Monday, February 27, 2012

End of Week 3 in Canada

This week flew by!

Phil and his son Zachary were baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday in sacrament meeting! Everything went well and it was such an amazing experience! Phil also was ordained a priest and received the Aaronic Priesthood! So I've been on a spiritual high all week because of that!

We also lost our dinner calendar again on Sunday,.. so if we don't find it, we won't have much to eat this week! We have it passed around in the Relief Society and someone always takes it home or something instead of just leaving it in the room! oh well.. it'll turn up soon!

We got in a car chase this week. Elder Kember was driving and we went to turn into Walmart, but he realized he couldn't turn there because of construction, so he took off his blinker and kept going straight. A BIG truck behind us honked because we had slowed down and did a false blinker. So as we turned into the next entrance Elder Kember honked once to be funny. The guy in the big truck didn't think it was too funny so he followed us into Walmart. We weren't sure if he was following us at first so we just kept driving and turning. He stayed right behind us no matter where we turned. It was a full on chase but we were only going about 10 km/h (4 or 5 mph) through the parking lot. Finally we made a U-turn and drove out of the parking lot to get away from him and he got stuck at the light!

Anyways,.. It has snowed every day the last 5 days in a row and today it is -19*C! There is now about 3 inches of snow packed on every road! They don't plow it up here, it's crazy! I feel like I'm at a ski resort every day and I'm driving on the slopes! I had to go buy a sweater at the store because i just couldn't stay warm! But I'm getting more used to it than the first day!
Happy Birthday Dad! I hope you got my letter in the mail! I miss you and the family!
I hope all is well back at home with everyone (family and friends)!
Love you all and talk to you next week!

-Elder Stevens (Canada)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

End of Week 2 in Canada - Presidents Day and Family Day

Sorry about not writing on Monday! I'll explain what happened later in this email!
Canada is COLD! I'm getting used to scraping the windows (inside and out) of our car every morning! It snowed the other day for the first time since I have been here and the snow was so cold and dry that you blew it off the car in the morning! Some people use leaf blowers to clear their driveway in the morning because it is so cold that the snow doesn't stick to itself!
This last week we lost our dinner calendars on Sunday, so we had to make dinners every night for ourselves for the whole week which is expensive when you are on a budget! It was okay though because Elder Kember and I have gotten really good at making exquisite cheap meals! On Valentines day we made chicken with pasta, mashed potatoes, and sparkling cider and watched the Joseph Smith Movie on a 5 inch screen! We wanted to celebrate Valentines Day the best we could so we made sure we at least still had a dinner and movie! haha! I also said, "eh?" for the first time last week on accident... I used to make fun of Elder Kember for it, but now I said it for real on accident! oh well.... ha, ha!
I had my first "Donair" last week as well! it's like a big taco with Donair meat and all the condiments you would put on a hamburger... deep fried... It's way good! but I felt like I gained 5 pounds after I ate it! We taught a family from the Philippines and they gave us "Longans." They taste like a grape, with the skin of an orange, and a pit like a cherry! They are pretty good and juicy! Also, in Canada, "smarties" are like M&Ms! They are chocolate with a candy cover but I like them better than M&Ms! and Rockets" here are like our "Smarties" in the States!
The money here is way cooler than the states! It looks like Monopoly money! Every bill is a different color! The $100 bill is plastic and soon they all will be plastic!  The lowest bill they have is a $5! They use "Lunies" (one dollar) and "Tunies" (two dollar) coins! So you always have to break a $5 or carry around change! When you get change back you feel like you got ripped off, but you really didn't! So it was kind of hard to get used to at first! Also, their coins are magnetic... which I thought was strange and I can't remember if ours are or not...
It's so fun being a missionary because everywhere we go we talk to any and every one! A couple days ago we were eating doughnuts in the bakery at a store and a woman sat down next to us. She was doing a lot of paperwork and she could have been the manager of the store or something. The phone rang so she got up and left her stuff behind to answer it. When she wasn't looking Elder Kember and I put a "Plan of Salvation" pamphlet under her paperwork and a card as well! Hopefully she found it though because we had to leave! But we "accidentally" leave things a lot, everywhere we go, in hopes that someone will see it and it will change their life!
We are working way hard everyday! Phil and his son Zachary, two of our investigators are getting baptized this Saturday at 2:00! It is so cool to see this really happening and to realize that this hard work really does change lifes! We have taught him almost every day since I've been here! There is a lot about Phil that I wish I could share, but he really turned his life around! He asked Elder Kember and I to be the witnesses which is way exciting! His son is 9 years old and really looks up to his dad! I'll send pictures of them next week!
Instead of Presidents Day this Monday we had "Family Day" which is where no one works or goes to school and if your business is open on that day, you get fined! So everyone is at home with their families! It was a way cool concept and I wish the States had that day!
Our P-day got switched to Tuesday this week because it's a temple p-day and the temple isn't open Mondays! So yesterday I got to attend a session at the Edmonton, Canada Temple which was so nice! The temple is way small but it was a good experience! We didn't have any time after that to get anything else done that we needed to though so that's why I had to wait until today to email!
Bishop Gatt (the bishop in the ward I'm serving in) had us over for dinner last night! After dinner we went to his garage and we had a dance off! He's from London and grew up on the streets and danced and made music everyday! He wasn't joking when he said he was an OG! He's way good and it was fun to dance with him! We only stayed for about 5 minutes though because we had to get back to work, but I'm going to go there on a p-day and dance for longer!
It's so cold out side that there are Ice sculptures around the town that never melt! It is way cool! I am sending a picture of a bird ice sculpture that is in the front of the library in St. Albert!
Mom, I went through the temple yesterday and I had a feeling to put your name in for the sick.. I had no clue why I was doing it but the feeling didn't go away. So I wrote your name down and no one else's came to mind... So as the session went on I kept praying for you to get better but I had no idea if anything was even wrong. Then today I read your email about your tooth pains and how you've never been in so much pain... I almost starting crying here in the library when I read that and realized that you really needed me to do that for you. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but if we listen to that still small voice, miracles do happen. I love you and I hope you get better! You and the family are in my prayers everyday. I love this gospel and I love how I  get to take these 2 years and dedicate it to serving the Lord. He's watching over me and as long as I put Him first, I won't have to worry about the small things! Read 3 Nephi 13:31-33 :) I  love it!

