Monday, January 12, 2015

10.20.2014

What`s up everybody!!
     
Hey, guess what? I didn`t have changes this week! I am still here in San Juan with Hermana Suret. I was just thinking just know about how close we are to Halloween. Here people know of Halloween and some of the traditions we have in the U.S., but they don`t celebrate it. SO, I hope all of you deck out awesome, play really fun games (yes, board games included ;), eat yummy food, and go do something scary!
     
Well, it`s been a nice week. We just had, we baptized our investigator Joseling, yay!!!! It`s a miracle!!!! Her dad Cesar gets baptized morning, as well as Petrona (Angelica`s aunt). It`s so exciting (and stressful, not gonna´ lie) preparing people for baptism. They just had their interviews, everything went well, now it is just the final details to prepare. 
     
However, with November coming soon, we are preparing to baptize, but it`s a bit stressful with the little success we have had this past week. We really need help from the members to find people to teach, because at the moment our teaching pool is very small. We put four dates for baptism in one day the other day, but almost all of the people that we were with fell through....ahh!! I have faith though that we are going to find these choice, golden people. I have seen many mighty miracles in this mission, so I know we can do it!!!
     
We have plans this week to work in another part of our area that we just found out is ours...it will be like finding the Emerald City!! Wooooohoooo!!!! The other day I let myself feel a bit frustrated with the lack of people that we have to teach, but then my companion told me this: "President Russell said that when we feel like we are at our end, when we feel like there is nothing more we can do, that`s when the miracle comes." I truly believe when God closes a door somewhere he opens a window. We`re gonna´ find that window this week! WOO! 
     
I hope all of you had such a great week, and remember to doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. Don`t let that dang Satan win! :) I love all of you and remember to choose to be happy even when you are sad, serve and say you`re sorry even when you don`t feel like it. 

Love, Hermana Stephenson!!!! :)

1.12.2015

Well hello there!
     
This has been such a wonderful week. On Tuesday last week I received a call while Hermana Hernandez and I were eating hamburgers and western fries for lunch (SO yummy!) from our district leader...the only one in our whole district that had transfers was me. I started to cry, but I didn't feel depressed about leaving the area or the people I had the privilege of teaching...I just felt at peace with myself and have realized early on in the mission that every change that happens is for a reason. :) On Wednesday I got on a bus with my new zone, and before leaving the area we ate at McDonald`s in Managua. Jim Gaffigan speaks the truth when he talks about those fries, because they were freaking delicious, just like heaven!
     
The drive was very long and we didn't get to our area until the evening, but let me tell you, this is THE Most beautiful area I have ever seen or been in, in my whole mission. It`s called Juigalpa and it reminds me so much of Salmon, with a tropical twist (because of the types of trees). There is so much space, it`s so calm, it`s hilly, and it`s so GREEN!!! It`s also the coolest (temperature) area I have been in too. I absolutely love it--we even have views of mountains!
     
My new companion is named Hermana Abadillo and she is from Guatemala. She is so sweet and so chill. She is the most laid back companion I have ever had, and the most humble. We have been together as a companionship for almost a week now, and I`m just loving it! We help each other out, and I feel like she is already a great friend. Oh, also the other day we started up some jokes while we were walking and we were dying laughing. I hadn't laughed that hard in such a long time. It`s great to work alongside someone that shares a complementing personality to yours.
     
She is helping me adjust to a new area, and we are helping each other out in where we need to go and work. :)
      
Yesterday morning I had this dream that I had seen a giant tarantula on our bathroom wall, but I woke up and everything was fine. We haven`t had any strange bugs or insects in the house. Well yesterday all the power went out in many areas in Nicaragua, so we headed back to the house in a taxi. We lit up a candle and made a few phone calls. I had just gotten off the phone with someone when the lights started to work again. My companion said to me, "Hermana, your dream came true!" I said very confusedly, "What dream? What came true?" She said worriedly, "I went into the bathroom and I saw the hugest tarantula!!" 
      
I started to freak out (because it is my greatest fear, ah!) and then we went over to the bathroom. Supposedly the tarantula had moved, and I was too afraid to get closer. All of a sudden my companion saw it right above the toilet, I almost screamed!!! It was SO huge!!! After a long collaboration of trying to figure out how to kill it and calling the other sister missionaries, two kind members came over, and the husband just took the broom and killed it with one big whack! Ah, I couldn't rest until they came. I sat in a high place (with distance of course) to keep my eye on it until the couple came over. Now I can sleep peacefully, but I do feel a bit nervous now when heading out to the bathroom. I check all around and in the toilet now so that I don`t have a heart attack. Hahahaha, what a crazy night!
     
I love all of you so much and hope all is well and that you guys had such a great week! 

Love, Hermana Stephenson! :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

11.3.2014

The Halfway Point...!

Hey everyone!
     
Wow, can you believe I´m almost to my half-way mark???? Because I sure can´t! But, first things first.........all things must be done in order.......HAPPY BIRTHDAY DYLAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This month is such a special one it´s birthday time for you. I´d really like to celebrate this happy day with you! Zippety-aye and heidy-ho there´s something I can do. I´ll sing a song that you sure know, happy birthday to you! You´ll have a birthday shout hooray, I want to sing to you today! One year older and wiser too, happy birthday to you!!!!! :D
     
Well this week has been an interesting one. Interesting, in a way that I am trying to figure out how to resolve a problem we have in committing people to coming to church. As I was thinking and discussing with my companion on what we should do differently, it made me reflect what it really means to keep the Sabbath day holy. There is so much reverence we need to commit to doing when Sunday comes--we don´t do chores, we don´t play sports or recreational activities, we don´t shop, we don´t work, and if we listen to music or watch a movie, it is only in direct connection with the church--nothing else. It is a bit difficult to get investigators, or even members to understand this commandment. It´s such a simple, yet grand commandment we have been given. 
     
This commandment of keeping the Sabbath day holy is mentioned in the scriptures more than any other commandment. Many people here think it is a punishment, or a burden to keep this commandment--many think it´s so much to sacrifice to go to church, when really it´s quite the opposite. The Lord has promised us blessings that are not numbered even among the sand and the stars when we not only keep His commandments--but when we do them with sincerity, and true intent. I´m thinking to myself, "Why do I keep the commandments? What is my motivation to keep them?" The answer really isn´t at all complicated. I keep them because I love God. I want to honor Him, I love Him, and I want to do everything I can to follow His plan. I have seen countless times how the Lord has blessed me when I do what He asks. 

In The Book of Mormon it describes obedience as an indescribable, and eternal state of happiness, in all things temporal and spiritual. Now, who doesn´t want that? I will do better this week at committing people to coming to church, and help show them what the blessings are if they choose to do the right.
I love all of you and have such a great first week of November, yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
Love, Hermana Stephenson!

Monday, October 27, 2014

10.27.2014

Hello hello!!!!
     
Well, I am so happy to say that both Cesar and Petrona were both baptized this week, (fist coming down like Napolean Dynamite) yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This week was yet another great one in bringing forth this work, I mean really, the time just goes by so Fast!!! It´s so crazy how fast. Well I am almost to my half-way mark, that´s something I´m still trying to wrap my head around, I just can´t believe it. This past week we have been able to find seven new positive people to teach with baptismal dates, and one of them is to complete a family (when one spouse is a member and the other is not). I just feel so pumped with energy to find these people to baptize, it´s so envigorating when we see such powerful progress with each investigator that we have, it makes me jump for joy!!!!
  
I also get so excited when we see less actives being reached out to and are coming to church. For example, this week we went to visit a less active named Yossari. She´s probably about 25, and has a baby that looks just like Beau did when he was a baby (I´m telling you, he´s the cutest little baby boy ever, chubby and with curls). We have gone to visit her before, but didn´t show enough desire to come back to church. Well this week when we went to visit, I started to share my testimony with her about the power of going to church every Sunday, how it has blessed me and our family. As I finished sharing my testimony and scripture, she began to cry. As we ended our time with her, she told us that she was actually going to come to church on Sunday. When she walked into the chapel I could not stop smiling, I wanted to jump up and down and go hug her right away, but I didn´t. Miracles!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
This is my brief letter for the week, but go out and do something more! Go reach out to someone who struggles in their testimony, someone who needs a friend, go fellowship, be sincere, and just love who you are with. Yo testifico que este es la senda para volver en la presencia de Dios otra vez. Solo sea sincera y sea alguien que alguien mas nunca va a olvidar. Recuerde que amor es la clave y que Hermana Stephenson les extraña ustedes! Tenga una buena semana y quien está su amigo fiel, que siempre esta--Jesucristo!

