Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 31 - pictures and Christmas!

Well Merry Christmas Everyone!

I love Christmas, its just the best time of the year, but this year it just came and went so fast, I honestly cannot believe how quickly time flies when you are working. And Speaking of work, boy have I been working my butt off this holiday season. There was no rest, no break for Christmas, we could have an hour dinner, and a 40 minute phone call and it was back to work. As an added bonus, we have had like no investigators so we have been doing a ton of door knocking, which during Christmas time is about as fun as eating under cooked chicken. I actually was going around singing hymns this Christmas trying to get in the door, and everyone was saying go away its cold (if it gets under 70 here, everyone busts out sweaters and prepares for a small blizzard), so there were a lot of doors slammed in our faces on Christmas and Christmas Eve. That said, it all paid off because we got to see a couple of people who I never would have expected go to Church. A young boy named Daniel and his dad are investigating, and it was awesome because even though the Dad is Jehovah´s witness (the group that is known as more closed minded here in Mexico) he has listened to us and Daniel went to church Sunday. We also found like a golden family that really looks like they are going to progress very nicely, they invited us on Christmas eve to come in and give a lesson to the whole family, and it was honestly one of the most spiritual moments of my mission because the father had just lost his brother and his mother was there, so it really impacted them. I also just had one of those moments were I looked up and went woah, because I just barely got the conference magazine, but I looked at the date, and realized that we are halfway to the next general conference already, whoopsies. Well anyways, I love you all so much, Mexico is great, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Elder Standridge


Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 30 - Christmas Eve Call in 2 days!!!

Feliz Navidad a todos!!!!!
I hope that you are all enjoying your Christmas preparations and time with your families, I honestly cannot believe that fall semester up at BYU has ended, it just makes me realize that little by little things are passing by every week. Anyways, I am loving my time down here in Veracruz with my new companion Elder Bennett, hes honestly super chill, and we are like best friends, so I have a feeling that I am really going to enjoy this transfer. We have honestly been working super hard because we don't have a lot of investigators. From here on out, I have learned that finding new people to teach has to be part of every day, like it cannot be teaching for a week, finding for a week, if we want to have a constant stream of investigators we have to find constantly. That said, we also have to visit regularly those who are really showing progress and keeping their commitments. As he and I really started working on that, we started to see progressively more and more progress in our area.
As far as how things are going, I will give a warning, never ever ever eat undercooked chicken, just don't do that, it does not matter if it is rude, it does not matter if it is cruel, it is not worth it later. My companion got a stomach infection, which I luckily escaped, but it just was not fun. All of that said, I love my area, and am just enjoying myself a ton. Not a whole lot of new stuff to say here, love you all lots.

Elder Standridge

Here is  a little blurb of what Kevin told me about what he is teaching.  I asked why his mission was so focused on baptizing and not acknowledging the work with inactive members.  Here is his response.

We have been working hard down here, and the zone leaders told us president was really paying attention to our area, and so that made me feel really good about how I am doing out here. I dont understand the question, our purpose is what is called the doctrine of christ, faith repentance baptism receiving the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. My job is to help people to understand who is Jesus Christ and what the consequences are if they choose to not follow him. I need to make sure that the people get involved and have friends in the church, but I am not here to help people join the church or to get involved in the programs, but instead to help them accept Christ, and the way we do that is baptism (that is what a baptism is to put it simply, accepting the atonement of christ, if we do not accept it, we do not accept his sacrifice, that is why it is so important). Now that said, I would never baptize someone who didnt believe joseph smith was a prophet or who was drinking or something like that. Yes my mission is hard, yes I have to work, yes one day this week I felt like everything on my inside wanted to be on my outside, but I really do enjoy getting to help people to make progress and to change their lives, and its really worth it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 29 - 10 Days until Christmas

So this week was really interesting in a lot of different ways. Well we got called in to work on Pday a couple of hours early because our numbers were low, so they brought the whole zone in and an assistant talked to all of us, it was honestly a really interesting experience, but it made the week super hard to end Pday early because I felt just absolutely exhausted and stressed the whole week, because the weeks ended up kind of just blending together. Anyways, the next day we had Zone Conference, which was super valuable, Presidente Cordova is honestly just a master teacher, and has a talent in that area that I really just want to develop more than anything right now. He stressed more than anything the importance of teaching with questions and with scriptures. He could teach any principle from Preach my Gospel  with just a single scripture and questions, honestly amazing. We have had really low assistance at church recently, and between going to the devotional and a bunch of other things, we had not a single investigator at church, which really made for a disappointing Sunday. Here in Mexico that is especially bad because before someone can get baptized they have to go to church 5 times, meaning that we are nearly guaranteed to have multiple weeks without baptisms. That being said, it really taught me the importance of stressing Church assistance to help people move forward. I was thinking about if I were to look at 1 number to tell me how I am doing that Church assistance would be it, because those are the investigators that are really progressing (assistance, reading, and praying). So I am really going to focus on that this week. I also really learned how important it is to just talk to people, you never know who is receptive and how isn't, and I have honestly found that the Lord prepares people in our paths that if we are willing to take 2 minutes to talk to, might be receptive to this message. With that in mind, I really realized this week that most of what I do as a missionary should be something that I do for the rest of my life. Every man who is given the Melchezideck Priesthood has the same rights and duties to preach exhort and correct. Once I finish as a missionary, I still have the same duty to talk with everyone and try and find someone that the missionaries can teach, that is part of my Priesthood responsibilities. In fact, as a missionary, I do receive the calling to dd this full time, and have all the rules and all that, but at any time I can go and teach a lesson about the Gospel to any person, and could at any time go contacting and try meeting people for the missionaries to teach, in fact to do so is part of the covenant of baptism to be a witness at all times and in all places (that is not to say that if I do not go contacting every Sunday we are breaking our baptismal covenant, but if there is free time Sunday, maybe talking to a neighbor about the gospel is a good idea). I honestly have really grown to appreciate and respect this work, we are like little honeybees, no one does very much on their own. If you add up all that I will do on my mission as an individual it wont be very much, but if you add up all 90,000 missionaries and all the work of all the members, that is a lot of good.

