Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013

First of all, sooooooooo proud of all your member missionary work!  Congrats on that Momma especially!  I am sooooo so proud of you.  I meant to write that the last few weeks as well that I'm just so proud of you.  
As for me this week... It's been incredible.  I've had a few words going through my head all week and I can't get em out.  The words are as follows:  "It's ALL worth it,"  Literally, last Saturday has made it ALL worth it.  Every appointment that's fallen through, every long hot day, every time that I've obeyed when it wasn't popular or easy, every morning that I was too tired to even think straight but I peeled myself out of bed, every person who slammed a door in my face, or laughed at me, or yelled swear words at me or whatever it may be... It doesn't even matter, it's ALL worth it.  The Family Preza was sealed for time and all eternity last Saturday and I was there to witness it.  It's ALL worth it.  The feelings I had last Saturday were ones of indescribable peace and happiness.  I was able to witness as that family completed their final saving ordinances here in this life.  Now they must only endure to the end, and if they do so, they have the promise of our loving Father in Heaven that their family relations will continue beyond the veil.  As I think about that, and I reflect on that accomplishment for their family, I am overcome with gratitude for my Father in Heaven, for letting me, in some small way, be an instrument in His hands.  For letting me be a part of his eternal work here in this life, for letting me see the power that the gospel has to change and refine other people first hand.  It brings tears to my eyes to think that, not withstanding my mortal frailties and errors, the Lord has seen fit to bless me SOOO much in my time as a missionary, to let me come to know soooo many wonderful people who have been soo prepared to hear the gospel.  It's been the second greatest blessing in my life to come to know these people, right behind having my own family.  Needless to say, this week was truly the greatest week of my life.  Its ALL worth it.  And you know what, I know it's all been possible because I've obeyed and I've worked hard.  Missionaries or future missionaries who read this, if you want to see miracles, have faith in what your leaders teach you:  That obedience and diligence truly bring those miracles because it's true.  La Familia Preza is a flat out miralce.  I worked almost 3 months straight without any success in Francia when we found and taught them.  If we do our part, God will do his, I know that to be true, I've seen it firsthand. 
Well, that was the highlight of my week.  And really of my life, haha.  I'm waiting to hear where Cristian gets his call to and when cuz I'll hopefully be able to go to the temple with him as well.  It's ALL worth it, and don't let anyone tell you that it's not.  I'm so blessed to be a missionary, in the GREATEST mission for ME in the world.  The gospel is true, the spirit will confirm it to any and all who let it.  I love you all soooo much!  Have a great week!  
Elder Stockard

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 22, 2013

Ok, so just so y'all know, I think I just had the happiest week of my whole life.  Not even a joke!  I can't wait to tell y'all bout it cuz this week has been absolutely incredible!
So first things first.  There were two baptisms this last week that I am sooooooo happy about.  Don't know if y'all remember Cristian and Berenice from when I was in Central in the offices?  The son of Pascual y Ricarda?  Well they finalllyyy got baptized after 7 months of waiting!  I got a letter from them this last Wednesday when the Assistants came out to la Huasteca and also the assistants called me Friday right before their baptism and let me talk to them.  I was so so so so happy to hear that they finally got baptized.  I put my absolute heart and soul into teaching and helping those two.  I also say that my mish wouldn't have been complete if they hadn't gotten baptized.  I got to talk to them and they just sound so, so happy.  Also, Pascual and Ricarda are both active and have callings, so that is awesome to hear as well.  
That was one very happy moment... but it gets much better.  Wednesday the Assistants were here in la Huasteca working with us and my dear friend and ex comp Elder Castro, and they gave me an update on my old area, up in the Promised land of Barrio Mainero and Victoria in Cuidad Victoria.  Great news up there as well:  Cristian, one of our converts up there, SUBMITTED HIS MISSION PAPERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He will have his call in 3 weeks!  I am so, so happy for him.  Also, Alicia is preparing to go to the temple!  All is well in Victoria as well.  
By this time you can see that this was a great week... but it still gets better!  Last Saturday I got a call from Elder Castro once again and he was ecstatic... so so happy because... La FAMILIA PREZA WILL BE SEALED NEXT SATURDAY AT 1:30pm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh my goodness, I am so excited.  I will be heading up to Tampico this weekend to be at their endowment and sealing!!!!!!!!!!!!   I don't think I've ever had a better week in my entire life!!!  I am so happy.  I finally know what Ammon and Aaron and Alma and Zenos all talked about in rejoicing in the fruits of their labors,  these people have changed my life forever and to think that I could have been blessed to help them change theirs as well is a feeling that I can't quite describe.  I truly can't describe it, but I don't think there are many things that feel better than the way I've felt in the last few days.  I love these people here in Mexico so much.  I would truly do anything for them.  That is a great feeling.  That is something that I didn't know how to feel before I was a missionary and it's something that the Lord has taught me here.
Family, thank you once again for being a family that lived/lives the gospel.  Momma, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, thank you so much for teaching me to live the gospel.  There is a difference between being members of the church and making the gospel part of your life.  You all made the gospel part of your lives and that in turn made it a part of mine.  That has made all the difference.  ALL the difference.  Thank you.  Aunts and Uncles, if you are ever thinking or feeling that your efforts to live the gospel and teach it to your children are falling on deaf ears, don't be discouraged.  I promise you that one day your children will thank you for your efforts, without a doubt.  Hold on, keep pushing to do what's right and not make exceptions.  It will pay off.  
Well, that's about it from down here.  I hope you all know how much I love you.  You are the greatest friends and family that I could ever imagine.  Keep doin yo thang.  #143
#GMC$  #SpecialK #JakeHeaps
Elder Stockard

