Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feb. 27, 2013

What's gooooooooooooood Family:
Hey, so I FINALLY feel like a good ol' everyday I-be-ballin' missionary again!!!!!!! It has been a good start out here in the promised land of Zona Chairel. Not gonna lie, I miss my office crew, especially my Comp Elder Salazar and my main man Elder Johns, but this change was definitely what I needed! It's funny, as we accept the will of God here in His work, we come to find out quickly that He in the one directing it and that he is putting us exactly where He needs us and when.
So I'm gonna just break it down for ya: My new comp's name is Elder Quinones, and he's a champ. He only has 10 weeks in the mission and only 3 here in Tancol (that's the name of our area). I am finishing his training, I'm actually his 3rd comp in 10 weeks and I'm going to finish up training him. He is way cool, he is from Durango, Coahila which is a state up in the northern part of Mexico (I love the culture and especially the food of northern Mexico, all my Mexican comps have been from the north) and he's 18 years old. He is realllllllly small which is also different haha, all my comps have been pretty big tall guys (see Elder Mesa, Elder Castillo, and Elder Garry for examples). But I really like him, he is a lot quieter than all of my other comps as well, which is a change of sorts, but what I like is that he doesn't have any problem getting out and working.  My boy Elder Agren has taught him well. But yeah, we are both really new in the area, so these first few days have been filled with a lot of walking and looking at a map trying to find out where we are. But we've got lots of good work to do here. We have two baptismal dates right now that look like pretty solid investigators to me, and the Obra de Salvacion is in full swing here in estaca chairel. This last Sunday, between 7 companionships of missionaries, we brought 91 menos activos to church!!!!!!!!!! The wards are growing really well here in estaca Chairel and we are really getting some good support especially from the stake level, which is what uniting the priesthood keys is all about. The stake president lives in our area which makes working with and coordinating with him nice. President Jordan and I have a meeting with him tonight.
Over the last few days I have been really tired and we have walked a lot, but over and over again I have been hearing one phrase in my head, I'm not sure if it's a thought that I had or a quote that I heard, but I really like it. The phrase is: "Happiness is not a circumstance or situation, it's a decision." Think about it... There are some people that by the standards of the world, have everything. They are rich, they have a nice car, great job, cute girlfriend, good friends or whatever it may be... But they still are not happy, they are focused on what they don't have, they don't enjoy the moment, or love, appreciate and thank God for what they have. And on the other hand, here in Mexico I have met people who live in houses made of cardboard, that only eat beans all day because they don't have money, and can hardly read because they didn't go to school... and they are soooo happy... Why is that? It's because truly, happiness is a decision. It's deciding to live the laws of God, to obey Him, to accept His will, to do His work, and then enjoy what He gives you. Sure, everyone will have change and trials and challenges, but there is no rule that says that such things must make us unhappy. We can and SHOULD be happy in all circumstances. We only have one life, why not get the most out of it by living the gospel, and then enjoy what comes, it's like what Elder Worthlin said, "Come what may and love it." I can't say that I'm perfect at this, but it's my goal, I have decided to be happy, no matter who I'm with, where I live, or what I'm doing. I have sworn to live by the laws and commandments of God, I know that I'll be blessed for it as I do so diligently, so I'm just gonna love doing it. I challenge everyone else to do so as well.
Hey Fam, if you could please tell Brandon, GMa, Lisa and all the many Androses that write me and send me packages that I seriously love their letters and support so so much. Also, my second comp from Tennessee, Austin Swensen wrote me, he is up at BYU I, if somehow you could contact him and give him my blog address and tell him I love him I would love that. Also Pops, you can tell Logan I'll give her shout outs every week as long as she writes me.  Well, I love you all so so much. Have a great week, yes Momma, we did go to the temple today as a zone and it was off the chain. I'll write y'all again on Monday, you can all write me on Sunday nights just like the good ol' days. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 23, 2013

What's poppin' Family!!!!!:
So, when I was serving in Tennessee, President McKee gave a talk in a zone conference on how we as missionaries, sign up and promise to be 100% obedient to the will of the Lord, a process which encompasses a TONNN of change lots of times. Change is something that is really hard for us as humans... We don't really like change. We like finding our groove and staying with it, it's comfortable and we get good at what we are doing. Well, as missionaries, we promise that we are going to put aside the comforts and pleasures of the world in which we live for these two years in an effort to consecrate ourselves and change the course of not only our own lives, but also the lives of those that we find and teach. The only way that is possible is if we truly live by and believe in obeying the will of God. This week has been a week just FULLL of change for me, change brings new trials and new adventures, all of which I'm really excited about. Let's get started on telling you about it!
