Monday, May 25, 2015

Week 52

Hi mom, I hope that all is going well back at home, things are certainly interesting here in Veracruz. We are finally in the last week of May, which means that it might start to cool down here pretty soon. I don't know how hot it is during the day, I know that when I get back at night, it is 90 degrees or more. Needless to say I am drinking a lot a lot of water. As far as how the area is going, we are really starting to find some men here to join the  church, which is so awesome. 

As a bit of explanation the strength of a ward is determined by the amount of priesthood. They are the only ones that can conduct interviews, and especially here in Mexico determine where their families go. We have a couple of really interesting families I wanted to mention today.

1. Familia Perez- It is a family of a single mother with 4 sons. 3 of the sons have served missions. And one of those is married, his name is Oscar. They had all gone inactive for a while so we started to go with them. When we went with them, they shared how they felt that the church was always asking more, and how they felt that they were never living up to the Lord´s expectations. We did a  very sacred lesson on the difference between sacrifice and consecration. So often in this life we sacrifice, which means we give up something external, like time, or energy, or money. Instead the higher law is consecration, which means giving something internal, love, desire, and thoughts. It means a change of person. People that sacrificed are blessed, but they are never happy, because thee more we give to God the more he asks. Although they get blessings they end up being asked to give those blessings back, for which we are blessed more. There are only three options for someone who sacrifices, become consecrated, become more and more frustrated as you are asked to sacrifice more, or give up sacrificing. As we shared this with the family, their countenance changed, Oscar has reactivated, and has become the ward mission leader. The other 3 brothers have started going on divisions with us. Little by little they are reactivating, and it makes me super happy.

2. Veronica and Anselmo- They're a wonderful young couple. Anselmo was a youth baptism in the next town over that never served a mission, which he regretted. We are trying to help them fix their marriage and find the peace the gospel brings. He is honestly wonderful and it was great to see how he was interacting. His wife Veronica is a teacher here (if you think being a teacher in the US is tough, try it in Mexico, some of the stories I hear), and she fit right in with the Sociedad de Soccorro.

3. Juan Arenas- He is an ex-ward secretary, and it is awesome to see him slowly come back. He has a son that is not a member. And they are all getting closer to the gospel. 

Between all of these groups, we are starting to see how, little by little, the elders quorum is getting stronger. Recently the Stake President has been here correcting things, and its great because people are starting to work hard together to help one another, and I really hope that we will be able to see a strong ward here soon.

Anyways, that's the news from here in cosamoalapan, I love you all, take care!

Elder Standridge

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 51~~

Hey mom, I dont know if I ever shared this with you mom, I had a really spiritual experience at the start of my mission. I was really hurting, really sad, an wantedto go home, and I wanted to go home. My companion, who I still think was the hardest companion I have had up until this point, gave me a blessing, and I just felt so very comforted. Those hands in that moment did not belong to him, but to God. The priesthood gives us the ability to act in the place of Jesus Christ because he cannot be here at this time. ITs awesome, and it has brought me so much comfort. 

I honestly had an experience that made me convinced to become a vegetarian after I finish this mission. Oe day, a member cooked this feast of pork, chicken, and beef. While delicious it was greasy. It was fine at first, I didnt eat too much or anything, but about 30 minutes later, I was sweating a ton, and felt sick. Within an hour I was throwing up, and my companion was sick, even the host called us to ask how we were doing because she was sick. There was nothing wrong with the meat because it was gone within the day, it was just eating meat on a hot day. The next day, the member cooked pure vegetables with just a little bit of shredded chicken and a ton of fruit. It honestly made me feel so much better physically. I am not saying if someone cooks me meat I wont eat it (I am not a sae the animals kind of God) but the word of wisdom states we should eat but very little meats, which I think is counsel I will follow. Also check out D&C it says that we should got bed early so we dont get tired and get up early so we get invigorated. Its so true. I think another thing I am going to do different is I am going to keep getting up at 6 or 630 everyday when I am done, and I am done with staying up until 3, its just unnecessary and dumb.

