Wednesday, November 13, 2013

madeira rocks. yup. nao preocupes.

Hey family!!

This week was lovely! we had the baptism of Eduíno, a great training and interviews with President (which of course was exactly what I needed), I had a great personal chat with Sister Flukiger, and then we had a great district conference with the district of the whole island of Madeira. There are some really amazing members here. 
One of the parts of the conference that stood out the most to me was a talk given by a 12 or 13 year old kid. He was amazing. He gave a really great talk and I feel pretty certain that he wrote it himself. A lot of the conference from Saturday had focused on doing the little things (reading the scriptures, teaching in the home to do family prayer, family home evening. ya know, the basics). They focused on family and the obligations parents have to their kids and kids to their parents and all of us as a ward family. and then we got to see what the effect of teaching in the home really has on kids. This kid gave an amazing talk. I think I learned as much or more from him as the other adult members who spoke. He picked his own topic and he told about how his mom taught him to  (and had him take) care of his grandfather when he was sick. and his grandpa couldn't really talk but he could see in his eyes that he was always really grateful. then he passed away and on the first time that he went to the temple he was able to be baptized for his grandpa. and this little kid got choked up telling this all in his own words in that moment. He had been taught and given the opportunity to develop Christ like charity and develop a relationship with his grandfather. and then taught the doctrines of temples and family history and family relationships and how temple ordinances and physically taking care of his grandpa were both equally part of following the savior's example and gospel and having his charity for those around us.
So that was cool.
 
Eduíno's baptism was really great too, because 1-he was super happy and brought some of his family members who we haven't been able to talk to yet, 2- because a recent converts gave all the talks and prayers and even baptized him, 3- because Sister Beard was super patient with me even as I was getting stressed and obnoxious in trying to figure out everything for the baptism. I have the best companion in the best area with some of the best members ever. :)
 
Also, the elders in our ward are going to have 7 baptisms next Saturday (they are freaking bosses), so we are stoked for that and I am going to be making a lot of cookies :) One of them knows Jeremy and Jonny. His name is Elder Stratford (or probably more well known to you as Sam Stratford). He's freaking legit. all that work he's doing while training. so we are going to do a lot of good in this ward this transfer. :)

Well that was kind of a lot of random info, but hopefully there was something useful in there. you guys are wonderful and I love you all. Have a great week and tell everyone that you are thankful for them and why this month (if its sincere:)
 
Thanksgiving! I can't wait! We'll celebrate ourselves since they don't really do that here. And then Christmas! I put up the Christmas tree sally sent and I can barely wait to open all the letters. they're all at the base of the tree in order. haha.
 
Well I love you all and have a really great week. 

Love,
Steph \ Sister Lofgreen

Friday, November 1, 2013

Living In Paradise--Oct 29, 2013

Hey family. Sorry for not writing yesterday I was in buses and cars and on an airplane and then on more buses and cars. And now I'm living in freaking paradise. Literally one of the best vacation spots out here on this side of the world. I am on the island Madeira, and this morning as I went running I had an ocean breeze in my face green mountains that disappear into clouds on my right and the ocean on my right. It is amazing. and on top of that I came to a great branch with an amazing companion. I am really so excited to be serving with her. in the couple of lessons that we have taught together so far I am just so excited to be serving with her. plus things and home and in planning and in pretty much everything are just chill. And on top of that I am in the same house as Sister Call, my companion (that I trained) from Viseu, who I just love with all my heart. She is going to be training this transfer (her 5th which ironically is exactly the transfer that I was in when I trained her) and the sister she will be training is portuguese. which is awesome. because it means that we are all going to be able to work on our accents. 
Here in Madeira the people have an accent that is a bit different and sometimes it throughs me off a bit. I think I can understand Portuguese really quite well at this point in my mission, but sometimes, here, things still just go right over my head. So that will be a fun adventure. I hope to be able to perfect my portuguese accent and bring along a few good impressions of the Madeiran. We'll see how it goes.

But as for this last week.....

I can't write because apparently we only have 30 min for email... so yeah..~

até proximo. 

Love you guys.
stay sweet (hotrod)

Sister Lofgreen\Steph

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21. 2013

Hey family,
I am alive and well. I'm really sorry that I didn't write anything yesterday. I had a few minutes to get on email in the morning last week, but I thought I would have more time later so I didn't say anything and then we didn't get a chance to go back the whole day, so it just didn't work out. I'm sorry. But I do love you guys. I will try to give you a good update of everything that's been going on with me, but that might be hard to get all the details. The mission is a very strange time warp and in the work, sometimes two weeks can feel like an eternity. I can't believe that it was just last week that we were at the doctor for Sister Parker. We went down to Lisboa to go to a doctor with Sister Flukiger to see if a real adult could get them to do something more effective. And it worked! She's the best. Plus she has a car, so that helps. and she took us to the american store where they have the Montreal Steak and Chicken seasonings that I love. I got her to buy some so I could put some in little baggies to take home (they're a little pricey over here.) Other novelties of the american store, kitchen aid, big jars of peanut butter, Reese's, root beer, fruit roll-ups, yummy pop corn, Ramen, mac and cheese, yummy granola bars, Crisco and lots of other things you probably wouldn't think of. But of all the american luxuries, I think the one I miss the most is a dryer. Luckily, I got to go use one at the laundry mat today, so this p-day is looking pretty up. :)


We are working with some really great families right now. and that's what every missionary dreams about--families.One is this lady named Neusa, her son Flavio (8), Ires (5) and Francisco (2) and her husband Alfonso. We met Neusa in the street about a month ago and tried to pass by a couple of times and she was just not having it. She wasn't home several times and then we went by one day and the door to the apartment complex was open and her husband answered the door and she did not want to let us in, but I think they weren't getting along and he let us in just to spite her. We got her to say a prayer with us and left and came back another day. She didn't want to let us in once again but we just kept talking for a little bit, said a prayer and then she let us come in and sit down. We sang a hymn with the kids and they loved it and we marked to come back another day. And then after a while, she really wanted us to come back and we finally got to teach her the first lesson last week. She started off the lesson by saying how she doesn't think her baptism was just like Christ's and she's not sure what to do about it. She has so many questions and really wants to follow Christ and help her kids grow up in the right way. That reminds me of a really cool experience we had the other day with her. The time before we really got to teach her a real live lesson this last week, we went over on a day when only her and Flavio (who's 8) were home. He was mad at her (a mom of three very lively kids sometimes yells and her kids don't always like it..) and he was sitting on the couch and refusing to look at or respond to anyone. Then we had Neusa say a prayer. and it was the most sincere, beautiful, Spirit-led, loving prayer I have ever heard an investigator say (well maybe not, we a really great investigator in Loulé who prayed kind of like that too). And she just expressed her love for her children and God and her desire to teach them what's right and do her best for them and for God to be near him and after the prayer Flavio totally changed. He just kind of looked at his mom awe-struck. Like he had no idea she had all those emotions inside of her. He was so moved and changed for the rest of the lesson. After that he had to go sit on his mom's lap and just hug her for like the rest of the time we were there. And it just really strengthened my testimony of family prayer and how as we focus on the Lord and on turning our hearts to Him, He is the one who can really bring us closer together. Turning to God does more to bless our families and our family relationships than anything else we can do, because He knows us and them and knows the thoughts and intents of their hearts and if He's the choreographer things always run more smoothly. I'm working on learning to apply that in my relationships with people her, with members and especially with my companion. The mission is really one of the greatest things ever invented for turning us into good people. Its the best training ground for service in the church, for having a successful life, for marriage and parenthood, for pretty much everything. I don't think its a coincidence that more and more youth are serving at this time when things in the world are getting more and more difficult. We need that strength in the church, not just in the mission field. We need more leaders, people who will lead and stand for righteousness and work and do many things of their own free will in what ever situation they are put in, not just when put in positions of "leadership." I'm working on that.
They more I learn, the farther it feels like I have to go, but that is sometimes a tool of the adversary too. My friend sent me a quote from another friend one time that said something like this "Whenever you get discouraged, take a moment to look back and see how far you've come." I have to recognize the progress I have been making because every time I do, I'm giving credit to the one who deserves it, the one who created this plan and the more specific plan for my life of challenges and blessings designed to help me, specifically, grow. 

