Monday, April 25, 2016

The Gospel is So Easy to Understand!

Wow what a week it has been here in Woodland! I am so happy to stay here for another transfer. The beginning of the week was a little crazy trying to get packed and see everyone that we had appointments with. And Sister Girot went a little hard on her ankle so Monday night we didn't really do a lot of physical missionary work but we did see a miracle! We were going to a referral and they didn't answer but as we were driving I felt impressed to try by a former investigator that we have tried by many times before but never were able to actually speak with them. And so we stopped and she was home! Her name is Ginger and she has met with a lot of missionaries but when we were talking with her she said that she was trying to find out how to get a hold of the missionaries. And said she wanted to build up her faith and spirituality. Annnnd that is where we come in :) we are seeing her this week so hopefully it all goes well. 

We saw some of our less active members on Tuesday. One is Sister Sperry, she would be active if she were physically able but she isn't so we go and see her once a week. She is just the cutest and has the best testimony to share. I'm really glad that we are able to visit with her and read from the Howard W Hunter book to keep her updated with the rest of the church lessons. We also saw Ashleyanne and she is doing well. I just love her so much! She is starting to work on personal progress and is going to the youth temple night with the Ward next Thursday. Such great things. Oh and she went over to her youth leaders to find names of her ancestors to take to the temple and do their work. The gospel is true. 

Highlight of the week was definitely Saturday. It was a little crazy though. Sis Slattery and I were doing tracting and then we called the Woodland 1st sisters to see if thy remembered to leave the font full so we could just put some warm water in it for the girls' baptism. (They had a baptism in the morning) and they call us back and said they drained it halfway so we could fill it with warm water....this was like an hour and a half before the takes an hour to fill it half way and we were about thirty minute from Longview. So we raced over to get the key from our Ward missionary and headed to Longview to fill the font....plot twist: I have never filled a's always just been done for we try to figure it out and then we decided to just call the zone leaders for help....they get there and then ten minutes later the Smiths show up and we have to get them ready and so the nice zone leaders just took care of the font and everything went well. It was a full house for the baptism and members of the Ward did special musical numbers and the spirit was just so strong. I loved it. Thankfully Sister Girot was able to come and Michael came to see it as well. Dhana was unfortunately out of town but it was just the greatest day :) they have such a strong testimony and understanding of the gospel. I feel so blessed to have been here to teach them. We really are placed where God needs us to be. 

Rewind to Wednesday aka transfer day. We sent the missionaries away from Longview and just waited for a few hours for all of our new companions to come from the main transfer site in Vancouver. Sis Slattery is my new companion and we knew each other before the mission....well kind of....we were friends on Facebook when we found out we were going to the same mission. She is from Las Vegas and well has been out as long as me haha. But we go home the same time so we may just finish our missions together. And then on Thursday morning we both received our "trunky call" from the mission. Asking us if we are flying or driving home.....I said driving....hope that is okay! But it was just a rude wake up call to how much time is left on my mission. But have no fear there is no trunkyness in me. I'm prepared and ready to work to the very end. 

We were able to meet with Dhana and Michael this week. We had a bonfire at their house and taught them the plan of salvation. It was definitely a new experience but it went really well! They both agreed and understood what we were teaching them. We are trying to set a baptismal goal for May 28th and I think it will happen. Michael came to church this week but Dhana was out of town so she didn't come. However at church in priesthood meetings they asked for brethren to go help at the youth temple trip and they invited Michael to go with them and visit the visitors center! So awesome! I love it when the Ward fellowships those we are teaching without us asking them to do so. Member missionary work is so important! 

We have another new investigator this week named Hallie. She is 8 years old but her aunt is a less active member and she has been coming to primary because she wanted to investigate churches. Last Sunday our primary president said that her mom said she could meet with the missionaries! We went to see her on Thursday and she is just the cutest ever. We taught her about the restoration and invited her to read from the Book of Mormon. She wants to get baptized but said she isn't ready yet. Which is true. So we are going to continue to teach her and help her gain a testimony. So lots of good things happening here in Woodland. 

