Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Missionary Christmas!

Hello Family!

This was probably one of the most FUN weeks of my mission. We got to do a ton of good work, we progressed and improved our companionship, and we had some good old fashioned fun. Elder Becerra and I also got to watch Kung Fu panda (one of my favorite movies) with the Judy family Christmas night. And it has a lot of Gospel principles in it. Just remember, "There is no secret ingredient, it’s just you!"
Let me give you some of the highlights I didn't get around to giving you in our phone call. It was great to see all of you! You're doing pretty good this year it looks like. I don't know why, but just seeing you was really joyful for me! It’s hard to believe it’s gone so fast---2 years? Well, at least I have 7 weeks left. And at this point I just want to make the most of every day and enjoy it. I am learning to apply all the lessons I have learned on my mission so far.

First a little bit of news from our area. The First Presidency decided to follow the recommendation of our Stake Presidency and they discontinued our Spanish Branch this Sunday. We had been briefed about this by President Rosenvall and President King (his 1st counselor who was also serving as interim Branch President), and so took steps to introduce all our Hispanic families to their new bishops and wards. We have accounted for every single individual and family attending the branch. Being so close to the men who recommended this decision, I know that it’s the will of God. Our families are already reacting positively to the change, and elder Becerra and I are excited to fellowship them now as a part of the regular wards. All I know is that I would follow the men in this Stake Presidency anywhere and do anything they asked us. We are going miss working so closely with President King. He has been another one of those great role models for us, but we will still see him around.

So on Sunday we spent all week attending church in the Axtell building. We went to the Axtell ward with R and C (a less active family we are teaching), spoke in the YSA branch, and then attended the Spanish Branch's last sacrament meeting.

And now for a non sequitur: we have been teaching the L family for about 2 transfers now. C came from a really active family, and she married R who was never active in the church. They had several kids, only one of whom is active and decided to go on a mission. Now all of their kids and grandkids, except the one that went on a mission, are on the "perimeter" of the Gospel. They are not enjoying temple blessings or any real activity in the Church. All because of a decision made in the past to raise a family outside of the church.
The good news is that they can repent, change their hearts and come back. And C, mostly thanks to her returned missionary daughter, is doing just that. R is having some trouble with some habits.  The Gospel is changing their hearts gradually but it’s so sad to see where they and their kids have come to, all because of past mistakes. I’m glad the bishop asked us to help teach this family.

Anyway, I hope we all do what we can to encourage our friends and family to be involved in the Gospel. The generational effect is way too huge. And I know that each of us can be saviors for our friends and family to bring them to the church.

In good news this week, N will be baptized on Saturday, and M will baptize his son B on Friday. Also, K finally committed to a date! We had to talk with the wrestling coaches (half of whom we teach, interestingly enough) to arrange a time when they could cancel practice to do his baptism. So on January 7th at 7pm K will be baptized! The 8-11th they have wrestling tournaments, so he wouldn't be able to be baptized then. He will be confirmed on the 12th in sacrament meeting. This 16 year-old kid is just too awesome; he lives with an active family, attends church weekly, and has a great testimony!

Well, I think that is all for this week. I really love what I am doing. There is way too much to cram it all into a small email. We see miracles every day. Couples deciding to get married, new investigators falling out of the sky, people repenting and changing, it’s the best!

This work is so true. We all need to have the VISION of what we can do and accomplish! I know that God loves all of his children and he wants them all to accept his church and his gospel. He has prepared a way for everyone to hear his voice and his gospel, and to decide for themselves. What excites me the most is that as his disciples we can be his voice to carry the gospel to them. Why in the world would we be unbelieving and think anyone is lost? We can do small things to serve and love those around us, and we can invite our friends and family to try out the gospel in simple ways. If we start with really praying for the welfare of those around us, and then we get up and act for them, God can do miracles with us, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

I love you so much!
Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It’s been a great week :)

Hello family! I got the Christmas package! Thanks so much! More candy?!? Ha,ha,ha,ha everyone here is trying to "fatten us up"! There seems to be no end to the baked goods, bread, take home meals, and treats everyone gives us. (D&C 84:89) We're just grateful that we have the problem of having to watch what we eat, and not the opposite problem. And we have plenty of food and to spare for this week, even to share.

Speaking of sharing food, Elder Becerra and I got the chance to help an unemployed transient worker from Europe this week. We tried to get a hold of his bishop and the transient bishop for this area, but we couldn't reach anyone. So we took him two cans of soup, a homemade pot pie, apples, rice, baked ham, steamed veggies, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of homemade bread that we had at home. He was very grateful for them. Right after we delivered our food, we did get a hold of the bishop, and he was able to help him with a job and a food order. I was grateful though that we had the chance to share what we had, tis the season after all.
This will be another short email. We are having some baptisms this weekend it! A and S will be baptized on Saturday. I remember when I was in Richfield a year ago, the Elders were already teaching them. It’s about time, and it’s been hard work. I guess the formula for success on the mission doesn't change no matter how long you've been out.

All of our investigators are doing great! Every time we teach J and J you can see the light increase in their faces. B and A came to the Spanish Branch party and loved it. And we are teaching some youth with less active parents too. I love teaching. We should see a lot of baptisms soon.

Here’s a story for you. Elder Becerra I have been teaching a family where the wife is active and the husband is inactive, and has been for years. He drinks and doesn't like coming to church, but he is doing really well in the lessons. Yesterday after we taught his family he walked outside with us, and shed some tears while he hugged us and thanked us for teaching him. We hope he makes it to church soon.  It was a good little pay day moment for working so hard with that family.

I love the mission. Thanks for supporting me out here. My encouragement this week is to rely on the atonement more. As we set a high vision and goals for ourselves, and rely on the Lord to help us in his work, I've seen that we can have peace of mind and assurance that all will go well. It seems like as I rely on the Lord more and more, he can teach me and help me more. It sure takes away my stress! I'm coming to realize that I don't have to be superman and do it all, because Jesus already did "do it all" in the atonement. I have to do my best and rely on him and those around me.

I love you so much! It’s going to be a great week!

Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Making the Mission more Personal

Hello family,

 It’s a great winter day in Sanpete county Utah. There is about 6 inches of snow on the ground, ice on the roads, and lots of people to share the gospel with. It has snowed several times this week, but I only got stuck in the snow once trying to drive out of our driveway up a hill. We turned around and got out in no time though. We learned quickly. All is well!

This week was really good, it was great in fact. N, B, A and a few others committed to baptism. That’s one of the most spiritual times of the teaching process to me, when someone agrees to follow the promptings they are feeling and be baptized. It’s amazing and life changing every single time.

Dad, this week, I don't know why, but I've reflected a lot on your missionary experience. How you went through 12 sets of missionaries, how you didn't feel anything special the first time you read the Book of Mormon, and then your decision to live like Joseph Smith and his successors were prophets. And especially how you have gained your own testimony of the Gospel through the years. When we teach the Joseph Smith story to a family, and when we invite someone to be baptized, it makes me think of you and your choice to accept the Gospel. Remembering how your life, and therefore my life, have been changed and affected by the Restoration and the Gospel fills me with gratitude. I think I am just realizing how my life has been affected by missionaries (full time and member missionaries----THANKS MOM!) and I am so happy that I can offer that to other families. So, share the Gospel with your friends and family! Who knows who you will have affected 1 or 2 generations later? What could possibly be more important than that? See this website for simple ideas on sharing the gospel with others.

