Monday, February 17, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

Hello family. I'm so grateful. It was the best week yet! It was a battle to the finish; we went toe to toe with the adversary to help the D family come into the church, but what a blessing! And K was baptized too. That was my last baptism as a young full time missionary. I need to share this with you. I walked into the changing room alone after that baptism, took of my white tie, looked at my name tag, and dropped to my knees in prayer. That was a really sacred and memorable moment to me. I am so grateful to be able to extend myself in this service. I am so grateful for the priesthood, for the trust of the Lord, and for being able to see Him bless lives.

My overwhelming feeling at the end of this week is that I did what the Lord asked me to do. He gave me a commission when I came here to the Utah St. George Mission, and I have done what he commissioned me to do. I did what I came here for. I asked Coach Ludvigson to give me a blessing of comfort and counsel yesterday and one of the things he said to me is that there were people in the pre-existence that I promised I would find, and that I have found them. When those words were said I immediately thought of K and the D’s. They are really special connections. There were tears when I said goodbye to the D’s yesterday, and I gave them a picture of our companionship and another picture of the temple. It’s not goodbye though, it’s just see you later.

Well, I hop on the van in an hour and a half, get to talk with President Center tonight, and then I'm on an airplane tomorrow morning. What has been etched on my soul over the course of this mission is that I will serve the Lord daily. I will reach out and love and serve his children. That is where my joy and purpose comes from. It’s when I'm on my knees before Him, pleading with him for mercy, for help, and for the strength to serve each day. I don't know all the details of my next chapter in life, but I know I can still listen to and obey the voice of the Lord.  His promises are sure!

I love you so much. I love the Lord too. Thanks for your words and the song this morning. I feel him with me now more than ever. I can't wait to see you!

With all my love,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Best Week Yet

Hello family,

Wow, didn’t I just write to you? What an amazing week it has been. The Lord answers the prayers of the faithful, and we are seeing so many miracles.

We had two great baptisms this week! And they were at an outdoor "warm spring" with snow on the ground. But they were a spiritual experience. C and B said that the water was much warmer than the surrounding air.

The D’s (our family of 7) are ready for baptism this weekend. We resolved some minor concerns with the help of the scriptures. Elder Joens brought out Psalm 23 and we promised all the kids that on their baptism day they would feel the Lord was with them and they would feel protected. The mom and dad are also doing great. They are really leading out in the gospel. And the dad got a job at a local farm! The Bishop promised him he would get temporal and spiritual blessings for obeying God's commandments. This is a whole family joining the church, it is a great miracle and a blessing.

K is doing very well too. She pretty much taught us the lesson on tithing and the 10 commandments. I am so grateful that she asked me to do the baptismal ordinance too. What motivation for the last week!
I just feel like sharing my testimony with all of you today. It’s been such an uplifting week. The promise that we may always have the Spirit to be with us is a real promise that I am hopefully realizing more and more these days. My heart is full. This is going to be the best week yet of my mission.

I testify of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I know they are real and that they are what the scriptures say they are: infinitely loving, powerful, and wise beings. I especially bear my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. I have learned so much about him over these two years. It’s amazing to think about his mercy and grace and what he has done for all of us and especially for me. I know that when Jesus Christ suffered in Gethsemane and died on the cross, he took the penalty for our sins, and when he resurrected he overcame death for all of us. Because of his atonement, he understands us, and he can save us if we come unto him. He satisfied the demands of justice for us. As we have faith in Him, repent, and obey the Gospel, he can extend mercy to us. I look forward to that day when I will see him again. And I know that if I continue faithful, I will be able to lay claim on His mercy on the Judgment day. I want to live with God again, and I want to live like God does too.

I know that the Lord works through prophets to guide us. He always has from the beginning of time (Amos 3:7)! I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet in our days, and that the LDS Church is the Lord’s Kingdom on the Earth. It is the only true and living church on the face of the earth because the true and living Savior guides it. I love the church, the quorum of the 12 apostles, President Monson, and all of my priesthood leaders.

I am so happy!  I have huge bags under my eyes, but every morning this week I have woken up at 630 and I have felt gratitude for all of my blessings. I love the Lord, I love his Gospel, and I love his children. I have been studying the Psalms recently, and I am grateful for King David's passion and poetry. Reading those words has really changed the way I pray and feel about prayer. Faith, prayer, and hard work really do create miracles.

Thanks mom and dad for your support and letters. I am grateful for your sacrifices for making my mission possible. All the lives and people who have been touched by my services are indebted to you for supporting me out here, and I hope you can share in the joy of conversions, retentions, and reactivations that have been going on in my mission. We serve for the Lord and we serve for his children. Our blessings are peace and joy in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

So this week my goal is to have the best week yet. I want to wake up each day and serve the Lord and my companions selflessly. I want to have great studies that help me to become better and feel the Holy Ghost. To focus on the Doctrine, building brotherhoods, and reaching out to others. Witnessing the baptisms of the D Family and K at the end of this week will be a great capstone to my mission. Those converts mean everything to me.

I love you!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Just Grateful!

Hello Mom and Dad and Jeanie,

This week was just amazing; we changed our Pday today so that we could attend the temple with Elder Betham and Elder Campbell and their companions. It was so good to be in the celestial room with Elder Campbell and to talk about life, the mission, and the future. I can't wait for you all to meet him. I don't think I was ready to leave my mission two weeks ago, but now I am getting there. These weeks have been the best ones of my mission so far.

Here’s the highlights:

Brother S baptized his two kids, and his Grandpa confirmed them. That’s a family that has changed so much in the last few months.  Also a funny note, our pianist arrived late to the baptism so I played some prelude music. It went about as well as you could expect, but I can't wait for you to hear my new found "skills".
This week we saw miracle after miracle for the D family. J and V told us this week that while they have been taking lessons with us they have felt their lives change a lot. They were all at church again on Sunday. There were 11 of them and they took up two side pews. I am just so grateful to be teaching them. They are ready to be baptized. All of the older kids (9-14 years old) are reading the Book of Mormon too. And Juan, the 14 year old, said he is feeling more worthy. That’s a big deal for a kid coming from the gangs of Phoenix. So mark your calendars for the 15th! The whole district will be coming to their baptism.

We also kept teaching the K’s (C and B). They are getting baptized this Saturday. Their ward (the Fayette ward) does all their baptisms in an outdoor spring!  I hope they don't all freeze to death!

Also this week, S and S talked with us about attending the temple, and K made a program for her baptism on the 15th as well. 

So I am very grateful. I am very grateful for this mission. It’s the best! I’m sorry for anyone who serves in other places, southern Utah is the place to be. I am grateful for the people we are teaching and baptizing right now. It’s a huge motivation to have so many baptisms scheduled for these last weeks. I am grateful for all of the companions I've had, and I'm grateful to be able to make lifelong friends from this mission. I am grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ. These two years have taught me so much about Him and His Doctrine, and at this point I just want to serve him and do his will. Elder Becerra and I had a good moment the other day when he asked me "If they had let you extend for a year, would you have done it." I paused and thought for a second, and I am grateful to answer that I would have extended for longer if they had let me. It’s just the best thing I've ever done.

I have a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that this church is God's kingdom on the earth and that it safeguards the priesthood and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is God's word, and that it can prove to all men that this is the Lord's church.

I love you so much! Keep praying for us.


Elder Michael Stewart