With that said, I really have grown to love the sisters here in the ward, they honestly take such good care of us, and are so sweet and kind, it is honestly amazing to me, I wish that I could find some way to repay them for all that they do. 

Oh, by the way, this week is transfers, so I will be getting a white guy for the first time in a long time!!!! Finally some English (its honestly the same at this point for most things, I cannot speak either language without mixing them together sometimes, and dream in a weird mix of the two). His name is Elder Bennet, and Elder Quille (the poderoso peruano) will be leaving for home tomorrow, so that's exciting. I will be staying here another transfer, and that's all for now.

I love you all lots, really enjoy Christmas, its honestly a beautiful time that we have to remember the birth of the savior. So many times I have failed to recognize what a gift that Jesus Christ is for all of us, but the longer I am out here, and the more I study and ponder about him, the more my admiration grows, and my love for him grows. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Christmas, 

Elder Standridge

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 28

Hi All ~
Kevin's mission cut their P-day time because the numbers are down in the mission.  I am going to include an excerpt from my letter, that talks about the mission and my concerns with him getting enough food.  He loved the box with all the birthday cards!!  Thank you to everyone!!!

You really need to understand Mexico to understand why things happen the way they do, and what people are doing, and whats going on. Yes I am lighter mom, but I really am not suffering for want of food, that is not the problem (although quality is a bit of a problem at times). We are under an incredible amount of pressure from our zone leaders constantly to be baptizing, which is good, it keeps us motivated and makes us work harder. That said, for example today they said well your numbers are down so we are going to end your pday at 4 and we are going to go to work. I handle stress very well, I just want to do what God wants me to, I really do not care about what the other missionaries think of me, I just want to do whats right. But here in Mexico everything is about how good are your numbers and so it is really really different than other missions. I am working as hard as I can mom, and I am going to be honest, I go into peoples homes and tell them that if they do not follow up with their commitments their family will be broken up when they die (which is completely true although difficult to accept).

Our investigators this week just are not progressing, they drink or aren't divorced, or wont go to church, and its really tough because you really grow to care about these people and their families, and you know how important the gospel is for them, but they wont accept it.

We have been working hard, but really having a hard time finding new people to teach, which is means we need to contact and look a lot more, but we get distracted from that trying reactivate people, like the wards here in mexico are gigantic, 1000 people or more, but usually only 20% go to church, which is the problem.

I have been studying in preach my gospel, and it says that one of the main responsibilities of ward councils is to ensure that the missionaries have investigators and to check how their teaching is going; but it also says the missionaries should be there to help reactivate less actives and work with recent converts, so I really really hope that back home the ward council helps the missionaries, that all of the members pass along at least one reference to the missionaries (it might go nowhere, but you never know).

Right now the weather has been great here in Veracruz, and everyone is gearing up for Christmas. I hope you all got to see the devotional, when I saw that, I just felt the strongest desires to help anyone I could. I dunno, I really have just come to love so many of the people here, especially the hermanas, they work so hard for us, that I would just do anything to help them out.

I dunno, enjoy Christmas, go visit the temple, its beautiful, and I really want to go look at the lights, oh well, will do in a year or so.

Love you all

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 27- Thanksgiving Week

Well happy thanksgiving to everyone!!!!! I really wish that I could have some turkey but I do not think turkey exists in Mexico so there you go. Mostly we just eat a freaking ton of chicken with the occasional ham or ground beef. I never told this story I don't think. So our companionship and one other had been fasting for a while, and so when we went to lunch we were starving. After waiting for 45 minutes for the hermana we receive a call to go about another 45 minutes to little ceasers because she forgot about us, and she would buy us pizza. We got there and we all were starving she asked how many pizzas we wanted and my companion shouted 4, which I did not complain to at this point. She looked at us skeptically but ordered the pizzas (you have to understand how expensive that is here in Mexico for a normal person) then we began to eat, and eat, and eat. Finally when everyone was stuffed, and trying to finish the last pizza, one of the elder turns to me and says oh you're tired of chicken, then you will have pizza until it comes from your nose (bible joke) it made me laugh pretty darn hard if no one else did. Anyways, so this week, we had a milagro baptism of marcos!!!!! It honestly was pretty cool how this man had changed so much just in the time I have known him, he gave up drinking, he has agreed to pay tithing (really hard for him) and gained a testimony of Joseph Smith honestly its pretty darn cool. Its funny to see how people progress little by little until all of a sudden all of the progress comes all at once.

