Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

What up Famileeee!

So another blazing fast week has flown us by.  Momma and Dad, I am so happy to hear that all is well in the family and I also love hearing about all your awesome experiences and the ways that you all are thinking to do missionary work.  It makes me so happy and so proud of y'all.  Thank you both so much for living the gospel.

So I had a bunch of cool experiences this last week.  This area has been the busiest of my mission, we teach like 30 or more lessons every week and it is insane.  We have some great people, less active, recent converts and investigators who are all really progressing well.  This last week I learned a lot about how subtle the impressions of the spirit are.  Elder Gonzalez and I were just walking along to an appointment this week when we saw an active member who lives in our branch but in the part where there are other missionaries serving, not us.  She was outside of a friend's house just talking.  We said hi to her and asked her how she was, but being missionaries, we immediately turned our attention to her nonmember friend.  She told us her name is Yulma and that she had been to church before with her active friend who was there, La Hermana Lupita.  She said she went to a district conference like a year ago but never really got in touch with the missionaries.  We set an appointment to come back and teach her and invited Lupita to come as well.  Well, last Saturday we went back and taught her.  Turns out that when she went to church last year she had been going to another church, but now she's stopped going and it seems like she's pretty legit!!!  Lupita and her husband Pilar nailed it with us in the lesson, the spirit was super strong and yesterday Yulma, and her two daughters were at church with Lupita, Pilar and their family!  That is members and missionaries working together!  It was an incredible experience and I know that it was no coincidence that we passed by the exact moment that Lupita and Yulma were outside their house talking.  

It amazes me how subtle the spirit works in our lives.  That is the reason that living the commandments is so important because the spirit speaks gently to us.  If we aren't paying attention it passes right over our heads.  I'm so grateful that I've been able to learn about the workings of the spirit in my time as a missionary.
One other cool thing this last week,  I had the opportunity to reflect upon my progenitors this last week as I learn about the spirit of Elijah.  I found a DearElder you had sent me in the MTC, Momma, in response to my question about how many generations of missionaries had served in my fam.  The letter talked about Robert Baird who served in the Southern States in 1898, mainly in Tennessee.  How cool is that Momma?  Who would have ever known when you sent me that letter in January of 2012, that only a month later I would be serving as a missionary on the same ground as my great, great, great grandfather.  I know that that wasn't a coincidence either.  I'm so blessed to have the immediate and extended family that I do.  The Church is true, the gospel makes us happy.  Thank you all so much for LIVING it!  I love you all.  
Elder Stockard

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Yo Family!
Eh, so it was a totally dope week this week and it sounds from my crew like it was pretty dope back in Fallon and in P-Town as well. Soooooooooo much respect that Elder Parry was kickin' it wit Special K and Big Hubbs and Lauren up in Midway!  That is so dope cuz he has heard soooooooo many stories about those 2 and now there they are all up in the promised land of Midway, Utah with Grandma Dot.  #Clutch.  That made me happy.  Respect to that group.  Also it made me happy to hear that the Got Money Crew is heading back down to SoCal for a few days.  That will be so fun for Kev and Ryan, they will kill it, there are lots of good memories down there.  Steal some fastpasses for me boyzz.  Hahaha.  
Momma, I cannot believe that y'all are already back in shcool!  The summer goes so fast!  Down here I think it's the first day of school as well cuz we've got a Jr. High in front of our house and it's packed today for the first time since I've been here.  
But this week was incredible not even gonna lie.  We had some great success in our area as well as in our zone.  In our area, Elder Gonzalez and I have out of the blue finally been able to help like 4 new less active families start to progress.  We also have 2 investigators that look to have solid baptismal dates for Septiembre.  One family that has really started to progress are two people named Narciso y Ramona.  Narciso y Ramona are your classic Huastecos, humble, nice, quiet, etc... They are probably about 55 years old and Narciso has really struggled to find work.  Two weeks ago we taught them on the law of tithing and they didn't really accept it that well.  We both felt really inspired to promise them that if they would kneel with us in prayer, promise the Lord that they would pay their tithing, and ask him for help in finding work, that He would help him to find work in that week.  It was a pretty specific and sweet promise, but even with that, he wasn't really feeling it.  So this last week we went again and taught them again on another subject but they continued to talk about their struggles without work.  At this point, I felt inspired to turn the subject back towards tithing seeing as that is what they seemed to need.  Elder Gonzalez and I told them, "Brother Narciso, we came last week and basically taught exactly what you need to do to find work.  You need to pay your tithing; now last week we made you a promise that if you would promise the Lord that you would pay your tithing and asked Him for His help in finding work, then He would bless you with work.  Now we want to make you that same promise, but this is the last time, if you say no once again, the Lord wants you to know that that promise will leave out the door with us."  It was a super strong spiritual moment when he finally decided to kneel in prayer with us and do as we had invited him to do.  Two days later we went back by to see because we had been praying like a wild child that God would help Narciso.  We knocked on the door and Ramona his wife came out smiling and said that Narciso wasn't home because he was out working!!!!!!!!!  She thanked us and assured us that they would pay their tithing this Sunday.  What a sweet experience it was!  I felt the spirit so strong in that lesson and I know that when we as missionaries promise blessings by the spirit, they Lord will make good on them.
The Zone is also going bonkers, as a zone we had 151 menos activos in church and a ton of investigators as well.  The work is reallllllly hastening here in la Huasteca and it's incredible to be a part of it.  I love you all so much and I'm so glad to hear that all is well.  Have a great week and know that I love you all.  #143
Elder Stockard

