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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 14

Well this week has been certainly new and different, it honestly was a week of just work work work. My companion and I have decided that honestly no one that we were working with was progressing, so we basically dropped them all and have decided to start working with a select few. We worked super hard, we did 50 lessons this week, which, given that Sundays and Mondays we only preach for about 3 hours, is a really hard thing to do in a week, like honestly we got home and just passed out. We really need some patience here in Santiago because baptisms here come entirely based on how hard you are willing to work. Its honestly about finding the people who are receptive to hear God´s voice, and then actually act on it. There are so many people that will not listen because we are Mormons, or because it’s what their parents taught them, but there are also plenty of people who are willing to listen. That said, of those who listen, plenty simply refuse to act, and so never receive blessings. As much as we love the people who won’t listen or won’t act, our time is limited, and there are people who are willing to listen, and willing to act, so we just move on if that is the case (listening gets a second visit though). I love Elder Espinoza, the guy is a worker, so we get along well. He and I have really good harmony in our teaching, and can count on the other to respond and say what needs to be said based off of where we stop speaking. We have a little boy named Santiago here in our area, and he should be getting baptized in a river this Saturday, so photos mom :D That said, we also have a part member family that have children that should get baptized in two weeks, and another couple that is living alone, but really look like they will progress. This week we also found plenty of people who have prayed us there, like they prayed for someone to guide them, and then we show up (why occasionally after this, they still have a problem keeping commitments, I do not know). We do have one investigator who is really progressing, he is great, prayed us there, and makes souvenirs. I honestly love the guy and am really hoping he progresses, he is a former alcoholic, and with any luck he should get baptized at the end of the month. Anyways, that is pretty much all that´s going on here, rain season is about to start, joy to the world, but honestly, it’ll be nice to have a break from the heat. I love you all so very much, you have no idea how many of you I pray for, and that I think about, when I think about you guys, I really look back with fondness on everything.

Elder Standridge