Thank you guys for all that you do for me, I am so grateful that you are doing so much for me with the card and package and everything. Please keep grandma safe, and call the missionaries there to give her a priesthood blessing. Both of us know how much comfort a blessing of counsel can bring, I know that blessings of healing really work because I have seen how much they help the people here.

If i ask president there is no chance, if you call and ask him, maybe, so go ahead and give it a shot if you would like. You probably wont talk to him, because his english is not great, but he should give you an answer. 

When I got here in Cosamoalapan mom, the assistance was 75 pretty consistently, and the ward was honestly dying. This past week it had gotten up to 100. It honestly makes me incredibly grateful for the chance to be here. So many peoples lives are being changed, and those who are active members are really growing in their testimony. Its great mom, I am loving this transfer. One thing that I have learned here is one of the secrets of prayer. First we have to give gratitude, then we have to ask for the attribute that we wish to develop to be able to accomplish what we are praying for, then we promise what we are going to do ensure that the prayer is answered, and then, and only then, do we ask for Heavenly Father to do what we want done. For example if I were to want help with my school work. I would thank Heavenly FAther for my gifts and my opportunity to learn, then I would ask for increased diligence and desire to learn, I would then promise what changes I would make in my life to get better grades, and then, and only then, I would ask heavenly father to help me to have knowledge brought to my mind, strength to endure, etc. I also need to avoid asking things that Christ wouldn't ask for, the scriptures say that is sin, so like in this example I shouldn't ask please make the final easy, or please make sure the curve is really low, or something like that. I really have noticed that when we pray in faith like that, God more readily gives answers to our prayers, because they are prayers of faith. Faith is nothing more nor less, than the willingness to act on what is given to us from God, so the promise to act is extremely important. (we hope that we will get something if we do an action, because we know we are true).

I love you very much mom, today is my halfway point ( you now may tell people its my halfway point if you have not already done so), but 11 more days until a year. I hope everything goes well, I will be praying for you guys. Take care!

Love Kevin

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 50 ~~

Hi All - I cut out some personal stuff and here is the rest of the letter from this week!!

Anyways, as far as the mission goes. Right now this past week we just baptized a woman named Dilia, she is a little old Grandma. She wasn't going to get baptized because of pain walking. But luckily all of those injuries I got in high school running, I knew what was hurt and was able to show her how to get some relief. That being said, the funniest moment of my week, was my companion trying to baptize this woman. He is still super new, and she just wouldn't go under the first time, so then she decided that she is going to baptize herself. And lets go of my companion, walks over, grabs the handrail and dunks her head under water with like one arm waving above. Needless to say for what should have been a sacred ordinance I was really way to close to laughing.

We have been teaching her 8 year old granddaughter, but the girl has a serious coffee addiction, so we need to make sure to keep on her so she doesn't do that. Its just sad that an 8 year old has a coffee addiction.

In terms of other things that I am dealing with, I have a wonderful investigator named Jaime, and he is great, he loves the book of Mormon, and goes to church, but he has two problems. First off, he doesn't pray, which makes it rather difficult if one is looking to get an answer from God. Second he smokes 16 Cigarettes a day, and has done so for the past 40 years, so he is going to have to overcome that to get baptized. It is really weird because I feel like he just needs a little bit more, and he would so be able to overcome it. There is a recent convert here in the ward who should be able to give him advice because she smoked a pack and a half daily.

Something that has really been hard for me to learn out here is the art of asking questions. It is a very very difficult thing to do. If I want to ask good questions I have to think of exactly what I want the person to learn, and how I want them to learn, but the challenge is that so often when I try and teach with scriptures, people just read them and then don't pay any attention to what is being said. Its as if the words go in one ear and out the other. So that is my great frustration.

A moment when I had a surreal experience this week was with a less active, I got a prompting to go knock on the door of a less active who I knew had no interest in going to church. I felt the prompting, ignored it, then the next time we passed by, I felt it again and so we knocked the door, she let us in, and we started talking about going to church and she said she was too busy to do that. She put up a bunch of excuses, and then I told her what she could do to overcome the difficulties, and she didn't want to. I then responded I felt like a parent watching their child do drugs because I knew all of the blessings that she would get from the sacrament and she said I know the consequences and I am going to accept them. In that moment I thought wow, this is not the Gospel of Elder Standridge. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Its not always about what I want, and not everyone is going to accept what I am sent to say. Sometimes I am sent so that at judgment day that everyone will have gotten a fair chance.

