Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!

Hey everybody! Happy new year! Crazy to think that 2017, my full calendar year as a missionary, has come and gone. 2018 is going to be a year full of new changes and challenges, but I'm looking forward to it!

So this past week was pretty good. We did a lot of teaching and finding. A couple experiences stood out however. The first was teaching a family of 4. We had talked to the mom a few days earlier, and she had expressed to us that she wanted us to teach her kids about the gospel since we knew both English and Creole, and she felt her kids didn't understand anything from going to her Haitian church. We went back and taught her 2 kids and their neighbor friend, aged 15, 11, and 10. We taught them the Plan of Salvation using some awesome 3D-printed cutouts that my family had just sent me for Christmas. They were all involved and interested and asking all sorts of questions. The mom was there too, kind of in the background. Afterwards we gave her a pamphlet to read over and see what we were teaching her kids. It was a great lesson, but it felt weird to be teaching to younger kids like that. Then we went back a few days later and taught them the Restoration, and I realized that if we claim that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ at age 14, then what's to stop these kids from accepting the gospel. It was a cool learning experience for all of us.

Another interesting experience happened that same day. We had been knocking doors and found 2 ladies sitting in a car in the driveway. We go up and talk to them and end up saying a prayer with them. Come to find out that one of the ladies has a mom in the nearby hospital recovering from surgery after a stroke, and she asked us if we could come back to go pray for her mom. We said "of course!" So the next day we go back and follow her and her 2 little boys to the hospital. We heard her speaking creole to the boys before we left, so when we got there we started speaking Creole to her. She was so amazed, and asked us if she could snapchat us during our prayer! We were like "sure...?" And then as we're checking in, the lady's boyfriend shows up out of nowhere, which was kinda weird but we spoke Creole to him and it was all good. So we get up to the room, and there are already 2 Haitian ladies there praying over the mom, so we stand there awkwardly as they finish and then strike up a conversation with the mom. Then I make Elder Bullock say the prayer while the one lady videos it for snapchat! He did great. Definitely one of those "I never thought I would be in this situation" type of moments haha!

We've been keeping up with Laurette, and we were able to take one of our awesome members to a lesson with us! We talked about the Priesthood and the member was able to connect with her and explain it in a way that we just couldn't, it was great. She can't read, so today we'll be getting some CDs to burn some chapters from the Book of Mormon in Creole for her to listen to. We gave her one that we had already, but it wasn't in order but we figured that we should at least give her something to listen to. Overall it's been going great, she's going to ask her husband about being baptized so hope all goes well.

Another great thing that happened was that last night we found Carl again! Turns out he went to Haiti for an unexpected funeral and that's why he's been missing. He's still super on board for meeting with us, and had talked with his member friend back in Haiti about the church and stuff which was great. We've scheduled to teach him tonight, so hopefully we can get everything back on track for him to be baptized.

A pretty long letter this week, I have a couple pictures that are pretty unrelated so I'll just throw those down at the bottom for ya. In other news, it's raining today for the first time in weeks so that's fun. Anyways hope you all had a great holidays!

We went bowling with a member after Christmas, and I caught the moment where his 4 year old son stuck his head in the ball return waiting for his ball haha!​

My Christmas present to myself haha, thank you Walmart clearance isle!


Eldè Stevenson

Monday, December 4, 2017

Yay for Carl!

Christmas in Florida!
Hey everyone! So this week was a very good week for us. I forgot to bring my planner with me so I'm going off of memory, so here we go!

This week we were pretty busy, which is great. We got lots of referrals from other missionaries and got to teach a few of them. We were able to exceed in pretty much every category compared to last week, and even exceeded a couple of the goals we had set, so that was awesome!

This week we started the #LightTheWorld campaign. It's pretty cool, similar to last year on mormon.org there's a new scripture and video every day about how to serve others in little ways. Check it out!

The highlight of this week was probably Carl. Can't remember if I mentioned him before, but he was a referral from another set of missionaries. We got to teach him once before, but after that he vanished. This week, we randomly stopped by one night and he was there! He was so happy to see us again. He said he lost contact because he left the house after some problems [...], but he decided to come back. He had even read a little bit from the Book of Mormon and wanted to know more. We read through the introduction with him and then taught him the Plan of Salvation. After that we asked if he would be baptized on the 23rd of this month and he said yes! He even came to church this Sunday and loved it! He said he's been talking to his wife and friends about everything he's learning and is excited to be baptized. He asks thoughtful questions, and takes notes on the reading assignments that we leave him. So elect, he'll be baptized, I just hope I'm here to see it. 

Honestly that's pretty much it, just lots of visiting people this week. It's been nice teaching lessons instead of knocking doors though haha.

