Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 48

Hi mom,

Well in two weeks we will get to talk so I am getting excited. Its so funny that I feel like I just spoke to you not to long ago, really the time just flies. Well anyways, we had transfers this week, and Elder romero will be going to Catemaco, which is known as the witch town, so I teased him a lot about it. Anyways, so with the cambios, I got made district leader here in cosamoalapn, which means that I have a lot more work to do here in the area, because I am no longer just worried about me, but also about how others are doing as well. ITs really weird because I have to treat the missionaries a little like investigators, and always try and help them.

I know how stressful work is mother, I know how stressful law school is, but really I know and promise you that if you keep working that peace will come. there is peace mom. there is rest.  I want you to go in and study Mosiah 24 about Alma. Really focus on how you an apply what Alma and his people did to your life, and not only what they did, but how the Lord helped. I love you very much, but dont let yourself get overstressed, everything will workout for your good. I feel so thankful to hear what the church has done to help you out. I know how hard it is with financial problems, but keep doing, be wise, and the Lord will help. Never let a single day go by without 1 chapter from the book of mormon. Those are the most important 5 minutes of the day.

Its funny mom how fast time is going. I remember very clearly your 40th birthday party and everything with the pool. I cannot believe that 10 years have passed. I feel like time will just keep going. Hahaha, I wish I could be there to see Kristy and them, it would be great, I really did enjoy their letters, it was super awesome. Wow, at least I will be home for the 25tth wedding anniversary, I better start working!

Anyways, as far as the church is going,, you should see how much less active work we are doing mom, we had an assistance of over 94, which considering we started in the 70s when I got here is pretty solid. The key that I have learned here in my mission is to never chew people out. Yes, many of these less actives are doing things that are horrible, stupid, illogical, and they make me frustrated. But anger comes from Satan, it comes from selfishness. I have really learned to be able to close my eyes and put myself in their shoes and then teach based out of love. 

Mom, I really want to make you a promise about something I have seen here. Never ever ever break the day of rest. Please please please do not do it ever. Never work on Sunday. Never purchase anything on Sunday. Please, I have seen way too many families destroyed because they choose to break the day of rest. I know mom that if you take Sunday as a day of rest that the Lord will bless you with a freedom from your stress. I know that he will bless you to have enough to meet your financial obligations, and that you will do better in Law school. He will bring the knowledge to your mind when you need it. It is so so so important. Also never ever forget tithing. The hardest time to pay tithing is when we dont have much to give, but that is the time when we need the blessings most. I know that these two things are the most important to have faith. Faith isnt begging for gods help until we have an aneurism. Faith is taking action based on the belief that he will keep his promises, even when we dont see how he will do it. I have perfect knowledge that I am incapable of directing a mission area, the Lord puts the people in my path, and I know he will do the same for you and Dad.
 love you, I pray about you, I miss you, and will see you soon.
Elder standridge

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 47

Hi mom,

Well its another really wonderful week here in the mission, and it really touched me how much I have gotten to learn down here from President Cordova. I honestly feel like I could not have a better mission president. I would guess most people feel like that, but when they talk about your mission president and his wife forming parental figures in your life, it is so true. I really see the vision that he has shared with us, and completely agree with all my heart with the changes he has made in the mission during his tenure. 

Anyways, I mention all of this about President Cordova because this week we had interviews, and it was really a spiritual highlight so far in my mission. He had sent us off this story about two Elders, Elder Strong and Elder Green. Basically the idea of the story was that Elder Strong really was not afraid of anyone, talked with everyone he met in the street, and his companions complained because he worked them so hard. He said that the reason he worked so hard was because he was a disciple of Christ. As I sat there in my interview with President he started talking to me about my area, saying that the number of people at church was good, that I was doing a lot of good work with less actives and that my companion and I had really lifted Cosamoalapan. He did say that the area that needed improvements was contacting because we had 18 contacts for the week. So we got to talking and something he shared with me was that when missionaries really truly understand who they are, when they understand that they are disciples of Jesus Christ, and that their purpose is to help their brothers and sisters to become like their father in heaven, then they will want to talk with everyone. Then they will want to go with every less active possible, because they really want the salvation of their brothers and sisters. I pointed out that it was really hard to know what Jesus Christ would do in situations, because I am nowhere near as strong as he is. Jesus could just know who he should go talk to, but I am not that in tune to the spirit. He said, Jesus didn't need to go to the people, they came to him simply because of who he was. That is the purpose of our missions, yes the baptisms and all of that are important, but more than anything else, it is to become like him, to change who we are, how we think. In my mission, I have always had a very hard time with patience, really sometimes I just feel like I cannot take it anymore. I sit in a lesson, and I can ask sister what blessings would you like from God. And the response i get is well praying to him. And I am like no not how do you get blessings, what blessings would you like, to which the response is well asking him right. Sometimes I just get so frustrated because people don't get what I am trying to say, not because of Spanish, but because they're not paying attention. I have tried telling people to pay attention, or scolding them (appropriately) when they give me a dumb excuse to not keep a commandment, but it never works. Something they said in general conference was that it does no good to yell at darkness. We cannot scold people into keeping the commandments, we have to help them see and understand the blessings. Jesus said that the problem of the pharisees was that they did not understand the scripture, I want mercy and not sacrifice. That is how it is with us, we should want our brothers and sisters to be happy, and try and show them how the Gospel will bring them that. We should want mercy for them, and not punishment for breaking the commandments. I also realized that everyone paid attention while Jesus was there. When he spoke, he did it with authority, and everyone listened. We as missionaries need to love people to the point that they can feel it and pay attention to our message because they know we care about them. Needless to say, I set out feeling very spiritually lifted, and seeing everyone way differently than I did before.

This week at church was pretty awesome. All of this less active work we have been doing has been paying off, this week there were 18 less actives and 6 investigators at church. It was honestly awesome to see how they are progressing. This is even more awesome because the relief society president went on vacation, and had her family been there, there would have been 90 people at church (my current goal is 100) so really we are starting to see some major success.

Oh another thing, my new favorite fruit is mango. I love love love mangos! Those things are great! The only problem is how messy they are, like honestly if you cut them up, they have a great texture and taste. One of those less actives just happens to give out fruit cocktails and gives us them when we pass by (that is like my dream come true, the key to any Elders platonic heart is through his stomach)

Its getting hotter and hotter down here. We live right next to a sugar cane factory, the largest in the world, so there are days where it just rains ash, which is fine, because its not small particles, but instead big chunks so it doesn't bug me to much. That being said it does lock the heat in more, which is no fun when you have this much humidity and temperatures. 

Anyways, I have no photos or anything, but I want you to know I love you and the next time I do something fun I will give you lots of photos!

Miss you

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 46~~

Hi Mom,

I really am sorry to hear about how much you've been struggling and have been stressed with your work as of late. I know how it is to really feel like someone is breathing down your back, and to feel like you cannot do everything that you need to. Always remember mom, that this life is meant to be filled with trials. Many times we may pray and not get what we ask for. Why? Because God is a perfect Father, and sometimes our desires are the spiritual equivalent of asking for ice cream for dinner. Sometimes we need to struggle and stress and fight because that is what will change us from who we currently are into who God knows we can be. Keep fighting mom, be diligent, remember that part of faith is action. A good way to structure prayers is to always say what you are going to do to fix your own problem. Then ask for counsel, ask that solutions will come into your mind and that he will help you to know how to work more efficiently. Perhaps ask on whether certain studying tactics or techniques are what you should do. Also remember that our personal diligence and obedience will determine how much God answers. Why? because he is a perfect father, and sometimes our behavior is so poor that to give us what we ask for would simply be rewarding bad behavior. The more blessings we want, the more we have to work to keep the commandments. I know its stressful, but something that has always helped me is to keep my mind centered on a very eternal perspective. You and I must struggle in our respective areas for more or less one more year, but we have all of eternity to enjoy the blessings that God has prepared for us. Remember always that the consequence of sin is misery, it does not matter what excuse we try and put, when we sin, we are unhappy, always. I love you very much, and know how hard you are working. Remember that every Sunday you have the right to partake of the sacrament and if you go with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, you can feel the peace and joy that comes from having guilt wiped away.

It really has nothing to do with the offices mom, they did not get the package until I got down here to Tuxtpec, which was less than a month ago. You have to understand that while I am in the city of Veracruz, I will get my stuff quickly, while I am outside of the city, I will get it slowly. Speaking of which, I have about 60 (i am guessing) vitamins, so when you send off the next package please throw another bottle in, those are really expensive down here.

It makes me happy to hear about the rest of the family, especially to hear grandma is doing water aerobics (as in iron man, when I get home i will say I want 3 things, an american cheese burger, to be released, and to go to a gym, cheese burger first). I cannot believe  that I have missed all of Ally's pregnancy, that is incredible, I hope she is doing well, and that the baby is born healthy. It makes me a little sad that no one in the family has written me, I mean grandma I understand, but I have been out for nearly a year, and not a single letter from a single family member other than Kristy and David (who i love to death btw)...just  a little sad sometimes.

Mother I would send you some pictures, but the unfortunate thing is that I  have done absolutely nothing fun. So there are no pictures, Elder Romero and I have been working really hard, and PDay is please do not interrupt my nap day. So really I could send you some pictures of our small apartment, or the dog, but more than that I don't have much right now.

Speaking of the dog, so we live with members, and this week, they decided to let the dog out for a while (Mexican dogs are all over the streets and you never know the strays from the owned ones, but the strays usually have a ton of diseases and are pretty nasty). Well this dog, which has the same body fat percentage as sparky (Same eating habits too, Elder Romero likes to show her a chip and just watch her drool before eating it himself), decided to follow us for literally 30 minutes walking, it was so dead that we had to call our neighbors to come pick it up, which when they did (no one has a car here) they had to pull it by the ear to keep it from following us. 

Something made me super sad this week mom, we had been working with this less active, he is an RM and everything. I cannot give him a scripture he has not already heard, and he knows he is not okay and that he is condemning himself, but he just wont change the behavior. It honestly is so frustrating, we have invited him, and done a bunch of stuff, even passed by to bring him to church (he showed interest and promised to go) but wont help himself. I never understood any of the people like Thomas B Marsh or Oliver Cowdry until I met this man. Sometimes we just see other peoples small errors as so large that we forget that we made our covenants between ourselves and God and no one else are involved in them. 

This week was also super depressing because of Carnival. The Spanish word for flesh is carne, so you need to understand that a carnival is a festival of flesh, so it means a lot of alcohol, and a lot of very dirty things in the streets the next day. The worst part was that everyone, even most of the actives decided to go to carnival instead of church. It honestly made me so sad, we were working really hard this week, but honestly, this one thing killed us. That being said, we had 7 investigators at church, and one ex missionary menos activo (who is getting ready to come back to activity) so I cannot complain too much. 

Anyways, this week we are going to have a meet the Mormons showing in the next town over, and we are going to make an apple pie, which should be awesome. I realized how tough my mouth and body had become when I ate a raw chipaya pepper and it was hot but I wasnt suffering. I honestly need to make some salsa for you guys when we get back (guacamole is a type of salsa btw). Anyways, I will never ever eat chicken again when I come back home, you do not understand to what degree we are fed chicken, literally 6 times a week minimum. I love some of the different ways they do it, but in this town specifically its a little nuts. 

Anyways, I love you very much mom, I miss you and pray for both you and Dad every day. I know its not easy, but one day I promise you, you will be recompensed for your work. If you need any help with any kind of accounting or anything, send it off to me, and I will take care of it for you, its the least I can do.
Love you!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 45~

Hi mom, 
It is so very wonderful to be able to hear from you this week. I really am glad to hear that you are working hard. I know it is never easy how much you have to do, but I know that it will prepare you for what lies ahead. I really would have liked to see fast 7 with you guys, but I guess that will have to wait a year. hahaha, Can you believe how close we are getting mom! Its honestly incredible that I am going to have the chance to get to talk to you so soon.

I think my heart has changed so much about Sabbath Day Service, like I have come to realize why it is important, and what I should and should not do that day. (fyi i do not want my coming home party on a Sunday :D). It is honestly incredible how large Dakota is getting. Would you please tell my Grandmother just how much I love her, I have been thinking about her, and I really miss her right now for some reason. I really hope she is feeling okay, and I honestly cannot wait to give her a hug again here very soon.

My work is going well, I am honestly getting to see some people reactive right now, and its pretty cool. I am not baptizing a ton, but with any luck, I  know that God will guide me to do his work instead of my own. Honestly mom, I just wanted to share something with you guys. It has really touched me just how important it is to be a parent. The fundamental characteristic of God is his paternal love for his, and our purpose in this life is to grow to become like him. I think that of all the attributes I want to learn from this mission is how to be able to love those around me well enough that I can be a good Father. The capacity to love another human being so much that you would give your life for it, that is honestly what makes God our Father, and why Christ is considered our adoptive Father after we have accepted his atonement. During our mission we learn how so much, but that is something that so changes how I think of the things that I just wanted to share that with you. 

I also wanted to encourage you to read Elder Eyrings talks both the first one, and the one from the priesthood session. Honestly, we have such a duty to help the poor, and the way to do it is through fast offerings. Those offerings save lives, they helped us out so much when we needed it, and I honestly love how when we help those in need God blesses us. But even more important than that, I want you to know that my mission has really taught me how to pray. I don't think that I really knew how to before, sure I said my prayers every day and everything, but I wasn't really talking with God. President Eyring really touched me with how I can pray, and here in the mission when I have been faced with situations where I had no idea what to do, and through prayer, God saved me. It is honestly a treasure that I would be lost without.

Finally this week, the only news I want to share is about a single less active that we taught. No one had visited him in over 10 years, and he told me I surely thought someone would come for me. First off, it showed me that all of us have wayfaring seamen that are lost and need us to look for them. Second none of us can ever depend on anyone to save us financially, spiritually, or emotionally, that is the definition of self sacrifice. Thirdly it touched me about the importance of reactivation efforts because he said, during my mission I reactivated a woman right before the missionary who baptized hre came to visit. When he heard I reactivated her, he came up to me, and hugged me, and said thank you so much. I think that we all too often do not realize how much others are praying for us to help other people, and we do not realize how valuable a soul is, until we come to truly love someone for who they are. 

I could talk all day about General conference like with president Uchtdorf or Holland, but mainly I just want to say that I love my savior. He rescues us, and gives us the chance to come home to our Father. I don't care so much about what I DO in my mission, if I have become who my father wants me to be.
I love you so very much (the mission has the packet but its about 3 hours away from me) and I pray for you and dad daily. Fast for someone else this weekend, it will be a great blessing, pray for someone who you want to know the Gospel, and then do everything you can to share it with them. Ask Heavenly Father who he has prepared for the gospel, and then listen to what he answers. I know that if you do, you will find a new light in your life, and you will find happiness you have never known. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see someone truly accept this gospel, I wish that everyone could just feel that feeling when you have helped someone to know the atonement and what it does. My mission is not easy, but I know why I am here, and I am so grateful for all of the sacrifices you and Dad have made so that I can be here. You are truly wonderful parents.