There were so many miracles this week! I think Elder Becerra and I saw so many miracles because we were on the same page more than ever before. We were praying for the same things, working for the same goals, and we taught in better unity. There is still a lot room for improvement though.

Let me tell you about 3 lessons.

We have been teaching a less active couple (though they are now coming to church) for a few weeks. They aren't married yet (they have plans to get married in April) and the future husband had a drinking problem. This week we taught him the Word of Wisdom and he told us "Yeah, I'll quit drinking. I've been waiting for you guys to tell me to quit drinking for a few weeks now." So that day we carried his last six pack of Bud Light out of his house, and dumped it in a dumpster. He sent us a text later thanking us for all we have done with him. Just goes to show that the real joy in missionary work comes when people repent (See Luke 15).
We also taught J and J the Word of Wisdom this week. They committed to quit smoking and drinking coffee. In just a couple days they have made so much progress! One went from a pack and a half to just 5 cigarettes, and the other is only smoking one a day. We fasted with them on Sunday, and we are going to give them priesthood blessings tonight. I really think that they can quit soon, and be baptized at the end of December. One amazing thing that happened with them this week, we asked the ward mission leader if members of the ward could stop by their home every day this week to offer support and fellowship. He talked to the relief society president, and she had assignments made before the end of church. So encourage the ward council to go out and visit investigators and less actives.  Your missionaries will love you.
We committed N (the kid who was just adopted from Ethiopia into an active family) to be baptized this week. We have been praying so hard for him to understand both English and the restored gospel in English. His language skills and understanding of the Gospel have really taken off in these weeks! I think mostly thanks to his mother’s help. After we watched the Joseph Smith story with him, we asked him how we felt about it and he said that he had already prayed about the church and gotten an answer from God. Well, the process is the same no matter how old you are. Read, pray, and trust God to answer you. That was an exciting lesson.

So again, thanks for everything! We are just having a great time. Oh, I almost forgot, yes we did get transfer calls, and Elder Becerra and I are staying together. It has been rare for me to be with a companion less than 12 weeks after all. So we have 6 more weeks together to see all of the reactivations and baptisms we have been working on. 

I know that this work is true, and that it’s the most important thing any of us can do. I love reading scriptures about missionary work. You probably already know this, but here is my inspiration as a missionary.

18. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
 19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
 20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

There is so much in this scripture.  Jesus has the power to do His work, so what in the world do I need to fear? He has told me to teach, baptize, and teach some more, and that’s what I have loved to do as a missionary. President Monson has some great comments on this scripture if you look at last conference.  What I know though is that this commission from Jesus Christ is how we can change the world, in His own way, and one life at a time.

I love you! I love what I am doing!

Con Amorcito,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spiritual Workout

We did it again this week! 7 days of more missionary work in Gunnison. I am probably the only man on earth this week who managed to lose weight during Thanksgiving week...I guess running and going to the gym every morning really pay off. Its a blessing being here in Gunnison...they give the missionaries a free gym membership and free key fob. So despite three sizeable dinners on Thursday, my Sunday pants still fit me a little looser this week. Go figure!
It was really a great week for us and our contacts this week. I am loving this area! A Payday moment came this week as M bore his testimony...what a blessing! We are still teaching him and his wife and 5 kids all together and he is preparing to baptize his 8 year old son on Christmas.  M and his family need that experience now of him using the Priesthood in his home and family. As a missionary...you can do so much to ensure that converts like M endure to the end!! It was exciting this week though just to be with and strengthen M. He is going strong!

Actually....H bore her testimony in sacrament meeting too this week!! Thats 2/2 on our converts from this area bearing testimony in fast and testimony meeting. So that was a good thing for us yesterday.  Here's a day by day highlights breakdown
Mon: Great lesson with J and J about the restoration...they are doing great! He should be baptized this month. They are really humble about this whole process and that is making all of the difference.
Tuesday: Taught J G again. Thats a long drive!! He doesn't think he will be ready for baptism in this month right now, but he kept reading and going to church. I learned a lot in that lesson. I hope he gets baptized so bad!!! He knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that this is the true church, he is just afraid of his boss. As fate has it...his boss is actually a member, but super less active. J told us in that lesson how he gets on his boss about not going to church or following the commandments. Every nonmember a missionary i guess!
Wed: Had a lesson with a man that came to church last week named B D. He is recovering from surgery, and he says that he has a testimony of the church. Wednesday was kind of a hard day for a variety of reasons...but we pushed through it. A piece of counsel that always helps me is "No matter how bad things are today, they will be better tomorrow if you serve the Lord today." If you apply that to yourself everyday and just conciously chose to serve the Lord, your life is happy and blessed. Trials don't disappear, but you become stronger to meet them. Thats what i learned this week.
Thur: Three dinners. Wow. We also put J on date for the 27th of December! Then in the evening we played basketball with missionaries in our district. I guess that was part of the mission initiative to help us not be so fat all the time.
Fri: What a miracle day! We went to a lesson with the butchers and A's boyfriend was there too. After the openning prayer, A looks at us and says, "by the way, B wants to get baptized too" WHAT!? This kid graduated from seminary and we thought he was a member. Turns out he just slipped through the cracks when he was a kid. He hasn't been taking the lessons as much, so they rechose a baptism date for the 21st of December for A, B, and  S. That was such a miracle.

I know that if we just do as Heavenly Father asks, he will provide every needful thing for us. Especially when our desires and our wills are lined up with him. I had a really sweet experience this week on Friday where I was shown how I have changed on my mission...even over this last year I have become more of who Heavenly Father wants me to be. I am grateful that I can actually say that I WANT others to come unto Christ and be baptized not for me but for God and for them. Its taken this last year to get that feeling deep down in my heart, but I know now that it is firmly there.
Sat: Had a great visit with B and his wife Liz . They basically dumped all of their feelings and thoughts on us when we were with them. They really want their kids to be baptized (L will take more time). But it looks like only H will be getting baptized from that family this month. I learned A LOT from talking with them this week.
1. People WANT missionaries to be bold with them. Deep down everyone wants to repent. B asked us to boldly commit him and his family to come to church on a specific date. So they are coming to church with us next week.
2. The most important things in life are the relationships we have with those around us. Think of the whole purpose of the Gospel--eternal families. We need to take time to nourish and develop the relationships we have by giving of ourselves and our time. Those relationships bring life's real joy.
3. Don't worry mom and dad....when you are older and can't take care of yourselves you can come live with me and my family if you want. ;-) Family first, right?
Also on saturday we ate lunch with our Stake President and took his 18 yo son who  on splits. I hope we have solidified that as a tradition in our area- Saturday lunch with the Stake Prez #WorkingWithMembers. President  is a great man, and I love being around him. His son served in the Alpine German speaking mission (funny how that same thing was true of my last stake president in the St. George YSA 1st stake). It was good to share the spirit, food, scriptures, and missionary work plans with that great man. As soon as he recovers from his surgery he will be coming out to teach with us too!