Love and miss you all!
-Elder Stevens, the younger

P.S. Anyone that reads this, please take 5 minutes out of your day to make a  profile. It simply just asks how you gained your testimony and how this gospel has changed your life. You never know who is going to be online and come across your testimony and they will feel the spirit and want to know more. At the bottom of the website (which is owned by the church), they can click a button and order a Book of Mormon for free. Within a day missionaries will be knocking on their door and teaching them. You never know who's life you can change with that simple testimony that you have! Imagine in the next life, if you had someone come up to you with their whole family and they thanked you personally for taking that 5 minutes out of your day. Now they get to enjoy Eternal Life with their family and all their future generations to come! Sounds like a good use of time to me :) Thanks!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Email from President and Sister Campbell

14 February 2012

Dear Stevens Family,

Elder Stevens arrived in Edmonton on Tuesday, the 7th of February. He arrived with 6 other missionaries that he worked with closely at the MTC. They looked a little anxious when they stepped through the doors, but thankful to be here. We were there to greet them at the airport, President and Sister Campbell and the assistants showed up shortly after they arrived with the van and trailer.
It was a pleasure to finally meet your son, Elder Stevens, after studying his picture for the past few weeks. The assistants helped them load their luggage into the van and they were on their way to the mission office. 

Once at the mission office we introduced them to the office staff and had a bite to eat. They were very tired and hungry and appreciated the lunch we provided for them. We had the opportunity to sit down and eat with them and enjoyed the time to just visit. They filled out and signed the necessary forms that would allow them to get right to work.

After the office we went to the mission home, where the missionaries were able to sit and rest while President Campbell had the privilege of interviewing each one of them. We welcomed them into our home and saw that they were well cared for. After interviews they received their first training by the assistants.

We provided dinner and then had a fireside where they watched a DVD of sights from the mission. Then we had the privilege to hear testimonies from each of our new missionaries.
Thank you for raising such an amazing son and preparing him for the work. We look forward to serving with him and watching him grow in testimony and purpose as he serves the people of the Canada Edmonton Mission.

Enclosed is a photo of your son with us on the day he met his new companion. May God bless you and your family during Elder Stevens' service here in Edmonton.

With warm regards,

President and Sister Campbell

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week 1 In Canada

Hey Everyone,

This was my first week in Canada!  I arrived here on the 7th at noon! It's crazy how flat it is here! No mountains or anything! Their snowboarding resort is a hill.... haha! But it is nice up here and I love it! My mission president was a cheer leader in high school as well which I thought was way cool! He said I can dance on p-day (which is today!) so I am excited about that!
I'm serving in the Mission Hill ward in St. Albert! It's such a nice ward and the bishop is a dancer as well! On sunday I met him and he told me he is a body popper from London, England! He said he was once the best there and he is an "OG" (original ganster)! haha! It made me laugh, but he was serious! So I can't wait to see him dance, and I called him out for a battle sometime! He's way cool but he's serious when it comes to the missionary work, which is great! :)
I love missionary work so far! I've had multiple experiences so far and i can't share them all. But on Saturday, we went tracting and we said a prayer to help us find someone who was prepared. We have a big map in our apartment and I picked a street close by (to save on Klicks) and we went there. When we pulled up to the first house on that street, the dad was leaving.. so we thought we were out of luck. We decided to still knock on the door to see if anyone else was home. A girl answered the door and she was probably in her mid 20's. It was crazy how prepared she was! She was telling us that recently she and her sister have been researching a lot of religions and asking everyone they knew, what they believe. So when we showed her the Book of Mormon, she said "hold on!".  She ran downstairs and grabbed her own Book of Mormon!  But it was a triple combination set with the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price in it. So we taught her the whole first lesson on her doorstep and answered all of her questions! And she had a TON of questions (which was way good)! We were standing there for longer than an hour! We couldn't go in though because she was the only girl home.. but it was so worth it! it's crazy how the Lord works! Maybe if her dad was still there we would have never been able to teach her! Everything just seemed to fit how it was supposed to! Her name is Talia by the way! Anyway, that's the short version of the story and I have so many other experiences!

We have 2 people on date to be baptized on February 25th and 3 people set for March 17th! I wish i could tell you all their stories and all their names and how we found and taught them, but that would take way too long! Our goal that our mission president gave us is to teach 20 lessons a week, which is a pretty hard goal.. My companion and I worked way hard this week and we got 30 lessons! :) Cool,  huh?

My companion's name is Elder Kember! He is from Ontario, Canada! He is a convert of a year and a half and the only one from his family, which is almost the same as my last companion, Elder Pineault except that Elder Kember does not speak French! But he is way cool! He is my same height, build, and same almost everything! People say we look like brothers! He is pretty much exactly like me and we get along way good! He's my trainer, so we are companions for the next 2 transfers.  Each transfer is 6 weeks, so I'll be with him for at least the next 3 months! He is my "dad" and I am his "Son" in missionary language. And when people go home, they are "dead." ha,ha!   So i have a picture of my "grandpa" which was Elder Kembers trainer or "dad." Does that make sense?

But anyway, the weather here is cold!! It's usually -18* C and the first couple days, I shivered no matter where I went!  People keep telling me this winter has been the mildest they have ever had! So I'm scared for next winter! One thing that is hard to get used to is the roads,  They are ALL covered with about an inch of ice.. so no matter where you go, you're driving on ice! New missionaries can start driving after their first transfer (after 6 weeks). Oh yeah, we got a Subaru car, which is the nicest car in the mission!  We also got a cell phone for contacting investigators! Our apartment smells like smoke when you walk in the building, but our room is smoke free which is nice! We are hardly ever home though unless we are sleeping or eating!  And sometimes we wake up at 5:30 instead of 6:30 so we can play basketball at the Stake Center in the early morning!

Canadian's are soooo nice! It's kinda funny how they say, "eh" all the time but I'll get used to it... eventually! They all have accents too which is different! But every person I meet here (in the ward) is so nice!  We went tracting a couple days ago and every door we went to slammed the door on us! ha, ha!  That was a fun experience too! They have outdoor hockey rinks on every block and at the high schools they have those instead of football or baseball fields! Every one plays or has played hockey!

Oh I mentioned "klicks" earlier,. those are how many miles we are allowed to travel in a month. As a missionary we are limited to 2000 klicks and we can't go over that! They measure in Kilometers not miles... which throws you off when you see a speed limit sign that says 100!! That's about 60 mph.

Anyway, I told you everything that I can remember.....oh...   My p day is now on Monday so that's why I had to skip last week's p day! :(

I love you all!  Take care!

-Elder Stevens (the dancer)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Starting of Week 3 at the MTC

This week was so much fun! We are teaching a ton of ''investigators'' everyday! I taught this less-active girl named LaChelle and it was the best lesson we (Elder Pineault and I) have ever taught! It was such an amazing experience and it really made me excited to finally be helping others. By the end of the lesson she was crying tears of joy along with everyone else in the room, including the members that were with us. All this took place in the TRC where the people are real invesigators and they get paid to come to a building and let us teach them.
I got to see the real world this week which also made me more excited to go to Canada! I had to go on splits with Elder Freeze who had to go to a doctor. He says his knee hurts and the docters have to do a MRI to make sure nothing is wrong. Personally I  think he's just trying to get attention.. haha but I still love him. I love my whole district so much.  They all have the funniest personalities and we all help each other progress when we are studying! My companion is continuing to teach me French and I'm getting better! I am so blessed to have him as my companion. We seriously teach so good with each other and we can finish eachother's thoughts when talking! He's way cool! I told him he could come live with us for a week after the mission during the week of General Conference and we would go together! He is a convert by a year and a half so his dream is to see the prophet! I mean that when I say it really is his dream!! So I think that would be a way good experience for him! plus I'd hang out with him after the mission if he came to the US.
My flight plans are: I leave on February 7th and my flight leaves at 5:30 am.... so i have to be at the travel office at 3 am... which means I have to wake up at 2 am... :( but it'll be so much fun! We have a layover in Denver, CO but then we will arrive in Edmonton, Canada at 11:50 am!)
Last night (Tuesday) we had a Devotional! It was also the 50th anniversary of the MTC! Elder Nelson and Elder Holland from the Quorum of the Twelve were the speakers and it was amazing!! I wish I could tell you more but I hardly have time to type!
Alexandre, our first TRC investigator wants to be baptized and I am way excited about that!
Mom, get better! Stop getting sick!
Dad, sorry you're the only male in the house,.. but Josh will be back soon.. :/ well, sooner than me! haha hang in there!
Mom, tell Amy Simkins that I miss teaching dance for her and I miss all the kids I used to teach! I am teaching Elders here how to dance so I won't lose it! ;)
Family, good job on reading your scriptures! It really does make your day go by so much better when you start and end off a day by reading and praying!
I love you all and miss you
-Elder Stevens, the younger :)