Monday, April 29, 2013

Letter 93

April 29, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

This last week was pretty good! I love it here in my new Zone and Area. My companion's name is Elder Nielson. He's from Boise, ID and he is a big ol’ nerd just like me! haha we get a long great! He reminds me of a young Conan O'Brian haha except he has blond hair. He's been out for like 19 months. I'm not a District Leader anymore. Just a regular ol' missionary. In ways I'm kind of sad that I don’t get to work as closely with my district but I'm also grateful I don’t have to do follow-ups on Wednesday. Friday, and Sunday!

I did not get a chance to sell my bike before I left :( I'm going to try to sell it another way though. Maybe I'll pawn it. I still have all of the gift cards that Grandma sent me for Christmas and my birthday... so I'll have like $125 right there when I get home. I'm really good at saving :)

Elder Nielson and I are basically just trying to build up our teaching pool this week. When I got here we weren’t really working with anyone and no one was really progressing towards baptism, but that is all going to change! I have some major goals to start working with our members, finding solid people, and obviously, BAPTIZING! Even if I'm not here to see it all happen I definitely want to leave this area on fire.

We were able to find a few investigators this week but the ones that I'm most excited for is the Velazquez family. We just contacted them as they were walking into their house and asked if we could sit down. Sis.Velazquez is super nice and said yes. We decided to do a fun lesson on baptism for their 12 year old girl called the Soap and Pepper lesson.

For all of you that don’t know about this lesson you need 2 bowls of water, a toothpick, pepper, and soap. You put a bunch of pepper into one of the bowls of water and that represents the world (pepper=sin), then you take the toothpick, which represents us, and take a little walk in the peppery water. You then get dirty with all the sinful pepper! So, you need to be BAPTIZED! by immersion of course. Dump the little toothpick in the other bowl of water and get him all clean. Then you give him the Holy Ghost (put soap on it) and put him back in the "world" and see what happens! Sins will slide right off ya!

Anyway... this family that we taught wasn’t very well off and didn’t have toothpicks or pepper or regular soap. So for the first time in my mission I used a stick I found on the ground, Seasoning Salt, and Laundry Detergent! haha it worked alright... but they got the idea. They also accepted BDs! They didn’t come to church :( so we'll be helping them with that this week.

Other than that there wasn’t very much else that happened. Oh... you'll have to ask me about what happened the first day of church here when we talk on Mother's Day! That’s a good story... SUPER AWKWARD. Elder Nielson and I almost died of embarrassment!

I cant express with words how much I love all of you. I am so grateful for your love and support and for always encouraging me and helping me throughout my life. Mom and Dad you are such great examples to me and have helped me in every aspect of my life as well as my great brothers and little sister. I love you all and you are some of my dearest friends. Not to mention my extended family and friends. I love you all. Thank you Aunt Paige for your letters and the tie you sent me around last Christmas. I'm sorry I forgot to tell you thanks before now. You're awesome! Grandpa Garner I love you and your example to me and the rest of our family. You are a wonderful Patriarch and your Heavenly Father is so proud of you and your children. I am so full of gratitude and love for all of you and I just want you all to know how blessed I am to be a part of your lives now and, because of this beautiful gospel, in the eternities. Life is wonderful!

I hope you all have a great week and remember to SMILE! :D

Elder Jordan Stewart

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Letter 92

April 22, 2013

Hello mis Queridos!

I don’t remember anything about Dad being nervous the first time he was called to be a Bishop. I thought he was super confident and did a great job! I sure do love my dad and I'm so grateful for the wonderful example of a Priesthood Holder he is. Thanks for teaching me through your amazing example Dad! I can't wait ‘til I can say all of these things to your face. Well... I think I can wait. I am in no position to be wishing away any time! It sounds like you all have been keeping yourselves busy though! I'm glad! I don’t really like it when there is nothing to do or when we get thrown off our schedule... I'm going to need your help to keep me busy in a couple months so I don’t loose my mind!!

I've been really blessed with such awesome friends! I'm so grateful for their examples to me and I love reading about their mission experiences. Richie and Tyson Erdman both have written me emails and its really good to hear from them and see how they are doing. I sent an email to Elder Brown but still haven’t gotten a response. Ni modo... supongo que no somos amigos ahora.... jaja chiste Elder! Tu sabes que te amo! Tambien todos ustedes otros Elderes de Israel! Sigan trabajando en la obra del Dios mas Alto!