Sun: Had a great fast. Got 11 of our people to church. Sat next to the whole B Family in Sacrament meeting. Rejoiced in the Lord.
All in all....a great week. This week we have Zone Conference with a member of the 70. I hope I learn a lot. I am also focusing all of my efforts this week on building up Elder Becerra for whatever comes at the transfer. I know if I focus on taking care of Elder Becerra, Heavenly Father will take care of the area. He has show that time and time again.
I love you all so much. I cherish our relationships and I am glad that we can still strengthen each other and grow our friendships at a distance. I am realizing just how important you all are to me. As I draw to the close of my mission my heart really is full of not things...but people. I know that if we do our best to be a good friend and to help each other in the gospel our friends will be eternally with us. I think of the most treasured people from my mission....companions, converts, local members, etc and I can't wait to share all of that with you all face to face at the beginning of next year. You better mark your calendars for a mission tour in Summer 2014.
This is Gods true and living Church. It is lead by the living Son the of the living God, who has called servants to guide us. I love being one of his "swift messengers" to these people. I love you so much!!!
Con Amor,
Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, November 25, 2013

Loving it!

Hello family! It’s been a great, if a little cold, week here in Gunnison. We had snow and some wintery mix a few times this week. But thankfully Gunnison doesn't get hammered with snow like other towns in the area. Yes I am staying warm.  But I am also going to buy another sweater today!

This week Elder Becerra baptized M. We almost thought that M's baptism wasn't going to happen this week. His work took him all the way to Oregon to pick seed in the mountains. But he drove all the way back to Gunnison on Friday for his baptism on Saturday. He is such a humble man, and he felt that the Lord had great blessings in store for him if he decided to go through with his baptism. There was definitely a way provided for him to come back down to be baptized!

We also taught a young lady named H who was baptized this week.  Her dad was worthy to baptize her and they her family has have been really good about coming to church together, except for her mom who works on Sundays in the jail. They are probably in my favorite ward in this area, the bishop, ward mission leader, and a lot of the members work so hard to find and fellowship investigators.

We worked really hard this week. I am surprised at how much effort is still required for each baptism to take place. The formula doesn't change no matter how long you have been on your mission! Faith and Works are always the qualifications for miracles. I am just so happy that I still have the energy to go after it every day in this area.

Some highlights from the week: we went on a lot of splits to cover all of our lessons. Elder Becerra told me that he has grown a lot in this last month, and that was a little payday moment for me. I really love him and I want him to leave this area ready to tackle any challenge in the mission. Every day we study and practice so that we can each get better, and it is definitely paying off!

This week we also went all the way down to Central Valley (see that on a map of Sevier County) to teach a Peruvian man who is working as a sheepherder. That was a great experience. We are the only Spanish speaking missionaries right now that can cover this big area and so we got a ride all the way down to Richfield and then from Richfield to Central. We stopped in a field in front of a tiny, tiny trailer. Seriously, our dinner table would not fit inside of that trailer. My companion sat in front of J as we taught him the first lesson in that tiny space. He has been to church before, loved it, and his English teachers have given him a Book of Mormon in Spanish. I wouldn't be surprised if he got baptized soon. We are going back there this coming week to teach him again.

Also, we kept teaching the Bs. And the whole family came to church this Sunday! The Bishop and ward mission leader were kind of surprised to see them all there, and we were too honestly! The mom and dad are members, and their 19 and 24 year old daughters live with them and were never baptized. They don't read very much so we spend time reading from the Book of Mormon with them in the lessons.

We continued teaching the Ms too! That was such a great experience. All of their kids come and listen to the lessons as well, and they have read the Book of Mormon together and prayed together as a family. This week they came to church too! The mother said that she is surprised to see changes in herself to where now she WANTS to have us come over and she WANTS to go to church. The father is also coming along well (he is a nonmember); he said that he understands more about the Gospel than ever before.

Teaching families all together has been such a great blessing. We are teaching 5 families right now and a smattering of other individuals. Before I got transferred from St. George I had the impression that I would be focused on teaching families in this last part of my mission, and it’s so good to see that come true!
Thanks for your emails too! It’s so funny, here raking leaves is definitely not the process that it is back home. The trees are smaller and have smaller leaves too. Thanks for the details too about the return trip home. I won't be out of Utah very long!

I love you all so much! I definitely know that this gospel is true. I continue to learn more and more about faith, repentance, and baptism on my mission. As you preach the first principles of the gospel again and again, your understanding and conversion really grows. I am realizing that they are all inseparable. The gate to enter is repentance and baptism, not just baptism. We need to help our investigators endure to the end too. At the same time, we're not afraid or ashamed to teach the necessity of baptism either, after all the Savior commands us "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". That scripture is still carrying me this day!

I love you so much!! Take care!

Elder Michael Stewart

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What more can I give?

Hello mom and dad,

 This week I learned great lessons, I hope a lot of what the Lord has been teaching me for 2 years is getting internalized. Let me start by telling you of some of the impressions I had this week.

A young single father who is inactive and struggling with the Word of Wisdom asked us to come teach him and give him some help this week. He is divorced for several reasons, lives alone, and only gets to see his girls every other weekend. One impression that I had when I was in his home is that life, marriage, and companionships, are not about "What’s in it for me?" The world wants us to think about ourselves, about our own pleasure, achievement, health, and enjoyment, but that is backwards with God. Any human relationship does not last if we are just in it for ourselves. That was a pretty powerful lesson that was driven home to me.

This week was awesome! We had several lessons that were just flawless. We taught the Restoration to almost all of our investigators this week and it was great to see that Elder Becerra and I are getting to where we can really teach as a team. It’s taken a lot of work and practice to get there!

Let me tell you about one lesson that we had and then I have to go, sorry!

We were teaching a part member family (The N’s, they aren't active and their 15 year old B is an investigator).  Elder Becerra said the previous contacts with the N’s hadn't been too successful in the past. We were reading the first chapter of the Book of Mormon and a Spirit came into the room that was clear and sweet. The parents and the daughter who we were teaching had tears in their eyes as we testified simply of the Book of Mormon and they committed to read it every day! Just little simple experiences like that go a long way for me.

I love you! Gunnison is great! We are having a few baptisms next week! And we are inviting everyone else to be baptized too.

Con Amor,
Elder Michael Stewart

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sanpete for Life!

This week we had a baptism the missionaries had been working on for a while before I arrived. We have been focusing on the mother of a family, and this week I invited her to read the Book of Mormon.  She did!  I was so happy when she kept that commitment.  She is a less active member, but I was very happy when she decided to read the scriptures again. Reactivation is just as rewarding as converting.  This week we baptized her son.

 To give you some perspective, I feel good if we find 2-3 new investigators in a week because I expect about 1:3 of them to be baptized. This week we found 7 new investigators! I love finding new people to teach! It’s one of the most exciting things for me as a missionary. Thanks for your prayers for me to find! Keep praying! There are a lot of people waiting for us to give them the gospel up here.

Most of the new investigators are coming from referrals that the bishops have been giving us. It’s so good to know all of the bishops in this area and to have relationships with them. One new family we picked up this week is the H’s. B and E are each in their second marriage, he is a member and she isn’t, and they have a 12 year-old son and a 14 year-old   who aren't baptized. They are very kind and right now we are focusing hard on having them all read the Book of Mormon, especially E. One thing I know is that the Book of Mormon has the converting power we need as missionaries.

