Friday, December 19, 2014


NORTHERN LIGHTS, YO (12/15/2014)

So this was a really productive week both as a tourist and as a missionary! (I am just a tourist in my few minutes of free time). I SAW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!!!!!!!! They are absolutely beautiful. I freaked out. They are just huge green streaks in the sky that move, then fade away. It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. I also ate reindeer pizza with my zone after zone conferece.... so fun! I loved it because it tastes gamey, it reminded me of home. On the missionary side of things, more importantly, we really made some progress with Henrik. So Henrik is our only progressing investigator, really... He has had a really hard life and he lost his faith in God a while ago. We have spent all of our lessons trying to help him find it again, and help him understand how he can know truth. He came back one day and said he believes in God. Some missionaries act like these things are no big deal, but it's a really big deal to me! I hope that never wears off. Then we had an amazing lesson about the Atonement, and it's such a cool experience to tell someone that feels so alone that there is someone who is always there who understands perfectly. I loved telling him that he can be free from his guilt and from his past life and become who he wants to be, in the strength of the Lord. 

So I realized I haven't really described Sweden or my mission very well haha. We have pretty big boundaries and we have a car. One day we scraped the ice then scraped it again three hours later. We also have an iphone! It makes life way easier. It's almost the darkest day, then it'll start getting lighter, and I guess Jan and Feb are the coldest months.EVERY little kid just wears a snowsuit to school. It's so adorable! Christmas is huge here! Everyone loves Christmas. There's a lot of shopping! There are Lucia concerts, and candles, and my favorite is there are stars in every window, I really want to get one before I come home. Also, they have food just for Christmas. There is this drink called Julmust and pepparkakor cookies that are amazing! I also drink a lot of tea here, the kind that is allowed. The food is all really good, it's pretty similar. I went to a member's house on Sunday and we had tacos with bananas on them! Who would have thought? It was way yummy! 

What else for this week? We had a ward party, it was a blast! We made tons of rice krispie treats and delivered them. We also challenged the ward to each make a missionary goal and reach out to someone, that has been successful so far! 

Ok I think that's it for the week, I will send a few pictures. Also, I sent a package of just a few small things! I will explain it all soon! And don't let me forget about the skit either, we are doing the most hilarious skit in the world. That sounds so lame but it was a huge highlight of my week haha. 


Syster Stetler

Han är Gåven (12/8/2014)

We had a district meeting that rode the bus two hours to, and it was the best part of the week in my opinion. We talked about "Han är Gåven" He is the Gift. I am sure you have seen that! Share it with people! We talked about what gifts Christ has given us, and it was such a sweet reminder. He has given us so much. Share the video! Think of what gifts Christ has given you! We shared that video with a new member and I just loved his reaction to it. He was speechless and he just expressed how grateful he was for Christ. It made me super happy to be where I am. I am going to send pictures now, I am so sorry this email was so lame! I needed to write people I had been negleting for a while! The language is a little better! I can have small talk with the Swedes now and not get so nervous! I am understanding more and more, it really is amazing. Send pictures of Hannah's solo! I miss her so much! I cant wait to skype! I love my Savior! The church is true! '
LOVE, Syster Stetler'
Prepare for pictures!

Swedes (12/1/2014)

Hello from Luleå, Sweden!!!!!! It was pretty cool, I know I am supposed to be here because we were driving to the church to open our letters to see where we are going, and we knew one of us was going to Norrland and I just had this feeling and my heart started beating fast and I knew it was me, it was cool to get a spiritual confirmation before I got the call. There is work for me to do in Luleå! Everyone wanted to come here! So I guess we are the third most northern sisters in the world, so one elder said. So that is definitely something! This letter is going to be very long.

Ok, the plane ride was long and I was really nervous! I had a fantastic last few days with my MTC district and President Beckstrand and his wife are the greatest! They are so hilarious and kind. They did make us stay up though, to try to get used to the time, and that has been a struggle. I am still so exhausted! So I met my trainer and she´s fantastic. She is super relaxed and we have a great time. She is unfortunately, however, not Molly Mormon haha and we have botched a few meals, and no one feeds us which is a bummer! And I love the rest of the missionaries here too. Ok, so after I found out, we flew to Luleå thank goodness. It was an hour flight and I was super brave and talked to the lady next to me. My companion was asleep. She was speaking Danish, but they are similar enough I couldn´t even tell, and so we are having a conversation in danish and broken swedish and right when I said "Have you heard of Mormons?" my companions head popped up and we testified about the Book of Mormon and got her information and gave it to the elders in her area! It was so great, she was so interested and really Christlike. 

