Monday, June 26, 2017
This week has been CRAZY AMAZING! We had a baptism!!!!! AAAAaaahhh!!!!! MY First Ever!!! It was so amazing! Daniel, 11, got baptized this past Saturday at 5:00pm, and was confirmed yesterday! The spirit was so strong at his baptism, I couldn't help but have a huge grin of my face the ENTIRE time!! So much love and peace, oh man, it was unreal!!!!His step dad Eduardo, who got baptized only a month ago, was able to baptize him! He said it in Spanish, ha. It was so touching, because after his baptism when Bishop was talking, he had Daniel go up and was talking about how he is a part of the Cape Coral family now, and there was so much love in the room (the room was PACKED! I've never seen a more filled baptism on the mission, they had to add chairs and people were standing by the door!) and Daniel had tears in his eyes, oh, his life is going to be so much better now!!! And in his confirmation blessing, he was told he would have the desire to serve a full time mission!!!! Yay!!!! Future missionaries in the making!!!!!
Our investigator Sasha doesn't have a date anymore, but she came to the baptism with her daughter and stayed afterwards for the Returning Missionaries dinner thing for two recent RM's. It was so fun! Saturday was awesome, even though we had a few hiccups with getting the program together and last minute changes to who was giving what talk, ha. (we also left the building to make the programs at a members house, which took longer than we thought it would, and we so worried the chapel would be flooded! We left the font on filling.. But it didn't! Tender Mercies of the Lord!!!
We also found a new investigator yesterday while knocking (after a torrential downpour, ha, it was great! Another tender mercy: right as I got my bike locked up and opened my umbrella, it REALLY started to pour! God truly does watch out for us! Love Him!!!) She has tons of questions, and we are so excited to go back and teach Michelle more!
There were other things I wanted to add, but I don't remember them, and I am out of time, but I love you all so very much! Stay safe and keep holding on to the Iron Rod, we will make it as we stick to the path and press on faithfully! Have a great week!
Baptism! One with Daniel is with a blueberry bagle. Backstory: we taught repentance with an analogy saying that is Sister Colton stole my bagel and felt really bad about it, what would she need to do? Then we gave him a bagel on Sunday for doing his reading :) It was great!
Last Zone Conference with President and Sister Richardson! :'(
Monday, June 19, 2017
How is everyone? The mission is doing great! The AP's had a contest last week for whichever zone had the most dates, we got third with 18 dates! I don't think there is a prize, though, ha. So, the tallies are in and it looks like the Rebel Alliance has won the competition this time, the the Empire will strike back a gain soon! It was crazy though, they had 4 baptisms this weekend and we had one in our district, and Daniel is getting baptized this Saturday! So excited!!! He will be my first baptism, so now we just have to finish up the last few lessons with him, and Sasha's date is still on for the 27th, though she still isn't too certain about it and she grew up in Russia drinking black tea and green tea, but she said she will try for this week to not drink it and go from there. We have an FHE planned with a really awesome family (they have triplets!) tonight and its going to be great!
At our Zone activity today, Elder Conder (District leader) will get pied in the face! I will send some pictures next week, it's gonna be soo funny! Poor guy, though, he really didn't want to lose, haha.
We have been biking a lot this week, we figured out a system that is working really well: we drive maybe three miles or so into the area where we will be working that day (or closer than home, at least) and bike from there. We've done this 4 days in a row now, and hats off to elders in all bike areas! Holy cow does it make you tired! Ha, its awesome though. We biked 13 miles yesterday, 6 the day before, 8 the day before that... its great! We have no miles, and we have to drive into Lehigh for the zone activity today... If Elder Conder wasn't getting pied in the face and we were practicing our song for Zone conference, we probably wouldn't go, but oh well. We will make it! I love how the more you bike, the less saddle sore you get! Its a slow and steady burn though, hahahaha! Also, tender mercy the first day we biked: we were taking neighboorhood roads next to this main road because it didn't have a bike path, but then canals happen, so we had to bike in the little space outside the white line, and lo and behold, it turns into a freeway/bridge that crosses the Okeechobee river!!! Hahaha, we screamed a little bit, but it was hilarious, we were those two crazies biking the freeway! I was waiting for a policeman to come pull us over or something, but we got off as soon as we can. Thats what happens when the GPS thinks your a car but your not! So on to the tender mercy part, we tried to call a member to pick us up with our bikes in their truck, but they couldn't so we were resigned to go back over the bridge(canals...) but there was a bike path on this side of the road!!!! Blessings!!!
So Owen Hogle, our amazing LA turned solid member, was sustained as a ward missionary yesterday :)))) He is so crazy awesome, and is going back to the temple super soon! He is so excited to be able to wear his garments again! :) The Lord truly loves all of His children, and will lead them back to Him if they let Him!
I know this church is true, and that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. It's so cool how on a mission you get so comfortable stating and defending the truth. That's who we are, disciples of Jesus Christ, and it is every member's duty to be a part of the last call to work in His Vineyard, to lay up in store the blessings of eternity! I love you all, so much, have an amazing week!
Love, Sister Stokes
I cut my hair, but only 3 ish inches. It feels so healthy now!
We had a sister meeting with the Naples Zone! The first one ever, put on by our wonderful STL's! We all went to their apartment and ate lunch and watched Johnny Lingo, HILARIOUS and so adorable!
Monday, June 12, 2017
How is everybody? Good, I hope! Everything over here is going pretty well, I might say! Ha. This past week we were so busy, and this week as well! We are setting up so many appointments, its crazy! I love being busy, its the best! We have two baptismal dates for this month, our investigator Daniel for the 24th and Sasha for the 27th! We did something called the Road to Rebirth with them, which is where we take out a calendar and fill in everyday with them until their baptism day so that they can have that vision set and see that they really will be prepared for their baptism! It is great!
I am so excited! We had Craig with a date for the 8th of July, but it turns out he lives in the N Ft Myers area, so we referred him, date and all, to the elders. They were grateful, ha.
So, to explain a little bit about the title: we are going super hard this month in #JediJune in the #FortMiraclesZone (Ft Myers) and the Zone Leaders made June a Star Wars theme, and so there is a competition between the two districts, and whoever wins gets to pie the other district leader in the face! We are The Empire and the other district (which I was in last transfer, so no hard feelings!) is the Rebel Alliance (Jason will like that, ha) Its really fun. We get points for Teaching at the Door, Member Present Lessons, and Investigators with dates with a solidity of 3 or higher(basically has been to church once and keeping commitments) It was super close, too! We would have one is the other district hadn't beat us at a nerf dart war we had last P Day and got a 10 point lead, but that's okay. The miracles are still coming! And because they one that head start, we are the Empire Strikes Back! Some of the factors have changed for this new week because we all did amazing last week and hit all of our goals as a zone! We got 15 dates, 15 Investigators at Sacrament, and over 35 new investigators!!! Just in one week! Missionary work is so fun, everyone should do it, ha.
So to continue the amazing turn around story to our LA Owen Hogle--> He has a calling that will be announced next week, read the entire book of Mormon in one night and now is doing a deeper study (which he has probably finished at this point as well!) of 2 Nephi and Mosiah, and now has a book Brother Smith (WML) gave him about member missionary work, and is basically the coolest ever! I don't know who got to read Sister Colton's email last week, but she explained in detail about his story, which is crazy! He was raised Pagan, then joined the church many years ago, then fell away and was pagan again and a high priest in Florida (basically over all the other pagans in the state) and came back to Christianity after God talked to him in a dream! INSANE!!!!! We love him, he is amazing, ha.
We saw a Manatee last Wednesday at a meal appointment in the canal that runs behind this LA's house, it was awesome!
So funny story, we were knocking the other day and are let in by this super Christian lady and her daughter, who were super nice but not open to changing religions. But anyway, they have this little dog who keeps sniffing mine and my companions feet, and then licks my foot like there is no tomorrow during the prayer! I was the one saying it, so I just let it be, but sister Colton opened her eyes right before I ended and saw that the dog was still licking my foot (let me tell you, it was weird!) and starts laughing, but tries to hold it back, so I look at her, look at the dog, and try not to laugh as I end the prayer. Needless to say, we had a good laugh about it once we left, haha. That dog was weird haha. It might have been because we used this Doterra bug spray that this lady we knocked into gave us who sells their products, but who knows! I'm just tastey, what can I say? Haha.
Anyway, I love you all sooo much, have an amazing week! Even when things are hard and you can't see why God would let something happen to you or your loved one, I know that as you endure it with faith, that God will give unto you the understanding you so desire, and strengthen and fortify your testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has done so in my life, and I know He can and will do so in yours, every time you turn to His ever outstretched hand.
We ate at our Recent Converts' house Eduardo and Rosemary and their Investigator son Daniel, who are from Colombia, so we ate colombian food! I already forgot what its called... But I love Latin food! Also, their white cat Avery likes to sit in that bowl that was supposed to be for decoration, ha. Cats.
Sister Colton and I as we served a LA by washing his dog! We will be washing the big one, Shovelhead, later this week at a dog wash, ha. Pictures to come!
We went on full day exchanges with the STLs and had a district blitz in our area the same day. While we were knocking, we passed a house where they had just cut down coconuts and were hauling them to the side of the road, so we offered spur of the moment service! (My favorite kind of service!) We got a bunch of coconuts out of it, too! They were a pain to open, though, without my machete. . . ;)
Monday, June 5, 2017
(Can I still do that when serving in an English area?? Ha, YES!)
So my new companion Sister Colton is Awesome! She is a fireball, filled with GREENIE FIRE!!! She LOVES missionary work and is so cute! Haha, we are really feeling the urgency to help as many people as possible come unto Christ and prepare the way for His Second Coming. There is so much happening in the Cape Coral Ward! It is a blessing to even be here! This area needs Sister Colton and her initiative to work hard and give 110%, and I love it!
So this past week we have been getting in contact with all of the recent converts in the area (Cape Coral is the hubbub of the zone, and probably the mission! They had 3 BAPTISMS May 20th, and one May 22nd---> CRAZY!) So we have Jane Hamm, a Brazilian older woman who's husband has been a member of the church for a long time (the last sister missionary here was from Brazil-- Gods timing is perfect!) who is super solid, Rosemary and Eduardo who recently moved here from Colombia(and the story of how Eduardo got here when they didn't have the money to buy the plane ticket, among other things, is absolutely miraculous! We talked about it at a lesson we had with them and their 11 year old son, who we are teaching and preparing to be baptized by Eduardo himself, who just received the Priesthood this Sunday!!! Rosemary has a calling in the Library, which she was SO EXCITED FOR, and Eduardo is working with the Cub Scouts.. Remember those days, Dad? Ha) So they are so solid its unreal! We also have Henesy, this adorable 11 year old girl and she was so shy when we first met, that we spent the night just getting to know her and her friend Triva (non member potential! She came to church!) and made so much Slime! Some may be coming your way via the United States Postal Service, ha. Her mom, Sujin, is dating a LA member and they want to get married, they just have to finish getting divorced to their previous spouses and live the law of Chastity, and then Sujin can get baptized!!!! In our Gospel Principles class yesterday, we talked on Eternal Families and Temples, and right there in the middle of class, our awesome teacher stopped and planned a Temple Trip Day with everyone in the class for the 8th of July!!! We are all planning on going! Those with recommends to do baptisms etc, and those too young (Henesy) or non members or whatever will all be having a gospel discussion outside on the grounds with treats!!! WE ARE SO PUMPED!!!! It's going to be so amazing! Like I said, so much is happening here right now, I am so grateful to be here in this area where the Lord is working so hard to prepare all of His Children! Ever since being in this area, and especially the day of the ET, I have felt more Urgency than in my entire mission to get as much done as humanly possible, and then some, because the Lord gives us the strength and capacity to do more that we could ever do on our own! Remember, its not about what we can't so, its about what He Can! (Thank you, Sis. Oehler for that one!)
Well that was a paragraph, ha, and I haven't even talked about what happened right before Sacrament started yesterday! It was insane! Right before church began, SO MANY PEOPLE SHOWED UP TO CHURCH! We didn't know what to do with ourselves! This man Craig came, who's girlfriend got baptized a month ago in Tampa and wants to learn more about the church and be baptized as well! Our media referral less active Owen, who said he would be attending a Catholic church that day, left halfway through the service because it felt "hollow" and came to ours, and was FILLED with the Spirit of Truth and Peace, which was exactly what he had been looking for! His background is insane, Sister Colton is writing more in depth about it, so she'll send that to me and Ill send it to you! We met with him right after church with our WML, and he had a complete change of heart, it was amazing! We were all crying, ha. We had so many Gators, LA's, and RC's at church, it was AMAZING!!! People were showing up left and right, even the members where like "Whoa, who are these people?" Haha, it was a party! This young couple from Germany came in the back as well, turns out they're members, but still!
We have been working with this LA Charlie and his nonmeber wife Sasha and 8 year old daughter Serafina, but they attend this weird Asian Unification church thing that was made in 1920, and have a hard time accepting "The Fall" and the three degrees of Glory. Sister Colton and I don't feel that they are ready to change their beliefs and truly convert, but Charlie really likes the church for the "environment" and "social aspect" of it, he's come to church 3 times and his wife and daughter twice. We love them, but their faith has some very different theologies, and Sasha got really confused over the Fall so we retaught it yesterday, we will see what happens. We have the commitment to "Date, Dunk, or Drop" all our gators, so we will be listening to the Spirit to know what to do.
I know that this Gospel is true, and that the invitation to "Come, Follow Me" is extended to each and every one of us! When we turn to our Savior, I know He will heal us, strengthen us, and offer us the comfort and counsel we need, EVERY TIME! There is no doubt in my mind that HE LIVES, that HE LOVES US, and that HE IS THE ONLY WAY! So Come unto Him, and let your heart and your life be changed forever! I love you all, have an Amazing week!
Love, Hermana Stokes
We couldn't find a can opener... improvise!
A text from Owen Hogle, who had a life changing experience!
This week I finished reading Alma for the first time ever (WOOT-WOOT) I have developed such a love for the scriptures! Its weird because I go to bed now and I'm excited to wake up and read!!! But all the stories in side just come to life when ever I read I LOVE it!!!
Ok so the BEST thing EVER happened this week!!!!!!!!
So we got a media referral the other day for this man and the text basically said this man isn't really interested, he wants scientific proof that Joseph smith was a prophet,but doesn't want to use the way that god has provided (aka prayer) So sister Stokes and I were not to excited about contacting this person because we were a little scared he was going to bible bash us. Any ways we texted Owen and he replied saying he had been a member 10+ years ago that he believed everything and that the only thing that held him back was the Joseph Smith thing. So we Invited him to come to church and he told us he had already been invited to a local Catholic for that Sunday but that he would come next week. Anyways fast forward to Sunday and a member walked up to us and says we have an investigator here. And we are both like who the heck it it? And we go out and low and behold its OWEN! He told us that he went to the Catholic church and just felt hallow and terrible there. So he LEFT EARLY and came here!!! He tried to just sit in the back by him self but we made him come sit next to us, and the first song we sang was "I Know that my Redeemer lives" and he said "This is my favorite song!".
Testimony meeting was awesome, a few people talked about the power of the atonement, and also about how God loves us so much. After wards in 2nd hour we talked about eternal marriage. And later found out that that was sooooo hard for him to sit though because he had been married in the temple and then he had a divorce and blamed the church for the divorce and for "taking away his chance to be a husband and father" and he just harbored a TON of anger towards the church. SO long story short he left the church 10+ years ago and went back to his Pagan roots (he was raised pagan and had just told the pagan group of Florida that he was no longer going to be their head chair man dude because he was returning to Christianity so a boat load of Pagan Floridains are now mad at him.... but its cool because the church is true and all ya know?). SO. We asked brother Smith (our ward Mission leader) to stay and help us teach him.
We sat in the gym after church and Owen expressed how he fell the spirit so strongly at church, at one point in that day we had passed him in the hallway and he was talking to Brother Smith and he said "I know its true, I've always known it..... I just have a few questions" and in the gospel principles class the teacher said "There is no question the missionaries cant answer! if they don't know the answer they will go find if for you, the only answer they cant give you is the one that comes from you asking God if the things they shared with you are true." (this is all before we met with Owen)
Anyways so we are talking to Owen in the Gym, and he says "I have a list of questions sitting in my pocket but if i know that Joseph Smith was a prophet then none of these questions matter". Brother Smith bore his testimony to him and it was SO powerful, Owen opened up and said that he used to have a super strong testimony and then he stopped doing the little things each day, he used to be a bishop, a branch president, Elders Quorums president, Worked a ton with the young Men, had been though the temple, and had had a TON of other callings. And then I talked about how he used to have this huge tree of faith but he went and cut it down. THEN and this is like one of the best parts, he tells us that about a week ago he had a dream, he said "In my dream I woke up and I was laying in bed and I looked over and there was a ladder in my room that went through my ceiling so I started to climb it and It went up and I climbed though a hole in the sky and I looked around and it looked like I was in a heavenly waste field, and there was a man, dresses in white, who was sitting on a tree stump and he looked at me and said 'God has been waiting for you for a long time, he inst going to wait much longer' " And then he woke up and he told us it was the most real dream he had ever had.
Sister Stokes testified to him that that tree stump in the dream was his tree of faith had he had cut down in his anger (previous to this I had talked about how he needed to start watering that seed of faith again) and that it was time to start over. We told him that he was not seeking to know if Joseph smith was a prophet or not because he already knew the truth. He already knew that he was called of God to restore the fullness of the gospel, what HE was seeking was PEACE. We shared the Easter Video with him and everyone was crying, This was seriously the most powerful moment of my mission. Owen had a HUGE change of heart his testimony and that fire was relit and rekindled. He realized that the peace he sought could ONLY come fro the savior! It was Indescribable!!!! We gave him a book of mormon a he said he was going to read all this week! and we texted him this morning and you can just look at the pictures to see what he said :)
Any ways Im out of time
the church is true
I love you all!!!!
love Sister Colton