Monday, October 13, 2014

These Things I Know ... And God Gave the Increase

Dear Family and all other loved ones,

Thanks for your love and support. I hope that you are all doing well! I'm excited to see you again soon.

This week has been wonderful. I have definitely seen that as I have striven to do my best to serve in every city that I have been in, God is the one who gives the increase (see last week's email). This week we taught a lot of lessons and saw some incredible miracles, one of which being that one of our investigators read the entire Book of Mormon over the last month or so. Two of our other investigators are also doing really well. I am blessed to know that I am leaving my city in a very good place and in very good hands with Sister J.

These things I know.

I know that God lives and that He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. More than that, He is MY Savior and Redeemer. Everything good that I have and am comes from my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know that families can be sealed together forever. That brings me so much joy and peace because my family is one of the most importatnt things in the world to me. I am so grateful that I have that assurance that because of the priesthood of God we can be sealed together forever. And we are. I know that God has given us, His children, His power and authority and established His Church so that we can benefit from that priesthood. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the that Church. I know that we have a living prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson. I know these things because the Holy Ghost has testified to me of them in my heart and in my mind. I know that God is still a God of miracles. He has worked miracles in my life and miracles in my mission. He has changed me as I have allowed myself to be humble enough to do His will. The gospel of Jesus Christ is real and it changes lives. I know that it is through the gospel that we can find the most peace and joy and happiness available to us in this life and in the world to come. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. ANYONE who wants to know this as well needs only to read it and pray about it. It is such a powerful book. I know that God's timing is perfect. We are not perfect, but through Jesus Chirst it is possible for us to become better. I know that success comes from the Lord in His way and time. I know that the small and simple things like praying, studying the scriptures, going to church, and keeping the commandments will protect us and bless us. I know that God gives us and allows us trials to teach us and to allow us to grow. And I know that God hears and answers prayers. I know that the Atonement makes up for all weaknesses and shortcomings and heals all pain, regardless of the source--be it from our own mistakes, from others, or just our circumstances. I am grateful bejond words for all the people that I have met on my mission, particularly my companions. I am grateful more than I can ever express for every single day of the last 19 months of my life. Truly the Lord has blessed me in abundance, even so much that I do "not have room enough to receive it."

If you do not know these things I invite you to find out yourself if these things are true. You can know by sincerely asking your Heavenly Father in the name of Christ if they are true. And "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

Thanks one more time for all of your love and support. I love you all!

Zuster Stevens

Monday, October 6, 2014

Act Upon This Instruments in the Hands of the Lord


This week was full of lots of wonderful miracles. One of the biggest was a referral we received a little while ago. We tried looking her up once before but she wasn't home. This week we went back and she was there. We had no more information about her than her name and address, so we didn't really know what to expect. She just let us in and we saw that she had an English Book of Mormon already, and we asked about it. She said that she had received it from Elders in Germany while on vacation and that she wanted to learn more about it and about our religion. We had a really short lesson with her right there, and then set up another appointment for a few days later. We came back with a Chinese Book of Mormon, (she's here from China studying) which she was really excited about. She doesn't yet believe in God, but she would like to develop more faith and is really excited to learn. She said that she got a feeling of peace and that that is part of what she is hoping that religion can give her. She had already begun reading the Bible so she does have some basic understanding of religion. When we asked her if she would be baptized if she knew that it was true she accepted whole-heartedly! She's excited to read the Book of Mormon and she's really open right now. At the end she said her first prayer ever and it was beautiful--it was so innocent and clearly straight from her heart.

I read an article from the Liahona earlier this week entitled, "Act Upon This Land As for Years." ( It stated, "When we 'act upon this land as for years,' we begin to recognize opportunities we may not have seen before. We may also see that some of these opportunities may never come our way again." It is not always easy to have this attitude, but it is an important one, because it's how we learn how to truly endure to the end. We are not here on earth to ever just put in time doing something. There is always something to learn, and always someone to be lifted. We really are just instruments in the hands of God. Sometimes He uses us for big, great, visible things--other times we're seed-planters or even seed-waterers. But God gives the increase (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-9:  God brings the harvest. It is our privilege to participate in His work in whatever way or capacity He wants us to. there are lwas in God's harvest. And we may not see the results until we look back at the valleys from the peaks of experience, or even until after this life. But the harvest is there. This is the Lord's work. And we have the privilege to be instruments in His hands to work miracles.

