Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Everyone cross your fingers...

Hey everyone :) So I'm sorry in advance but this week is going to be a short letter! The main reason why it's going to be a short one this week is because I literally have been sleeping for the better part of this week! haha First of all I just want to thank you all so much for your prayers that you all have been sending my way since the surgery!! This recovery has been one of the more painful ones that I have been through in my life, but I literally can feel the prayers that being sent my way and they make each day a day that I can handle and each day with all of your prayers gets a little bit easier to handle. So from the very bottom of my heart, thank you all so very much for all of your love!

Basically this week has consisted of me living on painkillers and waking up just long enough to take some more and then heading back to bed! ha Also I have had the opportunity to lost 20 pounds, which is 20 pounds that really needed to be lost! Now I actually have a chance at getting my 6 pack back before I head to Cambodia and turn into a stick! :) ha The MTC has been doing a good job at making sure I am ok and eating at least something small for each meal. But needless to say I am very excited to be putting the MTC experience behind me this next week! I meet with the ENT doctor on Thursday, and he decides whether or not I am good enough to head to Cambodia. So please everyone, pray that either the doctor will say that I am good enough to go or that I won't get sentenced to prison for punching a doctor in the mouth! :) Maybe I could serve my mission in the penitentiary system? :) haha

Alright, well, that's all for me this week. I'm sorry it's so short, but next week I will try to add a little more to my message!! Just know I love you all and above all that I know this Church is true!! I love it more than anything and I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to go and share the wonderful message of Christ with people that need to hear that they are loved!! Love you all!

Until next week!
Elder Steadman

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sore throat, sad heart

Hello everyone!! So from what I hear my mom has been on top of things (as usual) and informed you all that I am not in Cambodia this week. Unfortunately, since I have been in the MTC I have been battling a sore throat and have been on some medicine to try and get me feeling better. But after the fourth antibiotic they gave me I was still not feeling 100%, so they decided it would be best if I got my tonsils removed so that I do not have throat problems during my entire mission. So Monday I went in for surgery and I was lucky enough to see my amazing parents! They are seriously so awesome! As far as I can remember, the doctor said that the surgery went very well and he basically told me to plan on some really tough days this week, but in 2 weeks I would start to feel normal again. As frustrating as that was to hear, I have so much respect for doctors that are just brutally honest with you! ha He was correct. These past couple days have definitely not been the easiest, but I have learned a lot of valuable lessons of patience and trusting in the Lord.

When I woke up from the anesthesia I was crying, and for those of you that know me, you know that I am just not a crier. So when I found out that I was crying I started to cry even harder haha, and then I saw that my best friend/companion was not in the room with me so I started to cry and tell the nurse that I needed Elder Q! She was nice enough to let him come in and when he came in, that was the first time I remembered my best friend was going to be leaving me the next day… so of course I started crying even harder :) ha This was quite embarrassing because it was the first time he had ever seen my cry, but I was on a ton of medication and there was no stopping the tears haha! Anyways, the first day after surgery was not so bad, but on Tuesday I woke up with a very small throat! We all woke up at 3:30 a.m. because Elder Vu had to be to the travel office at 4:00 so we all walked with him and gave him big hugs and watched him head onto the bus. So that was the first hard goodbye of the day! ha We then went back to bed for a couple hours and then Elder Q and I got dressed up so we could take pictures with our teachers, and then Elder Q dropped me off at the medical center where I could rest and sleep all day. Then 2:30 finally rolled around and it was time for me to say goodbye to the stud who I have come to love and become best friends with over the past 9 weeks. The goodbye was very tough, but I got a big hug and he said that he would see me real soon and that helped! I am so lucky that I am going to a small mission where the chances of seeing him again are super high, and maybe if we work hard enough we can become companions once more :)

Anyways, this week has been a little rough and I am just taking each day one step at a time, but I really can feel the prayers coming from all of the people at home and I appreciate it so very much! :) I'm sorry if this letter does not make any sense. I am on some heavy medication and I forget what I am talking about when I am half way through a sentence so I don't even dare re-read this to know if it makes sense or not ha. But I love you all so much and I know that the Lord is aware of all of us and he is aware of our situations. Even when we think that things happen to us on accident, and that this could not possibly have a purpose, He has His reasons for why things happen when they do. Even though it can be confusing at some times in our lives, I have found that usually later down the road He reveals to us why things turned out the way that they did. Please continue to keep my in your prayers! Thanks so much!

