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