Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting the Ball Rolling

Dear Mom and Dad,

It’s super beautiful and sunny in southern Utah right now. This is the perfect time of year. Average temperatures are in the 80s-90s with nice breezes and clear skies all day every day. We all know that it will only get hotter though. Elder Campbell and I went up to Richfield and back a few times this week for exchanges. I do love that town. It was funny, driving down back into St. George feels like coming home now. We get really excited. I am sure that Google has some great pictures of the highway through St. George that can give you an idea of why we love it so much. 

But the real reason we get excited to come back down here is the work. This week, we found so many new people. Every door we knocked had someone waiting for us behind it and new investigators rained down from the sky. One day we were studying in the morning and we had already gotten two referrals to our phone before leaving the apartment at 10 a.m. There are so many YSAs all over this place.

A few highlights from this week. We held leadership meetings with all of the Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders across the mission. They are a really responsive group and it was a thrill to talk with them about how to really get the ball rolling in this mission. Good things are happening in every zone now...the Lord is really blessing us.

K had his interview with President Leonard. He passed with flying colors. When they walked out of the interview President Leonard put his arm around K and said "this is a fine young man". Life out there is pretty tough though. K started working when he was 10 years old. All I know is that I am going to be friends with this young man forever. He has such a strong testimony of this church. Baptism is only the first step for him. He is going to the temple and on a mission after this. 

We are teaching about 8 people multiple times a week now. And we are finding more and more. I feel like one of the gifts that God has given me is the ability to love all of the people that I meet, and I definitely love these investigators so much.

Besides K, we are still teaching B. He went up home this week to tell his parents that he is getting baptized on the 7th. They kind of "flipped" he said, but he is unshaken. They aren't active in their church, and so they will definitely see the power of B's example to them.

We also have a solid investigator from China again :-) His name is P. He is amazing. He is reading the Book of Mormon like a champ. He really studies everything out in his mind and marks it all up. He said this week "I wish that I could say like you that I know the Book of Mormon is true." We are working hard with him to trust the spiritual answers he gets and not look for so much evidence. Thankfully he has already come to know that Christ is his Savior by the Spirit so now we just need to apply that experience to the Restoration. He will get his answer soon.

Then there is K K we kept seeing this week. She has moved her baptism up to the 16th of June. She still has a ton of questions living prophets, tithing, but we had a really good lesson with her last night. She has gotten strong answers to her prayers and she knows that this church is true. What impresses me most about K K is her dedication in seeking for truth from God. She is reading the Book of Mormon for 10 minutes every day and is praying about all of her doubts and questions. Whenever she gets other answers to her prayers, we are always just astounded. She knows that she wants to get married in the temple too.  It’s just a tender mercy to be able to teach her the Gospel.

We are also teaching a Navajo (yayyyyy!!!!) named B. She is from Albuquerque and lives with a very active family. She has just about the strongest connection to the Spirit that I have ever seen...she said she wants to be baptized to "be pure". There have been moments in lessons where we ask a question and just sit and watch Brittany get taught by the Spirit. It’s good to teach some Lamanites again.

Then there is J. She has been taught by a lot of missionaries and doesn't want to be pushed. Now, we aren't pushy, we invite with love. I'd say we are lovingly persistent. We practice friendly boldness. This week, we invited J to be baptized by the end of June, and she felt way stressed about it. "Guys that’s way too soon!! I'm feeling anxious just thinking about it." Well, we invited her to pray, and ask God when He wants her to be baptized, and she got her answer! That was just a testimony to me that we MUST INVITE!! Not inviting someone to have faith, repent, or be baptized is holding back from them blessings that they need. Even though J was uncomfortable thinking about being baptized, we still invited her, and God answered her prayers. Be bold and fearless!!

There are a couple others we just picked up this week, a girl who is from California and a Samoan girl too but there are tons of people just waiting to be taught here. We are always in finding mode :-)

I just want to bear my testimony this week that our faith makes a difference. It is so easy to doubt that in this wide world one man can make a difference or be an effective voice for truth. One man with faith in the almighty God can change the world. That change will happen one life at a time, but the effect of the faith we exercise is huge.

This week, I saw that the faith that Elder Campbell and I exercised blessed the mission and it blessed our investigators. One day we prayed to be able to see B at 3 p.m. even though she hadn't set an appointment for that day, and she called us at 2:55 and asked to meet with us. God hears prayers. I know that he answers every single one. This month we are trying to take the mission to heights it’s never been to, and we are seeing that our faith really can move mountains. God willing, we will succeed.

I love you so much!! Keep praying for us to find and be able to teach!! This Church is true. I know it’s true and I just want to spend my life to spread that truth to all.

Love ya!!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Amulek and Alma (Round 2)

What a great week!! Super duper busy....we went to Ephraim and back again this week. I love that town :-) But I am really pleased with the way things are going in the mission and in the area.  There is A TON of work to do hahaha...We walked into the mission office this morning and it seemed like 20 brush fires had erupted. A missionary had to go home for medical reasons, the internet login wasn't working, and the senior couples were having trouble with a word processing document. But I just have to smile thinking about it all...how does Heavenly Father feel answering all of our prayers and taking care of our earth, and even the whole universe? How small my brush fires really area :-)

Elder Campbell and I are working harder than ever together...its the type of companionship where I don't have to worry when we are in a lesson, training the missionaries, and we both just work so hard to stay focused all the time. We enjoy what we do too. We are going to be giving Amulek and Alma a run for their money though....again :-)

We kept teaching B this week too. He is just the wind beneath my wings right now. When we got back from Ephraim we were super duper tired...but we got to teach a lesson to B right then. Over the last few days he had read 4 chapters of the book of mormon and he had read 1 Nephi chapter 8 more than 7 times because he loved it so much :-) ahaha...talk about getting refuelled by an investigator. He goes home this week to tell his parents that he is getting baptized in June, so we are praying a lot for him.

Well....I sure love yall. This gospel blesses families so much. I am not just out here spreading a good message to improve people's lives or to make people happy, but I have a real knowledge that this Gospel and This Church offer people eternal salvation and life forever with their families. That is what motivates me every day. I see these college kids I am teaching getting married in the temple someday and providing real growth to this church and raising up a whole new generation in the right path...and it all starts for them with simple steps of faith. You gotta know...I love every day of this mission. Its the best thing I have ever done, and I want it to last forever.

I love you so much!! Be an everyday missionary today and be friendly to all those around you. There is real power in normal people living the gospel and inviting their friends to come to church with them.

Love ya!!
Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'm alive and well!!

It was so good to talk with you yesterday. Thanks for listening and for all your support. I love you so much. I know this gospel is true and I am working everyday to be the missionary that the Savior expects me to be. I am humbled and motivated by his absolute trust in me. We have a lot of work to do together :-) 

Love ya!!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Best week ever!

Wow!! What a blast this last week has been. I have learned and grown more in these last 7 days than any other time on my mission. It has been very hard. But I have changed in one week’s time.

We had a really good Missionary Leadership Council meeting this week. The best I've been to. President was very direct with all of the Zone Leaders, but it made me want to be better too. Exchanges with Zone Leaders this transfer has been one of my favorite things to do this transfer. First, because we get to see the entire mission, and second because they are really receptive to training. Of note is that I was in Price, Utah for the first time this week. Please tell Sister Stong; that’s where she guessed I would go on my mission.
We had really good experiences with investigators this week. A lot of Chinese people again. We went to the temple with J  (Elder Chidester and my recent convert) and with his friend Robert who was also baptized recently. They took family names and got to do baptisms for the dead for the first time. The whole time I was in there I was thinking how amazing that experience was. That is Real Growth for the church. Not only to teach and baptize someone, but also help them to do family history and get to the temple. Seventy to eighty percent of the converts who do family history and go the temple stay active. Believe me, we will be doing a lot more temple work now.

We also started teaching another Chinese girl name Q along with all of her roommates. She is a clean slate...no idea about God or religion, but she asks a lot of questions and she came to church today. I am very excited to teach another Chinese investigator.

We are also still teaching my main man, B. He is just a bundle of joy. He bore his testimony in church today and stayed for all 3 hours. Every time that we see him we just get huge smiles on our faces. He has committed to be baptized on the 25th, and we will make it!

So many good things are happening. All of the YSA areas in St. George got combined for the summer and so we now cover all of Washington County for YSA work. It is a joy to serve in 2 stakes again!! I love it!! 
I want you to know that this week President Leonard and I were united on a lot of important decisions. I love working with him. One thing that he and others have drilled into me on my mission (and I thank my Young Men leaders like Brother Hilton, Brother Taylor and Bishop Baker for drilling the same thing) is Doctrine and Covenants section 121. I live by those words now. "There are many called but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and they aspire to the honors of men that do not learn this one lesson...." The words of this section are written upon my heart. They affect how I act, how I look at others, and how I feel about responsibilities the Lord gives us. I am grateful that the Lord has chosen me to be his servant as a missionary. I just want everyone to see him when they look into my eyes. I know this church is true.

Well!!! It was a great week! I love you so much! Keep praying for us to find, and maybe even that we will find more Chinese foreign exchange students to teach ;-) The work of God moves forward in St. George!

I love you!
Elder Michael George Stewart