England London Mission

England London Mission

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two weeks worth. . .

{not a delay in getting information from Elder Stevenson- a crazy busy week for mom in not getting the blog updated.}

Pretty normal weeks.   P-days we did some service and went on a hike in the area for one.  We had interviews last week with President Jordan.  Some teaching in the neighboring towns and working with less actives. District meetings and splits in the neighboring town and so a lot of travel on those days.  We aren’t having a lot of success with our investigators or finding new people to teach, but we are continuing to work at it.  We participated in a market day to try to share the gospel with folks who were in the town center for that activity.  The market day is like sidewalk sales in the United States.  Except here the sellers travel all over the place all week.   They normally sell clothes, accessories, gardening stuff, produce, meat, cards, whatever they have.  So we set up a table in it with Book of Mormons, pamphlets, and pass along cards.  The mission has gotten some banners.  And a pop up rectangular prism billboards, about 6- 6 ½ feet tall, which is really fun to use.  We were in the middle of doing it and a lady from the local council (which is like a city officer) came up and asked to see our permit.  We had no idea we needed a permit to do what we do 6 days a week.  We talked to her and explained that it was all for free.  Nothing was being sold.  She said it was okay for us to be there, as long as we didn’t approach or hassle anyone about stuff.  This made it a little more difficult than if we could have approached the people.  But we handed out 2 Book of Mormons and some pass along cards.  We thought that was pretty successful for the 2 hours we were there.

We also started a new way of introducing the gospel to people in the area. We have started carrying sidewalk chalk with us.  We will write questions on the sidewalks.  How can God help me and my family?  Can I live with my loved ones after I die?  What is the purpose of life?  Questions that really get people thinking, and as “Preach My Gospel “ calls them- questions of the soul.  We write them on the pavement and write mormon.org.uk by them so people can go to the website and find the questions.   

One day we were 10 minutes early for an appointment, so we pulled out the chalk and just write anything on the sidewalk we are near.  As we were doing it people kept looking at it.  Over the whole week we have see a lot of people look at them.  One elderly gentleman came up to us and wanted to know what we were doing.  Worried about kids just causing havoc and spray painting everything.   I explained we were missionaries from our church and this was sidewalk chalk and it would wash away.   He realized we were trying to do go and went on his way.

On Saturday last week we decided to find a place to do the whole Plan of Salvation in chalk.  We selected a local skate park.   We headed out that morning and spent two hours drawing and writing. It looked pretty good when we finished.  We had writing all over the place with questions, statements, quotes, mormon.org.uk, and the whole plan of salvation.  To begin with a kid came up to us and wanted to know who had done it.  We said we had and he thought it was cool, we talked with him for awhile. 

President Jordan gave a training about how missionary work is like farming.  There are phases in a mission.  When you will have a bag and you are sowing seeds.  When you are carrying a watering pot to help nourish the seed. When the time is right, you are with a sickle ready to harvest.  No matter what you are doing it is all important to the final product. 

I thought the farming/ missionary work was really neat.  It was like farming totally.   You can’t just be out there with the harvester when you haven’t planted and waited for the crops to mature. You need to do all the steps in the right order.  Sometimes you continue to replant and move pipe and spray and fix pivots and pick rock and disk the ground and put on fertilizer.  But we do all that for the final product.  Which we cannot do in a swift single movement.  

There has to be patience involved with it all.  A great comfort to me. Even if I am never personally there when someone that I taught got baptized, I did the portion I was supposed to do.  I haven’t failed if I have done what I was asked to do.   Serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength.

As I have been studying I came up with some things that I think would help wards with missionary work. 

1. Prepare: President Eyring stated, "God will put prepared people in the way of His prepared servants." We as members need to be feasting on the words of Christ each day so we are prepared to share the gospel. Also carrying pass-along cards with you or a Book of Mormon to hand out. Simply be prepared to share the gospel.

2. Pray: Elder Ballard said, "We should exercise our faith and pray individually and as families, asking for help in finding ways to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ." President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “It will be a great day when our people not only pray for the missionaries throughout the world, but ask the Lord to help them to assist the missionaries who are laboring in their own ward.” Prayer is an act of faith, in which when we faithfully pray for an opportunity to share the gospel, the opportunities will come.

3. Perform: President Hinckley stated, "Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work."  Once we are prepared and have prayed for those opportunities, look for them in your everyday life and take advantage of the opportunities that come to share the gospel.

Finally in closing Elder Ballard said, "Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come. These opportunities will never require a forced or a contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those whom you speak with will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change."

Elder Tad R Callister gave a great talk on Consecrated Missionaries in 2008.  We got a copy of that talk. 

(He sent the whole talk, but I found it on the web and so have included a link to that blog instead of posting the whole talk again.)

President Uchtdorf also has a great talk to read.

Thanks for all of the emails, letters and prayers. I love hearing from everyone!  Love, Elder Stevenson 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good Visit

A great visit with Elder Stevenson yesterday. Things are going well for him in England.  Not a lot of luck with the investigators this week- still trying.  And still working to find new people to teach.   A couple of people from a previous area are talking about getting baptized this summer. 

Things are going good in the area.  It was rainy most of the week.  For the football/soccer game the missionaries were playing with a few from the ward and some kids.  After about 10 minutes of playing, it started to pour for the next thirty minutes.  We continued to play and were soaked from head to toe.  The bishop said it appear we were walking on water.  He is a lot of fun. 

The crops are looking good there. The grain is starting to head out already and the beets are up to about the 8 leaf stage already.  Strange to hear of the difference in the growing seasons.

We were able to tear down a shed for service one day.  A wind storm had torn off part of the roof.  So we just finished tearing off the roof and pushing in the sides.  Had a blast doing that. 

Been thinking about the changes I’m made since coming out on my mission.  It seems like the longer I am out on my mission, the more comfortable I am at discussing the gospel with people.   I like to talk about the gospel with people.  Not something I did before my mission, or even really had an interest in doing.  Fun to have a doctrinal discussion with dad as we Skyped.   I can’t imagine the conversations we will be having a year from now. A lot of changes for me.

Thanks for all of the emails and letters, I love hearing from everyone!   Have a great week!

Love, Elder Stevenson

Monday, May 5, 2014

May, Sunshine and Comfort

It’s been a tough week.  I have done a lot of studying and pondering this week after hearing of Dakota’s tragedy accident.  I have become more comfortable with the events of last weekend.  The following are some of the things I have learned and received strength from this week:

I have been reading from the book “The Gateway We Call Death” by Russell M Nelson.  He explains that no matter when people die in this life, whether young or old, people still have the same emotions.  There is never a time in life when it is easy to let go of those we love. 

Since I have been on my mission my testimony has grown a lot and I have begun to understand more of the “why.”  The “why” is answered by Robert Millett in his talk “God and Human Tragedy.”  It’s because we live in the fallen world with death and tragedy and we must accept that. Death is more of a part of this world than life. We live to die basically, and we die (physically) to live for eternity.  Live to die and die to live! 

The better question for us to ask is “What are we going to do about it?”  “What are we to learn from this at this time right now?”  In the book “The Other Side of Heaven” is talks about how sometimes the Lord allows people to die.  Because He gives us agency and He can’t give us agency but then keep us safe, as well, if we break the laws of nature or the limits of life.  There is no promise we will live through it.  So sometimes God allows people to die.  And He takes special spirits back home to Him early as if to spare them from hard trials that they may have faced later on in life.  

Another great talk by Richard G Scott in the April 2012 Conference.  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/how-to-obtain-revelation-and-inspiration-for-your-personal-life?lang=eng

Excerpt from that talk--Another example of revelation is this guidance given to President Joseph F. Smith: “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. … We are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors … who have preceded us into the spirit world. We cannot forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are associated and united to them by ties that we cannot break. … If this is the case with us in our finite condition, surrounded by our mortal weaknesses, … how much more certain it is … to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond … can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them. … We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.” Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal. When consistently obeyed, such covenants assure the eternal realization of the promises inherent in them.

And a couple of scriptures I found this week.

Alma 7:12
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

From a book I read this last week it talked about how succor means: to give comfort and support in times of hardship and distress.  And it is conditional upon us turning to Him. We must turn to Him to receive the comforting.
Mosiah 24:14-15
“And I will also ease the  burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”

The Lord didn’t deliver them out of their bondage, but He strengthened them in their bondage.  He isn’t going to deliver us from our pains, but He will lighted them and strengthen us as we turn to Him and accept the things as they are and pray for help in the trials we are going through. The Lord asks us to come unto Him, because He knows the way. He is the way, the truth and the light.  And this life has two paths- we either believe in Him or we don’t!  And it’s a whole lot easier to believe in Him and to receive help in our trials.

As for missionary work this week.  We have worked and worked.  But not had a lot of success in following through with some of our investigators.  Had a couple cancel out on appointments and such.  We are continuing to try and work with them as best we can.   Didn’t have a lot of success with the Bible classes this week either- again only the missionaries showed up for the class.  We were able to do some service one afternoon at the local charity shop and for a family in the area.  Love doing service.

The farms in the area are doing really good. The potatoes are up now and you can see them from the road.  They have a unique irrigation system.  It’s a 200 gpm end gun on a platform with wheels. They run the 3 inch mainline and hook it to a 2 inch hose on a reel to get to the platform.  Some of the grain is starting to head out, I think the winter variety.  The beets are getting huge, you can see a solid green line from the road.  It’s super crazy the time difference in crops from here to home.  You are talking about just having beets planted and they are already starting to cultivate some here.

The weather’s been really nice. We were able to go golfing today with one of the guys in the ward. It was fun! 

We did have Stake Conference this weekend and it was very good.  There were a couple of talks on keeping eternal perspective.  Like glasses when we have the glasses, or eternal perspective, things are more clear and you understand more. But when you don’t have the glasses, or the eternal perspective, you don’t understand anything.  You can’t make sense of things and you become confused and mad.  I really loved that analogy. 

I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ.  That we will be able to see our loved ones again. That we will be able to receive much peace and joy as we accept things and lean on our Savior to receive comfort and strength in our afflictions.  He will not deliver us out of our afflictions, but strengthen us in them.  I know that there is a life after death, where all that had been made wrong, will be made right in the next life.  That relationships are continued on the other side of the veil and we are able to strengthen them even while we are separated for a short amount of time. 

Love, Elder Stevenson