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