Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012

Mi Familia (y amigos supongo) ;)
Wow, so it has been an awesome, really crazy week here in Lebanon but I have been so blessed! I love all of your letters and emails because it makes me so happy to see how all of you back home are being blessed as well.
So here's my week: For the last month, my trainer, Elder Holder, has been having some major health issues, especially with his knees. We have been in contact with doctors and gone to appointments for a while. Finally the decision came down from Salt Lake this week that he would have to go home for surgery and end his mission. I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend with Elder Holder and I learned so much from him. He is an incredibly tough guy. Even though he was in immense pain everyday, he still went out and never complained. So this week after he headed home I got a new companion. His name is Elder Swenson and he is an awesome missionary. He is also one of my Zone Leaders.  He is from Las Vegas, goes home is one more transfer and has served in Lebanon before. We get along super well and we have been really going to work since he got here. We have had members come out with us every night, we helped a part member family move, found three new investigators yesterday, and we had a less active family at church this Sunday! It has been awesome!
I have no new news on my VISA and obviously I will be happy wherever I'm at while I'm there, but I won't be too sad if I stay in Tennessee hasta Elder Swenson goes home next transfer because there is some good work to be done in Lebanon.
So I've talked about it a little, but the English Lebanon Elders who we live with have been teaching an incredible lady named Joy and her daughter Rachel. Now the rule is that you can't go inside the house of a single woman unless you have another man there or at least three priesthood holders with you, so Elder Holder and I were able to teach her this whole time we have been here with the English Elders. The first night we were in Lebanon we taught her and committed her to baptism and we have continued to go back and teach ever since. This Saturday was her baptism, my first one on my mission and it was just incredible. The spirit was so strong, and she has such a great testimony. She has taught us more than we could have ever taught her, and the Spirit has changed her life. One lesson three weeks ago, we challenged her to just quit smoking and drinking tea cold turkey; and she did it just like that. She is a woman of incredible faith and seeing the change in her has been an incredible testimony builder to me of the power of the Holy Ghost to change the lives of all those who will let it. We hope that Rachel will be baptized soon as well. I wanted to email home pictures of the baptism but my camera is being weird so next week haha. But Saturday and Sunday were incredible days.
As for Rojino and Christina, they are still progressing although they haven't come to church the last two Sundays and we need to get them there, but they will. They are incredible people as well. It's amazing to me, especially with all of the Hispanics I meet here: Every person has such an incredible story of how they got here, what's important to them, and so on; and the gospel can help each one of those people find happiness. That's the greatest part about being a missionary for the Christ's only true church is that the power of the Holy Ghost is the true teacher, we are only guides.
To all of my friends leaving on missions soon and really to everyone here it is: BUY OR OBTAIN A COPY OF PREACH MY GOSPEL ASAP; AND THEN STUDY IT EVERY SINGLE DAY. I would start in chapter 6, on Developing Christlike attributes. If before you leave on your mission you have already been working on developing those Christlike attributes, that will prepare you more for being a missionary than any amount of language practice (although that is incredibly important) or any mastery of the lessons that you could have. If you are developing Christlike attributes then the Spirit can and will testify through you and that is the only thing that can change people and truly bring them unto Christ. I have made it a goal out here to have one Christlike attribute in my mind at all times that I am really trying to work on actively for the rest of my mission. The first one that I have been working on is patience. An interesting thought came to my mind as I was pondering patience and it's kind of connected with what Preach My Gospel says about it. But I thought this: All patience is, is one's ability to exercises other Christlike attributes in a time of trial, when the natural man would become angry, scared, frustrated, or discouraged. When exercising charity or faith in a time of trial, then we have patience. I encourage all who read this to study these Christlike attributes and prayerfully try to improve on one at a time and see how the Lord blesses your life for doing so.
Last but not least: I just want all of my family and friends to know how much I love you all. Whenever it gets hard out here I am so blessed to be able to think for just a minute on how much each of you have blessed my life and made me the person that I am today. I am blessed to know each of you. I love thinking about my siblings and all the good times we've had together; Lauren and Alyssa I love you so much and I'm so excited to hear how DWTS turns out. Ryan, you know you're my best friend in the entire world and I miss you every single day and you mean more to me than you could ever know.
I am so so so so thankful for my friends going on missions or already out there and it is so fun sometimes to think that I got my best friends doing the same thing as me all over the world. Extended family, your letters and support and prayers mean more to me than you could know. And Mom and Dad I love you so so so so so so much. My time is up but have so much fun with DWTS and in Virginia this next week!!!!!!!
Elder Stockard

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012

Family and Friends:
Well another week here in Lebanon, TN has flown by! The weather here was really good this week! Most days were mid 70s or a few in the low 80s which was super nice! I'm finally sending home a few pics, they should be attached to this email, yes I know they are long overdue. The first one is me with a bunny that belongs to la familia Alduenda in our ward, The second one is Elder Rodenburg, Myself and Elder Hooper (College friends) all together in the MTC. The third one is Elder Holder (My trainer) and I the first day and the last one is the hail from the tornado! Pretty crazy stuff huh?

This week was really good, we had a challenge from President McKee to teach 7, 10 minute restoration lessons to members this week and we accomplished that which was really good! Rojino and Christina did not come to church this week which was too bad, but they are still learning and progressing at least. We just gotta make sure and get them to church! The members feed us almost every night. The Spanish group has about 40ish active members and like I said last week, they are some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. So many strong, humble, faithful people who hopefully soon will be their own branch and not just a group, but they do a really good job of feeding us.  A lot of them have made us some bomb authentic Mexican food which is sooooo so so good! I can't wait to get to Mexico and try some even more real stuff haha.
Also, some nights all four of us Elders here in Lebanon will go to a member meal together which is a lot of fun. The four of us, Elder Holder and myself and then Elder Ferre and Elder Brewer have had a blast living and working together! Elder Brewer has been out the same time as I have and we had an awesome experience this week. So once or twice a week we will do mini splits with the English elders so that we can tract in both languages. Usually I will go with Elder Ferre who has been out over a year and Elder Brewer will go with Elder Holder, but this time they sent Elder Brewer and I together. We decided to go tract a trailer park for the hourish that we had before we had to meet back up. The first door that we knocked on was an English speaking house that greeted us and let us in. Come to find out, they are members who have been less active but wanted to come back to church and didn't know where the building was. We were able to teach them a lesson and instruct them as to where the building is. Then as we were leaving we stopped and talked to some kids who were playing in the street and gave them some pass along cards. As we were doing this, a lady pulled up next to us and said hi to us. We said hi and didn't think much of it, but as we were leaving the park to go meet up with the other elders she pulled up next to us and said, "Can I have one of your books?" A little taken aback we immediately both excitedly said YES! We talked to her for a while, her name is Tamoya, she has a daughter and lots of family that lives in Lebanon. In the last little while she has had two deaths in her family and wants more than anything in the world to raise her daughter right she said. It was such a blessing to be in the right place at the right time because she is very prepared to hear our message. The English elders are going to go back this week and hopefully teach not only her, but also her family.
The work isn't always that easy or miraculous, it can be really hard when you have lessons scheduled with investigators and they fall through, or just when you have days when nothing seems to work, but you just stay positive, don't get discouraged and trust in the Lord. This is His work and He will provide. That is the best part about being a missionary: I know that the Lord will provide.
Momma I'm so glad to hear about all the good missionary work that is going on at home. It is amazing to see the change come about in people because of the power of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing like it, the joy and happiness that can come by living your life by the teachings of Jesus Christ is unsurpassed! I know this to be true I have seen it in people out here already. I have also seen just how good Satan is at counterfeiting that happiness with things of this world. We must ever remain vigilent so that Satan cannot fool us with his counterfeit means of finding pleasure.
So what else is new at home? The trip to Virginia is going to be so fun! Can you believe that in the time that has elapsed since our last Virginia trip I would have been able to go on my mission and I would have already been home for over a year! Crazy huh? It doesn't seem that long ago. New York City will be super cool as well. I heard from a member that BYU lost in the NCAA tournament, but it's crazy to think that March Madness is going right now! I'm glad to hear that Ryan has been shooting and playing ball and that Dad has been going to the gym! Was DWTS this weekend?
Well, I had better head out but I love you all so much.  Thank you all so much for your love, support, and prayers! They mean so much to me. Always remember the power of prayer.
Love you all so much,
Elder Stockard

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

iMi Familia!
So first off, SO stoked for all my friends and fam receiving mission calls right now! Missionary work is so bomb! All of you will be such awesome missionaries! My advice is the same to all of you: Work harder than you ever thought possible, be obedient, and by far the hardest one for me, forget about yourself! These two years of service are not our own. We are called to do what God wants us to do, and where he wants us to do it. For me it was, and still is, hard sometimes to get past the thought process of only thinking about what I want, how I feel, and how I want things to go, but I can now say from experience the happiest times I have had on my mission have been when I have gotten over myself (which is so hard when you are as in love with yourself as I am #JK #Kinda ;) and turned my thoughts completely to others. But once again big congrats! Go through the temple ASAP!
So it's been another sweet week in Lebanon! I'll tell you what, opening an area as your first area is tough! We spend a ton of time just knocking doors trying to find people! We've had quite a bit of success this week though, I think I told you about a guy we've been teaching named Rojino and his girlfriend Christina. This week we had some awesome lessons with them and some members. (The Spanish members here are some of the most steadfast, humble and amazing people I have ever met in my life, and they know how to cook some darn good authentic Mexican too #SOFresh) and yesterday Rojino came to Church which was a HUGE step!!!!!!!!! We hope to set a baptismal date with both of them this week! Also, the English elders who we live with have been teaching this lady named Joy and her daughter Rachel. There is no man in the house so when a guy from the ward can't go with the Elders to a lesson, Elder Holder and I have been going. The first time we went with them was the night I got to Lebanon, and Joy was very nice, but she looked really kind of sad. We challenged her to be baptized and she accepted. Since then we have also challenged her daughter Rachel and her preacher to be baptized (long story for another time with the preacher, lolzz). Both Joy and Rachel have accepted and are preparing for baptism. One day we went over, taught the Word of Wisdom, and that day, she quit smoking cold turkey. She looks like a completely different person. To see the change that the Holy Ghost has brought about in her is an incredible testimony builder to me of just the power that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has to change people.
It has been so sweet being in Tennessee, SOOOOOO different from the west. Lebanon in the Civil War was a huge Confederate stronghold and there was a pretty good-sized battle here. The only Confederate monument that doesn't face North is also located in Lebanon #ThoseBoysArePatriots. I will definitely be getting a picture of it at some point. I have so many good pictures but I keep forgetting to bring my USB cord to the library to send them!
Last Wednesday our zone got to attend the Nashville Temple with President and Sister McKee. It was such an awesome experience. The Nashville and Reno Temple are built exactly the same and it made me think back to the two times I have been to the Reno Temple, both of them with family, especially the time with both sets of Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Parents, and just how happy I was, and what an incredible experience it was to be there with people that I love so much. Family and friends, I miss you all so much and I am so grateful for all of your love and support that you give me through letters, packages and prayers (I got two awesome packages this week from the Ladle fam and from my new favorite college homies Maeser, Carliegh, and Kassie;)).
I am so grateful for all of you and I try my best to live everyday in a way that would make each of you proud. I am so blessed to be a part of this work and I am so excited for so many of my friends to soon have the chance to be a part of it as well. Just know, it ain't easy... like ever, and quite frankly it's not always insanely fun, but it's all worth it when you see the change that the Spirit makes in a person you have come to love. Don't let yourself get discouraged and always remember the power of prayer. And all you homies called to preach in the Celestial Language recuerda este: No Hay una falta de Escogidos, en todo el mundo hay muchas personas que estan listos a oir nuestro mensaje. #FindEm.
I love you all so much,
Hasta Lunes
Elder Stockard

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012

Family and Friends,
Ok, SOOOOOOOOOOOOO stoked for my main man The BIG BAD HAD to be serving in Chile! That is soooooo dope bro, we will now have at least one friend from our Fallon Crew on 4 continents. So sick Hadley, congrats on the call bro! Where is Colin going?
So its been a while since we've talked last and a lot has happened. Let me tell you first off, The Nashville Tennessee mission is SOO dope! And in case anyone is wondering, Tennessee is about as Southern as it gets, I honestly feel as though I have stepped into the backyard of Willard Westlake and Booner Ray Giles. #Southern. But it has been so much fun!
All 8 Visa waiters were very blessed and we were all put in Spanish companionships. My trainer's name is Elder Holder. He is 23, from Gillete, Wyoming and has been out 19 months. He speaks great Spanish, he started his mission in Torreon, Mexico but had to come home for knee surgery and was reassigned here. He has been a huge help to me in lessons. But let me back up the story just a little bit.
So we arrived Monday and were greeted by the assistants who are awesome and President and Sister Mckee, who might be some of the nicest people you have ever met. We went to the mission home and had an awesome dinner (so much better than MTC food, oh my goodness!) and had an awesome night with the Mckee family (they still have young kids at home) and then went to bed. We woke up, had an awesome breakfast and then we all met our trainers. Elder Holder and I have been assigned to Lebanon, TN, a small town of 25,000 just outside of Nashville. We live with the English Elders in a one bedroom apartment, and oh yeah, we are opening the area for Spanish, so no investigators to start off with, haha. The English Elders are awesome and we have been having a blast living with them, but 4 guys in a one bedroom apartment is an adventure, haha. We don't have a car so we bike or walk everywhere unless the English Elders give us a ride. There is one ward in Lebanon and a Spanish group, but that Spanish group has some of the most amazing members I have ever met in my life. They are very close to becoming a branch and right now that is our goal: Make them a branch.
We have found quite a few investigators already actually, we have two families who we are teaching and they seem to love our message, but the hardest thing is getting people to church. This week we thought one family would come for sure, we had a great lesson with them Saturday night, but they didn't show so right now our focus is really being put on getting our investigators out to church!
So far though, Tennessee is awesome! I have been so blessed to be able to still speak Spanish while I'm here and I know that I have a purpose to fulfill here. I have loved meeting people here and I am getting more and more comfortable talking to people about the gospel in Spanish at their door and on the street. The field is so different than the MTC, because now instead of having everyone being a member, NOBODY is hahaha!
So Friday we were out on bikes knocking doors when we got a call from President Mckee telling us that there was a tornado that was getting ready to touch down in Lebanon and we needed to return to the apartment immediately. We rode back to the apartment at lightning speed (or as close to it as I can get, I am soooo slow on a bike, haha) and then watched as the tornado hit. I never saw the funnel cloud but the storm was NUTS!!! There was huge hail and it was frigid cold, it reminded me of the one random tornado that hit in Fallon when I was at the Faughts. (Haha, I know Logan remembers that storm, lolzz.) But it was so sick, haha. Oh also, my southern accent is ridiculously good now, haha.
What's new with the fam and friends? If everyone will send mail to the Mission home address, they then forward it to me so that is the best way to do it. I believe that Dear Elder still works while I'm in the US but I'm not positive. I'm super excited to hear how DWTS goes for Pops. I miss you guys all so much but know that I am staying incredibly busy and taken care of. All is well. Love you all thanks so much for your support and prayers.
Elder Stockard