Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012 - Traveling to Nashville

Tommy traveled today from the MTC in Provo to Nashville, Tennessee.  He went with six other Elders (Elders Parry, Grill, John, Zurrow, Ropp and Stewart) who are also awaiting visas to go to Mexico.  My sister, Tommy's Aunt Christy, was traveling with her husband and five of her kids from Rexburg, Idaho to Richmond, Virginia.  Of course, they had to go through the Salt Lake airport.  His cousin Brandon found him first, and Tommy was pleasantly surprised by a quick visit with the Fialas.  What a happy blessing to get to see a few relatives before their flights!

As part of the missionary traveling protocol, Tommy got to call his family while he waited for his flight.  Tom, Lauren, Ryan, Alyssa and I all got to have an individual chat with him and then we sat around a speaker phone and had him tell us more about his MTC time.  He sounds so happy and excited to be going to Tennessee to serve.  We don't know if he will have opportunities to use his newly acquired Spanish language, but Tom asked him to bear his testimony to him in Spanish over the phone today.  That made my day!

Unless we hear otherwise, we are using the Nashville mission address at the right to mail things to him.  He is so very thankful for all the support from family and friends!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Tommy got to make a 5 minute call home to tell us where he is being reassigned.  He is going to Nashville, Tennessee.  He leaves on Monday, February 27.  He is traveling in a group of 7 elders who are all awaiting visas for Mexico.  He does not know how long he will be there and he doesn't think it is a Spanish speaking assignment.

He sounded so happy.  He said to be sure to post on the blog how thankful he is for his family and friends and how supportive everyone has been for him.  He said again how happy he is and what a blessing it is to him to be able to serve as a full-time missionary.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
Wow it is still so crazy to me that this is my final letter that will be coming to you from the MTC! The time has flown by and I have learned and grown so much here!
This is my advice to all incoming missionaries:  TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE of the opportunity you have at the MTC to learn and grow. There is no rule that says you have to love and enjoy the MTC but I´ll tell you what, it sure helps.
I was so excited and want to give a huge congrats to Lauren for getting into BYU!!!!!! That is so awesome, congrats lil sis, you will love it. Also a huge congrats to everyone who got accepted which as far as I know is Quinn, Logan, Baylee, and Hannah! A huge congrats!  BYU is an awesome school and you will all love it sooooo much! Logan and Lauren, I have the letters of advice you both requested in the mail, haha.
And so now the Travel Plans... Thursday is the day that all travel plans come for departures coming in two weeks and so last Thursday when we didn´t have travel plans in our mail box, I stopped by and asked what was next. They asked where I was going and before I could finish saying the word "Mexico," they said, "Yeah you're getting reassigned."  Apparently all Mexico missionaries are currently waiting for visas, so barring a major change in the next 24 hours (which is possible) I will find out tommorrow morning where my new Mission is for a while! Because there are so many missionaries currently being reassigned, they are sending people ALL over so I could end up anywhere and it is really exciting to know that it could be anywhere! It's kind of cool to get a second mission call and I know where ever I go is where the Lord needs me to be. The other cool thing about it is that we will find out tommorrow and depending on where I'm going, I could leave as early as Friday morning. Because of this I get to call you for about 5 minutes tommorrow morning so that I can can coordinate travel plans and times with you guys. I need you to dearelder me back a response of what phone I should call before 4 o clock utah time today please? Muchas Gracias. Yes Momma, we can call from the airport so that is something I'm really looking forward to.
So that has been the bulk of our District's excitement this week is the mystery of not knowing where in the United States we could be going! Besides that it has been a great week. Our district has grown very close and I will miss them all dearly. The Bolivian Elders in our district left a month ago for the Peru MTC so they have no VISA issues.
Once again, I am just so grateful for my time here at the MTC. I have learned and grown so much and not just in the Gospel and in Spanish, but I have learned so much about so many other things: about myself, about how to work hard, about apreciating my family and friends, and about relying on Christ. The MTC is hard, I won't lie, it's not easy, but it's better that way. When you are here, you have to learn to rely on you Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ because you don't really have any other choice. You are here disconnected from the rest of the world and asked to not only learn, but also teach the gospel in a new language. The only way to do so is with the help of the Godhead. And I can testify that they don't forsake misssionaries. In these very few short weeks here, I have felt the love and support of Christ more than maybe ever before in my life. There is a promise given to all missionaries in D&C 68:5-6 that I absolutley love and would encourage everyone to read. I know that there is no better place for me to be right now and I am so excited for so many of my friends to soon be able to have the same experience! Take advantage of the MTC, whether you're here for 3, 6, 9, or 12 weeks. If you do your best here, it will bless your mission.
College friends:  So I finally got a picture with Elder Rodenburg and Elder Hooper so I will be sending that to someone back at the Y. Also, Elder Rodenburg and I were eating together in the cafeteria Sunday night and guess who we saw? None other than Maximo Acevedo himself!!! It was cool to talk to him for just a few mins and it sounds like everyone is doing good (aside from Brady who it sounds like has quite the car issue - with it being #smashed and what not, who gives you guys rides now?)
Momma, I finally am sending pics home today! Sorry its taken so long.
I love you all so much, thank you for all the letters, packages, and support. May the Lord bless each of you exceedingly.
Elder Stockard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15, 2012

Family and Friends!!
Greetings everybody! Another week has flown by at 2005n 900e Provo, Utah 84604! It was another great week, each week I can't believe how much I learn and grow. I am truly going to miss this place when I leave.  It has been an incredible opportunity to serve here and I have loved it!
From multiple sources this week I have heard how well Ryan played to end the season. Atta baby little bro, I'm very proud of you. It also sounds like you guys have such a sick trip planned in the coming weeks heading up to Rexburg! Ryan will love seeing the crew I'm sure and that's so awesome that the Fialas will be there at the same time! Crazy good luck! What's the latest with Dad's preparation for Dancing with the Stars? Just to make sure, I need to have this recorded so that I can watch this in two years. Hahaha Pops, just don't hurt yourself.
So it has been crazy for me this week to hear that Elder Garrett Adams is already home. That seems very strange to me, it seems like not too long ago Kevin, Hadley and I were rolling up to listen to his farewell. It sounds like he gave an awesome homecoming talk. Even though I don't know Garrett that well, I have enjoyed reading stuff on his blog, reading his Christmas letters and learning from his example. He was an awesome missionary it sounds like.
So tomorrow is a big day. If we are leaving for Mexico on our scheduled leave date of 02/27, then tomorrows is the day that we will receive our travel plans!!!!!!! It's crazy that it's already here.  In a way it feels as though I just got here, but in reality, I am ten days from leaving. If we haven't gotten our VISAs, I'm not exactly sure what happens next. It seems very vague whenever we ask haha. I would assume we will be here for another two weeks or so and then reassigned, but whatever happens is fine by me. I know I will be where God needs me when he needs me there.
This week I have been reading in 2nd Nephi for my personal study and I have loved it. I hope that everyone will take some time to read and ponder on 2 Nephi 31. It is an awesome chapter where the Gospel of Jesus Christ or "The Way" is laid out very plainly and easy to understand. A verse that really got me was verse 20. A recurring theme throughout the scriptures is that all of us who wish to follow Christ must follow his example and keep his commandments. If we do this, we are repeatedly promised eternal life; but occasionally the scriptures dig deeper and they will tell us characteristics that we must develop. Three that always seem to go together are faith, hope, and charity.  While I have been in the MTC, I have been striving to learn more about these; what they mean, and how we develop them. The three traits really all do seem to go together and it is because you need to have the first two in order to develop the third. Faith is the foundation upon which we all must build. We must have faith in Christ in order to believe in him and do as he has asked us to because many times what he asks is not easy. Faith develops hope. Hope is a sincere belief in something better, it is truly having faith that after this life we will all stand and be judged, and rewarded for our works.  This hope also drives us to do what is right. And then there is charity, or the pure love of Christ. Charity is a gift from God that can only be gained through selfless service, faith, and hope. When you think about it, charity comes as we truly focus our lives around Christ; around His sacrifice for us, around His love for us, and around His commandments which He has lovingly given to us so that we can each return and live with Him. When we are truly trying to live like Christ, selflessly serving others, we gain charity and true conversion, not to any worldly thing, but to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Through that, we live His principles and doctrine which are explained in 2 Nephi 31. All three of these characteristics are mentioned (not all by name) in verse 20. Friends and family, let us all press forward with a steadfastness in Christ; because when our steadfastness is in Christ, we have nothing to fear in this world because through our faith, our hope, and hopefully our charity, we know what is waiting beyond.  It is something so much greater than any reward of this world. I know this to be true and I am working very hard to increase my faith, hope, and in turn my charity.
This week we also had a leadership meeting where our branch presidency asked each of us to think of a good leader in our lives besides our parents. I thought and immediately my mind turned to one person:  Lalo Otuafi. He was my coach in both sports, and he's also one of my very best friends. They asked me to tell about the person I was describing and I happily told about my friend Lalo, the coach who understood people very well and knew when to push and when to love. I told of how he made so many sacrifices in order to give of his time and his knowledge to high school kids. I talked about how he is maybe the most humble person I have ever met and how time after time I saw him help those who needed him taking no thought for himself.  I talked about how much I learned from him. Less about sports and more about being a good person, about helping others, and about what is really important. Lalo, I am so grateful for your example and friendship and hope I can make you proud.
I love you all and hope that all is well. Let us all try and focus our lives around our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and view and treat each person we meet and see as a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. If we do this, you will feel an increase of love and joy come into your heart, a desire to serve and your desire to sin will lessen significantly. I testify that this church is God's church upon the Earth.  Christ is at the head, and by living His gospel, we will all obtain that which is most precious. Whenever you have a question, prayerfully search the scriptures and let the Holy Ghost guide your thoughts and actions. May the lord bless you. Let us all press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.
Elder Stockard

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 8, 2012

iQue Tal!
Mi familia y amigos!!!!!!!!!! What's happening!!? This week has been so awesome, Sunday and yesterday might have been two of the top five days since I've been here.
But how is life out in the real world? I was so excited to hear bout lil bro gettin off for 15! That is awesome, keep working hard and hittin' treys homeboi. Also Lauren, so happy that you had an awesome weekend in Vegas for the quizbowl, yes, you are just that much smarter than I am hahaha. Also, so stoked to hear that the BadHad might have his call by the time you guys go to Rexburg! I cannot wait to hear where he is going.  I'm standing by my original guess of Brazil.
To answer your q's real quick momma, the shoes are great, I haven't welcomed missionaries yet because Wednesday is our P day and Elder Parry and I go so hard on letter writing the whole time but I am so excited for Elder Buttah Biscuit to hit the field today! Oh and so I was looking all week for Elder Thomas and didn't see him until finally yesterday leaving the cafeteria! He told me the first two or three days were rough, which is totally normal, but that after Sunday he has been absolutely loving it! It was so good to see him. I have not gotten the one strap bag yet so if you could send that it would be great. Also, I am taking lots of pics and will send them home next week.
So last Sunday was Fast Sunday and I was able to bear my testimony completely in Spanish. It was such a great experience. The thing that inspired me to get up there is that our branch president, President Roundy, was starting off the meeting and he talked about how much of a difference the small and simple things in life can make, such as daily scripture reading and prayer. As soon as he said that, I was just overcome with gratitude because I thought back to my own life. Mom & Dad: I cannot tell you how grateful I am that every single morning you read scriptures with us and once a week we did FHE, and every morning and night you prayed with us. I didn't know it until recently, but it truly has made all the difference and it built a firm testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon, the power of prayer, and of the joy of families. I am so blessed and proud to call you two my parents and so grateful for the way you raised me and I hope that you can always look at me and say that my decisions make you proud. But it was a great experience to bear my testimony in Spanish.
The really awesome thing this week for me was a scripture I found in Deuteronomy 31. I have for a long time now loved verse 6, but a few weeks ago I decided to read on a little farther in the chapter to verse 8. I think I like verse 8 even better, we used it in a few of our lessons this week for our "investigators" and it is an awesome scripture. I encourage you all to read and remember that verse.
Yesterday was awesome for a few reasons. Every Tuesday night at the MTC, they have a general authority come and speak at a devotional. Last night was Bishop Edgely and his wife which was great, but what made yesterday special is I had dinner with Ed & Jane Swapp (President and Sister I guess). It was crazy how I ran into them. I was holding the door for some couples missionaries on the way to lunch and I looked up and there they were! I was on the lookout for them because Grandma had told me they were here for language training, but it's still so crazy how I saw them! It was so awesome to have dinner with them and catch up with them! They are such awesome people and they are truly faithful servants of the Lord! I'm guessing President Swapp has already called Grandma because he said he was but I took a picture with them and I will send it home next Wednesday!
Besides that my week has been pretty normal with class and studying. The MTC is truly such a blessing. In true Tommy Stockard/Hadley Faught/Kevin Christiansen fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants form, I had neglected to sign up for a haircut for the past like two weeks so I have had to resort to this straight swaggin combover with my hair tucked behind my ears, lolzz! It's so gross looking, the MTC version of #LongHairDontCare, but I am getting a haircut today, haha. Still no news on my VISA, but this week while I was thinking about the whole visa thing I remembered some more advice from Uncle Brandon (He gave me a lot haha). Miles and I were at his house one night and he was talking about the MTC time and how, although it wasn't his favorite, he accepted that his 2 year mission was God's time and that He had a plan. If God wanted him to sit in a classroom for 8 hours a day for the next two years and study the whole time, then that is what you do, and you do your best at it. It's the same thing with the whole VISA situation. God has a plan and whether I am supposed to go straight to Tampico or to SLC or Boize (lolzzz once again, I know there are two z's in Boizze Kenna) then that is what I will do, and I will trust him and His plan.
I am so thankful for all the letters and support and prayers from all of you. You have no idea how much each letter means to me. A favorite quote from one this week came from my boy Maeser Allen at college. He said, "Sometimes all of us here read your letters together, we are all so excited to see how you are doing, it's like you're the first one to go take the American Heritage test and we all want to know what your score was."  Hahahaha, I liked that one, and it's so true. Well college amigos, hopefully I get a Drew Hooper-like score in my "American Heritage" test. I'll take care of Elder Rodenburg for all you clowns. Keep it classy on your end of town and we'll hold it down on this end ;)
I love you all so much and sincerely hope that all is well with each and everyone of you. Know that things couldn't be better in el CCM, and that I miss you all dearly.
Hasta la proxima cemana,
Elder Stockard

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1, 2012

iQue Tal People!
What is up everybody?!! How's life out in the Big Cold World? I was excited to hear that Ryan started last night! He has now started more Varsity basketball games in his Freshman year than I did in my entire Varsity career!  But how did it go? That's exciting about Lauren's quiz bowl coming up! That will be awesome.  Laur, I know you will tear it up! How's Lys and the rest of the extended fam?  Aunt Christy, Grandma and Grandpa Andros, Grandma Dot, and Momma I got all of your packages this week, thank you all so much for them! Mom, the shoe soles work great, and I realize for the last couple weeks I have been ignoring your question about pictures, accidentally of course, lolz. I will send some home in a letter soon!
I am so excited! Today my boy Aaron Thomas gets here and next week Elder Bisciut gets here (he's my boy from college!)  Brother and Sister Thomas, if you read this, know that your son is about to experience growth and happiness that he couldn't imagine beforehand and that I will be here for this next month to take good care of him and show him around.
Oh and in other news, fun little fact: The last 3 districts going to Mexico have all been delayed due to issues within the country, I think there are 90 VISA waiting missionaries or something waiting for Mexico, so it will be really interesting to see how the whole VISA situation works out. If it doesn't, I could be kickin' it in Boize (Lol Kenna, that's for you) Mesa, or the SLC for a while but we will wait and see.
Last night was an incredible experience. Last night's devotional commemorated the 50th anniversary of the MTC and because of that we were blessed to have quite the program. Jeffrey R. Holland walked in first followed by Russell M. Nelson. Both gave awesome talks and it was so sweet to hear President Brown announce, "Our first speaker will be Elder Holland of the Quorum of the 12, and he will be followed by Elder Nelson, also of the 12."  That made me think, "wow, outside of conference how many people get to hear those two names announced as their speakers for the evening?"  It was so awesome the spirit was incredible. Elder Holland talked a lot about the importance of honoring the office to which we are called and those who have gone before us. It made me think, Mom, what generation of missionary am I? I know the Bennions/Bairds are longggggg time Mormon fams but how many generations before me have served missions? I would be really curious to know. Elder Nelson's talk was awesome as well. He talked a lot on the ripple effect that missionary work has over generations and also on the power of the Book of Mormon in conversion. I have a strong testimony of that as well. To anyone who may read this, know this: The Book of Mormon is UNDOUBTEDLY the word of God to his prophets. If you don't believe it, I challenge you to read it with an open mind, pray, and decide for yourself. There is only one answer you will receive and that is one that will affirm the truth of it to your heart and mind.
One more experience I want to share. This week I met a remarkable Elder. I don't remember his name but he is from Ethiopia. He is going to Portugal (or Brazil, can't remember). He knows 5 languages already. He is an incredibly humble and faithful servant who is so happy to be out on a mission, his happiness and joy radiates from his face. If I had to guess, I would guess that in temporal matters, he may not have been as greatly blessed as most of us. I saw him yesterday in the cafeteria, eating, smiling, just overall very happy, and it made me think about how blessed I have been in my life and also it made me think about perspective. From my perspective, many times I have walked into a cafeteria and complained about the food, or the choices or whatever it may be, but I was complaining about things that I had been blessed with. He walked into the cafeteria and I'm sure was just blown away by the amount of good food and choices he had. He wakes up while at the MTC and looks out the window to see a temple, a house of the Lord only a matter of steps away. Seeing him and his faithfulness and spirit has made me think about how much so many faithful young men give up and sacrifice in order to be apart of this work. It is truly humbling to be a missionary and I am so happy out here. Don't worry about me for even a minute. haha.
I am so grateful for each and every one of you who I am so proud and honored to call my family and friends. I love you all so much. Each of you has blessed my lives in ways you can't even imagine. I miss you all, and I honestly can't describe how happy it makes me to read a letter from any one of you! I cherish your love and support so so so much. I am truly the most blessed Elder in the field because I have been privileged to know and to learn from each of you.
May we all strive to live our lives in accordance with the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this week. The way to do so is simple, keep his commandments and if you do that, His spirit will guide you and show you all things which you should do. But don't take my word for it, check out 2 Nephi 32:5.
I love you all, #StayFly #DoItBig #TeAmo and of course #JakeHeaps
Take care gangstas and don't forget ladies, Valentine's day is just around the corner in the MTC as well ;)
Elder Stockard