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