Sunday, November 30, 2014


Oy! Hi everyone thank you so much for sending me emails! keep up the good work!

This last week has been crazy! The flight was good. There were about 60 new missionaries that flew in on my flight. So it was pretty much a guarantee that we would make it there without crashing. The first few days were extremely overwhelming. Different country, new language, new culture, new life style, and new family. I told you guys I met my first companion on the flight in. He is a really great guy and is now our district leader. He is super nice to because I don't speak the language very well at all, but he doesn't seem to get annoyed when I ask him how to say the same word 10 times in 1 day. The teachers here are great. They "only" speak Portuguese so that is a big challenge for me. Everyone else in the district seems to be able to speak better than me and my teacher knows it. When my teacher asks if we understand he always looks directly at me. Usually I give him the squinted eyes extremely confused look. He seems to know what that means, and then he repeats what he said. Progress is extremely slow but I am progressing somewhat.

We had to teach an "investigator" on the first Portuguese. Luckily they give a book with all the lessons translated line by line for you to study from. It is still super awkward trying to teach someone in a different language you don't know. Lucky my companion seems to know what is going on and fills me in. At that point I do my best to contribute by spouting out a simple sentence, "you god love you he want you back. Understand?" Yeah I am doing really good.

My district is awesome though they have helped me a lot to learn the language. Without them I don't know what I'd do. This first week has been extremely discouraging. Last night we had a district testimony meeting; this really helped me as well. I bore my testimony and afterward an elder in my district told me that what I said was exactly what he needed to hear. This morning in the temple also really helped. I did struggle a little bit in the temple since they only spoke Portuguese and it was my second time. So you can only imagine how that went down. Once I was through and got it all right I think I could hear cheering in the background. The spirit is undeniable at the temple and the MTC. It lets me know that I was called here for a reason, even though I am struggling a lot with the language.

There are also some great sisters in our district. They are pretty much already Brazilians. They speak with the natives really well. They are also real people and not fake in any way.

As soon as we got here we had a meeting for all the new missionaries. The MTC president spoke about exact obedience. He said as long as we have exact obedience we will have the spirit. I am so grateful for what Briana taught me about exact obedience. She taught me to be exactly obedient to your highest ability. It's ok to make a mistake, don't beat yourself up about it. As long as you do what is best for the people you teach.

Today was super fun being able to leave spirit prison. I felt like Andy Dufrane, innocent... but still in prison. So we finally got to explore a little bit. Sao Paulo is a pretty cool city. It is like the ghetto part of L.A. but super colorful and fun. The people are extremely nice. I can't wait to meet and teach them. Hopefully I can learn how to speak by then.

Anyway I love you guys and I love hearing from you! I will write to you next week.

- Elder Stevens

First Letter


Hey mom and family I survived Satan's plane ride to Brazil! The plane ride wasn’t too bad. I sat next to my MTC companion Elder Nelson. We just got to the MTC and got our tags and info. It is official now! It's too real! I already miss all of you guys, especially kitty. Sorry if this doesn't make sense I am super tired. Sadly I have a full schedule before I get to go to bed. Brazil is super cool. Everything is kind of run down, but people have graffiti on everything as well so it looks cool. The weather isn’t too bad I kind of like the humidity. I love you guys! Sorry but I have to go. I will talk to you later!

-Elder Stevens

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

So it Begins

My baby brother Derek Stevens has been called to serve in the Porto Alegre Brazil Mission. He will be speaking Portugues and teaching and serving the people of Brazil for 24 months. His goal is to bring those he meets closer to Christ. He has put his life on hold to volunteer for this service and I couldn't be more proud of him. And though I selfishly want him home I know he will never regret his time in the service of God and he'll never forget the people and lessons he will learn.  I served my own mission in Boston, MA and I will tell you it is much easier to be the one that's gone. Being on this side of things has been a much harder and painful process. But I know the Lord is with him, I know he has a plan for him, he has prepared people for my baby bro to teach and people who will teach him in return. I know my brother will come home a different person and I look forward to meeting him.

I've created this blog to keep everyone updated on his progress and experiences. I hope this is helpful and I encourage comments on how I can improve this blog or maybe ideas on what you'd like to see. I'll do my best to post regularly.

For those unfamiliar with Mormon missions. Missionaries volunteer their time for 24 or 18 months at the age of 18+. They can be called to serve anywhere in the world with the exception of a few countries. They don't go to school, they don't date, they don't watch movies or TV. Their time 24/7 is completely focused on studying the scriptures or teaching materials, teaching people, or service projects. Missionaries are not paid and they do not accept payments for their service. They have one day a week (usually Mondays) called Preparation Day (P day), where they take time off their usual duties to prepare for the rest of the week. This can include doing laundry, cleaning the apartment, buying groceries, sightseeing, resting, and most importantly writing letters home. Missionaries can only write letters on their P day and can only call home on Christmas and Mother's Day. This is done to help keep their focus on their work and encourage a closer relationship with the Lord. I can personally testify that this does in fact help in that regard, though it may seem harsh at first, I often found myself praying more often and listening more carefully for answers when calling my parents wasn't an option.

Missionaries are trained for their service in Missionary Training Centers (MTC). My brother was sent to one located in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He will stay there for 6 weeks. There he will learn the basics of Portugues and how to teach the missionary lessons found in his text book Preach My Gospel (PMG).
He will be taught to adjust every lesson to each person he teaches and to listen to the guidance of the Lord.

Upon entering the MTC every missionary is assigned a companion and they will remain with them throughout their time in the MTC. Once they leave and are dispersed to their assigned areas within their mission they will be placed with another companion. Missionaries always travels in twos.

I plan to post Derek's emails and letters as they come us. I will be editing or adjusting theses communications in order to respect the privacy of those mentioned and Derek himself.

Please let me now if you have questions regarding terminology or missions in general. I'm also posting a link This is a fantastic website with information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But I'm also open to answering any questions you may have or if you'd like to start a discussion.

The best of luck and blessings to all! And remember to keep Elder Derek Stevens in your prayers.