Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Elder Stewart!

Christmas Week :)

Well....we kept working hard and the Lord kept blessing us! It was really great to talk with you all on Skype and to see Gramma as well. Calls home don't really make me homesick at all...they make me want to work harder to make you all proud. Thanks for your love and support.

We had a Christmas Eve (p-day ;] )baptism for L C that went really well...we have loved teaching this family, and like I told you, they invited us to eat with them after the service. More pictures in white :)

Also!! C A was baptized on Saturday by her father, and that was one of the most spiritual baptisms I have been to. She must be the most popular teenager in all of Richfield because the relief society room was packed! There were a lot of less active and inactive people who showed up as well...C bore her testimony after she was baptized and the spirit in the room was really powerful...not many people left with their eyes still dry.  The cherry on top was that T was able to baptize his daughter...he has come along great along with her. He should be made an Elder soon :)

She told us to wear ties so that we all matched, just a typical 16 year old girl... She was not really religious, but decided to take seminary, we knocked the family's door, and the rest is history :)

The other great story from this week is about a new investigator named R. He was actually a media referral we got through a text message from the DC Temple Visitor's Center...well we went by and contacted him and he said "yeah come by and bring me a Book of Mormon. I have no religion right now but I'm interested in learning more...actually really interested." He has been to church so many times with his high school friends and now that they have graduated he is living with an LDS roommate. So invite all of your friends!! It is the best thing that you can do for them, because like R, they will be able to see the blessings and desire them. And R will be baptized in two weeks :)

In short.....all is well!! I am alive and loving working hard. Pray that I will stay in Richfield one more transfer!!

I love you all and I love this church. I have to keep working hard, because the Savior hasn't stopped working in the hearts of men either.

With all my love,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, December 24, 2012

White Christmas :)

This week was amazing :) M W, T D, H S, and J R all were baptized and confirmed! And J was ordained a priest just a day after his!! Yesterday was definitely a "pay day" for me on my mission. We have worked SUPER hard and the Lord has made it all very worth it.

I think yesterday was without a doubt one of my favorite days on the mission...we were in three different sacrament meeting Christmas programs. Elder Fragoso and I had to go on splits to make it to both of the confirmations we had at nine o’clock, so I sat next to Brother Poulson (near Brother Waters too =] ) and I sat with the whole R family (Mom, J's twin, and younger brother are all non members). We were sitting on the right side of the chapel about five pews from the front....if you are keeping track that is normally where we sit as a family. It was a peaceful moment for me...I wasn't sitting together with my family in our normal spot, but I was sitting with another family and helping them be unified together in the gospel. Just a little spiritual pay day moment :) Then later J was ordained a priest, and went and visited homebound members on his first day as a quorum!! I just wish I could instill in every priest quorum that they really can find, teach, and baptize their peers and friends and it will change their lives forever, because that is what happened in the this ward.

Preparing all our investigators for baptism this week was really exciting...this is one of the most knowledgeable groups of converts we have had. We still had to teach T about tithing this week before his interview and we were really worried because their money is really tight, and he just got a new job. We brought along a ward mission leader and the whole lesson was so spiritual. T said "yeah, tithing is just like paying God rent. The good thing about keeping these commandments is that he has to bless you when you keep them." It was another testimony to me of the truthfulness of this Gospel and how the Holy Ghost is really working harder than we are in the hearts of the people that we teach.

This will be a short email because we will talk tomorrow :) Just know that Richfield is taking really good care of us...we have more baked goods and hot coco than we have investigators right now...but it’s very amazing how much these people love and help their missionaries.

I love you so much!! This church is true!! The Savior did come and he did make the plan of salvation possible. Just like you quoted from our Christmas program he can heal us and make us better people too-that is the reason for the season :)

Talk to you really soon!!!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What an amazing week!

We wore ourselves out again these last 7 days, and the Lord really blessed us for our efforts. As my first year is winding down on the mission I am so excited and expectant about what the Lord and I can do with another whole year together in the field. This might be a short email today because we are gearing up to go to the Manti temple, and that will be a little bit of a trip.

What miracles this week.... thanks to a lot of help from the Lord and the Wards we had 8 convert baptisms this week! The V children, S & T Y, S & S C, and D M were all baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. T H, one of our other investigators, knew how busy we would be this week, and he and his wife prayed for us every day :) We needed all of those prayers, so thank you for all of your prayers too! Many lives were blessed and changed this week.

The C's service was probably my favorite. A lot of other young couples came out from the ward to support them, and they were challenged right there to make it to the temple to be sealed in one year’s time. They have progressed so fast in the gospel, and they will keep flying at warp speed. I don't really know why some very elect and special people like them aren't born into the Gospel from the beginning. In any case, their children and any other future members of the family have a very bright future now thanks to their involvement in the Church and the restored Gospel. It really is amazing :)

Speaking of fast progression...D J, the man we baptized less than 2 weeks away,  was ordained an Elder in the Melchizedek priesthood yesterday. Not a priest, but an Elder. Wow! Normally it takes months for someone to progress to that step, but the Stake President approved this action for that man. That is incredible! He went from a nonmember to an Elder and now he has the ability to bless and guide in his own family in less than a month. One of the things I have noticed is that when we come back into our recent converts' homes, the Spirit is already there when we come through the door. And in the J home it is there in force :)

Also fun and inspiring this week was the opportunity we had to drive to do two baptismal interviews for a family getting baptized down in that town. It was a fun drive, and we got to stop along the way at a little restaurant called Hoovers. The Ward mission leader who drove us down told me to get the snow crab....and it was so tasty :) I didn't think I would be eating crab in the middle of Utah....but it was a nice treat.

Recently we have been getting a lot of new referrals and tracting into a lot of new families as well--the area is on fire right now! And one of our unemployed investigators got a job! And he will be baptized this weekend! It is amazing what Heavenly Father did in the life of that man....maybe he had to lose his job to have the window of opportunity to sit down with us, go to church, and prepare to be baptized. Miracles are everywhere :)

I have a really strong testimony of our Father in Heaven's love and his desire to help us out in his own work. We aren't alone in anything we do :) Seen and unseen forces help us, guide us, and make everything we do possible. I have learned a lot about honoring my own covenants with Heavenly Father, and that through my obedience he can magnify my efforts as I sacrifice to serve others...working hard isn't that hard when you have the best Master :) When I came on a mission...I really had no idea the things that the Lord would help me do.

I love you so much :) Make it a great week!

With all my love,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, December 10, 2012

Expecting Miracles and Following Hunches

What a great week! Things settled back to normal after last week's triple splitting, triple stacked appointments, and general busy-ness. We are still teaching a ton of lessons every seems our expectations of what is possible have just changed :)

First off...Bro Waters (a friend of Elder Stewart’s Grampie Bob Darger) came up and talked with me in church on Sunday :) Thanks for calling him; it was really nice to see that you two were reaching out to me this Christmas all the way across the country. Thanks and I love you so much!!
Elder Fragoso and I have been setting some really high goals together now that we have seen what we can do when we really apply ourselves...the best part is though that because this is the Lord's work, and because he is in charge, He helps us as we have strived to achieve these goals. There were so many miracles this week.

I will tell you about a few :) You will remember T, the investigator that we couldn't get to church for a while because of lack of church clothes, but then Elder Betham donated him some of his clothes, painted in his child's room, and this man has come to church for two weeks and has a baptismal date :) For him, I can see him and his family RIGHT NOW with the gospel. His little daughter B announced to the whole chapel again that the bread was "YUMMY!!" in the middle of sacrament :) We had a lesson with him where all his "manly man" walls came down and he and his wife just told us that they really want to go to the temple and have more blessings for their family. I am so thankful that the Lord does more than his part in this work.

There have also been a lot of other miracles. We are baptizing 15 year old D and the C family  this Saturday, and they both have great back stories. D's house was a house that Elder Fragoso wanted to knock for month of when he first got to Richfield. We knocked it together, found D, wondered why he wasn't a member already, and he is ready to go! The best part is that the ward has been praying for "more young men to come into the ward" :) It’s amazing to see answers to prayers like that.

The C's just might be my favorite family right now....I am going to do EVERYTHING possible so that they can go to the temple one year from now. We had a lesson with them about tithing this week, and S was really torn up about it. She loves the church, wants to be a member, but she is the only one working in the family right now.  We told her to pray about keeping that commandment, which would really be a struggle for her family, and she did. Well, she prayed and thought about it all weekend asking for an answer, and the Lord came through for her. In sacrament meeting she said she felt a peace that everything was going to be okay. But also!!! Her family got a really generous gift from "Mr. and Mrs. Claus" to help them out this Christmas. I think I know who got them that gift, but the fact that it was donated anonymously was really classy. 