After I got to Luleå we turned around and went four hours south for zone conference and I met my zone and I ate Kabob pizza! They all called it my Kabaptism haha, it was amazingly delicious. It had fries and Kabob and this sauce. Best pizza I have ever had. I can´t wait to try Reindeer pizza, I´ll be doing that very soon. I also really want to go to the Arctic Circle and the Finland border, that´s on my to do list if I am here long enough. And I should get to see the Northern Lights!

It sounds like Thanksgiving was fun! I miss you all and Granny tons! We had stuffing and potatoes and broccoli and it was pretty good! Sister Mod´s mom sent her all that. My clothes are fitting a lot looser here without the cafeteria haha and we just don´t have much time to worry about food. So that´s good. 3 families from the ward are having us over for the 24 25 and 26 of December! I will be at the Newells for Christmas, and that´s the half american family. He´s the branch president. He went on his mission to Sweden and married a Swede, and it´s so nice to speak english to them haha. Most people know English but no one speaks it until they have to is what I´ve seen. Even when I struggle. Anyways, church was really great. I loved everyone so much. I can understand Swedish with an American accent, but I really can´t understand the Swedes haha. I gave my testimony and everyone was so kind and said it was so good, but I wish I would have pretended like my Swedish was just awful, so everyone would have spoke slower to me. I felt so dumb, and just couldn´t say hardly anything accept, "Vad heter du?" and "Trefiligt att träffas!" 

So our progressive investigators are not really progressing. It´s a struggle. I did get contacted by a JW on a bus! And in our two lessons, I got grilled about Song of Solomon and everything in the Bible. I just flat out asked if both of them had a desire to believe and talked about Alma 32, then asked how we know truth and talked about Moroni 10. People meet with us because they think it´s interesting, and I am not here to chat about religion, I need to help people progress! So I have been praying super hard to find the prepared people, and looked up a bunch of scriptures with the word "find" and I also made a goal to talk to more people, especially on buses. 

So the Swedes. Either the nicest people youve ever met, or just unfriendly as it gets. I learned very quickly, "Jag har inte tid!" No one cares about religion. You ask, and there are SO few people that even have thought about the meaning of life. I just don´t get it. I really don´t. It is way worse in Stockholm though. A ton of the missionary work here is for people who have moved here, Sweden is crazy diverse. I know Heavenly Father will help us find the prepared people if we do our job. 

So a spiritual thought, before I left the MTC, Sister Marriot spoke to us and said our language barrier is a really powerful thing. She said people have to focus and listen. And it does something to people, when you are vulnerable. It says something to people´s hearts when you are willing to sound foolish to speak of your Savior. That was really powerful to me, and I´ve seen that it is true. 

I love you so much! I hope you have a great week!!!!!!!!! I can´t wait to Skype! 


Syster Stetler

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Alyssa's Email (11/19/2014)

I loved hearing some of the updates! GO UTES! Can anyone tell me how XC is going/went? I don't know anything anymore haha. I love that Ukraine elder! He gave me hope that I could learn the language and that even though it won't be perfect, the spirit will testify through me! I want to see a picture of Hannah! Is she super blonde now our what? Platinum?! Haha what's the plans for the holidays?! I'm so glad to hear everyone is reading/rereading Mormons Bok! It is the most powerful tool we have for conversion! And we ourselves always need to be more converted.

The language, here's the thing. I am good at memorizing and pronunciation, so I can get my point across, but I really struggle with sentence structure and grammar, I understand it but applying it is terrible. So our teachers really cracked down on us for that this week, and I got really upset, because after you think of how to say it correctly, the moment is passed and it's really just not worth it. I know Heavenly Father will help me though, and hearing them speak it will help a lot as well. I was thinking of what I need, I need hats, boots, gloves, (warm stuff) socks... Can you send me insanity???? And maybe some Trio bars???? haha I am so needy. :) I'm thinking of what else I need! ummm....

This week was pretty rough to be honest. I got sick, and my companion got super sick. We went to the doctor three times, urgent care once, and the ER. I just got a stomach bug but she was in a lot of pain. When you're a missionary you're so sensitive to people's needs and feelings. So it was so hard to see people so sick and so sad. I feel like I'm starting to see them a little more like Heavenly Father does than I did before, with such love and such potential. Also, being out of the MTC made me think about what I'm going to be doing soon. I'm so excited and I already LOVE the people in Sweden so much!!!!!!

