Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012

Dear Mi Familia,
¿Que Onda amigos? Haha I sat here and legitimately LOLd here in the Cyberg in downtown Madero with a bunch of people looking at me as I read your stories of Ryan and Hadley's prom. That's hilarious. I think its so sick that Miles and Had still kick it at our house quite a bit. I bet Ryan and the whole fam love that. How tall is Ryan right now? He looks taller and less skinny in a lot of those pics. I can't tell you how much I love reading your emails each week with the updates on how everyone is doing. I don't think about it an awful lot during the week but when Mondays come around, I can't wait to come and read and then write. It sounds like both prom groups had an awful lot of fun, lots of good times there.
That's so fun that Grandma has been in town; I bet that was great. Every time we go to the mission office and I see the senior couple in the office I think back to GMa and GPas mission and how much they loved it.
That's sweet that you taught Gospel Principles Mom! Not gonna lie, as a missionary, you learn how important having a good Gospel Principles teacher is. Elder Rindlisbacher and I are super lucky, our ward has a super super good gospel principles teacher that throws down easy-to-understand, involving, spiritual lessons each week, which is such a relief that we don't have to worry about that when we bring investigators and less actives.
So Elder Rindlisbacher and I have been working non stop since we have been here and it has been HARD work. We had 0 investigators to start, in an incredibly small ward, with tons of less actives; but this week, we saw miracles. We have been working non stop, trying to find new investigators, trying to visit less actives and part-member families, trying to find people that will even listen to our message, and for a lot of our time since we've been here, we hadn't seen a lot of results. We are super close to downtown Madero and there are tons of churches downtown in the Centro so its been hard to find people even willing to listen for a lot of our time here. Elder Rindlisbacher (who is like one of the three wise men, he's a total stud, haha) said this is the hardest time he's ever had in his mission to find people to teach. But we've just kept working every single second, kept contacting in the street, kept visiting and teaching less actives, kept obeying, and kept having faith that everything would work out; and it did!  Late this week we found an older lady named Ernestina. She is old and looks like it, but she is totally there mentally. She listened to us along with her helper who lives with her named Olga. We found them Friday and set a return appointment with them for Saturday. They read the chapter in the Book of Mormon we gave them and they came to church on Sunday. Gaudalupe had a great week as well, she is very convinced that we have the authority to act in God's name, and also that the Book of Mormon is true, but she is very Catholic and is having a hard time leaving that behind, but she is praying and reading and she came to church as well!
So like I said, week one in Barrio Francia we had 38 members in attendance. This week we had 69! It was an incredible miracle. We had like 5 different less active families there, 5 non members, and a bunch of other less actives who are part member families. This week, and really my whole mission so far, has built my testimony of the small and simple things in the church. So many of the less actives in our ward only want for somebody to care that they are there, that's all. It shows me the importance of things like home teaching, personal prayer, and scripture reading.  All things that we do and as we do them, we build our foundation on the rock of Christ. We must remember to always do these things and also to help those who are in our ward family to do them as well. But it was so awesome to have so many members at church. We still have so much more work to do and we are finding more people every day.
I am so lucky to have Elder Rindlisbacher, we get along super well and he is such an awesome example of hard work and obedience. We have a blast every single day.
Thanks for the updates on my missionary friends. If someone will holla at me where all my college friends are serving at it would be greatly appreciated. And to everyone serving missions soon it's pretty simple, work hard, obey, have faith, work hard, obey, have faith and if you do this, you qualify for the spirit and you will see miracles. Don't forget it either.
I love you all so much and I love hearing from you so much. I will let you know when mail comes for sure. I have really missed hearing from Brandon, Lisa and G ma every week haha. I love you all and know that all is well. Remember to have faith and press forward.
Como el versículo mas mejor en todas las escrituras dice Debemos seguir adelante con firmeza en Cristo.
Love you all,
Elder Stockard