SO!! I think these two stories, D's finding story, and the C's miracle answer show that if you have a righteous hunch FOLLOW IT!!! The Lord uses us to answer other's prayers and to fill their needs, and I have felt his sweet love thinking about the experiences I have had blessing other's lives on a mission.

I love you so much!! Talk to you soon.
Con amorcito, (with love)
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dreaming of a White Christmas ;)

Good news! For Christmas we can Skype our phone call! I will forward you the mission news letter that has all of the details.

This week...we wore ourselves out, seriously. On a normal week we have been teaching 50 lessons up here...this week we taught 110.  Wow! There were several days when we all just got home, planned, and collapsed in exhaustion. I think I am working harder now than I have ever on my mission and definitely ever in my life, but I know that it is all worth it because the Savior definitely worked hard and gave his all for each of us.

This week we had 5 baptisms! Our YSA investigator A was baptized by her adopted father and confirmed at her baptismal service. This young lady has been through so much in her life...and it has been incredible to see her read her scriptures, come to church, and decide to be baptized. She was all smiles at her baptismal service :)

It was pretty much a week filled with miracles :) I wrote you about T last week, and he finally came to church! Elder Betham pitched in some pants and a shirt, we all gave him ties...and his whole family made it out to church this Sunday. I think that is one of my favorite moments as a missionary...waiting outside of a chapel for your investigators to show up, and then just feeling so ELATED when you see them walk through that door.

All of our investigators are doing really well...we have set some high goals for them to achieve. I really love what I am doing right now, and thankfully...Elder Fragoso and I will have one more transfer together in Richfield! Elder Betham will be going down to St. George again and be companions with Elder Toropainen from Finland. We are going to have lots of new missionaries in the Zone....a new set of sister missionaries in Beaver (the town with the "Best Water in the USA ;]  ), and lots of work to do!

I love you all so much!! Thanks for your love and support and the Christmas packages that are arriving. Elder Fragoso and I love the Primary kid that wrote "I hope a bunch of people go to Church in Calofornya" Well...I hope those missionaries have success too, but send some prayers to Richfield too! :) Thanks for your examples of consecrated living...I am really impressed by the way you continue to serve the ward and the community and support us in the mission too. I love you! The Church is so true!! 

Con amor,
Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rewriting the Record Book!

Dear Mother and Father!! 

 What a great week we had!! We are super productive as a trio here...and we are just loving working hard all day every day. The Lord really prepared this area and this companionship for this time and I am just grateful to be a part of it.

This week we went on an exchange with the Assistants so I got to go back to St. George for a day and work with Elder Pedersen from Argentina. They have soooooo many college apartments in their area...I was salivating just thinking about it. Right now the mission is closing up most of the campus areas for the holidays so it wasn't booming so much, but I can see how that area would do during late summer and the beginning of the school year. I also loved serving with Elder Pedersen...we are pretty similar in our goals and outlook, and he helped me a lot with questions I had and how to help out my missionaries better. It really is a blessing to have "leaders" to follow and guide us towards Christ.

We had three baptisms this week! D J and his son D along with J. They were all in the same ward (that just got a new bishopric) and so we had all the new leadership very busy this week. The baptisms and confirmations were very spiritual events, and little D said the prayer at his own baptism saying "I love my family and I'm glad I'm getting baptized". Those joyful moments are the whole reason I am on a mission.
I don't mean to just spit all of our Key Indicators at you this week...but just to give you an idea, we taught 53 lessons this week and we have 27 investigators with a baptismal date. We are working hard to rewrite the mission's record book =) But at the same time we always recognize that it is the Lord that is doing all of this work, and we are just the instruments.

I will tell you a little about these investigators :) A B is the adopted 18 year old we have been working with. Like I mentioned, she has had a really rough past and recognizes that heavenly Father has guided her up to this moment to accept the Gospel. She lives in a HUGE very LDS family...they have had us come by to do family home evenings with all of them.

The D family (T, L, D, J) grew up LDS but were never baptized! The live in a small town about 10 minutes north of Richfield and LOVE the Book of Mormon and really want to be baptized. The thing about their ward is that the town is so small and the people are so nice that they are all super supportive with food, help fellowshipping and getting to church.

T and S Y are our investigators from Jamaica :) They read their scriptures every day, have family home evening, and really love church. We might not get to see their baptism because they are going up to Salt Lake this weekend to do it with their whole family.

We are also teaching a number of youth that haven't had the opportunity to be baptized as well. D M, J R, H S, and L C have all come to church with us and love it. It’s kind of funny that when the stake leadership hear we are teaching an unbaptized youth they look at each other and say "why hasn't he/she been baptized yet?" It is way fun to work with great leaders to help out these kids that more often than not come from less active families. In some cases, like L, they know everything in the Gospel and like he told us "I want to get baptized and married in the temple and go to the highest heaven" It may be kind of sad, but he looked at his less active grandma and told her "Don't worry, I will come down to visit you sometimes" We are working on her too ;)

M W is one of my favorites. He is an avid hunter that has made us chips, jerky, bread...he is the one who chose his own baptismal date. It’s so fun going over to his house to teach him and his family; the kids come and take the pens out of our pockets to draw on the floor, but M and his wife A (who we reactivated!!) are so receptive to the scriptures.

T D works on an oil rig and wants to get married in the temple. It is hard to be consistent with him all of the time because he works 7 days on and 7 days off and comes home SUPER tired. His only hang up is not having church clothes to go to church.

The H Family (J, T, K, J) was a miracle find. J has a previous husband whom we tracted into and he mentioned that he has an ex and kids that are unbaptized. As soon as we contacted this family the ward just rejoiced that they want to come into the church is well. J is with a man named J that was ordained an Elder in the church and they just need to get married before they can become members of the church :)

V and S L- our Native American investigators are granddaughters of the Navajo "Matriarch of Richfield". She referred us to them and has helped us out to fellowship. It is so interesting to see how Native American beliefs mix and coincide with the Restored Gospel...they really love the Book of Mormon (see "“Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel”)

A, B, and C V I guess are three other unbaptized youth that we are teaching. They live in the same town as the D family :) Pretty much mom apologized for not getting them baptized and asked us to help her out. When the kids picked out a date, mom flipped out her Iphone and wrote it down. Investigator families like this are really common for Utah missionaries it seems.

N S is the other YSA we are teaching. Like I said he wants to receive his patriarchal blessing, go to the temple, and possibly a mission. His date might not be as solid because he doesn't want to offend his parents while he is living at home. We have him reading Preach My Gospel though and he met Elder Halleck with us. He is a really good kid...he reminds me so much of a lot of my friends at Lake Braddock.

S and S C are amazing. They are a couple who moved here from California this week and they referred themselves to the missionaries through They are soooooo humble...not much by way of furniture in their home and both of them have lost their families. They are pretty much golden. We found them on Wednesday, taught them on Friday and Saturday and they came to church for the first time in their lives on Sunday. And they have a daughter that looks exactly like those posters for the movie "Brave". This really is the Lord's work.

P E is soooooo great. She lost her husband three years ago and has a son that wants to go on a mission as well. She said she was "Catholic" but is living with her brother and sister in law who have been endowed and sealed. We taught her the Plan of Salvation first and she just opened up to us about her family members that have passed away and how she doesn't know if she will see them again. She has been to church a lot and when she read 2 Nephi 31 she said "I am a lost dove and I need to be baptized"-she has even picked out her dress! Thanks to teaching her I get to keep up with my Spanish as well.

So I hope you see from that glance at our teaching pool that we LOVE what we are doing. There are a lot of missionaries and investigators under our care but the Lord is able to do great things when we just put ourselves in his hands. But really, the principle I have learned this transfer is the principle of love. I honestly love all of these people I am working with more than is a long list and all of this doesn't leave much room to get into trouble!

Seriously though, the church is true. There is no way three young men could accomplish all of this on our own. I really know that God lives and that he has heard my prayers. There were a couple of days this week where I went to bed just absolutely wiped out and when I woke up I told Heavenly Father "Elder Stewart is done...he can't take another step. But if you let Jesus Christ work through my life right now, I will keep putting one foot in front of another." And we have seen miracles from all three of us sacrificing like this.

I love you so much!! You are great examples of love and consecration for your service to the Hurricane victims, to the ward, and to us!! I thank Heavenly Father every day for my amazing parents. I am working on Christmas letters/postcards this Pday...I should get them all done. Keep sending reminders if you want to.

Take care!! I love you!

Con un abraso, (with a hug!)
Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Three Musketeers

Hello Mom and dad!

The most exciting news that I have so far is that....we are in a tri-panionship now! Elder Betham from Hawaii is going to be with us until at least the end of this transfer (Dec 3rd) but after that, Elder Fragoso and I really want to keep him in the Zone. These are my favorite companions in the mission...right now it is so enjoyable to do missionary work. Contacting doors is diverse and exciting, we are teaching well together, and having a lot of good fun.

