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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Two Worlds Collide

Brother Lund, Elder Lund, and the Stevensons
We went to Elder Lund's (he was Hunter's trainer) homecoming talk this morning and it was great. It only took about a half hour to drive from our house to his ward building in Camarillo. We got there a few minutes early and had a little time to chat with the family before Sacrament Meeting. Elder Lund gave a good message in his talk about the Atonement of Christ and finished it up with his testimony in Haitian Creole. We had a little more time to chat after the meeting and it was fun to talk to him and get a few stories. It sounds like they got along really well with each other. From what we could tell of his personality, it seems they were a good match. His family was all very nice as well and his dad is in this picture too. 

-Mom and Dad 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Welcome to Naples!

​New house: Elder Spotts, Elder Steed, Elder Dick, Elder Stevenson.
Hello everyone! My first week here in Naples has been an interesting one, that's for sure. I'm officially on the west coast now, about 100 miles away from my last area. It's weird being in a "full creole" area now, meaning we only really teach creole speaking people and all the English people we find we have to refer to other missionaries. One thing I've noticed too is that it's WAY more chill and calm over here, and the average age is WAY higher. Our ward is basically a branch now because all the "snowbirds" left haha.

So transfer day happened, and I got to see a lot of my old companions and missionary friends, several of which were going home. It was a big group of missionaries leaving and probably the first where people I got to know well left. It's weird to see how old I'm getting! 

My new companion is Elder Dick. He's from Tualatin Oregon. He came into the MTC the week before I went home for surgery, and I was his DL there. Now he's my DL for his first transfer as DL. Crazy! The other people in my house are Elder Steed and Elder Spotts. Elder Steed is from Texas and this is his last transfer, Elder Spotts is from New Mexico. It's been pretty fun so far so we'll see how it goes! On the transfer call, the APs informed us that President Garns wanted us to know to expect to stay in our areas longer than we may be used to, whatever that means haha. 

Transfer day was also my first day EVER biking as a missionary! I was hoping I could keep the streak going at least to my year mark but oh well. It's been alright, definitely an adjustment. We've mostly been staying pretty local so far, so it's only been a couple miles a day. However, this area is HUGE. I'll see if I can send a picture of the map or something. We haven't found hardly any Haitians yet, apparently because they mostly live farther south. We'll be heading down there pretty soon though.

Driving into a rainstorm on our way to Naples.​
This week we helped a family move out. It was pretty smooth it just took a long time. He thought it would only take an hour (it never does) and it ended up taking 3 and 1/2 hours. It was fun though, everything was organized and in boxes already so that's good. He was also pitching becoming a Nurse Anesthesiologist pretty hard, it's tempting if it didn't take 9 years of school, but we'll see.

Friday I went on exchange with Elder Long, one of my ZLs. It was fun, even though everything was in Spanish. It's amazing how much Spanish I can actually understand. I can't speak it to save my life but I can follow a conversation pretty well. Maybe it's just because I speak missionary haha.

So far we really only have one solid investigator that they were working with before the transfer. Her name is Janette She's the daughter of one of the members in the ward. She seems pretty solid, she came to church on Sunday even though she was out late and got into a car accident. She has a [baptism] date for the 30th, so hopefully everything keeps working out for that.

Other than that, it's just been knocking and biking all day. Fortunately it hasn't dumped rain while we were biking yet, but it'll come. It rains at some point every day pretty much, which I love because it brings lightning! I don't know if I'll ever get sick of lightning haha. Anyways hope you're doing well and thank you all for your support!

Lanmou,

Eldè Stevenson