Ok so a cool story about following the spirit: We were teaching a pretend "less active member" (our teacher) and he told us how he hadn't come for 20 years and his wife wasn't a member she couldn't stand the church. So our pretend "member friend" said he felt inspired to say, "Will you come to church? And will you invite your wife?" I thought that was so weird because he just said how much his wife didn't like the church, but as he began explaining the story about his wife, I felt inspired to tell about how mom prayed for dad's heart to be softened and after a year of daily prayer, he was open to hearing more about it. And he said "Thank you for sharing that, that gives me so much hope!" So it was cool to see how the spirit knows what is needed, even when it doesn't logically make sense. I know it's fake, but that will be so crucial when I am teaching people. Language is not perfect. There is so much miscommunication in spoken language, and way more when I'll be speaking a second language. But the spirit is the only way this works. I don't know what people need, but God does. I'm not a powerful teacher, but the Holy Ghost is. Elder Bednar said that when investigators are asked about their experience with the missionaries they say "It was confusing, they talked about a bunch of different topics and Joseph Smith and it didn't make total sense." Elder Bednar asked them, "Then why did you have them come back?" And they say, "Because of how I felt." 

Last night was fantastic. LINDA K BURTON CAME! Who is my hero!!!!!!! And she talked all about the Atonement and said "Jesus Christ is the bridge between Heaven and Earth." He truly is. It reminded me of a time I was talking to Hannah about the Atonement years ago. "Hannah you know that through Christ we can be forgiven for our sins and be clean again, right?" "Yeah, I know that!" "Do you know that because of Christ we can have strength when things are hard? And feel better when we had a bad day? If we pray he can give us peace?" And her eyes got big and she was so fascinated, "Really?" I remember I just loved Hannah so much, I wanted her to know that she never has to go through difficulties alone! She can ALWAYS rely on Christ, who knows and loves us perfectly. We all can. I thought about all the change the gospel requires of people, and I really will be asking for people to change their lives, but it's all out of love! When we are converted and when we truly love people, we will WANT to share that knowledge of our Savior and his Redeeming and Enabling power, and that we are not alone. 

I love you all so much! :) Have a fantastic week! I CAN'T WAIT TO TALK TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And skype soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Work and My Glory (11/12/14)

HEY! I am really excited because I have great pictures to send this week. Tender mercy of the week, one of them, I have ALWAYS wanted a yellow pea coat right? So I see this girl with a super cute one and I compliment it and she says "Do you want it? I am going to Africa and don´t have any room!" So I now have this really pretty yellow pea coat haha. I love my clothes. 

Äldste Bradshaw made me a workout #TheStriplingWarrier and I did 300 rows the other day. It was terrible haha. A couple other funny things, I am on the top bunk and I definitely fell off haha. I hit my shin so hard it turned blue. My companion calls me the flying squirrel haha. We realized we leave in two weeks and we can explain what a dispensation is but we don´t know how to say "Let´s go to breakfast" Haha. I got a HUGE compliment on my Swedish. A lady from TRC thought I was a Swede after our small talk. I really wanted to stop talking after that haha, she quickly realized I am not a Swede. I did an evaluation of my Swedish and everyone laughed at me because my teacher said my accent is great except when I say Elko, Nevada it just goes hick haha. 

Ok, my real tender mercy of the week was yesterday. I was feeling sick and Syster Griffes suggested that I get a blessing. My first thought was "No, I´m fine." But then I decided I should. And I am so glad I did. I got a blessing from two 18 year olds in my district, and the first put too many drops of oil on my head and was trying not to laugh and kept apologizing and I just sighed haha. But when they put their hands on my head and started speaking, I honestly couldn´t believe what I was hearing. Everything I had prayed for, pondered, and studied in personal study was addressed. Exact words from my patriarchal blessing were quoted. My questions were answered, that I didn´t tell anyone! All he knew was that I had a stomach ache. I learned so much from that experience. I learned how much God loves me. I learned that I should never be reluctant to receive a blessing. I learned how real the Priesthood is and how close God is when a blessing or ordinance is administered.  I learned it is not us that ever teaches anything meaningful. Our job is too invite the spirit. "But we must be careful to remember in our service that we are conduits and channels; we are not the light." 
Men: I hope you always feel ready and worthy to throw on a suit coat and be a channel for the Lord.

So Elder Holland gave the most powerful talk in the world. We watched it Sunday night for our movie. He just spoke about why his mission was so important to him, and why it should be important to us, and how we should give it our aboslute all. How we should walk away from the nets  (as Peter did) and not have any regrets. My favorite things he said:

Moses 1:39 is God´s purpose.  

