Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Woah, It's Getting HOT

​Here's our new district!​
Hello everyone! So this week was pretty average, but with lots more knocking! We literally spent all day yesterday knocking doors. Mostly because we had no appointments, but also because it was Memorial Day. We are also budgeting our car miles to make it under the limit for the month, so we spend longer amounts of time in one area before going somewhere else close by, which makes it feel longer.

Not to mention that it's getting SUPER HOT. I have a picture of the temperature a few days ago when it got up to 100 degrees (not accounting humidity)! But the work continues, even if that means knocking all day in the blazing heat. All I can say is that I'm going to have some crazy tan lines by the time I'm done haha.

Elder Celestin is lots of fun and a good missionary. He's super silly, and I'm super silly so it works out. He was born in Haiti but grew up in New York. Elder Briggs, the ZL that replaced Elder Hansen, is fun too. He's a farm boy from Idaho that loves farming and cowboy stuff. It's going to be an interesting transfer for sure.

Yup, 100 smackers.
We were able to find some new investigators this week, but they're all in the very early stages of teaching so we'll see where it goes. We had a pretty cool miracle where a lady we OYMed came to church! We can hardly get investigators to do that, let alone random people we talk to. Her name is Tanaiya and she has 6 kids! She came with her youngest one and loved it! We're going over to teach them tomorrow, and hopefully we can get the whole family involved. Cool stuff!

Probably the most stressful thing about missionary work is having to fill every hour of the day with work. Since I stayed in the area, we call it "taking over" the area since I already know a lot about it. That means that I need to find things to do when we have nothing to do, which in this area usually means knocking doors. The only problem is that we've exhausted a lot of our good knocking spots already over the past 2 transfers so it's hard to find places to go, especially staying under the mile limit. I have definitely been praying a lot for comfort and strength and being able to find things to do, and somehow things work out. It's still definitely not easy, but at least it's possible.

That's pretty much it, hope that you all are having a good time! It's crazy that I turn 19 next week, and the week after that I hit 9 months as a missionary! Time flies by, even if the days seem long haha. Keep up the good work!


Eldè Stevenson

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Temple and Transfers

Belle Glade couple that were sealed
Hello everyone! Just a couple highlights this week. First off is the transfer news, I will be staying in Hollywood! Elder Hatch will be transferring (for his last transfer)! My new companion will be Elder Celestin! I've heard good things about him so it should be a fun transfer. I'm glad I get to stay in the Hollywood ward, it's honestly one of the best wards in the whole mission, even if I am running out of places to knock haha. This transfer will also be 7 weeks long instead of 6 as it is the transfer the President Richardson goes home! That will be an interesting transition, looking forward to any new changes coming up.

So the main thing that happened this week started Wednesday night. We got a random call from President. We actually missed it because we were on the phone with our bishop so we called him back. He told us that he had a special assignment for us, that he needed us that Saturday to go to the temple and translate a sealing ceremony for a Haitian couple getting sealed! The couple came from Belle Glade, a tiny little farming town in the north of the mission, just south of Lake Okeechobee, and where Elder Hatch was trained! It worked out well because we were planning on going to do baptisms that day with Bertina. We ended up not being able to for other reasons, so we got to go to the temple anyways! That was a really cool blessing, especially being able to go inside! The Haitian couple was very nice, and things went pretty smoothly. It was cool being able to use my language skills for something outside of missionary work, and I definitely got some pics!

The couple after the sealing
Another random miracle was that for the first time, one of the random people that we gave a card to on the street ACTUALLY called us, and we were ACTUALLY able to teach her! She was an older lady that was mostly just curious about the church and wanted to learn more about the Bible, but we were able to teach her about the Restoration and she seemed to understand, so we'll see if she's able to come to church and keep progressing.

Other than that we've been doing more stuff with our less-actives, and were able to get some to church on Sunday! We were able to find a ride for Erika and some of her kids, as well as one of the random people we met while going through the Blackbird came to sacrament! He's an older guy that feels like the church has abandoned him a little bit. He hasn't had a visit from anyone in a while and was happy when we came by. He also says that the 9:00 church is a little too early. We're working with the High Priest's group leader to get him some good home teachers and fellowship so that he can be active again.

Also on Sunday one of the young Haitian members brought her friend! Her name is Laila, and we're going to try to visit her on Wednesday and start teaching her! Member referrals are always the best, so hopefully this will go somewhere too!

That's pretty much it from this week. It's weird that I've been out for over 8 months now, this is my 6th transfer in the field! It's also weird that my birthday is around the corner, I'll be 19 in 2 weeks! (Finally, maybe now everyone will stop being surprised when I tell them I'm 18.) Anyways, thank you all for your support!

​Driving to the temple​

​You can see the temple from the freeway

​Elder Hatch loves having his picture taken...​
​Artsy pic​

Fort Lauderdale Temple


Eldè Stevenson

Monday, May 15, 2017

Day By Day

​Here's a picture of the invitation to today's zone activity.
Picture credits to yours truly.*
Hello everyone! Surprise, I'm emailing early this week! This week was a fun week, I'll try to go day by day.