We have been teaching a young man, Jared,  who is less active and this time we brought with us another youth and the young men's president. We taught him about God is our loving Heavenly Father and about faith. And it went so well. They both shared their stories of how they know that God loves them and how they see his blessings in their life. It helped him to see the blessings of God in his life and then in turn help him look for them more in his everyday. And then he came to church on Sunday!! It was so awesome!!! I love being a missionary. And I love that we have such a simple gospel to share. When broken down the gospel is so easy to understand with our minds and with our hearts. I have learned and gained a solid testimony of our Father's love for us since I have been on my mission. The many moments in my life that show God doesn't do random just teach me over and over again that he knows us. He knows where we are at, what struggles we have and everything about us. So just trust him. Easier said then done but it brings so much more happiness. I promise it does. And so does Heavenly Father who is a much better resource than me 🙂 
I love you all and remember who you are :) 

Sister Stephens 

The zone and our awesome t-shirts!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Transfers Once Again!

This week sure has been interesting. On Monday we had a pretty rough physical day. I was sick and then Sister Girot was playing soccer with the other missionaries and she sprained her ankle! But we didn't know it at the time though so we just kept on going. That night we had an appointment with Dhana and Michael but I was so sick, so we got permission to go on splits with the Hermanas. I stayed home with Hermana Gee and slept and Sister Girot and Hermana Smith went to the appointment. And apparently it went really well because they want to get baptized! Also jumping forward to Sunday....they came to church! They really enjoyed it and in gospel essentials we talked about prophets and it was just a great lesson. Sacrament was all about the atonement and we had amazing speakers. Sister Hunt talked about her life a little and how she has had trials but has called upon the powers of the atonement to help her. All we have to do is ask. Christ's grace fills us. The atonement has the power to fill our hearts and minds and that heals us and gives us the strength needed to progress and endure the trials of this life. 

We also met with Alanna and Kaitlin  this week. We had dinner with their family and went over the baptismal interview questions. Alanna grabbed a notebook and wrote down her answers....all were yes. Even though most aren't yes or no questions haha. But it was really good. I feel so blessed to have been able to teach them and continue to teach them. They also had their baptismal interview this week and it all went well. We sure are all excited for the baptism on Saturday. They have family coming in from Utah so the confirmation will be on the same day as well. They asked me the other day what I was doing on the 23rd....and I'm like umm going to your baptism!! It was cute :) 

So I bet you are wondering why I didn't do transfer news at the beginning....well because I just remembered haha. So transfers: I am staying in the Woodland 2nd Ward and Sister Slattery will be my companion. I'm pretty sure she is coming from the Columbia River Ward so I'm excited to talk to her about that. We were in the MTC at the same time but didn't serve in the same district so I know her but not too well. It should be fun though! And Sister Girot is going to the Vancouver east zone to serve in Mount Norway with Sister Chance, also entered the mission at the same time as me. We were really sad to get letters....and really sad to be separated, but Heavenly Father leads this mission so I trust him. Thankfully Sister Girot will be able to come back for the girls' baptism. But it's been rough for her to say goodbye to people. Sometimes transfers are just hard. But they did find us housing in Kalama! We are going back to Sister Baxters house. We had to leave there because she had cats, and Sister Girot was allergic but I'm not and neither is Sister Slattery, so we are heading back there on Wednesday. 

We also had some really good lessons with less active members of our Ward. We went to visit some recent converts who are less active and planned on teaching  the restoration. But as we were talking with them we started asking about their prayers. They said that they couldn't decide when to do it...either at dinner or before bed....and we started teaching about prayer. And how we say them to express the desires of our heart. And how we can never say too many prayers. She has been going through a lot and is doing so much better and is just full of life. It's amazing to see. So we just bore our testimony of prayer and it was a great testimony builder for me, as well. As I have had a goal to say more sincere prayers it has really changed my outlook on things. There is always room for improvement and we can ask Heavenly Father to help us and he will. It's really awesome. And that's how we change and become disciples of Christ. As we come closer to the spirit and to our savior, we start to have that change in our lives that we are here to make. I love it. The gospel is so simple. 

Unfortunately Sister Girot was unable to go out for a few days, so we did a lot of phone contacting and organizing our area book and cell phone. But on Tuesday night we went on splits with the sister training leaders. So Sister Black and I went to teach a less active youth named Jared and we taught again about prayer. That was the theme of the week...prayer. So we talked about how to recognize the answers to our prayers and feel the spirit more in our life. It all goes back to express the desires of our hearts and taking the time for our Heavenly Father. It really makes a difference. And it was fun being with Sister Black :) she is going to Gresham and Sister Hansen, my MTC companion, is coming to be an stl over the Longview area. Crazy stuff. 

