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