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

He suggested that we become so involved in the work, that this work becomes OUR purpose too, along with God´s. To the point where we can say this is my work too. He also gave many examples of Christ and amazing missonaries that astonished people. He invited us to go out and astonish people, through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

I absolutely loved the quote you gave! I love all the growth and change I, and all those around me have experienced. My quote for you is 

"If we have faith in Jesus Christ, the hardest as well as the easiest times in life can be a blessing. In all conditions, we can choose the right with the guidance of the Spirit. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape and guide our lives if we choose it. And with prophets revealing to us our place in the plan of salvation we can live with perfect hope and a feeling of peace. We never need feel that we are alone or unloved in the Lord’s service, because we never are. We can feel the love of God. The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right, to bear us up. And He alwayskeeps His word." 

That talk is called "Mountains to Climb" and it´s incredible.

Jag älskar ni så mycket. Jag saknar ni också. Jag vet att Jesus Kristus är vår frälsare. Hans försoning kan hjälpa oss alltid och hjälpa oss att återvända att vår Himelska Fader. 


Syster Stetler

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Alyssa's Email (11/5/14)

This was the best week yet! Thanks for sending pictures, I love knowing what's going on! I miss you all so much. 

I did an English fast for 6 hours! It was seriously hilarious. Everyone was making fun of me a ton because they get the idea, but the direct translation is not right at all. I even had a debate with and Elder, all in Swedish! And we explained to our "investigator" what a dispensation was and all about the apostasy, so that was straining our Swedish quite a bit. A funny Swedish story. I'm doing my flashcards, and Elder Demourdant is freaking out, "You know how to say apostasy?! And essential? Plan of salvation?!? You need to see my flashcards." He goes and grabs them, I read through them and here's what they said "Can you repeat that?" "What did you say?" "Can you say that slower?" "In English please?" I absolutely lost it... That's what the goobers get for not studying very much! I feel like I'm a good example to them, because I work so hard, but I have SO much fun also. You can definitely do both!

I did temple sealings! I thought about how I was a tiny baby! It was so beautiful. I am SO happy we are sealed as a family forever. I am so thankful for that every day. 

I don't even know where to start. We did TRC for the first time last Thursday! We taught an actual nonmember, from Sweden. We couldn't hardly understand her so we didn't know she was a nonmember haha. But we taught her about prayer and I taught her about Alma and their afflictions in Mosiah 24 and she just looked at me with big eyes and said, "I'm going to mark that, I love that." It was really awesome.

As for our fake investigators, I learned SO MUCH. Sam is our investigator from Africa. I taught him about the Book of Mormon and told him how my favorite part was when Jesus came to the Americas and he just loved that idea, that Christ loves all his children, and he would want to visit them all, so I also read him 3 Nephi 16:1-3. My appreciation for the scriptures has grown so much. Quick story:

So Syster Griffes is in my Swedish trio, and she is SO diligent. She works really hard and is always focusing and always is exactly obedient, the things I often struggle with. So I just was comparing myself, and I thought we both thought she was a better missionary than me altogether. But we were all sharing what we learned in personal study and I told them how I was studying based off my Patriarchal Blessing and how much I felt like God was teaching me through the scriptures, and gave a few examples. She just so sincerely told me she was amazed with my knowledge of the scriptures after only reading the Book of Mormon once, and how I receive answers through it. This is coming from a girl that has read everything over and over, and taken an institute class on everything. I am not trying to brag, it's just amazing how we have different strengths, and how we can let God strengthen our weaknesses, I never used to know the scriptures. That was my tender mercy of the week. Along with:

We taught "Haydar" as well. He wasn't interested in anything. He didn't believe in God, he didn't want to pray, he didn't want any of it, until we taught him about the Atonement. "He did that? I can really become clean again? I did some bad things, I feel like I have so much weight on my shoulders. Is this true?" Could there be a better reminder of why I'm here? Brother Whitworth said, "I struggled at first on my mission. I struggled telling people how they need to change, until I had the realization, all I'm telling them to do is be happy." He also pointed out that after 600 years of Christ being prophesied about, the first words out of his mouth were about baptism. If people could only understand that we aren't out to make people like us, count numbers, grow our church, we are out because the gospel makes us happy, and we want others to know that happiness also. The peace, joy, and strength, the hope, the love, the comfort of the spirit, the reality of Christ, the knowledge that families can be together forever.

I love you all so much! I'm super scattered brained so this email might be terrible. I hope you're getting an idea of what things are like and what I'm learning! I miss you tons!

Syster Stetler

What think ye of Christ? (10/29)

Hello family! I wrote you all a letter so I hope you get that soon! Make sure to send this to Jenni too because I forgot her email.

If Anders got me some referrals, I would be the happiest girl in the world. Who has connections to Sweden? That's right. My brother does. I'm so happy Dad and Zach got to go hunting. It's nice to get away sometimes, I'm actually really jealous! What are your plans for Thanksgiving? You all know mine, flying to Sweden! So you asked about the exercise, there are two Swede Aldstes that are crazy about exercise so sometimes I do workouts with them. Sometimes I run on the track, I ran a 6:40 mile and was happy about it, pretty pathetic. My arms are actually getting bigger from pull-ups and push-ups so that's pretty awesome. I couldn't go anywhere for exercise this week really because my companion has been sick so I just jumped rope in the hall. I love my exercise bands too. If you could send me vitamins that would be awesome! The food is hit and miss here so I feel like I could use some. Also, my asthma has been really pretty bad. I think I got dehydrated so I started drinking a ton of water (and yes, salt too Mom! :)) so that's helping some, but if you could pray for that, it would be fantastic. And Dad, I'm sorry BYU football is going terribly. I would love for you to go to a UTAH game, I think you'd really love it. And please keep Dear Elder-ing me! I look forward to it soooo much! Everyone hates me because I always have Dear Elders and packages :) (Ma sent me some chocolate!)

So this week was kind of crazy! Most of our zone is gone (Dutchies), so now it's just Swedes and Nords basically, and we are the oldest even though we've all only been here two weeks. My district is an incredibly good district, we work so hard, and both the zone leaders and STLs are in my district so we've been even more dedicated and focused with their calls. We also got a new branch president, and he reminds me just of President Hinckley! He looks just like him and smiles all the time like him. I'm excited about the changes, we will welcome in so many new Dutchies today.

So the highlight of my week was Sister Wixom (Primary General President) coming, last night. So first, some background of my week and how she was an answer to my prayers:

I started thinking about the theme in conference which I think was "care more about what God thinks than what man thinks." I started thinking about all my weaknesses and what makes me upset, and it all has to do with focusing on what people think, such as comparing myself, seeking praise, and so on. It hit me so hard, I am not really worrying about what God thinks of me, and making decisions based off that. I remembered what the President Fitts said, "Look to your Patriarchal blessing for a better understanding of who you are." Do you remember that? So as I read, I learned it talks about being close to him or coming to him for strength 13 times. To me, that's a ton. I've started asking myself during the day, "How can I please Him?" and it has led me to so much happiness. I also read this scripture that went along with the same idea, 2 Nephi 3:8
talking about Joseph Smith and it stood out to me so much, "will make him great in mine eyes." We don't make ourselves great in his eyes. I want to Him to make me great in his eyes.

So Sister Wixom talked about Christ. She kept asking, "What think ye of Christ?" She told a story when she was a missionary at a grocery store and a man said "That man on your chest is my best friend." And she said, "He's my best friend too." And he said, "I can tell by how you talk to your daughter." SO POWERFUL. First, is Christ your best friend? Second, how do you let people know? Something to think about. 

I hope someone can let President Fitts know that he was absolutely inspired when I got set apart. The three things he said that stood out to me this week were 1. obey the rules even when you don't intellectually understand 2. learn who you are from your patriarchal blessing and 3. learn from your companions

I am learning so much from my companion, teachers, and people in my zone. I love them and I love the friendship we have in the gospel, but I want you all to know that the time I spend in personal study is the most precious time I spend here. I feel that God really speaks to me here, and teaches me and corrects me. I value that. I know it's much harder for you all, but I hope you can set aside some really disciplined, uninterrupted time with your Heavenly Father. He has so much to teach you, and nothing is more important. 

I'm doing really well. I wish you were all here with me. I miss you all so much and I know I'm going to have a really hard time during the holidays, but I hope you have so much fun! 

I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. We watched the movie this week and I could never deny the testimony I've gained of the restoration of the gospel. The Book of Mormon is such evidence of the divine calling Joseph had. The Book of Mormon is true, and has answers upon answers in it's text. I hope you're taking advantage of the time God can speak with you through the Book of Mormon. I know God blesses his missionaries. It's such a wonderful thing to know that the world is praying for us, and we qualify for so many blessings when we wear this name tag. The spirit is here so strong. This church is true, and Christ stands at its head. There is no greater cause to live and endure for than building up His kingdom on Earth. 

Let me know what you think of my emails, I hope I'm telling you things you want to hear. I just feel like what I've learned is the most important. Swedish is going so well!!!! It's been a blast to learn it. I think I'm going to try a day in all Swedish here soon, wish me luck. 

Also, Candace got her mission call!?!?!?!?!? Tell her to write me, I want to hand write her. She is such a powerful example. Try to think of more that's going on! I feel out of the loop!

Love you all so much,

Syster Stetler

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alyssa's Email (October 22, 2014)

Hey Family!

Good luck in hunting! Good luck in your talks too! I love that topic, let me know what you speak about. I'm going to have to write letters too because I just have so much to say. Thanks for the quote too, it was just what I needed. Think of more things to tell me!!

Don't be stressed at all, if you could just email me Tuesdays then I can read it early, and send you one about this time! I am so happy it's PDay, all I've wanted to do all week is tell you the amazing experience I am having. I know you're probably wondering how I'm doing, I am so happy. I love it here. It's difficult, I'm transparent and all of my weaknesses are so exposed, but I love it. They say the best way you can learn is to teach, it's so true. 

My first day I was so stressed, I hated not knowing what I was doing, and I just missed home. As soon as I stepped into the MTC they told me my companion wasn't going to Sweden, she was going to Suriname, and speaking Dutch. My companion is literally going to a different continent than me! So I didn't meet her all day, but as soon as I did I loved her. Her name is Zuster Walsh and she is from California, she is a convert of just a year. How incredible is that? We have a great time even though we don't spend too much time together. We have this thing called companion inventory and talk about our strengths and weaknesses, and literally this is what she said "EMERGENCY comp inventory: You've got to stop being such a morning person, no jokes or smiles in the morning" so that was hilarious. I have been praying to wake up happy and on time, apparently I'm hated for it haha. Also, my zone tried to have comp inventory with me and say that I have too good of a sense of humor, and laugh too hard at people's jokes. So that gives you a pretty good idea of how well I'm doing.

My zone is fantastic. I should know by now, that it's in my nature to naturally get along best with whoever I would least expect to, and again, this is true. Aldste Falkner is from England and we have so much fun. We started a quote wall for everything funny that is said, and it's filling up, in Swedish, English, and Swenglish. "We thank thee for thine duck" already happened. The language is coming easier than I would have expected. I love it. I love Swedish. I love my teachers! Especially Broder Marchant. He is hilarious and we get him to speak English all the time. The other zone is all elders and it's SO crazy. We just refer to them as the goobers. We don't let them come in when we are studying, they're distraction tornadoes. 

So, I wasn't doing very good the first few days, but Sunday made all the difference. In one Sunday, I got to listen to Sister Reeves, Chad Lewis, and Elder Bednar (video). Every concern I had was addressed, which were mainly, "Can I do this? Am I cut out to be a missionary? Do I have to completely change who I am? This is hard."

Chad Lewis talked a lot about letting our light shine, even if our language will only let us give a bright smile, we can let it shine. We weren't set apart to fail, but to succeed. Sister Reeves talked about Acts 5:41-52, read and think about that for a bit. And Elder Bednar (FULL Character of Christ) talked about the difference between a testimony and conversion (think about that too.) He talked about our purpose, becoming Christlike, and turning outward. I realized how all I ever think about is "I, I, I, me, me, me, me" and I am not here for me, I am here for the people of Sweden and because I love this gospel and I want to share it. Ever since I realized that, I have been so happy. 

My testimony is growing, especially of the power of the Atonement and of the Restoration. "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" says it all, 

  1. 1. Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
    Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
    Whose wondrous pow'r hath raised me up
    And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
    What tongue my gratitude can tell,
    O gracious God of Israel.
  2. 2. Never can I repay thee, Lord,
    But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
    Hath it not been my one delight,
    My joy by day, my dream by night?
    Then let my lips proclaim it still,
    And all my life reflect thy will.
  3. 3. O'errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
    Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
    Chasten my soul till I shall be
    In perfect harmony with thee.
    Make me more worthy of thy love,
    And fit me for the life above.
 Applying the Atonement is the only reason I am able to be here. I have already overcome some struggles, the natural man is not a good missionary. Speaking of that, that's the scripture I want on my plaque. Mosiah 3:19. It explains the gospel in one verse. 

So, the reason I titled this email how I did is because the most powerful statement I heard this whole time is from my Zone Leader (from Scotland, the other from Portugal). (He sang the solo at Priesthood session, go back and watch it!!) He said the very first night we were there, "Missions are hard, they are going to be. Make your mission your own Gethsemane. The question has already been asked, "Lord, is there any other way?" 

So I love you and miss you all, but this gospel is true, and absolutely necessary to share. I feel the spirit so much here, I feel like I'm living in the temple. Within one week, it has been confirmed over and over again, that God wants me here, I'm in the right place at the right time. The church is absolutely true. 

Jag alskar ni. 

Syster Stetler

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This is my farewell talk I gave as I’m getting ready to serve in the Sweden Stockholm mission. 
(September 14, 2014)


I want to talk about change, but there is so much in life that we don’t want to change. We don’t want to change our goodness, personalities, talents, or our love for God.