On Saturday we went to the family history fair to do service. A family in our stake, the Shaws, told us about it. We went to their house Friday night because he is a doctor, and Sister Girot was a little nervous about her ankle, thankfully it's just sprained. But they were talking to us about how she needs to stay off of it and told us we could probably help at the family history day. So we did! There wasn't much to do so we helped prepare the lunch and took some cool pictures with the face cut outs :) we only stayed for an hour but it was still a lot of fun. It has been so fun getting to know the Shaw family. We are actually here right now doing laundry and emailing. Seriously the best family ever. 

Church this week was so fun. I know I already talked about it a little but we were able to visit the young women's this week. Sister Renslow invited us to come and talk about the restoration and basically give the girls a shortened version of the restoration. It was so cool and then they asked us questions about how to answer questions their peers asked. A lot of them had good questions and we shared with them what knowledge we have. It all boiled down to bearing testimony and letting the spirit testify. It's important. 

Even though we haven't been able to do a lot this week the Lord has taught me a lot of valuable lessons. I have been studying about consecration and giving everything to the Lord. It sounds really hard and it is but as I have been trying to apply it more I feel the spirit more. I know our savior lives. I know we are known by him and our father in heaven. And I know Joseph Smith was a prophet. And all we have to do is ask. This gospel has changed my life and I see it changing others all around me. The spirit witnesses to me all the time of the goodness and reality of the restoration. I know if you take the time to sincerely find out for yourself you can. It may not take away our hardships and trials but it will support us. I love you all so much and hope you have a wonderful week. 

Sister Stephens 

 Exchanges with sister black :)

Sister Taylor!! And the sisters in our zone, minus sister Girot, at zone companion study with pres.

Our tiwi monitors our speed in our car and he tells me this sometimes.....

Sister Girot sprained her ankle....

So I had to wrap it...a lot ....

The cute Hermana's. We all wore stripes that day.

Family history day....

Saying goodbye to the arroyos.

Kalama high school....where Twilight was filmed...

The Fosters!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Heavenly Father is Aware of Us!

This week has been a great week. And went by so fast. I feel like I was just emailing you all last week. So many wonderful things. We had stake conference this weekend. And Elder Golden of the 70 was the presiding authority and we were able to hear President and Sister Taylor speak as well. They talked about consecration and giving everything to the Lord. In return we will have eternal life and joy in this life. Elder Golden was awesome and talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost and how it sanctifies and purifies our hearts. There was also a lot of mention of the small and simple things to be a true disciple of Christ like scripture study, church, prayer, and temple attendance. Just a really great spirit and awesome reminders. 

Not only did we have a great spiritual week we were able to find a lot of new people to teach. We are now teaching Dhana and her husband Michael. They volunteer at the food bank with us and we talked to them about what we do as missionaries and they were interested in us coming back. We went and taught Dhana about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and she is really interested in the message. She has been searching for the truth and is just golden. We also found a lady named Elizabeth this week. Her fiancé is a less active member of the church and we taught her a mini restoration and set up a return appointment.....unfortunately they forgot we were coming but she is still interested so that is the important part. And then another miracle this week was Jennifer. She is the mother of a referral we were given by the zone leaders. We talked to her for a while last night when she was working on her garden. She has such a solid testimony of Heavenly Father and the role he has in her life, as well as the savior. She has had a rough life as well as her kids but the gospel will help them so much. She has so much potential. We are seeing her again this week :) 

Alanna and Kaitlin are doing great and are on track for baptism on the 23rd. We taught them about tithing and fasting this week. It was a lot of fun. And we sat with them at stake conference. We just love them so much. Great family . 

Unfortunately, some of our people from last week canceled so we weren't able to meet with them. We saw Ashleyanne this week but not her sisters and so that was sad. We keep praying for them and the Ward is doing a lot of work there as well to help fellowship them. We are still living in Longview with the hermanas and its so awesome. But we may have a place to live in Kalama. The Ahrens family just had a son move out so they are hoping to be able to house us here soon. But it may be after transfers....those are coming up here soon in just a week. Even the seven week transfer just flew by. So we will see what happens with those. Also this morning we went to our stake presidents, President Marshall's, house for a breakfast with the zone. And he grew up in Basin City! He said he knows the Watsons and the LaDows really well! Such a small Mormon world haha. They will be in the Tri cities this week, apparently they go there a lot.  So that was a fun connection. 