All my love,
Elder Steadman

Chillin' in the medical center at the MTC

Best friends

The Cambodian missionaries (Elder Tran in the dark suit is
also going to Cambodia- Vietnamese speaking)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Officially tonsil-less

Austin's tonsillectomy went well. The doctor said this next week will be a painful one for him, so I'm sure he will appreciate our continued prayers in his behalf. Joel and I were able to be there before and after the surgery, and it was wonderful to see him and to get to meet Elder Quirante, as well as his other two roommates (Elder Vu and Elder Tran). In addition to learning Khmer and the gospel, it sounds like they have found plenty of time for practical jokes and loads of fun! He has truly made the most wonderful friends in the MTC!

Austin is now recovering at the MTC. They are anticipating that if his healing goes well, he will leave to Cambodia on May 6th. Today is the day that his group leaves to Cambodia and that he has to say goodbye to his brother, Elder Q. My heart is hurting knowing how much his heart will be hurting today. I know that he is where he wants to be though, and that this is just a little delay, and that gives me comfort. Before we left the surgical center, he asked Joel and I if we wanted to say a prayer. He then asked if we would mind if he said it in Khmer. It was so beautiful to hear him pour out his heart in his new language; I am the proudest mom on the planet!

Austin and Elder Q before his surgery… they
think they are very funny! They're right!!!

Austin looked down as he was laying in the bed and was thrilled to notice his hospital gown had a pocket. He said to Q, "Elder, get me my badge so I can rep it during the surgery!!!" And he did :)

He was a little worried that the anesthesia would make him forget all of the language he has learned the past nine weeks. In truth, he was mumbling things in Khmer before he had been in the recovery room even 5 minutes! As they were wheeling him out to the van to take him back to the MTC, he was busy teaching Joel and I about some insights he had recently about the Book of Mormon and committing us to try harder to seek out opportunities to teach the gospel. How I love my cute little missionary!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Change in plans...

So… come to find out, Austin has been sick pretty much the whole time he's been in the MTC. They've tried multiple rounds of antibiotics for his strep throat, but have finally determined that his tonsils have to come out :( He is taking the news like a champ. Quite frankly, a lot better than his mother! He will be getting surgery on Monday and will be delayed getting to Cambodia by a couple of weeks while he recovers. He will stay at the MTC and will miss heading out with his buddies, but he's definitely trying to look at the bright side. His teachers have promised to come give him one-on-one language training while he's recovering, which he says he can really use! AND April is apparently the hottest month of the year in Cambodia, but now he won't be there till May :)

This week when we emailed, I asked Austie if he had any Easter requests (thinking of an Easter package). His response was, "No Easter requests!! Jesus already atoned for all of our sins so that's about as good as it gets as far as presents go for me!! :)" He's so dialed in… I think he will make the best of the situation. Thank you for everyone's love, support, and prayers for Austin. He is having a wonderful mission experience, and I have faith that Heavenly Father will be with him through this little bump in the road.

Elder Strep Throat's Mom

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sad goodbyes, happy anticipation

Hey everyone!! Man the weeks have just flown right by! I can hardly believe that my next p-day I will be emailing you all from Cambodia!!! IT'S HERE!!!! Nine weeks have really gone by so fast and now the time that I never thought would come is right at my front door! So this week has been filled with so much emotion I don't really even know how to describe all my feelings to you all, but I will do my best! When I very first got here I became friends with a lot of cool people, but throughout my life I have become friends with all kinds of wonderful people for short periods of time. But usually when it's time to say goodbye, I am ok to move on with my life! This was not at all the case this last week saying goodbye to the Cantonese elders. Never in my entire life did I think that I could become so close to a group of young men in such a short period of time. This week before they left I was doing as best as I possibly could to not think about them leaving and just enjoy the time that we had together! We really did have a blast this last week before they left, and I laughed harder this last week than the entire time that I have been here! We kind of started a little game where we would see how many small and insignificant, but funny, pranks we could pull on each other! From throwing a bucket of cold water on them where we were showering to leaving all the boxes of packages we have been given stacked outside their door. It really was a week full of laughing!

When Sunday finally rolled around, we all came to the realization that this was going to be our last day with each other for at least a couple of years. It was hard to hide the emotions as they stood in Sacrament Meeting and sang, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. It was very hard to say goodbye to all of my loved ones at home, but the feeling that I felt was different than that. It was so much sorrow because I have come to love all of these Elders, but at the same time my heart was filled with happiness and knowledge of the fact that these amazing young men get to go and spread the work of the Lord to the people in Hong Kong. I knew that as bad as it was going to hurt to see them all go, that the people in Hong Kong needed them more than I needed them. That night we took a million pictures together and we did this with the hope that if we kept on smiling for pictures we would not have the time to cry. ha That night we gave them a key to our room and told them to come and wake us up when they were leaving (because they were leaving at 2:30 a.m.) and give us a hug before they left. They came in that morning and gave us all big hugs, and just like that, they shut the door behind them and were gone. I remember that when I was a kid, I would watch my dad go to work. I would get up out of bed and see him drive off out the window, and I would get a small lump in my throat because I already missed him so much. It was the first time that I have felt that feeling in quite a few years. As they closed the door, I had a huge lump in my throat and I wanted to jump up out of bed and run after them and tell them not to go because I would miss them too much if they left! I hate that feeling that you get when no matter what you say, no matter how many times you hug them, you never get the goodbye that you were looking for! I felt like I should have said more or done more to show them my love! I really do miss them so much still, but the knowledge that I have of them going and doing the Lord's work really does make it so much easier to see them gone! As I said earlier, this week really has been filled with so much emotion, happy and sad, that it has truly been a draining week!

As far as good news goes, both of the investigators that Elder Q and I are teaching here have committed to baptism and will be getting baptized on the 20th! So we are super excited for both of them! :) Other than that, I really don't have any exciting or fun news for you all, but I can pretty much guarantee that I will have some very exciting/scary/"is this real life!?" news for you next week! :)

Before I go I just want to let you all know that I know that this church is true!! We had the honor of hearing from Elder Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles this last Tuesday, and it truly was a spiritual experience!! We sang the song, "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go", and the Spirit was so overpowering I could hardly get the words out of my mouth! I am so happy to be at the point in my life where I can say to my Heavenly Father that "I will go where you want me to go". I love my Heavenly Father so much and I love my brother Jesus Christ! I am so grateful for his atoning sacrifice! I read a scripture this last week in 2 Nephi 9:7-10. It explains what our life would be life if the Savior did not come down to Earth and atone for all of our sins. When I read it, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I had a small moment where I realized how significant that sacrifice really was! I am so grateful for Christ and I love him so very much!! I have had to say goodbye to so many amazing people the last couple years of my life, and I can promise you that I would not have put myself through all of that heartache if I didn't know of a surety that this is God's true church, again restored on the Earth today! I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet! I admire his courage every single day and am still in amazement at the bravery he had starting at such a young age! I love you all so much! You are all in my prayers and I love hearing from all of you! The support you give me through your letters and prayers is what helps me stay strong all day long! I can't wait to let you know how next week goes!! Wish me luck!!!

Until next time (in Cambodia!!!!)
Elder Steadman

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pass downs and a Conference high

Another week has already flown by!! So crazy!! This week has seriously been so awesome!!! So before I get into the spiritual stuff I have to share some funny stuff!! This week half of our Zone is getting ready to leave to Hong Kong! They leave on Monday, which seriously sucks so bad! We have all had lumps in our throats this whole week because we all just want to cry that this is coming to an end! I have made so many lifelong friends since I have been here that I could not be dreading it anymore to say goodbye to them, but at the same time I am just so happy for them!! Anyways, so there is a little tradition here called "pass downs". Over the years at the MTC missionaries have left things behind as they go to their missions, and some of these things have been "passed down" from "generation to generation". So this week we had an absolute blast receiving some of the pass downs that came from missionaries before us! We spent an hour or so receiving all of these outrageous pass downs, but the very best pass down of all was given to Elder Q and I and it's a 4 inch thick foam mattress!!!! I slept on it last night and it was like I was sleeping on a memory foam mattress!!! UNBELIEVABLE!! Elder Q gets it tomorrow night and we are just going to switch off every night :)

So anyways, to the more important things!! This week was General Conference!! Holy cow it was so incredible! After Conference was over on Sunday I was trying to think of how I wanted to talk about everything and I figured the best way to do that would be to write down my thoughts and then just quote them to you later. So this is going to be weird but I am going to quote myself for a little while haha :) Here are the thoughts that I had and wrote down following Conference:

Wow! This has seriously been such an awesome experience! I think that if you compiled all of my notes from all of the General Conferences I have every watched, I would still have more notes from today! My hand has never hurt so bad! However the pain was well worth it! The Spirit has been so strong, and the Lord has blessed me with answers to a lot of the questions that I had going into Conference. So every talk that was given these past two days was amazing, but there are a few things that I would like to talk about! The thing that I really felt like the Lord was trying to tell me was that we need to Love and we need to Teach.

Obviously I am in missionary mode so I may be getting things that not a lot of other people got out of it, but I felt like this topic was in a great number of talks!! One thing that I have had a problem with is that when I try to teach others about the gospel- I force feed, and then I expect them to be able to feel the Spirit testify to them that what I just shoved in their face is true haha. This is NEVER how God intends His word to be taught to His children! God loves agency! This is our gift from God- given to us to choose as we will. God wants all of His children to come back and live with Him again someday, but it would completely go against everything that He said in the beginning if He told us what to do. We know that God does not go against His word because He says in the scriptures that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The thing that I realized is that God also expects us to let people have their agency!! He cannot give me the Spirit to relay the truthfulness of His message if I do not obey and respect one of life's greatest gifts! I really liked what Elder Richard G. Scott reminded me of. He said, "We all grow line upon line." Sometimes I forget that people will not have an unshakeable testimony over night!! It requires diligent scripture study and sincere prayers to our Heavenly Father over time, asking for help to understand the truth of what we are reading. I need to focus on helping to make the relationship between the people I am teaching and their Heavenly Father stronger than the relationship between them and I. I have been told today to have more faith in  my Heavenly Father! He will be able to touch hearts better than I will ever be able to, so I need to trust in Him and know that He has the power to change hearts. This does not mean, however, that I can just wait for investigators to fall right into my lap! I have to do what Elder Holland said and "stand up for what we believe in." That might not always be easy, but we will see blessings come from it! And second is we just have to love! This one I feel like is not very hard for me at all to do! Being here at the MTC, I have so much love for all of the people that are around me! I also think about the people that are at home! I wish that I could just share everything that I learn in here with everyone back home!

Well, to close I just want to share my testimony. I am so grateful for the knowledge that my Heavenly Father has given to me! I am so grateful and lucky that He trusted me with this wonderful message and the opportunity to go and share it with the people of Cambodia! I am so grateful for the courage of Joseph Smith. I know that he saw what he said he saw. I love what Elder Corbridge said about Joseph Smith. He explained that we will all have to decide if the Book of Mormon came from God or if it came from man. I encourage whoever reads this book to decide if it's the word of God or if it is the word of man. Elder Holland once said, "No evil man could write this book, and no good man would, unless it were true." I know that Joseph Smith was a man of God. I have received my own witness of that, and I have a firm testimony that anyone who truly desires that witness can receive it as well. Today is the exact day that Jesus Christ was born onto this Earth. Today is also that day that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was established back on the Earth. I know this is the true church! I am so grateful to have a prophet that leads and guides our church! I am so grateful for the power of the priesthood and the trust that God has in me, allowing me to use His sacred power to bless others! I know Christ lives and I cannot wait to go and share the good message with the Cambodian people. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Well, I guess today I'll echo the testimony of myself from last Sunday haha! I know this Church is true and I am so grateful to be a part of it! :) I love you all so very much! Thank you for all of your love and support and I cannot wait to talk to you all next week!! Twelve more days and I will be sending my letters from Cambodia!!! YA BUDDY!!!

Much love,
Elder Steadman :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Haircuts, getting "choked up", and special visitors

Wow! This week has seriously been so awesome!!!! Where to start?!! Ok just kidding, that’s an easy decision!! Let’s start with haircuts!!! So this week Elder Q and I decided that we needed to get haircuts. We are kind of at that awkward stage where we kind of have to get one now because we are required to get one when we leave, but we can’t wait that long because our hair will be way too long! So we decided this week was as good a week as any to go grab a haircut! Anyways, so we went to go get them, and Elder Q was called back there first. Elder Q and I both asked for a 2 on the bottom faded to a 3, and then to leave it decently long at the top. Sorry for those of you that don’t know hair lingo :) But anyways, the lady started to cut his hair and I wasn’t really looking over at all because I was too focused on making sure my lady did not ruin my luscious locks :) Anyways, I ended up finishing first so I was out in the waiting room, and then I see Elder Q turn the corner and it literally looks like he is headed to join the marines! hahahahahaha As soon as he turned the corner I start to laugh and so I had to hurry and run from the salon so they couldn’t hear me! The whole way back to our rooms I was dying laughing as he was doing everything within his power to maintain missionary conduct!!! hahaha It was seriously so funny!! All he kept on saying was, "THE NERVE OF THAT LADY!!!!" hahaha I seriously got a 6 pack that day from just laughing! Needless to say it was definitely not the haircut that he was looking for!! He still looks like a stud but just a little more “Missionary Standard” than I think he was looking for! haha

As far as other historic news here at the MTC, we heard from our teacher that Cambodians really like tomatoes. For those of you who know me at all, you know that I HATE tomatoes!! But this week Elder Q and I decided that we better give them a chance if we are going to have to eat them in Cambodia! So we left the tomato on our hamburgers for one of our meals this week...not gonna lie- I had to choke it down, but I did do it!! We are going to wait for a little while to do it again because it scared me a little bit, but I am willing to give it another shot!!! :)