 It was really interesting because last week they had me do divisions with a new missionary, and I got to see how wet behind the ears he was, and its just amazing to see how much I have learned about just how to talk to people, and how I got the chance to talk to him about how to improve in different ways, teaching, Spanish, a ton of stuff. He has been suffering with his trainer a little bit, and so it really brought me back to the start of my mission. I have had companions with who I have suffered and who I have just loved like brothers so far, and its just funny to see how useful these 6 months have been down here.

Interesting scripture that I really want to share for the week that is Moroni 8 (this chapter is great for more than teaching infant baptism) it really teaches us how to develop love for other people in our hearts, and how to retain a remission of our sins. More than that, it gives us the best definition of what sin is, namely the breaking of one of the laws that God has given to us. Furthermore, I have really been pondering about D&C 121, and the rights of the priesthood. When we preach the Gospel or do any action in even the smallest seminary classroom, priesthood power is given to us and invoked. The priesthood power can only be invoked based upon principles of righteousness, namely mentioned patience long suffering and love unfeigned. What this means is that if we really wish to teach by the spirit, find by the spirit, or have in any way access to priesthood power, it requires more than just faith (which is the first principle of power in the gospel) it also must require love for the person who we are blessing, love in the most absolute sense, and then we have access to help others.

Anyways, I love my mission, I love Mexico, and I love all of you. Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes, I will respond to all of them within the next week because I am out of time

Elder STandridge

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 26

Okay so this is going to be me testing how much I can write and how quickly today. Wow wow wow, what a week of just absolute work. I mean honestly, its insane. I havent told you guys anything about anyone yet. So right now they closed one couple of missionaries, so now its just me and Elder quille (a poderso peruvian, who is like my best friend out here). We have been working like yuo would not believe, its insane. With that said, we had 2 baptisms this week. 1 was a 9 year old girl whos older sister was a member, and who on her own read through 2 nephi (to those deacons out there who still have not read the book of mormon, there is some inspiration!). She was amazing, and it was so cute when she got baptized, because honestly the water was freezing, but anyways, she has been giving energy to her older sister to go to Church, and it is awesome. Another that got baptized was Yazzmin, she is a 14 year old whose mom would not let her get baptized. The mom refused to speak with us, so my companion and I thought for a little while about this, how we were going to get the mom to give permission. Well Jesus gave a parable about a wicked judgethat didnt care about God or man, but a woman bugged him enough that he gave her justice. So my companion and I decided to use other people to bug her enough that she would give her permission. We talked to the moms mom, her uncle, Yazzmin, members of the ward, everyone was just going by and askng the mom and trying to convince her to get baptized. We sent Yazzmin 3 different times until finally Yazzmin asked for it as the gift for her quinceñera, and the mom realized how important it was for her daughter (or just got so tired of being bugged) that she gave permission, so Yazzmin got baptized this Sunday, which made me super super happy because I really could feel myself being in this girl´s shoes. She had a giant testimony, and is awesome. As far as investigators go, we are working with a couple that needs to  get married, another that has the wife still married to another man (in mexico both parties have to agree to get a divorce or its super complicated) so I have been having to read up on a whole bunch of mexican marriaged laws, and taking out their birth certificates. Needless to say, at the end of this, if my career as an accountant doesnt turn out, I might be able to become a MExican divorce attorney, so there you go. We also have been working with a man called Marcos, and man it is so weird to see how much power the people we care about can have an effect on us. He was a bit of a drinker, but man his wife begged him to stop, and to join the church, and so has completely left behind alcohol, dropped like 60 pounds, and is getting ready to get baptized. HE still lacks a little bit of a testimony but honestly is moving along nicely. Finally, and hte fmaily that I have come to love the most is Familia Lagos. They are super sweet and kind to us, and have had so many problems, but man at times it is hard to help people to get things through their skulls. We were talking and they kept putting up excuses why they could not keep the commandments or go to church and other things, and so finally my companion and I just looked at each other and told them they either had faith or they did not, and that they could throw up all the excuses they wanted but that it would just be a lack of faith, and it really touched the moms heart so much, and so now she wants to close her shop on sunday. Anyways, those are the people right now, I have been enjoying my life as a missionary, and missing you all a ton. Congrats to meg on completing her mission, thefirst of many to finish for a while (at least that I have heard of)

con cariño 
Elder Standridge

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 25 ~~ Excerpts from letter to MOM

Kevin did not write a letter to everyone this week because he was having computer problems.  So I have included some excerpts from the letter to Rick and I.  He is responding to me telling him that we are moving into the DV Ward.

