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!


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!


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!


Eldè Stevenson

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What A Week - Transfer!

​All the creole missionaries at meet the president.​
Hello everyone! So, first off this week is transfers, and I will be TRANSFERRING to the area of NAPLES CREOLE and my new companion will be ELDER DICK. Wooooo! First time being companions with someone from the MTC! It is a car share though, which means I'll be biking for the first time my whole mission, and lots of it. Naples is a big area. I've heard very good things about Naples too, it should be a fun time! Also President Garns told us that we can expect to "stay in our areas a little longer than we may be used to", so I guess I'll find out what that means. Just got the new home address, [ask my Mom for this if you want it.]
​Our 4th of July dinner.​
Lots of stuff happened this week. First we had 4th of July. We mostly just chilled in our apartment all night, we tried to go out on the golf course to see some fireworks but there were trees blocking them all. It was still a fun night though, our member fed us lots of really good food too. 

We also got to meet President Garns this week. We basically had a mini Zone Conference with just us and the Coral Springs zone. Him and his wife shook each of our hands and then told us about themselves and their family and all that. He was still kinda in general authority mode which was funny. He started off his talk by talking about all the amazing things about his wife, giving the men marriage advice, and then giving her a kiss on the forehead hahaha. He's a super great guy, I already love him. He gave a little training based on analyzing the painting of Christ and the Rich Young Ruler (Bible story video below) that was super good. He's coming in strong with a few changes, like our investigators need to come to church 3 times to be baptized instead of 2. He also wants to get rid of "mission slang" like "dad, mom, baby, born, died" etc. I think he's exactly what this mission needs right now.

​President Garns!
Elder Celestin made the whole district matching planners.​
​Me with my trainer, Elder Lund! He's going home!​
That day we also went to a super fun meal appointment with one of the sisters in the ward. She had a bunch of family from New York over and we were talking about New York slang and all that. Elder Celestin taught us a lot of terms already and they were surprised we new them "YUUUUURP." Plus the food was super good, we had ribs and stuff. Then, we heard some "skurt skurts" outside and there were 2 guys street racing right outside. the member kinda lives in the ghetto so we all went outside to watch. It was like a Nissan vs a beat up tricked up g-whip and the Nissan was creaming him. Then we hear someone say "sheriff!" and a cop car rolls around the corner. The guys in the Nissan just pulled into their driveway and the cop didn't notice them and went after the guy in the g-whip, he pulled up next to all us and is like "which way'd he go?" and we kinda pointed (snitches get stitches??) and he roared off. it was super cool. Then later we go outside and see that the g-whip had gotten away somehow and was back in the driveway! Talk about dinner and a show haha.

​Our poor Malibu​
So, this week I may or may not have gotten into an accident in our brand new Malibu... We were going to a member's house to pick up food, and got to an intersection where I had a stop sign but the other way didn't. I stop at the sign and head forward and out of nowhere a guy on a moped comes on and even though I swerved to avoid him he hit the back bumper and fell off the bike. He was laying on the ground for a bit which was kinda scary, he wasn't wearing a helmet or anything, but while I talked to 911 Elder Celestin and some other people helped him up and he was just scraped up and bruised a bit. He's an older Cuban guy that speaks like zero English, and we speak zero Spanish. The back bumper on our car got pretty banged up. Hopefully it doesn't come out to more than $3,000 damage otherwise the whole mission bikes for a day, oops haha. Everyone's fine in the end, and we got our member food so all is well.

Missionary work wise things went pretty well this week. We had dinner with Bishop and they invited their neighbor friends over for us to meet. We taught them a quick plan of salvation lesson and they committed to baptism! They've been a little slippery since then,. They had to cancel our return appointment but they seemed really sincere so hopefully they don't completely fall off. Bruce unfortunately fell off, he wasn't there for our appointment and didn't answer texts or calls and wasn't home whenever we stopped by. Oh well, it happens.

I think that's it, there's probably more I'm forgetting because it's been a crazy week but that's definitely the main points. Hope all is well with all yall, It'll be an interesting change going over to the [Florida] west coast, it's WAY different from over here, lots wealthier so Creole should be interesting. Apparently it's still a really good area for missionary work so we'll see haha. Thanks for all your support! Also, got lots of pictures this week!

​​​The ZLs getting egged for a competition they did last week.

​Elder Briggs chasing Elder Celestin haha​

​Brother Pablo, our "gangster" member that takes us out teaching every week.​
​Some cool evening storm clouds.​

Eldè Stevenson

Monday, July 3, 2017

Opposition In All Things

Hello everyone! A couple interesting things happened this week, and they involve a wallet, two bros named Rob and Rod, and the number 428. 

So here's the wallet story. Yesterday we were out and about looking for a member on our "Blackbird" when we spotted a wallet on the ground with sundry cards and identification information held within. We found that the owner lived in the complex we were in, so we tried knocking on the door but no one was home. We decided we'd come back and try later, and if he wasn't home we'd return it to the police station the next day. We went back in a couple hours, and he was home! His name is Bruce, he's a younger guy and was very thankful to have his wallet. The first thing he said after we gave it to him was "can I have one of your pamphlets?" We were like "Sure! Let us take a few minutes to explain it to you first." We taught him the Restoration, he accepted baptism, and we set him with a date for the 15th right on the spot! Pretty nifty how God directs us to find the elect!

Speaking of elect-ness, we met some very un-elect people too. They are Rob and Rod, two buddies from high school living together. We knocked into them late one night, and they let us into their home and bombarded us with questions about ourselves between expletives and alcoholic drinks. Neither of them are religious, and were amazed by all the things we had to do as Mormon missionaries. They were mostly harmless and just curious and accepted a Restoration pamphlet and Book of Mormon. We came back the next night and they had spent the whole day looking up what we "believed" online and fired more questions at us, a little more hostile this time. We would answer their questions and concerns to the best of our ability, but they would just move on to the next topic. We decided to go over one more time, and this time we were with our member brother Pablo. This time it was all a big show, Rob had a list of all the Anti he had found and paced the floor firing round after round at us, and no answer would suffice. He even went so far to say that he had prayed about the Book of Mormon and God had given him a vision of a black "X". He was trying to be so deceptive and showy. Meanwhile Rod was outside on the porch doing drugs and drinking with his friends. 

What amazed me the most was how closely this all matched to the story of Korihor in the Book of Mormon. In that story, Korihor preaches against Christ and refuses to accept an answer until he is shown a sign. After 3 attempts to get him to understand and repent, he was struck dumb. I wish this guy could've been struck dumb haha but that wasn't the plan. Needless to say we're not going back there again.

As for 428, that's the number of new investigators we got as a mission this week, surpassing our goal of 400 to send President Richardson out with a bang!

Speaking of, President Garns is now officially in charge! We haven't met him yet. We're going to this Thursday as he makes his tour. As predicted, no sweeping changes yet haha. Everything's exactly the same, we still listen to Motab only and we still don't have iPads (or even personal smartphones as some missions are testing out.) Maybe something interesting will change in a couple months, but for now it's smooth sailing.

Other than that, Happy 4th! I bet people wonder what missionaries do for the 4th so I will tell you:

-exactly the same stuff.
-EXCEPT everyone MUST be home at 7:00pm

So yeah pretty boring. Cynthia, the ZLs' recent convert will be feeding us though so that should be fun. Plus it's a rare opportunity to just chill at home for a couple hours, that's pretty exciting! It'll be fun, I'll try to take pics. I bought an apple cobbler for us to eat tomorrow too so that's good haha!

That's pretty much it! Hope all is well with you! Thank you all for your support!


Eldè Stevenson