Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013

What's poppin' children? Well, Momma, it was a very good week here in Tancol. It was a crazy extreme one weather wise. Saturday I got straight SUNBURNED! It was 43 degrees C which is like 110 F, which honestly I had really missed, haha. I'm a hot weather guy, not gonna lie. Then later on we had like hurricane level winds yesterday that had all the mangoes and avocados falling of the trees prematurely (I know what you are all probably thinking and don't worry, I didn't know that avocados grew on trees either, lolzzz). But yeah, it was a super good week. Yesterday we had barrio Tancol straight PACKED!! It was great, we probably had over 100 members there and we had our two investigators that have baptismal dates there and also 12 menos acitvos. It was a really good meeting. Also this week we have really gotten the whole zone really focused in on real growth. President Jordan and I are having really regular meetings with Presidente Flores, the Stake Pres of Estaca Chairel and in these meetings I am giving him list of all the male, Melchizedek priesthood holders, or potential holders, that each set of missionaries is working with. With this list, President Flores is making sure that all these men are having weekly interviews, assignments, callings, etc... We, as missionaries, are also really focusing in on teaching the "real growth principles" to these men such as tithing, sabbath day, the temple etc... We are really focused on making sure that all this huge growth that Estaca Chairel is seeing is converted into real growth and that all these less actives that are getting active again, that this time they are here to stay, complete with a temple recommend and paying all their tithing, and having a calling. The reason for the huge focus on Priesthood is that here in Mexico there is a HUGE difference in the number of active women and active men... I'm guessing it's probably that way in all parts of the world, but it's like ridiculously evident here. So we are really focusing our finding and reactivation efforts on male less actives that can become converted priesthood holders. It's going really well so far. This week we found and taught a former missionary named Ernesto and this Sunday he was there in church... He's a super cool guy and he loves the gospel, he just one time had a job where he had to work on Sundays and got out of the habit of going every week.. It was way cool to see him there though.
This week also will be the baptism of Omar! It's going to be this Wednesday and we are super STOKED! Omar and his family are wayyyyy cool. His mom, Lucero has been less active for years, but she has come to church with Omar and his little sister Grecia every Sunday. She should be ready to have a calling really soon as well. Omar is awesome though. He is a really smart kid. He plays guitar which is also super cool. We have a super dope fellowshipper for him as well. Hermano Edgar, he's the Young Men's Pres and the fool brings the swagger. He is one of those dudes who color coordinates from head to toe. From shoes, to shirt to glasses to everything, the man has swagga out the building. But yeah anyway, him and Omar have really buddied up, which is awesome, Edgar is going to baptize him on Wednesday. Oh yeah, another cool note, la Familia Preza that we baptized in Francia, are all taking the Temple Prep class in preparation for their July 14th sealing date which makes me soooooooooooo happy, I can't even explain it!
This week we saw a few cool miracles, one of which came as part of our obedience. The wife of President Flores, Hna Sandra and us went to visit a reference that she had given us. We showed up and it was a lady who was there in her house alone. Well, that was a total bummer because we can't go into a house unless there is another man who is there with us. We weren't gonna break the rule, but it was also a total bummer because the familia Flores are SUPER busy and it's not every day that Hna Sandra can come with us. As we stood on the porch trying to figure something out, the second counselor in the bishopric and his wife walked past. They came up and said that they had gone walking when they saw us. They agreed to stay and teach with us so that we could go into this lady's house and teach her! It's the Lords work, he puts the rules, and he never hangs us out to dry, or gives us rules that are too hard. I know that that is true.
Well, Elder Quiñones and I are loving the good life here in Tancol. We reallllly get along well even though we are really different. He was a total gamer before the mish, he told me he played League of Legends and Call of Duty like 8 hours a day beforehand. But he is so dope, he is super funny and he is here to work so we just go out and try and make it rain everyday.
Thanks so much everyone for the emails, keep hittin' me up and spreadin' the word that they can email me. If I don't email someone back, I'm really sorry, it's due to time constraints.  Yeah, tell Lalo to hit me up as well.  I haven't heard from him in a minute.
Well, I love you all so much, keep doing yo thang and being righteous. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

Yo what upppp? Hahaha, hearing that Ryan is at the State HOSA tourney brings back some memories for sure. Man, that was 3 years ago that HDF, Miles, Special K, Me and most importantly, our team MVP Mrs. Adams were tearing it up at the State HOSA tourney. Time flies. No but I hope he likes it and that he wins because then he could go visit my old stomping grounds of Lebanon, Tennessee. #TheSouthRocks. Haha. Sounds like Lauren is really killin' it up at BYU.  Man, I'm sure like last letter was you telling me that you were taking Lauren up to start school, but that was a while ago. The Lord has really blessed our family in a ton of different ways, that's for sure.
