Monday, May 26, 2014

Perspiration & hastening the work

Hello everyone! :) So first off, I just want to apologize for the technical difficulties I had last week! I feel super bad for my poor mom! She just wants to hear all about my first week in a 3rd world country and all she gets is a paragraph saying that I am alive and doing well! Ha Sorry mom!! This week the Internet seems to be doing a lot better so I hope to be able to give you all a decent update of these last two crazy weeks!! It's hard to pick a place to start, but I figure the weather is as good a place as any. One thing I'm starting to wish I brought with me is a coat!! Man, it's so cold here! It's so cold it almost feels hot!! It sometimes feels as if it's 90 degrees with 100% humidity... oh wait, it is! haha So pretty much I sweat around the clock here! I sweat in places that I did not even know I had! And when I am not sweating I am... well actually, I don't know yet. I will get back to you on that! haha So yeah, it's super hot, but all the white people sweat here so it's all good! ha

No he didn't just splash his face with water... pure sweat :)

This last week has been so awesome! I have to tell you about a few people who are in the pictures I sent. The one with just a guy and me making weird faces is Simong. He is so awesome! We are best buddies and he is so funny! He always wants to teach me Khmer but he knows very little English so we run into a bit of a problem when it comes to learning so we end up just playing a lot of charades :) haha The other pics of the cute kids are the Bong Narit family! Holy cow they are so cute and so fun to be with! They always make fun of me because I don't know a lot of Khmer, but I am starting to catch on to what they are saying so now they have to be careful about what they say! ha They are the cutest kids and when they are not joking around with me, they are feeding me mangos! ha They freakin love those things here!! To be honest, I am starting to enjoy them as well!! :)

As far as investigators go, we are teaching someone named Bonyaa and she is a rock star!! She was so ready to hear what we had to say and accepted the invitation to be baptized on June 29th!! No one in her family is a member of the Church and they don't really want to learn either, but she told us that despite some of those trials she is going through at home, she has prayed and knows this is what she needs to be doing. Her faith is amazing! Some of the things that she is going through and choosing to change in order to receive baptism are truly unbelievable! She is a confirmation to me that if she can do these hard things, then so can I! Another opportunity I had this week was to go read to a member named Ohm Nara. He is completely blind so we are his only way for being able to read the scriptures. He is so nice and super funny! He loves using his hands when he talks, which means you have to be on your toes at all times because he cannot see if he is about to smack you in the face or not! ha But he loves hearing the scriptures and he knows them super well! He can help me with words while I am trying to read without even seeing them! ha It's pretty amazing!

Ok, so one funny story before I get to the exciting news! So I forgot to mention this tiny little detail last week, but the second day I was here I was sitting on the toilet and then I noticed that we were out of toilet paper. So embarrassed, I yelled out to my new companions to toss me in a new roll of toilet paper. They both started to laugh and then continued to tell me that the hose to my right was my new form of toilet paper for the next 2 years. The hose is the exact same as the one that you probably have to the right of your kitchen sink faucet. Needless to say I was quite hesitant at first, but there was no turning back now! Long story short, I quite enjoy the washer now! I can't really see myself ever going back to toilet paper! :)

Ok, big news this week! TWO NEW STAKES IN CAMBODIA!!!!! Elder Funk from the Presidency of the Seventy came to set apart the first 2 stakes in Cambodia, and he spoke on how Cambodia is the definition of hastening the work, which is so cool and so true! Next week we celebrate the Church being in Cambodia for 20 years and we already have 2 stakes!! It truly is a miracle, but it's only going to get better! The people here are so humble and so ready to hear the gospel! I bear testimony to you all that these people are some of God's most chosen children! They have been given almost nothing, and yet they thank their God for everything! I truly cannot yet comprehend how and why. The only thing I can come up with is that they can see the big picture so much better than I can. I love these people so much and I have no idea what I did to deserve such a wonderful and humbling experience as this, but I am forever grateful to my Heavenly Father for it.

I bear testimony to you all that this is the Church of Jesus Christ again restored on the earth today. I know this with all of my heart and I know that if you listen to what the missionaries have to say, it will only make your life better! I know that Satan will do everything in his power to stop you from discovering this TRUE form of happiness. Don't buy into that! God has a wonderful plan for all of us and we can all learn about this plan through God's messengers. I challenge everyone to try and find a time where the missionaries can come over and teach you! Whether you are a member or not, I know that the message they have to share with you will bless your life! I know that the message they will bring to you is from God! I know this because I receive a confirmation of that every time I teach! I love my mission and I love being able to spread the work of the Lord! I miss you all so much, but I would not want to be anywhere else right now! I can't wait to tell you all about the 20th Anniversary next week! I love you all!

Elder Steadman

P.S. (from Mindy) There are a bunch of new pics posted under More Pictures on the blog :)

He's been able to see Elder Q a few times... so cool!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

First week, no sweat! (haha)

Holy cow first week in Cambodia yo!!!! So first off I have to apologize to you all because I literally have like no time to write!! We went to a computer place this week that ended up not working for like 2 hours, and we have to go to a singing practice thing for the 20th anniversary celebration so I only have like 5 minutes to try to tell you what's going on in my first week!! Ahhhh pressure's on!! haha So first off it is seriously, hilariously hot here!! I sweat when I think about how hot it is here!! haha Pretty much this last week I constantly look like I just got out of the shower haha :) The people here think it's so funny, but they are so nice because they always turn on their fans for me because I am sweating so profusely haha!!

The people are absolutely amazing!! They are so nice to me and they give me a little bit of crap because I don't know how to speak the language, but they are so nice and everyone loves everyone so much, which is awesome!! The kids are seriously so dang cute!! I want to bring all of them home with me! They all make fun of my language and tell me I don't understand Khmer...which I don't, but it's so funny and it's so fun to go and play with them all!!! Everyone loves my white skin here!! Everyone I look at smiles and giggles when I pass! haha Moms turn their babies' around so they can see the tall white guy riding his bike! It's so awesome! I feel so loved :) It's so fun to just go meet different people! Real people with real lives that really change when they come into the Church!! I am so lucky because in just the short week that I have been here, I have already seen people change and become closer to their God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It's so amazing!

Here's my one funny story for you all this week. There is a member named Simong and he is so awesome! We are good friends. But anyway, Simong is trying to learn English and so I decided I thought it would be cool if I gave him a copy of the English Book of Mormon so he could start reading it! In the lesson I said, "Simong, I have a gift for you!" and handed him the Book of Mormon, but what I really said was, "Simong, I have a rat for you!" hahahahahaha He was dying and of course I was quite embarrassed, but you just gotta fake it till you make it here! haha I love the people, I love sweating, and I love my mission!! Thanks so much for everyone's support! I will have a good letter for you all next week when there are not so many computer problems! As well as pictures!!

All my love,
Elder Steadman

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A full and grateful heart

Holy Cow!! Is this real life!?!? haha Now I know that I have been in the MTC longer than I really should have been, but looking back on it now it seems like I have not had NEARLY as much time as I truly need here!! I have come to realize over the past couple days that this place truly is amazing!! Not many places in the world have the Spirit present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! It has been such a blessing to have the time that I have had here! Although the food is probably something I will never miss, I am going to miss the wonderful Spirit that is felt here. Having the opportunity to gain a stronger testimony each and every day in class is something that I will never be able to repay my Heavenly Father for!! I know that everyone says that this is "giving up" your life for 2 years or that this is a lot that Heavenly Father is asking us, but really it's not!! In fact, I have come to realize it is quite the opposite!! What an opportunity I have to be able to put away all the worldly things and the cares of the world for 2 years and dedicate myself to bringing some of God's children back into His fold!! It does not get too much better than that!! For those of you reading this who are return missionaries, don't worry… I know missions are hard!! I am not saying that this is going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination!

I want to share with you a few thoughts from one of my recent devotionals. I had the unbelievable opportunity to hear from Elder Holland… I bet you can all guess how good that was :) One thing that he said that I absolutely loved was that during his life he had always asked himself the question, "Why is it so hard?" He was not just referring to a mission. He went on to say that sometimes it is hard to follow all of the commandments, and it's hard sometimes to stand up for what you believe in and always follow the example of Jesus Christ. It's hard!! Why is it so hard? Well, what he said touched my heart and I will never forget it. He said that over the years he has come up with one conclusion to this question, and that is, "It was never easy for Christ." When he said this, it hit me like a ton of bricks! He asked us if we could recollect any scriptures when Jesus was laughing or joking around, and the answer was no. Of course Jesus laughed in His life and of course he had times of great joy, but this is not what we needed to hear, which is why it's not found in the scriptures. Christ suffered beyond anything we will ever have to overcome. He cried to His God countless times in the scriptures, constantly asking for help and strength. He cried for the people in their behalf. He stood boldly when people denied the God that He truly was. He loved all men. He loved those that persecuted him; He loved them so much that when they had beaten Him and tortured Him and nailed Him on the cross, STILL, His last words were, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do." It was never supposed to just be easy. There will be trials in our lives and there will be hardships, but we are so unbelievably blessed to know that there is someone who has gone through the exact same stuff that we have been through. No matter how hurt we are, we have someone that we can ALWAYS turn to. I never realized how lucky this is, and I still can't understand it, but I feel like I am just beginning to understand the importance and significance of having a Savior to turn to.

Anyway, sorry I went off on kind of a tangent, but to all of you who think I am crazy and I don't even know what I am about to get myself into, you're right!! haha I know it's going to be hard and I know that there will be trials, but man I am so grateful and humbled that Heavenly Father trusts me with these trials and knows that I can make it through them! I want to talk a little bit more about Elder Holland's talk. I wish so much that I could just have you guys listen to it because everything was just so amazing, but I will do my best to pick out the parts that I feel touched me the most!! For those of you who are not familiar with Elder Holland, the man is truly from God! I have noticed that each of the apostles have a little bit different traits, and all of them are good and I think if you could put all of their personalities together you would have Christ. But Elder Holland's personality is spitfire! haha He speaks with so much power and so much emotion it is truly amazing and scary all at the same time!! ha I love it! The first thing he said is the importance of missionaries getting their purpose! He said, "I will flatten your bike tires or put my knee into your neck… I am not above anything to make you all realize the importance of your calling!" haha It was so awesome! I am sure some people were kind of scared, but I thought that it was so cool! ha He is not afraid to put the fear of God in you, which every missionary needs every once in awhile! That's why we've got Elder Holland! :)

He then went on to talk about the importance of never falling away. It was awesome to hear him talk about his mission. He could hardly even start talking about it without tears coming to his eyes! He claims, and says he always will claim, that his mission changed his life more than any other missionary in the world! He loved his mission and you could tell by the way he spoke about it with such sincerity! He talked about never forgetting the memories that you gain on your mission. He talked about the importance of devoting our lives to God! These 2 years are once in a lifetimes, and we will not have this opportunity again (until we are older) to truly be able to dedicate our entire life to the Savior… but we cannot just call it quits after the mission. I loved another quote he had that pertains to this. He said, "I can't stand to lose any of the sheep, but I cannot conceive of losing any of the shepherds." The importance of enduring to the end is huge! We cannot forget about all that God has given us and all that He will give us if we continue to endure to the end! Like he said earlier though, it's not always going to be easy! Things will be hard and you will want to quit sometimes, but every time I am down, my heart always turns to the scripture when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail. Times were hard for him and he did not understand why times were so hard for him, so he asked and in D&C 127:7 it reads, "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." I love that scripture so much because it shows me that no one is immune from hard times! Even the Prophet had hard trials, and even he didn't understand why such awful things were happening to him. But he gained the knowledge that we all have to gain at some point in our lives, and that is that sometimes things are hard. However, if we are willing to bear our burdens and help bear the burdens of others, He will exalt us on high! What more could we ask for?!

I am so blessed to be able to go and share this message with the people of Cambodia! We think we have hard lives! It is the culture in Cambodia to ask, when you greet someone, if they have had something to eat. They do this because sometimes people don't even have enough money to buy food for themselves, let alone their family. So if you haven't eaten, people who are already in extreme poverty will give you food and help you make it to just the next day. In Cambodia, you are one big family; you refer to everyone as brother, sister, mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa… They are all just one big family that love and look out for each other and I get to go be a part of that for 2 years! I will never be able to thank my Heavenly Father enough for this opportunity! This is the best mission in the entire world and I get to go be a part of it for 2 years!!

I love my family and I miss them so very much, but I want you all to know that I have another family that I need to go and teach and love just as much as I love you! This week is Mother's Day and God has given me the best mother any son could ever even dream of asking for! She has been with me through thick and thin and I will never be able to repay her for all of the things that she has done for me, and the person that she has turned me into!! I would not be anywhere close to the person that I am today without the influence of my mom!! She is my everything! Mom, I love and miss you so very much! I love your sweet smile and I miss your cute laugh! This week has been super hard being away from you! It's true that you really don't know how good things are until they are gone! I would be absolutely nothing without you! You are my best friend and you always will be!! I hope you know how much I love you! :) Happy Mother's Day :) Anyone and everyone who sees my mom this next week, please give her a BIG hug and a kiss from me and let her know that she is the best mom in the whole world, because she really is! :)

Thank you all for the support and love you have all shown me since I have had a longer stay here in the MTC! It really means so much to me and has kept me going every day!! To close, I want you all to know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, once again fully restored back onto the earth! I know this with all of my heart and soul!! I know that through the gift of prayer, we can ALL have this knowledge! I testify that the Book of Mormon is true! I know that it is a book given to us from God for this last dispensation. I know that if you read it, it can only bring you closer to Christ! I love this church and I LOVE being a missionary!!!

Until next time… IN CAMBODIA!!!! :) :) :)

Elder Steadman

Friday, May 9, 2014

It's official...

Austin has his ticket booked and will be leaving to Cambodia this Sunday morning! We are so proud of his patience through these last few difficult weeks, and so happy for him that he can finally be on his way to do what his heart has been longing to do. When we spoke with him about his travel arrangements, he said that he is now feeling better than he's felt the entire time he's been at the MTC! No more throat pain, he's off all the pain meds, and no more stomach problems. He's still a little skinny (to his mother's chagrin), but says he's eating like a horse this week :) Thank you all for your prayers and concern for our son. I know how much they mean to him, and to us too!

Joel and Mindy

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Back to work!

Hey everyone!! Man this week sure was better than the last!!! First of all, I want to apologize for my crappy letters the last couple of weeks!! I just have not been up to writing a nice letter lately; not to mention, I was taking an extreme amount of pain pills the last couple weeks so everything I did write was under the influence so I figured the shorter the better! haha But this last week I was able to go back to class and that was so nice!! Being back in class and not in the medical center is just so amazing!! As hard as its been to kind of have to get back into the swing of things all over again, I know it's 1000 times better than staying in there another day!! Luckily, when I came back to the classroom I really felt like I was able to remember a lot of what I had learned so far here at the MTC, and that was a huge answer to my prayers! I was super worried that I was just going to forget everything I had worked so hard to memorize!!

Looking pretty skinny (he's lost 22 pounds while sick) in this
pic with his new district (his new comps are on the far right)

Writing home with Elder Klein

My new companions are super awesome!! They are both from London and so they have got pretty sick accents! They have both just been so awesome in helping me when I need something, or making sure one of them can stay with me when I have to lay down for a couple of hours, so I am super blessed to have them!! I have not able to attend a lot of the Devotionals the last week and a half because usually by the end of the day I am completely wiped out, but the one that I was able to attend just so happened to be President Deiter F. Uchtdorf!! Seriously, it was so awesome! As soon as he walked into the room, everyone stood and the Spirit was sooo strong it was crazy!! It was so cool to see how much love he has for everyone in that room!! Now you all have to remember that I was still under a lot of medication and so I can honestly not remember what he spoke on and I do not have my notes with me right now, but I was just impressed I remembered he came! haha Oh yeah, and after his talk he went around and he shook some of the missionaries' hands who were sitting on the outside isles. I have never been madder at myself for not picking an outside seat!! I always pick outside for the legroom! Unbelievable haha :)

Anyway, I just want to thank you all for all of the prayers you have sent my way!! Yesterday I was looking back at the last week and some of the trials that I have gone through and, to be honest, I really don't know how I was able to do it. The only explanation that I can come up with is that I was lifted up by angels and pushed along by the help of all your prayers, so from the very bottom of my heart, I want to thank you all so very much for your love and your support!! I know that you all are just loving my MTC letters where I just say the same thing over and over again each week (that's sarcasm), but unfortunately these have to come to a close after this next week!! I really am sorry! I tried to stay in here as long as they would possibly let me, but now I guess it is time to head out to Cambodia!! Thanks for putting up with my boring letters the past 11 weeks! I am super excited to be able to give you guys something more adventurous to enjoy!! Maybe the last week here at the MTC I will try to do something exciting so I can have something cool to write about next week! ha Stay tuned ;)

I love you all and I want you to know that I KNOW that this Church is true!!! I am so unbelievably grateful to my Heavenly Father for trusting me with this knowledge!! We are a select few who have the opportunity to know about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I think sometimes I forget just how lucky I am to be able to know all that I know!! I try to remember the song, "Because I have been given much, I too must give." Every time I think of that song, it is a reminder to me of how much I really have been given!! I will never be able to repay Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all that they have done for me in my life, but I know that because they have given me so much, the least I can do is go out and share the same message of happiness with the people of Cambodia!! I bear testimony to you all that the Book of Mormon is true!! That book came from God!! I am so grateful for the courage of Joseph Smith; over the course of these few short weeks, he has become my hero! I do not know how he underwent all the trials that he did and still remained strong. I wish I could tell you all today that I could do the same, but I do not think that I could!! I aspire to be like Joseph Smith!! I have only been asked to dedicate 2 years of my life to the Lord; Joseph Smith dedicated his life the Lord starting at age 14! I know that he was a man of God, and I know that he saw what he said he did! I know that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children and He does hear every prayer that is sent up to Him by one of His children! I love you all so much and I want you all to know that this is the fullness of Christ's gospel, again restored upon the earth!! I hope you all have an amazing week!!

All my love!
Elder Steadman

P.S. (from the missionary mom)… Although he didn't say it in his letter, it looks like he'll be heading out May 12th. We'll know for sure in the next few days!