I loved General Conference! I hope you all did as well. It is always one of my favorite times of the whole year. I am so grateful that I get the privilege of being here at this time and serving the Lord in this way. I know that what I am doing is the Lord's work. And I know that I am called to be here at this time by a man who is nothing less than a prophet of God. I know that the Church is true and that the gospel brings us back to our Father in Heaven.
I love you all so much! Keep up the good work and keep being happy. That's the best part. The gospel just makes you happy. :)
Zuster Stevens

Monday, September 29, 2014

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Hallo hallo,

This week has been full of travel, other cities, and miracles. Being a sister training leader's companion is just a different kind of work again, but it's good. I feel privileged that I get to have this one last month here, be it in Gent or Antwerpen or Turnhout or Breda. Or all of them in a single week, haha. Lots of exchanges/meetings. :) On Tuesday on exchange in Antwerpen, we taught a man the law of chastity unexpectedly, and used everything that we had learned in zone training. We even kneeled in the park to pray. It was a really positive lesson, and it was cool to be able to turn around immediately and apply what we had learned, even with another companion. 

On Friday we were able to set a baptismal date with a young man we met at a bus stop and who then came to church the next day. He's come 2 more times since then and we've been meeting with him for a few weeks. He's a really good kid, albeit really quiet sometimes. 

Yesterday I gave a talk on member missionary work in Sacrament Meeting, and that went pretty well. It's the small and simple things that make a difference, like praying for missionary opportunities, making a simple personal mission plan, or sharing the gospel using social media. We've been really busy lately and that's good. Sometimes it makes the week a little crazy, but we're enjoying ourselves.

I'm very grateful for my mission. I'm grateful for the stronger relationship that I've been able to build up with Heavenly Father and the Savior. I'm grateful for the people that I've met and the things that I have learned from them. I'm grateful that I have had the privilege to be an instrument in the hands of God in bringing His children to a knowledge of the truth. I'm grateful that I can say "I'll go where you want me to go" because I know that His plan and His timing and His ways are best. It is sometimes natural to not want to follow those ways because they are hard or because we think we know better. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way back to God and it changes lives. It has definitely changed mine.
I love you all and hope you are well!

Zuster Stevens

Monday, September 22, 2014

Improve the Shining Moments

This week has been really busy with meetings and traveling and everything. We had to go to Nederland on Friday and Antwerpen Saturday so that Sister J. could plan for zone training tomorrow. But the Lord has blessed us a lot despite our busyness with Sister J.'s calling as sister training leader. Yesterday we had 4 lessons with people and we ended up setting up several cool appointments for the rest of the week. That was a big miracle since we had been gone pretty much all of Friday and Saturday. Last night we had an appointment with a man who doesn't come to church because of his wife who is a member of another church. However, his testimony is still really strong and he is actively talking with her and the rest of his family about the gospel and the church. Apparently she hasn't been super open in the past, but she's been asking him more questions and when we asked her if we could come back to answer her questions she was pretty receptive. The last time we swung by she was happy to see us and said that we were the first sister missionaries that she had met. She seems to be pretty open to meet with us now!

One of the things that I've learned a lot lately is how short and valuable time, moments, and opportunities are. We as humans tend to think that we have a little more time--but then something happens. Never postpone or procrastinate things, especially in relationships--family, friends, companions, etc.. Do not procrastinate change and repentance either. We really do only have a short amount of time to do what  needs t obe done and love those around us. I'm so grateful for the Atonement, which makes my meager efforts worth something and that changes me into someone much better. I am so grateful that I know that my Redeemer lived and died for me, and also that He now lives again. I'm so grateful that I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father, who loves us so much.

I love you all and I'm so grateful for your support! Hope all is well!

Zuster Stevens

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mission Conference with Elder Ballard

The biggest news of the week is that Elder M. Russell Ballard came to our mission to speak, accompanied by Elder Timothy J. Dyches, Elder Donald Hallstrom, and of course their wives. I love coming to conferences with questions. All of my questions were answered, both during my own personal preparation before the conference and during the conference itself. One of the questions I had was about the Atonement, and while preparing for the conference I found a talk called "Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ" by Bruce C. Hafen. (click here to read). It really helped me understand the Atonement better, specifically just how much the Atonement makes up for our weaknesses and shortcomings and eventually changes us and sanctifies and purifies us. The conference itself to me had a very loving and appreciative atmosphere, and they repeatedly thanked us for what we do. That was really neat to feel the Lord's love and appreciation as one of His servants spoke personally to our mission.