Wow mom, that house is absolutely amazing, it is honestly about 10 times nicer than just about anything that I have seen for 6 months here, wow. I am really happy for you guys, and I am really happy to hear that you have been enjoying time with the young women, I would not be surprised if like the first week you were called to something with them. And wow, I cannot believe you are so close to the Jones´mom, this really is exactly what you´d been hoping for. Everything on my end is like 10 times better now. I moved houses again to the house of Elder Quille, and wow, simply wow, it has two bathrooms, and more than that, it has water presure (Kate has been complaining about hot water, I just actually want water :P). I am enjoying my time with Elder Quille, he is super patient, kind, and understanding. He laughs a ton, and honestly we get along just like 2 pees in a pod. We are teaching a ton, and I am honestly enjoying myself.  I got one package, I hopefully will get the others here on Tuesday, but we shall see, it depends on when my Zone Leaders go to the office. All in all things are going well here mom, I love you lots, and am really excited for you. 

Oh okay, so my computer is being stupid on the photos. But anyways, we have about 100 (not an exaggeration in the slightest) different people we are working with at one time between less actives, investigators, and recent converts. So I am running around a little like a chicken with its head cut off. I really love my area though, it keeps me busy. We have a little girl whose older sister is less  active and who doesn't live with her mom who has finished 2 Nephi, and she is only 9 years old (tell that to the youth to put them in gear!). We have a man who has just given up alcohol for his family and to get baptized. We also have a young couple with plans to get married and baptized. I also just found out that a couple I taught in my first area are getting baptized, a family I taught in Santiago got baptized, one of my converts is still active from my first area, and the less actives I have worked with are going to church. Its a heck of a lot of work mom, but little by little, I am starting to see more and more fruits of it. I the chance that I have to be here, I love both of you and miss you a ton.

Elder Standridge

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 24 - One more transfer until Christmas ~

So many of you asked me what Kevin meant in last week's letter when he talked about the RM from Mission Square and his discussion about polygamy.  Here is his response ~

 I really gained a new and different respect for what those men did. So here is what was going on. During that time period the church had many widows because of the different persecutions that occurred during the mobs. Work during the time period was not the same as it is today, if you were a widowed woman, it was basically condemnation to death by starvation for you and any children that you had. Those same children often times needed a Father in the picture to help them to learn the values of God, and to learn to work and things like that. So what God commanded was that women would have the option to marry men who were honorable in keeping the commandments and who were financially stable enough to take care of the women. Additionally, the importance of sea-lings is vital to us as members of the church, we cannot enter into the highest kingdom of heaven if we are unsealed. Therefore through polygamy, these women had a chance to be sealed to men who were worthy. (many of whom were sealed after Joseph and Brigham were dead). Many many many of the women did not have any form of sexual relations with their husbands, although some did because 1. the church was in a time period where it needed to grow to survive, and 2. having children is vital to the idea of eternal families, and many women were denied the right to have it. Joseph Smith was firm that he did not want to have anything to do with polygamy. He put it off and and put it off, Emma Smith was simply the love of his life (this commandment was difficult for the men who were chosen to participate because they were the most faithful of members of the church, and loved their original wives very much), but God commanded this to help the women and the church, and told him if he did not obey he would be removed from his place. So really I gained a lot of respect when we talked about this, and I really cannot do it full justice, but here is what I learned, this was not an issue of some guy wanting to have like 200 women around  or some sexual satisfaction, really it was a sacrifice on the part of all those who participated (now in some of those colonies of splinter groups this might not be the case, I do not know).

(letter to everyone) well it really does waste valuable writing time when you begin your letters in Spanish. So this week there are going to be some cambios, and I must admit that I am pumped. My companion Elder Romo is going to be sent up to Orizaba, the coolest (cold does not exist here) place in the mission, and he is freaking out because he is from baja California, which gets up to 56 degrees Celsius, and I am pretty sure was designed as a place to be uninhabited. I am going to be staying herein Progresso, and they are putting me with the district leader from the other companionship, who is actually a good buddy of mine. His name is Elder Quille and he is from Aricipa (spelling) Peru. He and I get along great, and honestly I am super excited because right now for the next transfer because we are going to have a lot of success. We have honestly like 6 or 7 families that we are working on that are super close to getting baptized, which means this next transfer is going to be awesome. 

This week I was kind of evaluating the work for the transfer, and it really gave me a lot of happiness to see how many families that we have reactivated this transfer. It is really quite incredible how many people have come back this transfer.It just makes me so happy to know that these people are so much closer because of the work that we are doing down here. That said, I feel guilty because a lot of the converts of Elder Romo have stopped coming because we really have not taken care of them how we should. It is just so hard with all of the work that we have to do, which with the other companionship now is going to be like 10 times worse. 

This week they called me up to speak in Sacrament meeting (in Santiago that meant getting up in front of 20, here its 200), and give a talk about self reliance and being a disciple of Christ. It is super cool because I just recognized how important being self reliant is for each of us, both spiritually and temporally. WE have to know for ourselves what is true in this life, and cannot depend on anyone else. We then have to give everything else up to follow that truth once we have found it. When I am teaching I often use the quote from Alice in wonder land with the Cheshire Cat, which path should I take, well that depends where you want to go, if you don't know where you want to go, it really doesn't matter which path you take.

This week (I included photos mom) I had one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. After I wrote on Monday we went with an old man (87 and his name is Roberto) who was super Pentecostal and was firm he would never get baptized. We then thoroughly explained the Great Apostasy and the importance of authority with another man from his same age. It honestly took a long while, but he proceeded to get super excited and decided to be baptized. So this weekend after Church I got to baptize him,and it was super amazing because I have never felt like anyone that I have worked with was going to be firm in the church. But I honestly believe,after hearing his testimony that Roberto is going to endure to the end. As I sat there, having worked for 6 months, without having baptized anyone that I felt would really be active, and seeing this one man, and how happy his family was, it just made all of the work worthwhile. I really just want to say how much I love my mission. There are miracles out here. This is the Lord´s work,and I honestly do not always understand it, and really am just doing my very best out here. But I know how powerful the Gospel is, the Holy Ghost can touch anyone´s heart. 

I love you all a ton. I hope that everyone is enjoying school and there missions. You are all in my prayers and my thoughts. 

Elder Standridge

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 23

So this week was really an interesting one. If you ever want to feel really stressed, try dealing with a landlord that has your deposit, with no particular reason to return it, who keeps saying he will give it to you the next day then doesn't show up for the appointment and knowing that if you don't get it back, you might have to move back to a really horrible house. Now that is stressful. At least right now we have two people with really good chances of getting baptized and who we can help to work towards that. Also, this week there were three less active families with whom we have been working who look like they are going to reactivate, one of the husbands is going to receive the Melchizedek priesthood, and everything looks pretty good on the reactivation front. Oh, by the way, this week I got a really strong testimony of companionship inventory, my companion and I decided to sit down and tell each other basically all the reasons why we didn't like the other person(it took a while) and now my companion and I get along well. I must admit that as I have been trying to type these emails, it has gotten progressively harder as I have kind of started to not remember a lot of English phrases like I used to.

The coolest parts of this week were really what I learned, like honestly I cannot describe how much I learned this week. First off, Charity and love are absolutely vital in order to exercise priesthood power. Note I mention power and not authority, (see D&C 121) which refers to what both men and women have access to. If we as people in a calling in the church or as a parent or in whatever position, wish to use the powers that we are entitled to, then we need to honestly love the people we are serving, and not do things for ourselves or for our own pride. This is why we do not in general perform the same miracles that Jesus performed. There is a part of us, however small, that really wants to receive recognition for what we do in the name of the priesthood (or in our various callings) and not out of love. Furthermore, I did a deep study of D&C 50 this week, and I really realized something essential. All covenants have two parts, what we promise and what we are promised. I never knew what I promised when I received the priesthood, and as I read D&C 50, I realized that this chapter talks to all those with the office of Elder in the Church, and that their calling is to preach the Gospel by the spirit. That is why missionary work is a priesthood responsibility and why we have so many more Elders as opposed to sisters in the mission field. When I heard those two things, it honestly really changed how I was viewing my work as a missionary. Instead of thinking hey I need to find some way to baptize Roberto this week, instead I was thinking how is it that I can help Roberto in his life by preaching to him the Gospel. How can I teach in such a way that he will understand so the spirit can touch his heart. Honestly a huge change. 

Something else cool was to talk with an ex missionary who was stationed in temple square about polygamy. Honestly wow, the way she explained it, I have so much respect, so much respect for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and the others who participated. It really is something misunderstood completely, and all I have time to say is wow, I really appreciate that so much. Anyways ya, this week was much more tranquil and I really am just enjoying my mission a lot more. I love you all lots

Elder Standridge

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 22~~~

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 21 ~~~

Pictures are from Kevin's apartment that was below standards - he has moved to a new one!!!  THANK GOODNESS!!!!

Well this week was certainly a little different. There were little hiccups with the visa, and apparently I have been living in Mexico for like 100 days illegally (whoops), but everything is fine and taken care of now. Also, we finally moved houses, and so now that I am out of the gutter, I am in this new house where I have air conditioning, no snakes or leeches, and dragon ball z drawings on the walls (it was an internet cafe before it was a house. Honestly its pretty darn cool. 

As far as things with the area go, we are moving along just nicely, we have found a girl whose mom told her she wants her to wait until she is 18 to get baptized, but the girl is awesome and has a real testimony, so it feels really weird to be giving her advice, because like its just like me, the only difference is she is 14 instead of 16. I honestly have really come to know just how important it is to get married to the right person. So many people get married and can never get a divorce here. It is honestly bad, and so many people are unable to receive the ordinances they need to be saved because they are not married and for no other reason. 
We did divisions this week, and I got to go out with a gordito (that translates to little fat person, but in spanish it sounds a lot nicer) named Elder Roque. He is honestly just so kind and loving, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
This week I have really been questioning about the role of leaders here in the mission. A lot of times leaders tell missionaries to do things that are just flat out wrong, or if not wrong, they are certainly not what is best for the person (baptizing when not ready, or leaving people who really are just progressing slowly), and I have been pondering about if our leaders are our bosses in that we should just do what they tell us to, or if they council more than anything else. A ward member mentioned to me (ex-missionary) that it was the latter (he is why I have been thinking on this), and I do not see anything in the manuals about obeying leaders, but I dunno, I am just a little conflicted. 

