Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 3 ~ The Mission Field

So Jaden is in Boise Idaho now. He is done with his training & is the real deal. I am blown away at the growth he has had these past few weeks & know that all the credit goes to our Heavenly Father & His son Jesus Christ. It is a testimony to me that as we put our faith and trust in them that we become who we were always meant to be. Jaden couldn't have said it any better than when he said he is an instrument in their hands. My heart is so full of happiness & love for him. I couldn't be more proud or grateful.

Hey y'all,

So this week has been great and busy! On Tuesday, I woke up at the MTC in Provo, Utah at 3:35 then at 10:20 we were in Boise, Idaho. As we were walking to meet the Mission President, President Winder, Everyone was watching the parade of Missionaries and taking pictures. As we were walking to the exit there were some sliding doors and as I got to the doors and they slid open, I looked up and I saw President and Sister Winder and their assistants. As I walked through those doors it became surreal, and a feeling hit me, the feeling that it was time to work. It's crazy being here on my mission because it has been the most anticipated events in my life, I have been preparing for this time since I was born pretty much. After we got all situated we went back to the mission office in Boise, which is right by the temple, we were then to be oriented, meet our companions, and assigned our area. During orientation we were told that all 29 of us elders and sisters who had come in, just in that one day, made up 20% of the mission! 

After orientation we had a lunch that was so refreshing because it was REAL food, unlike the MTC, then went into the chapel where we were to be assigned our area and companions. As sets of Trainers went up I tried to see myself with each one and who I could possibly be paired with. It wasn't until the 3rd set that went up and as Elder Meraz was explaining his area as big so we will always have a car, but also there is a lot of service... as soon as I heard that I thought to myself, "There's my companion." Haha. So I was paired with Elder Meraz as my companion and trainer. As we sat down together he told me he had only been out 6 months exactly and that it would be the blind leading the blind. Our area is in Meridian, we have two wards, the Greenhill ward and the 3rd ward. Since we cover 2 wards I get 6 hours plus of church depending on if we have meetings or not, but the minimum is 6 hours.

Elder Meraz is awesome, he's from Arizona and wrestled in high school and I guess was pretty good, he also likes to snowboard a lot which is his most favorite thing to do. Luckily, he likes soccer and even has a Manchester United Shirt! The Spanish missionaries set up soccer every Friday with investigators, so I'll have some sort of exercise and I won't get too fat. The members here are great, we actually say in a members home, down in their basement. The members feed us every night with out fail whether they go buy it from the restaurant and bring it to you or you actually go into their homes. On the second day here we went to Chikfila to get some lunch with the zone leaders and the distritct leader and his companion. They have a trick, which is to stand inside waiting to order because sometimes members will see us and pay for it. This time it didn't work. The missionaries here call it the Boise 40 which means serving here in Boise, I will gain 40 pounds inevitably. I am going to try and resist but its hard with this great food. They have Grandma Sycamore bread here too!!! uhoh.

We have a lot of appointments and people to contact here so our days are pretty busy. Elder Meraz has been teaching an elderly couple and has a baptism lined up for Tuesday. Their situation is unique, they are old and have some medical problems so the plan is that when ever they wake up one day and feel good, they are going to give us a call and we are going to go fill the font. Pretty cool I think! On one of my very first appointments I met Rob. Rob is a man of about 60 and is single. He has a cool Ford Ranchero (it's a el camino but ford edition) that he is working on and he's one of those guys who has a lot of cool fun facts. Anyways, he is an atheist and believes in science and needs evidence for everything. He says the bible is a nice story and that Jesus was a man who once walked on Earth, and he knows this because there are writings, not including the bible, that say he was a real man, but that Jesus wasn't the Son of God. He thinks that Jesus was a magician, because he says nowadays you see magicians making elephants disappear, so imagine what they could do then. He just believes that the bible could be true record, but the events in it could just be of illusions. I shared Proverbs 3:5 with him but he didn't have much to say about it. He's a stubborn man, and Elder Meraz and I think that one day he will believe in God but there is going to be a big humbling experience that will get him to that point.

At the end of the day on Friday Elder Meraz and I just got home from exchanges with the zone leaders. I went with one to go do service at a Catholic thrift store and help a sister move, and he went with one to a doctors appointment and other things that had to be done. We were deciding on weather or not we should do the weekly planning or to go follow up with a lady we tracted into, Teresa, who is probably in her late 50's. I felt that we should go follow up. So after we prayed, got out of the car, and knocked a lady that was not Teresa answered the door and we talked with her and asked her questions about the church and we finally get to the point where she say's that she isn't interested. So we then ask for Teresa and with reluctance she went back inside to get Teresa. During the time she went to get Teresa, we look at each other and we both think that this isn't going to be well and that she could possibly be a lesbian, because the lady that answered the door was about her age and went back into Teresa's room. Teresa finally comes out and as we talk to her we find out that that lady was her sister and that her Brother is a member, but she's catholic. We start to teach her the first discussion, right there on her porch. She seemed really engaged and I know she felt the spirit because we did so I asked when would be a good time for us to come back and teach her more. She said next Tuesday. I handed her a pass along card with our number on it and we left. After we got in the car Elder Meraz and I looked at each other and smiled. It was a great experience. Hopefully more to come. 

