Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2.26.2014

Hello my Wonderful, Beautiful Family,

This week has been fantastic!! I’m connecting with my companion more and we’re working a lot better together...Several days ago we had a lesson with our investigator Carlos Chavez, for the second time. It’s been difficult with him since he hasn’t had many inquiries of our church. However, during our second visit I felt the Spirit so strongly and I bore my testimony of my experiences for the first time in Spanish. Even though the lesson didn’t turn out as we had thought, it didn’t matter to me because I know our investigator could feel the spirit. Several days later our instructor Hermano Lopez (who role plays as Carlos) gave us two journal entries of how Carlos felt about our discussion. He wants to know more, and even though our Spanish is still rough, he said when we testified through our testimony our Spanish was perfect. :) Yay!!! Remember how I said before we are randomly selected for talks on Sunday, on the morning of? I was chosen for this past Sunday. I gave my talk on arrepentimiento (repentance) through la Expiacion (the Atonement). From the beginning to end of my talk I wept, for I truly felt the Lord within my swell. I spoke as clearly as I could in my best Spanish, and testified that Christ is truly there and gives me esperanza and amour (hope and love) even during our times of trial. I was also fortunate to play all of the music during Sacrament meeting. :) Following the meeting and throughout the whole day, people would come up to me and say the kindest sentiments about my talk. I am so grateful I was filled with Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost to adequately portray exactly what they wanted me to say. :)
     
I’ve also made language goals this week, which was awesome!! Yesterday I learned ten new words, five new phrases, and the first verse of ¨Las Familias Pueden Ser Eternas¨ (¨Families Can be Together Forever¨). Each week, the goal is to learn ten new words each day, as well as five phrases, one new scripture a week, and at least one verse of a hymn each week. :) I’ll be able to learn so much more by the time I leave here, crazy!! What also helps me to study is memory cards and our program called T.A.L.L. This program is on the computer, and it’s a helpful visual of putting sentences together, learning vocabulary, grammar, and conjugation. I love it! We use seeing, hearing, and doing during our T.A.L.L. activities. In our classes we also play language games so that we can remember what we have learned. Three of the games we play are ¨Cocktail de frutas¨, ¨Papa se quema¨, and ¨BASTA!¨. Hehe, these are the perfect games for me because they’re word games and those kind are my favorite!!! ;)  We played a challenge game the other night during language class, and it was SO awesome!! I was paired up with Hermana Hansen, and we had to teach la Restauracion (the Restoration) to each other in 3 minutes, then 1 minute, and then about 30-45 seconds. AH! It was all in Espanol, and it was a great practice! It forces you to pick out what is the most essential to say to a stranger on the street. When we had to teach in less than a minute, we also had to get their address and number, etc. Woo! I was pumped and had such a great time!
     
Even though our investigators are our teachers, they pick people in their life to roleplay, and they use real stories. It’s so neat to experience! This week we had to do the same as them, pick someone to role-play if you were an investigator. We had to create an entire new personality and background. I chose Daniel, but since I am a girl, I changed my name to Danielle Ramona Rivera. :)  It was really special for me to experience it, and I’m glad I got to be in Daniel’s shoes for a while. :)  My instructor Hermano Lopez told us a touching story of his nephew. When he was about 13 he went with a friend to EFY for a week (it was here at the CCM before it became the MTC, and was a school) and by the end of the week he knew without a shadow of a doubt that the church is true! However, his parents won’t let him be baptized until he is a bit older. I hope that he keeps the faith and keeps getting involved in church events and activities! :) it will be very difficult since he has a very hard relationship with his family, but I believe in him and will pray for him!
     
My branch and I have been practicing an EFY medley of ¨As Sisters in Zion/We’ll Bring the World His Truth¨. We auditioned for it the other day after lunch (to sing in one of our devotionals). I kept my tears back as we sang and brought the Spirit to the older hermanas/our leaders. It was a very special moment, and since then we’ve been practicing it in Spanish, and we’ll be performing it in two weeks, just right before the older missionaries leave for their missions. . . .This week there has been a nasty bug of the stomach flu, so please pray for me to stay healthy! I’ve been doing great here with drinking lots of water, eating well, and exercising, but a lot of the hermanas, including two of them in my room have gotten hit hard with it. They’re feeling better now, but we don’t know where the source of the sickness is coming from. :/ However, I’ll stay hopeful and healthy as much as I can! Haha, I have four bug bites on my leg, one of them being a spider bite. The second day after I got the spider bite, it swelled really big and was swollen. Luckily my Hermana Seigfried has a product like ARBONNE that she brought with her, so I used it! I used my anti-itch cream but unfortunately it didn’t do much. But after using the liniment cream that Hermana Seigfried let me borrow, the bite went down significantly the next morning. I was going to have it checked, but now I don’t have to, yay!! Plus, it doesn’t itch as much anymore. :)
     
I feel so happy here and that I am making progress each day. I just have to remind myself to take everything minute by minute, and moment by moment. I decide whether the day goes up or down, and I’m grateful I have that choice! Seeing some of the hermanas in my district, I feel like there are many times where they take the circumstance and allow it to control how they feel. Then I had this thought pop into my head: don’t let circumstance always indicate whether you are sad or happy. I can decide that! No, we do not choose the bad the comes into our lives, but it is up to us to decide how we are going to handle it. I remember the Latin phrase often that I learned in high school: carpe diem! Our attitude is everything, and we must not only come unto Christ, but let His light shine powerfully through us! Let us know of Him, rather than about Him. ¨Shine your light that it may be a standard unto the nations¨(D&C 115:15). Keep arising and shining each day. We never know when someone is looking up to us for an example, and I can say to each of you that ALL of you (friends and family) have been a constant example of Christ to me. Thank you. Thank you for giving me love and your testimonies. Not only your testimonies, but thank you for truly, actively showing your example. I learned from Elder Bednar this week at our video devotional, that having a testimony is not enough. We must truly be converted unto the Lord by attaining the attributes of Christ, by acting, loving, and studying who HE was and is. He said to not fill our days with silly busy work, or saying that I have to work harder. He said that when we focus outward and don’t think about ourself, that is where we change and become converted, without even knowing it. I am taking his counsel day by day and I am proud to be a daughter of God, learning so much as I go. :) I love all of you and I look forward to another fulfilling week!!

LOVE, your Hermana Keri Chantel Stephenson :D


P.S. Thank you for sending me so many happy pictures, yayayayay!!!! Keep sending them, and I will send some more a little later today!

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