So last Saturday, the Baptism was AWESOME!!! It couldn't have been better timing either, the next Sunday was ward conference in Barrio Boulevard, so Saturday night, the baptism was a packed house for the baptism of la Familia Ruiz. It really was an awesome service and there was lots of support from the ward. All three of them, were very happy and had an incredible experience. I was really happy with how it all turned out. The baptism ended at about 7 and at 7:30 we were here in the offices again working on the transfers, which until that moment, we really hadn't done much on due to the visit of Elder De Hoyos taking up a lot of President's time and efforts of that week. Haha, so we started a process that usually takes the better part of a week to do Saturday night, knowing that Sunday morning the Zone Leaders would need the transfers so that they could inform those who were going to be leaving so they could be ready to leave Monday morning. Haha, well, yeah that was a fun night, we finished the transfers at about 2 am, and had them sent out by about 3am and we went to sleep at about 3:30 Sunday morning. That made for a REALLLLLY long Sunday, not even gonna lie hahaha. But it was a really good Sunday, all three members of the family were confirmed Sunday in Barrio Boulevard in a really nice ward conference service and everything. Monday was transfer day which is always a high stress, many phone call, really fun day! We had 13 new missionaries get here and get their trainers, so we trained the new missionaries and their trainers for the better part of Monday. Tuesday I hopped on a bus to go on a little mini tour of the northern part of the mission. It was fun, I went and worked in Victoria Tuesday, Wednesday morning I attended a district meeting up there. After that, I hopped on another bus and headed to a littler city named Ciudad Mante and did a division with a missionary there. It was really fun. I had only been to Mante 2 other times to give trainings, but it was kind of a cool little town. Haha, we had a less active there that told me he was really sad that we had once again fallen into an apostasy now that our church's leader, the Pope had stepped down.  Mante reminds me a ton of Fallon, just south of the border, haha. That was Wednesday, Thursday I hopped on another bus and came back to Tampico. I got here and Elder Salazar, President and I immediately started planning for the Zone Leaders counsel for Friday. We got it pretty well planned out and President asked if I would talk to him for just a minute. He told me that for a grand variety of reasons and factors he was going to send me back out into the field full time. A few reasons being: I have been here more than 3 transfers, which is a long time in the offices, another because we have a lot of really young Elders who need help learning how to be leaders and the only way to really learn leadership is to have a chance to lead. So we haven't really told anyone here in the mission yet, but tomorrow I will be a normal missionary once again. I will be a Zone Leader in Zona Chairel, here in Tampico and I will be finishing the training of a new Elder named Elder Quiñones. My replacement is one of my best friends in the mission, Elder Agren. He's taking my place and I'm taking his. He was my zone leader off in Victoria when he was training Elder Ringer and I was training Elder Garry and so we have had a lot of contact in the mission.
But yeah President told me that Thursday, and it really took me a minute to get my head around it. The timing of it was a little weird, but I think it was probably good that we did it this weekend so that poor Elder Agren didn't have to train 13 new missionaries and their trainers and give a Zone Leaders Counsel in his first 4 days as Assistant. It comes back to the principle of accepting change and accepting God's will. This is God's work. We are his servants. We must believe that. If we believe that, we can trust that anytime he gives us a change, there is a very good reason. The Lord needed me here in the offices until tomorrow, and tomorrow he needs me in Chairel. It's as simple as that, it's not about what we want, or what we are comfortable doing, or what area we would like to serve in, no not at all. It's as simple as that, we must accept God's will and when he says change, we change. That is such a key principle that if missionaries can learn and MASTER early on, it will change the course of their missions and their lives. They will be so much more focused and happy, they will be so much less selfish and so much more Christlike. Believe me, it's so much easier said than done. We must learn, as President Eyring teaches, to say, "Lord, thy will be done and in thine own time." I feel so happy and so privileged to have had the time here in the offices, it has gone so so so fast, but it has been an absolute privilege.
