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