This week Elder Halleck and Elder Leavitt of the Seventy came to our Zone Conference and we introduced him to our investigator N and taught a "lesson with a member present" to N during the break. It’s pretty good to have a Seventy fellowship with you ;) But in all seriousness Zone Conference was great; our mission will be increasing its complement from 118 missionaries to 180...President says that he wants to split our area and put a set of missionaries in each stake, but I just pray he does that after we have a chance to do all our work through January!

Another humorous story to me...we were driving down a residential road two days ago right across from a kid practicing his baseball swing with a water bottle. The thought flashes through my mind..."that kid is going to hit the water bottle straight at us".  And sure enough as we are driving past, he swings, he connects, and the bottle comes straight at the Lord's Chevy Malibu.  Thankfully, I braked in time, and the kid looked really embarrassed and ran inside. Well...we decided to knock that house for help with another address...and it turns out that kid and his dad are interested in learning the gospel and being baptized.  I have never found a new investigator by playing baseball before. It seemed to me like sometimes the Lord will attract our attention when he really wants us to go somewhere :)

The work keeps going :) D J, his son D, and J R will be baptized this weekend, and there are a lot lined up for next week. Keep praying and working hard! I really do know that this church is true and that as we forget about ourselves and work, the Lord can do miracles with us; we just have to move our feet!

Working hard in the tri-panionship,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lord is at the Helm

What a great week! Thanks for your letters and support this week; I feel so blessed to be serving in this town at this’s a great place to be. One of the things I like best about serving here is that everyone who I meet wants to get to know me and my companion as people (they ask about our families, what we like to do, who we are) even before they care about us as missionaries. That warmth is something that has really impacted me...I feel like in the first months of my mission I loved doing missionary things, maybe at the cost of loving and appreciating the people with all of my heart. I feel like Richfield is changing that around for me.

We had to drive all the way down from Richfield to St. George this week for a meeting and we had a good chat with President afterwards. He told Elder Fragoso and myself "don't expect to be leaving Richfield anytime soon" :) If all goes well I should be up here for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday! And who knows, maybe leaving Elder Stewart in areas for 9 months will become a theme...

All the same, we have a LOT of missionary work to be doing! This week we baptized two brothers who have been coming to church for a little while. Missionaries had been teaching J and B for a long time, it was just hard to get them to church. Now they have been riding their bikes to church for the past weeks, B bore his testimony in church last week, and they were doing cartwheels during our lessons out of their excitement to get baptized. Their service was really spiritual, lots of nonmembers showed up, and their whole family got up to bear their testimonies. It was great!

I'd say one of our highlights this week came during a lesson with M W on Thursday. He has been coming to the Second ward for weeks and really does want to join the church, but just wanted to choose a date on his own. After talking it over a lot with Elder Fragoso we decided to just be patient with him and keep teaching him. Well, on Thursday he told us "Elders, I have been thinking and praying about a date, and in sacrament meeting it came to me. I will be baptized on December 22nd" Yes!! It took a lot of faith on our part to follow that prompting, and trust M and the Lord enough to have him make that decision unassisted, but it came through! M is really such a great guy too. He has given us homemade (and self procured) Elk jerky, jalapeno chips, and offered to take us out to shoot "exploding star targets". Unfortunately due to mission rules, we could only accept the first two offers, but who knows what trips to Richfield there are in the future :)

We also kept teaching two YSA investigators this week. A H (the adopted daughter of an active family) has already picked out a baptismal dress, started making her program, and is really excited to be baptized herself. She has had a really rough past life, but as we taught her about the plan of salvation and the atonement, you could see the spirit wash over her and comfort her. The other YSA is N S, who might as well have gone to Lake Braddock with me. He told us "I am really looking forward to getting my patriarchal blessings, getting the priesthood, going to the temple, doing a mission, and maybe getting married along the line." We just smiled and thought, "Would you like to get baptized first?" Working with YSA age kids is so very different...I feel like they are extremely receptive because they are at a time where they are making a lot of important life choices, deciding their values, and working out who they really are. It’s very rewarding work.

They are so many other people to write about...our Jamaican investigators, a 50 year old man who wants to get baptized with his son, a family of five that we found this week, and so much more!! Just know that the work is real. Heavenly Father is hastening his work- he has called thousands more missionaries into the field recently, and we are pretty much swamped out here with so much to do. This is His church! It is true! And he is at the Helm of this work!

I love you so much! Take care! This week, maybe share a message from in an email you send, or include it as an email tagline. 

You're the best!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

If the Lord is with us, who can be against us?

Hello mother and father!!

Thank you for all of your love and support. It was an incredible week here in Richfield. We broke our record for lessons taught that we set last week, and we had a miracle baptism! It is so different serving in two stakes up in this town than in St. George, but I love it.

This weekend Elder Fragoso baptized J on Saturday and I got to confirm him on Sunday. It was pretty crazy working with his family to get him baptized this weekend. He is 9 and he lives with a family that was formerly less active. Elder Fragoso and Elder Chadsey (the Elder who went down to Snow Canyon to be DL down there...small world) had tracted into the family and they mentioned they wanted to get reactivated. Well, the family has been coming to church, J was supposed to be baptized on Halloween (they postponed it though), and yesterday A-the mom-told us that after Js baptism she felt like she needed to be setting a better example of keeping the commandments for her kids. We are super excited to be seeing all 5 of the Js' at church (plus 2 nonmember friends that they bring;] ) consistently now. You can count on the Holy Ghost to help change people's lives.

We kept working with J C and her family this week as well (they are all Navajos) and she told us before we had even invited her that "I need to start going back to church with my kids". Yes!! We also invited her daughter to be baptized this week and she threw up both hands and said "Yayy!!" It was nice to see such enthusiasm and understanding from little V =] So we got them all to church on Sunday, and the family took up almost a whole pew. J had invited all of her kids, some cousins, and other family members; the only one that we were missing was her nonmember husband.

We also found three new investigators this week who have already been going to church. One is named N S, and he has been attending the YSA ward in the Richfield stake since he graduated high school in May. It has been really hard for the missionaries to contact him however, and Elder Fragoso and I are the lucky ones to start teaching him. After one lesson, he told us that he really wants to serve a mission himself, and that he doesn't "understand why more people aren't members of the LDS church". I really love this kid. He reminds me a lot of people who were in my classes at Braddock, and he is such a straight arrow...Elder Fragoso and I are buying him his own Preach My Gospel today, so that he can prep for baptism and a mission at the same time.

Sorry it’s such a short email. I just want you all to know that I am incredibly happy, Elder Fragoso is a great companion (he is from Salt Lake as well, can you say post mission roommate?), and we are tearing up Satan's kingdom here in this town. More than anything else, I feel like it is a pleasure to serve the Lord at this time in this place. It is so obvious to me that everyone I meet, every lesson we have, and even every missionary that I serve here has been prepared for me. The Lord is merciful with all of us, and when we sincerely want to serve him he will make everything possible for us to make a difference.

I love you all! Keep praying for missionaries! Just exercise a little faith and the Lord can do miracles through you!

Un corazon muy lleno, (With a full heart)
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, October 29, 2012

Alma and Amulek

Mother and Father!!

This week was definitely the BEST week of my mission. Elder Fragoso and I really hit it we knew we would. =) This transfer feels like I am serving with my best friend; we plan well, teach well, find well, and love to lead the Zone well. The Lord definitely answers prayers :)

From day one in Richfield I felt like Heavenly Father just rolled out the red carpet. It’s different than Snow Canyon :) I went from 1 branch to 2 stakes and 18 wards...whew. The boundaries are crazy up here (check out the Richfield and Richfield East stakes on but I love being able to drive again and getting to know this town. Basically, if you studied president Uchtdorf's talk from conference I went from flying in a Piper Cup to an F-16, and I love it! It’s kind of funny as well...I was in Snow Canyon for the 110-115 degrees of July and August, and my second day in Richfield it snowed. That coat is the BEST purchase of pre-mission shopping so far.