Hermana Stephenson!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

9.22.2014

Hello everyone!!
     
Yet another week of miracles. :) Remember Axel who I talked about with you before, who just recently got baptized? Well, we started teaching his mom on September 7th, the Sunday before his baptism. At first when we met her, we were giving a lesson for Axel, and then afterwards we asked permission from his mom if he could be baptized for the following Saturday. Without any problems she said, "Yes." After getting to know her for a bit we then encouraged her to come to church with us that day, and she said "yes" again. 
     
She had this curiosity about the church since our first visit, and the following afternoon wanted to come to church so she could have a better idea of what Axel is experiencing. For all three hours I was with her, helping her, doing my best to explain all that was going on, so she would feel comfortable and Not confused. After the 2nd hour, I asked her how she felt about it so far. She said that if it hadn't been so calm, reverent, and peaceful she would have left running. Haha. She said she visited other churches and didn't like the environment as much, felt like people sometimes were screaming and demanding. Very simply she said, "But I like this church."
     
The second visit we had with her we put in a date for baptism for the 18th of October. I was so happy she not only said "yes" but that she is so willing to know more. Before we had even discussed or had given her a Book of Mormon, she borrowed Axel`s and started to read. She is now beginning 1 Nephi 5. WOW!!!! Since the day we've met her, she hasn't missed a single church meeting. She reads and does (and more) of what we assign her. . . .Our zone and district leaders encouraged us to find among our investigators, those who are willing, to be baptized before the end of September. We thought about Angelica since she has progressed so fast.
     
I honestly felt a bit nervous to ask her if she would want to be asked to be baptized this month, since, well, I've never asked someone so quickly before. Hermana Suret and I by the power of the Spirit, asked her if she would like to be baptized the same month as her son. We also told her if not, that we can continue to plan for the 18th of the following month. I didn't want her to feel pressured in any way, I knew she has been progressing so well, and I knew if she didn't receive baptism this month, I felt the comfort she would in the following.
     
After a moment of tense silence, with a smile on her face she replied, "Yes." Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!!!!! I did not know how to react, I couldn't believe it!!!!! She then began to share that several years back she had a dream. A dream in which she saw the resurrected Christ coming out of the sepulcher, reaching forth His hand to her in all glory. She felt that when the truth of His gospel would come to her she would know. She felt this great sense of peace and love. Angelica said she knew that this is His gospel, because we as missionaries came to her. 
     
She is getting baptized this Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What power The Holy Ghost has to touch people`s hearts. Angelica inspires me to act more in my faith and live more righteously. This Saturday we will have known her for 20 days, less than a month. What blessings the gospel brings!!!!
     
This is THE gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it, I live it, I love it. :)

Hermana Stephenson!!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

9.1.2014

Hello again!!!!
  
Hermana Suret and I are just finishing up our first change together (6 weeks), that´s SO crazy!!! I feel like I just got to this area, the time is really going by so quick, it´s crazy! Well I am happy to say that I got a really awesome package this week!! One of the elders from the office called me and told me he had it...so for three days until I got it I was wondering what it was...it was like Christmas, torturous, exciting, and so fun all at the same time. Haha, then when I got the package, I just had to let it sit on my bed, until we came back later that night from working. It may sound really cheesy and maybe a little dumb, but those rocks (as Daniel says) I call food (Grape Nuts cereal)--they were the first thing I saw as I opened the box and I almost cried, I was so happy! Thank you Daniel and your whole family for taking the time to prepare and send me such a wonderful package!!
     
Okay, for events that happened this week--so we got to baptize our investigator Jorge Rocha this week, but he didn't come for his confirmation. We have a visit planned to talk to him about what happened and why he didn´t show up, later this week, since he has to work. If it weren´t for his member friend, Erick, who is in our ward, I don´t know if Jorge would take much interest in the church. Every investigator who becomes a member needs at least one friend by their side, that can help them in anything they need, or questions they might have. Something I want all of you to know, that the only difference between you and me, is I am wearing a plaque just below my right shoulder. We are ALL called to preach the gospel, and we all hold responsibility of sharing it with others around us (Alma 5:49-50). An advantage as missionaries is we get to preach the gospel all day long, but every chance a member can share their testimony with someone, share it!! :)
     
I know that at times it feels nerve-wracking to tell people what you believe, how you live, and what your standards are. Even being here in the mission I still feel like that sometimes, especially when the people continually reject or change what you say. I know that there is only one way back to Christ and our Heavenly Father--and it´s through the Gospel of Jesus Christ--which can be found in the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. Only in this church do we have the power of God to receive our salvation, and that is through the holy priesthood. We are the only church on the earth that has the priesthood, because Christ is running our church, and I truly believe He reveals sacred truths to His prophets.
     
