Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012

FAMILIA!
Que dicen todos? Long time no talk that's fo sho. Haha so yeah the Christmas day skype call was off the chain, it was so good to see you all. It seriously seems so much like I just left the house yesterday and now it's one year later. I'm still not totally sure how it's possible that I've now got a year under my belt. This last year was probably the most fulfilling of my life. I have grown and changed so much in so many aspects of my life. I have seen time and time again that the grace of Jesus Christ is a very real power that works in each of us according to the level that we allow it to. More than ever before in my life I have done things that I didn't think I was capable of doing. You are 100% right Momma, December 28th, 2011 will always be a very special day in my life because it really did signify the beginning of a change. The beginning of a HUGE change. That was the day that I put on that missionary name badge and began to represent the Savior full-time. That was the day that I began to stop being such a prideful, self centered, worldly-praise seeking, natural man. That was the day that I started to set the course for the rest of my life. In my memory, it is a really important day, very memorable, but I think that honestly the more important day for change honestly took place the day after. I think I wrote about that second day in my first ever letter home. It was in that second day that I was very distracted. I missed home, I missed the fam, I missed all my friends, both from home and from college, I missed my old life, etc... I started out that first full day as a missionary thinking a ton about all of those things, I was busy feeling sorry for myself and I was super distracted for most of the day. Finally, that night as I was studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, probably my most life-changing revelation hit me. I was on the mission to share the gospel and receive blessings; we learn from the scriptures that ALL blessings are predicated upon our obedience to the laws of God. At that moment, everything about me started to change. I hit me as clear as day: I wasn't going to go home early from my mission and thus I had two choices: I could love every minute of my mission, work crazy hard, change myself for the better, obey every rule with exactness, and be blessed for the rest of my life... OR I could be miserable, waste two years in the prime of my life, disobey, be lazy, and bring condemnation upon myself. It was so clear to me, I couldn't think of anything worse than the second option, so I was obviously going to take the first. That moment, sitting in the hallway of the 4th floor of building 18M of the Provo MTC, was when I really started to change. Even though December 28th is a very special day, December 29th is even more special for me. Since that moment I have given 100% of what I have to missionary work. I haven't been perfect, but I feel pretty good about the last year of my life. I have learned something in this time, as we give 100% of ourselves to the Lord, our capacity increases rapidly in SOOOOO many ways. As that happens and as He blesses us in every aspect of our lives, He expects us to give more of ourselves so that He can in turn take us and mold us even more into better people.
 
This Christmas season here in Mexico was something incredibly special to be apart of. The Christmas season teaches us so much, about giving, the life of Christ, and showing our love for others. One thing that this Christmas season really taught me here in the mission and here in Mexico is this: Miracles happen every day, we just have to ask for them and look for them. Seek and ye shall find, the same applies for miracles in our lives.
 
Another thing that made me so happy to skype the fam, is hearing and seeing just how well everyone is doing. That has been a huge blessing of my mission, I haven't fought the battles that so many missionaries do in questions of how their families are doing or how things are at home. That hasn't been a huge battle of my mission. I love hearing about how well each of you are doing and more than anything I love hearing about the progress that each of you is seeing. My love for each member of my family has grown since leaving a year ago.
 
I love you all so so much. It has been another incredible week here in the mission. The first year went way too fast. Hopefully this next one isn't quite so crazy fast, but just as happy, life-changing and enjoyable. I love you all! Have a great week and thank so much for all of your support, love and prayers. #143 #GMC$ #JAKEHEAPS
Love,
Elder Stockard

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012

EYYYY YOOOO!
What's good fam! Things are staying fresh down south here in Tampcio! It's been a pretty crazy week down here as it always is at the end of one transfer and the start of the next. But it's been a lot of fun as it always is with new comps and new responsibilities. Sounds like all is well in Fallon! It's always fun when you finish finals and start Christmas break! I remember the feeling very well.
 
As for me, you are very right momma, I have a new comp. His name is Elder Salazar, from Chihuahua, Chihuahua Mexico. He has 15 months in the mission, baptizes like its hot, and is an ex-comp of the one and only Elder Parry. He was up in Victoria with Elder Parry when we baptized 46 as a zone. He is way cool, he is always really happy, which I really like. It was weird when Elder Mesa left because it was like, OK, now my learning time in the offices is over. But it's been really good. I've been able to learn more by trial and error without Elder Mesa there to help me every step of the way. This week has kind of reminded me a little bit of how I felt my fist week up in Victoria my first time being a senior comp, haha. But you always learn more when you don't have someone to fall back on I think. It's like throwing a little kid into a pool... He either drowns or swims haha, OK my bad, kind of a sick example.
 
So ya, I was really banking on the end of the world yesterday and all, but here we are, still living and time still moving forward. It was a really fun week all and all. I really like greeting the new missionaries when they get here. That has got to be one of the favorite parts of my assignment. This time, we were supposed to have like 20+ missionaries getting here but... #VISAWAITERS! So we only had six missionaries get here, all Mexicans. We have a ton of visa waiters in Peru and a handful in the US. This is really difficult for us as a mission here because all last week we were planning on having sufficient missionaries to open new areas, and do all these things, but at the end we had to close down some areas because not enough missionaries got here in time. But yeah, it is always really fun to see the new missionaries when they get here, they are all trying so hard to make a good first impression and do everything right. They are also always super wide-eyed with everything about the mission. But yeah, this time I trained the new missionaries all by myself while President and Elder Salazar trained the trainers. Our mission is super young right now all in all so there were some really young trainers in this group, including my beloved son, Elder Garry haha. It was a lot of fun to get to see him and talk to him. He is now opening a new area in Tampico with his new missionary, Elder Garry is an all around stud who I'm sure is going to be spending a lot of time at our house after the mission, I love the dude to death and we are super good friends.
 
As for our area, I still feel like I'm really new to the area because 4 of the 6 weeks of our last transfer, we were only part time in our area due to trainings and conferences and stuff, but I actually know it decently well. The Lord has really blessed us. In my time in the offices I have learned something... The Lord blesses us according to our efforts, knowing our circumstances. We are involved in the Lord's work down here in our area, and I have learned that when we OBEY, and work with all diligence, it doesn't matter if you have all day everyday or only a few hours each evening to work in your area. Our Heavenly Father can and does bless us within our circumstances. I know this because our success in our area has not been correlated directly to the time we have had to work in our area.
 
This week we set three pretty solid baptism dates within the Family Cruz de Santiago, with Christian, Berenice and Karen. Berenice especially has progressed a TON in this last week. Elder Salazar and I taught them a super powerful Restoration lesson this week and the spirit was super strong. Since that point, she has progressed at a speed much faster. I learn more and more everyday, powerful lessons all hinge on three points: The questions you ask, the way you listen to their answers, and the way you bear testimony. More than anything it is those three things. All three are done under the direction of the spirit and all three invite the spirit into a lesson. Elder Salazar is a bomb teacher, he's been a member all his life and all his fam has been missionaries which makes it even more fun to teach with him.
 
Another thing this week is that I am SO SO SO glad I took that Excel and Power Point class at school last semester, because it is helping me a ton! I'm working a lot right now to improve the way that we do our formats in the offices and I'm getting really super good with Excel especially.
 
Well, I love you all so so much. I can't wait to SKYPE you clowns on Tuesday! I love you, we've only got 40 mins so get ready to make every second count. I am so so grateful to have the family and friends that I do. Each and every one of you mean so so much to me. My friends who are serving missions have been some of the greatest support and examples that I have. I can't put you all by name but you know who you be #GMC$. I straight love each and every one of you, I pray for you daily and think of you often every single day. Family as well. Thank you so much to everyone who has sent me letters and packages, I've got to be the most blessed and loved Elder in the world. I hope I can make each and everyone of you proud. #143 #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard
 
 Elder Salazar (the new companion) , Elder Mesa (the outgoing companion), and Elder Stockard

Elder Medina, Elder Stockard, and Elder Garry, a previous companion. 
Mission Posterity.  Elder Stockard trained Elder Garry, who is now training Elder Medina

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 15, 2012

Hey Fam:
So, another transfer has come and gone. I can't believe that I have already been here in the offices for 6 weeks. The time just keeps speeding up, it's straight nuts! I can't believe Lauren is already done with her first semester up at school! I swear that like last P-day you guys were dropping her off at school and she was getting started! I'm really scared that I'm gonna blink and this next year is gonna be gone. That's the bummer about enjoying something:  when you enjoy it, it's over before you even know it, it happened that way with BYU, it happens almost every summer etc...
 
So, the Christmas season Mexico has been really fun so far. There are a lot of things that are very similar and some things that are also different. One difference is definitely the temperature. Although like 3 days this week it gone down into the 60s. Haha I found out this week how accustomed I am to the heat because I was seriously REALLY COLD, hahaha! That's what like 10 months a year of blistering heat does to your body, haha. But yeah, for Christmas people still have Christmas trees, some people do lights on their house but not as many, also I've heard that here in Mexico, Christmas Eve or Noche Buena is a bigger deal than Christmas day. Tamales is a real food of the season here at Christmas time. The hymns are all the same tune (well they should be, they don't always end up sounding the same, lolzz) but obviously, the words are different. I don't know, it's been way cool to see how another country celebrates Christmas. I have really enjoyed it so far.
 
Also, yes Momma, I got the package from you this week! Also I've gotten one from G Ma Dot and one from the Ladles and I have loved them all, thank you all so much.  I love you all! Momma, the stockings were off the chain and Elder Mesa was so so happy to get it. He wanted me to tell you thanks so much. I loved it as well and I will be really excited to continue hearing about your goals for service, testimony, and missionary work.
 
So this week President and Sister Jordan and Elder Mesa and I did Zone Conferences for the 5 zones that were here in Tampico and they all went really well. It was a cool experience to see all 9 Zone Conferences. Before, I would leave the one zone conference that I attended feeling like it was really good and then that was it. This time I got to see just how different every conference was every time. It was good to see what worked and what didn't and it was a good learning experience. Besides that, this week was a really good week for us in our area as well. Since my last letter, the Familia Cruz de Santiago has continued progressing and gotten even bigger. The family is from the City of San Luis Potosi. This week a daughter of the fam, Karen, got here and we are going to start teaching her soon, and also the fiance of their son Christian got here as well. Her named is Berenice and we started teaching her this week. I told President that every time a bus gets in from San Luis Potosi, our investigator pool is getting exponentially bigger, haha.  So that was cool. We pushed the baptismal date of Christian back a little while so he can progress a little more and also so that he can maybe get baptized the same day as his fiance if she progresses quickly. But Pascual and Ricarda, the parents both passed their baptismal interview last Saturday and were baptized yesterday!!!!! One of the greatest places to feel the spirit is at a baptismal service, that's something that I've learned over the course of my mission. The service was way good, we had a choir, a ton of support from the ward and the spirit was super strong. It is such a blessing to be able to see the change that takes place in people as they grab hold of the only thing in the whole world that has the power to change and to save people. I love that about the gospel in my life and in the lives of those that I love.
 
Besides that we have just been getting ready for the next change that starts on Monday. I will have a new Comp starting Monday as Elder Mesa has already been here a good little while. It's been cool to get to see how the transfers work as well. That has been really fun and another good experience.
Well, this letter is kinda short but that's about it from down south this week. I love you all so so much. Don't ever believe even for a minute that 1. You have learned all there is to know about the doctrine of Christ and it's power in our lives, 2. That repentance isn't an option, or 3. That all the churches in the world believe in God and they all teach us to be good and therefore they all lead to heaven. That's the biggest lie there is. The truth has been restored. We are so blessed to have it. If you don't have it, get it because you're running out of time. I'm so glad that all you who are my family and friends have been such a good influence on me and have taught me to love and to live the gospel of Christ the best that I can. I try to make you proud every day.  I love you all.
#143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
 
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 8, 2012

Fam and Friends!
Wow, is it really already December again!!? It hit me so hard as I was sitting in the Christmas Devotional last Sunday night just how fast the time is running! I thought back to last year's Christmas Devotional and watching it at the Wilk, and I really can't believe how fast a year went! I legitimately blinked and that year was over. Now, I sit here in the Mission Offices and as much as I dread it, I know that this next year is going to be even faster as that is just how time seems to work nowadays. But we had another really sick week, not even gonna lie. Sounds like all the fam did as well. Momma I would love to see pics from Ryan's games and hear how he did in each one. I hope his wrist is ok, and I'm sure it will be.
 
So this week has been super crazy! La Familia Cruz de Santiago is progressing incredibly well, Ricarda (the mom) and Pascaul (the pops) have their baptismal interviews tonight at 5 and they will be baptized next week which is really exciting! Cristian, their 28 year old son and Jose their 17 year old son, we are gonna wait a little while with both of them so that they can be a little bit more prepared, but they are both still progressing really well and obeying the commandments, especially the Word of Wisdom. Also this week we started Zone Conferences and so Elder Mesa, President and Hermana Jordan and I jump in the Mission Mini Van (that's not even a joke #classsicstereotype) and headed out to 3 states, 4 cities, and 4 conferences, all in 4 days. There has been a lot of training needed in this transfer because of the really radical changes that we made to the mission (and every mission in Mexico for that matter) at the beginning of this transfer. Elder Mesa, President, and I have given those trainings together and it has been a really good experience doing it. I really like teaching and talking in front of people and I've learned a ton doing it and I feel like I'm getting better at doing it every time. It's fun teaching with Elder Mesa because he is this big Columbian man with a booming voice and and even more booming laugh, haha. But yeah, we headed to Huejutla, Hidalgo first, then up to Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosi, then to a little pueblo called Mante that's in Tamaulipas, and then to finish it up back to Ciudad VICTORIA! I seriously love Ciudad Victoria, it is the promised land of the mission, no doubt. It made for a really fun week. President and Sister Jordan are really good road trip people, they have to be seeing as they do that whole circuit pretty often. It's fun to be able to go to all the Zones and see the different parts of the mission and especially all my mission friends. I love seeing Elder Parry, Elder Grill, Elder Castro, and Elder Garry a ton.
 
Yeah, so the stressful part is managing your own area when you're not really there that much, but the Lord has really blessed us in that aspect. Elder Mesa and I have 100% converted ourselves to the whole, Work with the Members doctrine. In this whole transfer we haven't had a single lesson without a member coming with us. Our ward has really been a great support to us as well.
I wish I could lie to you all and say the the food in the USA is better and that I'm really missing it, but I can't, the food in Mexico is incredible. Also I am 100% accustomed to eating really really hot salsa on everything, which is going to be a hard habit to break when I get home, haha.
 
As far as phone calls for Christmas, President Jordan has changed the game a little bit with that. We can now use Skype!!! I am planning on a Christmas day Skype call but I don't really know the hour or anything like that. But yeah, plan on that! Pretty sick huh?
 
Imma send some photos from our P Day activity that we did last Saturday, we went to the Laguna Carpintera in Tampico, which is a really famous tourist place here that is really pretty. It was a lot of fun and I took a ton of sick photos.
 
I do miss you all family and friends... but not that much. I love what I'm doing, I'm getting better at it everyday. I'm learning things I couldn't learn anywhere else or in any other situation. Most importantly, I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what God has called me to do. When it's over I'm gonna miss it so, so much. I love you all so much. The more missionaries I meet and get to know, I realize just how blessed I am to come from the family and life that I do. I have been so, so blessed and I try and work every single day and every single moment in a way that shows my gratitude for that. Know that all is well here in Tampico! I know all is well in Fallon. Travis, remember that everything happens for a reason. I guarantee you that many times throughout your mission you will realize and come to know just what those reasons are. Alyssa, I know that you'll do great in the Nutcracker and even if you didn't I wouldn't know how to tell and neither will Dad, Brandon or Ryan haha. I love you all so much. #143 #GMC$ #SpecialK(Respect, still the Great One) #JakeHeaps
 
Love,
Elder Stockard

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1, 2012

What's Good Fam?
So here we are after another week. It's been another really good week down here in Tampico! Sounds like all you back in the USA can say the same thing. I'm glad to hear that Ryan wasn't too hurt. Undercut going up for a dunk? When was someone gonna break the news to me that Ryan even had the ability to attempt the said dunk? Hahaha, at least that's a cool story to be able to say, 'Ya, I got hurt going up to dunk on somebody.'
 
Ok Momma, to answer your questions, Elder Mesa has been in the offices longer than I have. This is his 3rd transfer in the offices. There are 6 office Elders, 4 Secretaries and 2 Assistants. One companionship is an older couple named Elder y Hermana Garcia. They are the materials secretary and the secretary of records. The other two are a normal companionship of young Elders who are the financial secretary and the secretary to the president. Their names are Elder Leavitt and Elder Griggs and they are really cool guys. We don't live together but we see them a ton. Elder Mesa and I are the only ones in our apartment but we have a ton of extra beds and when new Elders get here or old ones leave they always stay with us. Also when there are trainings and Elders need to come in from outside the Tampico area they always stay with us. It's fun to have people stay with us but it always results in even less time to sleep, haha.
 
Elder Leavitt and Elder Griggs have a ward as well as Elder Mesa and me. Our ward is Barrio Central in Estaca Madero. It's not the biggest ward in the world but they have really supported us. For example, when we have to go out of town for trainings or when we can't make all our visits, they have really helped us out a ton with visiting our investigators and the less actives that we are working with. Also, we haven't had a single lesson this whole transfer in which a member didn't come with us. It's all part of the doctrine of the keys of missionary work from the Stake and from the Mission working together. It has really helped us so much to have members participate in our lessons. It builds a relationship between investigator and member that lasts and strengthens as the investigator becomes a new convert and so on. It is how missionary work should be done all around the world because it is the only way that huge numbers of baptisms and confirmations become real growth and these people stay active and fill all of the requirements to achieve salvation.
 
Elder Mesa and I are usually doing some sort of office or other mission task until about 2 o clock in the afternoon and then we usually have all the afternoon to work in our area. As for our area right now, things are really clicking, not gonna lie. We have found some incredibly prepared people and they are really starting to learn and live the doctrine of Christ and the commandments. We have 5 baptismal dates right now, 4 are the Familia Cruz and then also Lorenzo.  I think I already told you about him. All five are progressing really well. Lorenzo is reading the Book of Mormon like a wild child, understanding it well, and he hasn't had a drink in almost a month!! We have really been focusing on and teaching him the doctrine of always staying vigilant and not letting his guard down so that he can always stay protected from temptation. La Familia Cruz is progressing super well too, last night we taught them the Word of Wisdom and committed them to quit drinking coffee. The dad, Pascual and the oldest son Christian also smoke, so the focus right now is really helping them build their faith sufficiently so they can quit those habits. We have been visiting them almost daily, making sure that they are progressing and staying away from those vices. Teaching families is seriously the greatest part of the mission. There is nothing like it, one of the key points of the Lesson on the Restoration is that the Gospel blesses families and it is so true. The Gospel is designed to be taught to, accepted by, and lived within the family. There is really an added spirit as well when missionaries find, and teach, and eventually baptize families. Speaking of which, last night Elder Mesa and I were crossing the parking lot of our Stake Center and guess who I saw? LA FAMLIA PREZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so stoked to see them and to talk to them! The greatest part is that Fransisco, the dad, now has the Melchizedek priesthood and is the Young Men's President, Jose the son has read the Book of Mormon all the way through, and Gloria the mom is in the Primary Presidency!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The whole family is progressing well and enduring to the end! I love that family so so much and it was so good to see all of them.
 
I have really enjoyed my time here in the offices so far. I'm really glad that I'm here right now instead of right at the end of my mission though. It is a great experience because it is really different than what I usually think of as missionary work, I have learned a lot and I continue to learn more here every single day.
 
This last week I took a little time to think about how blessed I have been in my life by the example of my family. But not only my immediate family, also my extended family. I was also thinking a lot this past week about how blessed I was to grow up with the Bird family living right down the street from me. Lisa and Brandon have been such good examples to me and I have always had such a special connection with both of them. I loved being able to just show up at their house from time to time and talk to Lisa or Brandon just about anything. Lisa, thank you so much for being such an example of hard work and diligence in you work, family, and in the gospel. Brandon you're alright too, haha. No, I really love the Bird family and I miss them a lot, I know we will have some great Sunday dinners in the future just kickin' it like old times.
 
Well that's about it from down here in Tampico. I love you all lots. Congrats to all my boys getting their mission calls, I'm jealous that you have a full two years ahead of you to go and serve while my time is now only about half that. Every day as a missionary is truly a privilege. I promise you Momma and Pops, that you will not be receiving that same little boy you sent out on a mission when I get back. I am 250% better of a person now than I was then and I know that progress will continue as I rely on the Lord. I love you all lots and pray for you daily.
#143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 2012

Familia:
Ok so first off, so so so sorry that I wasn't able to write you all this last Saturday, I promise that I will explain. I really missed communicating with you guys but I really trust that all is well which makes it not the worst thing in the world. My life has been really super crazy and really super sweet these last two weeks, not gonna lie. Since my last letter I have visited 3 different states, every zone in the mission, given the same training 9 different times (Let me tell you, by the 9th time it was a pretty good training, haha) ate, as always, some crazy good food, met lots of incredible people and missionaries, found and started to teach a new family that is PURE GOLD, had some great progress in our area.  And I loved every minute of it, not gonna lie. Let me start to explain.
 
So, I'm pretty sure my last letter was pretty scatterbrained and didn't answer too much.  Sorry, it was really rushed and not very well-written.  I'm not sure if I started it off by telling you about some of the crazy huge changes that have taken pass in the mission starting this last transfer. For starters, tracting and contacting doors and in the streets is now PROHIBITED (and thank goodness, that was the worst) and all finding of new investigators will come from other methods of finding, namely, working with the members. All this in an effort to really strengthen the base of the church here in Mexico. Interesting stat, in our mission we baptize about 1000 people a year on average. One year after baptism, only 12% of those new converts are still attending church consistently every week. That is a really unacceptable number. The effort and plan to change all of that is the Obra de Salvacion, which is all about using the two sets of priesthood keys, which I think that I pretty well explained. Well, as you can imagine, it has been a huge challenge for a lot of Elders here in the mission to adjust to 0 contacting after doing so much of it in their mission. In an effort to help these Elders adjust, President brought Elder Mesa and I with him to do interviews in every zone.  We obviously weren't doing the interviewing, but while he interviewed each Elder one at a time, we had the rest of the zone with us doing a training on how to work with the members of the ward, how to work with the ward mission leader, the ward counsel, and most importantly, how to plan more effectively. We have seen that if Elders aren't contacting, their planning has to improve 100% because now they really have to think about who they will visit. So last week Elder Mesa, President Jordan, and I hopped in the Mission minivan (no joke there) and headed up to Ciudad Victoria. There are nine zones in our mission. Each stake is a zone.  Five of those zones are in the Metropolitan Tampico area. They are Tampico, Madero, Bosque, Ampiacion, and Chairel. The other four zones are cities or groups of cites outside of Tampico:  Zona Victoria, Zona Mante, Zona Valles, and Zona Huasteca (probably the prettiest place I've ever been in my life). So we went to each one of these outside the city and gave this training to the Elders in each one. It was a really good week and I was SOOOOOOO tired at the end of it all. We were with President until Valles when he had to go back to Tampico for something, so the next morning Elder Mesa and I hopped on a bus and headed to Huejutla, Hidalgo which is like stepping back into ancient Mayan times, haha. Dad, the bus we were on had chickens and all kinds of stuff and was legitimately like being on Indiana Jones, traveling through the jungle on a bus that bucked more than a horse haha.  We were outside the city last Saturday and I didn't get to write, my apologies once again for that. It was a really fun week though, every afternoon after the training, Elder Mesa and I would each go with a different companionship and work with them for the night which was really fun.
 
All that week I really missed working in our area but this last week we have really seen some miracles working in our area. We are usually doing some sort of mission related task outside of our proselyting area until about 2:00, so our time in our area is somewhat limited, so we have to be very effective.  Also, our ward is awesome, it's not that big, but they have been working like crazy with us, teaching with us, and everything. We have 6 investigators that are progressing really well right now. One is a granddaughter of a less active lady, another is named Lorenzo, he is the husband of a recent convert named Marylou. Lorenzo is awesome not gonna lie.  He is cool to talk to, loves reading the scriptures, loves going to church, understands the doctrines. The only problem is that Lorenzo struggles with alcohol. It is a HUGE weakness for him. When I arrived, he had been drinking for a long time straight, and he looked like it. But all of the sudden, he stopped.  Since then, we have started teaching him again and he looks and feels sooooo much better. Right now we are looking for some way to really help him to not fall into his old habits once again. It is for that very reason that you NEVER take the first sip of alcohol or the first puff of a cigarette because you don't know if it will hook you. Vices are the hardest habits to kick. Also in this week, some other Elders passed us a reference of a family that lives in our area that has turned out to be GOLD!!!!! The family is la familia Cruz de Santiago. The Dad, Pascaul and the mom, Ricarda are both in their 50s and their two sons who are living with them are Ivan 28 and Jose 17. They are been really super accepting and have been reading, praying and last night they came with us to an activity at the church celebrating the Mexican Revolution. Something that is always cool and always convenient is having your church be about ten steps away from the temple, haha.   After the activity, we went with them and some members of the ward that had been fellow shipping them all night at the activity, and we did a tour of the temple grounds and had a sweet lesson in the temple waiting room!!!! It was off the hook and the whole family felt the spirit that is so tangible in the House of the Lord.
 
I love having the temple so close, it seriously just radiates peace. Everyday I am becoming more and more converted to the idea of the two sets of priesthood keys within missionary work. As we have worked so closely with the members in these last 3 weeks we have seen MIRACLES!!!!!!!!! More than anything I am 100% converted to the idea of whatever instructions your priesthood leader(s) (in this case Pres. Jordan and Pres. Johnson) give to you, is exactly what God wants you to do and He will give you success when you do it. It is so true. It really doesn't matter whether I love contacting or not, if God, through his servants, says that we won't do it, you don't do it. It's very simple and proven to work, just ask the Nephites... O wait they ended up disobeying LOLZZ #BofMJokes.
 
It's been a super fun last few weeks. I really like being able to impact a large group of Elders for good. I can't even believe how often I use what I learned from How To Win Friends and Influence People. When you combine those elements with the spirit, you can influence a lot of Elders who really need help for good. That's another thing I'm learning more and more everyday here. It would be easy to see an Elder who disobeys and say that he's good for nothing and lazy, but every single one of these Elders has a back story and a reason for why they are the way they are. In the same reason that I have been successful in my mission, thanks to the family and friends and advantages I had, a lot of these Elders are struggling and the most important thing is that we love each and every one of them, no matter what they are doing. If you love them, you can lead them, because they will love you back and they will listen. I'm learning so much about how to love everyone from President Jordan. That man, and his wife are incredibly loving and forgiving people. They are great examples and I want to try and live my life much in the same way they do.
 
Haha, funny note to end.  Pres and Sister Jordan's son made a song and a video persuading Jabari Parker to go to BYU and it's really funny.  YouTube it.  I think it's called Parker Style, but it's really funny.
 
I love you all so much. Thank you so much for all of your love and support, you are incredible examples to me. I didn't even realize it was Thankgiving this week, but I have so much to be grateful for, starting with my friends and family. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
 
Love,
Elder Stockard

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10, 2012

Hey Family:
Woww, so y'all miss me yet??? Haha we haven't talked for almost two weeks, how crazy is that? So these last few days have been by far the craziest of my mission. So, two Thursdays ago, I got a call in the morning telling me that I needed to go to Tampico with my good friend Elder Agren for the Zone Leaders Counsel. So late Thursday night we headed down to Tampico and had a crazy good Zone Leaders Counsel here at the Mission Home.  That was a lot of fun. In that meeting, President told us about a ton of changes that are going to be happening in the mission which I'll talk about a little later on.
 
The meeting was a lot of fun but President wouldn't tell me where I was going for this next transfer. He did tell me that I would be leaving Ciudad Victoria but I was left to guess all weekend about where that somewhere would be.  I was also pretty sure that I would be called as a Zone Leader wherever I went considering they had me come to the Zone Leader Counsel. Well, Saturday night President gave me a call and told me that I would be working in the offices as one of his Assistants. I was really excited about that but also a little bit nervous, haha. So I said goodbye Sunday to all the people up in Victoria that I love so much and then headed to Tampico early Monday morning.
Let me tell you, the office is a whole other world!!! Haha, there are some way cool things that we have done that I have really liked. For example, our house is like legitimately directly directly in front of the Temple, I wake up and it's like the first thing I see every morning.  It's so awesome.  Welcoming all the new missionaries at the airport with President and Sister Jordan was also sooooo cool, saying goodbye to all the Elders going home was also fun. It's a really fun job, but there are a few things that I miss as well. I miss being in the field full time, being able to dedicate all of my time to finding and teaching. I miss Victoria a lot, and Elder Garry, and I also really miss sleeping haha. I think before last night I had slept a total of like 9 hours since I got here. It's a lot of responsibility but it's a lot of fun. I often think of Grandma and Grandpa Andros on their mission.  We also have a senior couple who work here in the offices as secretaries. I'm really looking forward to being able to learn from President Jordan now as well. The man reminds me so much of Dad.
 
My new companion is a Columbian elder named Elder Mesa! He is a total boss and we are having a really fun time working together. He teaches really well and is very direct. He has this super loud booming voice and every time he laughs it cracks me up! As far as the new changes in the mission, there are a lot and I'm really excited about them. President Jordan is working to launch the Obra de Salvacion here in the mission 100% under the direction of the Area President, President Johnson. As part of this, the theme of working 100% with the members is a huge one that we are really pushing. President has talked a lot about a principle that Elder Bednar taught about the preisthood keys in missionary work. He taught him that inside missionary work there are two sets of Priesthood keys, one that lies with the Mission President in the part of the world and another that lies with each Stake President for their stake. We can only truly open the door and see the real flood of miracles when both sets of keys are working together in unison. As an effort to do that, we are now prohibited from contacting in the street and knocking doors. All of our proselyting efforts will be in unison with the members, references, less active families, part members families etc... It is a huge change for sure within missionary work, but Elder Mesa and I have already seen miracles with it. We have been really making an effort with it, and so far every lesson we have taught has been one in which a member has presented us with their friends or that we have brought a member with us to the lesson. It's really been good because the problem in missionary work lots of times is that the investigators get so attached to the missionaries that they don't have friends within the ward and when the missionaries change areas, the new members never go back to church. This is what we want to avoid. 

Another really cool part about where I'm serving is that once again I'm in Ciudad and Zona Madero! I'm like 15 blocks from my first area in Barrio Francia! I haven't seen the familia Preza yet but I've seen various members of the ward and I'm sure that I'll see them soon which I'm excited about! I'll be able to keep my eye on them and make sure that they are still progressing towards the temple. Also I have the chance to talk to my friend Elder Castro every night.  He is a Zone Leader and calls me every night when everyone is in house, so that's really fun to get to hear from him very regularly.
 
It sounds like all is well at home. I was sorry to hear that Romney lost.  Sister Jordan told me that when Romney heard that he lost, he went home and drowned his sorrows in chocolate milk lolzz. Dad, very happy birthday, I love you so much! I'm so proud to have you as my father and can't thank you enough for the countless lessons that you have taught me in my life. I love you all so much. I would love it if now with Ryan's basketball season starting if you could send me updates every time he has a game and maybe even pictures sometime. I love you all tons, now my P days are Saturdays so if you wanna write me on Fridays that will be the best way to do it. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Eyyy Yo Family:
¿¡Que Hay? Another week has blown by me and I find myself sitting back here in this tiny little internet cafe thinking back on another super week. So we had the first weather change since I've been here. It was actually like a really big change. In like 10 hours it went from 95 degrees to 55 degrees. Haha it happened Friday night to Saturday morning and when we headed out Saturday morning you would have thought people were preparing to take on a blizzard. I have never seen so many people so bundled up to brave the elements against 55 degree weather haha. It was really funny but I enjoyed it. It's hot again today but Saturday and Sunday were really nice, for like the first time since I got to Mexico I slept under a blanket and without a fan blasting air on me all night.
 
As for our week, it was another really solid one. I'm not at all sure what's going to happen, if I'll get another 6 weeks in Victoria or if they'll move me, but I'm really trying to enjoy my time here while I have it.  I have absolutely loved Cuidad Victoria, it is unlike any other city I have ever seen in my life. It makes me kind of sad that there are so many people who I love so much here that I will legitimately never see again once I leave this city. But that's part of the mission.
 
This past Saturday, we had the baptism for the youngest girl in the Guerrero family that we have reactivated, her name is Alexandra. She is 8 so it doesn't count for the mission, but as we reactivated them, we have gotten to know their family really well so it was still really cool to see. We directed and ordered the whole thing and one of the other Guerreros, Sean who yesterday started his mission papers #soStoked, baptized her. It was a really great experience. Also this week, as part of the Obra de Salvacion, Elder Garry and I have been teaching a ton of active families the lesson of the Restoration and at the end using them as resources to find more part member menos activo families. Well, obviously the first family we went to was President Maldonado and his fam and they told us of a ton of fams that we could try for. We did so and found a new fam who we taught this week. Ellos se llaman la Familia Cañas, and only the Dad is a member. We taught them Saturday and really tried hard to commit them to come to church with us. They wouldn't commit and I wasn't counting on them coming to church honestly, but Sunday morning I was really praying hard that they would come. Well, it turns out that when we showed up at Church they were already all there seated in the first row!   That was really awesome to see. All in all, we have seen a ton of miracles this last week. We had a bunch of investigators in church this week and also 12 menos activos! Barrio Victoria has doubled in average attendance in the last 4 months! The Lord has really blessed us as we have worked hard. Also, another cool thing this week is that in my morning prayers I have been making certain promises to Heavenly Father for things that I'm going to do in that day, for example, numbers of lessons taught, numbers of people I will contact in the street etc... In return I have been asking that he will put certain blessings in our way and it's really been working well and it's been a good way to push myself to get better and do more everyday.
 
Another thing that I've learned in the last few weeks is something that I think everyone can apply. If someone wants to be the best basketball player, what do they do? They practice and study the greats. Well, I've really been trying to do that as a missionary. The Bible and the Book of Mormon are full of examples of some of the best missionaries to ever walk the face of the Earth and I've been reading a lot of those missionary chapters with specific teaching skills in mind to see how they taught and how I can apply it to my teaching in order to improve. It's really helped, I feel like my teaching skills have gone out the window as a missionary, which they should since that is like all we do all day everyday.
 
I just seriously can't get over the enormity of the blessing of the gospel in my life, and also in the lives of others. Elder Garry and I were talking one day and I said that no matter what after the mission, the one thing that I don't ever want to fade in my life that I have learned here on the mission is the knowledge that the Gospel is the only true source of happiness. I can't get over how clear that is to me here as as missionary and how clouded that perspective is to so many others. The problem is that so many who don't have the gospel, or even those who do, let so many other thing into their lives that it distorts reality and doesn't allow them to see what is really important. THE GOSPEL BRINGS PERSPECTIVE. LIVING IN BABYLON MAKES YOU LOSE THAT PERSPECTIVE. The gift of the gospel is something that I will never be able to thank my whole family for. What a blessing it is to be born with that knowledge and to have parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who taught me to have that perspective. I've said it before and I'll say it again that if you are a nonmember and you are reading this, better talk to the missionaries, gain a testimony and get baptized quick because you are running out of time and only robbing yourself of blessings that your Father in Heaven wants to give you. Straight up.
 
I love you all so so much. I'm so blessed to know all of you and I feel your prayers lift me to be better and to press forward everyday that I am here.
#143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 2012

Que Hay Familia:
Yo so another good week up in Victoria. It's been such a good 4 plus months up here, I would give anything to have another 6 weeks here. We have cambios the 5th of November so we will see what happens but until then, I'm just living up my time in the Promised Land with my boy Elder Garry. We are having a killer time everyday that's for sure. We had some good success this week in the Obra de Salvacion program and and it's been a lot of fun. The Obra de Salvacion is a program that President Johnson, the Area President of Mexico, is trying out as a way to find, baptize and reactivate families. He is trying it in 4 missions here in Mexico and it's been pretty sweet. The essence of it is that working with the active members, we invite menos activos to hear all the 4 missionary lessons again, if possible in the home of a member or in the Chapel. Elder Garry and I have taken it a step further planning wise, where we have a target group of 5 less active or part member families in each ward and we are teaching them one missionary lesson a week. This week we had 10 menos activos in church and a couple of investigators as well! It's been sweet.  When Elder Castillo and I got here, the first week barrio Victoria had 28 members in attendance, last week we had 59! We've been tearing it up, Barrio Mainero has really grown as well. It's been really good to see. Here in Mexico seriously so many people are inactive just because they think that nobody cares. We have really seen some good success as far as reactivation and baptism here through the program.
 
We taught a ton of lessons to part member families and less actives this week as well. One family that we have reactivated is la familia Guerrero. They are a super cool family of 7, they are from Victoria but lived in Utah for like 7 years or so and then moved back here to Victoria, but their kids speak perfect English. We are almost done teaching them everything and they have come every week to church for the past month! They are fully active now, their son Sean is 19 years old and is preparing now to serve a mission and their youngest daughter will be baptized this Saturday! It's been sweet to see their progress. We have been helping them read the scriptures again and get into the habit of daily prayer as well.
 
With Sandra we have hit a major road block.  Her husband doesn't want to get married. We are trying everything we can to help her out and find a way to fix the problem, but as of right now, she's pretty well blocked as far as that. We have another sweet investigator named Manuel who is still progressing super well, he should be baptized in the next week and a half. Also this week we've started working more with one of my recent converts, Jessica, with her husband Carlos. Carlos has come to church with Jessica (who is a total boss, she's read like legitimately almost the whole Book of Mormon and has only been a member 2 months) for like the last 4 weeks or so but he is hard to teach because he works super late, but were gonna start teaching him more and more.
 
Another thing that I've really been doing personally that I really like is giving an accountability to the Lord in my prayers. So many times in life we set goals or want to improve, but we never follow through. The reason is we don't have somebody else to hold us accountable. The sweet thing is that as we give an accounting to the Lord at the end of each day,  He not only holds us responsible for what we have done, but it's also an awesome way to repent, and He also helps us to get better and we see almost daily improvement and progression in our lives. Just a thought as something to try.
 
It is so crazy for me to think that Jake is no longer Elder Johnston! Sounds like he gave a great talk, thanks for telling me all about it, Mom. He is totally right about working with the members. Lessons always go way better in a member's home, the spirit is strong, they already have a support system that way, and they don't just go inactive when "their missionaries" leave. Between all the Spanish speaking missionaries that will be coming home to Fallon in the next year and a half or so, there will legitimately be like a Spanish Stake in Fallon by the time we all get home. Haha we are seriously gonna have some great member missionary work to do with the Fallon Latino community.
 
I loved Ryan's "Jake Heaps" lawn mowing job! That was just way too much swaggg. Glad to see that Lil Bro is still reppin' the #JakeHeaps hardcore and holding it down for GMC$ while it's out of commission.
Well, that's about it from Ciudad Victoria. I love you all to death. I seriously must be the most prayed for Elder in the world because I feel the blessings daily. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps.
 
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012

Queridos Familiares:
So first of all, I was thinking about this a lot last Saturday, I cannot believe Elder Johnston is home! Time straight up flies on by, doesn't it! I still remember when he got his call. That was probably the first time it ever really hit me about how excited I was to go on a mission and how close it was. Now that's been well over two years ago. He's gone and come back. Great work Elder Johnston. Now try not to convert everyone in Fallon before the rest of us get home, haha. I will seriously love having a chance to sit down with Elder Hubbard and Elder Johnston one day to talk Mexico, we will all have some crazy stories to tell, that's for sure.
 
So it's been another good week here in Victoria. It's been a lot of fun. My guess is we are still in the high 80s or low 90s every single day here, it's straight hot, not gonna lie, although I will take hot over freezing cold any day. Can't really complain there. Everyone told me in September it gets cooler, but September has come and gone, haha, so we will see if it actually ever cools down.
 
President Jordan was up here in Victoria this last week and we had a really great zone conference with him. He is really pushing this new program that's called the Obra De Salvacion that is all about finding through menos activo families that we teach and reactivate. We've had some good success and some baptisms with it. As of right now, we have reactivated three families, including a family of 7 whose daughter is getting baptized this week (but she's 8 years old so it doesn't count as a baptism for us haha) and it's really going well. President Jordan also talked a lot to us about teaching the Book of Mormon more as part of the Doctrine of Christ. As he talked about that, it just totally clicked for me. As missionaries we totally have this problem sometimes where we launch off into teaching the Restoration and throwing all these crazy facts and statements at them and at the end, we explain the Book of Mormon and how it's evidence of it all,and we ask the investigator to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true... And that's good, they need to know that it's true, but for all you How to Win Friends and Influence People fans out there, you know that people don't want to hear just all this information and pray to know if something is true. They want to know what all this can do for them. It hit me that I need to teach the Book of Mormon less as the key to know if our Church is true and more as what it really is, that is the Guide of How Find Happiness in this life and How to Qualify for Eternal Life. The Book of Mormon is our guide of how to change and be better. It teaches the Doctrine of Christ, which teaches us how to become better, how to perfect ourselves, it makes us better. Elder Garry and I have started teaching the Book of Mormon more in this way and having investigators write down specifically things that they want to change in their lives, and then praying specifically for the power to change those things. We commit them to read and pray and watch the miracles happen, and so far so good.
 
Also, this week Brandon sent me a really cool article all about making covenants and exercising "perfect faith" in a moment in order to build a working relationship with the Lord. Elder Garry and I started applying this and we've seen some miracles. The article talks all about how we should pray specifically, and then act in all obedience and some of the miracles that can come from this. It was a really cool article and we learning how to apply it as we work.
 
This week we had like a record high of people in church since we've been here in Mainero. We had almost 90 people.  Our goal before the end of the year is 100, so we're on our way there! We have had a ton of support from the ward and worked well with reactivation and baptizing. Mainero has been a really small ward for a long time, but now it's really growing so that has been super good to see. The Lord has really blessed us.
 
Well, I love you all so much, I'm really working on encouraging both Lauren and Logan to go on missions so everybody help me out with that. I would have never suggested that before, but now that they've changed the age to 19 I think a lot more girls will serve.  I've seen the change and progress that comes on the mission. There is nothing else more important and more rewarding than the work of the Lord.
Love you all,
 #143 #JakeHeaps #GMC$
Elder Stockard

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012



Familiaaaaaaaaaaaaa:
Yo so probably the greatest General Conference since King Benjamin himself threw down the laws of exaltation! That was such an awesome weekend. Every week I'm not sure how I'm going to top the week I just had, and every week,we do. It's so funny because it always happens in a different way as well. It's not like we just run it every day of every week the exact same way, it's always something new that happens: new challenges, new people, new lessons, new successes every week!
 
So we were able to have some super good success with getting people out to conference this week! Manuel, an investigator who let us into his house because a lightning bolt struck like 10 feet from us when we were talking to him outside (#ThankYouMotherNature did I tell you guys that story?) came to the priesthood session with us and had an awesome experience! The next day Sandra and her family (the ones who are the referrals from los Maldonados) were all set to come to the Sunday morning session and... they didn't come. Sandra is pregnant and her husband works out of the city, and Sunday morning when la Hermana Maldonado went to pick them up, Sandra told her she had been in a ton of pain all night, hadn't slept and wouldn't be able to go. Los Maldonados told me this as the Sunday morning session was starting, and then, lo and behold, President Monson pulls out this classic talk about following the promptings of the spirit. As he spoke on that, I had this idea the we should go with the Familia Maldonado between sessions and offer Sandra a blessing. It would help her feel better, and maybe she could even go to the afternoon session. So that's what we did, we canceled our food appointment, and headed over to see Sandra. When we got there, Sandra just looked tired. She has 4 kids and they are all pretty young. We explained what a priesthood blessing is and what purpose it serves, she accepted and we started. As I finished the blessing one of the most spiritual moments of my mission happened. Sandra just started bawling. Like uncontrollably crying. She said how she had never felt so good before in her entire life. She told us how she had felt so alone and like she just couldn't do it all on her own. She told us that she just felt so so so good. The Spirit was straight out of control in the room.  It was incredible. Sandra and her whole family will be baptized in these next couple weeks and they all came to conference. It's just a lesson that when we do what's right, and have a thought to help someone, we probably don't have to guess whether it's the spirit or not, we should just do it!  In the words of President Kimball,  DO IT! You can't risk waiting, you don't know what will happen, or worse, what won't happen if you don't go. The Lord trusts his worthy servants with such ideas and then he expects them to act and bless and bring salvation to those who need it and are ready to receive it. President Monson is the prime example of this. I loved his talk.
 
I had such a great conference and got so much out of it from the way I took notes this session. Elder Bednar gave a talk of how when we write down just what was said, it does nothing, we have our own version of the large plates. It serves us nothing. When we write down what the spirit tells us and what we feel, then we have our own small plates. Those help us and are revelation for us. That's what I did, the week before I thought of and wrote down questions that I wanted to find answers to during the conference and then listened specifically for those answers. I got a TON of answers. One question that I had was if President Monson is really the Prophet of God. Well, I got a crazy sure answer of that during Priesthood Sesh. There is no doubt in my small little mind that he is God's chosen servant who walks on the Earth today. No doubt, he is the senior Apostle, he is God's mouthpiece and special witness. He leads and guides the only true church on the face of the Earth. Sorry non members who read this, if your church doesn't have TRUE prophet and the priesthood, it doesn't matter how good of a person you are, you are robbing yourselves of the blessings that your loving Heavenly Father has waiting for you, one of which is salvation. If you aren't a member, become one. If you are inactive, get active because you're running out of time. There is not a doubt in my mind that God guides his children through Thomas Spencer Monson.
 
Well, that was pretty much my week. I read some letters dad sent me from Miles, holy smokes, that dude is a stud, way to go Elder Adams with the attitude of baptism. That dude is growing up and is gonna do miracles for the Lord in France and Belguim. Also, I absolutely loved all the packages I got and especially the banner. I wanna hear the story on that. Did you ask for all of those photos? That was so awesome thanks so much. Gma Dot as well and G ma and G Pa Andros thank you all so so much. I love you all. The Church is True.
#GMC$  #143 #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

Dear Fammmm:
Yes, it continues to be so true that the time just keeps on runnin'. I think it has run faster in these past couple weeks than ever before in my mission because we are having more success right now than ever before in our mission. Elder Garry and I be straight runnin' Victoria. We are the only area in the entire mission that covers two wards but I couldn't be happier with the situation because both of our wards work super well with us and we are baptizing like it's hot!! I'll get to that in just a second. Also, I didn't know that Elder Parry was training! I'm so stoked to hear that, he is seriously one of the greatest missionaries that I have ever met, he has such a big heart, he will do wonders with a new missionary. I talked to his old Ward Mission leader up here in Victoria and he just raved about all the good work that he did up in Victoria and how they miss him to death up here.
 
So today I finally got a huuuuuggggeee stack of letters! Thank you all so much. It's hard, I don't get 'em very consistently in Victoria because we are 4 hours from the mission home and I'm going to try to respond to some today, but the time is very limited.  I do appreciate every one, especially from Lalo, Brandon, and Dad who have hit me up every week. I love hearing from you all, thanks so much.
 
So this past week was straight nuts!! Elder Garry and I are having such a great time, let me start by telling you that we had a baptism yesterday. I told you a few weeks ago about the Obra de Salvacion that we started doing where we work with the Ward counsel and pick families to teach the mission lessons to in an effort to reactivate them. Well we have been working with a less active family, la Familia Hernandez Sacramento, and yesterday we baptized the daughter of the family. Her name is Paulina and she's 11 years old. It was a great service. The whole family was there and have gone 4 of the 6 Sundays since we started working with them. Nothing like a baptism in a family to get them remotivated. That was really great. But that really doesn't even scratch the miracles from this week.
 
Let me start with telling you about the greatest missionaries in Ciudad Victoria, La Familia Maldonado. La Familia Maldonado is our greatest ally. President Maldonado was the stake president until last year up here in Victoria, he is only like 39. They have a son named Eduardo who has his mission call to Guatemala and leaves this month. One day this week we got a call from Pres. Maldonado and it went something like this, "Hey Elders how are you doing? Guess what, we have a family that is going to be at our house at 6 o clock tomorrow night, they want to listen to the missionaries, can you be here at that time?"
 
In case anyone is left wondering, yes... yes that was the greatest phone call of my life hahaha. The Hermana Maldonado had gone over and invited a family (that she didn't even know) to her house to hear the missionaries. Well that was great. We taught the family, Sandra (mom) and Carla, and Andrea (daughters over the age of 8, the dad was working out of town). They loved our message and it was a great lesson, so that was awesome. Then Saturday we had a lesson all together at the chapel and set baptismal dates with all of the family. They were all at the baptism we had yesterday and at church! It was super awesome. That is how missionary work is supposed to work. If more members had the attitude that President and Hermana Maldonado had about missionary work, the work would progress 100 times faster and retention would be 100 times easier. When the have friends in the gospel even before they walk in the chapel two things happen: One, they have a way better system of support that doesn't change areas every six weeks and two, they aren't so attached to the Elders that teach them that they go inactive as soon as they leave. Everyone who reads this should follow the example of the Maldonados and do the same! It is how the Lord wants missionary work to happen.
So that was probably one of the sweetest parts of the week. Elder Garry and I have had some incredible spiritual experiences this past week, too many to count. We set 11 baptismal dates this week with a wide variety of new investigators. We are straight up loving the work, I don't think that I've ever been so happy or fulfilled in my entire life. The wards help and support us like crazy and as we work together, we are seeing miracles. I say it almost every week but it's because its so true, Obedience brings blessings! Its the only way. You don't obey, you don't qualify for the Spirit. It's a lot like Ryan failing his drivers test the first time, he did great work, he scored great, but he disqualified himself from the get-go by not obeying. Haha my bad little bro, but it really is a great mission analogy. We can work hard, but if we don't do it and obey it serves us nothing.
 
Well the work goes forward. Victoria is still the promised land. Elder Castro and I are still on track to be at the temple next July with la Familia Preza. The Church is still true. And yeah, that's about it. I love you all to death. I miss you all, but only while I'm writing you haha. Jk... But seriously.
#143 #JakeHeaps #SpecialK #GMC$
 
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24, 2012

Eyy Yo:
Que pasaria si les escribiera in puro español? Nah jk not gonna do it. I've decided that English is a much better languague to write in. Much easier to flow and really express yourself in English. Haha but another week has gone pretty fast. I can't believe it's already been nine months since I left for the MTC. Time really does just keep cookin, huh? Sounds like everything is pretty much same old good life back at home. Yes I do remember very vividly the back to school cold season. How is the weather back in Fallon? Has it started to cool off yet or not much?  We got a couple cooler days up here one weekend and then it just cranked right back up to burning. From what everyone says here, Elder Hubbard's mish is the place to be for really nice weather all year round. It should start to cool off a little more now that were heading into October, but that's what I thought about September as well, haha. Best of luck to my Boy Costen Colburn! I'm so excited for him, he's going to have incredilbe experiences and he will be an awesome missionary. I hope he lives up every moment because it goes soooooooo fast.
 
So this week starts a new transfer! I can't believe Elder Garry and I have been together 6 weeks already! I also can't believe that I've been up here in Victoria for three months now.  I still feel like I just got here haha. I'm straight loving it though, not even gonna lie. These last few weeks have been like drop dead busy, to the point where we don't ever have enough time to accomplish everything that we wanna get done. But that's a really good spot to be in because if by chance we have a cita that falls, we've got plenty of back up plans and we don't end up just knocking doors. This last transfer really taught me a lot in organization as well, seeing as we have two wards, it's a pretty big area.  Planning appointments that are close together is super important because if you don't, you end up walking almost as much as you're teaching, so it's been a really good lesson in thinking things through and planning well. Another thing that I've really started to realize more and more, over the whole course of my misison but especially in the last few weeks, is truly the power and authority of our calling as full-time missionaries. This last week we saw experience after experience where we arrived in the exact moment that people needed us, asked some good questions, let them talk and share their problems, and then let the Spirit work through us to help and lift them. It's such an awesome feeling to know that you were where the Lord needed you to be, as his servant, at the exact moment he needed you to be there. It's something bold to say, but legitimately we are the only two people in our our area who are commissioned of Jesus Christ, with his authority, to prepare and help people recieve the ordinance of Salvation, aka Baptism. That's a huge huge task, and it is for that exact reason, for that exact purpose, that we as missionaries must be removed from the world. You couldn't live at home, with your family, friends, and facebook and do what we do in the way the Savior needs it to be done. You must be completely removed from all those things in order to truly honor the call that we have been given. It's a lot to ask but as we do that, the blessings and power that come from honoring that call are incredibly real and tangible. I have had experiences here that are incredible, that I couldn't have done if I hadn't been comissioned of Christ to do so. It's interesting: What makes missionary work hard, aka the separation from the world, is also what makes it possible.
 
So that's been the biggest thing I've learned this week. I'm so excited for this next change that is coming, I love working with Elder Garry, he is an incredible companion and I'm so happy I have another change with him. I know that the next six weeks are gonna fly by just as fast as the past ones did, and probably even faster. I'm really trying to live up every moment that I possibly can here in Victoria, it's seriously such a great place to serve, I wish you all could see the mountains here. They aren't quite as big as the Utah mountains, but they totally look like someone yanked em fresh out of the Land of Zarahemla. You guys should google earth Colonia Mainero calle 9 y canales in Victoria. It's our chapel, and then turn opposite of the chapel and you will see the super sick mountains that I wake up to every morning.
 
Well, Victoria is still the Promised Land, don't worry Momma I'm taking lots of pics. I can still say that I miss you all cuz I do, but I really don't think about it all that much. I can legitimatly say I'm to the point where I love the mission. When you work with faith, every day is an adventure. I can honestly say as well that I feel very confident that you guys are going to get me back much better than how you sent me off. Christ truly changes those that allow him to do so. I love you all so much. thanks so much for all your prayers and support. #143 #SpecialK #Jakeheaps
 
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012

Mommmma:
Yo so check it! Another sick week up here in Ciudad Victoria. I say that all the time, but it is legitimately the truth! I straight love this place so much.  I would be so content serving the rest of my mish here. Part of this comes from serving with Elder Garry because we get along so well, but a lot of this comes with time and hard work as well, but in these last probably 5 or 6 weeks, I've transitioned from the attitude of, 'I love my mish but I miss my fam and friends and I will be happy when I can see them again,' to the attitude of, 'I love my mish so much and every day is a challenge but it's straight SICK WIT IT everyday up in here.' I seriously love it so much. There are some days where I wake up, pray, think about the plans we have for the day and just can't wait to get out there. It's been pretty cool. I think this also comes as I learn more and more about the eternal laws that govern all happiness that it just so happens that we as humans many times make the choice to ignore. Those laws are the commandments, they don't change and they always bring us happiness, it's a very simple process, the problem is that Satan has dressed up and twisted disobedience to the commandments in such a way that many people have been misled as to what really brings happiness. The good thing is that the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, have that guide for us as to what really brings happiness and our obedience the these principles will always keep us on the path of joy here in this life and eternal life in the next. Pretty good plan I'd say.
 
So the best thing this week happened with Lorenzo's family, la Familia Villanueva. Their whole family lives together, and when I say whole family, I'm talking like 3 generations, lots of people. Not all of them are members, but all of the sudden a ton of them want to listen to us. We now have 7 investigators in that fam and 5 of them want to be baptized really soon! #Blessing. Two of them have already been to church a lot and are going to be baptized in two weeks and the rest is a work in progress as we are going to have to help get two of them married. This is usually somewhat of an obstacle due to the cost, but not to worry, one of our super awesome member neighbors has the government hook ups and has a way to get it done for free! So that's pretty sick, we should be baptizing an awful lot in these next couple of weeks with all these part member families. Something I've really seen a lot of success with with these less actives is to always start with some questions about how they met the missionaries, their conversion process, and their baptism day. This serves two purposes: 1, It gets them talking about themselves, which everyone wants to do, it gets them telling experiences which they will almost always ending up telling you why they are menos activo, and 2, it gets them remembering, thinking and feeling some of the same spirit that they felt at the time of their conversion. My ability to get people to talk about themselves has been something that has really grown and it's a really great tool in missionary work, not gonna lie. Remember all you future missionaries slash car salesmen, EVERYBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES, and if you let them do it for long enough, you will know what you need to teach, read, say, or do... I promise.
 
Another super sick part of this last week was that I had my first dia de independencia here in Mexico!!! The stake had this huge fiesta with a focus of getting investigators and menos activos out to it... And we did. There was over 1000 people there, tons of food, games, and Mexican music. We had like 8 investigators there and a ton of less active families. The Elders were allowed to go if we had investigators there and so I got to see the Mexican version of 4th of July. Not quite as good as a good ole patriotic 4th of July with Booner Ray Giles, but still it was fun. Plus one thing is that Mexican people just flat out know how to cook, that's for sure. It was a really fun time though and a successful activity for our investigators and menos activos.
Well, the church is true, it's something I feel every single day in my heart. And even if I didn't, I could just look at their financial records and I think that would be sufficient evidence of the truthfulness of the gospel. Hahah jk, but like for real.
Love you all to death. #DYT #143
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012

 Yes, my name is Elder Stockard and yes, I do serve in the best city on Earth.
 
My neck has gotten a little bit smaller, haha.

Elder Garry and I at Lorenzo's baptism.

Familllllllliaaaaa
Wow, OK so first off, so so so stoked for Elder Travis Woodburn to be serving a mish!!! ¿Hong Kong? That is so, so dope. Elder Garry has been to Hong Kong quite a bit actually. His Grandpa was the Area President there for a long time when he was in the Quorum of the 70 and he loved it! That is so sick! Yo but momma, you totally left me hanging on when he leaves for the mish, haha. So hit me up with that next week. So good to hear from all of you clowns once again. Sounds like everything is going really well back in the US. Yes momma not gonna lie, it does kinda seem like all you guys do is go to Midway and I don't blame you haha. That's all I will be doing for prob the first six months when I get back along with #ElderSpecialK and T Hubbs. We're gonna be living the dream up there at BYU and hopefully making the trip up to Midway quite often. 
So its been another super great week up in Victoria. A few weeks back, President Jordan introduced a plan that Presidente Johnson, the Area Pres of Mexico, had come up with and that a lot of missions have been doing. It's called the Obra de Salvacion and it's a reactivation/find through the members/ baptize like it's hot plan. It's all centered on teaching these part member menos activo familias in the homes of members, in a joint effort between the Ward Counsels and the Missionaries. Basically, we are teaching these familias all of the investigator lessons again from the beginning in a way to really get them excited again and help them remember why they got baptized.
The highlight of this week I would say was that Elder Garry and I set some goals for what we feel we can accomplish in our two wards in these coming months before the end of the year. We really hit it hard (as part of these goals) this week with la Obra de Salvacion as well. We taught the Restoration a TON of times this week and almost all of them were a little bit different but they were all really great spiritual lessons. Elder Garry and I feel that we can increase the average attendance here in Barrio Victoria and Barrio Mainero by 25 people each through convert baptisms and reactivation between now and the end of this calendar year. So this past Tuesday we wrote out some really specific goals of what we wanted to do and how we were going to do it, and then we got our Ward Mission Leader on board with our plan of how to do so this last Tuesday at our meeting.  We presented it at Ward Counsel yesterday. What we want to do is pick 5 familias that are part member or menos activo and start with them, and we want to combine that with a ward effort to give the visits every week until the end of the year. We mapped out a lot of potential families and the auxiliary organizations that they would be involved in and brought all this stuff together to our ward counsels. Then together with the ward counsel we picked 5 that we wanted to start with from this list and are hitting the pavement with it. It was a really great meeting and I feel like were really going to have success with this. The mission is teaching me the importance of goal setting as a way to truly achieve full potential. I really like it and have gotten so much better at it. It also gives you a better mapped out way of how we're going to do things and, when goals are set under the direction of the spirit with righteous intentions, it's a great way to enlist the spirit's help in your life. That's my opinion.
Also, believe it or not, the mission is teaching me the importance of having a plan. This is a struggle for me as Elders Christiansen, Adams, Faught, and I have always been complete fly by the seat of our pants kind of people, but planning really does have it's benefits. My problem is that I've always had a plan, I just don't usually voice it, I just get it done.  Working in a companionship has really taught me to have a good, well-understood, well mapped out plan. That being said, I'm still not perfect, considering that we got assigned to speak in Church this last Wednesday and yesterday I just totally got up and winged it for 15 minutes hahaha. #Classic
I'm not gonna lie, I straight love serving with Elder Garry. He's a super cool Elder and he reminds me a lot of myself when I was with Rindy. I hope I remind him of Rindy cuz that dude is just a total boss, but we are having a super fun time. It's really funny having an American trainee because all the cultural differences that I don't even notice anymore, he totally notices, which in turn makes me notice.
Life is straight good. The work is good, really hard, but good. The comp is good, the food is good, the city is good. I hope all of you are having as good of a time in the US as I am down here in Mexico. I really do mean that. I have really arrived at a point where I straight love the people down here, I love teaching, I love the mish right now. I love you all so much. Shout out to Elder Faught heading down to Chile #DYT. Love you all and I truly do feel your love and support. #143 #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 3, 2012

Mi Querido Familia:
Whats goooooooooooooood??? Yo so another super sick week here in Victioria! Seriously such a good week in such a good area. We had a ton of success this week and some good ups and downs which really make you appreciate the ups, that's for sure.
We taught like 25 lessons this past week, with 11 new investigators and 2 of our recent converts went to the temple in Tampico to do baptisms this last Saturday as well!!! I was so stoked for them. One of them is Christian who is straight on fire right now! He loves working with us, has institute classes almost every night, reads the scriptures daily, is making tons of good LDS friends, and cannot wait to serve a mission. It's been so awesome to see his progress. Other than that for sure the highlight of the week was Lorenzo Villanueva's baptism this Saturday. Lorenzo has been one of my favorite investigators and seeing his change and progress has been absolutely incredible. Lorenzo is a 55 year old man whose wife and grandson joined the Church about two years ago, but shortly after went inactive. We found them through the help of the Obispado and over these past two changes, we first reactivated his wife and Grandson, and since then have been teaching, reading, and trying our best to invite the spirit to work within him and their entire family. We have had some wonderful experiences with their family over the past month and Lorenzo's conversion has been an incredible testimony to me of the power of the Holy Ghost in conversion and also of the Book of Mormon. A month ago, Lorenzo wanted nothing more than to just listen in (he actually only started listening because we insisted on having a man in the room in all the lessons, haha) and nothing more, but the Book of Mormon intrigued him. As he started to read he was engulfed in it; and something incredible happened: the teachings of the Book of Mormon changed him. Well, mejor dicho, the spirit that he felt as he listened to us and read the Book of Mormon changed him. Pretty soon he quit drinking, he hasn't done that in a long while, and he actually did that even before we taught the Word of
Wisdom. One of the defining moments in his conversion was the first time that he came to church. It was Elder Castillo's last day here in Victoria and the whole family came to church. That night we went by to see how they felt and literally, Lorenzo's countenance had changed. He actually looked different. He talked all about how great all the members had been (such a blessing to serve in maybe the friendliest ward on the planet), how much he learned and how he had felt. Lorenzo has become a true student of the scriptures and is learning and growing everyday. It has been an experience that makes me proud to be a missionary.
Yesterday I taught both Priesthood and Gospel Doctrine classes and it was soo fun. I taught Gospel Doctrine on Temples, the importance the reason etc... and it went really well. I have become such a better teacher over the course of my mission, the Lord has really blessed me with that. The key to good teaching I am convinced is in the questions that you ask, and your ability to let your students learn the truths for themselves (as much as possible) instead of just handing them all this info. When people can arrive at knowledge themselves, or self commit to do things, instead of having it given it to them, the information sticks so much better. The key is to ask good questions that help the truths of the gospel really click inside people's heads as they answer logically and let the spirit work inside them. Well, at least that's my opinion, haha.
So sounds like a super sick week for the Stockard fam as well. I love hearing about all the good times up in Midway. I hope you guys will all go skiing or snowboarding up there sometime this winter. Yes, I definitely remember all the good old Kelly reunions up there. One that I remember especially was when right after, Grams, Ry and I took off in the old '03 white accord and drove to California and stayed the night in Beaver Utah. #GoooodTimes. I really can't believe it's been a year since I got my mission call and that Travis will be getting his sooo soon! Really use this time well to prepare Travis cuz the hour is hastening on. Oh and also, I love hearing from Elder Adams, Elder Faught and of course #ElderSpecialK's letters. Haha I read Elder Adam's first letter from when he got to Belgium, apparently he didn't get the memo about how you don't write home about all the crazy things that happen during the week, hahaha. So glad school is going so well and that everyone is having such a great time. I miss you all so much but that doesn't change the fact that Victoria is the Promised Land. #143 #DYT #JakeHeaps
Love,
Elder Stockard

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

Familia:
¡Ey Que Onda! Whats up errbody?  Yeah, Momma it really is crazy the difference a year makes. Now all those teenagers that were always at our house are or will be sharing the gospel on almost every continent. I've been thinking a little about that and I seriously can't believe that it's been a year since I started school at BYU. That seems like yesterday. You guys are all starting up school and in a ton of different parts as well. BYU, CCSD, The Charter School, etc... but I'm super excited for you all, the start of school is always pretty fun, especially for Ryan I'm sure who will be driving to school haha.
Our week down in Victoria was a ton of fun. One thing I've found out about my missionary style is that I'm here to find the people that are prepared to hear the gospel. If we are teaching someone and they aren't showing forth a lot of interest, I'm not gonna keep coming back to them, it's not their time and if they're not going to keep commitments and progress, they're wasting our very valuable and short time. This is good, but sometimes it means that we have a few days or weeks where our investigator pool isn't huge, haha. This happened last week at the beginning of the week so Elder Garry and I had some good solid bonding time while contacting in the sweltering midday Mexico sun, haha. President has put a big emphasis on improving the way we contact and find people and I'm all for that. Contacting is incredibly ineffective, but sometimes it's necessary if there's not another option available at that hour of the day, so Elder Garry and I have been putting a big emphasis on contacting looking for specific people or houses, etc. What we've been doing is praying very specifically during our nightly planning, asking for specifics in where and how and when we're going to find these specific golden investigators, and then going and looking for them. One time this week we found exactly who we were looking for and they accepted us! It was a super cool experience and we're going to see what happens with him. It's also been kind of good because at the beginning of the week Elder Garry was getting lots of good practice with his Spanish and contacting people and talking to them in the streets. Man, after serving a mission, I'm very convinced that I will never have an awkward date because I have so much practice with talking to random people about nothing, hahaha. For example, when I door contact, usually I just pick the first thing I see and start talking with the people about it till I can make a joke, they laugh, and then if it's a sincere laugh, I have 2 minutes, if it's fake I have 30 seconds. Haha. Just a note from how we contact down here.
We found, taught, and had a new part member familia at church today.  They are pretty great. The dad and the daughter that is 13 are not members, but the mom, 23 year old brother and 17 year old daughter are. The mom has a really strong testimony and they came to church, which was stake conference yesterday. The familia Villanueva is still on to be baptized this Saturday and have already had their interview which was sick. Christian esta con ganas. I don't know how to say that in English but he's super on fire with the church and everything right now. He has taught with us and is reading everyday in the BofM. He's also going to three institute classes and has some sick friends that are all members. At first his fam didn't like that he got baptized, but they have all seen huge blessings and changes since he did and we're hoping to maybe start teaching them all real soon.
At stake conference yesterday, I heard something really cool. Estaca Victoria has had 200 convert baptisms in the last year! That is a ton. Also, President Jordan has this really good retention program that we are doing where we have two 20-minute lessons every week with our recent converts and we do this for 20 weeks. In these lessons we review, reteach, or even better, have them teach us, one point from one of the investigator lessons until we have covered them all. I really think this will be killer for retention.
Elder Garry is a super cool Elder. I really like him a lot and we know a ton of the same people. He knows a ton of my friends from school like Maeser and all the Mesa kids. He's a super cool guy from a super strong fam and I really like him a lot.
Well that's what good in our hood for this week. I love you all so much and miss you tons. Thanks for all your love and support and especially your prayers.
#143 #GMC$
Elder Stockard

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 20, 2012

Familyyyyyyy:
Yo, so crazy dope week! Lots of time on a bus, baptizing, teaching, finding, teaching, and eating super good Mexican food as always. So it started out with heading to Tampico last Tuesday. That was super, super fun, four of us from Zona Victoria headed up to Tampico to pick up our new comps. I was so stoked for this generation of new Elders because they got some super sick trainers not gonna lie. Every single missionary there at the trainers meeting is a super good missionary and it was fun to see all of them. When we got to the mission home Tuesday, there were 12 new missionaries. 8 were Americans and I was pretty sure I wouldn't get any of them as my comp, 3 from South America and 1 from Mexico. Well my comp's name is..... Elder Garry, an American from Mesa, Arizona, who one night was taking photos with Elder Faught in the MTC and the next was snappin photos with another member of GMC$ down in Tampico, Mexico! How sick is that?! He's a super cool Elder.  We know a bunch of the same people because he went to BYU too.  So yeah, I was pretty much blown away by that, President Call very rarely gave Americans to American Trainers, but here we are together. Haha. His Spanish isn't too bad, but there's still a lot to learn, so the goal is that we're really trying not to speak a lot of English and so far we've done a pretty good job with it. I'm really focusing on giving him lots of opportunities to teach and contact and learn by trial and error because really that's the only way you learn a lot of times is by personal experience. That was something that Elder Rindy gave me was a ton of chances to contact people in the streets which really helped my Spanish improve quickly, so we're doing a lot of that down here as well.
So I was super happy that Jessica's baptism was this last Saturday because how sick is it to arrive in your first area in the mission and have your comp tell you that you guys have a baptism this coming Saturday and that you're going to do the ordinance?! So yeah, Jessica's baptism was this last Saturday and Elder Garry did the baptizing which was super sweet! He did a great job, he was a little worried about the words in Spanish but he did perfect. It was such an awesome service, her husband came with their little daughter, and Christian, one of our other recent converts, spoke and gave the story of his conversion which was super, super powerful. He is preparing to serve a mission, going to receive Melchezidek priesthood soon, and we made plans for him to go on the ward temple trip to Tampico in two weeks!
We also found of ton of new investigators this week that are super close to baptism already! There's a man named Teodocio in Barrio Mainero that was baptized not too long ago and we found him, taught his wife and his two kids, and they ALL came to church this past week! It was super sick, also the familia Villanueva is progressing well and will be baptized the 1st of September. I've been really happy that Elder Garry is experiencing some good success in his first area because that wasn't really a luxury that Elder Rindy and Elder Castro and I had in Francia for like 9 of my 12 weeks there haha. But it's been a super fun week, Elder Garry is getting used to Mexico pretty well, he hasn't gotten sick yet which is a plus.
I'm super stoked, tomorrow is Zone Conference so Pres and Hna Jordan are heading up to Victoria. I really like President Jordan, we get along super well and he reminds me a ton of Dad. There are a ton of similarities haha. But he's a super funny guy and I'm sure zone conference will be sweet. Our goal as a zone is even higher this change than the last one. It was 53 last change and 57 this change. I'm super stoked, Victoria seriously is so sweet and truly is exploding right now.
It's still blazing hot here, but everyone tells me that in September it will start to cool off a little bit, that will be nice. This last week has been kinda weird because for the first time is my mission, my Spanish is better than my companion's haha. But it's been really good; I would say I feel 100% fluent, I don't have any real problems communicating and I can finally get some of the jokes the first time haha. The Lord has really blessed me with the language.
Ok, so I need my home girls Logan and Baylee's address up at BYU so if you will hit me with that this next week I would love that.
I love you all so much. Have an awesome time going back to school everyone. I wanted to send a ton of pics this week cuz I have some sweet ones, but my computer won't let me in the Internet Cafe I'm in HASHTAGhomeless. I hope all is well. I miss you all, but Victoria is the place to be at. Thank you all for your prayers, love and support, I really do feel them often.
143
Elder Stockard