 We contacted 6 people on my first day up here on Tuesday that the missionaries have never been able to contact, and without exception I felt that they were all prepared for us. Two are new investigators (from Jamaica!) living with their relatives who are active LDS. They already have baptismal date with us. We found them on Tuesday, taught them on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and they went to church on Sunday :) Their names are S and T and I think they are the first black people I have taught on my whole mission.
We also have been finding a ton of Navajo people up here as well. Some are confused about how their belief's coincide with Christian beliefs. They say "we just believe in Father Sky, Mother Earth, Changy Woman and things like that". There is also a whole Dorm of Navajo High School Students from all over the country. They have their own branch and the Branch president told us to bring any Navajo investigator that we have up there. There was a native branch a while ago in Richfield but they shut it down for some reason
I will tell you one amazing finding story as well. It was Friday night at about 8:40 and Elder Fragoso and I had nowhere to go, so we prayed in the car and felt impressed to go to a certain apartment complex. The first door we knocked opened up to a HUGE family just hanging out, playing games and eating. We started asking questions and it turns out that they are all members except for an adopted 18 year old daughter that they have. We set up a return appointment for the next day and they kept it! And mom sat in on the lesson with A (the 18 year old). As it turns out...A's mom, her friends and family had been praying for A to be ready to meet with the missionaries and Heavenly Father guided us right to her door. We taught them on Saturday, she went to church on Sunday, and they want us to come back three times a week :)

Basically...I have a testimony that hard work, and obedience, and submitting myself to the Lord bring blessings. After one week up here, Elder Fragoso and I are leading the mission. We have a family that wants to be reactivated and wants to baptize their son on Halloween. We taught 34 lessons this week! My biggest blessings right now is being able to forget myself and work with my best friend and just do what the Lord wants.  We are about to rewrite the Alma and Amulek chapters in the Book of Mormon.

I love you so much!! This church is so true, and blessings just depend on our faith and works.

A heart full of gratitude,
Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hello Mother and Father!!! Am I ever so happy to be writing you this much has happened and it has really been rewarding to be in the Lord's service.

We got transfer calls! President called at 7:30 in the morning yesterday while I was shaving and extended me the calling to be a Zone Leader serving in Richfield with Elder Fragoso! Elder Fragoso and I "were raised together" in the mission one district apart and he is an amazing Elder. I got off the phone and honestly just started to cry...that area is doing well.  I love leading Elders and sisters and I will learn so much from Elder Fragoso. Junior Companion again :) The good news kept coming. The district leaders in that Zone will be Elders Gomez and Lazarus, both of whom I have served with...we are a team already! I am so excited to head up north and invite people to come to Christ in Richfield!

It will be so different these next transfers. First off...I will be teaching in English!  (I will certainly miss tortillas and Latin music in the background) We cover two stakes up there and will attend 4 sacrament meetings each Sunday! I am soooo excited. I could almost hear the words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" in my ears as I hung up the phone. This is such an answer to my prayers! My reward right now...will be the ability to WORK!! I love it!

So in Snow Canyon we will be replaced by Sister missionaries :) That is just what the area needs because we have been contacting a lot of single mothers and  mothers-at-home these weeks...and we can't go in and teach them without a male present!  I am so excited for the future honestly...we have a gospel of new beginnings and second chances. After Liberty Jail came great revelations and progress for the church. After Gethsemane and Calvary came the Resurrection. I am so happy just to be a missionary right now :)
This week was incredible! We made some great progress with our investigators, found new ones, learned and grew, and got a lot of help from members as well. It was miraculous :) We kept teaching J and E and their daughter C! If only you could meet these people! They are so beautiful and prepared...this week we taught J the word of wisdom (he drinks a lot of coffee) and he said "Well, the commandments are here to be kept..I'll keep this one too" He is working so hard...he is down to 1/4 of the coffee he was drinking before. They continue to love the Book of Mormon. J said "I got the feeling when we were in the Visitors' Center.  I get the feeling when the Elders come over, and I get the feeling when the English Teachers come over too."  He is so receptive to the spirit!! They didn't make it to church this week (because he slept in again! the 5am-6pm Mon-Sat construction job just drains him) so his baptism will be delayed.  He told us "I definitely got an answer from God. The Book of Mormon is very true." YES!! I am so happy to be leaving them in the capable hands of Sister Hernandez and Sister Rodriguez. It was a great goodbye-He told me to drive down from Richfield to be at church and his baptism.   But I am so happy they are rooted to THE GOSPEL and THE BOOK OF MORMON and not to us.

We also kept meeting with A. He did something really funny. His wife made us homemade tortillas and tacos and we were having a quick snack with them and he said "Hermanos, aqui tambien tengo mi cuchillo por cualquier pecador" (Here is my knife against any sinners) he said as he wielded the Book of Mormon. He just needs to come to church!!

We also found two new investigators this week! Nine months in Snow Canyon...and I found new people!? It gets better :) These two older sisters had recently been talking about the need to follow Jesus' example by getting baptized when they were older. YES! 

So, normally when an area is whitewashed (totally replaced the missionaries) it’s because the work is not going well. I am so glad though that we are leaving the Sisters with many baptisms. We are all on the same team :)
Los quiero bastante! Compartan el Evangelio! Tengan Esperanza por el futuro! 
(I love you very much! Share the Gospel! Have faith in the future!)

Con mucho amor,
Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, October 15, 2012

Confia en Mi (Trust in Me)

Saludos Mama y Papa!

I am so grateful for the work I have been able to do this week. Ever since conference I have made it a point to up my "personal commitment" to the Lord through prayer, and small actions as well. I am happier now that I have ever been :)

So I really have been stretched and challenged in these months like never before-but I have come out so much closer to my Savior and committed to his work. And we have been seeing so many miracles as I have just forgotten myself and served!

Our best miracle this week was for J and E, our couple with a baptismal date for the 28th. We had taught them Monday and Wednesday, taken them to the visitor's center on Friday, committed them to church again on Saturday, but come 9 AM Sunday, they weren't there! We even called them right after the sacrament to see if they could still make it to the meeting, but he said they wouldn't make it on time. I was so devastated...I have felt that Heavenly Father wanted these people to be baptized more than I do and they won't make it if they don't come to church enough. As I was praying in church, the thought came to me "Confia en mi" (trust in me).

We went home, and as I prayed again, it was like the Lord opened up my brain, poured a half quart of inspiration in, and slammed the lid shut. A sudden stroke of an idea just came to me. I jumped up off my knees and called the couple to inform them of the sacrament services for another ward that we just happened to be translating into Spanish, this translation has been in the works for 6 months! They got there ten minutes early, stayed the whole time, and even brought nonmember family members. I was so was honestly the biggest miracle I have seen in a long time, and it showed me that the Lord had been pulling strings for months so that these people could be baptized this month. 

Really I just want to bear you my testimony about FAITH. I trust in God our Heavenly Father, and that he also loves us so much that He gave the world his son. Jesus Christ is the very son of God; his only begotten in the flesh-he has all power in heaven and in earth. I know that as I work, as I come to Him myself, he will give me power to bless other people's lives. He just needs a little bit of faith on our part, and then he can do miracles :)

La iglesia es verdadera! Familias pueden ser eternas! Los amo muchisimo, y quiero que compartan este gozo con todos- oren por experiencias misionales, sean audaces y amorosos al hablar en cuanto a la iglesia, inviten a personas! Seran guiados por el Senor :)
(The church is true! Families can be eternal! I love you very much and want to share this joy with everyone. Pray for missionary experiences, be bold and talk about the church, invite people. You will be guided by the Lord.)

Los amo!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, October 8, 2012

Los Ultimos Dias (The Last Days!)

Que Magnifico!  (How Great!)

What a great week we've had! It started great and ended great! I am really grateful to be serving in this area right now, there is so much good to be done here and I am increasingly finding that I am doing the things I love every day. 

First off, what a great conference! We watched the sessions with the great members of our stake, and we saw President Monson's announcement at our High Counselor’s house. That was amazing! We are a true and living church, and I have a feeling I will be getting an 18 year old companion sometime in the future :) I know I would've just JUMPED out of high school to go on a mission...we need more good missionaries! If we weren't in the last days before, we certainly are there now.

The miracles were flowing this week...thanks to a lot of things :) We had a first lesson with a new family on Monday and I was really thankful for the spirit and for preparation going in there. J, E, and their daughter C all became new investigators this week. J has had other Elders knock on his door before, but he has never opened up to them, he has always made excuses. But Elder Killian and I have developed many door entry methods :) Actually, the real credit goes to the Spirit for touching this man's heart on the doorstep. 
So we went back for the second lesson a few days later and we were on splits (with my "brother", Taylor Squires! (The recent RM son of the Squires family that I lived with. We are basically the same person). And it was my turn to give the first vision! Because I have been training for 6 months, I have always let my companion do the first vision in the lessons, but this time it was my turn. We took it really slow and let the Spirit sink in deep, and J and E both said they were touched, and are really going to pray and read to know if it is true. They also recorded conference to watch it later, and they want to meet with us 3 times a week. I just know that the Spirit is the most important element in this work. I don't want to impart information to these people.  Rather I want them each to have a personal experience with the Spirit and then act on it.  He is the teacher. We will have to work hard to help C open up to us too- it is understandable that an 11 year old is shy around us, but even she has been reading her own Book of Mormon with her parents! I just can't tell you what a miracle find this family is...I know EVERY home in their trailer park, and this one had never answered the door before, but Heavenly Father definitely knew when it was their time.