We also had a cool experience yesterday with an appointment. We went into the lesson not really sure how prepared the man was to progress, but the church member with us testified powerfully and was a fantastic support and it went really well. Also, on Saturday our almost baptismal date (wants to get baptized and just has scheduling things to figure out) asked if she could please pay tithing even though she's not a member. So before her baptism she plans on donating that money to a different fund in the Church, because her desire is so strong to do that. She's amazing.

Second biggest news of the week is transfer calls. I will be staying my last 4 weeks in Gent, which I am very excited about. However, that is tempered by the fact that I will be losing Sister R., who will be going, unexpectedly, to Turnhout. But I will be getting Sister J., who I have worked with quite a bit in the past and who is a good friend. Also, she will be the sister training leader here, which will be fun for all of us, because I will still get to exchange with Sister R.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Windows of Heaven

It was another good week. Our work really has been paying off, and the Lord has blessed us a lot, and we've been a lot more busy and teaching more people. This week wasn't quite as eventful with investigators at church, but we still had 3 there, which is still pretty good for this area. We had a really cool lesson with one of our investigators this week. He is Muslim, and although he is currently not fully practicing, he does still also believe in it. When we first taught him he didn't seem super positive, but he has been reading the Book of Mormon and he came to church last week (just not yesterday because of a prior commitment). However, he isn't sure at the moment how strong his desire is to know because he is now engaged and his fiance is also Muslim. But during our lesson the Spirit was very strong, he got along well with our joint teach, and the lesson (about faith in Jesus Christ) just flowed. At the end my companion had the idea to watch Dankzij Hem (Because of Him), and it was really powerful. Also, the JoVo that came to church two weeks ago when we invited him the night before, has read up to 2 Nephi 11 and has a very sincere desire to learn more and to get an answer. He's a really cool kid.

Yesterday on the way to church after meeting one of our investigators to travel together, we ran into one of the Elders' investigators. He just told me over and over how the Lord must love and bless missionaries. It is so true. He absolutely does. But as with tithing, some of the blessings come more in the form of spiritual strength and growth rather than in temporal blessings (see Elder Bednar's talk from last October on tithing -- click here ) -- yesterday we also taught the gospel principles lesson on tithing. Sometimes on a mission the blessings are very clear and obvious--lots of lessons, no bike problems, plenty of dinner appointments, etc.. Sometimes they come in the form of lessons learned. And sometimes it feels like not a lot is actually happening or changing, but it turns out that in the process we are growing far closer to God and more like Him than we expected or even noticed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When it rains, it pours...but when it rains, the sun shines brighter :)

Hello hello,
So, you might be wondering why I'm emailing a day late. Very simple, actually, we spent most of our P-day in Antwerpen, waiting for my companion to get stitches because of an incident while playing sports. Don't worry, she's all right, doesn't have much pain, and is patched up very nicely. In fact, we had a miracle last night because of it. But I'll say more about that later.
This week was wet. Very very wet. Pours is an accurate description of the weather. But then it cleared up very nicely and we finished it off with some very cool miracles.

I'll start with one of the biggest miracles--8 nonmembers at church, 6 of them being our investigators! That was an amazing experience. Sometimes it takes some time (and patience), but it feels like all our hard work (and the hard work of the missionaries before us) is finally paying off. That is the most investigators I have ever had in sacrament meeting. The Lord truly is the one in control of this work.
Other miracle: One of our investigators is doing really well and wants to be baptized! She even has a date in her head, just isn't yet ready to say what it is. We went through the baptismal interview questions with her briefly to let her know what all we'll have to talk about in the next few weeks and from her responses she is very ready. We really love her a lot.

Another personal miracle for me was going to the stake barbeque on Saturday. I saw several of the ward members from Heerlen again and that was really cool, especially because they still remembered me. It's been a long time, so it was really neat to see them all again and catch up a little bit. Also, one of them grew up in our branch boundaries and told us to go visit his parents, who aren't coming to church but he says that they're pretty positive.

I know that the Lord protects us and also that He can turn any bad thing into a good thing (see 2 Nephi 2:2: "Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain"). Because of what happened with Sister R., we were in the right place at the right time to meet this really cool Bulgarian girl who we now have an appointment with. Also, in everyday life there are many things that happen that we don't wish for or expect, but that can be great learning and growth opportunities and chances to grow closer to our Heavenly Father.

I know that the gospel is true and that it is the only way to true and enduring happiness. I am so grateful for the many blessings Heavely Father has given me.
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Zuster Stevens