I love hearing about your Sunday School lessons Momma, I've heard incredible things about the new program the church has for teaching the youth. I'm glad to hear that it is really inviting the spirit in the Sunday School lessons for the youth. That is really cool that it's based around the basic doctrines like the Holy Ghost and the Atonement that are so key, but they can also be really hard to understand and comprehend a lot of times. I bet this program is really helping with that. Keep doing great Momma, you are a killer teacher and I can't thank you enough for the way that you taught all of us the scriptures from a young age. That has been an incredible blessing in my mission and in my life, one that I could have never understood or comprehended at 6 am at the table eating breakfast and listening to you and dad read and ask us questions. Thank you both so much for that.
That's way sweet that the 3rd ward and the 4th ward now have separate sets of missionaries. That makes it so much easier when a companionship only has one ward that they can focus on. I bet that will really help missionary work in the ward take off, although it sounds like it's really been taking off since the summer with Sister Diaz' and Christine's baptisms.  I'm sure its sooooo hard to be new converts and change everything on a dime, it just goes to show how much power the gospel message really has, to be able to make people living already happy lives drop everything and make changes within their lives. Pretty cool huh?
As for me, I'm loving Tancol. We are continuing with our goal to find, teach, baptize, and reactivate Priesthood holders, or potential priesthood holders. We have one guy that we are reactivating, he is sweet!  He is like 50ish, he's a plumber, he really understands the gospel well, he has a strong testimony of the restoration, and he has now attended church for like a month straight after not going for a long time. We have been inviting him to go out and teach with us and he has been loving it. We actually have now met and taught his daughter, Laura who lives close. We have some good goals with him to get the Melchizedek priesthood and to prepare to go to the temple as well. But yeah, yesterday we had 17 less actives attend church which was sweet, it's about half of the less actives that we are teaching the lessons to. We had probably almost 100 people in church... The only bummer, Omar and Paloma, our 2 investigators with a baptismal date couldn't go! Barrio Tancol starts at 8am sharp and it sometimes is a little obstacle, but its also really good to teach the principle of sacrifice to our investigators and less actives. President Jordan taught us, "What does lamb blood on the door have to do with the health of your first born child? Does it cure the flu? Does it take away head pain? No, its the principle that we don't know always which blessings are connected with which commandments/rules, it's up to us to obey, sacrifice, and trust." I really like that and I've been trying to apply it.
So another game breaker, Salt Lake has now changed the rule on communication! Family, immediate and extended, as well as friends can now communicate with missionaries through e-mail! So that's kind of cool.
Well, I'm loving it down here. For Rindy Momma, the person that is progressing the most that he taught is a kid named Danny, who he taught with Elder Priest, you can let him know that he's going to church again. The mission is an incredible chance to learn and grow. The best part of it is that it's the Lord's work, and the only way to fail is to not obey or be diligent. I love you all so much. I am so grateful to have you as my family and friends. I hope to make y'all proud everyday. #143, #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013

What's up Familyyyyy:
Yo yo yoooooooooo, what's up with life in the fast lane up north?  Wow I can't believe that Kai is already home! And now that I think about it, he has been home for a good little while already! That's crazy, time just keeps chuggin' I guess, although it really feels like since I've been in my mission, nothing should have changed from how life is for everybody else, haha.  That's awesome that the Fisher fam was back in Fallon. You are so right Momma, Bishop Fisher was suchhhhh a good bishop for us as kids growing up, he was perfect. I love that man to death. I hope to see him sometime after my mish just to be able to thank him for all he did. We really had/have a really great ward up in Fallon. Hey, I would be curious, about how many people attend our ward every week?  One thing is that the wards and the chapels down here in Tampico are much smaller than what I think we are used to in the Western United States. A big ward here is more than 120 and I think there's only like one or two wards in the whole mission that have more than 200 active members. If I had to guess I would have said that there are probably like 200ish active members in Fallon 4th but I really wouldn't know, so if you could tell me that, I would be curious to hear.
Our week was pretty sick, we are seeing some great progress down here in Barrio Tancol. I feel like with all that I learned in my time in the offices, it has made me a much smarter missionary. I feel like I finally have got a good grip on what I'm doing. I feel like I plan better than ever before, I lead better, I teach better, I study better, and I know how to work with ward leaders much better than I did 5 months ago. This week in our weekly planning session, Elder Quinones mapped out all of the investigators and less actives that we are currently teaching. For each of these people, we looked at what we have already taught them, what their needs will be, and also we started looking at specific actions that the ward counsel could take to help each of them in their progression towards baptism, priesthood ordination, or receiving a temple recommend. We then filled out not only a really detailed progress record to present to the ward counsel, but we also did a separate sheet with the actions that we wanted each leader to take for a certain person in the next week. For example, we put the name of one less active that is coming back to church. With Bernardo we put that he needs an interview with the bishop to set goals to receive the Melchizedek priesthood, he needs to meet the Elders Quorum president and he needs an assigned companionship of home teachers by the end of the week. We then went and made copies of these two sheets that we had made, one copy for every member of the ward counsel, and highlighted the names and necessities that pertained to each one of their organizations. We gave a copy to each one of the ward counsel members and walked them through the help that we needed for each person. We committed every one of them to do these things before this Thursday. Hahaha, the whole ward counsel was just blown away. But they were totally on board with it. We also started planning with them in how we are going to find, teach, baptize, retain, and reactivate men that are or could be priesthood holders. Overall, it was a really well planned, sweet ward counsel.
