Monday, August 28, 2017

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Live the gospel faithfully and with compassion
 Hello everyone! So this week was good, not a whole lot to report though.

So, as you may or may not have already been aware, it's been raining a lot here. Fortunately we weren't hit with Hurricane Harvey, but as it passed by it sent a lot of storms our way. We've been doing our best to avoid being out in the heavy rain, so it hasn't been too bad. Apparently there are some streets and areas that are flooded. We have a little weather radio in our apartment, and at 2:00 this morning it woke all of us up to tell us there was a flood warning. I haven't seen much flooding myself, just some really deep puddles haha. Weirdly there hasn't been much lightning with all the storms, which is kinda a bummer.

Speaking of rain, Saturday morning we helped a family move out of their house in the driving rain. It was a ward service project so the bishop, high priest group leader, young men's leader, and one of the young men were there to help too. It was pretty fun, I was pretty much the designated umbrella holder as we moved stuff in and out of the truck haha.

Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting, my first one on my mission! I went pretty much a whole year without being asked, that's gotta be a record. It was just a 7 minute talk about the Holy Ghost. I based most of the talk around an analogy with bees (thanks mom). Much like how bees are able to see UV light, and thus distinguish many different pigments in flowers, when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost it allows us to see in another "spiritual" light. 

Moving service
Taking the analogy further, UV light can reveal hidden messages (think secret ink), cleanse and purify (think camping water bottle filters), and strengthen and solidify (think cementing on braces). In the same way the Holy Ghost is a Revealer, and Purifier, and a Strengthener. And just like any form of light, even though you cannot see it directly you know it is there by observing the things it touches. I could take the analogy further, but I'll let you think about it for yourselves haha.

We've found a lot of success this week working with Jamesly's nonmember family. He's a Haitian young man that has his papers in to serve a mission and he's the only member in his family. Right now we're working to have his little brother Darwins baptized this Saturday. There's a couple more logistics we need to work out, but if we can swing it for this week that'd be awesome. Our next step is to work on the mom, Lucy. She seems pretty open to the message, it's just hard to meet with her or get her to come to church because she works all the time. One thing our mission president encouraged us to do with her is set up a fast with her so that she can get work off to come to church. We're going to meet with them all tonight, so hopefully we can get this worked out.


That's pretty much all I've got to talk about for this week. It'll be a bit longer until my next email, next Friday is when I get to go to the temple! I'm going to print off some family names that I found to take with me. That should be super cool! It'll be interesting to see how it works out, since I'm a 2 hour drive from the temple. We need to have a member take us, and we also have to do all our other p-day things like shop and email still, but we'll see I guess haha. 


Hope all is going well with you! Keep up the good work!

Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson
A poorly taken photo of the eclipse
The District
​Elder Rock resting peacefully

Monday, August 21, 2017

No Clue...

​Our new group​
Hello everyone! This week was good, definitely different though.

Wednesday we had transfers, and it was kinda crazy getting everything worked out. The good thing is that we got to carpool with the zone leaders so we saved ourselves the, about, 200 miles it takes for us to get there and back. Now I'm living with Elder Blood, Elder Anderson, and his "sprout" Elder Rock. They're all good guys, it's definitely a different feel from last transfer and will take some adjustment for everybody I think. Now I'm the one that gets asked all the questions about the area, and quite frankly I still feel like I have no clue what I'm doing haha...

We had our English class and Georvensky (that's how he said it's spelled) came! It was pretty fun, we got to answer his questions and then got into a conversation about the church and Joseph Smith. He's kinda the type that says "I don't see why it matters what church I go to if they all talk about Jesus Christ." That concern can either be really easy or really hard to overcome. Later in the week we came by and ended up sharing about the Plan of Salvation with him, and he seemed to really like that. Unfortunately he didn't come to church like he said he would and didn't answer his phone, so we're gonna have to figure out what happened there. Our other person committed to church didn't come either, he said that either him or a family member was sick and he couldn't come. We'll be going by tonight for another lesson and to give him a baptismal date, so hopefully all goes well!