But change is at the core of the gospel. We are here to learn and progress and ultimately return to live with God. In King Benjamin’s address, he teaches:

Mosiah 3:19, and I want you to think, what if the verse ended here?

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever.

That would be a devastating scripture to me. I long to live with God again and have Him be close to me. But what does it say afterwards?

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.
  1. Yields to enticings of the Holy Spirit
  2.   Putteth off the natural man
  3.   Becometh a saint through the atonement of Jesus Christ

King Benjamin taught so many wonderful things in his address, including the coming of Jesus Christ, service, and repentance. (Mosiah 2-4)

Afterwards, he wanted to know how his message was received, if it had changed the hearts of the people.
Mosiah 5: 1-2

And now, it came to pass that when King Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

The Spirit of the Lord is what wrought the mighty change in the hearts of the people. And this is the best example of putting off the natural man I can think of. No more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

Another example of change I love is Alma. Noah was just appointed king, and he was not a righteous king. (Mosiah 11:1-4) He appointed all new priests and we’ll read what they were like. Mosiah 11: 5-6

For he put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts.
Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.

Abinadi was a prophet of God and was commanded to preach God’s commandments and make known the wickedness that they were leading the people in. (Mosiah 11: 20-21) He taught of the 10 commandments, Christ, the atonement, and more. (Mosiah 11-16) King Noah’s reaction was to kill him (Mosiah 17:1), but Alma’s reaction was much different.
Mosiah 17:2

But there was one among them whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. And he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken, for he knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified against them; therefore he began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi, but suffer that he might depart in peace.

And I took the footnote to Alma 5:11-12, where Alma’s son (Alma the younger) explains his father’s conversion.

11 Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
How does conference or listening to a prophet make you feel? Do you desire to change and become better? I always do. Imagine a prophet speaking directly to you. The spirit would speak change to your heart.

Now I want to share a few modern day stories. The first was given in a fireside called the Missionary Next Door. She is talking more about helping others experience the change you have, and continue to experience.
This story is about two LDS high school sisters who went to high school in Wisconsin. I’m going to tell it from the Diana, the younger sister’s perspective.

One night we decided we were going to go out and go dancing. So we pulled my sister out of the books and got her all dressed up, did her hair, did her make up. As we were there dancing, she kind of started to hook up with this guy. This was fun for her, but the funny thing was, I knew who this guy was, but she didn’t know who he was, and he didn’t know who she was. He was from another high school, most people knew who he was because he had been kicked out of almost every high school in the Greater Madison area. This guy was an all-state athlete, he was a great soccer player, but he was also a total hardcore party guy, and here is my sweet sister who is national honor society totally brainy and innocent, and here they are dancing, totally digging each other. I’m sitting in the corner laughing watching this opposites attract thing going on. Afterwards, I just thought it was too funny, and I didn’t tell her who he was, and we were getting in the car and she said “I hope he calls me.” And I was like “How would he call you?!” She said “I gave him my number!” I said “WHAT!!?! He’s a total stranger, you gave a total stranger your number??!” “I don’t know he asked, so I gave it to him!” “It’s ok he’s not going to call, how many people call the phone numbers they get out dancing?? It’ll be fine…” It was Saturday night, the next day was Sunday, and after church the phone rings, and it’s him” “I go RUNNING down the stairs and grab my mom and dad and say “Ok, I did a bad thing, I shouldn’t have let it go on, but I let it go on. This guy is really wild.” “Now Diana, everyone’s a child of God, the gospel is for everyone.” I go back up and listen to the phone call, I can tell what’s going on: he’s asking if she’s doing anything that night and she says “I can’t, Sunday night is family night- but we do have a fireside at my church tonight.” And I’m thinking, that’ll take care of that, she’s inviting him to church! And I hear her say “Ok great, it’s at 7:00, be here at 6:30.” I’m thinking no way this guy is going to church with us. He pulls up in a Camaro, he’s smoking a cigarette, puts it out. I’m thinking no way this is happening. We pile up and go to the stake center, and we get in there, we sit down, and we’re watching the video (the Prodigal son), it’s a great video, so I was just getting enveloped in the show, and about halfway through all the sudden I remembered that this guy’s with us, and I wanted to look over and see what his reaction was, because I’m sure I’m going to look over and see him just dead asleep. And I looked over, and I triple took him, tears were streaming down his face. I remember looking back down at the floor thinking, “No way is this guy feeling the spirit” and I looked at his eyes and they were just fixed, and I could just tell his heart was bustin’. I remember we got home and he sat down with my sister and folks and they talked about the gospel for couple hours. This is the kind of guy that never meets a girl’s parents. He started taking the discussions, and he got baptized. To show you how serious the change of this guy was, when he got baptized, he decided to go on a mission, and he served a full time mission in Spain and was an amazing missionary. When he got his mission call he made the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal headlined, “Mormon Church Changes Life” He served a great mission, returned home and married in the temple.

