Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 18, 2014

We had a pretty good week considering the weather. We had exchanges on Tuesday and I finally got to go with Sister Smith! Sister White had talked about how great she is for a whole six weeks and so I was really excited. We taught some good lessons and stayed busy the whole day, not even time to tract! When we did MTE's she asked me to evaluate her and give her suggestions. So that was weird. I was thinking I guess it's a good thing visa waiters can't be STL's because because I'm sure complimenting and giving constructive criticism must be hard day after day. On Wednesday morning the world was iced over and we had to stay in most of the day. It was soooo weird! Everyone else took a nap or something but I just couldn't relax, so I studied PMG for a few hours and started my sanctification goals. Our mission is working really hard towards sanctification and becoming pure disciples. So a lot of us are doing this fast from specific things that keep the spirit from being our constant companion. We just started a couple days ago, it's already pretty hard, but also already rewarding. I received some personal revelation I have been needing. My attribute I'm working on right now is Diligence. Why the Lord wanted me to work on diligence again I did not know, and I talked to President at interviews and he said he didn't either., but did point out one specific sentence in PMG for me to work on. The one about finding joy and satisfaction in your work. OUCH. It kinda hurt at first, I didn't understand, why would he think I'm not happy? I just had to nod my head and say "ok, I could always be happier." While thinking in my mind, I wish it was that easy! But in my study on Sunday when I started the fast I read a quote in PMG, then I turned to the scriptures, then to my patriarchal blessing, and they all just aligned, and told me the saaaame thing. Bring exactly obedient is hard, your mind has to be engaged at all times on what time it is, and how you talk, and what your companion is doing, and how are you going to change the situation. It's exhausting, but you get a lot done. Now the Lord wants me to be even more exactly obedient, AND  happier rather than more stressed out with all the details. I'm going to need prayer these next 40 days as I work on ALL the things that drive the Spirit away. But I know I am going to find happiness, I have to! If I can't find it here being exactly obedient how will I ever find it in the eternities? 
Anyways... Last week Tash asked me what I'm working on right now, and between then and now I am working on A LOT, so I thought I would share. 
Mark got scared this week. He kept all his appointments until it came to the Stop Smoking Program. It was so sad. He has never missed an appointment like that! This week we went over a whole lot. He is so close to conversion it's just a matter of letting go of the old and embracing the new. I think he got scared of how close he was to baptism. We are going over in a few hours and will clear things up and get him back on track. 
Other than that we are in need of new investigators, so pray for us to find! We haven't had a lot of time to devote to finding lately so this week we are finally ready to really devote time to it and find the elect. 
It was the coldest week in the world. But yesterday we walked around in T shirts.... It was around 65 degrees. We had an hour so we went to a park that is kind of like Mary S Young and walked the trails, it was so fun! I need more nature.  
I got my Valentines package! It was so exciting! I love all the pictures and letters so much. I couldn't even go through all of it at once. I loooove the family photo. Also everything else in it was awesome, I already went through all the talks and have been putting the chocolate, highlighters, sticky-notes, and cd's to good use. I was very happy about it. 
More good news. My warmth package got here just in time for winter to end!!!!! Oops, got to work on that sarcasm. I really am so happy it's here, it's supposed to get cold again this week.
I love you all a lot! Have a good week!
Sister Stevens

Rain rain go away!

February 10, 2014

Awwwky awk sauce photo!! Oh well,  it's kinda funny!

So we were very fortunate to have Sister Gatlin still not be able to find a job. The Lord is blessing us for sure, and she is getting blessings too! I foresee a reeeaally good job offer coming for her soon. The reason we are so blessed is because she will take us anywhere, anytime, and come in with us, or wait for us, or go run errands and come back for us. A lot of people in the Ward we just can't take to certain areas or people. We did have to bike some on Thursday, in the SNOW. It was horrible, the wind chill is KILLER. We were biking as fast as we could and I couldn't feel my legs, then I tried to put my lips together and couldn't, the cold has made me not be able to talk very well before but never not be able to close my mouth! I really hate being cold.
Things with Mark are going really well! It is taking foreverrrr to get through the lessons but that is to be expected from someone who really thinks about things and has questions and everything. He apologized for unloading on us the first few visits and not letting us talk much now that he realized the importance of our message. We teach him almost every day, and he has a triple combo now and is loving D&C. He likes connections like me so he gets excited when he finds the truth of all the philosophy books and the Bible and everything he's assumed or learned, written in scripture and finally complete. I love finding the doctrine for all the things I've always been taught but never had scriptural connections for. But most importantly, he is recognizing the Spirit. We convinced him to stay for the baptism after church yesterday and he couldn't get through the closing song. He turned and said, "The Spirit's so strong, I can't sing." Did I mention he has never been baptized? He still kinda considers himself saved when he accepted Jesus into his heart when he was 12, BUT we found someone in the South who hasn't been baptized, and wants to be! That has never happened with anyone who has been willing to listen! 
I talked to the Mission President at interviews about Visa stuff and he said he still feels how he felt a couple months ago, like it was coming soon... I felt like I should read the story of Moses the other day and it was so applicable. The Brazilian gov. is pharaoh, and I'm a child of Israel who keeps being told over and over I'll be delivered, and the church is Moses doing everything they can! It's just funny, the Lord keeps telling them over and over that he will deliver, they have to go through a whoooole lot but it happens! Luckily I don't have it as hard as them AT ALL, because I'm lovin it where I'm at, but it was still cool to read.
In other news...
Johnny got the Priesthood yesterday! 
I ate at Waffle House for the first time. Once you get over the grossness, it's really good! 
That's about it for this week. Love y'all!!!!! :)
Sister Stevens

Johnny's Batizem

February 3, 2014

I don't have too much to say because I sorta just wrote but Johnny did get baptized on Saturday! It was so good! They only got there a few minutes before it started, we were getting really nervous. Toni even sent us a text that said, "he's not coming". Luckily, we walked outside and saw them getting out of the car and HE sent that text. I don't even know what to say about the baptismal service besides that it was the best. It was so spiritual, the Stake President came and gave the talk on baptism and an older couple came back so the Elder that once taught him could baptize him. Johnny is one of those people that all the way up until the baptism, still does not necessarily want to be baptized, but goes through with it because they know it is what the Lord wants them to do. His biggest fear about it was lying to God, not being good enough, but the Spirit got him to where he needed to be and he is so blessed. His countenance changed from nervous and solemn to happy and peaceful in an instant. After the ordinance his step-son and another little boy from the ward sang, "I Love to See the Temple", it was adorable. I have never been to a baptism SO centered on the temple but that is the next step for their family, and a big reason he decided to get baptized sooner than he planned. The next day the confirmation was perfect. His step son got up a whole lot of courage and bore the shortest, simplest, but BEST testimony, he said, "I know the church is true, I know it was a hard decision for Johnny to get baptized but I know Heavenly Father helped him." (He's the 8 year old who's baptism I spoke at a few months ago.) It was a whole lot of miracles and a huge change of heart.
Other than that we have one new investigator who is progressing really quickly named Mark. He was at first really just looking for company and to be uplifted. The first few visits were long and consisted of us only sharing a small part of our message. He would talk on and on about his recent separation with his wife and how it was making him depressed. But eventually, he started asking questions and catching onto why the differences are important. He really like the second half of the Plan of Salvation, after we taught he gave the most sincere prayer thanking the Lord for being merciful to ALL his children. Then he came to the baptism on Saturday, and church Sunday! The ward was very welcoming, it's been a  while since they've seen a white investigator in church or something? He said he felt really good at both the baptism and church so it is a really good sign! I'm glad we were patient with him and that the Lord sent us at such a perfect window of opportunity.
Did I mention that Alice moved? Yep, the day of her confirmation actually! She moved to the middle of nowhere 40 minutes from the nearest church. Which was really terrible news until a few days ago when the Winnsboro Sisters finally got to go meet her! They said she came to church on Sunday, bore her testimony, and even went with them to teach an investigator after church! So glad the Lord is watching out for her and that she can be a strength to that tiny branch. 
I have a lot of time so I'll add what I learned in my study recently. I was reading in 3 Nephi 11 when the Spirit tells Nephi that the fruit on the tree is the most desirable above all other fruit. It made me think how there may be a lot of ways to be happy, being rich is pretty nice, and having talent is always good... BUT! This gospel is the MOST desirable, and will bring us the MOST joy, the MOST happiness, and help us get the MOST out of our lives. I am so grateful for it.

Thank you for the prayers, couldn't do any of this without them. Hope everyone has a good week!
Sister Stevens


