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. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

7.7.2014

Hello! 
     
From the pictures Mom sent, it looks like everyone is having such a great time in Salmon, woo hoo! I hope everyone had a happy Fourth of July! Even though I didn`t celebrate it here, I wore red, white and blue anyways. :) There are so many fun memories I have of Salmon with so much of the family! It will be exciting to go again someday. :) I just would like to express so much thanks to all of you who are supporting me here in the mission. I`m so grateful to be in such a safe place and to know that I can go buy food every week for my companion and I. 
     
Well, this letter will be quite brief, since there isn't tons of things to tell this week....hmm...something exciting for the mission is that President Russell set a goal for the mission to achieve 200 baptisms in the month of June. That goal was met by everyone`s efforts here in the mission! Wow! I was feeling extremely down that Hermana Romero and I weren`t a help in that, but we are going to do what we can to help someone reach baptism this month. It`s difficult to see people progressing one minute, and then the next they don`t want anything to do with the church. 

I know people have their choices from what we teach them, but I can`t help but feel that I didn`t exhort enough effort. However, something I forgot to mention is that Yamil Barrios, the investigator Hermana Fuentes and I had in Rivas, he got baptized the week we had changes! Hermana Fuentes told me it was a beautiful baptism. I hope he is doing alright and staying faithful to his covenants.
    
A lot of this week has been finding new people to teach, since the small little group of investigators we had have not been progressing. It`s becoming a lot easier to teach now, more natural, less nervewracking (not sure that is correct spelling). I am able to feel the Holy Ghost a lot more frequently now, and when we are teaching people day to day, the words of inspiration are flowing out nicer. All I truly want to do is become a teacher and leader like Jesus Christ was. It`s difficult to be fair with myself, or forgiving of myself, but Hermana Romero is showing me how. It`s hard not to beat yourself up when you can`t see progress being made. However, this week is a new week and I am feeling ready for the new challenges we will face. 

Something great that happened yesterday was that for the first time in all my mission I was able to understand a lot of what the people were saying in church. Before, it honestly felt like I was just sitting, listening, only getting a few words. I am grateful it`s a bit easier to understand now when people are talking, and when I am reading in Spanish. The Lord is very merciful to me, and each day I am understanding, and enjoying more fully the fruits of His Atonement. Love you!

Love, Hermana Stephenson

Monday, June 30, 2014

6.30.2014


Hello Family!!!!!!
     
Well to start off it has been a FANTASTIC P-day! Normally I really do like my P.days, they usually are very relaxed and not always a lot of activities. But today I enjoyed it the most of all of the ones we`ve had. So, Elder Mann, our zone leader, has this awesome fake book with all of these songs we know (similar to the one we have :)). Elder Mann, Elder Cratty, Elder Soifua, and I all sang together, a bunch of songs!!!!! It was SO awesome! I haven`t been able to just sit and play like I have at home since I`ve been home. It was so great. :) We also all had lunch together as a district and with our zone leaders, and played ninja destruction!! It has been such a fun day...oh yeah and I bought groceries...I don`t know why but it is always so much fun for me to buy my own groceries and then put them in our little fridge, hehe! 
     
This week wasn`t our best week with the number of lessons taught and people contacted, so after looking at the progress we made this week we were able to look at what we needed to work on. It`s a shame when we see that our investigators from the beginning were progressing in the beginning, aren`t anymore. However, we were really blessed this week when we contacted a house in Taiwan. We met a couple (Jose and Marjorie) and their three ADORABLE children (Abraham, Noelia, and Wendy). Within that first visit they were very receptive to us and we put in a baptismal date for them on the 26th of July. We went over to their house early yesterday morning to help assist them in coming to church, and within a bit of time. the whole family walked with us and attended church for all three hours. They are very positive, and Marjorie was asking me very specific questions that made her curious about our church. Wow, I have so much faith that they will be baptized in the following month!!! Their little kids are the cutest too. Little Wendy looks and acts so much like Peyton it`s crazy. The whole time I was with them I kept thinking about little Peyton, Kai, and Lindi. :)
     
Since throughout the week are numbers weren`t so great we had help from two of our leaders in the mission. Hermana Perez (who I worked with before) and Hermana Santos helped us out on Saturday. We had divisions in different parts of our area, and within just a little over an hour, our work together gave us six new investigators to start teaching!!! Woooohooooo!!!! I was feeling really terrible in a few moments this week when I felt like I wasn`t working hard enough, but now I know what it is I can do to fix that, so now I feel much much better. 

