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 :)