Well there were lots of other things that happened this week, but I think I'll stop here unless I get a moment to come back later and write about them. I love-you all and i am so proud of each of you. tell me what's going on with you. I really do love to hear about it.

Oh yeah, other big thing, we had a baptism (I don't have pics cause I lost my camera... :(  This man named Paulo was baptized. He was brought to church by his girlfriend who is headed back to Paraguay (which most certainly borders Uruguay through Argentina's border) next week. It was great because he brought his whole family and they were all so happy and crying and so happy for him (hopefully we can start teaching all of them this week). And in Gospel Principles he taught the plan of salvation to the whole class so incredibly well. So that was a really great moment this week as well.

And about a millennium before that (aka Wednesday) we got to go do divisions in Viseu again! but with the other dupla this time. and I got to go with my lovely companion from the MTC! Sister Warburton! and that was a really fun day... but once again, no pictures.. sorry. I just love getting to love so many new people every transfer, every day. I want to remember and love that more. Some things I learned\relearned from her that day.
Really find AND talk about the good in everyone. 
The secret to being happy is being grateful. 
"I love the challenge of learning to love a new person."
"you have to love people into the gospel."
Geez. that girl is just a treasure trove of wisdom. her and Hillary Bowler. my equivalent of a magic eight ball for my life is conference, Sister Warburton, and Hillary Bowler. I swear it works. (ok, maybe I should go study personal revelation a bit more. that's probably not how it works.)

I am working on letters to lots of people! I'm sorry I'm so slow! I haven't done a great job of making time this transfer, but I will try better this week. (I have letters for Hillary and Jessica started and a big list for lots of other people, so don't hate me :)


I love you all and I hope I didn't forget anything terribly important, but if so Heavenly Father will remind me later. 


Love,
Steph

P.S. fight the good fight!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sept. 2, 2013

Hey family!
So this week was good and I made a list of things to tell you about, but now I don't know what I actually want to say.
The list makes it so that I am not thinking about the things that I learned and processing how I changed and grew this week, so hopefully I will get a chance to think about that this week too.
This week had lots of individual things happen where Ifeel like I learned and grew and did things right and did things wrong and they haven't all melded together in my mind yet to one or two or three over arching lessons that needed to learn.
But some things I was thinking about yesterday in fast and testimony meeting. The power of people's testimonies really is not at all dependent on their speaking abilities. They are carried to our hearts by the Spirit and their strength is much more dependent on the consistent role that those principles play in the people's lives. For example, the most powerful testimonies that I heard were one by this little old man who didn't really say that much, I don't think he actually even mentioned Christ in his talk, he just said how important it is to stay strong in the church and in the gospel. and I know that he feels that and lives that and relies more on the strength of Christ's atonement from that simple statement than so many eloquent people that I talk to that don't make the simple, good, daily decisions in their lives that he does.  read the scriptures every day. pray every day. talk to god like he's your father because he really is. love the people around you with all of your actions to the best of your ability because they are god's children too. work every day to build the kingdom of god on the earth. (that includes most especially everything we do for our families [aka studying and working to be able to take care of our families and future families]).
and I was thinking about how callings--working and serving in God's kingdom here on the earth--is one of the best ways that we have to learn and grow and CHOOSE to be humble instead of being forced to be humble like alma talks about in the beginning of alma 32.* That's really hard. and it comes in little choices. like this one from this amazing talk by Elder Bednar (that everyone in the world should read. I heard it in the MTC and I still think about it ALL THE TIME. it absolutely changed my life because it changed my daily choices and the way I see things and the things I am working to, ou seja, it made me want to work harder and more specifically to be like the savior.)


Elder Bednar's Talk: "On the day of her daughter's funeral, this Relief Society president from my home ward received a phone call from an irritated sister in our ward. The complaining sister had a cold and did not feel well, and she basically chewed out the Relief Society president for not being thoughtful or compassionate enough to arrange for meals to be delivered to her home. Just hours before the funeral of her only child, this remarkable Relief Society president prepared and delivered a meal to the murmuring sister."

These amazing people, quietly making decisions to put themselves last, even when they are perfectly justified in being offended or angry or in taking a moment to take care of themselves are those who change the world through their love and example.
 anyways.. on to some stories of things that happened this week.
 We had a baptism!
F. This super awesome lady who with every time she has specifically prayed about a question has found an answer. I think I talked about her a little while back. well, she finally picked a date to get baptized last week and then on tuesday we moved it up to this saturday and she got baptized and received the Holy Ghost on Sunday and it was amazing because it was one of those moments when you know that SHE really knew what she was doing and that it was important in her life. and she got up and bore her testimony in sacrament meeting after and it was awesome.

Another awesome little miracle from Saturday was that 7 of our investigators showed up at her baptism! which was sweet. and even better, the members really made an effort to make each and every one of them feel welcome.
I was called to Portugal, but sometimes I feel like I'm serving in Africa, because most of our investigators are from Capo Verde, Angola, and Mozambique. and at the moment a lot of them are 19-25 yr old boys who like to play futebol by the river every day and so we just get them to come have lessons with us when they stop playing. Because of this, Sunday night after church we were still fasting and we had about an hour to go look for new investigators and we had planned to go to this park by the chapel. And because we had been joking about our stereotype investigator, we just walked by this kid who fit it perfectly without really talking to him, we just said hi as we passed by, but then he stopped us and was like "hey, are you from the church?" and we just kept talking to him for a while. We started teaching him the first lesson and in the middle he just interrupts us and is like 'when you guys said hi to me I felt something really strong. This really strong feeling, like you are creatures of God (which really at the moment and in português was way less weird...) and I have that feeling right now, like nothing bad could happen. did you get that feeling?" and so we talked about the spirit and how to recognize it and how we feel when we feel the spirit, but it was just one of those moments, those tender mercies, that Heavenly Father gives you to let you know that what you're doing is important and that the Spirit really is guiding you and that there really are people prepared all over the world to hear our message. Sometimes we just have to start talking and we might not have the right words to us, but the spirit can take care of things if we just open our mouths.
Oh and my companion and I each got proposed to twice this week.. that's always fun... and by that I mean its not at all fun. One of them decided I was prejudiced against Muslims because I wouldn't marry him after having met him 5 minutes before hand.. and it doesn't help when your ward mission leader decides to tell one of them that you can date them when you're done with your mission in a year and a half... don't worry he didn't mean it and he owned a fight club, so I think he can help us out.
Also.. I'm having a hard time being exactly obedient because everyone keeps handing me black babies (my ward mission leader an his wife for example). pictures attached.
And I better go so that I can get some other things done today, but I love you all so so so so so so very much. and i want you to always remembre it and study the words of the prophets and apply something every day and forgive me if I didn't say anything that I needed to and trust the Spirit to help you know what you need to say when you need to say it.
Have a great week!!!!
And read that Elder Bednar talk. here's the link one more time:
Love you!
 Steph\ Sister Lofgreen
P.S. Fight the good fight. and remembre what's most important (always people).
And take my mom's advice this week and always try to be present the moment. that's my goal for the week.
p.p.s. I left our phone at Pablo's last night and we had to run through the city after hours to get it and then cal the zone leaders to tell them we were late and why after having had to cal them earlier that day to give lots of excuses for why we didn't get Fatima's baptismal ficha signed. we are awesome...