Now I want to talk about the latter part of Mosiah 3:19, becoming a saint through the atonement of Christ- but it’s all interconnected.

I want to now share a little bit about my dad’s conversion story, I asked him a lot of questions yesterday.

My parents were newly married, and my mom had just had Zach and started making the church a priority and hoped my dad –a nonmember-would want to too, and he didn’t. She was thinking, “I want the priesthood in my home, I need an eternal family.” She prayed for him faithfully for a year before she noticed any softening of his heart.

So I asked, “What made the change?”

I love what he said to me. He said, “I wasn’t happy with who I was. I wanted to make changes, I had a family and wanted to be a good example and be there for my kids.” He said, “I kept setting goals that kept falling through. I felt completely hopeless and I knew I couldn’t make the changes myself.”
How many of you feel like that? I feel like that all the time. “I can’t do this alone.”
He said he got on his knees, and said a prayer the best he could, and things started falling into place.
Experiences later, he took the discussions and felt the truth of the words, repented, and was baptized. He told me he felt like his past was buried and he was forgiven.

One of my favorite parts of the story is that my dad was baptized June 22, 1993, and I was born June 22, 1994, the day we could enter the temple and be sealed together as a family. (It takes a year after baptism to be able to enter the temple.)

We talked more and my dad said “You might not know, Alyssa, because you’ve been raised in the church, but the natural man wants to cheat, lie, steal, and get revenge. The spirit really taught me right from wrong.”
My dad used the power of the atonement to change and become who he wanted to become. His unreachable goals became reachable and he is the best dad I could ever ask for.

This experience felt a lot like Alma, explaining his conversion to his son Helaman. (Alma 36) He, like my dad, said, “Look, I’ve made mistakes, I repented, and I never looked back.”

 For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.
 And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.
 And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
 10 And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.
 12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
 13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
 17 Behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
 18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
 20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
 21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

This changed Alma from “seeking to destroy the church of God” to “preaching the word of God in much tribulation” and “exhorting them with long-suffering and much travail to keep the commandments of God.” (Mosiah 27: 32, 33)

One of my favorite quotes is from the talk “Change: It’s always a possibility”

“A caterpillar asks, “How does one become a butterfly?”
The answer: “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

So, what are you willing to give up being so that you can fly? Your spirit wants to fly! Your spirit remembers your premortal assignments and aspirations. What are you willing to give up believing so that you can be all you really are—all that you committed you would be?

Perhaps the words of Lorenzo Snow will help. He said:
Jesus was a god before he came into the world and yet his knowledge was taken from him. He did not know his former greatness, neither do we know what greatness we had attained to before we came here, but he had to pass through an ordeal, as we have to, without knowing or realizing at the time the greatness and importance of his mission and works. [Lorenzo Snow, in First Presidency, President’s Office Journals, 1899–1901, 8 October 1900, pp. 181–82, Archives Division, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City; cited in Truman G. Madsen, The Highest in Us (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1978), p. 9]”

I want to close with the idea of structural coupling, that the more time you spend with someone, the more alike them you become, using similar jokes, phrases, and ideas. We normally think of this idea with friends and family. But what if we were structurally coupled with Christ?

“The Savior entreats us to come unto him. He wants us to come close to him. He wants us to have increasingly repeated interactions with him and to really get to know him.
According to the sociological principle, our increased interactions with the Lord will lead to increased feelings for him—which will lead us to want more interactions with him. And, according to the biological principle of structural coupling, our increased interactions with the Savior will lead to our increasingly becoming like him.
And because he never changes, the changes that would occur through our interaction with the Savior would all be in us.

As we increase our interactions with the Savior—as we really come unto him—we can become like him.”
We can spend time with Christ by reading of him, praying to Him, living worthy of His spirit. I testify that the as you seek the spirit, you will know what you can change, and have strength through Christ to change. The Book of Mormon, partaking of the sacrament, prayer, and keeping all the commandments all change lives because, in doing these things, we are drawing the spirit near, and also drawing Christ near. If Christ can cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the dead to rise, he can cause us to speak kind words, love one another, and “putteth off the natural man”.

Jeffrey R. Holland asked at a stake conference, “If the Book of Mormon isn’t true, then how does it change so many lives?” I’d like to pose the same question about this church, and about coming unto Christ. How then, are so many lives changed?

The spirit testifies of truth, and for that reason, I know that this church is true, and that Christ lives, and He atoned for us individually so that we could turn to Him and he could heal us.

 I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.