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013

Dear Familee:
Yo, so I know it's the same for y'all, but I can't even comprehend how fast the weeks are going.  I know I say that pretty often, but that's cuz pretty often it's true.  How blessed we are to have the gospel as the life blood of our family and friends.  Mom, sounds like your talk went great and I'm sure that Dad's did as well.  I tell the story of Travis to investigators, missionaries and members down here alllllll the time.  He is the man.  
Anyway, this week was really good, it was a little more administrative because our zone is a little complex and week 1 of transfers is always a little crazy.  Our zone is the biggest of the 10 in the mission with 27 missionaries.  It is also the zone that is the most spread out, with those 27 missionaries spread out over 5 little towns within 3 states and 5 hours of each other by bus.  So yeah, transfers take some real coordination, wayyy more than in Tampico, hahaha, then on top of that we gave 2 trainings this week, Elder Gonzalez and I, to the whole zone which took some coordination to get everyone into Huejutla and back out in one piece, haha.  It was a really good week, the mission really helps develop you in sooo many different ways, it's crazy.  I often times wonder how it is that I am so happy and yet soooooo tired all the time, haha.  The answer is truly simple:  The gospel and the people.   It's just that simple.  The gospel because it's the lifeblood of this work and of our every second of our lives for these 2 years.  It is also the ultimate source of happiness on this earth and when immersed in it for such a long, consecutive period of time, it truly changes our very natures.  The other reason is the people, and this is very connected with the gospel.  Elder Perry gave a talk a while ago on how two people that share spiritual experiences together become bound together by love for each other due to those experiences.  That is exactly what happens as a missionary, those with whom we share these spiritual experiences, where the spirit is the teacher.  The spirit comes in, touches our hearts, and changes our very nature and desires.  Those people, whether they be investigators, less actives, active members, whatever, become our very motivation as missionaries.  They make it ALL worth it.  It's incredible.  
Also, Lisa wrote me an incredible email (maybe the highlight of my week Lisa!) this last week about how her kids participated in a no-TV activity.  I think that's a huge part of the change that comes to missionaries as well, we are soooo separated form the world... Things that my life used to revolve around such as pro sports, I haven't heard anything of that in almost 2 years, just being set apart from the world for so long has a real positive change on our lives as well.
Huejutla is going great.  We have one investigator named Jesus who is starting to progress real well who we are excited about.  Momma, These branches can't become a ward until there is a stake.  Where there is no stake organization, only branches can exist because there are no high priests except the mission president.  There can be a branch within a stake but there can be no ward within a district.
Well, I love you all so much.  Thanks for being my examples and a great part of my motivation to keep going even when its tough.  I love you all and hope you know that I am SOOOO happy.
Elder Stockard

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013

Yo, so nobody told me anything about Micah Manning taking the lessons or getting baptized but that is soooooo tight!  Big Time Congrats to Micah!  I would love to shoot him an email to congratulate him, if y'all got it, I would love to have it, if you don't have it, at least please tell him congrats for me. That is so awesome.  He couldn't have made any better choice.  
Every week it sounds like y'all be straight killin' it back at home.  Momma, I love hearing about your missionary experiences, Laur, sounds like you are still the most organized, smartest person on the block.  You don't know what a blessing it is to be serving a mission here in Mexico and to truly know that all is well back at home.  Thank you all for that blessing, thank you all so much.  Thanks for telling me I have two new cousins Momma, how many are we now in all?  The Andros Family in not a small one.
So, Huejutla is pretty dope, not gonna lie.  I love it, I feel like now, one change into my time here in la Huasteca, I'm finally good and adjusted to working in a branch, although yesterday we had almost 120 people in church and the other branch here in Huejutla had 140+ people in church, so it's not your classic thought of a branch if you will.  But as far as church culture wise it's got a lot of branch tendencies still and that is what we are really focused on.  The Area presidency here in Mexico back in November put the whole "Missionaries won't knock doors"  theme with the goal of the missionaries and the members working together more.  The blessings of members and missionaries working together are many and I've really seen them in my time here.  First off, the missionaries can strengthen the members: their faith, their understanding of the gospel etc... and the members can do the same for the missionaries.  Secondly, the members are the ones who know the prepared people, such as Micah; where they live, what they like, who they are, etc... and so the work moves forward at a more productive pace when the two groups work together.  Here in Huejutla we are really focusing on making that happen.  We want the members and the missionaries to be a team that together can hasten the Lord's work in the work of salvation.  That's been our focus and Elder Gonzalez and I have really seen some miracles with it.  Although not all of them have progressed really well, we have had lots of members that have introduced us to their friends and family members who aren't members and we have been able to teach those people in the chapels and in the homes of those same members.  It's been really cool to see and the members are really starting to catch on well with how to do missionary work. It's been a cool thing to see and we know that if we obey and are diligent, we will find the prepared people here in this part of the branch.  
In other news, it is soooooo hot here.  It was like 110 degrees here and humid this week.  Haha, it makes for good motivation to find people to teach when it's so hot because you just don't wanna be stuck outside all day, hahaha.
I say it every week but I am just so happy.  Momma, if you are still talking on my mission next Sunday you can tell everyone that the most reoccurring theme that I've learned on my mission has been centered on the Grace of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful for his atoning sacrifice and for the way that that sacrifice will work in every part of our life if we will just let it do so.  It will heal us, it will motivate us, it will strengthen us in that moment when we feel like we can't take one more step or it's just too hard.  I know it's a true real power because I've felt it every day in my time here in the mission.  I'm so grateful for it.  I love you all.  Have a great summer week.
Elder Stockard