Some last items of business though. My next pday will not be until Wednesday because of a special zone conference. And the next 3 weeks after that pday will be on Tuesday because of transfers and Christmas and new years. Oh, speaking of transfers, transfers are soon so please send mail to the mission office instead of my house in case I leave. The address is 7951 SW 6th St Ste 110, Ft Lauderdale FL 33324. Thank you!

I'll leave you with a thought that I love from this last general conference. It's [from] Stephen W. Owen and is called Repentance Is Always Positive. I've taken some editorial liberties to splice parts of it together to make my point:

"When we speak of repentance, we aren’t just talking about self-improvement efforts. True repentance is more than that. True repentance inspires us to make our obedience a commitment—a covenant, beginning with baptism and renewed each week at the Lord’s Supper, the sacrament. The joy of repentance is more than the joy of living a decent life. It’s the joy of forgiveness, of being clean again, and of drawing closer to God. Once you’ve experienced that joy, no lesser substitute will do."

Hope you all have a great week!


Eldè Stevenson

Monday, October 30, 2017

Oh, This Is Why People Live Here

The banner. Hooray for cheap supplies.​
Hello everybody! So this week was another kinda slow week. Still haven't found any new investigators, but we've got a little trick up our sleeves for Halloween! But first;

IT'S ACTUALLY NICE OUTSIDE. The weather has been amazing these past couple days, staying around low 70s or below! I might actually need a sweater haha. This is what people call "the season", meaning all the snowbirds are coming in and things are gonna start kicking. It's made me reminisce about California a little bit, although I've found that my cold tolerance has definitely taken a hit (yes, Elder Lund, you were right). Utah will be something else.

This week was zone conference! It was a good one, no major announcements though (darn, no smartphones yet haha). Sister Garns had a lot to say though, one thing she talked about was doing what hasn't been done before to find new investigators. More on that later. Really zone conference is awesome because you get to hang out with old friends and companions. I talked with Elder Foster, Elder Celestin, Elder Bissereth, Elder Dick, and a bunch of other people. I'm at the point on my mission now where I actually know a lot of people. It's also the point where a lot of people I know start to go home. That'll be crazy.

​My "blueprint"​
So, our master plan for Halloween was inspired by Sister Garns' call to "do what hasn't been done." So we're setting up a table in front of our church building, which is on a major road, with the sign "THE BOOK OF MORMON: TRICK, OR TREAT?" This idea came to me the morning after zone conference during my personal study. We've already got everything pretty much made, see pictures below. We're going to do this during the "dead hours" of the day and hopefully have some success. Should be fun! Also if you didn't know, for holidays like Halloween and stuff where it get dangerous after dark, missionaries have to be home by 7pm. So it'll be nice having some free time too haha.

Another thing out of the ordinary that we did this week was help out at a local soup kitchen run by a catholic church. It's funny because they have a big mural on their wall of the Jesus from our bible videos. Anyways it seems like missionaries have been regulars there, but when we went we didn't really help with much. We were in the back trying to help the Spanish ladies put plates together and move stuff around, but we ended up just watching them most of the time. Also they had TVs in the church playing some old Halloween movie, that was weird. Overall it was a weird experience but glad we could help.

On our way to email. Chilly haha!

As for Peggy, we've had a little bit of a rocky week. We had an awesome FHE lesson with her at a member's house on Monday, but then 20 minutes later she called us because apparently the "friend" she was living with was kicking her out. So we spent all night scrambling with our bishop and relief society president to find a place for her to stay. The relief society president offered for her to stay with her a few nights, so the bishop and us went over and picked her up and brought her there. She was a little shaken but still optimistic. She stayed the night there but apparently the next day or so the "friend" asked her to come back. Not sure what the whole deal is there, but Peggy is at least trying to get out of there now. Everything was still good for her to come to church, except that she texted us right before and said that she started work that day so she couldn't come. And just now she said that since she's being trained this week we won't be able to meet this week. Still not sure where she's working, but oh well. So her baptism is going to be pushed back, which isn't a big deal, we just don't want her to get in the habit of always pushing back. So we're still working on her, it'll just take a little more time.

Anyways that's pretty much it, hope that you all have a happy Halloween! It's weird to think that last Halloween was my last day home after the surgery, which means I've been in Florida for a year straight, which means almost 14 months overall. Time is flying, especially when I think that transfers are next Wednesday. It'll be my 10th transfer, that's crazy haha. I don't feel that old! 


Eldè Stevenson

Monday, October 23, 2017

Peggy Coming In Clutch

Hello everyone! So this week was kinda a long week again haha, but it ended on a high note.

