Monday, May 1, 2017

Beginning a New Chapter: Life Changes

Two months ago today I returned home from being a full time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I took off my nametag that I had placed with a smile every day that reminded me that I was personal representative of Jesus Christ and that I was lucky enough to be able to share the restored Gospel with the wonderful people of Guatemala. I said goodbye to all of the wonderful people that I met in so many different places. And slowly I began adjusting to 'normal' life again. But a part of me remains in Guatemala. And every single day I cannot help but think of all the amazing people that I met there and how they changed my life. Now since I got home a lot of people have asked exactly what I did as a missionary in Guatemala... and to be honest I have not done the best job of explaining it. So I want to take a chance to let people know a little more about what exactly I did every day for 18 months. As a Mormon missionary we are called to invite all people to come unto Christ and to follow Him through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. So what exactly does that mean... well it means that every day we went out and tried to meet as many people as possible and talk to them and share with them messages about Jesus Christ and the blessings that we can receive in our lives as we follow Him. Now some people are probably thinking why in the world would a 19-20 year old willing do that with their time? Why did I decide to put my studies on hold for 2 years and go to a foreign country where I didn't speak the language and did not know a soul and try to teach people about Jesus Christ??? Well the answer is because I know that my message is true. I know it with all my heart. And I love my Heavenly Father and my older brother Jesus Christ. And I want everyone to be able to feel of their love. Because coming to know that they love you and understanding that because Jesus Christ suffered and died for each of us to help us all find peace and happiness in this life.. well that's something that changes lives. I saw it up close and personal. I saw peoples faith increase, I saw the Lord keep His promises and I saw people change their lives to do the things that the Lord asks each of us to do. And every single day it changed my life. I would not trade those experiences for anything in the world... not one second of it. Even when it was hard and I wanted to give up after being rejected all day, having doors slammed in my face or being rained on for hours because seeing the joy of the Gospel fill someones life made me the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. And to be honest coming home was the hardest thing that I have ever done. No one can fully prepare you for life after the mission. One day you are out talking to everyone and sharing about Christ and having all these wonderful experiences and the next day you are thrown back into the real world. And it was hard for me. It still is... but slowly I am adjusting. Life just has made me do an awful lot of reflecting but I love having small moments to just take a step back and think about what the Lord has in store for each of us. Many aspects of my future are currently up in the air but I am thankful that I can face to future with a calm knowing that with the Lord by my side I can do all things. And as I begin this next journey I am excited to see what the future holds. Like my mission president reminded me of my last day in the mission "the future is as bright as your faith." And I believe that I have a very bright future.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

21 Feb 2017 The Closing Chapter

Well this week has been a little crazy... just a quick update before I explain it all... last week we had conference with Elder Rasband (Way cool), yesterday I had emergency changes again... I am no longer an hermana leader but I am now training for the last week of my mission... and I am now in Antigua... and next Wednesday I get home from my mission. So now to explain a little more... conference with Elder Rasband was incredible... I really do not have words to describe all that happened in that conference. But the Spirit was so strong... really we could feel the love of the Savior and our Heavenly Father and it felt that they were there with us. It was an experience that I will never ever forgot. Some of the things that Elder Rasband shared were that we should never second guess our impressions from the Spirit, and also that we have to study the life of the Savior if we really want to come to know Him and love Him. And I was amazed as the questions that I had brought to the conference were answered. In my mission I have had 2 desires... that the Atonement could become personal in my life and that I could feel that I was clean of my sins... I was able to receive that the both have been fulfilled in that conference.... what a great blessing. Really it was a once in a life time experience that I am never going to forget. About emergency changes... well I have always said that President would not let me die in peace (finish my mission in peace pues)... and I was right. On Sunday one of the Hermana Leaders left to go home early for family reasons... and well for that we had a chain effect of needing emergency changes among hermana leaders... and so on Sunday night I got a call from President Markham telling me that I would be having emergency changes... so I packed up all my bags quick and on Tuesday morning with a few hiccups and a little miscommunication I got to Antigua yesterday. And well this last week I will be here... and I am finishing the training of Hermana Rotellini from the Republica Dominicana... She is great. And I am enjoying this last week in one of the most touristy areas of the mission... I may be buying a few too many recuerdos but that is okay... And well yeah... this week I am going to finish my service as a full time missionary... March 1st I will be home in house... it seems crazy to me how fast the mission has flown by. But I know that I have done all I can to serve the Lord in this time and I have felt that He is greatly pleased for all my hard work. The mission has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life but it has been the most rewarding thing too. It has changed my life forever. And I am thankful for the decision that I made to come on the mission. Just so you all know this will be my last letter... but I look forward to catching up with you all when I get home and sharing my experiences with you. But I just want to let you all know that I know with all of my heart that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of God. It is the same church that Jesus Christ established when He was here in the Earth. That Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true and it changes lives as we read it daily. I love each and every one of you. Thank you for your support and love and prayers in these last 18 months. Les amo un monton! Hermana Stewart

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

14 February 2017

Well another week that has flown by way to fast... I know that this week will fly by too with doing divisions today... with a visit from Elder Rasband on Thursday and other divisions on Friday... the time flies by within the blink of an eye... it really is crazy. But I am so excited for the chance we are going to have to be with Elder Rasband. One of the apostles... really is a once in a life time chance. It is going to be awesome. And I know that we will recieve lots of answers from the Lord. The work has been going a little slow... it has been hard for us to get people to go to church and to really progress but we were able to see small miracles this week. As the Lord put us in the path of some members in the moment that they needed our help most. Really that is something powerful that I have learned in the mission... missionary work is not only baptizing and teaching investigators but really working as an instrument in the hands of the Lord to do the things that He needs us too. And it is something that has impacted my life. I have felt the Lord work through me many times. Also this last week I had the chance to go back to Barcenas in divisions... it was great to be able to see the familia Sanchez again but also a rather sad experience. I love them so much but it was sad to see that as they have but the things of the Lord to one side their lives have fallen apart a little. It was a strong testimony to me of the importance of obedience. In all manners. Satan tries to tell us that it is okay if we put the scriptures to one side and watch a football game rather then read them... or to just jump in bed and go to sleep without getting down on our knees and talking to our Heavenly Father but by the small and little things are great things brought to pass. And those things can be good things or bad things. We always need to put the Lord in first place. It brings more joy to our to lives and helps us to feel more of the Saviors love. This week we had the chance to see a video that Elder Duncan had made for all the missionaries here in Central America and I loved something that he said. Come what comes, enjoy it. We have to enjoy every single day. And really in these last few days I have found so much joy. Things may not be going to way that I want them too but I know that I am doing the things that the Lord wants me too. And that is one of my biggest goals to enjoy every second that I have left. The time that I have left here in the mission is extremely short now but I know that it is okay.... I have served the Lord in the way that he asked me to and I will keep doing it until the very last day. I love this Gospel with all my heart. It really is the true Church.. I know it with all my heart and I have the privilege to testify of it every single day. Love you all tons! Hermana Stewart

Friday, February 10, 2017

7 February 2017

All of the Hermana Leaders and Hermana Markham when we had a meeting together a few weeks ago!

7 February 2017

Buenas! This week was a good one. The work is struggling a lot and it has been hard to find new investigators and get people to go to church but we are working hard and trying to change and do new things. I have faith that we are going to find miracles through our work this week. This week was also fun because I had the chance to return to Linda Vista to do divisions. And I had the chance to see almost all of my converts. They are doing very well. Hermano Erick has had lots of struggles but has reciently started attending church again and has a strong testimony. Luis and Olga have had some struggles too but Luis is preparing to recieve the Melchizedek Priesthood in the next few weeks. And they are getting really excited to be sealed in the temple after the complete a year. Valentina has struggled too and has not really wanted to go to church but promised me that she would go to church again. And Cesar... he is doing so well. He is super active in the church. He has been called to be the Ward finanical secretary and his wife (who was less active) is the 1st counseler in the Primary and they too are so excited to be able to be sealed in the temple in September of this year. It is amazing to see that they have been progressing so much and that they have testimonies that are growing daily. I think that it was one of the most rewarding moments of my mission. And it made me so happy to see the difference that the Gospel still makes in the lives of these people every day. Time is flying by but I am staying focused and just trying to enjoy every moment. It has been hard but it is so rewarding to be a missionary. And well it makes me so happy. So so so happy. Hope that you all have a great week! Remember to read your scriptures every day and to pray and talk with Heavenly Father. He loves you and is waiting to hear you! Les amo mucho! Hermana Stewart

31 January 2017 The Beginning of the End

So this last week was a good one. Crazy with just lots of stuff happening like always. But you can imagine my surprise on Friday night when I was on divisions to get a call from President Markham telling me that I would be having my final interview the next morning. Really I cannot believe that the end is coming closer and closer. Normally this interview would have happened later but with multi zone conferences, and a visit from Elder Rasband that we are going to have the 16th of Febuary and with 24 missionaries that are going to finish President had to get them done and out of the way early. Really it was so strange to sit down and talk with President about the future... and life after the mission. But it was a good conversation. And though I hardly believe it myself I know that the end has to come. But for these last 4 weeks a lot of things still have to happen. But I have been able to reflect a lot and I have started making goals for after the mission to help me. I know that the real importance of all that I have learned in the mission will come into practice after the mission. It all applies after the mission. And this week we had a worldwide missionary broadcast which was awesome. I love being able to learn more and recieve revelation about what we need to do better. Just like last year they focused a lot in teaching repentance and baptizing converts. I love learning more about repentance. I have come to understand a lot more and I have been better able to apply the repentance process in my life. It really has changed my understanding of the Atonement and well my view on life. Repentance brings us so much peace. And it is so important that we repent every single day. We can not put it off. And the peace and relief that we need will come. Hope that you all have a great week! Thanks for everything! Les amo mucho! Hermana Stewart

24 Jan 2017 Unexpected Changes

Well first off I have learned that nothing in the mission is sure... you think that you have everything all figured out and then life just throws a punch... Well as I wrote last week I thought that I would be staying in Patulul for my last change... Well you can imagine my surprise when on Tuesday night at 10:31 I finished a call with the Zone Leaders telling me that I need to be in changes the next morning at 6:30. And that I was still going to be a Hermana Leader. So I began packling everything once again as fast as I could so that I could sleep a little bit before waking up at 2:30 to take a bus to get to changes. Oh the adventures you will have Hermana Stewart. But that is how I am now in Palin... which is an area that is between the Capital and the Coast... it is the weird meeting point and the climate just does not seem to know what to do here. But the only thing that I do know is that I am always cold here... and it is normal about 70 degrees... which means that when I get home I am going to be like an ice cube. But hey that is fine. I am actually really excited for this change. My new companion is Hermana Ugarte. She is from San Pedro Sula Honduras. And I am excited about being an Hermana Leader in this area... we are in charge of 2 of my old areas. Barcenas and Linda Vista so I am excited for the chance that I will have to go visit and work there. Really I cannot believe the time in the mission. I now only have 5 weeks left... it has flown by incredibely fast. But I am still working hard and staying focused. It seems unreal to think that it is all coming to an end but in these 5 weeks I know that we have lots of people to find and to help. I am enjoying every second of it and really just trying to stay animated about it all. I know with all my heart that this is the true church. And that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It is personal in my life. I could never have done all that I have in these last 17 months without knowing that. Christ loves us and He is always walking shoulder to shoulder with us. And in those hard times He can carry us. I have felt Him carry my burdens. It really is amazing. I invite each of you to let Christ into your lives. Let Him lighten your loads and carry your burdens. Feel His love. It is unimaginable and unending. Thank you for all your help and love and prayer! Les amo mucho!!! Hermana Stewart