We had another miracle lesson with O this week! We went out contacting with our English Teachers this week and we decided to go by her house.  She had just barely gotten home from the store. What a tender mercy. So we started to teach this sister right there and we wanted to help her with her struggles to read and pray about the Book of Mormon that she has had. Suddenly the impression came to ask her English teachers to bear their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and we followed it. There was such a strong presence of love from God and love between these people and Elder and Sister Osborn bore testimony to O and we translated. I was thankful for the power of the Holy Ghost to touch hearts as O said "That Moroni 10:3-5 really caught my attention, I will definitely read more, and pray more about it" She offered a humble prayer at the end of that lesson, and she has read a lot since! Hopefully she will make her baptismal date!

Now!!! I loved it!! We are certainly led by seers and revelators today. The main message to me from all of the apostles was about personal commitment: to our families, to true principles, to the Gospel, and to the Savior. Elder Holland's talk seemed to reach down inside of me and shake me. It is true that our thoughts, actions, desires, all reflect our deep love for the Lord, and we will all meet him and have to answer the question "Did you love me?"  Every day in my prayers, I have been making the decision to give my all to the Lord THIS DAY. And as I have committed myself consistently like this, I have felt much closer to him.

All of conference was great! We watched both Sunday sessions with our landlords and funnily enough Tommy Crompton from the Burke ward was there too :) The LDS world is the size of a postage stamp.

Los quiero bastante! La iglesia es verdadera, y yo se que guarda el sacerdocio, la doctrina y las ordenanzas del evangelio de Jesucristo. Podemos recibir ayuda del Salvador en cada momento, aun cuando nos parezca imposible El estara alli para ayudarnos. Me ha ayudado a mi a saber las necesidades de mi companero, de los otros misioneros en mi distrito y tambien de mis investigadores. Amo y atesoro el evangelio mas que nunca.
(I love you very much. The gospel is true and gives us the priesthood, doctrine and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can receive help from the Savior any time; He will be there to help even when it seems to be impossible. He has helped me know the needs of my companion, the other missionaries in my district and my investigators. I love and cherish the gospel more than ever.)

Take care!! Share the Gospel with everyone! Invite your friends to church and activities!

Con amor,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, October 1, 2012

Catching the Vision

Mis queridos padres!! Esta fue la semana de 17 Milagros en nuestro distrito!
(My dear parents! This was the week of 17 miracles in our district!)

We had so many opportunities to do good this week. I keep meeting new people here, it is incredible. Also, thank Grandma Darger for sending me pictures of "Snow Canyon Park". That’s what the mission looks like to me :)

This Sunday was something of a "pay-day" for me. The F family asked me to bless and present their newborn in sacrament (the dad baptized R in July, but still doesn't have the Melchizedek priesthood) and that was such a blessing. I really love the branch (Presidente D said they're moving my records down here) and I really just want to do all I can to grow and strengthen them. The gospel is for, women, and children :) Also! At church yesterday L C came! He is the Catholic husband of G, one of our recent converts. The real that he asked her to take him to church. Elder Killian and I have been doing something called the "21 Day Promise" for him...the promise (made by a general authority) is that if you pray for a list of 9 people day and night for 21 days, at least one of them will be prepared to hear the gospel. Heavenly Father really only needs a little faith on our part to do the miracles :) The prayers of the righteous definitely are heard. I'd definitely encourage you all to make your own list of 9 people and then give their names to the R.V. Elders as referrals. It’s so simple!

We kept teaching K and M this week as well, and they are going to need a little more time before they want to be baptized, but they do love us and really want to take the lessons. They again expressed their desire for their 1 year old M to be a missionary like us some day. I am beginning to really feel for these people like the Book of Mormon prophets felt about their kind of hurts when someone doesn't commit to making the needed changes in their life or accepting the restored gospel. But those feelings just motivate me to pray and plan even harder for them.

This week was all about catching sight of President Leonard's vision for the mission and I do know that he is an inspired man. He (and Elder Holland apparently) have a vision of this mission baptizing 1 out of every 3 investigators that we find. Let me tell you...teaching people in Spanish, our own area has been baptizing about 1 in 9, and other Spanish areas are as high as 1 in 22. It’s true that we are so blessed to be in a mission and in an area where we can teach and help people progress towards joining the church. The members are amazingly helpful, there are a lot of prepared nonmembers to find, and Hispanics are very receptive to the gospel. Just like Ether 12:14 "Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought thea change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the bHoly Ghost." We are working so hard on strengthening our faith to do that.

You will probably remember N that I have talked about before...well the story continues :) It has been hard to consistently see her. But we stopped by last night on a prompting, and she was excited to see us! Miracle! I love it when they get excited to see us. N has been praying, and she has been having some difficulties in her life. Her renters took off without even paying her! But she prayed for help, and that same day, she found new renters! She told us that it really helps her to meet with us, she just isn't sure yet which church she needs to join. I am counting on the Holy Ghost to answer her. Just like Sister Stewart said, this is the work of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. They will help and guide when we just have the vision and faith.

Los quiero tantisimo. He estado muy agradecido en estos meses por la expiacion del Salvador y por la oportunidad de empezar de nuevo y de arrepentirme de mis pecados. Él me apoya, me ensena, me guia todos los dias, y sin el nada podria hacer. Lo amo con todo mi ser y tan solo le quiero servir y seguir todos mis dias. La iglesia es verdadera!
(I love you so much. I have been very grateful these months for the Savior’s atonement and the opportunity to start over and repent of my sins. He supports me, teaches me, guides me and without him nothing else would do. I love Him with all my being and want to serve him all my life. The church is true!)

Con amor,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, September 24, 2012

El vive! Y esta con nosotros. (He lives! and is with us.)

Wooohooo!! I love you so much!! EMails are one of my favorite times of the week...I really do feel the Spirit as I read your testimonies and as I send you mine. The Lord is so great! If he allows us to love and help each other this much even though we can't see each other, can you image the love and help He (The Almighty!) can give to us? =)

What a great week we had!

Monday!! Miracles!! There was a lady in our area book that I have been trying to contact for a long time. Her name is R and she is from El Salvador. We have taught her once or twice. This Monday we caught her on her way to do laundry (miracle!!) and she ushered us into her home. This is pretty much how it played out. We read 3 Ne 11:20-34. She says that "Oh, I really want to get baptized, I really want to follow Christ's footsteps". Yes, you can count on the Holy Spirit to testify of truth. Then she said "I have to tell you all something. All of my friends are Mormon. I am moving in with a Mormon family. You Mormons are visiting me. I am reading the Book of Mormon. I know God is telling me something." She wants to get baptized next month! She prayed for help to come to church and know that the Book of Mormon is true.

The best part...we have kept seeing her! A part of me wants to go teach her and her friends at work during her lunch break-they are just so busy-but they work all the way in Hurricane. We are so excited for her!

And! We are teaching her best friends! K and M (also from El Salvador) who also want to be baptized! They love us! The Lord definitely helped us to find fellowshippers for them, to teach them, and now he is putting our three best investigators all in the same place. He really does want to gather and seal all of his children.

It’s been amazing here. Two of our three new investigators this week were also from El Salvador. Maybe I need to go down there after this mission. (Their papusas are so good.)

The spiritual highlight of my week came on Thursday. We walked a lot on Thursday.  It was our last day without a car. Not many doors opened, but all day I was just determined and fixed on serving the Lord and inviting everyone to come unto him. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing success.  Baptisms are the best and new investigators fill my soul with joy, but the peace of the Spirit when I know I am doing the best I can is unbeatable. The Lord blesses us for our sacrifices, and I know he blesses my investigators as I sacrifice everything I have to serve him.

Another reason that Thursday was the best was because we saw D S, a recent convert. He and I really have a strong connection, I feel like he is my brother. We reactivated him a few months ago and now he is coming to church with his kids (whom I really want to teach and baptize!) and preparing for the priesthood and the temple. He has recently had some really spiritual experiences in his life, and his eyes are just clear and bright whenever I talk with him. One thing he said to us was "nunca se olviden de que hay un Senor. El vive! Y esta con nosotros" (never forget that there is a Lord. He lives! And he is with us!) That just hit me really hard. The simplest truth of our doctrine is that Christ is the living son of God, and that through faith he can help us. D put his arm right next to mine and said "esta asi de cercana, y cuando uds salen, su espiritu los rodea" (He is like this close to you, and when you all go out, his spirit surrounds you). I do have a testimony that Christ is the son of God, that he came to redeem me, that he died and was resurrected, and that he lives and guides me every day. Thanks, D, for deepening my testimony of those simple truths.

Los quiero muchisimo! Gracias por apoyarme y por sus oraciones. La bendicion mas grande de mi mision hasta ahora ha sido la ayuda que he podido dar a estos hijos preciosos de nuestro Padre Celestial. Mi alma llena de gozo al pensar en las bendiciones del templo y los promesas de la vida eterna que puedo negar la veracidad de esta obra que estoy haciendo. La iglesia es verdadera, y es guiada por Cristo actualmente.
(I love you very much! Thank you for your support and prayers. The best blessing of my mission so far has been the help I could give to these precious children of our Heavenly Father. My soul is filled with joy at the thought of temple blessings and the promise of eternal life that we have… I cannot deny the truth of this work I am doing. The church is true and is led everyday by Christ.)

Se cuidan! Share the Gospel with friends and family! Always pray and read the scriptures together!

Con amorcito,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mis amados padres! (Dearest parents!)

Que los quiero muchisimo! Gracias por sus oraciones constantes, por su amor y apoyo para mi. Que buena semana tuvimos...y esperamos aun mas!
(I love you very much! Thank you for your continual prayers, for your love and your support. We had a great week … and we expect even more.) 

First thing...we did drive through some flooded streets last week, but in the safety of our four wheel drive Subaru. About 30 houses got really damaged by the flooding: 5-6 feet of mud in many of them. We do live in Santa Clara, but we weren't touched by the flooding. The great thing about St. George is that they had to turn away help because so many people showed up to dig people out. So we are fine!! 

And oh how much I have learned this week. I just want to share with you all my testimony really. I will be the first person to tell you that I have lived a flawed and imperfect life, but I cannot deny when I look back at the blessings in my life, that God has been an active part of my experiences. I know He lives and loves me despite my flaws, and He has placed in my path great friends and teachers who have really shaped my values and taught me to follow Him. He gave me great parents and siblings, and so many opportunities in my youth. He still is a God of miracles! It is hard for me sometimes to believe that Christ can help me in my situation (8 months is a long time in an area!!) but he can and does help me. Christ atoned for the world's sins, but he also atoned for me personally. He lives! This is his church! The Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Him! 
It has been great serving the Lord in this area for so long. This week we got to see some of my favorite investigators again, C and M. They have been reading the Book of Mormon! And they had questions about it! I love going to their home, and we really are going to help them progress towards baptism. We read 2 Ne 31 together, and you just cannot deny the Holy Ghost testifying that the words of the Book of Mormon are true. Read the Book of Mormon with your family! Read it with your friends! It really is just the best book ever, and it is our convincing evidence of the Restoration. 

We also taught O again this week. I just want to help her have more real intent! She comes to church, and prays, but she just sort of does them with a half hearted attitude. Please never keep the commandments like that! The Lord needs your heart first or any gift you offer him will do no good for you! I promise I am not frustrated with her...just sad more than anything! She needs to repent and be baptized, she just doesn't want to. Mom and Dad I apologize for anytime you were trying to get me to choose the right and I didn't want to. (Some childhood instances of going to church come to mind...) 

Right now I just feel like I do have the energy and determination to do whatever the Lord asks. I would stay in Snow Canyon for two years if  He asked me to. It’s actually funny though...the Branch President looks at me to confirm announcements in sacrament meeting; the Ward Mission Leaders wants me to tell him when to cut off during lessons. We have been in their homes, in their work, in their play...Sister M told me that they are building me a house here soon :) We will come visit together after all is said and done. But first, there are people to be found, taught, and baptized! 

Los quiero muchisimo! La iglesia es verdadera, familias realment pueden ser eternas, y espero anhelosamente estar con uds por las eternidades un dia! Guarden los mandamientos!
(I love you very much. The church is true, families can truly be eternal, and I hope to be with you for the eternities one day. Keep the commandments!) 

Que vayan con Dios,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, September 10, 2012

Finding the Elect!

Hello my mother and father!

By all accounts it was a successful week. We found many people from El Salvador to teach this week! And C and her husband M came to church on Sunday. The Spirit was really strong in all three meetings this week, and they said they loved it, that the idea of this church is different from the others. I got to speak in sacrament about the Book of Mormon and it was a really gratifying experience to feel the Spirit testify through me to the congregation.

We had great lessons with C and her husband this week and she said some really meaningful things. She said "I feel like you all are angels sent from God to help and teach us." When she was praying with us to know if the Book of Mormon is true, she paused and said, "But, I already know that it is". Finally we found the elect! These people were searching for a church to join, love the Book of Mormon, and M really relates with the Prophet Joseph Smith. I do have a testimony that our Heavenly Father is preparing people to be taught and baptized. We just have to find them! Seriously though, if you could meet these people, see their humble background, and see their love for the Lord, you'd love them in a heartbeat.

We also almost had a miracle baptism this week! I don't even know where it came from...but suddenly J (the nine year old in a family we have reactivated) wants to get baptized! He had the interview and everything, but then at the last minute mom wanted to wait. It was exciting though to see that this family is accepting the gospel more and more. Before we showed up at the door mom and the kids never came to church, now they are there every Sunday! We have a lot of hope about what we can do for N and J down the road.

These weeks, and really on my entire mission, I have been learning a lot about what it means to actually have faith. God is all powerful and still works miracles. He can only work though, based on our faith! It is such a work of faith out here, we have to envision every new investigator, every lesson, every baptism, then go to work like it all depends on us. It is so powerful though, and we are working hard with Elder Killian to develop our own vision of what we can accomplish and believing that God will be there to help us.

De veras, es un placer poder servir al Cristo aqui mismo y ahora mismo. He visto un cambio en mis deseos recientemente, y ahora solo quiero hacer lo que Cristo quiere que haga. Y veo tambien que esta aumentando mi testimonio de la divinidad esta obra, Dios nos guia y nos cuida. Cristo es la cabeza de la iglesia. El libro de Mormon es verdadero. Les quiero muchisimo!
(It is truly a pleasure to serve Christ in here and now. My desires have changed and now I just want to do what Christ wants me to do. I also my testimony of the divinity of this work increasing. God leads us and cares for us. Christ is the head of this church. The Book of Mormon is true. I love you very much!)

Que vayan con Dios,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, September 3, 2012

¡Tened Presente La Fe! (Remember Faith!)


Hello mother and father! I am so grateful to actually be able to email you today! It didn't look like email would be a possibility today because of Labor Day, but a very nice member opened up a family history center for us and so we do get to send mails! Yay for tender mercies! 

I am so happy that Sister Stewart is training! It is such an adventure! It proves to me that the Lord really is in charge of His work. It’s funny...the first day I had with Elder Barrales 4 months ago I scheduled nine appointments hoping that he'd have a super busy first day....7 of those appointments cancelled :) Truly it’s the best being able to train.

I learned soooo much this week! And we got to do so much good work! And we got so many new people to church! I really am so happy right now to be on a mission. It is true that we are starting to see more measureable success right now, but my real happiness has come from my dedication to the Savior and to these people, and the peace that the Spirit brings me. Being a missionary is the best right now!

So about those two new at church...I just have to give a lot of credit to the Spirit and to member help we got to help them come to church. One of these new investigators at church was C C. She is from El Salvador and her husband couldn’t come to church yesterday because their 14 month old M is sick. It was so great to give her a little tour of the chapel before hand and to have soooo many members just come up to her and say hi how are you, great to see you. It was a great meeting (Fast and testimony meeting) and so many members bore their testimonies of the church. It was just a great day to be at church! The other new investigator at church was P! He is the first person from Honduras that I have ever taught on my mission, and his fellowshipper went to his house without a reminder to pick him up! They both loved church so much they said they'll be back next week for all three hours!!

Seriously though, getting someone to church for the first time is a joy that I love second only to when someone is baptized and stays active. You can definitely count on the Holy Spirit to make them feel welcome at church.

In other news this week we had interviews with President Leonard all across the mission. I just have to say...I am a disciple of President Leonard. He just makes you feel loved and appreciated by the way he says "It’s great to be with you today!". The interview was a really spiritual experience for me, because I have been feeling really responsible for the not spectacular performance of the district in August. President just has a way though of making all of my service feel appreciated. And if a PPI with him is that great, can you imagine a PPI with the Savior? (see Enos 1:27)

We are going to just keep working hard and going to work here in Snow Canyon. On my mission, it has never really been a problem for me to be bold and invite people to be baptized, but this week we issued two invitations.  I feel like my love really increased for everybody (Thanks Elder Benion for a great exchange). And I am so glad that I've been able to help Elder Killian learn a little too. We invite EVERYONE to come unto Christ. I was so proud of him when we were on a doorstep yesterday and he whipped out his picture of the Savior's baptism and invited a lady to be baptized :) That’s my son =)

De veras, mi fe ha crecido bastante esta semana. Tengo mas una relacion con mi Padre Celestial, y ahora siento que nosotros estamos trabajando mas en la unidad con El. Una vez esta semana hice algo que jamas habia hecho en mi vida...en una oracion le pregunte al Padre "¿Como eres? ¿Que piensas de mi?" Y ahora lo busco mas...quiero conocerle mas. Esta sera la jornada de me mision :)

(My faith has truly grown this week. I have more of a relationship with Heavenly Father and I think we are now working more in unity with him. Once this week I did something I have never done before in my life. In a prayer I asked the Father, “How are you? What do you think of me?” Now that I look for more, I know more. This will be the journey of my mission.)

