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