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

Yo, so don't trip Momma, I'm takin' lots of pics, I just don't send 'em cuz these Mexican internet cafes are pushing it sometimes to even send little emails, haha.  Don't wanna push my luck.  So Dad in his letter said something to me about how this is probably the most exciting time in the history of the world to be alive!  I totally agree and although I love y'all too much, I wouldn't wanna be anywhere other than Huejutla Hidalgo.  Things are really poppin' down here.  
So to answer your question on Panacaxtlan Momma, Panacaxtlan is a tiny little community like 20 minutes from Huejutla up in the hills.  There are probably like 300 people who like there and like 13 active members.  It had been off limits to visit except in organized activities with the district president till this week when Pres. gave Elder Gonzalez and I permission to open it up as we see fit according to the amount of work that there is there.  And so we did.  We just went out there once last week but we started visiting some less active part member families.  I feel as though there are baptisms to be had there.  We will see how things go.  
As for here in Huejutla I cant believe how fast things are progressing.  Two years ago President Call divided the branch here in Huejutla and made it into two.  Six months ago, 60 people attended la Rama 1 (where I'm at) and like 90 attended la Rama 2.  Yesterday we had over 100 in our branch and the other branch had over 150 people in attendance! There were over 20 investigators between the 2 branches and tons of less actives.  All of these branches here in la Huasteca are growing like a wild child.  It is incredible to see.  Elder Gonzalez and I have lots of work with less actives right now but we are still struggling to find investigators that are progressing.  That will be a definite focus in the coming weeks.  It is so different being a missionary in a branch than it is being a missionary in a ward!  Especially here where the Mission President is like a Stake President, the missionaries in some of these smaller branches play BIG roles.  Its a really good experience for these missionaries and I think it will really serve them going back to their home wards and already having experience in helping run a church unit.  
Elder Gonzalez is a really cool guy.  He is from Puebla, and he went to the church school of Benemerito de las Americas which is now the new MTC down here.  We get along really well and having fun.  I've been really blessed with a ton of excellent comps who are really blessed and changed my life.  I've been reflecting so much on the change that the mission has made on my life and it is unreal.  There are things that I have learned here that I couldn't have learned in any other circumstance or way.  I am so grateful Mom and Dad, that you always taught me and stressed the importance of serving a full time mission.  Mom and Dad, also thank you so much for teaching me the importance of obedience.  Brandon, you as well.  No other principle or law has resulted in more blessings that the law of obedience.  Thank you all.  Thank you, family in all, for being a family that didn't just attend church, rather you made the gospel of Jesus Christ a part of who you were and are.  You taught us to LIVE the gospel.  There is no greater blessing than that of knowing, since infancy, how to LIVE the gospel.  I am eternally indebted for that.  
I love you all so much.  Have a great week this week and know that I love you all!  The Gospel is true, it's ALL true.
Elder Stockard