I always have to remember what President Hinckley advised to us, "Try a little harder, to be a little better every day" (thank you Sister Wadsworth for always telling us that in young women`s :)). Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed at what I need to do to be a more efficient and better missionary. Some moments I become impatient with myself and just want to cry (which I do sometimes), but I know Christ does not expect perfection out of me, just the best I can give. Well do you ever ask yourself, "Am I doing enough? How do I know when it`s enough?" I am finding this answer everday. Everyday I am always finding revelation in study and during the day in lessons at how I can improve. I know that if we are not only recognizing what to do better, but acting on that--those small impressions, then we are doing enough. :) 
     
Just some fun things from this week:

--Tuesday was Hermana Romero`s 22nd birthday!!! I gave her some of her favorite chocolate marshmallow suckers that she loves (seriously they are crazy good-- Paleta Pailaso). I wanted to make her a surprise breakfast of french toast, but I didn`t get to make it until the day after because I needed to go buy a pan...but now I have my first ever kitchen utensils!! A frying pan and spatula....ok that may not sound that fun or interesting but it is for me, haha. We also left that night with our district for a service activity at a member`s house. But after a few minutes being there it happened to be a surprise birthday celebration for Hermana Romero! We had these crazy delicious churros.....ahhhh.....so good. Hehe, and when we left, poor Elder Soifua (turns out he`s from Utah, not Hawaii, whoops!) was getting into a moto taxi, and the whole door fell as he sat inside. I am not even kidding, when we got to the house Hermana Romero was laughing for 10 minutes straight, hahaha. 

I love you all and have a super-dee duper week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Love, Your Hermana Keri Stephenson

Monday, June 16, 2014

6.16.2014

Hello everyone!!!!
     
So, I had my first changes this last week! I received my new companion on Wednesday. Her name is Hermana Romero, and she is from El Salvador. She grew up in Logan, Utah for fourteen years with her family, and the rest of the years she lived were in El Salvador. I love her so much, wow! I really lucked out in getting her! She is my angel here in the mission and she is helping me out so much in the language, it`s a miracle! She is so kind, loving, patient, and is just a complete blast to be with! The work is natural and feels so great with her at my side. Her heart is so big, and is just so loving and fun with everyone! 
     
Ok, my new area is called Masatepe and let me tell you...it is GORGEOUS here!!!!! I feel like I`m in heaven, it`s so freakin` fantastic! It is so green here, and I feel like I am in Jungle Book. I am going to be taking a lot more photos of the scenery here this week because it`s just so gosh dang beautiful! The members here are so great, and I am now in a ward now instead of a branch. Plus, I am now the person they go to for a piano player. So, on Sunday I got to play in sacrament meeting, my first time, woot woot! The members here and the leaders are so awesome and help us out in this work...really, this work isn`t effective without the members, we need them!! Gordon B. Hinckley in Preach My Gospel teaches that the ideal situation is when a member invites a friend of theirs to take the discussion, and helps them come to church....because then when these people become members they will have a friend by their side. :)
    
On Sunday, we also had five of our investigators come to church!!!! Wooo hooo!!!! Something that I love about Hermana Romero is her great enthusiasm when the people are progressing. It`s so fun to be excited when there is someone by your side who can cheer with you! She`s the best, I am so lucky. :) I also really love my district a LOT!! My district leader is Elder Cratty, he`s from Las Vegas Nevada; there`s Elder Soifua, he`s from Hawaii; Hermana Escorcia, she`s from the northern part of Nicaragua; and her companion who is brand new to the mission, Hermana Perez, she`s from El Salvador too! This is my favorite district I have had here in the mission, we have a great time but we also work really hard too. :) I love everything here, and I think my bug bites are actually starting to go down, woo hooo!!!!!
    
Something interesting that has happened the past few days...so, every June for the whole month, the Catholics here have a big, long celebration for Jesus Christ. So, yesterday there was this giant parade slowly moving through the streets for the whole day. There was dancing, and all kinds of chaos, haha. But, something interesting was this small group of men were carrying this statue of Christ on the cross, but Christ was painted black. As they walked through the streets a man with a small mic would sing, "Oh Senor, yo creo", which is, "Oh Lord, I believe". After he would sing this, a band would play a sad, yet rapid blaring tune...this went on all day and in the night. Even at four in the morning.....in the apartment you can hear everything, so that was fun!!! Hermana Romero said it was their mission to make sure she didn`t sleep, hahahaha.
     
I love all of you and I am looking forward to a full week of working here and breaking into the language more, and I hope I`ll be able to understand more!! I know without any doubts that this is the only true church and I am proud to be a member of it!!!!!

Love, Your Hermana Stephenson :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

6.9.2014

Hello Everyone!
     
This week has really been a rewarding one, and a lot of "firsts" happened this week too. So in my prayers I have been asking Heavenly Father and wanting to have a genuine, sincere love for the people here, all the time. Before, I mean I would care for the people, but not in the way that Christ showed His people. This week when I had divisions with Hermana Perez, I all of a sudden had this change and I looked at people differently. Before, I didn´t really like to contact people, only sometimes, because I always had a nervous, scared feeling inside. Now, I LOVE to contact people and I really don´t care as much anymore if the words I say come out wrong. I have been able to laugh at myself, and to just enjoy my slip ups in the language. Because of these changes we are having more success in finding people and teaching people. Something that I love that Preach My Gospel teaches is this: teach when you find, find when you teach. 