We also picked up a family named the B’s. Brother and Sister B want to come back to church, and their 19 year-old and 24 year-old daughters aren't baptized. When we went to contact the referral, the 19 year-old daughter opened the door, and said "I’m glad you came, we wanted to get my children blessed in the home." Right place at the right time! We took them on a church tour (just across the street from them!) and mom was making plans to attend the week after Stake Conference. She wants to come and wants her daughters to be baptized! They are an answer to prayers.

We also have been trying to teach K. He is 16 and lives with an active family. They are his aunt and uncle who are also his legal guardians too. He plays football and is really busy, but we really want to help him!
Last of all we this week we met A. That was a great miracle! Elder Becerra felt we needed to stop by a certain home and we started talking to a less active young adult who wants to come back, and pretty soon all the other roommates drifted in, and it turns out that one of them is a nonmember young lady, A, who wants to be baptized! We set a goal for everyone to read the Book of Mormon from the beginning, Elder Becerra and I had just finished our last read through, and they all wanted to start. Hopefully we will be able finish before I come home in February! That’s the goal!

This week we also kept teaching the B family, and H is ready to be baptized!  Dad is activated; we are just working on Mom! She works on Sundays at the prison, but she has a really good testimony.

Also, M committed to be baptized this week! He said he has been waiting for the invitation and really wants to do it! It will be good to have a Spanish Speaking baptism again! I haven’t been involved in one since last July.

At this point on my mission, it’s just so fulfilling to see things come full circle. This week I got several emails from people I have taught in other areas that are getting baptized soon. The work of God continues! I am really humbled that I can play a small part in the salvation of others. 

I know that this church is true! Being a member missionary should be such a privilege to all of us! It lets us share that which is most meaningful to us with family and friends who need us. This week think and pray about someone you need to share the gospel with. Then set a goal about WHAT you will do to help them and WHEN you will do it. I know that when we give Heavenly Father all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, he will help us to do his work and we can all successfully invite others to come unto Christ.

I love this work and I love what I am doing. I am constantly grateful that the relationships that I get to build here can last my whole life and into eternity. It is comforting to know that when we help someone be strengthened in the Gospel they become our true friend, and if we are faithful to the end, our family and friends are eternally with us.

Los quiero mucho!!

Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcome to Gunnison!

Hello there mom and dad!! Writing you is a considerable more rested, more peaceful, and COLDER Elder Stewart. I am sitting in the city hall of Gunnison watching coal trucks rumble up and down Main Street. The coal trucks never stop up here!  I bet that’s a good thing economically, I’ve heard that the SUFCO mine is really good for this area. 

Oh Gunnison!  It’s a great place. Serving up here in the fall/winter reminds me of when I was in Richfield last year. Crisp air, fall leaves, and beautiful stone and brick chapels. All of our buildings are older. I'm with a Mexican companion too.  We cover 9 family wards (6 in Gunnison/Center field, 1 in Mayfield, Fayette, and Axtell each) and we also have a Spanish branch and a YSA branch. Our area is more or less on a straight line up highway 89. We cover all the Spanish work south to Salina and maybe soon to Richfield and Monroe. There is so much to do here! 

My companion is great! Elder Becerra was born in Puebla, Mexico and has been living in Salt Lake since he was 10. He is one month older than I am and he has been out for 4.5 months, serving in Gunnison the whole time. He is very humble and willing to work. He is pretty buff and people say we are an intimidating companionship.

This week we felt prompted to meet with all the Bishops to coordinate the work with them. We have gotten many referrals from those meetings. If there is one thing I have learned about how to do missionary work it is to work with the members. This week we are going to invite everyone that we found last week. If even half of them accept our invitations we will have a teaching pool of over 10 people. 

We are working with a young couple right now named the M. They are both nonmembers and just had a baby. He works on a farm so his work is slowing down this week and hopefully he will be able to have more consistent lessons. There is also a family from Guatemala, one from Mexico, and several Part-Member families that we are working with. There should be lots of baptismal dates soon!  

Well this will be my home for the next 4 months.  I want to do the best I can right up to the end of my mission. I am so grateful that whenever I need strength to keep going that I can just ask and I feel that the Savior is right there with me. Elder Stewart doesn’t really have the strength to do this work, but I know that the Savior can work through me. This church is true and I love to invite people to learn about it and live its doctrines every day.  

I love you so much! 
Con amorcito,
Elder Stewart

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm Just Grateful

Well mom and dad, tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.  I will get on the transfer van and leave Utah's Dixie to go to Gunnison.  I'm not sure how I am going to handle those moments; I don't do goodbyes very well. The great thing is that this is a "see you later" for everyone here in St. George, but I'm not sure when I will see some of these missionaries again. Tears have came pretty easy this week as Elder Campbell and I have reflected on 7.5 months together.  I feel attached to these missionaries, to my companions, to the office staff, and to President and Sister Center.  I about lost it when Sister Center gave me some chocolate sheet cake (I told her it was my favorite) and she said "thanks for all you have taught me". Are you kidding me? She is the one with the vision, the energy, and the righteous example. I'm just a 20 year-old kid.  I know in my heart that I have done God's will in this assignment. It’s been super tough, but by every measure I look at I see that I am leaving this area, these missionaries and the whole mission better than I found it.  And I'm just grateful to Heavenly Father that I could play a small part. He has heard my pleas for these missionaries and for my President and He has always delivered. This week the mission had 53 baptisms. That is a single week record for the mission and it’s the most our office staff has ever seen. I feel like this scripture in D&C 128, “Therefore, that we should waste and  wear out our lives in bringing to light all the  hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven  ...  Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully  do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the  salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." 

I just want to do that! To waste and wear out my life in this work. I am still just learning how to "be still and know that he is God". He is so good to me, and yet I struggle trusting and having faith in his plans. I don't deserve this mission, and I definitely don't deserve the relationships and friendships that I have been blessed with among my missionaries, investigators and members in this area. My heart is just feeling very tied up. I love everyone here and I want them to succeed. And now my part that the Lord is asking me to do is to leave all that I love and get on a van to Gunnison. The amazing part about this work and this church is that because I know that I am following the Savior up to Sanpete county it is possible to leave all of this behind. And they will all be in great hands. 

This week was great.  J got baptized he drove down  to do the baptism with us which was great. 

Well, I got to go. Next time I write you will hear all about Gunnison and my new companion. 

Love you!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Relying on your Companion

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, this letter is dedicated to Elder Campbell. I have been serving with this man for 7.5 months. This was probably our best week yet. We were firing on all cylinders. We didn't have to say much to each other in the office this week; we just passed paper and flash drives off to each other and got everything done super fast. We had a lesson Sunday night with two less active members who are coming back to church. Elder Campbell used a great analogy about the gospel being like a bag of M&M's (can't wait to share that one with you when I'm off the mission), and I followed him up with a simple testimony and commitment to read the Book of Mormon. The girls and the fellowshipper left with questions answered and feeling the Spirit. It just felt so natural.