Last night I said goodbye to la Familia Cruz de Santiago that we baptized and that will be baptized (Chris and Ber) as soon as they get hitched and also to la Familia Ruiz. Goodbyes are the hardest part of change. I remember when I used to say goodbye to Grandma or to Gma and Gpa Andros when we would leave from vacations that I would cry and cry and cry. I have always hated goodbyes. It was the hardest part of leaving for school, and then once again it was hard to say goodbye when I left school, and then once again when I left on the mish, when I left Tennessee, when I left Francia, when I left Mainero, and now that I'm leaving Central and Boulevard, it's hard once again. But change is good, especially when God is the one orchestrating the change.
I'm excited to go take on Chairel, its going to be really fun. I will be writing you again either Wednesday or Monday, I'm not totally sure which. If I don't write you Monday, you can write me Tuesday night and I'll write Wednesday. But yeah from here on out, my P Days will be Mondays once again except this week might be Wednesday. I love you all so so much. I love the mission and it is so crazy how fast time is really cooking. It's only gonna get faster. #143 #SpecialK #JakeHeaps #GMC$
Elder Stockard

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feb. 16, 2013

¿Que onda? Another good week for y'all? Man it's been a good one down in my hood. Visits from the 70, office time, working on transfers once again, divisions with other Elders, lessons, baptisms, goals, Book of Mormon and more. It's been a really crazy week and I'm almost sure that I was just sitting here writing like an hour ago, but it's already been a week. Isn't it crazy how fast the time flies by when there is a lot to do? Well, kind of a bummer that Ryan's season ended, but sounds like it was a pretty bummer season all around. I'm stoked for him that he is going to play golf. Elder Adams and Elder Faught would be proud. But if he gets good that'll be a problem, cuz then I'll be the only one of all my friends who is totally horrible at golf. AND, hahaha, I can totally picture Dad when he heard Lauren say she had a paper due in an hour and a half as you all waiting in line to buy ice cream, hahaha. I would have paid to see that one. Good old Pops with the academic killer instinct.
So, once again we don't have a P Day today. Today has been a really crazy day. This morning, our zone had a meeting with Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, the 1st counselor in the Area Presidency of Mexico and With Elder Aaron Martinez of the 70, their wives and also Pres and Sister Jordan. It was SUCHHHHH a dope meeting, Elder De Hoyos like answered a ton of questions that I had been talking about recently with President that I'm not gonna type cuz it would take me hours, but needless to say, the eyes of my understanding were opened about the Gathering of Israel. I'll explain it to y'all when I get home in 2 years. But yeah, it was a really awesome conference. Elder De Hoyos also really laid it down well and gave us some more direction on the Area of Mexicos plan, la Obra de Salvación and how we should be going about doing that. We just finished the conference like 20 minutes ago and the day is going to stay crazy because in like 30 minutes we have to go and... FILL THE FONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm sooooo excited, tonight is the baptism of la Familia Ruiz. They are such an awesome family. I have really been amazed by how they have exemplified the principle that true doctrine, understood, changes our nature. We inherited them when we inherited Barrio Boulevard due to a lack of missionaries and the Elders that were there in Boulevard had done a great job with teaching to their needs and understanding, we really just had to finish the job, but needless to say, I feel very blessed to have been able to take part in the teaching of that family. They have really understood and made a commitment to the principles of the gospel. That is somethings that I'm really glad that I learned from Elder Rindlisbacher and Elder Castro in Francia, there is no point in baptizing somebody who hasn't yet grasped the principles and developed the habits that will lead them to conversion. Elder Castro told me once that if a person isn't reading the Book of Mormon EVERY DAY before baptism, there is no reason to baptize them... I really took that to heart, and it has been even more reinforced in all this work in the Obra de Salvación that there is no reason to baptize numbers, better to baptize converts. I think a HUGE part of that as well comes with the importance of teaching entire families. The gospel is 100% designed to bless families, Prophets teach the parents correct principles and administer correct ordinances, and parents teach those same things to their children, those children grow up unto the Lord etc. etc... That's God's plan. That's why we should always, whenever possible teach and find families.
And so we have the baptism here in a few hours and when we finish with the baptism it'll be right back to the offices tonight to finish the transfers that will be this next Monday after this transfer of three weeks that we are finishing right now. We really should have them all done ( the transfers) but this week has been nuts cuz President has been with Elder De Hoyos visiting and training the stake leaders and missionaries the entire week. Haha so hopefully we will finish the transfers and have them sent out at a decent hour tonight.
Elder De Hoyos today, and all of Mexico really, is putting a HUGE emphasis on what the prophets have always taught; that the responsibility to find investigators is not one of the missionaries, rather it is one of the members. Stockard Family, and EVERY member who reads this, I'm gonna put it to you pretty clear: IF you aren't inviting at least one person a week into your home to hear the missionaries, you aren't fulfilling your missionary responsibilities or your promise you made when you became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. If once a week we invited someone we know to hear the missionaries in your home, think of how fast the gospel would spread and how many blessings you would receive within the walls of your home. Think how many more stories of success, conversion, and change like that of Elder Woodburn we would be able to be a part of. The Lord is hastening his work. Put the goal of one invitation a week to hear the missionaries in our home and report back to me every single week if you did it or not. I promise you will see the blessings in your lives. I know it because I have felt it and seen it.
Besides la Familia Ruiz, Chris and Ber continue progressing and should be getting married in the coming weeks.  I'm loving the work. I'm loving Tampico, it's such a cool city, sooooooo different than all the big cities in the US. I would love it if one day you all got to see it and experience it. Elder Salazar and I put a goal with the mission this last Monday to have over 700 less actives in church this Sunday and everyone has been working hard to get it. Last week we had 550, so we will see how it goes tomorrow.
I love you all so much. I'm so happy that I have the family that I do and especially the Mom that I do that has taught me so well the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm also grateful for Logan Faught who is like the only girl that still faithfully writes me which makes me totalllllllly #TeamLogan now and forever ;) (haha, there's the shoutout that you asked for, Log). Nah but I love you all keep doin' yo thang. #143 #SpecailK #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 9, 2013

What's Poppin' Family:
Yo, so right now is my 5th straight P-day that we don't have P-day, haha. I actually kind of like it. My mission has taught me that time really flies when you're working hard. So this week has been really super crazy, this transfer that we have right now is a 3 week transfer in order to adjust to the new amounts of time in the MTC (I think that I already told y'all that), and we have received new missionaries now every week of this transfer. Last night, 6 visa waiters got here fresh out of the MTC in Provo, haha. I honestly love receiving new missionaries, it's like one of my favorite parts of my assignment, not gonna lie. We have a pretty good system set up with President and Sister Jordan now for doing it. What happens is that the Americans always get here to Tampico really late at night, well like 8:30, so about 8:20, Pres. and Sister Jordan go over to the airport to pick up the Elders. At the same time, Elder Salazar and I finish up our last appointment and go and pick up like 6 kilos of tacos de trompo (its like these pork tacos that are like a heart attack in a corn tortilla but they be off the chain, momma!) and we all meet up at the mission home. We hang out with Pres and the new elders, eat, talk, and really get them excited about the mission. Then when they finish, they always stay at our apartment for the night, which all the missionaries love because of the temple front view. Then in the morning we get up and come over to the offices and go through a ton of training for all of them. That's what we are doing right now. It's really fun to see new missionaries come in, I especially love receiving new Americans because it brings back memories of how I felt when I got here and I can relate to them. It really wasn't that long ago since I was in their shoes, but a lot has changed since that time. Almost all new missionaries are the same; super culture shocked, super excited to be here, and super ready to work, which is such a cool thing to see and such a good attitude to have.
Besides that, things are incredible here in Tampico, not gonna lie. The work continues progressing at a lightning fast pace. One Familia has their baptismal interviews today which we are really excited for, they are an incredible familia. They know a lot about the Bible and are loving learning more and more about the Book of Mormon. They were actually a reference from President Jordan, they have family members who listened to and accepted the missionaries in another missions, and they went looking for the missionaries, and have now attended church the past 4 weeks! Chris and Ber should be getting married in the next week or two and then baptized very shortly after. This past week we had like 11 menos activos in church as well so the work is really moving forward in an incredible way. I'm also really enjoying my time here in the offices as well. Being in the offices as a missionary is an experience that is really different from being full time in the field, and I'm really grateful to have this experience. I also think that it's exactly what I needed at this time in my mission to really progress.
Something that I keep learning about every week is the law of sacrifice. I'm learning more and more about how sacrifice always leads to increased faith, and how once we learn and accept the law of obedience, sacrifice is one of the best ways to really show the Lord that we love him. I'm earnestly looking for and trying to find things that I can sacrifice in order to increase my faith. It's really really hard. Sacrifice isn't easy, but my testimony is really really growing of the principle of sacrifice as I look to apply it more in my life.
I'm glad to hear that all is well back home and in Virginia. Hey, cool story for the Martin Family while everyone is there together. Yesterday one of the new Elders we received is from North Carolina and like totally knows Uncle Quinn. His name is Elder Holladay. I told him that I had fam in North Carolina and asked him if he knew any Martins, which he said he did. So I showed him a picture that I somehow had of the Martin family (I think they sent it to me in a package, thanks Martins!) and he like totally knows them! Really small world here in the church.
I was really glad to hear that Travis is doing well in the MTC, I was thinking about him some in this last week, I hope he's doing well. He will be an incredible missionary.
I hope that everyone who reads this knows that I really love you all. I hope that you also know that I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. I finished it this last Sunday and started it along with all the Misión México Tampico this last Monday and every single day the spirit confirms to me the truthfulness of that great book. It's true, it's true, it's true. There is no doubt. I hope that every investigator and less active that I teach for the rest of my mission and the rest of my life can know at the end of our lesson that I know that that book is true. It's is a loving Heavenly Father's tool to show unto the world that he loves all of his children, wherever they live, it is his tool for restoring, and clearly teaching us his gospel or the things which we need to do in order to be happy and to qualify to live with him.
President this week told us to think of a creative "diagram" of how to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to share with you what mine was and I'll end with this. I hope this helps someone who reads it: I want to compare this life to a big, long road. In this example, the Atonement is going to be like a gas station. We, as people, are going to be like a car. We bring our car to the gas station to get gasoline so that we can move forward in our car. We come to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ as a way to gain faith in him, which faith moves on us and makes us act. Our faith comes from Christ's Atonement just like gasoline comes from a gas station. After we use the Atonement and gain faith it moves us forward and, if we have sufficient faith, we can overcome all trials in our lives. In the same way, after putting gas in a car, we can overcome even the worst roads and continue forward in our car. Eventually though, our car is going to need more gas, just like we will always need the Atonement in our lives. Repentance is like once again stopping at the gas station to refuel our car, or to use the Atonement and once again, as we repent, we gain even more faith which once again propels us forward, ready to face all the trials that are placed in our path. With this combo of added faith and repentance we can now be baptized, which puts us on the smooth, paved highway which leads to salvation. Now, even the best highways occasionally have bumps and trails, as will our lives even after baptism, but the good thing is that on the smooth big highways, there is almost an endless supply of gas stations, from which we can always refuel our car when we get low on gas. In the same way, as long as we stay on the smooth highway of living the gospel, we will frequently and faithfully return to the Atonement of Jesus Christ as a way to heal our wounds and overcome our trials. There is no limit to the number of time in which we can repent and there is no limit to the amount of faith that we can gain from doing so in this life. This is the principle of Endure to the End. Progression is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about, it's all true and it's all for our benefit. I love you all so much. Have a great week. #143 #GMC$ #SPECIALK #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2, 2013

Man, I straight love y'all. I can't believe how much time it has been since I have seen all you clowns. The weeks just blitz by; every one a little bit faster than the last. That was really nice that you heard from Elder Davison's mom. He is a super good Elder, he is one of the zone leaders up in Victoria and he is a really great missionary. I look up to him a lot. Haha and yes, he has to call me every night and I always start by asking him, "What's good in the Promised Land?"
So the work continues progressing down here in Mexico at a lightning fast pace. It was a pretty smooth transfer week. I think I probably took close to 60 calls Monday haha but everyone got to their new area safely and on time. When that happens it's a successful transfer day, when that happens I don't ask much on the details hahaha, if it was a messy process to get there, I would rather just not know.  In my first change in the offices we did have an Elder that didn't get off the bus in the little town where he was supposed to and showed up in a city two zones away that night haha, but no, these transfers were all really smooth. Elder Parry is training again this change, so he was in town with Elder Salazar and I Monday night and Tuesday morning. His companion got here Monday afternoon from the Dominican Republic and was straight wiped out from traveling like 24 hours straight, so he slept legitimately from 4 pm Monday until 6:30 am Tuesday haha. But yeah it was a good time to see Elder Parry.
So in this transfer, 11 Elders went home and only three got here. Oh yeah, and we have 24 that are waiting for their Visas in Peru, Central America and the USA. So yeah, that was the trick of these transfers was that obviously we had to close/combine some areas because of the lack of missionaries that got here on time. It's always really hard to close areas because all the missionaries have something good going in their area, even if the work is slower in some parts than others, so what we tried to do instead of shut areas was combine some wards. As part of that... SURPRISE!! Elder Salazar and I now have our responsibilities in the offices, Barrio Central and... BARRIO BOULEVARD!!!  Yeah it's a lot, and finding time for all three is quite the balancing act. But the sweet thing is that we inherited a SWEET family, like one that is Pure Gold.  The dad is Hector, the mom is Elide, and the daughter is Martha.  They are super great and they have a pretty high level of education, and all three and really understand the doctrine which is like 77% of the battle. They are really awesome and really enthusiastic about the gospel which I really like. We had a super good lesson with them last night. In our first lesson they told us that they had been praying to the Holy Ghost, so last night we decided that we were going to teach them really clearly about the nature of God the Father. One thing that I have learned on my mission is that people can't truly have faith in something that they don't understand. So many people believe in God, but don't understand that He is a man, with a body of flesh and blood, with feelings and love just like we feel. They don't understand that He is only one person and that Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are separate beings that share the same purpose. If they don't understand this very important truth, they can't truly gain a testimony of the love and understanding that God has for us as his children, they can't truly gain a testimony of the plan that our Father in Heaven has for our salvation and that he has had since long before any of us came to this earth, and they can't feel the same desire and conviction to keep his commandments. It's like trying to laugh about the parts in a movie that you haven't seen yet, you really can't get the full effect.  So with that being said, we clearly explained these things to this family and it all really clicked for them. They learned a ton and the Spirit was really strong in that lesson. They are a great family and it was an awesome experience.
As for Chris and Ber, they continue progressing.  No baptism for them, but they are still on track.
Last night a visa waiter from the US got here who had been serving in the Las Vegas West mission, the mission that until last July was the most righteous mission, haha. No, but the coolest part is that this Elder who was visa waiting has been living in Elder Ringer's family's basement. Elder Ringer is an Elder serving here. He was trained up in Victoria when I was training Elder Garry. But crazy small world right? Kind of a cool story.
Well, Zion prospers family. Apparently in this next week we could receive 6 more visa waiters which means that we could be reopening some more areas and looking for a lot more trainers in this next little while.
In my Book of Mormon reading, I'm in Moroni 6, so tomorrow morning I'm going to complete the first part of my goal and finish the Book of Mormon and then Monday we start reading it as a mission. I'm so grateful for this time that I have to serve as a missionary. I never could have thought that something could have changed me so much. Yesterday someone asked us if we watch TV and Elder Salazar and I told them no and also told them all the other things that we don't do for two years, and then right after I said something that really hit me as I said it. I told them, "And I've never been happier..." I thought on that for a minute after I said it and it really is true.  I have never done anything in all my life that is so fulfilling. I have never felt so confident about anything else in all my life as I do when I tell someone that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith truly saw what he saw. It's ALL TRUE. Every single word of it. What a blessing it is. 143 family and friends. #GMC$ #SpecialK #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard