Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nov 4- Hey! Hey! Hey!

Dear Family and Friends,

How's life? Mine is pretty great! Fun first for me this week: Daylight savings! I got an extra hour of sleep so that was pretty fun! I'm just not too exited for when it switches back and we lose an hour of sleep! haha I like Arizona. No daylight savings just keeps it simple and easy.

Well, its been another awesome missionary week. Simple, but awesome. Nothing too amazing happened to write on, but life is simply great. I am happy, healthy, and having the time of my life!

This weekend was our stake conference and I wanted to share a couple insights that I took from the speakers. First, know that the theme of the conference was Missionary Work and thus the Quotes/Ideas are missionary oriented =] Missionaries Missionaries Missionaries. Its great!

The first idea I liked was a quote that was said by a woman that was talking about how members can get involved in missionary work. She was talking about how, at times, opening our mouths to share the Gospel can be a little bit daunting and we don't know where to start, but then she gave this advice: "First Invite the Savior to help us Invite." Its a pretty simple idea, but, I feel, very powerful. We aren't alone in this work! The whole purpose behind missionary work is inviting people to come unto Christ; therefore, Christ should be the first person we turn to for help. He is going to help us and push us in this journey! =]

The Second Idea comes from a talk that our mission president gave at the conference. He talked about Christ's parables of the Lost Sheep, Coin, and Prodigal Son foudn in Luke 15. He first pointed out that in each of the 3 cases there was a sense of urgency/frantic-ness to find the lost thing: The shepherd left all of the other 99 sheep to find just one. The woman tore apart the house to find the coin. The father RAN to meet the son from far away. He then pointed out that in each of the 3 cases when the lost thing was found, immense love and joy was shown: The shepherd cradled the lost sheep and threw him over his shoulder to carry him safely back to the herd. When the coin was found the woman called her friends together to rejoice. When the prodigal son came home, the father clothed him, the father wrapped his arm around his shoulders, and celebrated by having a great feast! Like wise, there are those that are lost among us. The Lord is hastening his work and pulling out all of the stops to find and help them. We are those that need to find, help, and lift with love.

K I hope all of you have an AMAZING week!! Love you tons!

Elder Stones
This is sister Arguetta. She makes the best tortillas in the world!! Also, right before we took the picture she said, "Ooh If Im holding these it will look like you all gave them to me." And then grabbed the flowers. haha Cute old lady =]
Elder Gonzalez's face cracks me up in this one! haha

Oct 28- Another Solid Week in Providence

Hello all! This week was simple and sweet. Not a ton happened, but life was just as great as ever =] I just have a fun story to share this week!

Story -- Street Contacting. The missionary work is really moving here in Providence so usually we don't have much time to go knock doors/ talk to people for long periods of time on the streets. Usually our days are appointment to appointment with investigators, less active members of the church, or members, which is a HUGE blessing. Well, one day this week we had a couple free hours so we decided to go to Downtown Providence and talk to people. If I am being completely honest, knocking doors and street contacting scare me a little! Well, not all of it scares me, just the initial meeting: the moments after you knock on a door and you are waiting to see who is on the other side or the first few moments before the conversation starts on the street -- Thats the "scary" part. Once the ball gets rolling on the conversation/ the ice is broken, I am completely fine and comfortable. But if the initial meeting goes bad it can be pretty awkward. Haha So... street contacting gets my heart pumping. So, like I said, one day this week we went to downtown and talked to people on the streets. We went to a park, said a prayer, and started looking for people that we could talk with. A little ways a way I saw two guys sitting on a bench speaking Spanish and I thought to myself, 'Hey, I could go tell those guys I am learning Spanish and ask them to Practice with me!" So thats what I did! I walked up to them and said, "Hola! Me Llamo Elder Stones. Soy un misionero y estoy aprendiendo espanol. Podrian practicar mi espanol conmigo?" They agreed and everything was sweet from there! It was awesome. I asked them lots of questions and we talked for a few minutes about "everyday" things. Then they said, "Your Spanish is pretty good! Why are you learning again?" And then I was able to tell them that I was a missionary, what a missionary does, and we were able to talk about religious stuff. It was awesome! One of the guys had to leave half way through the conversation so I only got to give him a card with our number on it, but the other guy gave me his number and we set up an appointment to meet this week. Super sweet experience! Conquered my fears. You guys can do it too =] Just gotta open your mouth!