Yesterday on Sunday, during second hour of our second church we were brought aside by two Chinese ladies, one a member of the ward, Sister Hubble, and the other a non member who had just came too church that day for her first time, her name was Gelly. They both didn't speak English as their primary language, but Sister Hubble was fluent, she wanted us to teach Gelly the first lesson, the Restoration. We talked with Gelly, Sister Hubble doing her best translating for her because Gelly only knew basic words and sentences, but we came to find out that Gelly just got to the US with her 17 year old son 3 months ago. During those first 2 1/2 months in the US she was in California. The rest she has been here in Idaho. While in California she felt that she needed to start believing in a Heavenly Father, so she attended a bunch of different Christian churches. Once she got to Idaho she met Sister Hubble and she came to Our church. She told us she wanted to learn more but also wanted us to help her to get her son to believe that we have a loving Heavenly Father. So we decided to teach the Restoration. Within the first 3 minutes of our discussion she was overcome with the Spirit and began to cry. We asked her if she felt God's love for her and she said she did and that she only has felt it one other time, when she felt she needed to believe in God. This was such an awesome experience. She is most definitely golden. God works in mysterious ways. As a companionship Elder Meraz and I set a goal to learn how to teach in more simpler terms. Teaching Gelly and having Sister Hubble translate for us made it possible for us to speak with plainness of tongue. It was a good learning experience for us but more importantly a great experience for Gelly to come unto Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. We are to meet with her and her son on Tuesday also.

I know that I am an instrument in God's hands, I ,or Elder Meraz, didn't teach Gelly it was Heavenly Father. I am so excited to be doing his work for him on this Earth and for his people here in the Idaho Boise Mission. I love you all. 

~Elder Stevens

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week 2

I don't have much time today to talk due to packing and laundry and departure activities, but I wanted to tell you and the whole family that I miss and love y'all. I will be waking up at 3:35 amand then getting to the airport around 6, so 8 yall's time. When we get to the airport they are giving us permission to call and talk to family for however long we want, I bought a call card that will allow me to talk for about 30-40 min. We then board at 8:41 and arrive in BOISE, IDAHO at 9:52!!! It's getting real real now! I'd also like to share one experience that I've had this week. I've noticed that since I've been on my mission I have been able to see all the things I can do and preform because of the gospel, but before my mission I was so focused on all the things I can't do because of the gospel. Since that epiphany I have felt ashamed for ever thinking that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a burden. I was able to preform my first blessing of comfort this week to a sister (to Jacey) she is a friend of Madie Wilkes, she went to college with her. Anyways, she was originally going to have her District Leader do it, but she prayed and Elder Stevens popped into her head. She said she had been having withdrawals, I don't know which kind but I felt that it was the drug kind of withdrawals. During her blessing I felt impressed to tell her about what my mom had wrote in the front of my Book of Mormon. I later let her read what my mom wrote and she said that that and her blessing was exactly what she needed. I've learned not to believe in coincidences and look for the tender mercies of the Lord. It was a tender mercy that I took my 10 year old, somewhat falling apart Book of Mormon with me, when I was even asked if I wanted a new set of scriptures. Because of this experience, and many others, I KNOW this church is true. I love and miss y'all.

Elder Stevens

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Week First Letter

Today we received our very first email from Jaden. He is doing so well. He sounds so good & really has embraced this mission & is prepared to serve The Lord with all that he has to offer. It is such a blessing to have this experience where you dedicate every minute you are awake to learning & preparing to teach others about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Here is his first letter:

Dear Family!!!

I have learned so much here at the MTC!!! I know for a fact that the church is true and I can say it with such assurance because of all the many things I have learned and the things I've felt. The spirit is so strong here. I've ALMOST cried twice due to the spirit. I've never even come close to crying before. Anyways just to give you the run down of what I do here all day... I wake up at 5:45to shower 45 min before everyone else AND NO SHAWN THERE ARE NO SHOWERS POLES WITH 6 SHOWER HEADS AROUND, THEY ARE CURTAINED OF STALLS, ha. By the time I put my name tag on in the morning most of the 5 other elders in the room are getting out of bed so while they are getting ready I study. Then we have personal study time from 6:45-7:40 then breakfast at 7:45. Then from after breakfast on its go go go, with 2 3 hour classes just in one small classroom with 10 elders, and different role play situations where Elder Bennion (my companion) and I teach one of our teachers. Our teachers are trained to act as real investigators and right now we are teaching them the restoration. We have a TRC where we teach a member who is struggling with something in their life and they come to get a lesson by missionaries here in the MTC! Elder Bennion and I taught this girl, Jenneve, On Saturday and she told her struggle and because of how much this place has changed me I flipped open right to a scripture and Elder Bennion and I taught her for about 30 mins with out any sort of shyness too... suprising huh? I was 100% comfortable. We then go to back to the dorms around 10 then around 10:15 quiet time I right in my journal until lights out at 10:30 and then sleep. On Thursday when we met our Branch Presidency they pulled each of us aside and interviewed everyone in our zone which is about 60 Elders and Sisters to assign all the district leaders and which companionship was to be the zone leaders... to keep the long story short Elder Bennion and I were assigned to be the zone leaders. Its a stressful job but I'm excited. This up coming Wednesday we, the zone leaders and sister training leaders, are welcoming 40 more elders and sisters to the MTC and we are to give them a tour of the MTC and Share our testimonies. Anyways I need to go times pretty much up, but I miss everyone and I am so ready to get out of here. I've only shared a fourth of everything Again, I miss everyone. Love you all.

Elder Stevens