I feel disappointed at times when people do not understand this, when they say that all the churches are the same, but I know that it isn't true. The Holy Ghost has testified over and over again to me that we are in the true church! "That by no other name mankind may be saved." I am also SO grateful we have powers to use in our sacred ordinances to bind our families together forever. I am very happy with the family that I have, it´s like I have four all combined into one! I originally didn´t picture my family to be like it is now, but I really don´t want it any other way. I love you Mom, Dad, Jeff, and DeNai! I love all of my siblings and step-siblings too! I have less than a year, and how great the reunion of seeing you all again will be. :) I truly want to thank each of you for loving me; supporting me physically, spiritually, emotionally; and most of all for making me feel like I am a part of you. :)

I love you all so much, and have such a wonderful week in the first week of September!!!!!!! Woooohooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

Monday, August 11, 2014

8.11.2014

Hello Again. :)
     
My mind is drawing a bit of a blank of exactly what to write for this week...Ok, I think I know where to go in this letter. :) Well the first thing I would like to mention is how much the love grows for the people we meet, teach, and prepare (for baptism). I first came to this realization the other night when Hermana Suret and I had finished our planning for the evening. I sat there, and was going through my mind of what many people had said to us earlier that day....this week...these last weeks, and really in all of my mission. I started to ponder on the similarities of the responses people made when asked to read their scriptures, or to go to church, or to pray for the truth with a sincere heart....these commitments that we ask of people as we teach. When asking people to do these things, here are some of their responses for not completing commitments: "Well you see I was working all day and I just didn`t have the time", "I`ve been really exhausted and haven`t found time (as they are sitting watching television) ", "I had all these errands I had to run", "I forgot", "Honestly I didn`t do it, but I think God will understand my situation", etc.....
     
When thinking of how many excuses are made not to complete even the simplest of commandments struck my heart...Many people say, "Yes, I know, I know I`m supposed to do that but....." It finally clicked into my head that I made a number of excuses just like these in my mind and actions before my mission. I didn`t discipline myself enough, because I didn`t see a great need to do it on my own. Since being here in Nicaragua, I have grown to treasure my scriptures and my hour of study (which really goes by so fast), truly ponder and feel clean while partaking of the sacrament, the importance of putting God first in all things before my needs. I had made myself to be a more selfish person before...studying when I felt like it--but saying to myself I didn´t have time...praying out of obligation when I felt tired.....not always kneeling in earnestness for help. When listening to what many people have to say in their behalf for not doing what we have taught as representatives of Jesus Christ, I sat there at my desk crying and truly wishing people would just have a change of heart. Why are they not getting this? Don`t they know no thing or hobby is more important than God? Thinking about it right now, makes me never want to go back to who I used to be. I never want to have excuses for not doing exactly what God and Jesus ask of me.
     
Jesus really did say, "If ye love me, keep my commandments". In the following chapter verse 10 explains why HE kept and keeps the commandments of God....so that we may be wrapped in the love of God, even as He is. If I tell others, or myself that I don`t have time to pray, read, study, go to church, fulfill my callings, serve others....then I am telling directly to God, that I don`t love Him and that there are better things for me to do....never will I make these mistakes...sins again. I feel so loved to know that I can become more repentant of my selfish ways, by leaning on Christ, and what He gave up, what He felt, so that I may have JOY. If I am not constantly living what God commanded me to do out of love, than how can I expect others to do the same? 
      
It truly is an honor to be a servant of Christ, and to know that He found me worthy enough to be here, learning to teach, love, and serve even as He did, and does. That is my goal in the mission and for my life...is to be and live even as He lives.

I love all of you very, very much and your constant support for me, your sincere love in your words and acts of kindness. Have a great week!!!!!!!!!

Love, Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson!!!!

P.S. if you don`t have it already, please purchase and read Our Search For Happiness by M. Russell Ballard. It teaches so sincerely, simply, and powerfully what we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe. :)