Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How my mission has changed me.

October 27, 2014

This was an awesome week. There were some HUGE bummers but also tons of miracles as always. The Young Womens asked me to help them make "cookies americanas" aka chocolate chip cookies. It was way fun. 
We also had a Seventh Day Adventist come to church for the first time and the lesson in Gospel Principles was about keeping the Sabbath Day... so that was interesting! 
Dad wrote me last week and wanted me to think about how my mission has changed me. That thought is just a little overwhelming but I was thinking about how one of my favorite things about the mission is the chance to develop Christlike attributes. 

Faith. I learned a lot about faith this week when this lady we´ve been teaching for a while and who has had a ton of contact with the church decided she didn't want anything more to do with any of it... she even tried to give us the Book of Mormon back. It was one of the saddest times of my life. It was a make it or break it lesson and we used the scriptures and had her all convinced to baptism, but her sister for the first time decided to sit in with us.... and told her it was way too soon and that she wasn't ready, and that she needed to keep learning, and that this isn't what she wanted. When we left my companion said, wow the devil really used his tools well tonight, but so did we! I was all upset thinking, how is it that the devil won? But then I realized that he didn't win, it was nothing but a lack of faith on her part. The Lords power really is WAY stronger than the adversary. But the Lords power only works according to our own faith. That night we found out she had been praying to know the truth but with 0 sincerity, with 0 intent to ACT, therefore although she loves the Lord a lot, she has 0 faith. 

Hope. Hope is more than knowing that something CAN happen, it´s believing that it will. When we really have hope we do everything in our power to gain promised blessings of the Lord. When we have hope, we will face challenges still, but our lives will only get better. 

Charity and Love. I have really learned on the mission that if you dont love the people you serve, you wont have success. Elder Zwick told us that with pure discipleship we will be accepted, because when we really follow the Lord, we love the people around us. Ive never been one to have a ton of compassion, but I know I have come a looong way on my mission. We have so much more capability to love than we know! and that means so much more capability to serve! 

Patience. After waiting 15 months for my visa I really learned the meaning of patience. Patience is trusting in the Lords plan for us. Trusting him completely. We have to trust that we are exactly where he wants us, and that we have a purpose there. If we dont, we dont trust that he loves us! Which is the first and most important thing we can understand about our Heavenly Father. If we can learn to be patient, we can be happy even in our afflictions. 

Knowledge. Well, I think Ive talked enough about my love for the scriptures for this one. Even though Ive seen so many miracles and other things that have strengthened my faith. It is my knowledge that has really deepened my testimony, and given power and authority to my calling. 

Virtue. Key to having the spirit! Which means key to having success! One of the best moments on the mission was when I walked into a recent converts house that was always playing something kinda sketchy, and she was watching BYU tv! She learned the importance of virtue. 

Humility. Where do I start. When I told people I was going on a mission. A lot of them said- You have to understand... a mission is hard. And I was always like- HA, I can do anything! But what I continue to learn, is that I cant do anything! Its the Lord. I learned that he really can turn our weaknesses into strengths. He`s willing to too, we just have to give him the glory. This work does not depend on us or on our goodness or on our love or power. It depends on HIS. 

Diligence. I learned that being away from the apartment 8 hours, is not diligence. Neither is walking really fast. Diligence is realizing that everything you do brings you closer or farther from your objective. Being diligent is a sacrifice, but its worth it! If you WORK all day, all your days, to bring one soul to Him, how great will be your joy! 

Obedience. I remember the first letter I wrote home was about how I was sick of all the lectures about obedience, Mom replied and said, "just think of it as living an obedient life for a while..." Now when I think of that I laugh. Because now I understand that obedience is the FIRST law of heaven. It is everything. It helped me learn the importance of the Atonement. Maybe before thinking about what we hope or expect of God we should think of what he hopes or expects of us! And we can be sure the commandments and words of the prophets will answer that perfectly. What a blessing. To know exactly what the Lord expects of us! That means we know exactly what we need to do to return to him and to be HAPPY! 


THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH for you support and prayers and love. 

Seester Stevens 

Monday, October 20, 2014

A God of Miracles

October 20,2014


This week i have no time to write but I will do my best. 
Val had an interview for baptism and passed which is good. Now we just have to get him excited for baptism because he´s really not in a hurry:/. But it was a miracle that the Elder who did the interview got him to understand about the Priesthood and need to be baptized again.  Thats an obstacle we´ve been needing to cross for a while. The bad news is we got him to not go to the other church Saturday but then he didnt go to ours Sunday even after seeing how good his week was after going last Sunday! PEOPLE. 
I had a one day notice to give a training on Wednesday and i pulled out my notebooks and started looking at all the things I've learned on my mission and compiled it the best I could, and shared the best with everyone. It was mostly  stuff from mission and zone conferences. I just have learned so much I want to leave it behind somehow! It will still be important, but not like right now. 
One cool miracle this week was when I was feeling pretty down because we didnt get very much help this week and also our baptisms arent as sure as we would like but we were following up with a man and as we were leaving a woman ran out of the house and called us back. So we went back and met her mom and she explained how she had cancer and we were able to testify of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement and to be able to do that was just a huge tender mercy in our week, because we preached and preached and preached and lacked service. 
Another miracle is how we found this rapaz on one of the first nights of Sister Andrade. We were in this narrow alleyway trying to leave this particular neighborhood, but hadnt done very much that day and I really wanted ooone more new investigator. So when I saw this scawny kid walking towards us I thought why not? I stopped him and we committed him to coming to church and being baptized. We finally got into contact with him this week. He got an answer to his prayer, he LOVES the Joseph Smith story. When he explained the response he got it was that he remembered and just knew that God was a God of miracles, and I was like THANK YOU that is exactly the message of the Restauration. That is exactly how I feel too when i see people getting answers to their prayers and discovering the fulness of the gospel. It was an Alma 29:10 moment. We got him to church yesterday too! 
We were looking for people until 10:30 (church starts at 9) and my companion didn't like that, she was like, we have to go to church! We´re missionaries! and I explained how the 99 are already there! and we cant forget that as representatives of Christ we have to go find the ones missing. We can never forget  this. 


Seester Scheevens 

Monday, October 13, 2014

18 Meses!

October 13, 2014

This week was really good! We worked a whole lot, never stopped for dinner and hardly even talked normally because we were talking to other people, or about our investigators! I am dead tired so that's why I'm writing early today, its been too long since I took a nap.
This week was weiiirrd because we were walking with this member- Carol to an appointment and she asked how much time I had on the mission and I stopped to think and was like- OXENTE hoje eu fiz 18 meses de missão! I had forgotten that it was so close. Its weird to have already served the full 18 months. I am just so glad that I'm still here and can keep working one more month. Everyday is more and more terrifying because every day is closer! But I really don't think too much about it, just at the end of the day when I think- ohhh nooooo one more day already passed. I'm not scared of going home I'm just scared of how close it is now. 
I know you are all anxious to hear about church since I said it was a strugg and I have good news! Our prayers were answered! This week we worked a lot with a man named Roseval. He is about 34 and smart but doesn't know how to read. So that's hard. But he already went to church once with his daughter, hes to the point that he believes Joseph Smith was a prophet but still believes that his baptism was enough... Last week he didn't go to conference, so this week we talked about church allll week to make sure he would go because we would have to drop him if he didn't. Saturday we stopped by just to remind him and he was like- well now i have to work tomorrow, I'm the father of my family ya know? i hardly made any money this week, i have to provide. I tried to stay calm and started explaining to him about the Sabbath day, and promised him that he would have way more success this week if he was put God first and went to church on Sunday. He looked at the sky and said- if it rains again tomorrow (becuase he sells ice cream by the beach) I'll go to church. We took it as a deal, and reminded him of the blessings we had promised. 
Sunday we were soooo happy because we woke up and it was raining! But when we passed his house to make sure he was awake and coming no one came to the door. Also everyone we looked for that had given us their word that they would go had excuses because it was Children's Day (yeah, a ridiculous national holiday!) or weren't there. So we went to church real sad. But about 20 minutes later Roseval showed up and just went into the Elders quorum all by himself! Then when we went down to the chapel, another investigator had come all by himself! And then a member brought her little brother so we had another! It was a lot of miracles one after the other, and now we have more people to work with. It's really humbling that we called and looked for at least 20 people and showed up with no one.. But the Lord brought 4 all by himself. It really is allll in his hands, I cant learn that enough. 
The other interesting thing that happened is I convinced Afonso to bear his testimony! But he got up there and started and then said- I cant do this and almost fell down and limped out of the chapel looking like he was in a lot of pain and about to pass out. Considering he has had 5 strokes I was really worried! He was ok but having real problems with his legs and hadn't eaten or taken his medicine so he was having issues with blood pressure :(. It was really touching how concerned everyone was. I think nowww the ward will help him have food to eat. His family later that day wasn't concerned either, some even laughed about what happened.

Well. kind of a sad note to leave off on but on a happier note i thank the Lord everyday for having a family that supports me so much. Thank you soo much everyone for helping me be here. 


