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 espaƱol)
(I love you very much! Take care! Feed the Elders often! (especially the Spanish-speaking Elders)

Vayan con Dios,
Elder Michael George Stewart