¡Los amo bastante! ¡Cuidense mucho! Y den de comer a los elderes mucho! (especialmente los elderes de español)
(I love you very much! Take care! Feed the Elders often! (especially the Spanish-speaking Elders)

Vayan con Dios,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Strength of Priesthood Power!

Queridos y bondadosos padres! Que los quiero mucho! Thank you so much for all of the prayers and support you have sent my way, I really feel the power of your faith helping me too!

Mom and Dad: Yes I know Elder Wood! he was in our district two transfers ago, and we are really, really similar! He goes home soon, but it is such a small world.

I learned a lot this week about priesthood power and I am very grateful for all of the lessons that Heavenly Father gave me. The sister missionaries have had a flu going around (working in the visitor's center half the day is conducive to spreading germs) and so there have been a lot of sick sisters in our district. That means...that there were a lot of priesthood blessings to give :) One sister told us "that was exactly what I needed, after that blessing I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I feel so much better" I really have just a lot of confidence now though that I can be worthy and ready to give a blessing and I can rely on the Spirit for the words to say. I know that as I just focus on being humble and let the Spirit talk, that the blessing the Lord wants to be said will be said.

I also know that the priesthood is "to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant." (D&C 107:19) Basically, as priesthood holders we have the right to receive revelation for our spheres of influence. Here is an example: This week I was looking for a way to just lift the district up and in the middle of sacrament meeting it was like the Lord opened my mind, poured a quart of revelation in, and slammed the lid, and I knew that I had to call all of the companionships to share a scripture with them. Well, we did it, and everyone commented that they felt very uplifted. I am really just learning to recognize that feeling that comes when I know the Spirit has place a thought in my mind.

The Lord was so good to us this week. I have had to be really patient in these last’s just been so different in the area since I first got here. I honestly feel like I know everybody, I am even starting to learn who is who in the English wards (we cover more than 20 English wards all together...) The Lord poured out several tender mercies for us this week. 

We have been working for so long to reactivate the L family and baptize their son too. N (mom) and J (the son, who we gave the clothes to) have been coming to church so consistently, and they love it. This Sunday we had a funny experience getting J's cousin to church too. We stopped by to pick up D, the cousin, and he didn’t have a shirt or shoes on or anything. He really doubted whether he'd go to church, but as soon as we said "We'll go get J then" he said "Oh! I'll go get ready!" it was so funny to see his cousin run into his home and get him all ready for church. They even made it to church on time :) That is the power of having a friend in the gospel.

This week Elder Killian and I spent a lot of time studying the doctrine of Christ, as He describes his gospel in his own words and how it applies to everyone. As I have been reading the Book of Mormon this last time through (a blue pass along copy) I have been highlighting in red everywhere that it mentions Christ or his names, and underlining in blue the elements of his gospel (His atonement and mission, faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end--3Ne27:13-22). My testimony has just been so strengthened that the atonement of Jesus Christ is the central fact that governs our lives. He came to save us, to suffer for our sins, and make the way back to him possible. He just asks that we believe in him, repent and obey his commandments, including getting baptized by the priesthood authority. When we have read that from the scriptures with investigators, the Spirit always testifies of "following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized" and it has helped me see too how our purpose is centered in the doctrine of Jesus Christ. We have had a lot of success teaching Christ's doctrine in his own words to people. September and October are going to be great months!

There are just so many amazing stories I want to tell from this week...but I will limit myself to two. We had a recent convert lesson with G and her family this Thursday (they are receiving the recent convert lessons from Preach my Gospel!) and she and her mom told us another part of their story. The night after they failed their baptismal interviews they both prayed really hard. I guess that was a way that Heavenly Father used to make sure they had real intent, because they wanted to know if they should go through with the interviews with President or not, and ultimately if they should be baptized. Well, you can count on the Holy Ghost to answer prayers, because that night they both dreamed multiple times about getting baptized, and they knew God answered their prayers. In the lesson L (the unbaptized father) was there, and he said: "just go slowly with me, baby steps. I'll read the Book of Mormon, I've just been Catholic for a long time." I can't wait for this family to go to the temple! I want you all to meet them some day.

My other amazing grace we experienced this week came from working with the Powells to fellowship recent converts. The Powells are an answer to my prayers, I have wanted for a long time to have a way to keep these converts active, and the lord sent us Brother and Sister Powell! They will be working with us to fellowship the recent converts!

Pues, casi se me ha expirado el tiempo, pero, les quiero dar mi testimonio de que yo sé que cristo vive, y que esta involucrado en nuestras vidas, A medida que tengamos fe en él, y le seamos obedientes, él nos muestra su mano en nuestras vidas. Miro su mano mas y mas cada dia, y estoy super agradecido por la oportunidad de servirle como un misionero. 
(Well my time is almost over but I want to give my testimony that Christ lives and is involved in our lives. As we have faith in him, and obey him; he shows his hand in our lives. I see his hands every day and am super grateful for the opportunity to serve as a missionary.)

Los amo! Haz lo justo!

Con amorcito,

Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, August 20, 2012

Walking in Newness of Life

Mi querida familia,

First of all I just want to give a huge congratulations to Sister Stewart for her baptism this weekend! That is the best!!

This week was really great. (This will be a short letter, sorry!!) I honestly think I went through the hardest day of my mission so far on Friday, but it was also one of the best. Friday was hard because...mostly because I couldn't get to sleep on Thursday. I was just really uncomfortable on the small bed. But in any case, I "woke up" at 6:30 and told the Lord "if you want me to serve you today, give me the energy, because I am spent" And he definitely gave me the energy. It was honestly a fight to just physically move around that day, but I know the Lord was testing me because we got so many miracles after that. On Friday we got three amazing referrals from another area! We hardly ever get referrals in Spanish work! We contacted one of them right away and she wanted to learn more! I think the biggest miracle for me though, was that I physically made it through the day, I had a good attitude, and I woke up on Saturday feeling physically and spiritually better. One of the things I have had to learn is that I can rely on the Lord for strength. It’s true :)

So, that amazing referral that we contacted is named C and she has lived with her husband in an area I have tracted many times, but I have never met them! C and her husband haven't been going to any church in a long time, and want to feel more peace in their lives. They are so open and kind we committed them to coming to church right there on Saturday. They didn't come, but we still have a return appointment with them for this week. It is so exciting to find new people!

We have also kept teaching O during this week as well. She took a big step this week by praying in front of us asking if this message is true and if she should be baptized. She said she didn't feel an answer right there, and honestly, that’s okay! I remember the first times I prayed to get an answer; I didn't feel anything, but mostly because I didn't know how to feel an answer. As she keeps praying and reading and coming to church (she came again!) I know she'll get that answer.

The other thing that really impacted me from this week is how much Elder Killian is learning Spanish. It’s incredible! I've taken it upon myself just to speak Spanish around him (which is better for both of us anyway) and sometimes he does give me blank looks, but I can see his progress from just two weeks ago!

Another fun thing we got to do this week was speak in Sacrament meeting in an English ward. That’s the first time on my mission I've been asked to do that! I feel like I didn't chastise the congregation too much ;) It was actually an excellent opportunity for both of us though

Otra vez, me tengo que disculpar por cuan corta esta carta es. Pero tambie quisiera compartir mi testimonio de que yo se sin ninguna duda que el evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero y que tiene poder que nos puede transformar. Yo se que nuestro Padre Celestial vive y que el se comunica con nosotros si tan solo lo eschuchamos. De veras este mes me ha sido dificil! Pero he sentido tambien la paz del espiritu diciendome que he hecho lo que Dios queria que hiciera; esta paz es la recompensa mas dulce. Me hace querer ser misionero para siempre :)

Los amo tanto! Cuidense mucho!
(Again, I have to apologize for the shortness of this letter. But I do want to bear my testimony that I know without a doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ is real and has the power to change us. I know that Heavenly Father lives and will talk to us if we will listen. This month was really difficult, but felt the peace of mind that this was what God wanted me to do. This peace is the sweetest reward. It makes me want to be a missionary forever.
I love you both. Take care.)