This week I have been thinking a lot about prayer! My testimony of prayer has been strengthened so much while I have been on my mission. One thing in particular that prayer has helped me learn a little better is my/our relationship with God. He really is our Father, and he cares for us like an earthly parent would, but even more so!! Thats why prayer is so important! He wants to hear from us every single day and he wants to know what is going on in our lives. Of course he knows every single thing that happens to us every single day, but he wants to hear about it from US. Things that we are grateful for. Things we are struggling with. Things we need help with. God loves us and wants the best for us. He is anxiously waiting to bless us with the things we need, we just need to ask =] Its amazing!

K! I love you all SO MUCH!! I hope you have an amazing week and remember: 1) open your mouths a little more this week! and 2) Pray =]


Elder Stones
Pumpkin Carving for P-Day
Guess which one is mine haha

Old Monestary that was turned into a library. Its a little bit of a drive out to it, but its SUPER pretty and totally worth it!

Oct 21- Solid week in Providence

Hello Family and Friends!
Life is simply great here in Providence! Theres nothing too huge to report on this week, just working hard and having fun. Elder Gonzalez is an awesome missionary and I am continually reminded how blessed I am to have him as my companion. We are different in a lot of ways, but our differences make our companionship super strong and effective. He makes up for areas that I lack in and vice versa. For example: He is literally a super genious.... and theennnn theres me haha. As a trainee he asks me a lot of questions that never even crossed my mind when I was being trained, which is good because I have to stop and think about what I have learned and how I have applied it. Its a little different because I like to learn from example: watching and experimenting. Elder Gonzalez is very analytical and learns from the books and facts. So, it has been fun to teach but, even more, to learn from a super genious! (He got accepted into Princeton for after his mission.) And dont worry, on top of learning we, of course, are always having fun =] Missionary work is just fun! Theres nothing else to it haha
Hmm... Okay update on our investigators. We are teaching 4 people right now. Grisauris is a woman in her late 20's who we have been teaching for a few months now and we are going to extend a baptismal invitation this week. Magali is an older lady who is very strong in her faith and has a WONDERFUL testimony of prayer and a strong relationship with God. She is very sweet and genuine, she really knows what it means to exercise faith, and she has wonderful answers to the questions we ask her. She came to church for the first time yesterday. =] Then theres Jyel. He is a 13 year old kid who always asks TONS of questions. Quick awesome experience we had with him this week: So, he was introduced to the church by his grandma last year and was taught by missionaries, but because of the business of summer, the teaching stopped. We decided to drop by this week and see if he would like to be taught again. Things went really well, but he cant really speak Spanish so he told us he was thinking about going to the English branch that met in downtown. Elder Gonzalez was inspired and asked him to go inside his house, pray, and ask God what he would want him to do. Wwaited outside, fully expecting him to receive the answer that he should go to the English branch and not the Spanish Ward. It was definitely the logical choice, because although they speak a lot of English to the youth in the Spanish ward, he could get lost a lot. Anyway, Jyel came outside and we asked him how it went. He said, "Well, I'm going to the Spanish Ward." We were pretty surprised! We asked him how he got his answer and he gave one of the best explanations I have ever heard. He said, "Well, when I asked God if I should go to the English Branch it felt like I wasn't talking to anyone, just to myself. When I asked him if I should go to the Spanish ward, it felt like someone was listening. Thats how I know I need to go the Spanish Ward." It was a super amazing experience, and we are excited that we get to teach him. Our last investigator is named Efrain. He is the guy that called out to Elder Collins and I on the street a couple months ago when we were walking and told us that he took the lessons years ago in Guatemala, but nothing ever came from it. Elder Gonzalez and I miraculously ran into him again this past week, set up a lesson, and we are meeting again this week =] Super cool!
Well, I just want all of you to know that the Lord answers prayers. He is our Father and wants the best for us, we just need to ask for it. Pray every single day =] It is more powerful than we think.
 Elder Stones


Most of the towns we ride in are pretty ghetto, but every once in a while you find a nice spot like this =] haha
Exchanges with Elder Berthelson-Elder Berto!! Love this kid! Together since the MTC!

