow Merrill J Bateman in his address titled “A Patter For All” said-
For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities”
What I have come to an understanding of is that it is so much more than many have gotten by thinking. He truly knows us perfectly, because of the Atonement there is no question that every person that has and will ever live on the earth and all of us here today each of your personal infirmities have been felt, each of your personal griefs have been born, each of your personal sorrows have been carried, and each and every one of your personal infirmities have been bruised for, by the Savior.
There is nothing in my life that I appreciate more than the comfort I get from this, and that is what makes me want to share it. I love the thought that by testifying of Christ, I can bring people unto him.
The story of Christ telling Peter to feed his sheep is so compelling to me because after Peter says “thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee” Christs response of “feed my sheep” is the same as Christ saying to Peter, “prove it”.
When people who aren’t familiar with the idea of a missionary asks me why I am going on a mission, it gets me stuck every time. Because what I would like to say to them is not what they are expecting to hear, and not usually what I end up actually saying. I wish that they could understand that I received confirmation that it is something I need to do, and because everyone deserves to know that someone knows and loves them, and I’m going because if the Savior were to ask me, “lovest thou me?” I want to be able to say “Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love thee” and I don’t want there to be a question of whether I have proven that. And I know that serving a mission is a small way to prove that but it is important, because he has asked us to feed his sheep and I bear my testimony that the best way to feed his sheep is to testify of Christ, and that is exactly what I will be getting the opportunity to do for the next 18 months. And I am beyond excited.
And a quick word to the youth- when the time comes to decide if you would like to serve a mission, or even now, pray about it, I never thought it would be for me and that I would come to this decision, but it has already been the best decision of my life.
I wanted to end with a quick story and my testimony.
Last year, my testimony of Christ really grew a lot, I felt like I knew him better than ever, and I also went the whole school year without bearing my testimony, because of this on the last Sunday I got up and bore the testimony that I just wasn’t very proud of, and I couldn’t figure out why. And as I was sitting there after I realized that the reason my testimony didn’t feel right, was because not once in it, besides to close, did I mention the Savior. I felt so dumb, I wanted a redo! I didn’t get one, but I have made it a point, and plan on always making it a point to include the Savior in my testimony, because he is the foundation that it is built on.
When I was writing this I kept going to my Dad saying, “I’m sorry but everything I’m writing has to do with your topic!” (which is the atonement) and I would just like to say that I know
Can never go too deep
Are never alone
The fact that I will be testifying of Christ makes going on a mission in no way a sacrifice, but a great opportunity and blessing.


My Call: Brazil Salvador South Mission

Soooo in the last post I talked about the amazing feelings and experiences that came from making the decision to go on a mission. Now I have a whole new set of feelings and experiences because I have my call! On December 5th I ran home from class with my mail key in my hand and went straight to the mailbox, first thing I see.. A huge white envelope, second thing I see.. Postage $1.90... AHHHH! So it took me a minute before I could even take it out of the mailbox cause my my mind and body were both for lack of better words, freaking out! I couldn't move, couldn't breath, couldn't shut my mouth or contain my smile. I finally grabbed it and ran up the stairs, I even had to take a few breathers due to hyperventilating getting the best of me. For the next hour I just clung to it and then I had to go to another class, which proved to be the longest class of my life. Then finally... 5 hours later friends started showing up and we set up a google chat with my whole family and I opened my call. It was a really surreal experience, my brain has never felt that kind of anticipation or shock before. I finally read it, Dear Sister Stevens, you are hereby called to serve in the Brazil Salvador South Mission... Portuguese... reporting to the Brazilian MTC April 10th, 2013. When I first read it I didn't believe it, I literally thought that I had read it wrong, cause I had never in a million years guessed Brazil, it didn't even cross my mind, but it hit me and I felt so many emotions at one time I was just in shock, but a happy shock! I am so blessed that I got called to such an awesome mission, I know it is where I am supposed to go and I cannot wait to serve the people of Brazil.

Me, just minutes after finding my call in the mailbox.

Curve Ball

 On October 6th during the morning of General Conference I learned what it means when life throws you a curve ball. The Church made an announcement that from then on girls at the age of 19 would be able to serve a mission. When I first heard those words it felt like all the blood left my body, and then it felt like my body was trying to compensate, my heart was beating rapidly for at least the next hour as I was absolutely shocked. I was happy for my friends but scared for myself, what did this mean? What about my Study Abroad? Am I supposed to go? Is this for me? I knew immediately it was something to consider and I immediately started praying about it. After weeks of praying and watching my friends one by one make their decisions I knew myself and that decisions for me are just not that easy. This decision was especially hard because no one could make it for me, and I knew I couldn't let anyone influence it too much. After a couple weeks of praying and  discussing with close family and friends my Dad explained to me that I needed to start moving forward in one direction and the Lord would let me know if that was not the right direction. A couple days later I cancelled my Study Abroad, made an appointment with my bishop, and continued praying. My bishop sent me home and we scheduled another meeting, in that time I continued looking for confirmation and took my bishops advice to fast. At the end of my fast I prayed, began reading preach my gospel, prayed, read my scriptures, prayed, read a few paragraphs of my patriarchal blessing, prayed, read my scriptures, and so on. I was getting frustrated because for me I felt that I knew a mission was either for me or it wasn't, either I was supposed to go serve certain people being prepared to receive the gospel, or someone else was supposed to. After a very long prayer I turned to my patriarchal blessing and read a paragraph that was SO OBVIOUS, it was as if the words slapped me across the face, it so clearly was talking about a mission, I wasn't sure how I had never read it before. Then I turned to my scriptures and BOOM read a scripture that was exact to me and my situation. At that moment I was incredibly happy, I had made the right decision, this is something I am meant to do, Heavenly Father made that announcement or me! This was something I needed to do. That knowledge brought me so much joy. No more wondering. I have a path in this life, and going on a mission is along that path. Serving a mission is the least I can do for the Lord, I will be doing the best possible thing I can do with my life for those 18 months. What better way to spend it than doing pure service, the pure will of the Lord. For 18 months I am nothing, me and my needs and wants will not matter. What will matter is telling and showing people the love of Christ, that they are not alone, that they have a purpose on this earth. After all the Lord has done for me and given me how can I not go? How can I not take this opportunity to show my love and devotion? Do I not owe it to him? I do. I have never been more excited about something that I HAVE to do. The thought of the work I will be doing brings me so much joy, the fear I initially felt is gone, now I just feel Christ's love building up getting ready to explode all over wherever I get called. I found out what the saying "sometimes life throws you a curve-ball" means, I found out what people are talking about when they say your patriarchal blessing says different things to you at different moments in your life, and now on my mission I hope to find myself. That's what I wanted to find by going on a study abroad, I think in the end I hope to find truth to the saying that "you find yourself when you lose yourself in the service of others."

The picture taken for my papers!