Our investigators are doing well. We were able to find a few investigators this week as well as have some lessons with Anahli. She came to church yesterday and loved it and is looking really good to hit her baptismal date. Her brother on the other hand was in San Antonio for the whole weekend and then some and we still haven’t gotten a chance to sit down with him. He worked late last night and wasn’t able to come to church…anyway... we'll see what we can do with him. We also found a really awesome lady named Luisa and her son Roberto (11). We taught them Wednesday and then they came to a baptismal service of a member's little girl on Friday. They also didn’t come to church >:( But we'll make sure they come next Sunday.

The Transfer Fairy has come again and he brought noticias that Elder Stewart........ will be............ getting TRUNKY TRANSFERED!! To La Homa! haha! My new companions name is Elder Nielson or Nelson... I forgot and he's been out for quite some time He came out on my third transfer. Elder Ayers, my good bud from the MTC, will be moving to one of my favorite districts in the whole mission: the Weslaco district! I'm super stoked for him! I'm sad to say I'll be leaving the beautiful Zone of Brownsville. I've made a lot of great friends out here and I'm going to miss them a lot.. but I'm super stoked to be moving to the Hidalgo Zone! I'll have hit 7 of the 9 Zones in the mission by the time I'm done! Oh and I'll be in a car! This last week we are setting baptismal dates for the 26th of May so... this is the last week that I have to find someone that I can baptize! The pressure is on! Elder Nielson and I will do WORK! I'm going to give it 120% ‘til the end!

I was talking to Elder Ayers today and I told him that over my mission I learned 3 Basics things that a missionary needs to do to be successful: 1. Be Prepared- study, obedience, diligence 2. Invite the Spirit- live worthy, fast and pray 3. BE HAPPY- love every minute, serve others, laugh, SMILE. If your not doing one of these three steps its going to be very very hard to be successful not only in missionary work but in all aspects of our lives. We need to live everyday the way a missionary would live. I'm going to try and follow these steps for the rest of my life and I invite you all to do the same. I know the Lord will bless you as you do.

I hope you all have a great week this week and remember how much God loves you!
-Elder Jordan Stewart

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Letter 91

April 15, 2013

Que tal?

WOW what an insane week it was.... It all started off with... well actually I think I'll let you squirm a little bit before I tell you everything. haha I'm glad to hear that everything is going well in Utah. Congrats on your new calling Dad! That should be really exciting! Oh and mom... I really hate it when you mention anything about me going home haha I actually haven’t gotten any information about my flight plans and when you told me that I almost threw up! Jk I did almost throw up this week though... but... like I said I'll tell you about that a little later. I think I will be super weird for me to go to Jordy's wedding reception on the why home from the airport but if that’s easier for everyone else then I'm down. I'll probably just be sticking close to one of the Melchezedek Priesthood holders around me. Who wants to be my companion? haha jk... but seriously.

I'm sorry to hear that Kampton had to finish a little early. That’s a bummer. I'm looking forward to talking with him and my other friends about their missions. I've been emailing Elder Doxey and Richie today and I'm going to see if I can shoot one off to Elder Brown in Chile! I love those guys so much!

So I'm surprised mom that you didn’t ask about the 90 bucks I spent this week.... haha. It’s a really long story and it all started with me not changing my brakes on my bike. They rubbed down all the way to the metal base and then as I braked on my bike the metal would scrape my rim... I didn’t really notice it. AND I still had a broken spoke so the brakes would rub even more. Anyway... we were riding to an appointment and I heard a little "pop" underneath me. I didn’t think very much of it until my wheel started to rub on my brake more than usual.. I looked down and MY RIM WAS BENT! Oopps... so I had to buy a new rim and brakes. Sorry mom.... :( I love you. Speaking of my bike, there is a guy in our apartment complex that wants to buy it for $180. I was thinking about it and I don’t think I'll really use my bike that much at home... what do you think?

So that’s something crazy that happened this week... the other thing that mom will get mad about I'll say a little later :)

Today we got a little wiff of the transfer fairy. President Trayner sent us a texting letting Elder Hobbs know that he would be training this next transfer! So that means I'll definitely be getting a new companion. So either he's whitewash training or my butts getting the boot and I'm getting trunky transfered! I hope it’s the first one because we just found this awesome girl named Anahli that came to church yesterday with her son. She and her Brother accepted BDs for the 12 and they are progressing pretty well. I hate it when that happens... its happened like 5 times to me already! But... its better to give than to receive ;) Anahli's brother, Beto, was a referral for a member whose daughter he is dating. She wanted us to check up on them and see if we could get her daughter back to church. They let us right in and were really interested to learn. Beto wasn’t able to come to church yesterday but Anahli came and loved it. She even came to see a baptism afterward. I was taking care of her 4 year old son the whole time! I entertained that kid for a whole sacrament meeting and a baptism so his mom could pay attention. I feel like I'm going to be a really awesome dad!

Other than those two Elder Hobbs and I haven’t found too many people. The family that we found has been super busy and the family of 3 that I told you about has been hard to find too. Pat decided she didn’t really want to meet with us anymore which was really sad. Its too bad because she is someone that needs the gospel in her life and would benefit from it a lot if she would only realize that she isn’t doing anything to receive those blessings.

NOW.... for the OTHER thing that happened. So last night after talking with a potential investigator Elder Hobbs and I went to unlock our bikes. When we got there I got SUPER light headed and almost passed out! I sat on the ground for a few minutes and gathered myself. After I felt a little better we took off to go to our next appointment, a dinner appointment with a member family, the Killpack's. I almost zonked out like 2 times on the way there. When we got there Bro Killpack diagnosed that I was dehydrated and gave me a couple bottles of water and told me to drink them all. I went and sat on their bathroom floor and drank them because I felt like I was going to throw up. We ended up just taking the food to go and Bro Killpack drove us home. I was tripping so bad I couldn’t even do follow ups with my district. I just layed on my bed and drank a gatorade. BUT I slept like a champ and I feel loads better today! That’s what I get for fasting! haha (fyi in our mission we are advised to drink water when we fast... but I forgot)

Well that’s basically it for this week! I love you all and hope you have a great week! Read your scriptures and don’t forget to smile!

-Elder Jordan Stewart

Monday, April 8, 2013

Letter 90

April 8, 2013

Hello Everyone!

Well the reason for me not writing on Monday last week was because.... The library wasn’t open for some reason! I know it sounds better as an April Fools joke but alas.... I didn’t do ANYTHING for April Fools. Next year will be different though so watch out.

It sounds like everything in Utah is great. Mom and Dad working and hanging out with the Browns, Madi stressing about crazy homework assignments, and to top it all off Austin busted a hole in Chases pants. (Just to clarify…Austin was wearing Chase’s pants). I'm so happy to hear that though I've been gone for almost 2 years, some things never change :)

General Conference was really amazing! I have been looking forward to it for the past... 6 MONTHS! I can't believe how much I took it for granted when I was home. To think, we have living prophets and apostles of God that receive direct revelation from our Heavenly Father to lead and guide us, His children! Why in the world would we not listen?! On the way to the church to watch conference we passed by a Catholic church and saw a group of people walking from the parking lot full of cars and I pretended to yell out the window,"There's a living prophet speaking down the street!!" The message that we share is so important and there are SO many of our brothers and sisters who are none the wiser. I can't help to think of the parable told by the Savior "Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?" We must help those around us to understand this message and be lead by those that truly see.

Unfortunately Elder Hobbs and I weren’t able to bring any of our investigators to conference! UGH.... we did all that we could but to no avail.

We were able to find a family of 3 this week, Josefina and her 2 kids. She investigated the church a while ago and was about to get baptized, but her machismo husband wouldn’t let her. Eventually she and her husband got divorced, but she ended up just going to a Christian church. We had our first lesson with her scheduled on Tuesday, but we ran late and missed the appointment. We saw her again on Wednesday but couldn’t come in because we didn’t have a man with us so we set the appointment for Thursday. When we went by on Thursday we weren’t able to find a male member to come with us again but we knocked anyway and figured we could sit outside and have a lesson. She didn’t answer the first few times we knocked, but after about the 3rd or 4th try she came to the door with tears in her eyes. We asked her what was wrong but she wouldn’t tell us. I asked her "Why do you think that God has sent us here right now?" she thought about it but didn’t answer. We set up one last appointment with her for the next day and promised we would bring someone. The next day we were able to get a male member of the spanish ward to come with us and we went inside and taught her. During the first part of the lesson Josefina told us that she has been having a hard time being a single parent and that sometimes it gets to her. She then said that when I asked her why God had sent us there she was touched and knew that He had indeed sent us. She said, "If they come back with someone so they can come in I will listen them. But if they don’t have anyone I won’t open the door." Never in my mission have I been so grateful for a member present! We were able to teach her and set BDs for her and her 13 yr old son and 10 yr old daughter. They didn’t come to church this week, but gosh darn they WILL be there next week if I’ve got anything to say about it.

We were also able to set a BD with our investigator Pat. She is a miracle that we found just talking to everyone, but she is having trouble committing. She is willing to meet with us but is just a little bit flakey. She had to work this weekend suddenly and so wasn’t able to come to conference... She would have loved President Uchtdorf's talk on dwelling in the light too...

Well I've blabbered on enough I think. I love you all so much and I love being a missionary. There is nothing in this world that I would rather do. I thank my Heavenly Father for this great opportunity to grow and get to know myself and Him better than I ever thought I would. I love you and hope you have a great week! Keep bustin’ those moves Austin! Try not to bust the pants....

-Elder Jordan Stewart

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Letter 89

April 2, 2013

Happy Late Easter!

Man I love being a missionary more than ANYTHING in the whole World. I feel like my good bud Elder Brown. He really says it best when he talks about his mission and I'm so happy to have him as a best bud. He's a great example to me. I would love to have his email address to get a chance to write him now that I can write my friends. I sent Elder Doxey an email but he's being a little bum and hasn’t written me back! I also sent him a package with the long awaited "Brotherhood of the Traveling Tie" tie in there.... so I hope it gets through the Brazilian post system ok. I forgot to put pictures of Jesus all over it so it’s going to be risky :/

I did indeed get your Easter Package. It was cute as a button just like all of your other packages mom. haha I've come to think that the reason you send me packages is just to try new ideas to be cute. I'm really excited to try those Trix Treats though... they look good. And thank you for explaining to me what a Kazookie is I would like to try that too:) But fyi chocolate definitely melts in the Texas heat. It might still be winter in Utah but here in Texas is different. The 4 seasons here are: Almost Summer, Summer, More Summer, and Christmas hahaha.

I forgot to tell you that I was Elder Merrill's District Leader! haha oops. I totally made the connection when we met because I remembered that you or Mark had mentioned something about that to me in a letter. He's a great missionary and is very dedicated to the work. I never was able to go on an exchange with him but Elder Hobbs tells me that he talks to EVERYONE he sees. But he was just transferred up to Beeville in the very tippy top of the mission! So.. I probably wont ever see him again :(

I'm so happy to hear that Krista got married! I'm really excited for her and hope you send her my best wishes. Man, everyone and their dog is either getting married or going on missions! Utah is going to be so different when I come home. That’s cool that I will be able to go to Shayla's reception. I still can't believe that she is getting married! haha She told me that she was dating someone in her last letter but that no wedding bells were in the air. And I even said if she was still single when I got home I would take her out on a date. I guess she'd rather get married than suffer through a date with Elder Stewart hahaha.... :( jk Congrats Shayla! Love ya!

This week our mission was able to hit the coveted 100 baptisms in a month, which has been our goal for almost a year now. This was something that we were doing quite regularly when I first entered the mission but ever since the start of 2012 we have been struggling with it. I believe it's because as missionaries we went through the "Pride Cycle" and now that we have been sufficiently humbled we are willing to work harder to reach our goals. We have a goal of 1200 baptisms in 2013 and even though I won’t be here to see us reach it I'm really excited for our mission. So... the focus that I have right now for myself and my missionaries is URGENCY! This last week of March our mission was only two baptisms away from hitting our goal and so the heat was on to find two miracle baptisms in the Zones. The Ap's called our Zone Leaders and the Zone Leaders called us District Leaders and we all put the pressure on our missionaries to try to find those two miracles. And WE DID IT! Two amazing children of God were able to go down into the waters of baptism at the last minute and we reached our goal. It was a testimony to me that URGENCY is the Spirit of this Work. There is a great talk by Elder Holland that talks about this being an Apostalic Work and that we need to have the urgency to call down miracles. That’s my focus for my district. The HEAT IT ON! Sorry... I just get pumped talking about it.

The Family is doing fine. We weren’t able to meet with them last week and they couldn’t come to church because they went out of town over the weekend. But we saw them last night and invited them to the activities at the church tonight. I'll keep you updated.

Well I was going to email some recent converts really quick so I'll talk to you next week! Listen to the Prophets and Apostles this week!

-Elder Jordan Stewart