Monday was Pday, and we pretty much just did the stuff we had to like clean, shop, and email and then napped. It was pretty great actually. We also had our ward's first FHE, which is geared towards getting recent converts, less-actives, and investigators into the church for a little activity and gospel lesson. It was pretty successful, we got all our recent converts from the other week there. We played 2 truths and a lie and then our ward mission leader gave the lesson. Pretty fun, it's only going to be once a month though to start.

Tuesday we didn't do much other than knocking and visiting people in the blackbird. We also had correlation meeting, and a little Book of Mormon class afterwards with some of the ward missionaries and recent converts. That was good, we started reading through the book of Enos and talked about prayer.

Wednesday was pretty much the same thing, but we got to do a little family history! So far I've just been scanning through everything I already have and looking for people ready to do ordinances before I do too much tweaking, but pretty soon I'll start trying to find new people and get rid of duplicates and resolve errors and whatnot. It's hard to do much with only 1 hour a day twice a week, but it's still fun to look at stuff and find work to do.

Thursday we had interviews with President, that was pretty fun. I didn't have any questions for him though so it was super short. He just asked me if I was having fun a bunch of times haha. He also gave some cryptic hints about transfers to the other elders, so I have no idea what to expect. We also went to the Netane's house, one of the counselors in the Bishopric, with Bertina and her family for a pizza night! It was super fun but really hard to get the spiritual thought in haha.

Friday was pretty much the same as Wednesday. We did get in contact with an "eternigator" that we met at the beginning of last transfer and haven't seen since. She's super Mormon, but can't be baptized because she's not married to her boyfriend she's living with. Super lame, but she made us good food so that's good.

Saturday we got to take Bertina out teaching with us! It was super awesome, she's like a naturally good teacher and awesome fellowshipper. She was using like all the missionary teaching skills, it's almost like we didn't have to be there!The investigator kind of dropped off though, which is lame, but it was cool to have Bertina with us!

Sunday was Mother's Day! Yay! I got to facetime my family, which was super fun. It's weird that people still have lives while I'm a missionary haha. Our member also had Star Wars Episode 7 playing in the background, which was pretty distracting even though I've already seen it haha. Elder Hatch hasn't seen it, so it was really distracting for him haha. Other than that refer to the above knocking/blackbird.

That's pretty much it for this week, thank you all for your support!


Eldè Stevenson

*Editor's Notes:
1-The Elders don't know what it is going on with politics. They just hear snippets here and there. We think this is funny even though it could be offensive to several different groups.  ;)

2-Transfers are coming up, so please wait to send any mail until we get his address confirmed next week.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Family History and The Blackbird

Here's a picture of my district for #MuchoMay:
Elder Hansen, Me, Sister Osborne, Sister Sweetnam,
Sister Wertz, Sister Dees, Elder Hatch, Elder Foster​
Hello friends and family! This week was pretty good, seemed to go by pretty fast. Here's a couple things that happened.

First off I was able to do a little family history for like an hour, it was actually pretty fun. I was able to find 3 people on my tree that haven't had any ordinances done for them, and hopefully we can get Bertina to the temple so I can do baptisms for them. Hopefully I'll be able to do more family history work, it's really fun to be able to look at your tree and trim it up a bit. To any reader that has tips and tricks for that it would be appreciated.

​Crazy looking rain clouds part 1​
Another thing we've been working on this week is something we call the 'Blackbird." Basically it's just a map of all the members on record that live in your area. The only thing is that since we don't have iPads, we have to make it by hand. Fortunately the church has a map on lds.org, but it just shows a dot for each household so we had to go through and label them all. We were able to get it all finished and nice, we have 213 households in our half of the ward and about 10% of those are active. So we've been going around to all the less-active names whenever we have time, and we're finding that most of the people don't even live there. One of them had been moved for at least 13 years, and no one knew. That's pretty sad, it seems like a couple years ago missionaries would just baptize a ton of people that almost immediately went less-active and now are missing. Our ward is now working on cleaning up the ward list and really emphasizing Home/Visiting teaching to keep it from getting worse. Hopefully that helps, it's so sad when a recent convert gets no support and goes less active.

​Crazy looking rain clouds part 2
This week we were able to find a pretty good Haitian knocking spot! We have not been able to find Haitians in this area, they're so spread out and even though we cover creole for the whole stake we don't go out that far because of time and miles. But we found a little complex with Haitians in it and have found a couple investigators! They haven't progressed very far yet, but could be promising. It's nice just to be able to teach in creole again, even if it is still a little stressful. I almost had to translate for Sacrament meeting yesterday, which would have been my first time, but the people that usually need translation weren't there. I'm sure I'll have to later on in some other ward, I've just been blessed that both my wards so far have had equipment and members to do the translation.

That reminds me that transfers are coming up on May 24th! There's a good chance that I'll be moving but you never know. Also Mother's Day is this Sunday, I'll be able to Skype my family!

This week we also got a little taste of the "Florida Summer" aka Rain. There was one day where is was pretty clear, and then out of nowhere some crazy looking clouds come and DUMP rain on us. We ran from the house we were at to our car for like 2 seconds and got SOAKED. Then after like 5 minutes the dumping stopped and in 15 minutes it was gone and sunny again. I got some pictures of it though so that's good.

Florida Summer
One last thing that happened this week is that we got a Bible referral for someone named Erika, but it turns out she was already a member. She's less active and just moved down here from Boca Raton, but contacted us so that we could help her get active in the church again! She has older kids that are already baptized and one 8 year old that wants to be baptized too. It's hard for her to get to church since her husband is not a member, but she's super solid and really committed to coming back. One of our members offered to give her a ride and she came to church yesterday! That was a pretty cool miracle.

Other than that everything with Bertina is still going well except that she couldn't come to church because of a family emergency. We're still working on getting the boys the Priesthood so that we can all go to the temple for baptisms, hopefully we can do that before transfers. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! Keep up the good work!


Eldè Stevenson

Monday, May 1, 2017

Wow, That Felt Good!

​Zariah, Bertina, Noah, and Donell​
Hello everybody! So here are the highlights from this week, it's a pretty good one so stay tuned.

So, BERTINA AND HER FAMILY ALL GOT BAPTIZED! That's super amazing, I don't think it's quite set in yet that it actually happened! I'm so glad that I got the privilege to be the ones to find them (knocking!), teach them all the lessons, and see them baptized! It was a super great experience. Knocked on their door April 1st, baptized April 30th! I feel like that if I had to go home tomorrow I would be completely satisfied just because of them. The baptism itself went pretty smoothly, and the ward really took care of pretty much everything which is super nice. It's the first baptism this ward has had in a couple months, and between us and the other Elders we had 5 CONVERT BAPTISMS (Bertina+Donnell+Noah+Zariah+other elders' investigator). I even got to confirm 2 of them, Zariah and Bertina. It was a very spiritual experience being able to feel what the Spirit directed me to say in their blessings, and a very spiritual experience overall.

​A picture of us together with Brother Davis,
the member that baptized them.​
There were even a couple laughs. Donell was being super talkative for some reason, usually he's super reserved. After he came out of the water he went into the room to change and said "WOW, THAT FELT GOOD!" really loud. It was pretty funny. After his confirmation too he went around shaking hands saying "Good job, good job, thank you." It was weirdly out of character for him, but at least it made it memorable. Another funny thing was that the Primary and Relief Society were all prepared with lots of books and things to give out, and then the Young Mens [Leader] guy wasn't there so another man from the Presidency gets up and has no clue what to say. He ended up shaking their hands a bunch and saying how much they'll like the Young Mens [Program]. Sounds like Young Mens I guess.

Another big announcement came this week from our Zone Conference. About a year and a half ago, the General Authorities for our region said that we could no longer go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead because some missionaries in another state had been camping out at the temple all day. President Richardson went to a conference with some of them and told them about the temple program he used to do, and they counciled and decided to reinstate it! Which means that we can go to the temple for baptisms! It used to be that you could only go in on the last day of your mission and if someone you baptized was getting their endowment, but now we can go with them to do baptisms for the dead! The only caveats are that it's only for people you baptized in the ward you're serving in, for their first time only, and a member has to be with you. A really great rule change, because the mission saw a huge drop in retention rates when the missionaries couldn't go with them to the temple. Which also means that we can go with Bertina!!

​Elder Foster gave me a haircut last night.
Nice and short.​
Yet another announcement from Zone Conference is that we can spend up to 2 hours a week working on our personal family history, to find family names we can bring to the temple for baptisms! I'm going to try to utilize this time, so that I can learn how to do family history and have family names to take with me to the temple when I go with my converts.

That's pretty much it for the week. We have a couple people that we've met that might progress, but we've only seen them once so it's not solid yet. I'll let you know if they stay cool. Hopefully we can find more people to teach, because now that Bertina got baptized our teaching pool is pretty much empty. We're still going to meet with them for the "new member lessons", which is just going over the lessons again slowly and in depth, without the time crunch which is nice. But the work moves on, and it's time to find more people to be baptized! I love you all, thank you so much for your support! Keep up the "Good Work"!


Eldè Stevenson

Emailed Question From Mom

Topic: Describe in Haitian Creole one (or more) of the weird interactions you've had door knocking. Ready, go.... 

Here's a little story in creole about some knocking experiences:

Ok, gen anpil bagay ki vreman bizare ke nou jwenn lè nou fe pòtapòt, m pa ka jwenn yon sèl! Lòt jou a, nou te frappe sou pòt yon nèg, e nou te mande li "Kijan ou ye jodi a?" e li te di "Pye kraze." Li te komik, li te vreman kalm. M te explike "ministè ki te tonnen mal" deja, sa sete ekspiryans pi komik epi bizare. Map pense de sa, epi poutèt semèn pwochen m ka jwenn plis bagay.

(Ok, there's a lot of things which are really bizarre that we find when we do door to door, I can't find just one! The other day, we knocked on one guy's door, and we asked him "How are you today?" and he said "Broken toe." It was funny, he was very calm. I explained the "minister gone bad" already, this was the most funny and bizarre experience. I'll think about it, and maybe next week I can find more stuff.)