Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 35 ~ 8 months completed

Hi mom, I honestly think that you should be charged for cruel and unusual punishment, not only do you send me a picture of american cake, but of red velvet cake, simply unacceptable. Just kidding, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is that I have lots of photos for you, the bad news is that the computer that I am on is simply not letting me send them, so it will have to wait another week.

In other news, this week was awesome because we totally baptized 4 people. If you remember we had a family of Hindus that we were teaching, a 24 year old guy that is just awesome, and a 14 year old and his father. Plus we are also teaching a family that we found around Christmas time.

So I honestly need to tell the story of the Hindus because it is just awesome. So the mom was born in Brazil, the dad in Venezuela. The moms mom put her in a Hindu convent, and the dad found Hinduism when he was like 16 and got obsessed with it. He studied a ton of Indian culture and learned yoga and stuff like that, then served a Hinduism mission (didn't know those existed, when I get sent away because someone tells me that they are studying with the Hindus I will laugh my head off) and then came back and had an arranged marriage with the woman. They then all moved to the US illegally, had 5 kids there, and at one point the mom got into a whole bunch of bad stuff (that is all we will say) and anyways, for certain family matters they all came down here to mexico. Now here is the interesting part, I explained they believe that Christ went to India when he was 15 and was the Hindu god Krishna. They then looked at all of the christian churches and realized that the Mormons had the authority of Christ, so he baptized all of his kids but two, and the dad himself got baptized. That all took place in the us. So we have been teaching this family for about a month, the dad has reactivated, and slowly but surely we've helped them understand that demigods don't exist, that tea is bad, that one has to pray only to God, and they have honestly really progressed, until this weekend when the mom and daughter got baptized. One of the most incredible moments for me, was to see how much peace it could bring to a family that has struggled more than I can comment to find Christ and really feel forgiveness through his atonement. While we've taught them, there were honestly some great moments, like when the mom said at one point she woke up and would drink 3 bottles of tequila a day, and was shocked when I said I had never tried shrooms. Honestly, its so cool because I have grown to love them, and really want to do everything I can to help them get sealed. They are just a wonderful family with a difficult past who has found Christ and the peace that the gospel brings.

The 24 year old guys is named Rafael, and all I can say is that I have never met anyone so chill in my whole mission. He accept everything so easily, reads, goes to church, and does everything that he should. I came in one day and he asked me hey what did you think of president monsons liahona article (before I taught prophets). I just love him to death. The last one was a kid named Daniel, we were teaching him and his dad, but his dad was too concerned about work to ever go to Church. So he never really progressed.

Sunday work has honestly been one of the hardest things in my mission to deal with, people just have a hard time following what I think is a very logical train of thought. People believe that God is all powerful and that he will fulfill all of his promises. God has promised if we don't work Sundays that we will be better off than if we do work Sunday (financially spiritually, everything), and therefore to me the only logical conclusion is that we should not work Sundays. (if you don't believe in God, now then I get it, I only ask that people be consistent, goodness).

Anyways, that's the work for now. Today I did something mildly cruel, I told all of my companions that I would lift my no pizza ban if they did a relay so I could go run. So this morning I ran my 3 companions (there are two companionship) in a relay of about 6 miles, until they couldn't run anymore. I thought it was hilarious as heck, but they are all walking a little funny now and some have really bloody feet. (I told them that they had too much Mexican grease was in the blood after 15 months) But hey, little ceasers here we come!

Anyways, I love to hear mom that you are working hard, and I especially love to hear that you are going to the temple prep class. Like mom, I really hope you can understand this, like I am so proud of how you have done in law school, and I would come home early to go to your graduation if it were in April (the earliest I could get back is march 28); that said, you could fulfill your purpose in life if you never went to law school nor took the bar, but if we wish to go on to become like our father in heaven, we have to go through the temple. A lot of times the temple is presented as some secret place where you learn some secret stuff, in all honestly 90% of the stuff, I knew from just reading the scriptures (I think most people just don't read them). What you will do there, is make promises with God, and in return you will be protected from Satans influence and be able to return home to Father. I am honestly the most sad that I cannot be there to see you go through, I hope you know that. So really enjoy that. 