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

Que Dice Familia,
Another week has flown by in Mexico! This place is truly incredible, if anyone ever thinks about complaining about life in America, I would encourage you to take a trip down to your nearest Mexican border town to see how humbly people truly live down here. Very very humble living, but lots of very nice people.
Elder Rindlisbacher and I opened an area, meaning that we are two new missionaries in the area with no investigators or really no feel for the area. Only the two of us live in our apartment, and it's not really an apartment, more of a room. We don't have hot water, but we do have a bathroom. Our entire living quarters is probably about 2/3 the size of Ryan's and my room at home haha. But we do have air conditioning and a washer! Pres and Sister Call have really worked hard to upgrade the housing since they have been here, so most of the houses now have tile floors instead of cement (ours does have tile).  Our area here covers one whole ward and about 10x15 square blocks of pretty near downtown Madero. It has a deceptively high number of people that live in the area because sooooooo many people live in one building haha.
The food is incredible, the tortillas are sooo good and so are the beans and rice.  It's like my dream meal, I haven't eaten anything super crazy yet haha. Lots of chicken, beans, rice, and tortillas. We are on foot for our whole area, but its not that big, we only take a taxi if we need to go to the offices or shopping or something like that. If you ever want to get your fill of adrenaline you should go to a big Mexican city and ride in a taxi haha.  They have the worst drivers I have ever seen here. The humidity is very very heavy here but it hasn't gotten super hot here yet, but this summer it should get really really hot. Oh, that's another thing, the fruit here is incredible. All the trees here are mango, orange, coconut, and lime trees. The mangoes are sooo good, super sweet.
We are very fortunate because our Church building is only two blocks out of our area but the ward is very very small, attendance wise. We have lots of less active members that we are visiting and getting to know. This last week as a way to get to know the members and try and get referrals of people to teach, we had Family Home Evening activities with some less active families in the ward. This was a lot of fun, we did a lot of object lessons with the kids of the families to try and get them involved and excited about church. It made me think of some of the lessons that Elders Snow and Toland did at our house (although I haven't eaten cinnamon yet, haha). But that went really well and we have 4 less actives at church this week.
We also have found quite a few good investigators to teach. One of them is named Gaudalupe. She is a 50ish year old women. We gave her sick son a blessing and she has a ton of faith and loves our message. She is very humble and is reading the Book of Mormon.  My Spanish is honestly really good. I still have to listen really really hard to understand some people but I speak pretty well.
This Saturday, Elder Neil Anderson visited the mission and we had a meeting with him. He gave such an awesome talk! It was all about the power of the Atonement in our lives. The very real power of the Atonement, to not only cleanse us from sin, but also to carry us through every trial or hard time that we encounter. He said that the more we study and learn about the Atonement, the more powerful our testimony becomes of it, and there is no more powerful way to touch an investigator than through testimony of the Atonement. I encourage everyone to try to learn apply the love of Christ through His atonement.
I love you so much, I love hearing how everyone is doing. If you could in the next letter, give me an update on all my boyz out on missions. Love you all so much.
Elder Stockard
Mom, tried to send pics and it didn't let me, I'll try next week. love you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Dear Family,
Well, after a few crazy weeks filled with tornadoes, language changes, great food, not-so-great food, and a lot of change, I'm finally here in Mexico! Like I kind of talked about, it is soooooo different down here. Seriously, you step across that border between the US and here and you step back a longggg way lifestyle wise. But it is seriously incredible here! I'm just going to kind of recount the last week and a halfish.
So we flew into Monterrey and from there we flew through a lightning storm in a tiny, tiny plane to Tampico on a flight, during which the entire time I was pretty sure we were going down with that plane, as was my boy Elder Grill who was next to me, hahahaha. That flight was enough air time for me for the next two years ha. But we landed in Tampico, in a tiny airport, and immediately the humidity was unreal. Like, take Tennessee or Virginia humidity and just multiply it exponentially and put it with a very distinct smell of stray dog and carne asada, hahaha, very classic Mexico.
But President and Sister Call picked us up and took us to the mission home. Both of them are just incredible people, Sister Call is an absolute angel. That weekend we worked with Elders around the Tampico area and then last Tuesday we got our areas! There were nine of us that came in Tuesday, all Americans; the five of us from Nashville and the the new ones from a transfer behind us. All of the trainers were natives except one. The one American is my trainer. His name is Elder Rindlisbacher and he is awesome. This is his last transfer and he is a very obedient, hard working Elder. He is big into basketball and we get along super well. He is a great example, this is his last transfer so at the end of these 6 weeks, I will have had 4 companions and 3 of them will be home haha.
We have been assigned to the Barrio Francia in the Madero Stake. Tampico, Madero, and Altamira are three cities that make up the greater Tampico area, and we are right in downtown Madero. Like I said earlier, it is so different from the United States, there is so much poverty down here, its unreal. It really makes you give thanks for the way that you have been blessed when you see people living in cardboard, or when you see a family of 10 or more in a two bedroom apartment. The Barrio Francia is a very very small struggling ward. We are opening the area, so I'm very grateful that I've already have experience opening an area before. We had less people at church last Sunday than we normally had in our Spanish group in Lebanon, so we have a ton of work to do, but President Call is big on faith. I have been working on this since I've been here. Faith, it's such a powerful tool. It always precedes miracles, and I know that as Elder Bacher (that's what he has people call him because nobody down here could say his name haha) and I work our tails off and have faith, we will work miracles. We have already seen them this week. We had to find all new people since we got here so we have been contacting in the streets and at doors like crazy, and we have been praying to find a family to teach. In the last three days, we have found 2 and we have 3 full families that we are now teaching or have teaching appointments with. That has been a miracle as we have not had a ton of success this last week outside of these families, but all three accepted us and have listened to our message.  It's truly a blessing.
Also, to all of my friends going into the MTC soon and learning a language, SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE!!!! I'm gonna be honest, I'm speaking really good Spanish and understanding probably 70 or 75% or what people say to me, and it's all because of the gift of tongues, I know it is. I'm so glad that Elder Parry and I did SYL in the MTC because it has put me in a good spot here. It's so hard to do, but SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE all the time in the MTC, it will pay off, I promise. Now once again there's the challenge of not speaking English and I need to do better at speaking all Spanish down here haha. It's just so nice that Elder Bacher and I can have like our own language down here that only we speak, haha.
The food is sooooo good down here. Mom, it's like my dream meals a lot of the time. A lot of the familias will give us a plate of meat, with beans, rice and tortillas and it's sooo good, I love the tortillas.
That's so awesome that you went to the temple with Miles. I hope it went well, tell him to go back soon haha. It sounds like all is well back home. I miss you all and I think of you often. Love you all so much.
Elder Stockard


Monday, April 9, 2012

Travel Update

We got a quick call from Tommy telling us that he would fly out of Dallas on April 3.  However, two  tornadoes hit Dallas that day, and when they went to the airport, all flights had been canceled.  So he stayed in the home of a counselor in the mission presidency of the Dallas Fort Worth mission.  Tommy and the other elders he was traveling with got to spend some time going to the temple, training with the assistants in that mission, studying, and making street contacts.  On Friday, we got another call saying that he was flying out that afternoon, then we got an e-mail from Tommy on Saturday saying he made it safe and sound to Tampico.  It took a few days longer than expected, but Tommy arrived in Tampico, Mexico on Friday, April 6.  He is anxious to get started on his missionary work in Mexico.

April 2, 2012

So this is going to be a pretty short, scatter-brained email but I have lots of fun news! First of all, Elder Swenson and I have had such an awesome week! We have worked crazy hard and he is such an awesome companion, we get along so well and have found so many new investigators. In a super crazy turn of events, we were able to both baptize and confirm Joy's daughter Rachel this past Saturday in between sessions of conference! It was incredible, I was able to confirm her which was an awesome experience.
Conference was so awesome I loved every minute of it. Elder Swenson and I listened partially in Spanish and partially in English. I could understand the Spanish fine, it just took so much mental focus to catch every word that after a while it would start to put me to sleep, hahaha. But I loved Elder Christopherson's talk on Sunday, also Elder Packer's and Elder Bednar's on Sunday were excellent as well.
So Saturday morning I got a call from President McKee. He told me that I got my visa. I leave today, in just a few hours and fly to Dallas and then tomorrow I sign my permiso and fly straight to Tampico! Pretty crazy huh? So hopefully I get to talk to you a little on the phone while you guys are on your way to New York! My emotions were so mixed, I am so excited to get down to Mexico but I am so sad to leave so many awesome people that I have come to love so much. The members down here that I have worked with along with the investigators have all been so awesome and I love them all so much. But more than anything I know that now is the time when the Lord needs me in Mexico and I totally am ready to accept and embrace that.
But it was really awesome, last night we had my last lesson with Rojino and Christina.  They are reading, praying and progressing so well. We committed them to be baptized on the 21st of April! It was such an awesome way to end my time here!
I am so sorry that this is so short and scattered but I love you all so much. Fam, have a great time on the East Coast and tell everyone how much I love them.
Hasta Luego Los Estados Unidos, Voy a Mexico Manana!
I love you all so so much!
Elder Stockard