Open House for missionary 
Saturday was probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, bike days I've had so far. A conservative estimate from my GPS says it was about 30 miles. We were able to meet with a recent convert, Jamesly, who has his mission papers in! He's the only member in his family, but he wants his mom and little brother to get baptized before he goes. We'll be working more closely with him to help him with everything for that. Then in the evening we biked down to the bottom of our area to stop by a part-member family only to find that they had moved, so we spent the rest of the night biking back home. It was a pretty long day haha...

Yesterday was a really fun day though, there is a young woman in our ward going on a mission to Long Beach California, and she gave a great farewell talk. Her sister and her dad also sang a song together that was really good. Then after church we got to go to the open house, which was basically right on the beach! You couldn't see it from their house though, otherwise I would've gotten some awesome pictures. It was an interesting experience, this is the second missionary farewell I've witnessed while on my mission. It's weird to think that I'm old enough in the mission now that I'll get back home 6 months before her!

That's pretty much all the news from this week, I'm gonna try to go out and see the eclipse that's going on! We had someone we knocked into last night tell us that it's a sign that the world is ending  haha, we'll see about that I guess. Interviews with President are already this week, and we also got our date for going to the temple, which will be Sept. 8th! Just a head's up, for that week that Friday will be my p-day, so just be aware that I didn't forget to email haha. Anyways hope all is going well with you! Keep up the good work!

​My new district, the "Salt Life" district​


Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson

PS (Answers for Dad)
Naples is definitely a little tougher to find people than my other areas, definitely more biking, and even though the ward is more like a twig than a branch the people that do come are solid. Elder Blood is great. I use my creole a lot just talking to people, saying prayers, and doing things for the ward members.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

LEMONADE!

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Group picture with our friend working the counter​
Hello everyone! So this week definitely went by much quicker than last week, and a couple cool things happened that I can talk about.

First off, TRANSFERS are TOMORROW! I will be STAYING in Naples. Elder Steed is going home, but both Elder Dick and Elder Spotts are TRANSFERRING! Meaning I'm the only one staying in the house... Elder Dick is going to the Creole ward in Boynton Beach and Elder Spotts is going DL in Alapatta. Taking their places will be my new companion ELDER BLOOD, as well as Elder Anderson and a new missionary in Naples English. Lots of changes, looks like I'll have to make sure I know everything about everything. I guess I just need to figure out how to mount a gps to a bike haha... 

This week we also had Zone Conference, which was pretty fun. It went pretty long, but we got some good training about following the Spirit in all aspects of the work. I also got to see some of my friends from past areas again which was fun. The biggest news of the conference is that we will now be able to go to the temple 2 TIMES A YEAR! That's in addition to any time we go with our recent converts for baptisms or endowments. Pretty exciting!

I also went on exchanges with the ZLs this week, I went with Elder Webster in their area. It's a Spanish area, so I didn't really talk much the whole day haha. It was fun though and I got a good comp study from Elder Webster about staying positive and keeping the Spirit. A good thought that I liked from that is that we need to be transparent so that the Spirit can shine through us, and I took that to mean being yourself and not trying to make yourself into just a "missionary" if that makes sense.

The last cool thing from this week was that some of the Sisters in our district came up with an idea to set up a free lemonade stand in a park as a finding method. To be honest I was a little skeptical, but we all went and set up this lemonade stand. There were hardly any people at the park, and no one was coming over so we sent teams out to "recruit" people to come to the stand. 

It was nearing the end of the time that we could stay when one of the teams comes back with a Haitian young man! His name is Jovensky, and he was super open to talking with us and coming to church. We set up a time to meet with him and he said he'd come to church too. When we went to his house, his cousin came out and told us that he didn't live there anymore (we thought she was lying, but turns out he gave us the wrong apartment number) so we decided to knock around his building. This was an area that had been knocked a lot, so we never went there the whole transfer. 

As we're knocking doors, we run into the Sa[.....] family, a couple straight out of Haiti that we had met with a couple times but had dropped off the face of the earth because they didn't have a house or a car to get to church to meet. Turns out they're living with some family now in the same complex! It's still a hard situation since they still don't really have transport but at least we know where they live. And after all that, Jovensky actually came to church and loved it! Our return appointment fell through again, but he should be coming to the English class on Wednesday so that'll be good. 