Dad, you are looking awesome, that is honestly a beautiful landscape behind you, I am super sad that I will never really spend any significant amount of time in that house, it looks super sick. (in fact I will spend more time in the houses here). I hope you are enjoying life back at home, this week is 8 months, 1/3 of the way there :D Pretty soon I will be back there, and you will have to explain a bunch of movies to me (I really am gonna miss starwars 7). Its funny, I can still remember when we went and saw star wars 1 when I was a little kid. Honestly, its funny how time passes. I love you lots, both of you. IF you need anything from me, just let me know!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 34 ~ Another Letter to Rick and I that I am sharing :)

Hi Mom and Dad, so today I am super super super hurried because I got back from an activity in the centro with my district, so I am running really late and will try my best to write you as I am able. So in regards to souvenir's and stuff like that, today I got a new belt, which I really needed,a new wallet which was even more needed, and a Mexican style shirt, which I think is pretty darn sweet. It sounds to me like you guys are super busy with your different things and that you are just working along on law school. I don't know if you can believe this mom, but I will be turning 8 months this week, that means that I am a third of the way there, I know it may not seem like much, but poco a poco. Unfortunately in one more month Lauren is halfway done! Can you believe how fast the time flies, you must admit for how big of a deal it is to serve a mission, it really is not that terribly painful in terms of time. I love how cool it is that you are moving along and soon are going to graduate. I must admit that there are so many things that I have seen really help to fortify the faith of people that just really I did not appreciate before. The reading and praying daily individually and as a family, the family home evening, and especially, the sabbath day observance are honestly so essential. I don't know if you have a nearby family that you can go with mom, but honestly a family home evening really is just an essential opportunity for each of us that I am going to appreciate so much more after my mission than I did before. 

I honestly cannot believe how crazy it is with what they are doing out there with all of the elders, it sounds like they are helping out a ton with you and dad, which makes me really happy because I am sure that it is helping to keep you guys safe and happy. I don't know if you got to read that article that I sent you dad, I just kind of wanted to hear what you thought, I really thought it was pretty cool and interesting. Oh it sounds like with all that Amgen was doing that people are really starting to get layed off and having to move to other places to find work for what they need to do. That must really suck for them to have to do. At the same time, its pretty chill that people are getting so lucky with finding work in different places (although the people who are moving are people who recently moved into the ward, not long time newbury parkers). Well at least we know when Bish will be released, I honestly love knowing that he will be a mission president, but I am honestly curious to see what type he will be. Here in Mexico each president is either a strict, a loving, or a baptizer. It will be interesting to see which Bishop Jaggi will be.

The others that you will search for mom are going to be able to be found on byu´s website. Terry B. Ball is a professor of ancient scripture, Professor Kay Stice is a professor of accounting, and I really wanted to just thank them because they taught me so much. I honestly love seeing pictures of the two of you guys, you look so very happy. I honestly am doing great in my mission right now, we are searching for and finding people, and then we are seeing people move along and change their lives. Someone who is more of a golden investigator than I was, and makes me laugh, a young boy, and a family are all going to get baptized this week, and so that honestly is such an amazing week to me, it makes me super happy. I love the haircut and the restaurant. Just found out this week that I am weighing in at 155 now, woohoo, down 30 pounds ;P no need to be concerned I weighed that much senior year.

I know there are going to be a lot of changes in the ward mom, but honestly, there will be friends now all over the us, and when we go to Utah, and honestly you never know what could happen, it is quite possible that some day that we could all move out to Utah. I honestly have just gotten so much more appreciation for lawyers out here mom, all of the problems in Mexico would be fixed if people could just sue others for doing stupid things. Although you and I would probably never practice together because I would be doing a completely different kind of law, namely either corporate finance law, or some form of tax law, still, I think it would be interesting. It would mean I have 6 more years before I start working in a career, but you know I honestly love school so that is not too bad. Anyways, I love my mission, I love my companion. I love you both very much, stay safe, eat healthy, get out and walk together, I worry about your guys´ health. If you need anything just let me know.

