So we had a very good week! Alex's baptism is all set up and ready for action this Saturday at Noon. He was so awkward about setting everything up, you would have thought that he was a teenager or something!! Luckily his wife, Becky, was very proactive and held his hand through everything. She even called the people that he wanted there for talks and such, and sent out the invite on facebook for the service. We also had a SPECTACULAR lesson with Nou yesterday. Bishop Holmes came with his son and testified very very powerfully and promised some amazing blessings to her if she is to get baptized. She told us about a dream that she had had. Her Dad was dressed in white, calling her from the top of a staircase telling her to come and eat with him. She said she wanted to get there so badly but kept falling. Uh. Lehi's dream anyone? She is so solid and ready to be baptized... minus the fact that she hasn't been taught everything. With that in mind, her date has been pushed back to the 11th of April. I'll be there through pictures and updates, but of course it won't be the same.
And now... The hard part. I've been serving the Lord for the past 2 years, and now I have to try and summarize it in the next 5 or 6 sentences. What is there to say? I am a better man because of my mission. I am more like my savior than I have been at any time in any other part of my life, and it isn't because I'm any more special or qualified than anyone else. It's because I'm doing all of the small things. I haven't missed church in 2 years, not including the frozen pipes day in Wausau... I read my scriptures every day, I pray no less than 10 times a day, I repent, I learn, I come closer to God, I lather, I rinse, I repeat. I'm not doing anything that anybody else can't do (except speak Hmong maybe, but that isn't really a saving ordinance) and I don't have any more power than anyone else is allowed to have. I'm so happy for the lives that I've touched and I sincerely hope that they will continue to progress and be better, and I hope that just like them, I can continue to progress. I love you all so much, and I'll see you in a few!
Friday, April 3, 2015
This week there has really only been one thing on my mind, and it might surprise you what that is... THE TEMPLE!!! What. An. Experience. There was a moment while I was there that I received revelation for myself and the thought came into my mind "oh, so THIS is what it feels like to have my soul distilled upon by the dews of heaven." I couldn't have had a better time. It just reaffirmed to me the importance of NEVER NOT going to the temple. It has been about 22 months since last I went, and boy oh boy, did I need it. I'm always going to remember that experience, and I'll have pictures in, you know, approximately 10 days ;). And just to say it, letting you know, I am keeping focused on the work. I've said it before, I'll say it again, Elder Dobyns is keeping me very on top of it, and he has been a perfect last companion. I think it also helps that we have had so many exciting things to look forward to, that I haven't even needed to be excited for going home! The work progresses unhindered even by MY unhallowed hand... LOVE!!!
Describing your mission in a paragraph isn't possible. I don't believe that you would be able to fit it into a book, much less a small passage. I can't say that I changed lives, I can't say that I baptized hundreds, I can't say that I wore out my shoes, I don't know if I lived up to the names on my badge, I don't know if I will go back a different man, I don't know how I will retain everything I learned on my mission, I don't know what is next, I don't know who or when I'll marry, I can't say I know what jobs I want to pursue, hobbies I will lose myself in, or habits that I will form, I don't know what God wants me to do next, BUT I can say this: I am more converted now than I have been at any other point in my life. I know with more surety that the Book of Mormon changes lives, and that as one strives to live by the principles in that great book, they will not be the worse for doing so; On the contrary, they will find in their lives a stronger conviction to do that which is right in the sight of God. I can't say that I changed lives, but I know that I have had mine changed.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Sorry for the late e-mail, but it comes late as the result of what I think is a pretty legitimate excuse-- Elder Dobyns and I had some sort of NASTY food bug yesterday. We honestly only got out of bed to go check our mailbox (empty unfortunately). However, today we are feeling good, and almost 100% better. So for some exciting news, we re-established contact with some former investigators this last week, the Changs. They are a part-member family that Elders in the past have worked on and off with. They have 2 girls baptized, and 2 unbaptized, and to be honest, they kind of remind me of my family like 10 years ago, and way more sugar-fuled. We went over to their house this week and had a fantastic time! They bounce off the walls, love to play games, and really love the missionaries. We committed them all to pray together every night until we came back, which is tonight. They have been taught nearly everything, and if everything goes off without a hitch, we may be able to set a baptismal date with them tonight. Please pray for them! Also, Alex and Nou both missed out on church this week, so we might have to reconsider their dates for baptism. I firmly believe that they WILL be baptized, it is just a matter of when... Oooooother than that? Not much... I guess I'm just trying not to count down the seconds until I'm home! I guess I'll see you all soon!
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Unfortunately, things this week didn't quiiiiiiiite go as we had planned... We switched apartments with the Spanish Elders due to some concerns with their living arrangement. So most of our week has been taken up with moving everything from one side of town to the other. Elder Dobyns and I are glad that it is over with, and now we get to do some real teaching. With the move and transfers and a little bit of sickness, this week wasn't the brightest spot that I've had. It does allow me to tell you a little bit about how my studies have been going. I don't know why, really nobody's fault but my own, but I've had a VERY hard time on my mission studying Preach My Gospel. If I could, I would read the Book of Mormon for an hour every day. That just doesn't work for a Preach my Gospel mission. President committed me to read 10 minutes a day, and now I am very pleased to be able to tell you that I have had a change of heart! I absolutely RELISH the time that I get to spend studying it. I have also been keeping some pretty studious notes in the margins and the notes section. I think my biggest problem was simply making marking it too difficult. This time I've simplified it to marking anything that sticks out to me or anything that I have notes on... Of course this is VERY simple, but as I continue studying it after I get home, I can expand the range of my notes. The same really goes for the Book of Mormon as well: I always get these GRAND ideas of how I want to mark it up, but in reality, the simplest things are the best. My favorite copy that I've had was our Christmas copy that had all of the Atonement marked in red or green. Anyway... I'll be more coherent next week as I'll have more time...
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Elder Stegner is a liiiiiiiittle bit excited, his Seahawks just won their NFC game and being from Seattle... well you get the gist. Another slowish week, but we had a little bit of exciting news this past week! We had a referral from our Bishop, and we were able to go contact her this week. Her name is Nou, and last week she asked the Bishop if she could do anything in the way of service for our church. We met with her on wednesday and set up service every Sunday morning where she will come and help us set up chairs. This last week she even stayed for the entire sacrament meeting! She made friends pretty easily, and we hope to continue meeting with her. Wish I could write longer, but duty calls, an early appointment today...
The weeks get shorter and shorter, I swear! There is no way that I'm winding down my mission this quickly. Somebody let slip that I only have 10 weeks left. Again, its not like I'm beginning the countdown this early or anything, I just keep realizing that its all coming to an end. We went through a pretty brutal cold this past week, and being in a car share... Let's just say that it wasn't very practical for us to go tract for three hours. President tried to limit our outside activity to under 30 minutes, and in that same letter he said "Missionaries in Canada and Siberia learn to dress warm as part of their normal proselyting so you may need to invest in some warm winter gear if you don't have it already in order to get through the winter" Wait.... Canada and Siberia? You're telling me that I get to take examples from the place where they exiled criminals from Russia? Great. Alright, I'll stop complaining about it, but our proselyting efforts did take quite a hit. We had interviews with our President this week. We studied the talk "free forever to act for themselves" by Elder Cristofferson this past General Conference. I would definitely recommend a review for those of you who haven't re-read this talk. We talked about it for a good while, especially his story about the man who wouldn't do anything for himself. He also mentioned an interesting fact: in the coming year, 75% of the missionaries currently serving will be going home. What?! We think that 10 of the 13 Hmong missionaries will be going home by September. Sorry that there isn't much to talk about this week, it has been a little bit dry... But I still love you all!!