Que vayan con Dios,

Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hope, an Anchor to the Souls of Men

Hola mama y papa! De verdad, les amo muchisimo! I also love the mission and serving in the heat of summer :)  We had so many great experiences this week, a lot of trials too, and I want to give a big a thank you to Bishop Baker for his very timely lesson and letter. For the first time on my mission, it has been kind of hard to find new people, bring them to church, and help them accept a baptismal date. I have been praying super hard to know what I need to do, and what I need to change to get things back on track in the area.  One of the things that I learned on this Sunday was just to job is to work hard and to trust. I really am working on that attitude of giving my all to the Lord without caring about personal success. BUT! This week we did see miracles still!

One miracle was that we found N again! Elder Paiz and I contacted her in a park about...6 months ago :) She was really open with us and wanted to learn more and grow closer to the Savior, but we lost contact with her for months (her husband wasn't supportive). Well...on Wednesday we got the referral for her again from one of our great member families, we stopped by...and she was home and very interested in learning more! It is kind of sad though...her husband got deported so she is very down right now. But as it has happened so many times on my mission, the Lord sent us to her right at the time when she needed us most.  My testimony of the atonement really has grown so much while I've been out here. Christ strengthens me every day, and I have seen the promise of a remission of sins, and spiritual healing spark hope in the eyes of so many people. This is the best work ever!

We are super excited to work with N. And also, we are working on reactivating a family and baptizing their nine year old son J. They have been at church for a month straight now! J at first didn't have any church clothes, so Elder Killian and I bought him a white shirt and tie and when we gave it to him he ran into his home shouting "I'm a Mormon! I'm a missionary!" =) We had a great talk with him and his family after that about how he could get baptized, get the priesthood, go to the temple, and then be a missionary, and there was really just an enthusiasm in his face. As far as it is possible, I have seen this nine year old repent, and gain his own personal hope too.

We taught Brother C the plan of salvation this week (he already knew it...he should have been baptized a year ago!) and just lingered for a while over the importance of the atonement and following Christ. He still has that great attitude for his baptismal date and said "alli vamos, echandole ganas" basically "we're going for it" The Lord does not just send missionaries out to bring more people into the church, but the Spirit has taught me that there are eternally important reasons for why we do things. Obedience to Heavenly Father is the first thing we need to learn if we want to make it back to Him someday. With that in mind, Elder Killian and I studied the plan of salvation this week, and it was so funny that he left that companionship study saying "we need everyone to repent and be baptized now! no...they all need to get sealed too!" We have the best companionship ever (he reminds me a lot of Mitch...just a thought =] ).

One last miracle...we had so many non members at church this week! I counted nine! We had 5 investigators there, and 4 "future investigators" =] If you remember the O we have been teaching this last week, we finally got her to church as well! It was a little bit of a process, as she has a new born and a 5 year old with Down’s syndrome. For whatever reason...I was the one that was in charge of folding and unfolding the stroller. That thing was complicated! And here I was thinking that strollers where years down the road....but! The best thing was getting her to church with the English teachers, and having her thank us for all the help we've given her. I am super hopeful for the work we can do with her.

Heavenly Father really loves us so much. I have developed a real personal understanding of faith and hope (thanks again to Bishop Baker for showing me the ropes in all those interviews we had). Faith is when we confide in Christ as the savior and when want to keep His commandments. Hope for me is a little more personal. I have the hope that "My Jesus" (2Ne33:6) can heal and shape me through my faith in Him. I have the hope that He can help me become a successful missionary, and an instrument to bless the lives of these people. My ultimate hope that I've learned about this week, is that He can guide ME back to His presence, and that I can enjoy eternal life some day.

La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias es verdadera! Cristo es nuestro salvador y el quiere que tengamos esta esperanza muy personal tambien---El puede ayudar a cualquier persona que viene a El. Amo a estos hispanos y a mi querida rama. Mas y mas siento como un miembro de esta congregacion y he crecido a amarlos aun que no sean perfectos. Los amo a ustedes tanto! Seguiremos adelante!
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true! Christ is our savior and wants us to have this hope too---that He can help anyone who comes to Him. I love these Hispanics and my dear branch. More and more I feel like a member of this congregation and have grown to love them more perfectly. I love you both! Onward!)

Que vayan con Dios,

Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Best Mission Ever!

Whewie! ¡Hola mis amados padres! Estoy super duper agradecido a comunicarme con ustedes al comenzar una nueva semana. Esta semana...he estado mas emocionado que jamas antes en mi mision. ¡Muchas cosas buenas estan pasando ahora en nuestro are!!
(Hello my dear parents! I'm super duper grateful to write to you at the start of this new week. This week ... I've been more excited than ever before in my mission. Many good things are happening now in our area!)

First thing is first! There goes Elder Barrales in the transfer wagon all the way to Moab...but we say a big hello to Elder Killian! He is the best! Fresh out of the MTC he comes from Kennewick Washington and is a great Elder. The first thing that he said to me in the car was "It is really important for me to be obedient" :) Well Elder, you've come to the right place :) 

Going to the trainers' meeting and meeting Elder Killian was actually a really good experience for me. I have been in those trainers' meetings three times now (once as a greenie, and now twice to train) and they have always been extremely spiritual experiences for me. It’s as if the Spirit was just feeding me and knows all of my needs to get me ready for 3 more months focused outside of myself again. I know that President Leonard is inspired of God. Doing what he asks is not hard at all because the Spirit always bears testimony that it is what the Lord desires for me too. Soooo....we are training again :) I know I have a few more ideas and a little more experience now, and I am so excited to work with an Elder that is so ready to work and learn! Seriously, I have never felt this much unity in a companionship from right off the bat. 

So we left that meeting on Wednesday, and the first thing we did was definitely a miracle! We knocked the door of a family that has never answered before...and they opened up! Elder Killian was amazing, and just got a little tongue tied inviting them to be baptized. But...they accepted! I love it. We have appointments with this family to follow up on their commitments. The most amazing thing though is that the 15 year old son has been praying and reading the Book of Mormon every night for 2 weeks! I have been in this area for 6 months and knocked that door countless times...but apparently Heavenly Father was just waiting until the right man came along for them to open up to us :) 

We had so many amazing lessons this week, I just can’t tell you about all of them! One of the best was with a man named Brother C . His wife got baptized 1.5 yrs ago and he has come to church with her for a while. I love this man so much...he is an example of hard work and selflessness to provide for his family, and he has soooo much faith. He has read half of the Book of Mormon!! But in that lesson we told the Joseph Smith story again then I gave the time over to Elder Killian.  He looked sooooo scared, but in all the Spanish he could muster he just bore the humblest testimony,  "I testify that I know that these things are true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet."   That alone did more to flood the room with the Spirit that anything else. But it’s not over yet!! Bro. C said "I just really want to keep the commandments" and my Book of Mormon pretty much flipped by itself to 2 Nephi 31:10-12, and then Elder Killian bore his humble testimony again. And Brother C sat there, then said "¡Echemosle ganas!" which being interpreted means "lets go for it!" We are a team as a companionship already! It's the best! 

More than anything else though, I know that its the power of the Lords' spirit that does this work see D&C 35:13-14. 
 13 Wherefore, I call upon the aweak things of the world, those who are bunlearned and despised, to thresh the cnations by the power of my dSpirit;
 14 And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their ashield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their benemies shall be under their feet; and I will let cfall the dsword in their behalf, and by the efire of mine indignation will I preserve them. 

How else can we be effective servants of the Lord right out of the MTC, or even at all? I just know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that they have poured out the Spirit over this area to prepare people to receive two 19 year old Elders just trying their best to share the Gospel. I am so weak as a leader and a trainer, but I know that the Spirit is the most important element in this work. We are just going to baptize everyone these two transfers! 

En todo seriedad, tengo un testimonio de la restauracion del evangelio. Puedo imaginar como se sentia el profeta Jose Smith, al ser llamado para efectuar una obra much mas grande que el. Asi me siento yo casi todos los dias. Comparto mi testimonio tambien de que yo se que la Iglesia es verdadera, que es guiada hoy dia por el Salvador viviente. El Libro de Mormon contiene la palabra de Dios, y me ha cambiado la vida.  Los amo tantisimo! Obrare duro todos los dias, no se preocupen por mi!
(In all seriousness, I have a testimony of the Restored Gospel. I can imagine how the prophet Joseph Smith felt to be called to make a much larger work than me. I feel that way every day. I bear witness that I also know that the Church is true, that today it is guided by the living Savior. The Book of Mormon contains the word of God and has changed my life. I love you so much! I will work hard every day, do not worry about me!) 

Los amo!!
Que vayan con Dios, 

Elder Michael George Stewart