This week like I really realized how important it is to ask questions, like not just any questions, but questions to help people learn, questions to understand people, and more than anything, questions to make sure people understand what you are trying to tell them. Its honestly essential to everything we do as missionaries, and I really have such a long way to go.  Anyways, that's it for me for the week. I am excited, I love you all lots.
Elder Standridge

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 20 ~~ Kevin Misses; Harry Potter; Weight Lifting; and his BED!!!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 19

Kevin is back in the city of Veracruz, and his living conditions are terrible...all your prayers would be appreciated!!!

(everyone) Well this week is going to be super short, but I am just going to share a little bit about what has been going on this week, and how awesome that conference was (that was honestly the best). So I got transferred from my little Santiago (I will be getting rich some day and buying a summer home in that place because I love it so much) to Progreso Veracruz, Veracruz. Which means that I am in the ghetto section of the city of Veracruz, and all I will say is that Santiago may have been poorer, but they really did not show it like they do here in this section of the city. My house, lets just say is basically borderline inconsistent with our calling(the bathroom has no roof, and there is no shower), that said, I really have treasured the chance that this has given me to grow here. Like I really really enjoy getting to experience a new trial and become a different person from living in pretty poor conditions. Another thing, never ever ever ever pray to not receive someone as a a companion, first off you will definitely receive them, second off, you might get along with them better than you think. I did that my first transfer about my current companion, and they just put me with that guy (I swear that God really has quite the sense of humor). With that in mind, I am getting along with my companion wel enough, its not a divine companionship, but we each do what we have to according to the others likes and dislikes. They say that each companion tries to teach you something about your future wife, if that is the case, I had better start with some yoga because I will need to be super flexible. My new area is gigantic, like I cannot describe how big it is and I am just talking about the area I work in. I could not run from one side to the other, and remember in mexico it is all walking. My companions former companion just finished his mission (we say he died) so he kind of stoppped caring about this transfer, which means that we have no one really to work with right now, which is awesome. I´ve been pushing my companion really hard to go contacting more, it isbashed on a ton by so many people, but I have found my absolute best investigators just through sheer pounding the 
pavement work. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the conference, I loved it, and it was wonderful. I wish
 I could write more, but out of time, loveyou all,

Elder Standridge

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 18 - Kevin is going back to the city of VERACRUZ~~

well well well, it appears as though another chapter of my mission is ending, my time here in Santiago Tuxtlas is coming to a close. They are sending me from the Jungle back to my old Zone in Veracruz city, where I will be with Elder Romo. I cannot tell you how much I will miss this area, honestly it is the absolute best. I love the members, the food (they are teaching me to make memellas today, which are the best, literally the best, if you know how much I eat, then you know how filling they are when I can only eat one) and I love how much we could work here. I checked the total for the lessons, and over the course of the past transfer we did 250 lessons. I was super proud of that for some reason. Anyways, I have some pictures that we took from the top of the hill cummorah where the nephites died, and from my zone and at the baptism this week. In all honestly this was just kind of a miracle baptism. We went to church, and there was this guy there who went with his girlfriend who is a member. He aid that the missionaries ad taught him and he`d gone to church a bunch, but never got baptized. We asked him if he wanted to he said sure why not Saturday. OKAY!!! When someone wants to get baptized here I think it is a little easier because we went in to teach him on Monday and we taught the word of wisdom, and we said do you smoke, yes. Do you drink, yes. Do you drink coffee, yes. (the others no). Are  you willing to give them up to get baptized, yes...well no. Which is the problem. He responded, I honestly cannot give up the coffee. The fact that coffee is the most addictive of all of those I found a little hilarious. He gave up coffee for a week and got baptized on Saturday, okeedokeey (they need 21 days sober, or all of the time from the moment you teach the lesson). Also in the photos is a family we activated whose son got activated, it honestly made me super happy. Oh okay, so something else cool that happened this week. As my companion taught the girlfriend of the boy who got baptized, I taught her mom and Grandma. They hadn´t gone to church, don`t pay tithing, barely eat once a day, and are honestly dirt poor. (they handmake piñatas) I talked with them for like 20 30 minutes, and afterwards they said, a lot of people have explained to us tithing, but never like that, I am going to pay it now. That honestly was the happiest moment of my mission, like honestly I`ve never felt so good as when she said that. Oh by the way, we finally cleaned the house of prayer, and that was a fun activity, I officially know how to cut grass with a machete (trust me, it looks awful, especially when I do it). That was perhaps the most humbling moment of the week, I have about 30 pounds out of sheer height on everyone here, and I am stronger in terms of pure strength than just about anyone, but man you put an old mexican man with a machete and he just kicked my butt on choping down trees, cutting grass, you name it, I have no idea how, but put a machete in the hands of a mexican, and you might as well have given them a shotgun for all the damage they can do.