The work now feels a lot more natural and I don´t feel this aching stress inside before or during a lesson. I can just speak out more and not feel stupid or intimidated. I have been doing what I can to always pray for the Spirit, and to do my best to follow what he is telling me to do. It isn´t perfect, but it´s so much better. Something that we are advised a lot in the mission is this: sea osada! Which means, be bold! Especially when inviting people to be baptized. I wasn´t so confident in this at first and rarely ever did I think to ask people to be baptized, but the thing is, we need to be inviting others in the first or second lesson all the time. :)
     
So Yamil Barrios that I talked about last week...he´s getting baptized this Saturday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Asi es!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I asked him how he´s feeling and he says he feels nervous, which I completely understand because I experienced this too, and I was only eight years old. Also on Sunday I witnessed faith in the people we´ve met and are beginning to teach. We had three investigators come to church this Sunday, three!!!!!! The goal in the mission is to try to have five people each week, and for everyone that is difficult, because it´s a commitment for people to come to three hour church. But it happened, and the whole time I felt to happy and so grateful that I got to be a part of it. :) It´s so exciting to see someone starting out and learning about the gospel for the first time. I love being there to help them along the way, it just feels so good!!! We also had two recent converts come to church this Sunday, who hadn´t been coming for quite a while, and were giving excuses before that it was ok for them not to come. But, when Hermana Fuentes and I saw them come in, we were so excited to see them smiling and happy to be there!
     
Another "first" that happened this week has happened in the language. I have been able to understand people SO MUCH more this past week, really have discussions, really be able to understand a lot better. On Saturday Hermana Fuentes and I left for the church (baptism for the elders) early so we could be there on time. I ended up talking to someone named Loxan, who has been inactive for about five years. I was able to teach him by the power of the Spirit about true repentence and the mercy of God. I was able to truly express, and he understood everything I said. I felt so connected to this person that I have never met before in my life, and that connection was Christ. I hope in some way I was able to comfort this man and help him to feel like he is a loved son of God. And the great thing was, while Hermana Fuentes was talking to a member in the same room as us, I never had to call over to her to have her help me figure out what he was saying. No, I didn´t understand his words detail by detail, but I understood him as a whole. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
    
I could go on and on about every single day, but to let all of you know, Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson is on her way and loves to PREACH HIS GOSPEL!!! 

I love you all and have a happy, wonderful week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

6.2.2014

Hello!!!!!
     
Wow, this is my last week of training, and this week I will have completed four months in the mission, I can´t believe it!! My main struggle right now is understanding the addresses of people´s homes when they give them. They aren´t exactly the same as they are in the U.S. and even in Utah I get lost and am confused. The roads don´t have consistent signs, so if we are working in a more unfamiliar part of our area, I have no idea what to do. I also don´t know when a new area starts or where one begins. The first district leader, Elder Putt, told me that it comes with time, and not to stress. :)  He was a great first leader for me to have, and really truly helped me to be at ease in the work. Many challenges, but knowing that things will come in their time is a huge comfort to me. 
     
So, unfortunately we haven´t seen Marcela at all these past two weeks...we have stopped by her house several times but she hasn´t been there. I know she is working and going to school, so I figure it´s the timing. However, we have a very positive investigator I would like to tell you about. His name is Yamil Barrios, he´s seventeen years old, and lives in a house with a lot of family. Hehe, how fun! :)  We met him over a month ago, as a reference from a man we met in the street. That first day we met him we found out that he had some lessons with other sister missionaries before. He had come to church before with the other sister missionaries, but he didn´t progress or want to get baptized in that time, so they had to drop him and move on. Well, this last Saturday when we went to teach him, we talked to him about his baptismal date for this month...he then started to share his testimony about the church. Wow, the Spirit was really indescribable and when I asked him if he would attend church with us this Sunday he didn´t even hesitate to say yes! Wow!!!! I hadn´t mentioned him before because we didn´t see a lot of progression from the beginning, but look at him now!
     
The mission is where I know I am supposed to be right now. :)  I get these little moments each day that show me that I really am making a difference. Some days I feel like I made none at all, but I know in my heart that when I work really hard to choose the right and be even more diligent and obedient in the work I see changes. Maybe not grand changes in others, but the work itself I can see a difference. I see my life expand more each day of how I want to live and what I want to do, all the time. I know that I always want to be a missionary, just like Uncle Bob Thompson was, and how brave he was to always share his testimony his whole life. He truly lived the life of a missionary, just like Jesus Christ did. They are both my inspiration all the time, as are all of you. Thank you to all of you who are supporting me in every imaginable way. I love you all so much and have a great week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Your Hermana Stephenson :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

5.19.2014

Dear Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So this week we have found a really positive investigator and I just love her! The other night we were in a different part of our area, and new for me, and we were trying to find the address of some people we met in the street as potential investigators. We weren't getting any luck or much help from the people we asked. People who even lived close to the address didn't recognize the names of the people we mentioned. It's so interesting how a lot of people here don't know who their neighbors are. We did find luck however. A man guided us in the right direction. We came to a beautiful stony house with giant pink flowers just hanging off the front of it. When we said "Buenas!" A young woman named Marcela came out to greet us. This wasn't the family we were looking for, but we know that it was the one God led us to. She was really happy, super positive, and allowed us to enter onto her porch and talk to her. 

After getting to know her for a bit we started to share a little message about the gospel. Before teaching we started with the Hymn "Families Can be Together Forever". Once we started to teach I kept having this feeling to talk a little bit about eternal families. I wasn't so sure of the feeling at first, because this is something we talk about with people much later, since they need to understand the first principles of the gospel first. But, after getting the prompting again, I began to share and her face lit up. I shared with Marcela the importance of eternal families in my life, and asked her questions I felt prompted to ask. Everything felt to natural, so good. And normally, I have a little bit of a barrier when I teach because I don't know all of the time what exactly it is they need to hear. 
     
After the lesson Hermana Fuentes told me that she had those same feelings too, to share the same things I did. Wow, it's so amazing when you can be so in sync with people and be able to have a great flow of teaching. Now it's not perfect all the time, because every person we teach is different, and I am still learning how to be more confident, bold, and direct with people. We must teach with love and by the Spirit, but if we don't share and teach with boldness, than the people will never take us seriously. When we had a second lesson with Marcela, she gave the closing prayer and asked God that she may be able to learn more about our church, and to feel the Spirit. Asi es!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This doesn't normally happen with people, but it happened with her, and we were able to have a member with us too for the lesson. Wow!!!! I have so much hope for her. She shows so much enthusiasm, expresses herself during the lessons, and just glows so much! Can you guess how old she is! She is 17, going to school, has a house, and a husband!!! Wow!!! Lots of people here are younger than me and already have families and homes. 
     
A part of the mission here that is an upside is when we find and people and teach them, they are willing to listen. It's them wanting to know more, read in the scriptures, pray, attend church...that's the hard part, helping them to want and do more than just listen to us. Sometimes it's hard to know in the beginning who is going to stick and who isn't because almost all of the people we meet are kind and welcoming. I feel very humbled by the people and by what they have to say. People don't always agree with what we say, and don't always want to do what we ask. But I realized that we are all like that with our Heavenly Father at times. Sometimes we don't want to do what he asks. He has given us a perfect plan, a perfect way for us to find the true pursuit of happiness and love. And sometimes, we reject it. Sometimes we think our way is better, or that for a moment we can handle being alone. But I know for I fact that I could never be completely alone. 

For a long time in junior high and high school I felt invisible to a lot of people, and not noticed so much. But even though I didn't have many friends, I always knew I had someone when I went to church and attended seminary....Jesus Christ. When I was in seminary and at church I would mark my scriptures up and just write in them about what I felt. I felt so close to the Savior, and it made me realize I was never alone. However, when I would return home from school and all of those people I saw everyday I did not have an earnest desire to always read and study in my scriptures, or to pray with earnesty either. I was in a spot in my life where I realized I really needed to work to have the Spirit with me always. So when people here say they don't want to do what we ask, I understand, and it helps me to be more patient. I know that for me, I needed time to figure things out and to figure out how to make the gospel everyday, and not just in classes or at church, and not just when I thought it was convienient. The gospel is everyday and it is ALWAYS convienient. My life is so blessed and I know I am a better person than I was before, and I never want to "Go back to fishing" as Jeffrey R. Holland stated in the story of Peter and the disciples. I love all of you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Your Hermana Stephenson

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5.12.2014

Hello, hello, hello!!
     
It's been another good week, like they always are!! I love my companion. She is so serviceable, and every time I feel absolutely horrible or even a little down, she always picks me up! She always uses the scriptures too, and the scriptures she shares are always the perfect scriptures. I love how in tune to the Spirit she is! On Saturday was her completed sixth year being a member of the church. She was baptized when she was 15 years old and before she was baptized, she and her mother attended over 10 different churches. When she came across this true church, she stuck with it, did the studying, and desired to know if the things being taught to her at church and with the missionaries are true. She reminds me a lot of Daniel, and both of them are HUGE examples to me of truly being converted unto Christ. 
     
Hermana Fuentes and Daniel have not always had the church in their life, but everyday they are diligent, search for the Spirit and search in their scriptures. Being in lessons with her is truly an incredible experience. It doesn't matter if you have all the scriptures memorized, or how long you've been a member, you have the power to unlock the power of God, no matter where you are. I can attest that I do not have all the scriptures memorized, and I've been a member now for almost 12 years, and I know for a fact that I am not the best, or ideal member of God's church. 

I don't know all the little details of everything. But I unlock the power of the Spirit and the knowledge of God every day in personal scripture study. I am not eloquent in speaking and I do not know everything we can know, but what I do know, is I will ALWAYS be a representative of Jesus Christ, so I will ALWAYS call upon Him, God, and The Holy Ghost. Never feel like you aren't good enough, or you haven't worked hard enough. If you weren't important you would not exist and neither would God. That is why I look up to you all, because each of you show me the light of Christ. Each of you show me love and make me feel like I am enough, even on those days where I don't feel like I deserve it. Really, true conversion is what we are doing right now to show in numerous ways why and how we love God. If conversion and perfection only happened after baptism of water and of the Spirit, then man, I would never be able to come to this mission, or go to the temple, and most important, to return to live a life that God lives, with Him again someday. I am truly and forever grateful for repentance, for the mercy of Christ, for His love, and for God's arm stretched out all the day long!
     
I love all of you and wish you the happiest of weeks ever!!!!!!!! I'm so flippin' excited for another week to be here, and to read your letters. 

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  
Love, Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson

Monday, May 5, 2014

5.5.2014

Hello Family and Friends!!!!!!

     
The weeks are really going by so quickly, and we just had our first change here. We have a new district leader, and a new sister missionary from Colorado. I’m so glad I get to continue my training with Hermana Fuentes, and I don’t need to have another companion for my last six weeks of training. Man I love Hermana Fuentes!! She is so awesome, I can’t even express how much I love her. She is Always so positive about the work and with me, and with everyone. She is always picking me up when I feel really down, and sincerely gives love. We have the best time working together and I know a lot more Spanish than my first day with her, so now I can actually tell stories about you guys and everything at home. We laugh a lot and love serving together.
     
Hermana Fuentes and I had the neatest experience this week with our investigator Javier. He is an uncle of one of our members that we work with. Javier always loves having us in lessons, but hasn’t completed commitments. We clarified even more to him what our purpose is here as missionaries, and that we truly want to help him. After this talk with him and giving him a commitment to read in the Book of Mormon, he decided to put forth a bit more effort. In our lesson with him the other day, we were reading in Mosiah 18, where Alma baptizes the people in the waters of Mormon. As we were sharing and teaching, the good feelings of the Spirit were so strong, and I looked at him and said, "¿Usted puede siente de El Espiritu Santo ahora?" (can you feel The Holy Ghost now?) He smiled warmly at me and said, "Si." My companion said this too, but not out loud. When we were preparing to leave, Hermana Fuentes was marking another chapter in the Book of Mormon she felt Javier should read. I felt something that he should read about faith in Ether 12. I looked over at what she was marking and it was that very chapter. WOW! I looked at her excitedly and said, "¡¡¡Yo queria este capitulo por Javier tambien!!!" (I wanted this chapter for Javier too!!!) We left that lesson feeling so good and I had my arm linked with Hermana Fuentes´ and proceeded to sing and skip happily down the road!!
     
The Spanish is coming out with more fluency and I feel more confident in myself to speak. Contacting is a lot easier for me now, and finding what it is I need to say is much easier now. There is still so much I am learning of past, present, and future tense and other grammar rules, but everything is coming out smoother now and it makes me so excited. I can say in a small way that I am a Spanish speaker, not perfect, far from it, and I don’t understand all, but I don’t feel as discouraged now. If people look at me confused and have no clue what I said, I just do what I can to try again and have more clarity in my words.
     
We also had another really great experience this week too!!!!! While we were contacting we approached a man on the side of the road sitting, holding a rope attached to a giant pig. While contacting him he gave us a reference of someone who would be interested in our message. We immediately went straight for the house he was pointing too and introduced ourselves to a woman sitting inside the house. She welcomed us warmly and lead us to the other room. We met a young man by the name of Yamil. He is 16 years old, and had met with missionaries before, so he was willing to have us meet with him right then and there. We then proceeded to get to know him a bit and then teach a message of The Gospel of Jesus Christ. While teaching he responded so great and was understanding the principles and doctrine we were teaching him. Without any debate he willingly read and prayed with us. A lot of the time here when we ask people to pray, they never want to and always say that they will do it in the next lesson. But because of the way his parents had raised him, he willingly did it. And then when we asked him to come to church on Sunday he accepted without hesitation. When this Sunday came, he actually came! He came in a white t-shirt and jeans with a smile and I was SO happy to see him!! Wow! Investigators we have had for a longer amount of time have not practiced this much faith, and he is younger than all of our other investigators. Wow, such a special experience for me. :)
     
I am more than grateful to be a missionary and see the work moving forth little by little. The experiences we are having here are frustrating, envigorating, challenging, and at times discouraging....but The Lord gives us little moments of success with the people. It is so great so see little changes in others. Because really, a lot of people if not most people need time to come into this church, the true church of God. Two Sundays ago when we didn’t have several recent converts and a family not attend church my companion was feeling so discouraged. She said, all of the churches here are full, except the only true one. It is more challenging, because this IS the true church of God. One faith, one God, one baptism. :) I am a member of the church and I am forever grateful for this! I am not perfect and have a lot to improve on, but I know I am worthy and ready to receive the blessings and love of God.

I love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a flippin’ fantastic week!!!!!!!!! :D

Love, Your Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson

Monday, April 28, 2014

4.28.2014

Dear Family and Friends!!!! :D
     
Wow, the weeks here for me are going by quick, crazy crazy!! Hehe, I need to tell a funny Little story about my speaking in Spanish. So, in the MTC, at night while I was asleep one of the other hermanas in our room would wake up in the night, look over and see the that I was just jabbering and laughing away in Spanish. She told me that it happened several times and she said I sounded really happy as I talked in my sleep. She said there were a few times she woke up frightened because I would be laughing my hard belly laugh while sleeping...I feel so bad because I have no recollection of these events, and if someone were laughing really hard in the night, I would be pretty freakin´ scared out of my mind!!! So, I told this story to Hermana Fuentes the other day, and she said that last night I was talking in Spanish and told her very directly (in my sleep) that I don´t understand much, but I that I can speak in Spanish. Hahaha, she just responded, "Yeah, I know."
     
My Spanish is coming along, and I am understanding a Little bit more every time I read in el Libro de Mormon. Some days this week while we would teach I would get so frustrated because I didn´t feel like I was receiving much guidance through the lessons, and finding it difficult to teach people. The reason for this was because I tried to go to lessons without bringing my marked English scriptures. I wanted to feel like I could write in my Little agenda the scriptures I studied that morning for those we teach, but really, we never know exactly what we are going to say by the Spirit beforehand. Hermana Fuentes said for now, it´s better that I have my English set with me, as well as keep bringing my Spanish ones. Once I started to teach again with the help of my English scriptures I felt a lot more comfortable teaching and was led by the Spirit in confidence and love. Wow!!! Í felt so much more confident and a much better teacher, not perfect, but better.
     
There are also days where I get so frustrated when my whole world is in Spanish and I cannot always accurately express how I feel to others. Sometimes I feel like I am in my own world and that people just don´t want to understand how I´m feeling....then I thought of the Savior´s ministry. He taught and so many times people did not understand what He was trying to help them with, so they just turned Him away. He would convey by the Spirit of the Lord, but people did not want to truly feel what He felt. The Lord knows exactly how I feel and that is a huge comfort to me!!!!!! This Sunday during sacrament I looked up one of my favorite hymns in my Little Spanish hymn book. "Jesús de Nazaret". I decided to read it through in my mind....normally I don´t understand exactly what the hymns are saying because there is a lot I still have to learn in the language...but I experienced a miracle....I could understand completely all of the verses of the song. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Heavenly Father!!!! As Nephi says in the Book of Mormon, "I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance" (1 Nephi 1:20).
     
I know the Lord has made me mighty. Sometimes it is difficult to be bold with people, especially when I don´t understand exactly what they say back. But that´s the beauty of this work right now for me. Remember that episode of M*A*S*H* when Hawkeye loses his sight for a while?...but then expresses the beauty of losing one of his senses for a while? That is exactly how I feel right now. I am not able to use my ability to understand the words, but what I do understand is the Feelings. The feelings of the Spirit. Right now is a time for me to have my mind soak in and do what it can to retain what it´s learning. I am grateful for this gift. Sometimes people say the most horrid, awful things in the Street or in their homes, but I fortunately right now don´t know what it means. I can just look at them and love them. I know that you can love someone without having to know everything about them. Try for one day or moment this week to not use one of your senses and try to focus on the beauty of the world around you in a new way. :)
 
I love you all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a flippin´fantastic week!!!!
    
P.S. my rash is almost gone, woo hoo!!!!!!!!! Yay, my body is pretty again!!!!!!! ;) Hehehe.
 
Love, Your Hermana Stephenson :D

Monday, April 21, 2014

4.21.2014

Hello Hello Again!!!!!
     
It’s been an interesting week this week. Hermana Fuentes has major back problems, and I caught a heat rash. We are still able to do the work, but yesterday after church and lunch we came back to the apartment for the rest of the day. So, for Easter my companion and I watched Johnny Lingo in the apartment. We are allowed to watch films, as long as they are approved by the church. My rash has come down a little, but we think it might be that my skin isn’t used to the heat yet. I feel fine when we are out working, but when we come back to the house I have to re-apply cream. Fortunately this week the elders are going to get another kind for me that’s more affective. Don’t worry, I’m great, just got to wait for this strange rash to go away. :) I am so grateful that even when we have physical problems, we are given the strength to fulfill the work here. :)
     
We had a Fantastic contact this week!! His name is Jose. As soon as we contacted him we were able to teach a little lesson with him. While we were talking with him we found out that his wife died only two months ago. From my scripture study that morning, I had a strong prompting to share what I had learned about eternal families that morning. DyC 137:5-7 is what I shared with him. That through sacred baptismal ordinances in the temple we can be with our family together forever. After sharing this message with him my companion then asked him to be baptized, and he now has a baptismal date!! Wooo hooo!!!! Normally when we contact people and give a mini lesson we share parts of the Plan of Salvation or The Restoration, but that day I felt prompted to share something totally different. I’ve noticed the Holy Ghost is coming through me more when I speak to people and teach them. I feel like my role as a missionary really blossomed this week! I don’t feel quite as nervous anymore. My companion says I am osada, wow, she is so kind! Osada means bold.
     
Hermana Fuentes truly is my miracle here, I love her so much. There are moments where I feel so alone when people are speaking, laughing, and having a great time, and I have no idea what is going on. However, Hermana Fuentes is always helping me to understand and including me all the time! She is so serviceable and does the kindest things for me, that at times I feel that I do not deserve it. But she has proven me wrong. She is this big ray of sunshine and puts so much trust in me when we teach. I love the connections we are able to have as a companionship. Hehe, so we have a lot of things in common. She and I both have a love for cats, and our favorite cat happens to be the same one...Garfield. She loves to sing, play piano, make cards for people, and clean. WOW! Talk about similar. She is a great trainer, we’re a great team, and I hope we can have another baptism together before we have different companions.
     
Okay, so we’re doing better at achieving the mission goal, and one day this week we got our 20 contacts we needed, plus in the same day with taught and visited with 7 people, and received 5 new investigators!!! When we got home I felt this exhaustion of accomplishment and I felt so good!!! Well, before we reached the goal of contacting 20 people, the night was almost over and we only had 13 contacted. So, as we were making our way to the house I prayed to myself as we walked if we could at least have one more contact. And just like that we approached a family of 6, and then one more person after that. Wow, Heavenly Father really and truly blesses us! We just need to have the faith in Him to do it! Before, I thought that for me to receive an answer was only getting the feeling from the Holy Ghost. But in my experience here, essential for us to have faith is just to do it, take action. The faith we need is the faith we put into doing something, even if we don’t know what is going to happen.
     
I am so grateful to be here and learn so much within only one week! Every day is little by little and we are truly blessed. I love all of you and for the sacrifices you are making to have me be here! I love you all and have a freakin’ fantastic week!!!!!

I really want to send photos to you but there isn’t a way for me to see them before sending them, so it’s random. AH! I’ll try next again next week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

4.14.2014

Hello Family and Friends!!!!!

     
We have had a great week here, oh man it’s been a really great one...a bit stressful...but a great one! The source of our stress came from preparing a wedding and baptism in the same weekend, hahaha. For Hermana Fuentes and me, this was our first wedding to be a part of in the mission and our first baptism together. There is SO much to do, even for a simple wedding. However, even with the challenges of getting forms, copies, cake, etc. Everything came together nicely. They got married Friday and they look happy. I’m so happy for them!!! Their baptism was the following day. My companion and I had to clean the room for the ceremony, and clean the baptismal font...wow....SO dirty!! Haha. Luckily we only had to sweep up one cockroach. For both events we bought cake for everyone, but on Saturday Hermana Fuentes and I were fasting, so the cake was a bit of a temptation. But more than that, it is so, so, so humid here, so not getting to have liquids is a bit of a challenge. So when I was serving Coke and Fanta to everyone with these huge blocks of ice I thought....oh, that would be so great, but no! I didn’t give in!!
     
What made the baptism even more special was that one of our recent converts that helps us in our lessons baptized Marlin and Edwin. Before the baptism he waited outside and had the most worried look on his face. He was so nervous, but he did such a great job!!
      
I love being here and getting to know the people just a little bit more every time we see them. They are so kind, patient, and so loving. I feel more than blessed to be here, and to have already seen two baptisms in the mission! My companion was SO happy because this was her first family to baptize, and see married. Wow, how special!!
      
Honestly the teaching is coming along so much better. At first I was totally terrified and not knowing much to say, but now that I allow myself to relax more, the words just come out smoother. No, my conjugating is not always correct or understood, but the Spirit still testifies and I know our investigators have felt it. That’s something that I love...it doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you are from, the feelings of the Spirit in others’eyes is universal. I am grateful for that. Also, it gives me a chance to learn the doctrine in greater detail, and read people’s body language more. Haha when our investigators show no interest in praying or doing any of the commitments, sometimes I want to rest my hands on their shoulders and say, "Why don’t you want this? Do you not want every happiness in the world?!" Then I remember words of Jeffrey R. Holland, "President why is this so hard? Why don’t people just flock to the font?" Then he proceeds to explain the price that Christ had to pay for us. And he said that we must only pay a token of that same price. I keep reminding myself I will know everything I need to in time, and so will my investigators. I honestly have the best companion in the world! There are a lot of moments where it is difficult and people say to me they don’t understand, or they’d rather someone else give a prayer....but you know what? It doesn’t matter. I am doing what I can and I follow what President Hinckley said, that always gives me comfort, "Try a little harder to be a little better every day."
     
Yo se este Evangelio es verdadero. Por medio mis experiencias yo siento la amor de Dios y Jesucristo. Ellos son en mi corazon y mi guia en mi vida. Yo se tambien todos ensenanzas en el libro de Mormon son verdadero, porque de los sentimientos de el Espiritu Santo yo recibo en mis sentimientos y en mi alma. Jesus es mi luz y estoy muy agradecida ser un miembro de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santo de los Ultimos Dias. Este Evangelio ha cambio mi vida para siempre. "Hasta ver, hasta ver para siempre Dios este con vos."
     
I love all of you so, so, so, so much and you are forever in my prayers! Have a spectacular week and as Hermana Fuentes says, "Smile forever!" :D


Love, Your Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson

Monday, April 7, 2014

4.7.2014

Hello!!!!
     
Can you believe it?! I’ve been in Nicaragua for 3 weeks, and 2 months in the mission! Wow! Thank you so much for supporting, loving, and helping me here in the mission! Also, thank you for ALL the letters. I love them, and you!
     
Well, of course the language is a challenge and I am not always able to express the way I’d like to, or even understand most of what people say. However, Elder Putt, my district leader told me something he did that helped him to become fluent. He said he would read jut a little bit every day en el libro de Mormon. He also said in the beginning he had the Spanish and English Book of Mormon right next to each other as he read. Then after a while he used the English one less. One he stopped reading it in English he only used a dictionary. By the time he finished el libro de Mormon he became fluent. Challenge accepted!!!
     