This is quite an interesting topic, I asked President about it. Can I really affect the salvation of someone else. If I chose to be disobedient and lost the spirit in the mission, would God honestly allow one of my brothers to be lost. The answer is no, he always has another means, like with Nephi making the second set of brass plates. If I fail as a missionary, the people will still go to the kingdom that they are willing to receive, and God will give them the best chance. Why then do we preach the Gospel. The scriptures have 2 answers. First is to prepare the world so that it is ready to receive the savior when he comes. And the second is to avoid ´´the abomination of desolation´´ or in other words the consequences here in this world of sinful action. There was an extremely poor country torn apart by civil war, where the people had hardly any more for even food. What was President Benson´s (I think it was him) advice, they need to pay their tithing. Why? Because the Lord would then bless them with what they needed physically. I am not just here to help people for after this life, but for what will happen right here, right now. Wow the mission is great. I love getting to work every day to help those around me. I get to bring blessings to those in need, and although some people may reject the message, so many people are changed and grow, and it makes me just so very happy. 
I love you both, and enjoyed very much our phone call. hope to hear from you soon.

Love, Kevin

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 49 ~

Hi mom, 
I am thinking like 4 or 5 my time for skyping, but honestly I didn't plan it yet, and I don't know what phone calls I will have to make to leaders, so we shall see. It will be 40 minutes on Sunday. Church takes priority over the phone call so dont come home early okay!

Mom this has honestly been one of the most stressful weeks of my mission. This new assignment as a leader really makes me work so very much harder, and I am trying my absolute hardest. Its hard, and I don't know really how to help the people in my district. Its really a blessing here in the mission because the moment I get comfortable, the moment I feel like I know how to handle the job that I am currently doing, God seems to give me new challenges. I had a moment this week of ultimate stress, when I prayed, and during the prayer I didn't feel comforted or helped, but after I finished, got into bed, an overwhelming sense of peace washed over me as I realized that all that I was struggling with was for my own good and would one day help me when I encounter life's stresses.

Ah, so the experience of the week has been helping a companionship. One companionship`in my district has not brought anyone to church for nearly 12 weeks (that is very very bad). They cant find anyone new to teach, and they have tried everything that I can think of. Meanwhile I in my own area have been having problems with finding new people to teach. As I studied in preach my gospel, I found a section that said our spiritual power depends on the revelation we receive. For some reason, as I read that, I realized the need to find revelation for myself and the members of the district. Then a scripture came to my mind, that said we must seek learning by study and faith. That is the key, to revelation, that is how Joseph smith was called and got almost the whole D&C. I know mom that sometimes we have problems we don't know how to solve, but as we seek revelation through study and faith we will have the  power to overcome the problems we have. Something I have realized is that I have to have a sense of urgency during my work. I have to remember what is at stake every minute. Also, I realized that sometimes we are given commandments and we don't always understand why. A commandment we have is to talk to everyone we can, for example in the street. Which I had never understood because almost no one invites a stranger off the street to their house. But something I read in a talk this week  

I love my new companion, he just finished his training but he is already a pretty good teacher, it is honestly pretty cool to be with him. I honestly love you so much mother, you are wonderful, every night, I want you to know how much I thank God to have you as my mother, I honestly am so grateful that I cannot describe it. Please just keep working. Do everything right, go to church, pay tithing, keep the word of wisdom, study the scriptures. I know how hard your life is right now. I know how difficult it is. But like President Uchtdorf said during conference, God is pouring down blessings and the only thing that stops them from reaching us is disobedience. Right now, I can tell you need blessings, please, no matter how tired you are, no matter how stressful it gets, don't stop the blessings when you need them most. Sometimes we don't see when our problems will end, but we just have to have faith that our problems are for our good. I cant wait to see you next week mom, I love you lots!