Oct 16- 2 weeks to update!

Wow! It feels like I haven't emailed in forever and there is a lot to update on! This email might be a jumbled mess of information and events, so I apologize in advance.

First: Shout out for Conference! It was amazing! I can't wait for the talks to come out in the Liahona/ Ensign next month so that we can read them and study them a little more. Its totally true what they say: General Conference is really exciting on your mission. It was like Christmas! Haha!

Second: Fernando's baptism went great! After his baptism he was the happiest I have ever seen him, and everytime we have seen him since then he has had an extra happiness about him. He is such an amazing kid! I love him! Ill send some pictures of the baptism a little later =]

Third: Transfers! There is A LOT that has happened with transfers. First, Elder Collins went home last week! Its crazy! Our 12 weeks together flew by and I am really going to miss him. He was an awesome trainer and there was never a dull moment being his companion. Quick funny story: So, last Wednesday was P-Day and we used it to finish packing up Elder Collins stuff and get everything ready to send home (thus why I didnt email. Sorry!) At the end of the day he had a few things that wouldnt fit in his bags/ boxes that he wanted to send home: 2 paintings of boats, a bead curtain, a tea set, and an old typewriter. He is a goof. Anyway, the Sister Missionaries were able to take us to a UPS store in downtown Providence so that we could mail off his boxes and hopefully his other random stuff too; the only problem was that they couldn't give us a ride back, but we, being smart prepared missionaries, didn't think too much about it. So, we get to the UPS store, find out that mailing everything that he wanted to mail would be WAY too expensive, decide to just send off his boxes, and, when all was said and done, we were stuck in downtown Providence (about an hour walk from home) with 2 big paintings, a bead curtain, and an old typewriter. Stuff like that happened to Elder Collins and I way too often haha. Anyway, after walking through downtown Providence with said miscellaneous items for about 30 minutes, we finally found a member to give us a ride home. That was Elder Collins and I last big adventure together!

Before I continue with transfers, I should give you a little background info! A couple weeks ago I got a call from President asking me if I would train one of the new Spanish missionaries coming to the mission. I was thinking, "Train?! I only have 4 months! I'm the one that needs more training!" haha It was a little bit of a scary thought because I'm still learning the language and feel like I'm just barely getting the hang of being a missionary, but lets just say that I have learned something very important from this transfer experience and this is it: Heavenly Father knows each one of us perfectly. He knows exactly what we need in any moment. He knows when to push us and when to give us a little bit of extra help. Lets just say, the Lord blessed me with A LOT of extra help in the form of my "trainee" companion =] His name is Elder Gonzalez, he is from Utah, originally from Mexico, he has the "18-year-old, just graduated from high school" missionary fire, can speak 4 languages fluently (aka he is going to/already has helped my Spanish a ton. We talk almost completely in Spanish together), he is insanely smart, he has so many awesome insights, and basically... he is pre-trained. So yeah, our companionship rocks. Elder Berthelson (my AZ buddy from the MTC) is staying here in Providence too AND his companion is native from Mexico as well! Basically, we are going to be a Pro Spanish speaking district! We are pretty pumped =]

Well, that is most of the major stuff that has happened the past two weeks and I think it will do for now! I love you all tons and tons and tons and hope life is treating you all well =]

Elder Stones
Fernando's and Aaron's Baptism- No body is looking at the camera... but its the best picture we got haha

Elder Collin's and I with Jeffrey, one of the Young men from the ward
Elder Gonzalez and I
We did an activity with the youth in which they got the opportunity to share the book of Mormon on an "airplane" (aka chairs set up in rows like an airplane with a little bit of special lighting and a microphone so that we could have the announcing flight attendant) Anyway, we put on mustaches and became "flight attendant missionaries" on the airline: Celestial Airs. Too fun (Thank you Turner family for the mustaches =] )

Sept 30- A week of little miracles

Where did this past week go? It flew by even quicker than usual! Maybe because tons of fun stuff happened =]

This weekend we took a trip to the Boston temple to do baptisms with some recent converts and some members that had never been. It was simple, sweet, and beautiful. The Spirit was so strong and the members loved it. Such a good trip! Temples are simply beautiful.

Also, this week we had some pretty sweet little miracles happen here in Providence. First, all this month we have been trying to set up a time to teach this older lady, Magali, who is interested in learning more about the church. It was our goal to set up a teaching appointment with her by the end of the month, but we had been struggling to find a time in which a member's schedule fit with Magali's schedule so that the member could join us in the lesson. It was the 27th and, with a full weekend, we knew the appointment would have to happen the next day or we wouldn't meet our goal to meet with her in Sept. Well, in our nightly planning for the next day, we found a 2 hour block that we had open, which would be perfect for a lesson with Magali. Now we just had to find out if her schedule and the member's schedule would also work. We called the member, and he was good to join us. Score =]. We called Magali and asked her if she was free the next day to which she replied, "ah I'm pretty busy tomorrow, what time were you thinking?" "4" we said. "Wow that's actually perfect!! I will see you then." So, after a month of trying to set something up, we finally had that "little miracle." Not too big, but just a little testimony that if we are doing what we are supposed to do, God will do his part to help us with our Goals. And not just missionary goals!! That applies to all of our life goals too =] Okay, second miracle, which happened yesterday, that I still can't believe happened! Remember Fernando, the young man that I was telling you all about last week that we have been teaching for a few months? Well... he has decided to be Baptized!! He was talking with his dad (who joined the church a couple years ago) and said he just had a "lightbulb moment." So yesterday, out of the blue, Elder Collins and I get a text from Fernando's Dad that just says, "Fernando says yes." Our mouths literally dropped open! It was so crazy because since we started teaching him, the thought of baptism worried him, even up until a couple days ago. But now he feels comfortable and is really excited! He is going to get baptized next weekend in between conference sessions!! Miracle experience =]

So little thought for this week: Conference is coming up this next weekend. Do something to make it special! Elder Collins and I found a little "Conference Countdown" paper chain in the Liahona that we cut out and put together. Each day the chain has something new to do like, "Explain to someone why conference is special to you" or "Write down some questions that you want to have answered during Conference". Funny story, Its actually a chain for kids. So one day it asked us to "Draw your favorite Prophet from the Scriptures." I have a pretty fun drawing above my study desk now =] hahaha Just make this week special and get in the mindset to learn some great things from the Prophet and Apostles.

Little teaser for Conference: Quote from President Monson - "No podemos dirigir los vientos, pero podemos ajustar las velas."

Simple and Sweet. I Love it.
Love You all!!!

Elder Stones

Picture of us with some of the members after the temple!

Took a wrong turn this day and rode 6 miles in the wrong direction. Had to a get a picture next to the street that we finally decided to turn around at. I really promise I wasn't upset haha
We were riding in downtown after early morning seminary last week and just thought we should get a picture in front of this sweet cathedral.

Sept 23- Birthday, Camping, Wedding, Baptism

Hello Family and Friends!!

I thought I wouldn't have much to write about this week, but looking back, I realized that a ton has happened! First, we had Elder Collin's birthday, which was a super fun, crazy day! One of the members threw a little party for Elder Collins that night so we decided to bring our younger investigator, Fernando, a long with us and we had tons of fun and got some good pictures. Fernando has been coming to church now for like 2 months and he is such an amazing kid. The ward loves him, the young men in the ward love him, and he loves all of them. He fits in so well and he is really starting to develop his own testimony of the Church. He even goes to early morning seminary with the kids in the ward!! (We went with him last week. Now I can say I have been to early morning seminary haha =] ) In one of our lessons this week he told Elder Collins and I that he loves to read the Book of Mormon at school during his breaks because he "feels like it solves problems that nothing else can." He literally said those words! It was awesome! Haha anyway, I love that kid.

We also got permission to go camping with the men in our ward this weekend! We weren't allowed to stay the night, but it was still awesome. We helped them set up the tents (the ward struggled with that a bit. Being able to set up a tent is a nice benefit from doing Boy Scouts haha), helped make the fire, had HUGE grilled sausages for dinner, and had an awesome fireside about how the Lord qualifies us for the tasks which he gives us. The ward here doesn't do camping trips very often so they LOVED it. The brotherhood in the ward was really strengthened and the young men had a blast =]
Then to put the "cherry on top" of an already great week, our ward had a wedding and baptism this weekend! It was pretty special. Andres has been waiting two years for his "wife-to-be's" divorce papers to come in from Guatemala so that they could be married and he could get baptized. The papers finally came in a few weeks ago and his years of waiting and trudging through hardship finally came to an end with an incredibly fun wedding and a great baptism. Elder Collins and I got to help out the Sister who made the wedding cake by making some Fondant flowers. Not my forte. (Deanna, we might need to work on my flower making skills when I get home haha). But the cake turned out great, the wedding was a crazy party (SO much food), and the baptism was simple and perfect. Good week =]

Quick scripture I found in my studies this week that I want to share with you all, but first, a little background: There are a group of people in bondage, supporting a terrible work load, and feeling very much overwhelmed. In the midst of this trail, they begin pouring out their hearts to God for help and support. This is his reply: Mosiah 24:14-

14 And I will also ease the aburdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand asbwitnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their cafflictions.
I love this scripture! There are a few things that we can learn. First, if we are feeling burdened, overwhelmed and stressed with our responsibilities (work, school, LIFE =] ) we can turn to the Lord and he will be there to help! Second, the Lord never leaves us in our afflictions. No matter how alone we may feel, he is always there. Love it!
Well, I love you all and hope that you have an absolutely incredible week!

Elder Stones

It was too dark to take any nice pictures, but it was super pretty! We were surrounded by trees and camped right next to a lake. And those sausages were HUGE!

The member in our ward got him this hat. Haha its great! I couldn't stop laughing

Baptism. Not the best picture, but it was the only one I got.

Us with some ward members

Sept 16- Life in Providence

I hope everyone has had an amazing week! Mine was simple, but great =] On Tuesday night we did something super fun for Mutual with the Youth: Missionary Night. For the first half of the night we did Boys vs Girls missionary relay. It was a relay race of everything a missionary does in the morning:
1) Get of bed (A blanket on the floor) and do your workouts (ten pushups).
2) Put on your missionary clothes (big pants, shirt and tie for boys. Skirt, a shirt, and jacket for girls)
3) Make your breakfast and eat it (PB&J sandwich)
4) Study (Scripture Chase. We called out a scripture and they had to find it and show us)
5) Run back to the beginning and tag the next person on their team who was waiting in the bed.

It was super fun and the kids loved it! The adults got really into it to... it was pretty funny. For the second half of the night we calmed things down, watched some really cool videos about youth being able to get involved in missionary work, and bore testimonies. It was a really fun night!

Cool new challenge from our Mission President that we are now trying to do as a district (the 6 of us missionaries): Talk in Spanish 100% of the time! Its tough, but it is going to be so worth it! Sometimes in lessons I want so badly to be able to say something, but have to change it a little so that I can say it with the Spanish that I know. Although it takes a lot more effort to speak in Spanish all of the time -- and makes conversations like 3 times longer haha-- its going to help my teaching and Im so excited for that!

So, quick little lesson that we taught to Fernando this week, and that has also been on my mind a lot recently. It may sound familiar to some of you because the idea from the lesson was given in a talk a few conferences back. Anyway, a few weeks ago I found the talk in a Liahona (Spanish LDS magazine) I was reading, which is why I am now bringing it up. Wow long explanation. Haha So here it is:

There is a story told of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil: he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good: he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I love that story! It is a constant reminder that we need to be doing good things in our lives to feed the good wolf inside of each of us. Doing Service. Prayer. Scriptures. Going to Church. Loving one another. When we do these things, we are feeding our Good wolves and ensuring that the Evil wolf doesn't get a chance to ever show its influence in our lives.
Well, I love you all so so much and hope that you have the best week ever!
Elder Stones

About half of the young men and us at one of the Young Men's birthday party.

It was Jeffrey's birthday! The guy in the back is Hermano Fernandez. He is crazy and super funny.