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8, 2013

Yo, so let me just tell you that it is so good to hear nothing but good things from y'all every Monday.  There are so many Elders and Sisters here in this mission that don't have that blessing or privilege and I thank my Father in Heaven every single day that I am a member of the family that I have and that all of you have had such a positive impact on my life and on my mission.  Thank you so much for that.  I am so proud of you all.
Lauren, Ryan, Momma, happy summer birthdays!  I love you all soooooo much!  So SO much.  I hope you all had a wonderful time and Ryan, I hope tomorrow is great for you.  
Life here in Huejutla is great.  Like straight up.  The Huasteca is a totally different world.  I would love it if someday one of you could experience the life that I am living right now.  I am learning so many things in so many different ways.  I'm guessing that this is the most jungle I have ever seen or will see in my whole life.  The people who live here are very poor and very humble, but they are incredible people.  
This Friday I had a sweet experience.  We were able to go with the district President to the smallest branch in the whole district, a little tiny place called Panacaxtlan.  Panacaxtlan is pure Anahuac (Native American culture and language).  The members there speak Spanish as well, but they pray and communicate amongst themselves in Anahuac.  We pulled up to this little casa de oracion (house of prayer?  I don't know really how to say that in English or if it has another title) and the Branch Pres came out to see us and sent his kids to round up all the members that live in that little tiny village.  They came and we sat down, sang songs, shared a message and enjoyed feeling the spirit together.  At the end the Branch President, almost crying said, "I knew that the Elders were going to come today, I just knew it, we needed you so bad and I just knew that you were going to come today."  Those humble people look forward to the visits from the missionaries so much.  It was truly humbling to see how happy those faithful people were to see the missionaries and it really showed me how the spirit is not contingent upon level of gospel knowledge or worldy prestige, but rather upon love of the Lord Jesus Christ and our conversion to his gospel.  It was a great experience that I'll never forget.  I talked with Pres and I think he's going to let us open up Panacaxlan to the Obra de Salvacion.  It was awesome.
This week I was once again reminded of the wonderful blessing that is the Sabbath day.  I absolutely have come to love the Sabbath here as a missionary.  Alyssa and Momma, I was so happy to hear about your Sabbath experience on the way back from Utah.  I've come to learn of the healing power that the Sabbath has.  I hope that when I am home I can maintain the love that I have gained for the Sabbath day.  It really is the way to recharge our physical and spiritual batteries each week and it all starts with the blessings of the sacrament.  How blessed we are to have the priesthood authority restored and to know the meaning and symbolism of the Holy Sacrament.  What a blessing it is to be able to take it each week and renew our commitment to follow the Savior.
Elder Gonzalez and I found some good new investigators this week working with the members and of the 54 potential priesthood holders in the district that we want to have ordained in September, 20 went to church yesterday so that's a start.  Yesterday was the election here in Mexico, but I have no idea who won or really what anyone stands for.  What I do know is that the church is true, the atonement heals, the Book of Mormon is true, and that the Savior lives and directs His church.  What a blessing it is to know that.  I love you all so much.  Have a great week and stay fly!  #GMC$
Elder Stockard

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013

The weeks just keep cookin' Family!
Ok, so it has been a great week out here in the state of Hidalgo!  I am LOVING this little pueblo, that is the absolute truth.  It has been a crazy, crazy week out here, but this place is EXPLODING with work!  I'll break the week down a little bit for ya.
So Monday I headed out of Tampico coming down south!  I got here and met up with Elder Gonzalez.  He is really awesome, he is from the state of Puebla.  From the moment that I got off the bus here in Huejutla until now, we legitimately have not stopped working.  I actually never bought groceries last week because we never had time.  Haha yeah, so I've been in like a 7 day fast without a purpose.  We immediately started getting the houses ready for all the new missionaries that were going to be arriving the next day, unloading materials and supplies, assembling things and getting things all set up.  We also had the Zone Leaders counsel this Friday, so Thursday night we made the trek to Tampico and stayed in my old crib with the assistants right there in front of the temple.  That was fun, but it's 4 hours by bus from Huejutla to Tampico, so it totally ate our Thursday afternoon and our whole Friday, but the Lord really blessed us.  Somehow with all the other stuff we were doing, we were still able to see miracles in our own area, teach 20 lessons, find 2 new, good investigators, and help 14 less actives get to church!  It was sweet.  

Here in Huejutla there are 2 branches and now, each of the 2 branches has 6 missionaries, or 12 in total.  Between the 12 missionaries here in Huejutla, there were over 70 less actives in church this week!  There were over 100 people in both branches!  This place is about to EXPLODE!  There are a bunch of investigators all ready for baptism and things are on the rise.  Between our whole zone, which includes a few other little towns as well, there were 136 less actives in the branches this week!  We are getting things all set up to offer a Priesthood prep class for those less active and recent converts who are candidates to receive the Melchizedek priesthood to help em get all prepared.  

Overall, I couldn't be happier with how things are going here in la zona Huasteca.  It was a great week. There is one branch that when I was in the offices, we were thinking about closing because the members didn't support the missionaries and there just wasn't a lot of work,  Yesterday, that branch had 27 less actives in church, 7 investigators in church and 5 baptismal dates for this month! 91 people attended church!  The Lord is truly hastening his work and doing miracles here.

I love the chance that I have to be a missionary.  I am truly committed to use every single second that I have here in the mission the best that I can.  I know and feel that the work that we are doing as missionaries in all parts of the world is SOOO important.  It's the most important thing that I could be doing.  I am so blessed to be here in la mision Mexico Tampico.  I hope that I can make y'all proud.  I hope you all know how happy and I am here.  I can't really explain it, but I am SOOOOO happy!  I love the Gospel.  It's ALLL true.  Have  a great week and keep it reallzzz!
Elder Stockard