August 19, 2013

Sometimes my dad says really profound things that sound like their coming out of a book. like this: ".. but again, to everything it's season. . . . Can't I just have a little control of the seasons? . . . Nah, it'd always be fall with the colored leaves and with a touch of chill in the air. As much as I like that now, it might get a little boring after a couple of years. :)

Hey family. I love you guys so so so very much.
I don't think you guys understand it, but I really love you so much more every day that I am here. And not because I miss you (I do miss you, but that's ok), but because I feel that I am getting better and better at being a good person (I still have so so so so so so so far to go) but I think that the more I serve the Lord the more I learn about Him and more I learn to love Him and the more I learn the importance of the love He has for us and all of these things just make me love each and every one of you guys that much more, because I know that we are going to be family for ever and because I feel some of Heavenly Father's love for you. And families like ours are so so rare, especially when you are not living in the middle of the gospel culture, a culture where families love each other.
But anyway, this week was good. We are working with this lady F, who is really cool. She's really logical, but the amazing thing is that we just left her with invites to pray about really specific simple things (book of mormon, joseph smith, baptism,..) one after each lesson and each time, we would come back and she wouldn't say that she got an answer but the she would explain to us why it makes sense that the book of mormon is true and how much she loved reading it and the sign God gave her that its important,and then  explain why it makes sense that God would call prophets, and everytime like that. She would reason out the answer, but because she had asked and wanted to know her doubts were answered and her fears were calmed. She did her part and the Lord knew her and how to help her with her doubts in the way that worked for her. So often we don't see how the Lord works with us but those on the outside do.
Its amazing how consistent people are. When we go into a lesson 99% of the time I know if someone read and prayed or not just on their attitude about meeting with us. You can tell if they have been reading in the Book of Mormon (even if they didn't understand the whole chapter, you can tell whether or not they exercized their faith enough to just sit down and sincerely read) so quickly and easily.
I love Alma 26:22:
22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to ereveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance. l
I love it because it is to those who have faith, repent and live the basic principles of the gospel that God will give understanding of the mysteries we are all seeking to understand in this life. And you can really see how true that is in the lives of other people. Why then is it so hard for us to do the little things that will let us understand the hard questions: why bad things happen to good people, why life is hard, what god wants from us, what we are here to do, how to be happy. the things that matter.
But as for F., pray for her to resolve her doubts. She's so close and she will bring so much good into the lives of all her family if she can get through this period of doubt.
Well I better close so my comp can use the computer too today.. But I love you so so so so so much.
Please read your scriptures, pray,  love people, do good things and just be a good person. Its really the little things that make and break us.
And as for all the little things that we still have a hard time with: the Atonement is real and it works. (I heard a cool story about that too. an elder who really offended a girl who is a member here now. I happen to know this elder and know that he had really changed and that he would never want that. but she was sent the people in her life to help her overcome that trial that she had and now she has an amazing testimony and her sister too. The Savior took care of the things that he couldn't do because he really repented and changed and became better and trusted in the Lord.)
I love you guys so so so so much!!!!!!
Sorry I'm always such mess in my emails.

Steph

P.S.
Paul!!!! Awesome talk! you are amazing you and your testimony of the gospel already inspire me!!! (your future wife is one lucky young lady, haha, but seriously your testimony of the priesthood and womanhood is wonderful.)

Jeremy, Elder (Sam) Stratford says hi. He says he knows you and Jonny.
Also go watch 3 Ninjas for me. I used to always want to watch that show but couldn't remember what it was. What are you planning for this fall? Are you going back to Elmira? working?

Is school starting soon for everybody?




July 29, 2013



Hey family!

This week I felt like I learned \ knew a lot about how to be happy. Ironically enough it came from not always being happy.
I love that scripture (I think its about Ammon) in Alma 27:18 where all the Sons of Mosiah and Alma run into each other again and Ammon (or Alma, I just cant remember at the moment) passes out (why are they always doing that in the Book of Mormon) from being filled with joy greater than his body could bear and then it says "18 Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness."
 I just love that Heavenly Father loves us enough to give us specific directions about how to be happy. He doesn't just say go be happy he tells us exactly how, He gives us commandments and shows us how through examples of people around us, through prophets, through people in the scriptures, and most of all through Christ's example. And for people like me who need things to be written out a little more specifically he has it written over and over and over in thousands of scriptures, not to mention living prophets and priesthood leaders and parents and inspired friends. God loves us so much, so much more that we can possibly imagine.
Everybody sent me such great emails today. I always learn so much on pdays its almost stressful because I know I'm not going to be able to remember it all because I can't remember everything from the pday before.
But I still love it and am so grateful for it because the spirit can bring things back to my remembrance in exactly the moment that I need them.
We had some really awesome things happen this week. And by things I really mean people because that is always the awesome part in the mission. Earlier this week we met this girl who wasn't super interested, but then we got her phone number and then called her up and she agreed to meet with us and then we had a really awesome lesson and then she stayed to go to the baptism of these two little boys in our ward and then she really really liked it and was really thinking about it and really taking things in and just really really thinking and then she went home and read the chapter in the book of mormon that we talked about and then prayed about it that night and she feels like its true and then she came to church the next morning! and its amazing how quickly things can change on the mission.
 We also had a lesson with a --
Also we teach her in english-portuguese because she speaks perfect english and she says she thinks in english and she wanted us to speak in english, but sometimes I just can't teach in english so I switch to portuguese and sometimes my comp teaches in english and I teach in portuguese and its cool. But mostly it was cool because this week in training the new missionary is supposed to lead and it was not necessarily the best moment for that because we were dealing with some other issues as a companionship (nothing even bad, just that made it complicated to try to switch up roles) and it was making things kind of tense. But because we were teaching in english (sort of) Sister C felt totally comfortable just going for it and taking on that role (she's really good at it, she is such an awesome missionary [I am like 90% certain that she is going to have one more transfer doing something else and then just be a Sister Training Leader for the rest of her mission so that everyone else in mission can just learn from her]). Heavenly Father knows our needs and since He knows we need to have the experiences in the training He provides for those needs, He even makes up for our weaknesses. Back to the Sister C is awesome tangent-- last night we did this cool activity with the other sisters and the elders from our ward and we went to this big open area by the camara(city hall) and sang hymns and had other missionaries contacting the whole time and we had a table and posters and it was awesome. but one of the most awesoem things was Sister C went off contacting with Sister S who is in her first transfer and terrified of Portuguese and it was just so cool to see her in her element leading everything so happily and excitedly almost running after people in the cutest most excited way that they didn't even mind and then just so happily helping Sister S along with everything and giving her advice  and stuff. I am realizing that probably none of this means very much to you guys but they are just moments that make me happy. so yeah. :)
This week I copied and pasted from this letter to president, but I additioned this so I will just put it here too :)
And we had two investigators in church who were good solid investigators to have in church, people searching for the truth and to change their lives who came to church for those reasons, so that was really really cool.
In our studies we reviewed How to Begin Teaching and studied teaching skills from chapter 10 (questions, listening, using scriptures, and teaching for understanding). We also reviewed the second lesson and teaching more simply (basically applying those principles we were studying) because it seems to be the one we have the hardest time helping investigators grasp as a whole (so we need to know it and teach it better).
Did you know how cool the gospel is! It makes so much sense! It all just fits together so simply and perfectly and I love Alma 12.
I pray for you every day.  (especially every week) and I KNOW that Heavenly Father is watching out for you so I will keep trusting Him and you can trust in my testimony of that truth like I am trusting in Mom's that:
Psalms 46 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." He really is my refuge and my strength.  I pray He will be yours.
I love you so much!
Have a wonderful week!
Fight the good fight!
The gospel's true!
Let God's will be done!(that's for you Hannahpants --don't ask me where that name came from-- I love love love love loved your email by the way. You are so profound lately and I love that the gospel is sinking into your heart.
Love
Steph \ Sister Lofgreen

July 22,2013

Hey family!!! I'm sorry that I didn't really get a real email written this week! I just wrote more to more people individually, so I'm osrry about that, but I would like to copy and paste some random things from some random places that I liked and call it my own, pode ser? Fixe.
Things I learned from people this week:
Fight the good fight.
Missionary opportunities come up for everyone and the more ready we are the more we will be able to recognize them and meet them.
"I have been thinking lately about how many times God has lifted me to be able to do what is required.  I am so grateful for my years in school and then even this past year.  I do know that all things are possible with God. I am so grateful for this knowledge.  I am so grateful for your great example.  Keep the faith and try today to listen to the spirit as He tells you who to help." --not just what to do, but WHO to help. I liked that. and I'm glad that I know that my mom knows the gospel's true.  Even if I don't always have the testimony of that buried deep down in my soul the way I want it to be, I do know with out a shadow of a doubt that you know it. like that scripture about the stripling warriors. They knew their mothers knew it. If we can rely on the faith of our mothers, I think I will make it :)
Things I said that I want everyone to know:
Fight the good fight.
Me and my companion had some nice bonding experiences this week and I really felt the confirming presence of Heavenly Father telling me : See, I really did know what I was doing by sending you here and putting you guys together and giving you the talents and the weaknesses and personality that you have.
I like to know that God really does know me and He really does love me and value my gifts and abilities and talents enough to use them in his service.
Sorry this is really really short, but I love you all so much and there's always next week!

Steph\Sister Lofgreen


Mom!
You are the greatest most loving mother I could ever hope for in the world. . . and I'm turing into you a little bit in some ways that I don't like, like thinking that everything is my fault and taking responsiblity for way more than I could reasonably be accountable for, but I hope if that is becoming a part of me, maybe I am becoming a little bit more like you in one of a thousand other ways that I want to be. Like willingness to put faith into action. Remember when you decided you were going to go get a job and you had all these goals for youself and were taking those classes from the church place and going to talk to Bishop Ship and Jeff Edwards and applying for so many jobs in the world and just doing so many things and I was just like what? How do you just get a job? Well, that idea of just going and doing things that you have shown me so many times in my life, to just be a problem solver, I finally get where you learned that since being on the mission-- sometimes you just have to go do things. And I'm grateful to see how mission experiences have contributed to some of the amazing things that I have learned from you. Because now I know that it will really truly have an effect on my kids, cause your mission had an effect on me.

Last week, Sister B started reading me a literary offering she received from one of her old teachers. Guess who? Zack Hutchins! Funny right! And guess what the literary offering was: To My Dear and Loving Husband by Ann Bradstreet.
It made me really really happy because it made me think of you.

Mom, I am so so so grateful for the many things that you have taught me and that you taught me just now as I read that letter. I am grateful that because of you I know that with God all things are possible. Even if I don't always have the testimony of that buried deep down in my soul the way I want it to be, I do know with out a shadow of a doubt that you know it. Like that scripture about the stripling warriors. They knew their mothers knew it. If we can rely on the faith of our mothers, I think I will make it :)
Don't ever for a moment forget how much I love you and how proud I am to have you as my mother. :)
I will keep praying for you to know what to do about the house and the move and the family and all of these things. I will pray that you and dad will be able to feel united in the decisions that you are making, because no matter what happens if that's true, it will work out. and even more, if you can feel at peace with Heavenly Father with the choices you are making it will work out. so I will pray for you both to know what to do for yourselves and the family.
I love you so much.
Love Steph

July 15, 2013

Everybody should check out the church's new website if they haven't on hastening the work of salvation: Click Here for the Link

And while those are loading I will type some more.
This was a nice long week of finding people. Every so often it feels like you are right back at quare one and you just have to go out and find people again. And that's what the end of this week has felt like. Luckily things seem to change so quickly sometimes as a missionary too. so Im sure it won't last long. And for this reason i am so so grateful for this quote that mom sent to me (and by quote I mean just something that she said): One of the concepts I loved most about this idea is that conversion is the actions we do because of the love and gratitude we have for the knowledge of our testimony.
I feel like every email time I come sit down and talk about nothing and share maybe somehting that I have learned that week, but what I have learned is more or less the same thing always and it always comes down to something like that. Love the Lord, trust Him and keep up the good work, keep the fight, stay true and hold to the rod. The Lord won't let you down if you trust Him and choose to trust Him with your actions even if your not feeling it in one moment or another. Every moment of difficulty will be made up x100.
God loves us. and He knows YOUR name. not just Joseph Smith's name or alma's name or the prophet's name or moses' name, your name. How amazing is that? This idea just blew the mind of one of our investigators in Loulé. He just could not believe that, and when we finally convinced Him that it was possible and that He should just pray about it to find out, that was what made the difference for Him. To know that God knew him and loved him and believed in him enough to give him everything and know and call him by name. He's going to love the temple when he gets there and feels Heavenly Father's love for each of us personally even more profoundly.
I'm grateful for the little reminders of miracles that I get every week as I write you guys, sorry its not the same experience for you.
I love you all so much and don't ever forget it, and good luck with the move I'm praying for all of you individually.
Paul. Its going to be great. God is going to do great things with you. You are so so so amazing. I don't just say that I feel it.
And Tom. You're awesome.'nuf said.
Hannah, just sing and paint and write your heart out.
And Will, work hard in school and hug mom for me and tell people when you need help with things.
And Dad, how's your new job?
And Jeremy, what's going on with you? how's utah\arizona? what have you been up to and did you decide on that internship things\ have you been doing that in arizona or have you stayed in utah this whole time?
And you can make all these decisions mom. in decision making i have been reading in Mosiah and I learned a lot in chapter 26 (when alma's got some big decisions and receives one of my favorite revelations in the BoM--everything always  comes down to the plan of salvation) and in chapter 22:1 and then the rest of the chapter (those one's made me think of something one of the apostles said in the broadcast we watched last week about how bishops in ward councils should do like the apostles did witht he change in missionary age and counsel with all of the leaders from all of the departments (apostles, sunday school, relief society, primary, young womens, etc.) they talked to everyone and weighed all the options.
Just some thoughts.
As always. Sorry.
But I really love you all sooo much!!!!
Steph\Sister Lofgreen
Hey Family~
How are you all? I love you and I miss you and I pray for you all every night.
The first important piece of news. It is HOT.
Everyone keeps telling us that it is over 40 graus. and 40ºC  is like 104ºF. So... yeah. I don't know if its true because it doesn't seem like that could be right, but its pretty hot... I love fans much more than is reasonable right now.
Secondly, God loves us so so so very much that He gives us answer to our questions and He hears and answers ALL of our prayers.
Thirdly, He knows us so well and hard times now don't cancel out all of the blessings He has promised us if we just hold on faithful to the end and live every day to its fullest (to show our love for Him and feel His love for us as completely as possible).

Also, Pictures! before I forget.







July 1, 2013

Hey family!
Yesterday we got to watch a training meeting for new mission presidents and pretty much all leadership of the church (like anyone who is in a ward council) and it was wonderful.
We have living prophets and apostles and they really do receive revelation for us in our day. They know the Savior and they love Him so so much and because of that they are given capacity to realy love us. and President Flukiger asked us to write him one thing we learned, so that's below.
One thing I learned from the training meeting yesterday:
ALL of the apostles and the prophet spoke of love, this work of love and salvation that is accoplished as we expand our vision to be more like our Father in Heaven's. He sees each of His children as precious and important--RC, MA, non-members, etc. And because they see that they are more capable and eager to move this work forward. We can always be expanding and building our testimony of the value of a soul to the Savior and of His power and desire to help others and us.
One more thing: they live the things they teach and live to qualify for the Spirit to make up the difference in everything, and they expect us to live the things we teach and learn and live worthy of the Spirit to direct us as well.
Its always such basic clear things but they clearly need to sink deeper into my soul or the Lord wouldn't keep telling them to me.

Training:
This week has been the Book of Mormon and the Book of Mormon has been playing a huge role with our investigators. I have developed a greater love for this book as we have studied its power in ch. 5. It is so clear, so powerful and makes all the difference.
We applied it with our RC who we felt (and it was true) has been slowing in her anxiousness to read the BoM, but after talking with her about it she regained some of the fire and recognized the difference it was making in her life.
It has also made a difference in our 1st lessons as we focus on the power of using scriptures from the BoM to teach.
Sister C uses Mos. 4:9 in teaching the 1st point of the 1st lesson a lot and with a really amazing new investigator that we found Saturday who accepted all of the convites up though convite suave, she felt the power of the clarity of the book of Mormon from the very beginning of that lesson.
I need to focus this week on not losing fogo in CS, and continuing to make every morning a spiritual experience. I just realized we forgot to do VSP last night and I think that will make a big difference in being able to focus on the things that are most important for us this week and in having goals and focus for our study time that feel important to both of us.

Work: we are still struggling with progressing investigators, finding people who will really contribute to the growth of the ward and who are ready to come unto Christ right now (I have a tendency to just want to wait with everyone and help them be ready, but I know that's not always our job). But in the last two weeks we have found some people with a lot of potential and I can feel my faith to find growing.
P.S. I'm grateful for other missionaries. I am learning so much from the example of Sister Br. . . and Sister St. . .  who are doing a tremendous work, who have so much faith and so many smiles. They inspire us every day. We can learn so much from each other and lift those around us.
Sorry that I just copied and pasted suchan uninteresting email, but I'm a bit short on time. We're going to go have a district p-day with some members and so we don't ahve as much email time today.
But I love you all a lot.
And I want to tell you a little about the girls who live in our house with us. They are so amazing. I always feel like I sound so cheesy but they are genuinely amazing. 1. My companion is so incredibly awesome and is still stopping everybody on the street when she is sick.
Sister Br. . . had a really hard transfer last transfer, but now she is training Sister St. . . and they are so happy and sweet and loving and excited ALL THE TIME and even though they are both super new, they just love the Lord and trust him and so they are finding amazing people and people really feel their love and just want to be like that and so they come to church and come to know the savior. Its amazing. I am so lucky that I have been able to meet and serve with some of the most loving faithfilled people in the world.
But anyways. We just have so much fun all together. . . We are teaching this really funny old couple who really worked one over on our gospel principles teacher on Sunday... we'll see how it goes next week. We might try to teach them the lesson for Sunday beforehand to see if that might help.
And then Ad. . . is quitting smoking.
And we found the most amazing girl on Saturday who in her prayer at the end thanked heavenly Father for the signs he sends and for sending us and she was totally just sitting there waiting for us to come find her and tell her about the truth. Its amazing. what if we hadn't knocked on her door. God is so good.

Sorry this is so short and random, but I love you all!

Steph


June 24, 2013 Letter About Love

Hey mom and dad and Jeremy, Hannah, Paul, Tom, Will and everyone else who is family. 

Katy sent the most amazing email this week, and several other people too; it just made me so happy to see how people I love are growing and changing and just becoming more truly the best version of themselves.

In church on Sunday, we talked about Pres. Monson's talk from October's Gen. Conf. about seeing people as they may become, and I love that talk so much, but when we were talking it kind of sounded like people were saying we should just see people as we want them to be and expect it and then they will change into what we want them to be. And that's not it at all. We don't want to just change people into what we want them to be. We want to change people into being more truly themselves, we want to develop the gift of discernment to help others discover within themselves the amazing traits and potential that they have and help them have a desire to be greater and bigger and better and more the versions of themselves that really truly loves God and others. We want them to see who they really are--sons and daughters of God--and grow and develop those qualities that are most important. 
but anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. The point I was going to make was that in response to her awesome letter I wrote the following and I decided that i wanted to share those thoughts with all of you so I am just going to send it to all of you too:

"My dear dear Katy,
Did you know that you are amazing!?
I hope so, because you are. And I am so glad that you are feeling so much love for the people, for your family, and most of all for the Lord. I love seeing how all the people I love are learning and growing and changing and coming closer to the Lord, and learning to trust in Him and feel of his love and influence more and more every day. And I am more glad than anything that you know that the Lord loves you with out a doubt and that that love really can make all the difference. 
These were my scriptures of the day: D&C 6--He knows us.
We just need to know who we are like He knows us and then know who He is and trust in Him. 
And then if we still doubt:
He is always there for us, and He is always so patient. 
I love the scriptures so much better than my own words sometimes. so sorry that most of this email is just scriptures, but I guess I'm not sorry because the scriptures are better anyways. 
Have a wonderful P-day! (and I might come back and write more later, we'll see.)
Love you so much!
Steph\Sister Lofgreen"

14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
 15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
 16 Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
20 Behold, thou art [Kathryn], and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my clove.
 21 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
 23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

June 24, 2013

. . . But in other news, I actually thought this week about stuff that happened that I can tell you about!
I know its amazing that it only took me however many weeks its been, but it finally happened. 
And then I wrote it in a letter to president that I will stick right here. 

This week we had some really great experiences. Saturday morning Sister Call was having some doubts, about if she really had faith, if she really believed that we could do the things we needed to. not that she doubted, but she said I just don't feel it. but in our study time we studied Ch. 4, praying with faith, recognizing the spirit, and relying on the spirit.
 
And I was reminded of all the times that I have learned that faith is a choice, not a feeling.
 Then during the day, when we weren't seeing the results we wanted and we didn't really feel like we knew what to do, we could look back and see and say, "yes. D&C 6:14-15 really is true." We prayed and then we found Fredson who decided to come to church with us.
 
And then we praying and we remembered that we could take those cookies and the Hindi Book of Mormon to the indian family and still get to our other appointments. And then we prayed and we found Conceição. 
 
And then we prayed and just were laughing and singing and walking home and Sister Call thought of calling Naíra. (even if she still said she would call us in the morning to come get her when she was done getting ready.
as often as we inquired and sought to do the Lord's will we were guided. And we found some really cool people.
 
And Naíra (um joven that has had a really hard time getting to church and so wasn't progressing) came to church! (She called right when we finished praying for her!) 
 
And our faith was strengthened because we chose to have (act in) faith instead of just waiting to feel it. 
 
And we prayed in gratitude for the things that we were given and so then on Sunday night when we were feeling grateful we were guided across the city having no idea of the things that we were doing beforehand (like Nephi!) and we found this girl named Sonia who was the most interested, accepting-and-excited-about-our-message novo that I have yet found on my mission. 
 
And I felt like this was the best application of training that I have had yet because I was guided to know that we should study that section in our study this week (wk. 10 instead of 7) even though I didn't understand 100 percent why because we don't have a ton of investigators to apply it to, but we did it anyways.
 
And then it helped with exactly what Sister Call was struggling with personally and then it was her promptings (if you can say that, because the spirit confirms to me too, but she made the suggestions and had the first thoughts) that guided us to those two miracles (Naíra and Sonia). (Sorry that was a little long.)
 
But it is also probably the best summary of all aspects of our work. We are improving little by little and the most important thing to me this week was that my faith was strengthened that WE (if we listen to the promptings that come) really can find people who are ready and who will progress. 
 
We just need to choose to 'press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope'. I know we can do it! We can find these people who are waiting! as we are steadfast and diligent in our study of the scriptures and pmg and their application and listening to the promptings of the Spirit and just do all we can to love people. 

(The end of the letter to president)

But those are the things that I really did want to tell you about too.

Oh and this girl that we have been teaching who is so cool who I just love who is under house arrest (the good news is she's always home :), but she just started the Book of Mormon over from the beginning! which is sweet. and she has been praying and she really really knows that God is listening to her and has been helping her and that because of these things she is closer to Him and she wants to be. And I love that. I just don't know how to help her get out of the terrible situation she is in because her friends aren't good for her, but they do everything for her. she lives on their generosity. They take care of her and she is such a better person in some ways because she just genuinely loves these crazy people because they are good to her even if they do so many other wrong things and she really genuinely feels love for them. People are amazing, we have such amazing capacities to love.

Well. That's about it for this week.

I love you all so much.

It will work out. God knows how to help us. And He has promised that if we keep the Sabbath day holy and pay our tithing and trust in Him we will be led in the high places of the earth.(Isaiah 58:13-14)(the good things of life, the things that bring real joy and nourish us).  And He always keeps His promises so I know He is giving us those blessings, we just need to look for them. so I trust that He is taking care of you, and that He loves you and that He will carry my love and my desire to help to you. 

Also, I just love you all so so so so so so so so sos o so so so so so so so much. And I'm sorry I didn't write very many individual letters this week, but I just wanted everyone to know all of these things and thoughts that I was having. 

Have a really good week. genuinely. Find something happy or sweet or just genuine to tell me about next week. just a sentence of how God touched your life (sometimes the miracle of the day is how good cookie dough tastes and sometimes that's ok). 

I love you!

Steph\ Sister Lofgreen

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 17, 2013

DAD!!!! I love you sooooo sooooo soo oooo much!!!!

I hope you still have that pocket watch.
A. because pocketwatches make everyone classier.
2. because you probably need to know what time it is a lot of the time.
And III. because its true! you are the best dad (or whatever other derivative of that is on there).
~
Ola family,

Hope all is well in the good ol' US of A.
 
I am well. I am happy almost all of the time and almost all of the time means like 98% of the time. And then every once in a while things feel really hard. and then I learn stuf like this: I think that maybe part of it is just so that I can know and remember that I am only even happy because the Lord is supporting me. He leaves me to feel my own strength and feelings every so often so I can just remember and be grateful for all that He is doing and build my trust in Him that all these impossible things are possible through him.
 
You remember that one time when my mom was trying to decide if she was going to do all of those classes or not because it just seemed completely impossible and then she remembered that she could even do one class alone and so she then decided that she should just do what Heavenly Father wanted because he could make it work out better than she could anyways.
 
I feel like its like that. In order to help me have the faith in Him to get through harder things and do bigger things, He lets me just break down in my own strength\weakness so that I can see that He is already working miracles in my life. To get people to church or change someone else's heart and mind and life is no more of a miracle and no harder for Him than to touch mine and give me the strength and happiness that I feel every day. How amazing is that! Heavenly Father loves us so much.

And I love D&C 84:88 "And whoso areceiveth you, there I will be also, for I will gobbefore your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my cSpirit shall be in your hearts, and mine dangels round about you, to bear you up."
 
And guess what I found out about that scripture, those angels are angels literally, and our ancestors and future family, but what I hadn't really realized before this last transfer is that they are also our companions and friends and just nice people on the street. I am so grateful for the other sister who live in my house who are my angels with a comforting word and hug and just love (or cookie dough) when we get home from a long day. And they are inspired friends who email you or send you a letter just on the right day. and Elders who are randomly in your area to put a smile on your face by smacking each other in the face with their ties after a string of rejections.
I'm sorry that I don't write down during the week all of the stories during the week that I wanted to tell you and then I just write about nothing when I get to the computers.

The title of the email is a quote from Sister Brooks after we came home and told her about my companions first experience with an evangelical prayer (they like to start whispering in the middle of your prayers).
 
Other random thoughts:
The ninety year old lady who goes walking every morning while we're running and yells after us about how crazy we are for running every morning.
 
Moss on everything.
Every morning: I can't believe I'm leaving the house with my hair like this.
Our recent convert bearing her testimony to the ward in gospel principles about how happy she is because of the gospel.

And I love you all so so so much! You have no idea how much I really truly genuinely mean that and FEEL that every week.

Fight the good fight and stand up for the truth.

You are loved by the most powerful, glorious Being in the universe. He's our father. (That makes father's day pretty special. You have that same role of being my father, Dad. and I really really appreciate that. That you honor your priesthood and my mom. and that I've never had to doubt that you would do whatever Heavenly Father asked of you or if you loved us and mom.)


Have a wonderful week.

Steph\Sister Lofgreen

June 11, 2013

I love tender mercies. They make it all so much more possible. Just a little added proof that Heavenly Father really does know and care about what's going on.
And thanks for sharing them.
In contrast, the hard times also make us so aware of Heavenly Father's presence in our lives, if we let them. I have had the most wonderful week of hearing and feeling of people's testimonies of the power of Atonement to help us overcome hard times, of the power of the Spirit as a comforter, and the personal nature of Heavenly Father's love for us. (It makes me a little nervous when things like this happen for fear of what's coming next, what Heavenly Father might be preparing me for.. haha) But really, there are so many amazing people around me who have such amazing testimonies of this, such strong witnesses of the power the Savior has to lift our burdens and to sweeten our sorrows. Because through them we come to rely on Him and come to know him and then we can understand a little better Matt. 17:3 "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." I am absolutely certain that learn to rely on them we feel the joy that is promised to us for this life and the next. And when we serve them, we come to know them, because they are always working by our side when we are employed in their service. And so one day when we go back to see them again, they will be familiar to us.

Thanks mom, for your constant reminders to work, because I feel like in this area I have been applying my self better and more and I have definitely been happier in my service here than in any time before, and I have definitely felt my testimony strengthened here even more than in any time before.

And Dad, thanks for the update on the move. It seems like one of the first updates I've gotten about what's really going on with that. Which I guess isn't really a problem since its not what I want to be thinking about all the time. but its still nice to know. But sincerely, every single one of the stories you had to go with each one of those houses sounded super sketchy... haha. I know you guys love Lehi 2nd ward, but please don't move to 'slumville' as Dad put it.... unless, of course, you really felt like that's where Heavenly Father said he wanted you to be, in which case it would all be ok and He would protect you. (Actually that makes me think of when I was sitting in conference listening to the talk from... somebody... and he talked about one time when a family called him to know what ward needed a good family, and I thought, yeah, my parents would absolutely go wherever Heavenly Father needed a good family to help out. Luckily Heavenly Father also wants the best for us too, so we never have to choose between one or the other. He always does both.)

Also, at one point this week, we passed an investigator to the other sisters and I was talking to them about him and that I was so happy that he was going to quit smoking and get baptized and go to church and my dearest sister Brooks said to me "that's so great! because it means you really love your investigators!" and I was like ´you know what? you're right!´ and it seems like nothing, but it was really a big lightbulb happy moment for me to know that Heavenly Father is really changing my heart and helping me to love these people that I barely know. He's so amazing how he knows our hearts and our fears and our strengths and our weaknesses so well, that he can answer our questions and soothe our fears, sometimes before we are even aware of them enough ourselves to recognize that they're there.

Sorry about the english, I know its all weird..


But I love you all so very much!
Have a wonderful week!
Fight the good fight!

Steph\Sister Lofgreen

p.s. Jeremy, any news on the internships? or school plans? (or that one girl who doesn't like az..)

June 3, 2013

Thank you for the Les Mis update. I am glad to not have to be so disappointed every time I walk by the poster from now on.. ha ha. but really, that was the best news you could have given me. haha.
also, I will be working to have the courage and the words to say to Paulo if that is his store. (its a really pretty store by the way.)

This week was interesting and great and difficult, but mostly great.
Its amazing how many different ways you have to learn to be humble. It seems sometimes like that's the only lesson we're ever learning just in a thousand different ways. Heavenly Father chips away this portion of your pride and then that portion until someday we will be ready and willing to really accept "all that the father hath" because we will have space for it in our hearts.


I didn't know if I wanted to tell this to the world, so I will put it here unedited first. Mom will understand the amazing blessing and trial of this week. We had 2 baptisms. They were of this investigator (who was found\referred to the elders before we got here by her dad) and her 8 year old daughter. She is amazing and last week she got over her hurdle of her doubts and really gained a testimony of the book of mormon. Its really been so amazing teaching her because we have been teaching with lots of members and we started out teaching with the elders and I really feel so blessed that Heavenly Father has made up the difference for my weaknesses. (my specific prayer from the last few weeks.) And that He allowed me to feel that He is happy with me. I guess as I am writing this that Heavenly Father is just showing me that He has been answering exactly MY prayers.**

**(And that's why its so important to develop righteous desires and have the desires of our hearts and our prayers be the things that we really need to be with God again and to bring about miracle in the lives of others. we need to really really really want it way deep down in our hearts.)

I prayed this week that even if no one else could see that I was doing a good job and even if I didn't gain the respect of the elders or anyone else that I would be able to feel that I had done my best and what He wanted and that Neusa would be taken care of. And that is exactly what happened and that is a way greater blessing for right now and for the rest of my life than having other people think that I am a good missionary or than a lot of other things that I have been worried about.

I will explain the story behind this a little better. We taught Neusa the rest of everything this week. Tuesday when we went by we finally were able to resolve all of her doubts about committing to baptism for sure on Saturday, except for her parents schedule (she wanted her dad to baptize her, clearly that's important). So we left Tuesday with the commitment to pray about saturday. And so monday morning I called and she said she was all good for sat. But her daughter hadn't been sitting in all of our lessons (partly because of my lack of effort to teach them both when the mom and so many doubts). So I didn't think we could teach her and have her ready for sat, and much more than that, that her mom would think she was ready for sat--she thought she needed to be more prepared. But then the ward told me wed night to call her and see if sarah wanted to get baptized so I did. Neusa didn't sound happy but she said she would ask her. then the next day (thurs) she said she wanted to, so we cancelled lots of things and called every member of the ward to try to get a ride over there before our appointment with another member's friend to try to teach sarah the first 3 lessons in 45 min... not the best atmosphere.. teaching with the spirit in a timed pressured atmosphere with an add 8 year old. But we did it and she was excited for baptism.
...
I'm including too many details and I'm going to run out of time.
...
Basically friday night we went to have the interviews the elders called me 3x to get me to get the rides set up. Then the member was late. Then we were all late to neusa's house to have the interview. Then the interviews didn't go as smoothly as we would ahve hoped (I hadn't been clear enough in going over the interview questions beforehand.) so we had to call president as we were leaving 10 at night (when we should be home at the latest) to schedule an emergency interview. (Not to mention Neusa's heart was pretty much broken to have a houseful of people she loves see her not be ready for baptism with her parents coming up from lisbon to her baptism the next morning)
Sat. morning we still didn't know about the interview. I called Pres. a second time (this was the sweet tender mercy of Heavenly Father, that He let me recognize that in that moment I was following the Spirit, that He was guiding me and that He forgives me for my shortcomings and would take care of Neusa and make sure that she had a wonderful day.) And then on top of that the elders planned the whole baptism, took care of the water, the clothes, the programs, did a musical number, took care of the baptismal fichas afterwards, and we burnt the cookies.

But in the middle of all of that Heavenly Father was able to bless me to feel and see what I said above: "I would be able to feel that I had done my best and what He wanted and that Neusa would be taken care of."

Mom you know me. You know how hard it is for me to feel like I'm not capable. to let other people do things for me. So you will understand why it was so hard for me to write down that we had two baptisms (when the elders found and taught and did pretty much everything else) and to feel ok with how things went this week. And you will see what a huge, gigantic, enormous, and incredibly important blessing it was for me to not be able to do everything and to see Heavenly Father take care of these people that I love so much and to in the process show me that He loves me and is proud of me and happy with me anyways.

And this is probably why I never tell stories... They are always way to long and unorganized.

Also I forgot to mention last week, but last week I accidently made a blind man run into a telephone pole.... sometimes the mission's rough.. haha.

but Heavenly Father loves us so, so much. I could never ever ever deny that. He has shown me again and again and again and it doesn't seem fair. .

Sorry for the lack of organization and the lack of responses to all the things you guys said to me.. But i really do love love love your emails and letters and read and soak in every word of them.

Fight the good fight. and just be good people :) Christ makes all the difference.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me."

Steph

May 20, 2013

Mom!!!! I love you so much!
And Dad!
And Jeremy! and Hannah! and Paul! and Katy! and Tom! and Will!!!

You guys are all so amazing and I don't know what I would do with out you all!
and, Thank you for all the birthday wishes!

As for my plaque, I don't know. You can choose the picture; I trust your judgment, plus, I won't be the one looking at it :) As for the scripture, its never been a very nice thing to ask me what my favorite anything is, and as a missionary, picking a favorite scripture is especially hard. But I hope you won't mind my stealing the family theme: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 1) because I have had to learn every single day of my mission that He is and has to be the source of our strength, focus and desire to be happy and to do anything worth doing here, and 2) because its our family theme and second to our Lord and Savior my greatest source of strength is the love and support of family. So yeah, use that one.

I am in Viseu and it is beautiful. We split an area here with the elders and they have been so wonderful in helping us with everything, where everything is, who everyone is, what they need and what they have already been taught, not to mention going to lessons with us to pass off investigators. I feel like I have learned so much in the few lessons that we have had with them and that the Lord is really answering my prayers to make up the difference in so many different things. My new companion is amazing too, she is so happy and so willing to just do what needs to be done even though she can't speak the language yet and has only been here four days, she is already teaching me so many things by her willingness to just do what needs to be done, just worrying about the task in front of her and not getting caught up in all of the other things that have to be done later. One of the greatest blessings here has been the investigators that the elders have been working with that they left to us. Things were a little confusing for a little bit about who was going to teach who, but finally we worked it out. But before that, we got to teach this guy with them who is going through a really rough time and his dad who is a branch president near Lisbon called and gave a reference to the elders. Well we got to go teach him and talk to him about the power of the Atonement to help us overcome difficulties and that God loves us enough to let hard things happen but help us become so much more by overcoming them, and my new companion got to invite him to be baptized on her 3rd day in Portugal. He will be baptized with his sister on the 1st and their dad will get to come baptize them.
I feel so incredibly blessed to walk into the middle of this miracle and see how the Lord prepares people and families to be happy forever and how he can in the middle of all this orchestrate a way for me and my companion to learn the things we need to and just give us the little reminders of His love for us.

Well sorry this is a little bit scattered, but I love you all so very much and pray for the people in our area to be open to two lost little girls to teach them the gospel, just the most important things they could come to know and live in this life.

I know the gospel's true and I'm working to live it and trust in it more and more every day.

Love you so much,

Steph

P.S. fight the good fight. It's worth it.

May 13, 2013

Hey family.
 
It was so wonderful to see you yesterday!!
and this was wonderful also:
in the missionary handbook it says that we should be careful that calling home doesn't take our thoughts away from the work. But I never feel like I have to worry about that with you all! You make me want to be a better missionary and do more good and live up to at least a tiny portion of the good that you all see in me. In a talk I was reading by Pres. Eyring, he starts off by saying that anything he has accomplished in the priesthood, he has only accomplished because someone else first saw gifts and talents and good in him that he didn't see himself. And then he chose to believe them and try to live up to what they showed him. So thanks.
 
I'm really really happy that you are all taking good care of each other and that Jeremy and James will be able to get the house all ready to sell. and that they will get to be together again!
Btw, when does\did Nancy leave on her mission?
 
Everyone always complains that I don't ever tell about stuff that is going on, things pertaining to missionary work that are actually happening with me.
 
Last week, we found this guy from Ireland who is super cool and already been to church and has friends in the church and wants to do good. The only thing he really needs is to understand the restored gospel! We also found this part-member family. The dad has been inactive for quite a while (like 10 or 15 years I think), the mom has already had the lessons in the past, but is very open to working with us again and really wants to get her husband to do things like say family prayers and stuff that would unite the family, and the coolest is that the 13-yr-old son really responded to the story of Joseph Smith and the knowledge that he could really know this for himself and not just because anyone told him. And we found some other really cool people that we are excited about. So I hope it all goes well for my companion.
Because...
I'm headed up north to Viseu where we will be splitting an area and I will be training (we're getting 35 new sisters tomorrow along everyone else who isn't a Sister Training Leader which is like a zone leader but a sister-- they revamped the mission organization with all the new sisters in the world :)
 
This transfer is going to be crazy! as far as the whole mission goes. We are going to have 2 new zones 25 new areas, and 50 new missionaries. and to put that in perspective we have about 180 maybe 200 right now.
 
so there's my short story-ish email.

also, Eduardo is getting the priesthood and a calling sunday!! which is awesome. :)
He is a regular ol' missionary, bringing people to activities and church and carrying his Book of Mormon around everywhere.
 
Have a wonderful week!!
 
Steph
 
p.s. As mom requested, an excerpt from letter to president:
Esta semana, encontramos alguns novos pesquisadores sobre quem eu estou mesmo animada. Um destas experiencias aconteceu quando nos tivemos muitas outras coisas para fazer. Tivemos duas pessoas para visitar e não muito tempo antes de nosso autocarro. Mas no fundo de minha mente eu me lembrei de um endereço numa lista antiga de pesquisadores em potencial. Eu senti que devíamos ir lá, então fomos mesmo com pouco tempo. Encontramos um homem de Irlanda que já foi para igreja lá e tem muitos amigos na igreja. Ensinamos o primeiro lição e ele está animado que nos voltemos. Mas mais que tudo, sou grata que o Espírito testificou para todos nos que estávamos na lugar certo no momento certo.

Vou orar muito esta semana para ser humilde suficiente para FAZER qualquer coisa que o Senhor disse para mim--ou, seja, qualquer coisa do bem que entre em minha cabeça.