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