The mission is doing better than ever now too. There are 252 people with baptismal dates in the mission!  I have never seen that before!  I credit the success to the unity of the members/missionaries and to all of the new District Leaders we have, and especially to President Center. Many hands make light work! We truly have great DLs out there. I am just so happy that I see all these changes take place. I love President Center. I would follow him and Elder Campbell to the ends of the earth.

 I am just so grateful for the Lord and for my companion. The other night we just laid awake after the lights were off and laughed about some of the fun/stupid moments we have shared together. Elder Campbell is learning Spanish, so that creates some fun moments as we try our best to speak to each other in that language. We have seen lots of opposition together too. I still remember our first week together in Richfield, we were in the little town of Glenwood together and nothing seemed to work that week. We had worked so hard, but we had no investigators to show for it. So we said a prayer together in the car and I remember feeling peace come over me. The very next day, we received 2 referrals for people who were baptized that same month. We worked hard, relied on the Lord, and he provided the miracle of conversion in other people's lives.

That experience has replicated itself month after month as we have served together. In total, we have 18 converts together. There has never been a month when we haven't met our baptismal goal, and we aren't done yet. I am filled with gratitude for the blessing of being able to serve with as good a man as Ryan Campbell.

So, this week may be our last full week together. I can't really describe how I feel about that. After this week, the week of the 21st we will train up a new AP together and then I am off to a new area for 4 months, and home in February. President Center will make all the decisions this week and so by this time next week I will know my fate (but I won't be able to share it with you). All I know is that I am going to miss Elder Campbell so much. He has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in me. But he has been so patient and loving with me and he has helped me become so much better. I can't tell you how big of an impact he has had on my life. He is truly a forever friend and a true brother. I hope I can always be worthy of his friendship and trust.

Well, that’s most of my thoughts this week. We had a great baptism last week, and will hopefully have some more great baptisms this week as well. C was baptized yesterday. He was introduced to the Gospel in Price when he was a kid, but his parents were less active. Then here in St. George his buddy at work challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and then to meet with the missionaries. It was a picture perfect "working with members" baptism. I hope that I can be that good of a missionary when I go home.

I really love this church and this Gospel. I know that nobody can follow the True and Living God in our days without following his true and living servants. I know that President Monson is God's mouthpiece on earth today. He has counseled all of us to do missionary work! To go to the rescue! And to boldly open our mouths and share the gospel. I urge you to really consider and follow his counsel; we are all called to the work. I know that this church is guided by Christ and that He will support us in all our righteous endeavors. I know he suffered for my sins. Repentance is truly a beautiful word to me and I know that through Christ I can be washed clean and return to live with him someday. That is what I truly want.

I love you all so much!  Thanks for your love and support of me. I am really grateful that you are providing me with the opportunity to serve this mission--it has changed my life. 

Con Amorcito,
Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, October 7, 2013

Is it really P-day again?

Where did this week go? We went on temple trips to St. George and Manti this week. The last time I did that it was with President Leonard and Elder Chidester was my companion, wow time flies.

This week we had three great baptisms: R, L, and S. All four of the people who have been baptized this month belonged to the same ward, and the three girls all live in the same dorms. The Spirit of God spreads like a fire. 

In other happenings this week we had three training meetings for the District Leaders across the mission. President Center halved the size of all of the districts in the mission and we have called twice as many District Leaders. Many hands will make the work of lifting this mission much lighter. It was so good to be among the missionaries and to train them. I am humbled by the opportunity to help other missionaries. I feel like the calling is way above me, but I know that the Lord prepares a way. 

One of the District Leader meetings was in Salina at the seminary building. I got to see President Monsen from Richfield after the meeting. It was good to see an old friend and to see him in his teaching element too. 
Wednesday we had exchanges as well. I went with Elder Ayala in Cedar City Spanish. He is a recent convert of 3 years and he is about to end his mission. He is 26 years old. He is a sincere and humble man. I felt extremely at ease around him.  It reminded me of the first time I was companions with Elder Fragoso, just how calm I felt around him. I learned so much on that exchange, and I really left with a lot of love and respect for Elder Ayala. 

Thursday we were out of our area all day at the Manti Temple and an exchange in Mt. Pleasant. They were good times. I had forgotten how many dogs exist outside of St. George. It seems like everyone in Mt. Pleasant has a dog. 

Well, it’s a busy P-day so I think this is all I can send. Today we are going out to Hatch with our High Councilman to check out his ranch. It should be a lot of fun. 

Love you all! 
Elder Michael Stewart

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lots of Lessons Learned

Well, this was a great week. Miracles rained down from above, people just showed up out of nowhere. And I learned a ton of lessons. 

Elder Campbell and I trained a new group of missionaries and their trainers. Then we finished the first week of the transfer. The highlight of the week was a kid named R. He is from California, and we were referred to him by the missionaries in Hurricane. He has been going to church for weeks, loves the Book of Mormon, and when we didn't give him a baptismal date the first lesson we had with him, he told us he wanted to be baptized. He will be baptized this Saturday. 

One thing I learned this week, show don't tell. It applies to writing, teaching, being a friend and leading. Show missionaries how to teach baptism, don't just tell. Show love; don't just say I love you. Show Heavenly Father by our works we want to repent, don't just ask for forgiveness. 

I feel like this week, my relationship with Heavenly Father was deepened. We went through a little rough patch this week, but I definitely felt the power of the atonement strengthen and help me. It was incredible. I am a different person this week than I was last week. Hopefully now I am more of a teammate, and more of an instrument in God's hands. This week in my prayers, I have really felt Heavenly Father teaching me things in my mind and in my heart. Evening prayers is like going to school now with the master teacher. It’s even more meaningful and powerful as I have applied the things to my work that I've learned on my knees. I know God lives. He will talk to you if you but come to Him. 

I love you so much! Pictures in white are coming soon. 

Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Learning to....endure to the end

Well it was another week in Zion, the best mission in the world. Elder Campbell and I will have one more transfer together which will be a total of 7.5 months serving together! Many people have had shorter courtship + engagement time than we have had companionship time. All I know is the setting apart blessing President Bush gave me is coming true.  After these last six weeks in the office President Center expects to send me out to an area to finish the last three months (+one bonus month!) of my mission. I hope I can train. I also hope I can go to Moab! Actually, I just want to go where the Lord wants me to go. I know that doing his will is how we meet with real success, and I know that he has opportunities planned that I don't even know about. 

This week we had several brush fires erupt and one forest fire. President Center had mostly finished all of his transfer decisions early by Tuesday of this week. So we were finalizing all of the logistics and decisions for the transfer throughout the week, and then we lost two missionaries in the mission. But challenges notwithstanding we finished the transfer (losing two missionaries affects a great deal of other moves) and we look forward to a great week and a great transfer. The mission is baptizing more than ever. It is so rewarding to finally see the fruits of faith, labor, patience, and diligence in the mission. I honestly want to see these other missionaries baptizing more people than see a lot of success in my own area, but and we are getting there now! It is exciting. 

Last week I got to baptize C and Elder Campbell confirmed her. She is awesome. She will definitely be a life-long friend. Many of her friends from Sandy (who introduced her to missionaries up there) were present at her baptism, and some even stayed the next day for the confirmation. She is the perfect example of following the Spirit despite opposition. Her parents still don't support her being a member of the church. All of the most solid members and converts go through opposition. But I have come to realize that while we need to expect opposition, we need to push and strive for breakthroughs. Everyone we teach needs a breakthrough to receive conversion, and it’s our job to be there to help them. 