This week we finished off our "blackbird", and have been way more effective with stopping by less actives in the areas that we want to work in. One less active member, brother Ja....., even took us out to lunch one day! He took us out to Pollo Tropical, a south-Florida exclusive (I think, haha). It's basically just Latin food, grilled chicken and rice dishes, but it's pretty good and pretty cheap too. 

So this week we also took a hit to our monthly mile limits (seems like the whole mission did), which means that I got back on my bike for the first time since Naples. It was just for one night, but let me tell you that biking on the city streets at night is a much different experience here than in quiet Naples. My biking muscles were sore, but we should have saved ourselves enough to make it through the month. We've been extra careful, planning out exactly where we will drive throughout the day, and like I mentioned earlier using our "blackbird" to get the most work done in each place. It's been pretty exhausting, for example on Saturday we were knocking for almost 4 hours, breaking it up with contacting former investigators and less actives nearby. Very efficient, just exhausting- but that's missionary life for ya.

The highlight of this week was Peggy! She came to church! After 2 weeks of not being able to meet with her, we talked to her and set her with a [baptism] date for November 4th. She still had some concerns about being "baptized again", but we whipped out some scriptures that seemed to help (2 Nephi 31:13-14, 3 Nephi 27:19-20, Acts 19:1-6). We found out the real problem was that she's staying with a friend that she cleans the house and babysits the kids for, and they didn't want us coming over to their house to meet with her (even though we met outside on the front porch, but whatever). So we are now trying to set it up so that we can meet her somewhere else. We got with one of the families in the ward, and they're letting us come tonight and do a Family Home Evening with them and her. It should be great! I'm excited for her, now that we can meet again she should progress well towards baptism! 

I just thought I'd mention something I found on lds.org today, that they now have standardized missionary interviews and are going to be replacing tablets with smartphones and making them available to more missions. These are big changes that show how the work is progressing. And who knows, maybe we'll be getting smartphones soon? (Zone Conference is tomorrow after all...) Anyways that's pretty much everything from this week. Hope everything's going well for you! And since I don't have any attention-grabbing pictures, I'll include one of Elder Perez and the fish he caught last Pday. Enjoy.

​Elder Perez with his "fat fish"


Eldè Stevenson

Monday, October 16, 2017

"I come from Southern California. We're known for fires and surfing."

My Zone
Hello everyone! So this was an interesting week, a couple things that I can talk about.

Last pday our zone went and did a little nature hike and played some games. It was pretty fun, I'll send some of the pictures.

This week we also had our interviews with president. It went well, and president was like "apparently your mom is good friends with the Sher[......] family?" and I was like "yeah, our families are very close and I'm good friends with their son in Paris" so that was a fun connection. We also received a training this week about how to make our knocking less robotic and more effective. It's been hard trying not to fall back into the old ruts.

If you remember, back when I was in Hollywood we worked on something called the "blackbird" that has maps of all the members in the ward. We're working on redoing ours now for this ward and that's been going well, hopefully it'll be more useful.

So this week Peggy kinda gave us the run around. We had our appointment scheduled with her and our member for Thursday but she cancelled on us. She said she'd still be able to come to church though, but when our member went to pick her up she said that she hadn't slept all night and was feeling sick. So that was disappointing, we really need to get on top of this if she is going to be baptized this month like we have planned. Hopefully we can meet with her more often starting this week.

Peggy was really all we had going for us, this week we got all 0s in our key indicators. (That means for confirmations, investigators at sacrament, investigators with dates, and new investigators and service hours.) Sometimes that happens I guess, that even though your working hard and doing everything you're supposed to it doesn't always translate to numbers. Still, it shows that there's room for improvement somewhere so hopefully we can do better this week.

The highlight of the week however was the International Dinner that the ward put on Saturday. We had a good turnout and a couple recent converts and less active members even came. It was a lot of fun with lots of good international food. We have a very diverse ward so there was lots to choose from. Pupusas, tostadas, jerk chicken, complatos, empanadas, chicken pot pie, and griyo just to name a few (sorry, no spell check for the Spanish ones haha). They made everyone name tags and drew little flags representing different languages that they could speak. They even had people go up and share about their countries, and they had me and Elder Marshall give shout outs to California and Arizona. It was a fun time.

That's pretty much it for this week. Looking forward to a nice relaxing pday. I don't believe I mentioned it last week but that's when I hit 13 MONTHS as a missionary. The time's going fast, I'm getting old! I feel like I'm at the point now where I'm very comfortable and confident in my skills as a missionary, I just need to make sure that I'm still looking for ways to improve so that I don't become stagnant. Hope you all have a great week too!


Eldè Stevenson

[more pictures to be added soon]