Seester Stevens 

ps heres a pic of me on my 18 month mark with a goiaba beiju yummm 


October 6, 2014

 WOW! What a week. Shortly after emailing on Monday I got a phonecall from the AP telling me that I would be training this transfer! I did NOT expect that. I was really happy with sticking with Sister Palma here and just finishing off strong but NO. I was actually pretty disappointed at first because everyone here in this area loves Sister Palma a whole lot and it felt like more hers than mine, and she was suuuuper sad but we got over it. The area is awesome. There was only one Sister coming to the mission so that was sweet that President wanted me out of all the Sisters to train her.
The next day President came to pick me up at 6 30 to take me to the mission home with the other Elder who is training too. It´s actually pretty sweet. They treat you like a queen when youre a trainer. Its just us and the Andrezzos, the APs and office elders (that was weird not to have a companion). We had a huuuuge breakfast with a bunch of fruit and pancakes with syrup and peanut butter, and cinnamon rolls, and frosted flakes! 
Then we get a talk from Pres, then a training on how to train from the APs, and then our companions came! Sister Andrade is awesome! She is from Manaus, and is 25. I waited all day just sitting in the mission house while she had a bunch of training and stuff, oh and a huuuuge lunch. It was way cool I love her already. She is super humble, to the point of being gullable, I can tell her anything and she just trusts me! Good thing Im trustworthy. She´s also way committed to the mission and being obedient and helping people be baptized! She is going to help me finish off the mission strong for sure. I love obedient companions! 
By Thursday she was already stopping people on the street to do contacts! I was so happy! I was way scared of getting someone super quiet and shy, but she just loves and connects with everyone! I just know already her testimony is going to help a lot of people here. The only hard thing is shes not really accustomed to walking a whole lot, she was like the Elders in Manaus complain about walking so far but our area is way bigger than any of theirs! They also complain about the heat but Salvador is even hotter than Manaus! Yeah, summer is starting it was even HOTTER this week, apparently hotter than the amazon rain forest. So Im just getting used to walking slow. Also she doesnt like to be on the street at night, which is rough because Im not one to just go in early because its late. She´ll get more comfortable with it, I just have to get scheduled appointments every night.
OH remember Diego from Beurarema, one of the Elders who was alllways there came here to be in my district and he gave be all the news, including that Diego stopped smoking and got baptized!!!!!! YYAYYY sooo many  hours and lessons and phonecalls and fasting and prayer and I stayed like sooo happy for a good 2 days after he told me that. 
Im running out of time I dont even have time to talk about conference but conference was soooo goooood. I got to watch almost all of it. It was so cool how people gave talks in their native languages, when the guy who gave it in Portuguese started all the missionaries in the english speaking room looked at eachother and were like- what are we doing here! and ran into the cultural hall to listen, loved it. I think the Saturday sessions rocked it, I was so spiritually exhausted after. I have just never been happier to be called to repentance so many times in the same day! It was way cool how they focused on the church and following the Prophet, and being followers of Christ. They made it really clear, if you dont have a testimony... get one! I loved Elder Bednars story about why we share the gospel, he nailed it with how when the little boy found a source of relief from his wounds and pain, it was a natural instinct to want to give that same relief to other people. 

Love you family! Thank you for your prayers, I feel them every day. (If you are tired of praying for the same thing my whole mission and want to know our biggest difficulty.. here, its getting people to church.)

Seester Stevens

Friday, October 3, 2014


September 29, 2014

I cant believe it was the last week of the transfer! Where did the transfer go!? 
This week was awesome. 
Tuesday was the rainiest day Ive had so far in Mussurunga so that was too bad because we had a whooole lot of finding planned. But we did see a miracle, a Jehovas Witness of 15 years who has never accepted missionaries from a different church since being baptized there let us in! She didnt commit to anything really but its a good sign, because she loved our visit
We had another miracle too! So our recent convert has a son in law who was in church on Sunday! Apparently he went one other time but it was the first time I had seen him there, it was a miracle because we didnt even invite him and we never have an opportunity to teach or talk to him. He lost his job the other week and now has one where he will be home a lot more and has every other Domingo off. On Wednesday we were there and he came home and I invited him to sit with us for a message... and he accepted! Which he never does! I had to teach english class in like 5 minutes but the Spirit was like- this is more important. So we had the best lesson about the Gospel and he opened up and he wants to be baptized! The hard part is that he wants to wait until Otavio is ready and be baptized with him (remember the one who sold drugs and got shot in the head, its his Dad). It was so good, he talked about how he never felt ready or had much desire until now and has really been repenting. Now we just have to convince him that its better to set the example for Otavio than to wait to him. Never know what Satan will think of while you wait. This can apply to us too, we cant wait and wait for answers or wait to do something that we know is good, because its clear in the scriptures whats good, and if we wait, Satan will try to convince us otherwise. 
It has been kinda rough because yet again we are working really hard and it seems like no one is keeping their commitments, reading the Book of Mormon, praying, going to Church... Its not hard to keep going or to have faith that people really are ready its just hard to see soooo many people not accept our invitations to have SO MANY BLESSINGS in their lives. It just hurts to love everyone and know with certainty that God sent us because he wants to bless them and they just dont get it, they choose to continue miserable and try to do everything by themselves.But it does say in the Missionary of Success section of Preach My Gospel that one of our central purposes is to warn people of the consequences of sin. One of the purposes of the earth and of Christ himself is to separate the righteous from the wicked, and Im not any better than him so I just keep going, with faith that theres some righteous people who will accept the message too. 
We had our Zone Conference on Friday, it was sooooo gooood. President talked for wayyy longer than he has talked at any other but it was all so important and so spiritual. I had to give my goodbye so that was the worst! It was so weird being at the same pulpit I was 6 months ago giving my welcome testimony. The difference in my Portuguese was maybe the best part. My voice was shaking as always and I really thought I was going to cry but I just kept smiling! Because it is so good to bear my testimony and everything that I testify of make me so happy! THE CHURCH IS TRUE! 
até a semana que vem! quem sabe onde estarei... 
amoooo voces 

Seester Scheevens