January 30, 2014

It has been a super weird week and a half, we had our service day Monday and then found out we HAVE to change our Pday to Thursday due to sever weather. So then we had 6 empty hours to plan for in the sever weather and cancel all our Thurdsay appointments. It was frustrating, second time on the mission I've had a 10 day stretch to Pday. OH WELL.
Ok update on Johnny- Elder Atkinson is on his way to baptize him RIGHT NOW, driving all the way from Wyoming or something. I can't believe it's really happening! So glad I get to be here for it. I just know his family is going to be so blessed because of it, adn they are really in need of some blessings right about now. They have been experiencing some really unfortunate things the past year, and I know situations are going to look up. Even if they don't all look up he is going to have the Holy Ghost to get him through it. We had some really cool lessons with him this week, no one has ever really gotten on his level and made sure he understands, we taught him the Plan of Salvation suuuper simply, and he taught it back to us! We also taught him about the Priesthood and he is so excited to be able to minister to his family rather than having to call the home teachers or elders multiple times a month.  
For our service day on Monday we went and helped Toni- Johnny's wife clean out her daughters house. She just kinda took whatever she could carry and disappeared with her kids and everything. Really sad, for what it was she held it together pretty well. We packed and cleaned everything. It was good, she would have been able to finish one room that day by herself. It was a good use of the day, wayyy more meaningful than any other service day we've had. It's frustrating because we just happened to ask her if she needed help. We just want to serve people, and we know there are people to serve, but finding service is just harder than it should be. Missionary work and service are the two best things in the world! So it was a good day.
We have been having some real miracles. Finding is probably the hardest part about the work but also the most rewarding. When you put the effort out there Heavenly Father really blesses you and puts people in your path. It has been not ideal tracting time the last few days because the tempurature has been like 20 degrees but with humidity and wind chill factored in more like 5 degrees. But we've been blessed to be able to make good use of our time still because of all the finding we did the week before! They actually even had school off the last couple days because it's that cold, not snow days.. Just cold days.
We have really been getting members out with us lately, we pretty much doubled the work we've done with them in the past few weeks. It has been really having a good effect on our work.
Well I love you guys so much! Talk to you in a few days....
Seester Stevens

Transfer 7

January 21, 2014

First of all, Happy Birthday yesterday to Alex!! Glad to hear it went well, I was excited to say it on his actual birthday but we forgot the library would be closed.
It's the last week of the transfer which s really weird but last time I talked to President he said there's not much use in making me learn a new area when we're not sure how much longer I'll be here.
The Baptism on Saturday was fantastic. There weren't many people that came but it didn't make a difference. Alice is just the funniest, we had to stop on the way to the font to say one last prayer. We chose two of the biggest guys in the ward to baptize her- at her request, and they did such a good job. We left the doors closed until she was in because it was a little bit of a struggle because she's scared of heights, like when she was a kid she would walk/crawl backwards down hills.. So with the two mens help we got her in and then she was so nervous, it was the loudest baptism I've ever heard with the deep breathing and whimpering, but she was holding it together really well. (After they said they could hear us laughing behind the closed doors but what can you do, she's funny! As she felt how warm the water was she said, "I'm gonna pee!") Then they got her dunked and she was out of the font in no time, she moved up those steps faster than we've ever seen her move. We got to stay in the back with her while she changed and it was really cool we kept asking her how she felt and all the could say was, "I feel great! I don't know how else to say it, I feel great!" Then at one point we were all just quiet and she said, "Before you ladies came to my door..." and then didn't say anything! But the spirit came in the room SO STRONG! It was really cool. The confirmation went really well too, no broken down cars this time. It was a moment where the Spirit didn't necessarily burn, but everything felt right in the world, it was peaceful.
Sister Gatlin who I always talk about got up the courage to talk to Bishop on Wednesday and then got her Patriarchal Blessing on Sunday!! So happy for her! She will never stop telling the story about how the first time the missionaries came to her door she hid, but the second time she let them in and how grateful she is that they didn't give up on her. There was a talk a few weeks ago about how that's the same for home and visiting teaching.
So we have been working a lot with Johnny, he is actually letting us come over twice a week (ideally we would be going over more than that) and Toni (his wife) said he hasn't let any missionaries do that since the first two that almost got him baptized the first time. He has really been changing, he is more sure than he has ever been. The phone call has been made for the guy (an old missionary) come down and baptize him. We are going for Feb 1st. It was a HUGE turn around, first he wouldn't pick a date, and then he picked end of March. It came down to just helping him learn the relationship between us and our Heavenly Father and the ultimate goal in this life, to return to Heavenly Father. After he expressed how he really wants to be with his family forever! Yayyyy!
We are going to have to do loooots of tracting now that Alice is baptized, so if you pray for us, pray for us to find the elect please.
Ohh one more thing. We have been meeting with this lady since I got here and at first we thought she wasn't a member and then found out she was excommunicated and it's been crazy. She is really big on angels and talks always about how her ancestors are trying to talk to her and I have shared with her so many times the spirit of Elijah scriptures and finally this week she was like, I got it! It's all about Genealogy! They want their work done! I was just really glad we didn't give up on her. She's coming back around. She will want to do the work for them herself in no time.
Okkkk welp I hope everything is going well! Talk to you next week! 

Love y'allllll,
Sister Stevens