Anyways, here in Santiago the family of the branch president is literally the best, like you have no idea how much I love them (the branch president is there in the photo with the fanny pack). They are the firmest people I have ever met in the Gospel, he knows more about any question that we have than anyone I´ve ever met, and is constantly working (her too). Like this area is so blessed to have them, and last night I said a farewell to them, and it was really really hard, like I cannot describe it. Anyways, I just cannot believe that I already have been here in Santiago for 3 months. I am in my youth right now, which is basically the time in between training and when you become senior companion, I was kind of hoping to be senior after this change, but it looks like I still have at least one more as junior. I must admit, I honestly will miss Elder Espinoza a ton, he honestly is my Mexican twin, like we have the same beliefs, same style of working, and I honestly learned so much about how to teach from him. 

Thank you so very much who went with my mom to the temple, you have no idea how happy it makes me that she has people there who love and support her so much, like I cannot express that enough. You are all in my prayers, and I miss you guys lots!

Elder Standridge

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 17 ~~~

Well this week is really rather excellent with the exception of the weather. It started out with what was essentially a torrential downpour, the streets turned into small rivers, and I am sure some people thought we were nuts when 2 soaking wet 20 year olds in ties went out knocking doors to try and find people to teach (my companion proceeded to tell me of a time when the companion before me in the middle of a bad storm woke up and raised his right arm and said peace, be still, to which the storm responded by becoming like 10 times worse 3 seconds later, I was laughing my head off when I heard that). The next few days, the sun decided to pay us a visit...quite the visit indeed, it was some of my hottest days in the mission, and again we looked nuts because we were two soaking wet (this time from their own sweat) young men in ties knocking doors. That being said, I have been super happy with the progress of the branch here. This week we had 35 again, but we were missing quite a few of our actives and we just found a woman who has been missing from the church for over 30 years, and we´ve been teaching a family of 6 that are gaining testimonies, and it has really just made me so happy. That being said, I was able to see just how stupid it is to not get married, like really really stupid. We worked this week with a couple that has a child out of wedlock while the man is still married, although he has not seen his wife for years and years, and has lost over 350,000 pesos through this relationship with his mistress/partner (pareja just works so much better as a word). Anyways, they both hate each other, and she´s a member, and he is prospective to get baptized, and we have been trying to help them with their problems. Oh my goodness, when families are formed around the Gospel, like really formed around them, it never seems to have any problems. When families are formed around worldly things, there always seems to form problems, and everyone ends up unhappy. Wickedness never was happiness. This week I am going to get to go to Veracruz to get my visa finally, but anyways, today we climbed the Hill Cummorah where all the nephites died. Getting my companion and the member who went with us to run really was not easy, but they did a little because we were low on time. The pictures for that will come next week mom. 

Well, other than all of that, no too much other news. I love my companion, I love my rama, I love Memelas Google them, I love Santiago, I hate the phrase es que voy a salir and estoy ocupado (how everyone manages to complain about being jobless while simultaneously everyone is leaving from their house and works from 6 in the morning to 11 at night is beyond me) That being said, my companion and I have really started to see the fruits of our week, and I can honestly say that this was by far the fastest transfer of all so far, I cannot believe it ends this week, hard work= fast transfers. I love you all, good luck to everyone leaving on missions, it’s awesome, good luck to everyone starting up school, and thanks to everyone who is taking my mom to the temple to do baptisms, you have no idea how much it means to me to have people there who love and support her. I love you all

Elder Standridge

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 16 - One Picture of Kevin's Companion

Well just another awesome week in Santiago!!! Me disfruté mucho!!!! I honestly love my Little town, it’s funny how well you come to know a place, but wow I have been here for 2 months. Interesting news, we are going to be indoors tonight because it is Mexican Independence day tomorrow!!!! Which means there are going to be some fun sights to see tomorrow (not really, it’s not a big deal in Santiago, mainly just a lot of people doing stupid things because they drank all night, but still) Oh this week we had Zone Conference and President came and planched (to planch is a missionary term meaning chastised) us a new one in general. He told us how we needed to put our goals lower because no one was ever accomplishing their goals. So for example when we put a goal of baptisms for the month we would put like 4 and then baptize 2. The interesting thing though was the doctrine that he taught us, and I´d mainly like to share that this week. First off, the objective of Missionary work is the Salvation of people, are in other words giving them the chance to do the work of Salvation. In order to truly be saved (from spiritual death, not physical death) we need to complete 6 different ordinances. We need to focus our efforts in helping people to complete all 6, and not just the first (being baptism). That means that we need to help people to pay their tithing so that they can go to the temple. We need to help men prepare to get the priesthood, all of that. Speaking of Priesthood, he talked to us about the importance of finding Priesthood holders because they are the foundation by which the church grows, especially so that districts can become stakes. I realized that this is more true here in Mexico. I know multiple women who would love to go to church, but cannot because their husbands will not allow them to, the same with kids . Additionally 7% of children baptized without their parents actually remain active worldwide (this is probably lower here). I also found it really interesting how he talked about the problem of prospective Elders here. There are a ton of people who could receive the Priesthood, but do not for whatever reason (less than 1% of those eligible have it). So we really have changed our focus from a baptism focus to a reactivation and an ordinance focused mission. I am actually really happy about it, the spirit really confirms that its right to me. The last thing he stressed was actually something from the red handbook, and how sad it was that he asked in a Stake Conference of 1000 people for someone to tell him the 6 duties that the members of the Church have according to the red handbook, and not a single person could tell him (I would have been among them). So that is a Little homework to go look that up if you don’t know it, I believe it is in chapter 5. Anyways, as far as the work in Santiago goes, things are pretty good here, Elder Espinoza and I are working our butts off, its hard because it feels like we work and work, but never get anywhere, but then I realized that it’s not the outward results that matter, it’s what I am doing to get the outward results. (yes this letter is all over the place, sorry) We decided at one point this week, that the thing that mattered in teaching was the spirit. We talked, and decided the most powerful lesson to bring the spirit is the atonement. So we started off this week and gave the first lesson to contacts about the atonement, and wow that made a big difference, like I could really feel the difference, and the people were a lot more receptive. I cannot believe I have been with Elder Espinoza for a month now, that is a surprise! Anyways, I am doing great, learning from the scriptures, no longer any problems with Spanish, have developed a taste for Tuna (it took a Little while), love memellas (something only found in the Jungles of Veracruz) and am considering selling them for a living when I get back, still running everyday and pretty much all of Santiago knows me as the guerro that runs in the mornings, and ya, the misión is great. I love you all very much, I cannot believe how many people have left or are leaving, before I know it, I am going to hit my 6 month mark (which falls on my bday btw), now isn’t that awesome. Anyways, I love getting your letters, and try my best to respond. Miss you all