Ok- now for the awesome part of the week!! :) So every Saturday we go to something called TRC and basically it is where return missionaries will come and you have the opportunity to go and teach them a small spiritual thought and visit with them! They don’t play any investigator role, they just are who they are so it’s super nice! Anyways, this kid named Ryan has come every week to visit us and he is super cool, but he is kind of hard to read and doesn’t really share anything personal with us, which is totally fine! So this week it ended up just being him that showed up to the meeting and so we had decided that we wanted to teach about faith and the blessings that can come from being faithful. Throughout the lesson we quite frequently asked him how he felt about what we were talking about (because that’s what you do when you don’t know how to speak a language), and he kept on giving us just these small one word replies and no information to really work off of. We didn’t really know where to go with the we kept asking more questions :) haha Eventually we asked a question and I don’t know exactly what it was, but there was a long pause. Then he asked us a question without answering the question we had asked him. He told us that he was going through a lot of trials in his life and that he was not seeing any blessings from all of these trials that he was going through, and he asked us when was he going to see the blessings come out of all of this! Immediately as soon as he said that, I knew exactly what I wanted to share with him! We turned to D&C 121. For those of you who don’t know anything about this chapter, this is when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail. The conditions were awful and the people of the church were under an extreme amount of persecution at the time. In the beginning verses Joseph Smith is crying out to the Lord and he is asking him where art Thou, and how much longer do we have to suffer? It’s a point where even the Prophet of the Church cannot fully see what God has in store for him and the people of the Church. But in verses 8 and 9, Jesus Christ answers Joseph and says, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." After we had read this he seemed satisfied with the answer that we gave him, but I could not tell (especially speaking in khmai) if we had affected him in the way that we had hoped. Anyways, after that we closed with a prayer and after Elder Q had finished saying the prayer, Ryan asked for permission to speak in English for a second and we of course said yes ha. He then told us that today he wanted us to know that we really did make an impact in his life, and that the scriptures and thoughts and testimonies that we bore today helped him through the rough times that he really is going through. He then said that if we can find a way to help him with all of his crazy problems, that he knows for a fact that we will be able to do amazing things in Cambodia and that he knows we will be able to touch lives there. It was really hard not crying because it was just what I needed to hear as well! The mission is awesome, but it’s sure not easy and I would definitely be lying to you all if I told you I was never homesick! I would be lying if I told you that every single minute of every day I am excited to be a missionary!! We all have trials and we all have things that sometimes we don’t completely understand. Sometimes it’s hard to know why something so awful could happen to us, but God knows the reason why, and even though he doesn’t always tell us why it’s happening the way that it is, he does promise us that we will be exalted on high if we endure well!! I know that to be true!!!  

Well if that would have been the end of the week it would have been a great week, but at Sunday nights devotional we were spoiled even more!!! The person assigned to talk was Brother Elliot (he is the guy that plays the organ in General Conference) and so for his talk he played the organ and then shared a story and then played the organ and shared another story and it was so awesome!! He told us that awhile ago he got in an accident and his right arm was completely immobile so he could not play the piano with his he learned to play with his feet....ha! It was unbelievable!!! He literally played an entire song with just his feet!! It was so awesome!! Oh yeah, and I forgot one tiny detail!! He had a guest with him that had just gotten back home from his mission a week ago. I don’t know if you will have heard of him or not…his name was Brother David Archuleta?!!! Yeah, I told you this week was amazing! He bore testimony to us of the power of missionary work and you could tell that he was such a solid missionary! We then got to hear his first concert since he has been back from the Mission and it was absolutely unbelievable!!! The Spirit was so strong and it was a devotional that I will never forget for the rest of my life! President and Sister Nally (the MTC Presidents) are ironically my good friend JM's grandparents, and JM's family was also at that devotional!! So after it was over I went and said hi to them, and they went and snuck us into the backroom where David Archuletta was. It was a little crowded and there were a million people taking pictures, but I caught his eye and he smiled at me and looked at my tag and smiled brighter and I smiled back at him, and that was better than a picture for me!

So overall, this week has been such an amazing spiritual week and I have been so blessed to be here and learn so much about the gospel!!! If there is one thing that I have taken out of all this week and what I feel has been most stressed, it’s that the Book of Mormon can answer questions of the soul!! I have found that when I start reading the Book of Mormon with a question or purpose in mind that Heavenly Father will help answer those questions through the Book of Mormon!! I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!! I invite everyone today to read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and pray and talk to your Heavenly Father! He wants to hear from all His children ALWAYS!!! I love you all so very much and appreciate your love and support so very much!!! 

All my love,
Elder Steadman