I love my district so much! They, and my companion Hermana Fuentes are my support here in the mission, plus, they’re so much fun!!!! For last P-Day we went to la playa in San Jorge! Ahhh, I hadn’t been to the beach in so long, it was SO nice! Looking out over the water and sitting in the sand was so relaxing. While we were there we walked around, talked, took some pictures, and played "Ninja Destruction". Hahaha....I’m really not with it early in the morning. My companion and I had to wake up at 5 to get ready and go to the beach. I left our apartment without eating breakfast, grabbing snacks, or my camera. Hermana Ross took great pictures of us so hopefully she’ll send them to me. By the time we got to eat I was SO hungry! We went to a place in town that actually had hamburgers and fries. But don’t get your hopes up, it’s very different and tastes like the cafeteria kind I had at Mark Twain Elementary, haha. While we waited for food we played UNO. What a great times with Hermana Fuentes Hermana Ross, Hermana Aguilar, Eler Putt, and Elder Herrera.
     
So a couple days ago I got to go on a companion exchange in Diriamba. My companion for the day was Hermana Garcia. She’s from Guatemala and speaks great English! I learned so much from her! She’s so brave and forward with people while contacting and teaching. We also made every message brief, simple, and sincere. We were able to get so much work done, and even teach new contacts from that day! One contact we had went SO well! An elderly woman let us in and her daughter. I ended up talking about The Restoration in more detail for my very first time! Woo! I was so nervous and the whole time I felt like I might have a heart attack! Almost every time we teach my stomach goes crazy and I get so nervous. My teaching and contacting keeps getting braver and better. Woop woop! Honestly though, the Holy Ghost is my guide and puts the words in my mouth through God.
     
Thursday was an especially fulfilling day! Hermana Fuentes, our recent convert Michael and I went to his Uncle Javier’s house for our second time. Javier is a great man and very kind to us. We talked a lot about the importance of baptism and the importance of showing our faith in Christ. Toward the end of the lesson my companion asked him if he would be baptized the third or tenth of May. After a moment of silence he said he would be baptized on the tenth. At first I didn’t know if I had heard correctly, he was so calm in his response. Once I realized he said he would like to be baptized on that date I got so excited for him, so as we left I smiled really big at him and said, Felicidades! He smiled back, so I hope my excitement then made up for the slow reaction I had the first time. We also met with Edwin, Marlyn, Elder Putt and Elder Herrera, for the baptismal interview. Edwin and Marlyn get married and baptized this Saturday!! Woo hoo!!!! I’m so happy for them!! My love for the people here keeps growing. I truly am so blessed. I don’t know what I did to deserve such blessings or people, but I am thankful.
     
Hehe. I have a funny little story. There is a family in the ward and their name is Oporta. We have been to their home twice for dinner. They are such a nice, happy, friendly family! They have a son who is 3 who looks and reminds me so much of Ezra Noorlander. His name is Joseph Smith, but they pronounce his name as "Joset". The first time we went to their home Jospeh gave me almost all his toys and told his sister in the other room that I am his novia. Right after that I received from his sister, from him a bright pink flower. This week when we went to visit the second time for dinner, he had picked 3 flowers for me and proceeded to give me gifts, including a nail, and a giant sparkler. He told his abuelo this week that I am his wife. Hehe, he’s such a cutie.
     
Wow!! Conference went by WAY too fast. Fortunately, I got to watch it in another room, in English, with Hermana Ross. Conference really is like getting hit with water from a fire hydrant. I received so much of what I am to do. In the past I have not gone to re-read the talks or go over notes much. So to change that I decided I must follow-up as M. Russell Ballard stated. I have created little notecards that have the inspirations and scriptures I felt prompted to take note of during conference...and take action on what it says. I will continue to use these cards until the next conference, and then I’ll make new ones. I don’t feel like in the past I have taken a lot of action or any to live and truly understand all of what we are given during Conference. I don’t want to be like that anymore. I know I sudy my scriptures and do my best to follow the words of prophets and apostles of old...but I must also study modern day revelation. What a gift! What a gift we have, to have scripture and revelation for our day, right now. To truly learn and live gospel principles, we must give heed to all counsel. As Boyd K. Packer stated this conference, "Things cannot be taught, they must be learned." I truly know and feel like true learning is living eactly the way we are asked to do so.
     
I know that Thomas S. Monson, the aspostles and all righteous leaders of the church are true disciples of God. There is not doubt. We do have have the evidence. And for those are unbelieving are lost, and we must help them come back to the fold. WIlliam R. Walker quoted this scripture I now treasure myslef, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they folow me" (John 10:27). People are unbelieving in this world and reject the message because they have not truly found Christ. Let us help them, and realize how blessed we are. Let us never be found ungrateful.
     
-Funnies for this week:
     
I had pescados en la sopa, but the fish was cooked whole without the bones removed. So I didn’t always know exactly what I was sgoing to bite into. Haha, now I can say I have had fish eye gruel. It was very good and extremely fishy at the same time....even more so than lobster bisque, haha.
     
So, my lower legs look really spotted. Just when my bites go down in swelling I get more. Haha, I don’t know why! The cream and spray I have kind of works with the bugs, but not so much. Hermana Fuentes said, "Su sangre es dulces por los insectos," meaning my blood is candy for the insects...I think it’s because I’m a gringa, hahaha.


I love you all so much!!!!!! Ready for another week!!! :D