Moral of the story is that I can never make fun of the lemonade stand ever again hahaha. 

That's pretty much it. Today marks 11 MONTHS as a missionary and the start of my 8TH TRANSFER in the field! Time's flying by, this is the transfer where I hit my year mark! [I think he's counting his time after the MTC, because it's already been a year since he became a missionary] I definitely don't feel like I've been out for that long. I'm going to do my best to finish off my first year strong, even if it means lots more biking haha. It's worth it. Love you all! 

Thank you so much for your support! Here's lots of pictures! 
​​​​​​​​​​​

​Elder Spotts stole my camera at Uncle Louie G
​​​​​​​Clearly ice cream makes me happy...​
​​​​​​​​​​​My companion with his dream bike. haha
​Driving across all of Florida to zone conference​
​So I finally got around to using the live composite feature
 on my camera to capture some lightning. Here's the outcome.​

This one was taken over a period of 4 minutes​

​This one was over a period of 7 minutes.
All the light from these pictures come from the lightning, it's about 9:30 at night


Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson

Monday, August 7, 2017

Kind of a Long Week

​Here's a selfie of me soaked through after biking in the rain!
Hello everyone! This week has been pretty average, felt kinda long to be honest. There's not a whole lot of updates, but here are a couple highlights.

The weather has been kinda crazy this week, it's either 90deg or 90deg and raining haha. We've still been doing lots of biking, still averaging about 25 miles a day. It's definitely taking it's toll but I'll get in the groove eventually.

We did our English class again this week, and it took some struggling but we had a couple come! We've been trying to work with them for a while, it's just hard to meet because they don't really have a house and have to walk everywhere. Kinda a weird situation, but they love meeting with us and want to learn English too so that was good. We taught just a basic introduction, kinda in MTC style where we talked in English the whole class. We taught them some phrases like "Hello! It is nice to meet you! What is your name? My name is... How are you? I am fine. Where do you live? I live on..." as well as the alphabet and numbers 1-20. It was a fun class, hopefully we can really get this going.

We've been struggling a lot to get investigators to come to church, this week no one came. We had to drop our only investigator with a baptismal date because she's going back to Haiti. We did find one cool family, Darline and Frank and Lisa, and we knew they couldn't come to church but when we showed up for our appointment yesterday no one was home. Kind of a bummer since we biked an hour to get there, and hopefully we don't completely lose contact because they are very interested.

Another side-fact about Naples: our ward is made up of almost entirely "snowbirds", meaning they stay here during the winter but leave during summer. So this being the off season, we only have like 30 members in our ward. An interesting situation for sure.

That's really all that's going on, we spend most of our days biking and knocking when all our appointments fall through haha. 

Hope all is well with you! Thanks for your support!
Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson

Monday, July 31, 2017

Some Scattered Thoughts

We got a 50% off coupon for Marcos Pizza in the mail,
so naturally we each bought ourselves a large pizza hahaha
 Hello everyone! So here's the kinda scattered thoughts on everything that happened this week.

So this week we started up an English class for Haitians at the church, it's a good way to get new people into the church. Unfortunately no one came, but we just need to spread the word more. We have some investigators that should come this week so that should be fun. I'm looking forward to teaching English in creole, it's going to be super fun!

We went on an exchange this week with the English elders, Elder Spotts was with me for the day in our area. It was a lot of fun, he's trying to learn some creole too so that was fun. I also learned that teaching an entire lesson by yourself is much harder than you would think, transitions are tricky because I can't pass it to my companion. It was a pretty choppy lesson but the point was made so that's good.

This week we also did some service at a Habitat for Humanity home store, it was pretty fun. The first time we went we were hanging rugs, and this time we were measuring and rolling up rugs. So now we're the rug team haha.

We also did our hour of family history for the month, that was pretty fun. I could just sit there and do that for hours, there's always more to look for. I did get 2 more names ready for baptism so I feel like it was a successful hour!
Here's an action shot from this morning, playing racquetball at the ZLs complex.
Elder Dick played racquetball in high school so he taught us all how to play,
it's pretty fun.

As far as the missionary work goes, it's still been kinda slow. None of our investigators came to church again this week, and the only person there was a random friend that a member brought. We're going to be meeting with him later this week, so hopefully we can keep in contact so that he doesn't fall off. Sherlie and Iglesia dropped off the face of the earth, and we haven't been able to get in contact with Janette either so we're kinda back at square one. We did, however, find Robert, a cool Haitian papi guy that's the dad of a former investigator. They seem like a cool family, and Robert loves us and is super on board with everything. If only they didn't live an hour and a half away.

Other than that, everything else is pretty much the same. It rains pretty much every day and it's still super hot. Biking is still a thing too, It's exhausting but I think I'm getting more into the swing of it. It's helping keep me in shape too which is good. Next step is to actually work out and watch my diet closer haha. Anyways hope all is well with you guys! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! 

Keep up the good work!

Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson

PS. Thought from an email to Mom:
I just need to allow life to take take me where I need to be and make the best of it. As long as I make choices based on eternal principles it doesn't matter so much what the actual choice is because it will always work itself out in the end.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Holy Biking Batman!

Pic from Elder Webster
Hello everyone! This week has been an exhausting one, that's for sure. Mostly because of all the biking I've been doing. On average we bike around 25 miles per day, but depending where we go it could easily top 30. Naples as a city is already spread out, so you can imagine what it's like trying to get to Haitian spots. Our main spot is about an hour and a half away if we don't stop. If I'm not mistaken it's the largest bike area in the mission. Great for my first time biking in over a year! Needless to say I'm still pretty slow and I've had to dramatically change my lifestyle, but hey if that's what it takes. Hopefully that all doesn't sound complainy hahaha! 

This week we had our first interviews with president Garns. It was mostly just for him to get to know us better. We struck it off pretty well once he found out I'm from Simi. Most of the time was spent talking about the great stake presidents we have. Didn't get to ask any questions really but that's ok, I'll just ask them in my email today.

Our zone also had 4 baptisms this week, and Elder Dick got to interview all of them! One was from our district and the others were for the ZLs, so it was a busy night for him. 

As far as people we're teaching, we're still trying to work with Janette even though she didn't come to church, and she still has some concerns we're working to overcome, so we'll see how that goes. Also just last night we found another person named Iglesia (yes, she is Haitian). She's the sister of another person that Elder Dick found on exchange and taught the restoration to. Apparently she was pretty cool, and her sister is pretty cool too! We're excited to work with them, even though they live in that hour and a half away place haha.

Other than that, not too much else happened. After sacrament yesterday one of the Haitian members came us to us and said "can you teach the class, my dad isn't here." Of course we were like "...Sure!" So Elder Dick and I taught a lesson about Gifts of the Spirit. A lesson that can definitely go awry with Haitians hahaha. It went well though, everyone stayed pretty much on topic which was great. We also had a visitor in the class. We tried to see her yesterday evening but didn't end up having enough time to get there. Bummer.

Oh and I almost forgot, as we were biking home last night Elder Dick got a flat tire just shortly after we started! So we patched it up and the ZLs came and drove us back home. I was very grateful that I got to take the 20 minute drive instead of the hour and a half bike ride late at night. 

Another biking related incident I almost forgot about: The other day we were biking home at night (fortunately we were closer to home) and we went through a golf course to take a short cut. Elder Dick was in front and I was doing my best to keep up (golf courses actually have HILLS, what are those? haha) but somehow I biked past him at the spot where we were supposed to get off. 

I ended up following the trail, hoping that Elder Dick was somewhere ahead. I get to a fork in the path and I look at my GPS (which was pretty useless since golf courses aren't really mapped) and pick a path to go. Shortly thereafter the path stopped. I turned around and went the other way, and got to another fork. I picked a way and the path stopped again. I went the other way and made it out at the top of the course. 

I bike across a parking lot to get to the road, look at my GPS to plan my route home and just as I put it away and am about to start, the ZLs pull up in their mini van and honk and flash their lights at me. Perfect timing. Elder Dick had called President as soon as he knew I was lost, and the ZLs were driving around to find me. So everything worked out, and I made sure Elder Dick didn't beat himself up too bad about it either haha. I believe there are many lessons that can be learned from this story, I'd love to hear of the ones you find! Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson