Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012

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
Elder Stockard

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012

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
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
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
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
Elder Stockard