I'm learning more and more that the key to success in missionary work really does lie in the coordination between the full time missionaries and the members. The members are really helping us and getting behind us here in Tancol and we are seeing the fruits of it. We have two really solid baptisms for the 30th of March and also we had 13 menos activos that we are teaching that came to church. To answer your question Momma, the area plan for all of Mexico is that the full time missionaries are teach all 5 missionary lessons from Preach my Gospel to all less active members and extending them the same commitments such as read the scriptures and come to church, so that is basically how we get so many to come to church. There is a ward in the mission that in November had an average attendance of 85 and last week and 175 people in church. #CRAZZZY
As for me, I'm really focused on becoming better everyday. I'm really focused on getting to full consecration and making sure that I'm becoming more converted every day. Elder Quiñones and I really get along well. He really wants to learn how to be a good missionary and I hope that I can help him. I've noticed that since I left the offices, a lot a missionaries are kind of scared of me or something and stop doing what they are doing if it's inappropriate when I walk in the room. Hahaha it's kind of funny to watch. Now I know how Dad feels when he has everybody on their toes, hahahaha.
I got a sweet letter from Elder Faught today. Man I love that brotha. We have this sweet thing going where we have like two sets of letter responses going, so I just got a letter from him that he wrote in like January, and he probably just got one from me that I wrote him in January as well. It's cool cuz we get letters from each other twice as fast because we have like one on the way always.  But yeah, the man is a totallllll stud, I love him to death.
Well, that's what's poppin' down here in Tampico. I was gonna write the promised land but I remembered I'm not in Victoria. haha. I love you all so so much. I pray for you all daily. I feel your prayers lift me daily as well. Thank you all so much. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

What's happenin' peeps? Everything continues to be great back at home it sounds like. Everything is straight homeless down here as well. To answer your question, Momma, Chairel is one of the 5 stakes and zones here in the Tampico/Madero area. So we are like all of west Tampico which has a bunch of sweet lagunas which are really green and pretty. Chairel is probably consistently the richest part of Tampico as well. I really like it, Elder Rindlisbacher served here and we are working with a few of the people who he taught. I have now visited in divisions or served in almost all of Rindy's areas. The man was a boss. Do you know if he's hitched yet?
It was a good week. Monday and Tuesday we didn't have a ton of success which was realllllllly hard cuz it was realllllly hot and we were walking around reallllllly lost, but that turned out to be like the biggest blessing I could have had. It's so crazy the way the Lord works, but with not having like any success in those first two days meant that we walked through like almost all of our area in those two days... Usually it takes like a week or two to really get an area down, but with those first 2 days, I basically already have my area down. That was really crucial because Elder Quinones is really new still and making the decisions is still hard for him but I obviously couldn't have made the decisions of where we were going to go or who we were going to teach without knowing who they were or where they lived. So yeah, lesson is, the Lord's ways are not our ways.
I'm really enjoying working as a Zone Leader as well. It's a much more personal relationship with the Elders and with the Stake Leaders. The Stake Pres of Estaca Chairel is in our ward and lives in our area of the ward (we have two sets of missionaries in Barrio Tancol). He is super sweet though, his name is President Flores and I'm working a ton with him with coordinating all this reactivation work that the missionaries are doing. He and his family are seriously super sick. They have 2 kids studying at BYU and a 17 year old son who will be going to BYU for a semester and then on the mish. But yeah, President Jordan and I have had coordination meetings with him and we have a good plan going forward for how we are going to retain all of these less actives that are coming back to church.
As far as my own area, we had some way good success from Wednesday to Sunday so all was well. We've got some awesome members who are ready and willing to help us. We are reactivating a family whose children aren't members. The Mom is a member named Lucero and her kids are Omar (14) and Grecia (8). Omar has a baptismal date for the 30th of March and is progressing well. We also had 10 less actives in church yesterday. The problem that I've seen is that there are very few active men in the ward. It's a ward full of relief society. So we've put together a plan to find, teach, baptize, and reactivate men which is something that we are working on more and more this week.
Elder Quiñones is a really good guy and we are really enjoying working together. I really enjoy training, even though I'm his third trainer he is really learning well still. It is different going from having a comp who has a lot of time already under his belt in the mish to having a pretty much brand new comp, but I think it's fun to have a newer comp because they aren't so set in their ways.
But yeah that's pretty much it from my neck of the woods. Zion prospers. haha jk. I'm doing great, I'm still going strong with my goals that I set at the beginning of the year. I'm almost through Jacob in the BofM and should finish the BofM again on the 15 of May along with all the mission. I'm sooooooooo excited for General Conference, I've only got like 5 conference talks left to read from the October conference and I'm ready for another spiritual feast, haha. But yeah that's bout it for me. I love you all so so much. I learn from all of your examples. #143 #GMC$ #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard