Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 2012

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
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
Elder Stockard