England London Mission

England London Mission

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Good byes and Back again!?!

The final district meeting for this transfer was pretty good.  We did service that evening.  Some friends of a member were looking for some help around their house in getting things ready for Christmas. We were able to do service for a couple of days.  Chopping and stacking wood.  And more hardwood floor laying.  We didn’t get it all done, he was hoping to finish on his own prior to Christmas.  A super cool guy!

For Christmas we opened packages in the morning and went to a member’s home for lunch.  That evening  all the missionaries in our district gathered at the church and skyped our families.  While there we were able to watch a few Disney movies as per President’s approval.  I mostly just took the time to write some letters trying to catch up on the ones that I am behind.

 We did have a little snow one evening, it didn’t stick, but we had snow!  It’s been really cold also- negative C’s.

Friday was Boxing Day, another big holiday here.  It was our p-day that day.  In the morning we had breakfast with the Bishop.  Boxing day has a lot of sales like Black Friday for America, huge sales.  I got a pair of brown dress shoes and new watch because mine had broken. 

With service and the holidays we didn’t have a lot of time that we did finding this week.  We did have  follow ups with some of our recent converts.  One was so excited to see us and immediately asked who is praying to start. He was really excited to start the lesson.   Doing great, I am going to miss this one.   The guy baptized last week was able to be confirmed at church this week.  He is great and sad to see me leave, I will miss him as well and his daughter, that we recently baptized. 

I have been here for 7 ½ months and I am going to miss it.  I hope the work keeps up after I leave.   

Yes, I am moving this transfer.  President called Sunday night and said that I would be going to another area and he would like me to continue at District Leader in the new bigger area.  This District had 6 missionaries and the new area will have 10 missionaries.  So it’s going to be a huge change, but it should be good!  I am excited for another adventure ahead.  It’s weird though because I am going back to the same Stake I just came from, a new area and ward, but the same Stake.  My new companion has been out for about 6 months, and pretty sure he’s a fairly recent convert himself.  I am super excited to serve with him.

Studying this week.  People on the street are always like “I am a good person, why do bad things happen to me? Why is life so hard?”  And Jeffrey R Holland said, “Expecting to have an easy life because you are a good person, is like expecting a bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.” Which I thought was pretty clever analogy, because it’s true. We are going to have hard times in our lives.

Sunday was my last church in this area, which by now feels like a family to me. I will miss this ward and the people here, I was able to say good bye to several of them. But I am excited to be heading to a new area.

Thanks for all the letters and emails. Love, Elder Stevenson

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A White Christmas- Two Baptisms

We had a pretty good week actually.  Several of our appointments hosed us this week, but we followed through with some back up plans and other things.  I have been in town centre way too much in the past months, so this last week we did a lot of by-the-way finding and stopped by former investigators and potential investigators.  

With Christmas time it’s a little slower.  Several of the people said to stop back by after the first of the year- which is two weeks away.  One of those we stopped by to see wasn’t interested in listening to us… her friend said “Oh, you, Normans, always trying to convert people… you can’t convert me.”  (Yes- she did say Normans)  But by the end of the conversation the friend said she needed something in her life and gave us her phone number and address so we could come by and teach her.  Ended up that she was busy on that day, but we plan to stop by in the near future. It was a good testimony builder for us of having backup plans.  Our planned appointment had cancelled on us and so we went forward with the backup plan.  Because Heavenly Father knew we would be there, He put someone in the path that was interested in the gospel.

First ice of the year…..

We had Zone Conference this week and it was our Mission Christmas Party as well.   We had little gifts and had a really good training on the Atonement.  Talking about how Christ was the only means by which we are saved.  How His Atonement is eternal and infinite. It was good.  Then a talk on Christmas traditions and such.  Overall a pretty good day!

We finished teaching our one investigator and he is awesome! 
The ward had a Christmas party this week. The Primary did a little nativity at the end.  Sunday meetings were great.   I don’t know if I didn’t pay attention at home for the Christmas program for Sacrament meeting, but in England they read from the scriptures of the birth of Christ, and then they had all of the Christmas hymns sung.  So it really Christmassssy…..but its good.  The ward gave us so many gifts, it was so nice of them!  We have several appointments with members for Christmas as well.  That evening was our baptism. Two were baptized.  The father and friend of one of our recent converts and she was able to speak at the baptism.  It was really good.

Here’s my posting from facebook recently: “Last Christmas and this Christmas I have been away from home. Which had been hard because of missing the family side of the holiday. But since being on my mission it has helped me to see more fully the true meaning of Christmas, which is all about Jesus Christ, and his birth into this world.  Which now I more fully realize and appreciate.”

I know the Christ was born, that He was preordained to be our Savior. I know that the reason for Christ’s birth was Christ’s Atonement.  That the meaning of Christmas really is Easter.  Which I am glad that a loving Father in Heaven would send His son here to die for us, so that we may be able to return to live with him again.  Which I am so grateful for.

Thanks everyone for everything you do.  Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  
Love, Elder Stevenson

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two Birthdays and Two Upcoming Baptisms

It’s wonderful for recent converts to help the investigators.  We had one who shared how a blessing had helped them in preparing for baptism.  The investigator asked for a blessing and felt good following it and had the courage to move forward.  I am grateful that we have the priesthood on the earth today in order to bless people’s lives. There is such power in priesthood blessings.   This investigator passed the baptismal interview and is planning a baptism for this weekend.  Doing great! It is amazing what the gospel can do to people. 

In order to set up a booth in town centre, we have to get permission from the council.  They allowed us to which was a big surprise.   It was cool.   We used the four sided mission banner thing like what I have used before and set up in the town centre.  And we sang Christmas Carols. It was somewhat productive, there were a lot of appointments the sisters got out of it. 

I gave the training in the District Meeting this week on being obedient and diligent and being sanctified in order to have the power of God more abundantly. As we sanctify ourselves then we are given power.  Which is also true in life.  We are given power over satan and temptations.

The Zone leaders were here for an interview and so gave us a ride back to the flat.  When they pulled in we noticed they had a flat tire.  So after 18 months of not changing any kind of tire, I had the chance to do it again!   The others were a little hesitant not wanting to get their suits dirty- but I was like YES! And just started going right to it.  It was surprisely so nice to get dirty and greasy again.  It was awesome! So glad that I learned this kind of hard work back home. 

Got do some great service as well.   We laid some floor in a guy’s attic (or loft as they call it here in England) so they could store some stuff in there. It is so much fun to be able to work again.   Then we got to move a lot of dirt that we had previously dug up for a member to put their trampoline in the ground.  A great time working!  

I got to conduct my first baptismal interview it was cool.   It was an investigator of the Sisters in the District.  So our District will be having two baptisms this weekend.  It’s going to be awesome!

There was another missionary here with the same birthday as mine.  We had our party on Sunday evening as we were going to be busy all day.  We went to London for p-day in celebration.  It was  good sharing my birthday with the other Elder.  A great birthday after all!

Embarrassing moment this week- we were out tracting and someone opened the door.  I couldn’t see that clearly and asked if their parents were home.  The lady opened the door a little bigger and I saw the light more and saw her.  I had just asked a 30 something old year if her parents were home!  It was a funny moment.

We as a mission are reading the Book of Mormon together and this week we read through most of 1st Nephi, and we know that people murmur a lot. So murmuring:

1. People began to have questions in own mind and also began to plant questions in others minds. Whether these questions are about the church, people, doctrine, whatever it may be. They began to question things. And also began to have other people question these things as well.

2. Rationalizing actions, the people began to rationalize their actions and thoughts. They began to make excuses of the things that are going
on. Justifying their mistakes and what is going on.

3. They become slothful in keeping the commandments. They just get lazy and the small things in life don’t matter anymore. They stop reading scriptures, they stop praying, they stop going to church.  All of those questions that they had, have now changed their whole life. 

These are the three things that are made up in murmuring, and after seeing these things, it is something that is very true in the world today and you see a lot of people doing it. Laman and Lemuel saw an angel and still murmured for everything pretty much. But then also in the world today, we have those that have strong spiritual experiences and then still murmur and question the church and put aside all of the testimony that they have of anything. It’s important that we do not murmur, no matter how big or small it may be. Murmuring will lead to less-activity. That is my personal opinion.  

Thanks for all of the birthday wishes. Love you all, Elder Casey Stevenson

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas

This week went quick.  We had Zone Meeting in a neighboring area and so had an hour and a half bus ride. Also a District Leader Meeting.   It was a really good meeting, the spirit was strong and really helped to unite the zone together.  Went on exchanges a couple of times this week as well, in doing so found an awesome family to teach! 
One of our investigators finished with all of the lessons and was baptized this week. It was really good.  I have a new favorite quote that was shared at the baptism.  “Salvation cannot come without revelation.”  The investigator really felt the spirit and was so happy about it!  Also had a birthday dinner with one of those we are teaching- always nice to get more on a personal level with investigators.  He is awesome!   We were able to teach in the members’ home this week, which is also great!  One lesson was a little short, as they were expecting a plumber at any time to help with a leak. 

Sunday was a really good day.  Church was awesome. So first off church itself was good, and it being Fast Sunday made it a great day!  They showed the “He is the Gift” video and had a lesson about sharing it for missionary work.   We had a record high of investigators at church –Seven!  Three of whom we just recently found.  Following church was the baptism.  A really good day.  This ward is the best! 

The mission will be having like a Zone Conference type thing for a Christmas Party this year. 

This week I heard of a great parable that I want to share with you.

The Parable of the Unwise Bee

Sometimes I find myself under obligations of work requiring quiet and seclusion such as neither my comfortable office nor the cozy study at home insures. My favorite retreat is an upper room in the tower of a large building, well removed from the noise and confusion of the city streets. The room is somewhat difficult of access and relatively secure against human intrusion. Therein I have spent many peaceful and busy hours with books and pen.

I am not always without visitors, however, especially in summertime; for when I sit with windows open, flying insects occasionally find entrance and share the place with me. These self-invited guests are not unwelcome. Many a time I have laid down the pen and, forgetful of my theme, have watched with interest the activities of these winged visitants, with an afterthought that the time so spent had not been wasted, for is it not true that even a butterfly, a beetle, or a bee may be a bearer of lessons to the receptive student?

A wild bee from the neighboring hills once flew into the room, and at intervals during an hour or more I caught the pleasing hum of its flight. The little creature realized that it was a prisoner, yet all its efforts to find the exit through the partly opened casement failed. When ready to close up the room and leave, I threw the window wide and tried at first to guide and then to drive the bee to liberty and safety, knowing well that if left in the room it would die as other insects there entrapped had perished in the dry atmosphere of the enclosure. The more I tried to drive it out, the more determinedly did it oppose and resist my efforts. Its erst while peaceful hum developed into an angry roar; its darting flight became hostile and threatening.

Then it caught me off my guard and stung my hand—the hand that would have guided it to freedom. At last it alighted on a pendant attached to the ceiling, beyond my reach of help or injury. The sharp pain of its unkind sting aroused in me rather pity than anger. I knew the inevitable penalty of its mistaken opposition and defiance, and I had to leave the creature to its fate. Three days later I returned to the room and found the dried, lifeless body of the bee on the writing table. It had paid for its stubbornness with its life.

To the bee’s shortsightedness and selfish misunderstanding I was a foe, a persistent persecutor, a mortal enemy bent on its destruction; while in truth I was its friend, offering it ransom of the life it had put in forfeit through its own error, striving to redeem it, in spite of itself, from the prison house of death and restore it to the outer air of liberty.

Are we so much wiser than the bee that no analogy lies between its unwise course and our lives? We are prone to contend, sometimes with vehemence and anger, against the adversity which after all may be the manifestation of superior wisdom and loving care, directed against our temporary comfort for our permanent blessing. In the tribulations and sufferings of mortality there is a divine ministry which only the godless soul can wholly fail to discern. To many the loss of wealth has been a boon, a providential means of leading or driving them from the confines of selfish indulgence to the sunshine and the open, where boundless opportunity waits on effort. Disappointment, sorrow, and affliction may be the expression of an all-wise Father’s kindness.

Consider the lesson of the unwise bee!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5–6).

Everyone go and see this video if you haven’t already.   http://www.mormon.org/christmas

Thanks for everything everyone, and for all the emails I have gotten.  Love you all, Elder Stevenson

Monday, December 1, 2014

December- Where has the time gone?

We had a pretty good week this week.  The highlight was our meeting with Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve. I forgot my notes, so I’ll share what I remember.  He talked about how missionaries are to build wards- whether that be through new convert baptisms, re-activating less actives, or even just strengthening the current active members.  That’s what we are here to do.  We are representatives of Christ, as does an apostle have a special witness of Christ and is called to share that with others. We are called to do the same- to bear testimony to them of the power and divinity of the Savior Jesus Christ.  We do not have a special witness as do the Twelve Apostles, but we do have a witness from the Holy Ghost of these things.  And when we are yelled at told to “Sod Off” (English term, you can look up) or told to shut up.  We are being put through the test of “Is this actually true? Is it worth it?” At the beginning of my mission it was really hard having people confront me like this. But the other day I was like “hey, excuse me, why do you celebrate Christmas?”  The answer was  “****” and I was like “yep, have a good day.”  It doesn’t bother me anymore for people to do that to me. I remember one day a few weeks ago, the first 10-15 people that I stopped didn’t respond very pleasantly, or told me to shut up and leave.  And I was like “ya this is going to be a great day…”  But when it does happen we are doing what the apostles of old did- being a hiss and a byword, being abused, told things that people should never ever say. We are standing shoulder to shoulder with the best man that ever lived. Our Brother Jesus Christ.  One day I like why is all of this crap going on.  Why are these people being so rude to me.  Immediately the words of Elder Holland came into my mind. “When you are made a hiss and a byword you are standing shoulder to shoulder with the best life that world has ever seen.”  I knew it was the spirit bringing to remembrance those things that I had heard before.  And a similar experience happened this week. I was talking to a guy and he said some mean things. I just looked up and thought- “how can you love someone like that?” Immediately I heard in my head, “Because He is my son.”

Elder Cook served here in this mission, he was serving with Elder Holland together in central London.  And he said that he didn’t always hear the spirit say "tract here or do this or do that." But it was a very few times that this happened.  He talked about how if family is in trouble at home, know that you are not needed there. The best place for you to be is here. If you are here, the family will receive heavenly help through the hard times.   The time will come that you will realize that serving a mission is not only blessing you, but everyone that you love is being blessed because of it as well.  Your mission will bless your life beyond any other spiritual thing in your life.  And lastly- when the day of performance comes, the day for preparation has passed.  It was a really good address and I learned a lot from it.

The London South Mission was here for it as well.  I saw some familiar faces from the MTC.  A couple of them from Idaho!  Then we had a special meeting with our mission about a new initiative.  It is called “He is the gift!”  It ‘s a wonderful video about Jesus Christ and Christmas.  It is a really cool thing that we are able to be using!  There are special edition pass along cards, and we have a limited amount of them.  This new video will be one featured on YouTube next week on the front page. It is awesome- we have seen a lot of success from it already.  Focusing primarily on the Christmas time.  

We had some lessons and did so more finding.  Following a lesson with a recent convert, we had planned to go tracting, but didn’t plan the place. As we were walking from the member’s home I was told “tract right here.”  It was one of the most powerful experiences of my mission. We said a quick prayer, walked across the street and knocked on the door I was directed to knock on.  A man opened the door and we started to talk. After about 5 minutes, he invited us in.  Something that doesn’t normally happen here in England, especially at night time. We went in and shared a message about Christmas.  He said that he had heard of the church and he had a Book of Mormon somewhere.  We are planning to see him again next week.

We also had Stake Conference this weekend.  And more good talks.  Some of my notes from there.
We will not be good church leaders unless we seek heaven’s help.
A parents’ special words of “I am proud of you” will always be remembered. 
What we choose to do comes from desire. Our righteous desires will lead to righteous actions.
And a story about how they were driving through the desert, and next to the river there was life. But when you got further away from the river, there was totally death. Just like in life- If we stay close to God and close to His teaching, then we will always be spiritually alive.

We get go to a special restaurant and enjoy ourselves on Thanksgiving!  A good week in England!

Thanks for all that you do. Love you all- Elder Stevenson