Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Finishing Strong

Hi mom and dad!! 

We had a great week...two baptisms, 40 lessons, lots of new contacts, and opportunities to interact with the great members in Richfield. I'm kind of scared right now...this might be my last week here in Richfield! We will get transfer calls this coming week. At the end of the day, I guess we will all just go wherever the Lord wants us to. Elder Campbell and I are just hungry  this week...we have set a lot of goals and we are going to achieve them; I can't leave anything undone!

I want to share a few uplifting experiences with you. Of course we had two baptisms this week! That is always a miracle. K and C were both baptized by family members and the services were great. I forgot my camera at home today, so I will have to try and send the pictures to you later. 

Also, last week we baptized a young man named S into the Navajo Student Dorm Branch. This week we ordained him a deacon and Elder Campbell and I blessed the sacrament while he passed it to the congregation. Talk about pay day! S is a born leader of men. He has brought 3 nonmember friends with him to the branch, and they have all committed to baptism. So let your light shine to all of your friends! They need us to invite them to come unto Christ.

Another experience we had with Bishop "Superman". We went with him to a lesson with B, and when we got there the house was just cold, dark, and definitely not a place where the Spirit of the Lord was residing. B was getting some intense opposition from Satan that day.  B was very closed and didn't want to talk at first, but he started openning up and told us how he just wanted to quit on everything. We prayed really hard in that meeting. Bishop "Superman" took control though and at the end of our chat he dedicated the home by the power of the priesthood and the difference that it made in the home was instantaneous. As he excercised his priesthood, I felt the coldness leave the room and be replaced by a warmth and peace. The next day we got a text from B that said "I am a Mormon and I will be for the rest of my life. I'm all in!" 

I can't really write too much because we have to do a "Deep Cleaning" of all our apartments in the mission today. But I love you all!

I just want all of you to know that I have a testimony of this church and of this Gospel. Jesus Christ is at the head of the LDS church, and he guides us through a prophet today. The only thing I want to do with the time I have left in Richfield and on my mission is serve him and help his children...I have wondered a lot about why the Lord called me on a mission to Utah, but now I have a firm testimony that I am here to help specific children of God receive the Gospel and come unto Christ. I am also realizing that I am among people and who are here to help me too. I think that I am actually the biggest beneficiary of my mission so far.

I love you all so much! Make sure to read scriptures and pray together, and pray for opportunities to share the gospel with friends and family :-)

Love you a lot!!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Magnifying our Calling unto the Lord

Hello mom and dad! It seems like every time I get to email right after the best week ever for the work. I really like what you wrote in your last letter Dad. I have taken a lot of time to just thank Heavenly Father specifically for his blessings; we feel like He is able to use us as powerful instruments out here. Because of Him Elder Campbell and I feel like we are magnifying our callings.

This week we met with B on Monday (we are having dinner with him again tonight), the man who was referred to us by Bishop "Superman". He has been going to church for months, and he finally wants to be baptized! We might have to do a couple of "marathon" lessons with him so that he can make his date for this month. But B has seen all the church videos, read all of our pamphlets, and loves the Book of Mormon! I had hoped that I would be able to teach this man when we met him 3 months ago, and we are so lucky to be able to see him finally become a member of the church.

This week Elder Campbell and I also made it a goal to talk 50/50 in all of our lessons. You know how I love to talk, but this goal has really helped us out teach better, and more importantly, to leave time for the Spirit to teach. Sometimes just pausing and letting the Spirit be felt does more than Elder Stewart flapping his jaw ;-)
We did exchanges with both of our District Leaders this week, as well as studies with another companionship. As a Zone Leader, I have the opportunity to develop a lot of charity for our 22 missionaries. We pray for them every night by name, and that more than anything else makes me feel more for them and feel more responsible for them. I just love each one of my missionaries and I want to be happy and successful.

Elder Campbell and I have been focusing on leading by example. "It starts with us" is one of our mottos. If we want our missionaries to find and teach better, we have to become better ourselves and demonstrate. If we want them to be more obedient to the mission rules, we have to be obedient ourselves and expect nothing less of them. I just love it :) On our exchanges I went with my last companion, Elder Rawlins, and then with a brand new missionary, Elder Lewis. I have a testimony that when we pray for inspiration to know how to help others, especially those in our sphere of influence. He has definitely done that for me.

I also have been learning so much about covenants this last week. Every repentant person that is baptized by priesthood authority is placed under an eternal covenant with God. They become part of God's covenant people, and then God is bound to us. As week keep our covenants, we receive God's power, he answers our prayers, and helps us do his work, and eventually will exalt us. We were teaching a lesson in a member's home this week and I saw a picture of the temple, and the Spirit bore witness to me that we really are the covenant people of the Lord; not because we are special, just because of the promises between us.
Now for other news.

R S!! R was baptized the week they split our area. I spoke at his baptismal service. Elder Dawson, a brand new missionary, baptized him. I am glad that he was able to be at a baptism during his first week.
S is really popular. He is in the Richfield Residence Hall's 2013 recruiting video. He brought nonmember friends to his baptism :) S got baptized this last Saturday and it was a very spiritual service. During the brief testimony meeting after he was baptized he stood up and said "I will do everything I was asked. I will obey the word of wisdom, chastity, the Sabbath day and I will pay my tithing. Learning more has really opened my eyes and taught me more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know this church is true." I Love this kid.

M C was baptized! This man has made some serious changes in his life. I didn't get to go to his baptism because we had to teach a lesson :-( I taught M C for 4 months.
M! This came as a total surprise. M G asked me to baptize him even though the other Elders have been teaching him in the other stake. I love his family and I have really missed them. It was a very good service. I know his step-Dad is next.

I love you all so much! Thanks so much for the power of your faith and prayers. I know right now is my time to help Heavenly father gather his covenant people in and keep his promises to the world...It floors me that he trusts me with the matters of eternity like this. I just want to work hard and make you all and Him proud of me.

Mucho amorcito! Share the Gospel this week with your friends! Be a good example too :-)
Love ya!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reaching our Goals!

Hello mom and dad!!

What a great week we had! We spent a lot of time in meetings this week. We drove to St. George and back and had an exchange with the Assistants, but even with all that time out of the area we had a great week :-) I think we rarely have bad weeks. The Lord is really blessing us for working hard. Lots of amazing things happened this week!

At the beginning of this companionship Elder Campbell and I had put a goal of having six baptisms together in the month of March (we only had two investigators when we decided on that goal!) but we felt that we wouldn't be pushing ourselves to the fullest without that goal. And, we are reaching that goal! This week we looked at it and we had 5 baptisms lined up for March and we were wondering where the 6th one would come from, when we got the best phone call ever from one of our bishops.

There is a man that bishop has been meeting with in the 9th ward who told us that he wasn't ready for missionary lessons, but he has been going to church since November. Well, in Sunday school last week they had a lesson about baptism, and this man who has never been baptized in any church was touched by the Spirit and told the bishop that he wants to be baptized! The bishop told us "Well Elders, I have met with him a lot, he has been going to church for months, you all could baptize him tomorrow if you wanted to". I never thought that I would get to see this man join the church, but faith really does work miracles. We are so excited to meet with B. I am just grateful to have these blessings.

There is a lot to report on this week, but I really want you to know my testimony of the Savior and of this church. My time on my mission has taught me so much of the Savior. He loves us one by one and he desires so much for us to receive him and his gospel. He is aware of our struggles and can help us when we come unto him and keep his commandments. As I have worked hard and wore myself out in this work, I have realized that I am not alone, and I really do rely on the Savior to be a missionary. He knows where the elect people are, and he guides me to them when I ask. My only hope and want right now is to help as many people as I can to become converted, nonmembers and my missionaries alike. I can't think of a place I would rather be.

I know the church is true! I have though a lot about the parable of the sower this transfer....and I really see that even though the gospel is true, sometimes people's ground is "hard" or "thorny" and the message doesn’t take. But I know the seed of the restored gospel is good and true and I am just looking for those with "good ground" to receive this message. (See Matthew 13

All of our other investigators are doing really well! C is looking like a champ, our ping├╝inos know the gospel really well, and S should be baptized this week (we just need Mom to mail back the signed church record, hope it comes on time!). Keep praying for us to find!

I love you all so much! Thank you for your love and testimonies. 

Lots of Love!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just Bangin' on More Doors :)

Hello Mom and Dad :) We had a real good week here in Richfield, and we kept finding more people to teach! I love finding, it’s exciting to find out where the next person we are going to teach and baptize lives, and where we are going to first meet them.

So we just kept working hard and banged on more doors, and the Lord came through for us and our teaching pool is full again :)

We kept teaching S this week, and he came to church again! Since he is going to be in a play the school is doing, we will have to be creative about when and where we are going to teach him. He is doing really well with the lessons and this week we are going to mail a baptismal record home to his mother so that she can sign it before his interview. S even brought a nonmember friend to church with him! Good things are happening in the Navajo Dorm for missionaries again :)

Our two ping├╝inos (K, 10 and C, 9) are doing really well too. C is reading the Book of Mormon more than many of our adult investigators. Also both these young men have adult family members living with them who have never been baptized, hopefully we will get a chance to meet with them too.

We are back at the R home again!! You might remember J R who we taught in December, his mom and two younger brothers are also nonmembers, and mom and dad have green lighted us to teach both of them (A and M). Sister R is from Tennessee, and she cooked very good fried chicken for us. They are good people :)

We also found a young lady tracting this week. It was a home I have wanted to knock for a long time, but it just never worked out. Well, we finally had the opportunity to pass by, and we found a mother, her teenage daughter, and her little boy (the G family) that all want to be taught. They committed to read the Book of Mormon and to come to church, but sadly they did not make it yesterday. I was just super happy to find them though, and I definitely feel like Heavenly Father wants us to help them.

Then there is C, well actually C and his three nonmember roommates. They are all 19-20 and we have a really good relationship with them, C really wants to be baptized, we have had some very spiritual lessons with him, and he has been coming to church for a while. We saw them at the skate park in town while we were driving by, so we stopped and watched them have fun "in their element". Those kids were getting some big air off the ramps. It was fun though because we committed them all to come to the YSA ward while at the park, and they all came!! (With their female entourage as well). We had a full bench of all those kids:-)
Then there is the Rs family! We found them banging on doors again in a part of the stake I haven't visited for months. L is 27 and he and his wife have a little girl E, and L's little brother M lives with them. They have been through a lot. L has been in and out of gangs, he is pretty "tatted-up", and he writes rap music. He free styled for us once, and it was fun to see this man rapping about his family. There is still a lot of work to do in Richfield!

Now for some pictures :)
This is my missionary posterity. Elder Barrales from Chile is training Elder Augusto from Portugal! (ask dad about the "sh" pronunciation in his name) We're a happy family from 3 different continents :)
Elder Campbell and I had to make a pit stop coming back from a meeting in Beaver, and the Cove Fort visitor's center has restrooms, so we stopped by! We were promptly swarmed by the kindly senior missionaries, taken on an impromptu tour, and one of the Elders told us "let’s count this as a gospel discussion". Too funny. I figured since we are in the Cove Fort Zone, we might as well see what our name's sake is all about.

Well, that’s about it! I love you all and I love being a missionary. I want to thank you for your prayers for me to keep finding. I have pleaded a lot for inspiration to know where to go and who to see, and people have been falling out of the sky. When I look at my name tag now though, I know that there is an army of people and prayers behind me in everything I do, and your contributions and faith make all the difference.  I am never alone in this work.

I love you!!
Elder Michael George Stewart