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 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]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Back in Business Baby!

​Ray got baptized! (and I got a haircut haha)

Hey everyone! So this week was pretty normal, especially compared to the last month or so. But there were a few exciting highlights!

The first one being that Ray got baptized! Wooo! It was a bit of a scramble at the end, part of why it's been hard to baptize him is because he's so busy that it's hard to get in contact. But this being the first week where we haven't had to do service we jumped on the chance. As Sister C[......], his wife, stated: "This day has been 37 years in the making." Yeah, he's been investigating for a while haha. We're so excited for him, and the ward is already making sure that he feels welcome and won't be forgotten.

Another thing that was exciting was being able to go to church again! This was the first time in about a month that we've had a regular church service, and it was so refreshing. I actually feel like I belong here now that I've met the ward and got things established. To make it even more exciting, Peggy came to church! She loved it, and is excited to come back next week. In her own words she put it this way: "I have been praying about if I want to be baptized, because my father was a pastor and I had a dream where he told me that I was already baptized. But now I want to be baptized so that I can have the Holy Ghost, so I will keep praying." So elect! It was awesome for her to be able to watch Ray be confirmed in sacrament meeting as well and to talk about it with her afterwards. We're going to meet with her again this Thursday with a cool member and go over Acts 19 with her and give her a baptismal date. I think it should go really well!

Not a whole lot else happened this week, we had other people that we were teaching but they all kind of fizzled out so we're kinda at square 1 again. It happens. We did get to watch most of conference this week, it was really good. I've watched all of Saturday and about half of the Sunday Morning session. I've been taking notes about what stands out to me in each of the talks, but I don't have them with me right now. oh well, I'll have to include some next week and by then I should have seen the rest anyways. Anyways that's pretty much it from me, hope that you all had a good week too!

Eldè Stevenson

Monday, October 2, 2017

Camping in the Keys

​My new district. Starting with me, then up to Elder Shoen (something like that, he's new), Elder Perez my new DL on top, Elder Hasara under him, under him Elder Loftus, under him Elder Flake, next to him Elder Bullock (also new), behind him Elder Norman (not as new but still new haha) then Elder Marshall next to him and Elder Rire under him.​
Hello everyone! So this week has been a fun one! Lots of work but still fun haha.

Transfers were this week, so now I'm in Cypress Creek with Elder Marshall. We're very similar haha, pretty much the same person. It'll be an interesting new dynamic since most of my other companions have been very different from me in some way or another! My new home address is .....Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308. We haven't done a whole lot so far, but it's going to be a transition especially since for the large part it's "business as usual" over here on the east coast since the hurricane didn't hit as hard. Back to "real" missionary work! What I can tell though and what I've heard from other missionaries is that this is a great area to be in. Even though I don't get to teach in creole, there's still plenty to talk to and even though the ward is smaller it's strong. Should be good!

We also have some cool people that we're working with right now. One is named Ray, he's been investigating the church for a while now but is set to be baptized this week! We were going to try to have the baptism last weekend, but with service and everything it just couldn't happen. But so far everything is in order for this weekend. He's passed his interview and everything, so as long as we're in town it should happen! The other person we're working with right now is Peggy, she's a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo! She's super cool, we're still pretty early on in the teaching process with her. She's been living in America for a little while and understands English pretty well, but her native language is Lingala. So we got her a Book of Mormon in Lingala! Super cool, and she really wants to change her life and follow Christ so I think she'll be baptized.

Me and Elder Marshall
hanging out at our campsite at the museum on Marathon
So the climax of the week was the weekend when we went down to the keys to camp and do service! We drove down with our ward to Marathon Key on Saturday morning at 4:00am, then set up camp and went out to work. Most of the missionaries from the east coast were there so I got to hang out with some of my friends that I haven't talked to in a long time. It was so much fun. We did a lot of helping people tear down drywall and shoveling mud out of houses and hauling out trees and things. It's hard labor, especially with how hot and sunny it gets, but we had plenty of water and food and things so we were taken care of. We camped out Saturday night, it's been a while since I've been camping, it was fun. I got a cool self-inflating chair thing that I intended to use for an air mattress, since we were sleeping on a gravel driveway, but I guess it's not designed for that since it was deflated by the middle of the night. I ended up sleeping just fine though. Hopefully I can figure out the issue because it's a cool chair haha. Then we went and did the same thing all of Sunday until we got back home at around 9:00 pm. Lots of work but it was lots of fun and the people were so grateful for it.

Saturday evening we got to watch the Priesthood session of conference. The talks were very interesting, talking about how the priesthood is like a rocket, and about the significance of light, and of integrity and other things. I really enjoyed it, I'll have to go back and study it some more though. We'll get to watch 4 hours worth of conference during the week this week, the rest will have to be on pdays. I'm excited to watch! I did hear the news though that President Monson wasn't there, and that Elder Hales died. Very sad news, but a lot was said during the priesthood session about how the leadership of the church works and I know that there is a purpose behind these things.

That's pretty much it, but I do have lots of pictures! I'll try not to do a huge dump again haha, but they're all so good! Anyways thank you for your support!

​-With Darwins​
​​​​​​​​​​​​​-Lucy and Darwins​
-​​​​​Lingala Book of Mormon!​
-​Driving to service at 4am
-Tearing out drywall​
​-destroyed burger king
-​This was the worst house I've seen so far. Flooded, then downed lines burned it.​
​-destroyed gas station​
-​​​National gaurd​
​-Cutting up trees​
​-This boat went over, and one of the cords on it went halfway through a tree, see next pic​
​​-​destroyed sail​
​​​​​-pirate ship​
​​​-Artsy palm tree pic​
​-The Atlantic ocean between keys​
​-A Florida rainstorm ​ 
-​random windsurfer


Eldè Stevenson