Oh ps. Funny story my companion got dengue this week and was interned in the hospital all week, I wanted to shoot myself. I am fine though. miss you guys tons, take care.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 33 ~~

Hi All,
Kevin did not have time to write a group email this week, so I am sharing my personal letter he sent.  I don't think there is anything in there too personal.  If there is don't tell him I shared...LOL

Hi mom and Dad, I really hope that you are enjoying everything that is going on back home, it honestly is no surprise to me that Bishop has been called as a mission president. I was wondering if you could send me the emails of several people. First him, Second Terry B Ball of BYU, and third Earl K. Stice of BYU, I really would like to write them about some stuff from the mission. I am eating quite well, not a ton, I just have switched to eating a ton of vegetables, which is making me a lot healthier in that way, but don't worry about that. In regards to me being senior companion, all it means is that I am responsible if something goes wrong, and I have to really just try hand love the other guy a lot more. 

That said, I really am working hard out here, and God has really just decided to bless us with some different people to work with, and I honestly cannot believe how amazing it is. I have been trying my best, but I didn't do anything special, but God decided that this week my companion and I would have 8 investigators and church and the other elders would have 5 people in church. Honestly, I did not deserve that, but God blessed me with that, it made me really happy. That said, I am working with some crazy people. There is a family that believes that Jesus when he was 15 went to India and was the demon slaying mountain lifting krsna, needless to say I do not know what to do with that, or how to contradict that with scripture. I also have really come to realize what Mexico is, it is a country run by teenagers, like literally. All of the food is something a teenager would think up, they do not have nice streets or anything, not because they don't have the resources, but because everyone is too lazy.

 I also have really started growing in a desire to look at a law degree in addition to going into accounting. I have come to realize how important lawyers are down here. I met a young man this week that fell 15 meters shattering his back, only because the company had poor safety standards. In the us that company would be sued until they were blue in the face and everyone would have higher safety standards. So maybe I will look at that when I come back. I also really have grown in a desire to learn about American history. Mexicans love their history, and find it super interesting (here is an interesting article attached that was written by an apostle that you should definitely read dad). I have also really learned that the little things in life are what determine our happiness. Like my relationship with my companion depends entirely on how much I am willing to let the little things that they do that annoy me just slide off my back. Like Elder Mcgannon is always late, I am never late, that could be something that I let irritate me, but if I choose not to, I am so much happier. Hahaha, we honestly have found someone who wants to be a missionary, and I just love the guy to death, he is golden, and has absolutely no problems.

In regards to needs, I have definitely plenty of peanut butter and power bars and razor blades and shaving cream, those I have more than plenty. Nuts I might run out of before too long, I still have about half a bag and the jar you just sent. In regards to soap, I do not need shampoo, but some more soap if you could would be great. Smoked salmon sounds delicious, and I would love some, but I do not know if it costs too much, if it doesn't, then definitely that would be great. And if you are sending that stuff off, could you ask someone to send a couple of dry lux bottoms for garments, size 34 (they don't sell them here). IF there is anything else, I will let you know next week. I love you both a ton, and miss you lots. I am working hard, I really have nothing else to say, so I am probably gonna email people back instead of a group email.Dad, take care, use the elders, protect yourself. I miss you lots.

Elder Standridge

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 32 - Another New Companion!!!

Happy New Years Everyone!!!! 

I thought that this was well celebrated in the US, it is not, Mexico is kicking our buts. Every family here puts an old man that represents 2014 outside their front door, fills it with fireworks and at midnight blows it up. I, being obedient in this particular instance, was in bed at 1030, only to be awoken by what sounded like the American assault on Normandy at midnight. Its really funny because the fireworks they sell here are made mainly for noise and explosive capacity, one missionary who probably should have thought this one through before he did it, decided to ignite what was the explosive equivalent of a third of a stick of dynamite (I am not exaggerating on that) which landed on his leg, so he kicked it a couple meters away, only to be propelled out of his house by the explosion. Apparently the whole neighborhood came by to see what happened and the jefe de manzana (like neighborhood manager thingy) was yelling at them and stuff. I really doubt they heard a thing because the next day we still had to yell at them for them to hear us. Anyways, I still missed getting to see some big fireworks that are colorful, but all in all, I just cannot believe where 2014 went, like I feel like it just flew on by because I can remember singing Les Mis songs in my house last new years. 

In other news, so this week there were special transfers!!!!! Which means that there are two new elders here in Barrio Progreso. Elder Mcgannon who is my new companion is one transfer behind me, from North Carolina, and apparently all Mormons know each other because I was the home teacher for his Girlfriend, who is serving her mission in Fresno, California (where all my moms half of the family live) (although she is in Madera right now, which as I just wrote that, realized the town´s name is wood in Spanish, that took some creativity on their parts) Anyways, he and have been getting along super well, and hes a pretty good teacher, and knew Spanish beforehand like I did, so things are all good.

Although this week I have had special transfers, a sick companion, and one of the lowest teaching weeks of my mission, apparently the Lord was merciful upon us because we found honestly some people that were like golden. One was a better investigator than I was, and has like committed to clean the church (I hardly did that). The other is a young boy whose dad is super interested in getting an answer from God, the kid has already gone to church twice, and so is looking pretty solid. Interestingly enough we found a Hindu family that speaks mainly English but can understand Spanish somewhat. They are honestly super hard to teach because they believe that God is the father of all, but that Christ is just one of 130 demigods, but that he has power here in mexico, but interestingly they feel that the Mormons have authority from Christ. So needless to say in what has become my Spanglish (i can no longer speak in pure English) we taught them, it was pretty hard, especially when the woman started talking to me about how believed in shwami Jesus and how he was the perfect spiritual master and he and kirshna were friends. Little odd, but they have been reading praying and going to church so they really are progressing towards baptism nicely (there is a lot more nonsense with them living in the us, she pulled out the kids social security cards and showed them to me, and they're kids already being baptized, but you get the idea). Anyways, we also have been helping a family of 4 that has had several deaths in the family, and they want to get baptized to be able to have their family forever. WE haven't talked about the book of Mormon yet with them, but honestly they already want to get baptized so they are moving along nicely. Its so amazing to me, how the Gospel brings comfort to peoples lives, when i told the mom that she could live with her mother forever she almost cried. Honestly its super powerful how little by little these people make changes and have their whole worlds transformed by the Gospel. I know that this Gospel is true, but even if it weren't, I love how it brings people happiness, even if this were all just some lie (which it is not), I am so much happier because I have the Gospel than I otherwise would have been, and I am glad that I can share that happiness here. But even more so, I am happy that I have the opportunity to share that happiness with people for all eternity, there honestly is nothing better.

Something else that really struck me this week was a man spoke to me about having to return home from his mission after a year. He had made some bad choices beforehand, and was forced to return home. It was honestly so sad to watch him cry as he said that he wished he could take back all he had done, and that we should never under appreciate the blessing we have to be missionaries, and how hard it was for him to be stuck there and unable to move on until he went back out again. Honestly I have no idea if anyone even reads these (I doubt it 8 months in) but if there is anyone thinking about serving a mission, do it. You have no idea what a blessing it is, how much you learn, change, and grow from it. More than that, never ever do anything that could risk your eternal happiness, it really really really is shortsighted to risk all eternity over a 16 year old girl or boy, that although they promise they love you, will probably end up at a different college or at some point you will break up with. Always remember, true love would never risk someone else's  eternal happiness like that. Each of us can find lasting joy through this Gospel, that is honestly something I have seen visibly. And it honestly touched me how I want to share that joy with everyone I come in contact with for the rest of my life. I love you all very much, I think about so many of the people back home and treasure the letters and emails I get from everyone. Please enjoy 2015, I´ll be back. (In a very Schwarzenegger fashion)

Elder Standridge