So fun story for the week....we were on our way to Woodland for an appointment on Friday morning. We got to Kalama and I feel something weird with the car and I look out the rear view mirror and see our hub cap flying down the highway! So we pull off to the shoulder and my front driver side tire is completely we call Elder funk, the vehicle coordinator, for help. Thankfully they were just past Woodland on the highway so they turned around to come and change it. So we wait....for like thirty minutes for them to get there and another thirty to change the tire....making us so, so late for our appointment. Thankfully she totally understood and let us come anyway. Then we had to take the car to Battle Ground so they could fix the tire.....apparently screws aren't too good for tires....our poor car :( although when we were at Les Schwab we saw the La Center sisters! So it was good to catch up on how everyone is doing there. 

It's been a really great week and a lot of prayers answered through stake conference. Heavenly Father is aware of us. For him this is personal. And he will not fail us. I know it. Trust him and all things will work out. I love you all and hope you have a great week. 

Sister Stephens 

Can you spy the Mormon door?

More thrift store finds

Boonie Tracting for days

A member was worried about our health so she gave us masks....

Our day at les Schwab


The Daniels

Sometimes the elders say funny things....

Zone breakfast

Wonderful General Conference!

Wow what a week! I just loved general conference. We watched it mostly at the stake center and then on Sunday morning we went to the Renslow's house and watched it with Ashleyanne. I was extremely grateful to hear President Monson speak. Even if it was just for a few minutes, it strengthened my testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. My favorite highlights from conference was first from Elder Hallstrom of the 70. I loved that he talked about our identity and how we need that to be our first and foremost defining factor about us. We really all are children of God. And I also loved President Uchtdorf's talk about the lost sheep. I loved how he addressed how the savior knows where we are at and will carry us home! Oh man it was all just so great. Just really uplifting so if anyone hasn't watched it yet, do it!!!

We had an awesome lesson this week with Ashleyanne and her family. It was on a blanket outside because it was so so warm outside. But we were outside and so a bunch of children wanted to join in on the "picnic" so we had like three other young girls come and listen to the restoration. We taught it using cups and so it was a really fun lesson. And we had dinner at a members house this week and we read from the Book of Mormon with all of them. It was awesome. And we are seeing them all again tonight.

Unfortunately we weren't able to meet with Katie or Patrick this week so that was sad. But we did have some great miracles this week. Yesterday we were walking in woodland and saw a couple down the street so we went to talk to them. The lady said she was a member of the church already but they had just moved to Woodland. Her boyfriend isn't a member but he went to church and really liked it. We got their phone number and are going to be meeting with them this week. We also taught Alanna and Kaitlin this week. We played a lot of games with them to keep them engaged and focused on the lessons. We taught them about following the prophet and the commandments since general conference was coming up. They are just so cute! And we decided on a new baptismal date for them! April 23rd! It is going to be grand. However it is three days after transfers so hopefully we stay in Woodland or we come back for the baptism. 

I was able to go on a mini exchange this weekend with Sister McMullin! I always Love being with her. We went to contact referrals and they weren't super interested but it was still great to have referrals. We did a lot of finding this week because most of our appointments canceled....but we did get to go do service at the thrift store with the Woodland first sisters so that was always fun. And we met with a less active young man named Jared. His family loves Doctor Who and their living room is just filled with posters and figurines of the Doctor. It was amazing. When we first went in. I just loved it all. My companion thought I was crazy haha but I thought it was cool. 

So update on housing....we are still living in Longview and may be there until the end of the transfer. But we don't know yet. Even though the drive isn't very fun we love living with the hermanas. So fun. But our room smells so so so bad. We have cleaned and cleaned again trying to find the stench but we can't. So gross. And we burned an entire candle trying to make it livable. And so a member just gave us a cinnamon candle when she found out about our stinky room. Another fun story of the week comes from Saturday. After conference a few of the missionaries went to Five Guys for lunch and two of the elders are super into basketball. And since it is the end of March madness they were making their own team lineup. But used latter day was a pre 90s team and the other was a post 90s team. It was hilarious. Gotta do what you gotta do I guess. 

I love serving in Woodland and Kalama. The people here are wonderful and so prepared to hear the gospel. It has been a growing place and a place to see the hand of Heavenly Father in his children's life. I hope you all have a wonderful week! 

Sister Stephens 

Found this weird mask at the thrift store this week....

Awesome sign for new beginnings!

From the St. Helens hike forever ago!

Five guys made me miss byui!

On exchanges with Sister McMullin!