Elder Standridge  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 15 ~ Pictures

2 of the pictures are from a baptism Kevin and his companion did this week; One is of his room, One is of a food called memela and he says it is the most delicious thing in the world, and the last two are of Kevin and his companion in the field.

This week has been just a great week, my companion and I are really working our buts off, and it is great, just great. We have been teaching a bunch of people, and have had the wonderful chance to find people that are chosen by God to hear the message, which I am super duper grateful for. That being said, getting people to do what they say they are going to do is incredibly frustrating. I can commit anyone to anything, but it really depends on what they are willing to do. I`ve come to realize just how the Lord prepares certain people at certain times, like some people have a hard heart, and profess to love God, but then they do not really try and seek him. So many of us get trapped into doing just what our parents did, and that is really not how it should be. All of us has to search for truth in our own way, and then dedicate ourselves to the truth that we find. I´ve been thinking about what Jesus said about if you had faith as a grain of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain remove thou hence. I realized that it is not the amount of faith that we have (if we have a testimony of complex doctrine or of every aspect of the Gospel), but it is honestly our commitment to the small amounts of faith that w have that can bring miracles to us. When I say commitment I noticed that so many people believe in God here, it’s just kind of one of those things that everyone just accepts, but sometimes all of us forget that if we really have that belief and faith in him, then there should be fruits and actions, if we don’t have those then we really do not have faith, we are just pretending because of social pressure. 
This week was really great in part because I got to baptize little Santiagito (he is the son of a active member we`ve just reactivated). ITs really funny because when I started working with him, I was disappointed because he has 8 years so does not count. That said I’ve really started to care about imp and his mom, and when he was baptized and confirmed I felt really happy for them, like honestly it didn’t matter to me at all that he does not count for the mission, he counts to me. There are others like him, so I really want to help them all to take the steps that they need to grow closer to their savior even at that tender age.
Speaking of Children, I cannot believe how much my mission has been teaching me about how to deal with kids, like honestly you wouldn’t believe it. I’ve realized really that kids are kids, and will be kids, and they do not have to act perfectly in order to be little angels. (nor can you expect them to be perfect) That said, the Branch President down here (whom I love more than just about anyone else I’ve met so far) is just like a perfect example of how to correct kids with love, and they listen to him. He`s just a really good example to me of how to endure to the end and raise of family (its interesting how your perspective changes as you get older).
Someone interestingly enough mentioned to me this week about the tree of life (you have to know the book of Mormon to get this next part) that because it represents the love of God, that it represents coming unto Christ, and that the iron rod is the church and all of its programs and scripture study and prayer. I was really impressed by that, like it really touched me, so I started thinking about it. So often in English we automatically ignore little grammatical nuances that can make a huge difference. When they say Love of God, is that the love God has for us, or us loving God. For the longest time I probably would have said the former, and I think it is tempting to choose the latter, but I really think that honestly it’s both. As we pursue the tree of life, and try to get it, we develop a greater love for our Father in Heaven. As we do so, we become more and more like Christ, and eventually are able to truly feel God`s love for us, as the savior feels it for him. I don’t know that just was like my scriptural aha moment of the week.
Oh also, last night I got a cool chance to see what it would be like to train. My companion is district leader so he and the other 2 district leaders got called in for concilio (don’t know the translation) last night. Which means they sent me out with the other two district leader´s companions. One of them struggles with his Spanish, and the other is 3 weeks out (his name is Mitch Romney and is actually related to mitt Romney, which I found funny). Anyways, we went contacting and taught in the zone leaders area, and it was just really cool to get to see what it would be like to have that kind of relationship. Anyways, that is my rather long email about my week, I am happy and loving it down here, nevertheless, I love you all.

Elder Standridge