This week C helped us find and fellowship other investigators in her ward (she lives in the Dorms on campus).  We found three new investigators in her ward!  L, and two roommates  named M and S. Elder Campbell and I joke that because they are roommates, it’s like we are teaching a family.  So you can still find families even in an YSA area. 

S and M are amazing. They both have received strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the Church. M told us "I found out that the Book of Mormon was true on page 20" (See 1Ne11:17 for the exact verse that impacted her). However, they are both experiencing some opposition, S from friends here, and M from family back home. S will be baptized this month, but M will wait for next month. 

Also, they are splitting our area.  We are going to be joined in our stake by Sister Missionaries who will start covering 5 of our wards. They will also cover the Canyonlands Apartments, aka the biggest gold mine for investigators in the mission. 

This week Elder Woolley and Sister Woolley ended their missions too. Talk about determined people. They have probably been some of the most influential persons to me on my mission, and I sure will them. We had a DELICIOUS dinner with them on Sunday night, and Elder Woolley got one last chance at harassing us before he took off the name tag. He already has a 4-wheel drive trip planned. 

One thing that the Lord has been impressing upon me is lessons in leadership. I see clearly now that leadership is service to our fellowman. They need leaders to set the example and to lead and guide them; everyone needs a touchable hero, or an everyday Moroni to look to. The lesson I learned this week is Alma 50:1 "And it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites...." This is so true for us and relates to a conversation I had this week. I was talking with President Center the other day about training, retraining, and helping missionaries, it’s a lot of work! He said "the truth is that you can never just stop working." Well, that’s what I learned: to endure to the end. And I think that mission presidents are one of the greatest examples of consecration and work. We can never stop.  People need our help every day, and we can chose to serve and to love every day. 

Maybe, the hard part is just that, the giving of self. I wish that love and service came more natural to me, that I could help and lift more missionaries. But I know that I am where I am to give of myself freely and to learn. I haven't done this job perfectly...but I am doing my best. I look forward to another great 6 weeks with Elder RJ Campbell, and I think now I am looking forward to a lifetime of service. 

I love you all! Thanks for everything! 
Elder Michael George Stewart

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jump out of the Boat!

Well....it was a crazy week that ended with meeting two general authorities and a baptism. Lots of blessings this time of the year!!

So on Saturday the whole mission bussed up to Salina to have a mission wide conference that Elder Bednar attended. It was really something else...he told us that we would experience a great outpouring of the Spirit, and that is exactly what we got! Many questions were answered for many of our missionaries. I know the message that I took away was to jump out of the boat!! Do hard and frightening things.

Well....there is zero time to email much more than this. I am alive!! We are seeing miracles every day! President Center is the man with the mission plan. I will email more soon!

Elder Michael Stewart

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Come to the Mountains

Well this was one of our best weeks yet. We got closer to each other, we became better missionaries, and the work rolled forward.  That's not to say that it wasn't hard work or that we didn't have crazy things happen. This mission is the best!

Starting with the slightly crazy story, we went on exchanges up to Mt. Pleasant this week and then up to Price. Both parts of Utah are GORGEOUS this time of year. It was great to help and train the Zone Leaders up there. I got to exchange with Elder Gomez (who came out with me) and Elder Haralson (who goes home this transfer). On our way from Mt. Pleasant to Helper we thought we were being smart by checking the map, and we saw a short cut that went through the mountains and would drop us off in Huntington, just 20 miles south of Price. Elder Woolley said it wasn't a bad idea and some knowledgeable members we know said to go for it, so we did! We drove to Fairview then turned east through the mountains. It was a really pretty drive. There are beautiful green trees all through Fairview canyon. We got all the way to Huntington Canyon and they had closed it for rain. So we trekked up through a little place called Scofield, look at a map to find it. Needless to say, we flirted awfully close with the mission boundary, but we managed to be within Utah County and the Utah St. George Mission all at the same time. Jeanie, we were super close this week, I hope you felt it. 

This week I was impressed by our investigator C. She had told her parents she was investigating the church and they started yelling at her. She confidently went ahead with the plans for her baptism doing what she knew was right. Yesterday she called dad, and he congratulated her on her decision to be baptized. Lots of tender mercies for her. 

We had an interesting lesson with M this week as well. We taught her the atonement, showed her the pictures of the Savior in the visitor's center and invited her to be baptized again. The lesson was really spiritual, I know that she felt it. She is still scared of knowing that this church is true, and what that would mean for her family. But Elder Campbell and I feel that it is not over with her yet. She said that she needs some time to figure some things out. So we are just praying that she gets her answer soon. 

Our other investigators are doing really well. L  is eating up church and the Book of Mormon. He says all of these things make him happy. We will recommit him to be baptized next lesson when we teach the atonement. 

Z is on date to be baptized on later this month, and he is just super fun to teach. It’s like he is teaching himself. 

We just got back in contact with J too. He has been very stressed these last few weeks, but he is looking forward to reading and praying again, getting back into it. He stayed all three hours at church this week, and really fits into the ward. Hopefully a baptism is coming soon for him! 

Other than that, we are focusing on working with the members and finding. For kids this age, the most effective method is for friends to invite other friends to learn, and then to be present for the lessons. That is where all of the success is coming from. Speaking of success.... 

J2 (who was baptized last month) is on fire. President Gubler wants to film her and interview her as a model story for missionary work in our stake. Also, after only being a member for a month, she was called to be the Relief Society Secretary. Big things are in her future!! She is a born leader, and we are excited to watch her bloom. 

I know that this work is true, and this week I feel like I made a lot of needed improvements and changes. I asked President Center for a priesthood blessing during our interview, and he told me things that were in my heart that only the Lord knows. It was really inspiring and the confidence I have felt from that moment has carried me for a long time. I know we have the authority from God to teach and act in his name. This church is true! 

Love you all!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, August 26, 2013

Completely Changed and the Best Week Ever (2 weeks of letters!)

Completely Changed--August 12
Dear Mom and Dad, 
What a week! 11 new missionaries came and 10 missionaries left. This week was real roller coaster for me. The sister missionaries who left the MTC out with me and right after me (many that were in my first district) got on the plane Tuesday morning just as all of the new missionaries were getting off. It was bitter sweet. We stayed Monday evening and Tuesday morning with Elder Matthews who was one of my Zone Leaders earlier in my mission. This was definitely a group I feel really close to. 

As Elder Matthews was bearing his testimony Wednesday night his parents came to the mission home and it was a crazy experience. I really love that missionary and his parents were just a natural extension of him. I felt like I knew them through him. They offered a place to stay in Boise if I'm ever up that way. 
We had some great miracles this week and we had to do a lot of work! 
Let’s start with some miracles. 

Last Sunday we got a text from T (a former investigator that we taught 2 transfers ago) and she said "I want to get baptized". That was pretty great. She was in California, but she got back in town two days ago, and so we started teaching her again and she has a date to be baptized at the end of this month! She has had some pretty amazing experiences and you know that Heavenly Father has been working on her in the months that we haven't seen her.  It was a miracle. 

We also have just started teaching a girl. I will have to tell you all about it later. We had a lesson with her and her parents. There was some border line yelling between her and her parents, but she still wants to learn and be baptized! I was just grateful for seminary, for institute books, and Bruce R. McKonkie in that lesson. Every ounce of our knowledge was required to answer her parent’s questions! 

Don’t worry too much about me. I'm working on loving my companion, my investigators, and life itself. I feel completely changed by my mission up to this point. 
Love ya!!!

Elder Michael Stewart

The Best Week Ever!!!--August 19
Wow, I am so happy right now! You have no idea how happy, THE STUDENTS ARE BACK! Elder Campbell and I had been doing really well for the summer (we have had baptisms every month this summer which is really good for a college area.) but our area just got hit by 10,000 kids who need the Gospel. Already everyone we have found is a good prospect for baptism. This entire week it’s like heavenly father pinpointed where we needed to go, gave us referrals we needed to receive, and led us to people we needed to meet who are ready to be baptized. I am just grateful for the time that I have to serve in this area now. It’s like we endured the summer months and now we are hit with a monsoon! Anyway, it’s a lot of fun. 
Where to start, well, first we are back to over 30 lessons a week. PDay started off in the Temple. Elder Campbell and I spent the majority of our Monday and Tuesday discussing the things that we observed and learned from the session. It probably started the tone off right.

Monday night we had a lesson with T and she "got the chills" as we went over the 1st vision with her. Later that evening we contacted a referral for an "eternigator" who just needs some TLC before he is baptized. He spoke at stake conference a while ago, go figure. Then in the evening we taught S who is getting ready for baptism too. He ate up all the commandments and is excited to pay tithing.

Tuesday! We taught T and S again. We are trying to see them every day before they are baptized. We also taught S2 again. It was kind of sad though. She has to go out of town before she can get baptized. Her parents are great people but they are totally opposed her getting any closer to baptism. She will probably be baptized in Cedar City.

Wednesday! We taught a lesson at 9:30 am (we needed to get President's permission to do that). We taught M. She has a boyfriend on a mission, has really active friends, but like S2, her parents are strong in their church. Her parents have been really nice to us though, and she committed to read the Book of Mormon.  It is kind of hard for her to have a totally open heart though because she is afraid of what "getting an answer" about the Book of Mormon entails. She is such a good girl though.

Also on Wednesday we taught S3, who is less active but returning to activity now! He is really eating the gospel up. The whole reason he decided to come back to church was because of violinist Lindsey Stirling. She inspired him to go back to church!! I guess everyone makes a difference in their own way! 
Thursday! We taught 7 lessons, including one to a kid on the Cross Country. He knows a lot of the really active boys on the team. 

Friday we got a phone call from another Bishop, "Elders, I have someone who is ready to be baptized." Gotta love those phone calls.  We called the number he gave us and set up an appointment with F for Sunday at church. More to come on that later.

Saturday! We got a lot of referrals and taught lots of lessons.
Sunday!  Ten investigators came to church! We started teaching a wide receiver! And we had a big miracle--- F came into church and asked to be baptized. He is reading in Alma 48, has been living the commandments for 8 months now, and knows the church is true. So we will see the blessing of another baptism on Saturday.

I love you all! I love this work. This is not just my mission work; this is my life's work. Focusing on helping others and focusing on ordinances throughout my life will ensure that I am worthy, attending the temple, and always focused outside of myself. I have a strong testimony that this church is true. I know the Savior lives and he is with us every day. 

Love you! 
Elder Michael Stewart

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Whewie! What a week! It was President Center's first transfer week, he was amazing. Every president is different, but President Center really pleaded on bended knee and in fasting for inspiration on this transfer, then all we had to do was look at it and help him adjust logistics. 

Well, I love you all! We had two great baptisms this week! S and J they were great baptisms. 
I am super busy, but I will email more soon! I am still alive and loving my mission! 

Elder Michael George Stewart 

PS- I am an assistant for at least one more transfer. I have four left! I will be an AP for 1 or 2 transfers more, and then hopefully whitewash an area and train for 2 more. Love ya!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Say goodbye to dwarfed goals

Dear Mother and Father, 

Well this week I am exhausted! We were even busier this week with mission business and proselyting. 
We went on two exchanges this week. We exchanged with the Zone Leaders in Cedar City and with the Spanish Zone Leaders in St. George. It’s funny, I remember the first exchange I went on as a District Leader. I was nervous and I didn't really know how to help the missionaries or the area. I can't tell you how many exchanges I have been on now, probably more than 50.  I guess having a lot of them under your belt helps you to be a little more knowledgeable and confident with training. I still feel like a greenie all the time though. There is too much to learn and improve. 

We saw R baptized yesterday and I confirmed him today. He bore his testimony about the happiness that he has felt as he talks with members of the church and as he reads and prays. He was a miracle from start to finish. We had to really work hard last week to make sure that he made it here at this date, but he did it! I am always amazed by the obedience to heavenly father that these people demonstrate as they choose to be baptized. Baptism is one of the ultimate symbols of being obedient to God's commandments. 

We kept teaching S, S2, M, and J this week. J and S2 are getting baptized tomorrow for FHE. It’s kind of funny, J is so popular around campus that people keep texting us and congratulating us on her baptism. They are both pumped and ready for their baptisms tomorrow. 

I think the biggest news of this week is that Elder Holland came to St. George for Pioneer Day this week. He attended a Luau in Washington City on Tuesday night, and we were invited to attend along with President and Sister Center. We ate dinner with him and his wife at the same table. It was a choice experience.  It was good to be there with St. George's apostle.

This week we actually got referred to a less active girl. Her name is S3 and the Bishop of one of our wards asked us to teach her the lessons and help her return to activity. It will be more like coming into activity for the first time because she was baptized when she was 8 but never went to church. I have never consistently taught a less active member my whole mission, but teaching her feels just as important as teaching a non member. 

This work is true and it is vitally important. Helping people temporally is good, but I know that helping people accept the gospel is the most important work that I can do in time and in eternity. I know that this church is true. Elder Campbell and I have testified of that until we're blue in the face, and I know that the work that I am doing is true.

I love you all so much! Be an everyday missionary this week!

 Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, July 22, 2013

Saved in the Fourth Watch...more mountains to climb :-)

This week...was a fourth watch kind of week. We toiled, struggled, worked, stayed up, trained, planned....and we got blessings just poured down upon us. 
Wow....our God is a "Fourth Watch God". 
Mark 6:45-51
"45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.
46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.
48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered."

So, so, so many lessons from this story. The disciples were obeying a commandment of the Savior by sailing to the other side of the sea. A storm came, and they struggled from evening through till the "Fourth Watch" (almost before dawn). He was watching them the whole time, but he didn't come to them until the last moment. Then when they cried out to them "immediately" he calms the wind.

When we pass through trials and cry out for help, and it seems like help doesn't come, never, never never give up. Jesus saves us at the fourth watch, so if we are having trials and pleading for help, hold out and hope for the fourth watch. If we aren't saved yet, it’s not the fourth watch yet and we are going to be okay. I know that that is true. We saw that this week.

It was Zone Conference week: Manti on Tuesday from 9-3, Richfield on Wednesday from 9-3, and then twice in St. George on Thursday and Saturday. We had less time in our area, but taught more lessons, had more people at church, and found more investigators than we have in a while. All of that happened on Saturday and Sunday. Talk about the Fourth Watch of the week.

Don't get me wrong, I love Zone Conference. We saw every single missionary in the mission and trained them on using the Book of Mormon. I love all of these Elders and Sisters. It does get exhausting at times though. We exchanged with the Zone Leaders in Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday after their Zone Conference and so we were out of the area for two days. It was so worth it though.

On Wednesday first thing after we got back from being in Richfield in the evening we taught M and R. We were super tired, but M committed to coming to church, and she came!! R also solidified all of the details for his baptism on this coming Saturday; somehow we had energy and enthusiasm left to teach those lessons. What a blessing.

But all the real miracles came Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we got a call from R saying that he appreciated our help and work but that he was going to get baptized with other missionaries. Now, that’s not such a big blow, but it would have delayed R getting baptized and it would have been kind of hard for us to get him to this point and then not have him go through with it. We went and prayed at the Institute (I mean really PRAYED for help) and pretty soon after that we were able to contact them, smooth over a slight conflict, and he is back on track. He went to church yesterday with M and they announced his baptism to the ward :-)

We kept seeing S this week too as well as J and M2. S slept through his assigned sacrament meeting and so we had to o shake him out of bed, not really, but we did get him to a later sacrament meeting and he made a lot of new friends. He loves the Book of Mormon and is preparing to be baptized!

Also, we got a call from a ward mission leader after church on Sunday "Elders, a kid has been coming to church for the past few weeks, and he wants to be baptized!" We got to meet with him yesterday his name is S, and he has had a rough past. But he wants to meet with us ever day and work towards getting baptized! Whew, that one was such a tender mercy.

BUT!!! The biggest miracle came on Sunday night. J was our last lesson of the night and we were teaching her outside of the visitor's center on the temple grounds. She has been fighting a commitment to keep a baptismal date. We have been teaching her for 3 months. She has attended church, been reading the Book of Mormon (and the Doctrine and Covenants), and she has committed to keep all of the commandments. She has considered herself an "honorary Mormon" for years. But she is also the type of girl that when she says she will do something she takes it seriously and follows all the way through. So we have known that we have to bring the Spirit consistently, invite patiently, and let the Lord work on her. And we saw that last night.

Right before the end of our lesson, Elder Campbell asked her if she has been praying about her baptism. That unfolded a whole line of thought and she told us that "there probably never will be a perfect time. I will always be busy with school, trips, student government. “So we invited her again, and waited, and waited, answered her questions, walked her through what a baptismal service looks like, and she finally committed to the Spirit. She will be baptized on July 29th at 6pm. That one was a fight for her and for us, but what a decision that will bless her life forever.

So in short, the Lord saved our tails this week. We tried super hard to make good zone conferences and to stay diligent and obedient in our own area, and I know that we have been working with the Lord at our sides. It has also made a difference to work more closely with the members of our stake. In J's lesson yesterday her friends did just as much of the teaching as we did, we truly are one in this work! It’s not mine, it’s not the members, but this work is the Lord's.

I love all of you!! Especially Jeanie! I was sitting and thinking of her the other day, and JeanMarie has always been one of the "pioneers" in my life. She pioneered high school, seminary, college, and even the MTC and the mission for me. She went first in just about everything and I just followed. I love you so much Jeanie!! You have really blessed my life and I love you.

Well, I know without a doubt that this church is true. I have seen and experienced way too much for me to even think otherwise. God has answered all of my pleading prayers, and I know that he hears and answers every prayer from all of his children. I want so bad to just be the best missionary that I can be so that others can receive the Gospel: my missionaries, my companions, and especially my investigators. This mission matters so much for me and I want it to be forever.
I love you!

Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I LOVE Finding!

Dear Mom and Dad, 

This week was full of blessings and challenges on my end too. I guess the family is all on the same page this week. We saw lots of blessings this week: new investigators, chances to train new missionaries, and students moving back to the area. I have been a missionary for a long time. Right now my focus is just to learn as much as I can about missionary work, get as good at it as I can, so that I can keep doing it my whole life. I do love this work, but I want both of my feet to be firmly planted here for my last transfers. I need to focus as much as I can on this work right now. Nothing is more important! 

Evan sent me a really nice message the other day in the mail, mention that to him if you get a chance at some point. It definitely lifted my spirits. 

Let’s start this week off with a miracle. Elder Campbell and I had to go meet with President Center one evening to plan the transfer and the upcoming zone conferences, and so we got out of an appointment and had ten minutes before meeting with him. There was one young man we both had in mind to visit and so we ran right over to his apartment and he was home! He ushered us both right inside and the first thing out of his mouth (even before the opening prayer) was "How long does it take someone to get baptized?" His name is S. He changed jobs last week just so he can "keep the Sabbath day holy" in his own words, great kid. He is well known by all, and we are excited to work with him. 

We did two exchanges this week, and I went to---RICHFIELD! It was very good to be back there and to find a lot of people. I love finding. 

And now, we are running off to Zone Conferences! Love you! I will write more soon! 

Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Renewed Vision and Energy

Hello mom and dad :-)

It was a really good week. We stayed pretty busy even though some kids were out of town for the holiday weekend. We drove to Price again to exchange with the Zone Leaders. I got to go with Elder Miller who is a great brother. We had a great time finding and teaching. We saw a lot of miracles even though it was Carbon County.

This week was Mission Leadership Council for us just like it was for Sister Stewart. There is a pretty big push in the mission right now to concentrate our efforts at working with members. President Center was surprised at the performance of the mission to be honest, with 200,000 member missionaries in the mission there is no reason that every single missionary in the mission should not be very busy. We do need to find and teach a lot more.

Let’s start with Sunday. Last Sunday a young man showed up to church for the first time because a friend invited him. We set up an appointment to go teach him last week, but he had to cancel and then we weren't sure if we were going to be able to see him again. But, he went to church again this week with a different friend, came, found us and asked "So....when you meet with people, what do you do?" It was a nice little tender mercy at the end of the week after we had worked hard all week long.

We kept teaching our investigators this week. R, K, and P are all doing well. It’s been kind of hard to get a hold of K2 these days, we hope that he is still good for baptism this month!

We have also been working really hard at finding using members as well. At times we as members of the church have a difficulty inviting or helping our friends become involved in the church or learn about the gospel because we don't know what to do. President Center helped us to develop a sheet that we shared with our Zone Leaders at MLC that is aimed at helping members get organized and have ideas for inviting people. The idea is that you put the name of a less active or non member down, and then you pick something that you can do to move them closer to the gospel, and you put a date in the box when you're going to do the activity.

Ever since we changed our own mindset from doing it all on our own to having members involved in our work, we have seen a lot of fruit. There are just people coming out of the wood work now!

I think one important thing I have learned on my mission is to love what I am doing. We put in long hours this week: on the road, in the area, and in the office. But loving the Savior, loving the missionaries, and loving the work makes every single sacrifice worth it. 

Well, I’ve got to go! But I love you all and I love this church. It is true.

Elder Michael Stewart