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