Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 57

Hello mother, I am glad to hear that you are doing so good, it is honestly incredible to me that Porter is now home and that Adam is leaving on his mission, it seems like time just keeps flying by, and I am enjoying every minute of it. I hope that all is going well with law school, and that you really are getting the success that you so very much want. It is always wonderful to me mother that you are chasing what has always been your dream. I know that you sacrificed it so long ago, and I hope that now you are getting it back. I really understand the need for a vacation, all of the ward members were telling me that I looked really exhausted. We have been working hard and had the chance to see some miracles this week. Id like to share a couple.

1. We have been teaching this couple that needs to get married, and they had been trying to get married all week, and so my companion and I decided that we would fast to help them, ending the fast we went with them, and (they gave us a piece of chocoflan which by the way is something I need to learn to make) told us they didn't want to get married. Someone had been sending her messages that he was cheating on her. So we had to try and talk to them, and help them out. Luckily we set up an interview with the bishop that night for him. We didn't hear anything for a little while so in the meantime we did another fast (at which point I was really suffering) and at the end of our fast, the hermano walked up to us and said they had changed their mind and were now going to get married. IT made me so very happy, and was one of the first times that I really gained a testimony of the principle of fasting.

2. That being said as we went to end said fast, I called the hermana to tell her we would be like 10 minutes late, and she said whoops elders i forgot i was feeding you and have nothing so sorry I cant give you anything. So my companion and I were like well might as well go to work, and at the next house we went to, the less active said hey I have some volovanes left over, and gave us literally 10 volovanes (that is a lot). It just really strengthened my testimony that the lord takes care of his servants and is aware of, and loves us. 

3. We have also had some problems with our active members going less active, its a little like trying to cup water with your hands here, the more you grab, the more that just slip through your fingers. So we came up with an idea with the ward mission leader, to have 10 families that will fellowship 10 others, with the goal that they go to church and progress in the gospel. I honestly was really happy with how the program was received and it made me super happy. 

4. The best of news! I thought that I would never ever be able to go to the temple during my mission (we normally only go when families we baptized get sealed), but President was so happy with the less active work here in Cosamaloapan, that he has given us permission to go the 25th of july with less actives that are taking out their endowments!

5. If you have never tried mondongo, you really should, its cows stomach, had that this week, surprisingly good in soup. That being said, I think I prefer fried utter, which is actually super super tsty, just really fatty (we cannot play games, sports, or any activities, the nongospel highlights of my week nearly always involve food).

6. I just wanted to share a funny moment we have had here in our ward. We have one less active who, I will just be honest is a little bit of a clown, we went in to teach his son, and during the lesson he begins shouting tell that boy that he needs to get rid of the spirit of the chamuco of coffee! HE then later proceeds to give us directions to other less actives, and says when you go with them tell them that Orlando rojas sent you and that he is in charge of the bok of life of cosamaloapan and that he had an accident and they should come visit him. I was laughing my head off, but he was perfectly serious.

Love you mom,

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Week 56~~

Well mom just fyi, I did the math on about how long for children, and your still gonna have to wait at least 3 years so don't get too excited ;) I really want to see Nancy and grandma, I miss them both a ton, but I guess I can settle for photos :)

In regards to this week I am gonna change how I write this.

1. Veronica bore her testimony this week and is super ready to get baptized, as soon as she gets married to her boyfriend who is a member (we are marrying them this week) he will be super chill and with a calling. Now we just need to help her 11 year old daughter to listen to us and she will get baptized too!

2. Juan Ramon and Francisco are now confirmed members wooh hoo, I thought about the spiritual experiences I have had on my mission, and I realized that here in Cosamaloapan, I have had 4 more or less lessons where I cannot repeat the words I said, I cannot repeat the spirit, but in those moments the spirit touched these people and they have reactivated completely. So that has been incredible, because this week two of the people with whom we have had those lessons came to me asking how to pay their tithing. Two more spent all day organizing a mission activity on Sunday and I am honestly amazed and know that those are blessings from Father in Heaven.

3. My companion is awesome and I love him, its so nice to be able to confide in someone else to share the load of the work, because I have had companions where I shoulder all of it, and its super stressful. He´s only got 4 months but can honestly teach super well, and I can tell him to visit someone and he does it without problem.

4.I also have discovered the gossip is poison. There are people who gossip a ton here about us or in between each other, and a lot of it is pure lies, and it honestly causes so many people to lose their salvation, I honestly will never ever gossip again. 

5. Happy happy anniversary to my parents, I love you so very much, I cannot believe it, and happy fathers day to my dad, I honestly love you so much, and treasure so much all that you have done for me. 


Monday, June 15, 2015

Week 55 ~

Hi all~  I had to miss church yesterday to catch up on some law school stuff.  I tried to explain this in my letter to Kevin, you can now all enjoy the lecture I got about missing church!!!  Please pray for me, I obviously need help!!  LOL Charlene

Hi mother, it really looks to me like you guys are having fun, I have honestly not had any good old american tacos in so long. Tacos here are generally made from porl with cilantro and onion, and the tortillas can fit in the palm of one hand, so I really miss the good old flour tortillas. I cannot believe that Jen Mcleod is pregnant, that still is really odd to me. When I come home mom, I really want to meet see Kristy and Jason, I feel like I get to have so little contact with that side of the family, and the only contact I have ever had with them has been positive, although it is super weird to think that David is getting to the point where he could be a colonel, which freaks me out a little. It looks to me like you guys are honestly having a great time by the campfire there with the missionaries and young womens. So I really hope that you are getting to enjoy yourself.

Mom in regards to the Sunday thing, you have your own free agency on what you choose to do and not do, and I will love you always, regardless of what you choose. That being said, the natural consequence of breaking commandments is that we have things more difficult. The sacrament is vital to remove our sins, we cannot go without it, when we go there, with a repentant heart, it gets rid of ours sins. While that may not sound particularly urgent, think about how you would feel mom if you chose to rob a bank. I would imagine fairly bad. While you are not robbing banks, every time we commit a sin, it has the same effect on us, although in varying degrees depending on the gravity of the sin. That being said, of the course of our week, we accumulate quite a bit of weight on our shoulders from these little sins. It makes us more stressed, irritable, and gives satan more power to influence us. This interferes with our ability to feel the holy ghost. The holy ghost is what inspires our mind, everyone has its influence to some degree, without it, it is impossible to learn. Mom, the natural consequences to skipping the sacrament will always give us more stress, and make it harder to study. I love you, and so will always encourage you to not skip the sacrament, but at the same time, just like you could not stop me from running face first into a wall on Halloween (and skipping sacrament meeting is about the spiritual equivalent to doing so) when I was a kid, I cannot stop you from doing things that hurt you.

As far as being a leader in the mission, its pretty nice, I mean it gives me really the opportunity to work and serve some of the other missionaries. Its difficult because I am responsible for their actions, but something I have realized is my capacity to influence those around me. Through good and proper leadership, I can get the desired results. Something ive realized is that there are no bad students only bad teachers. If we teach others in the way that they need, they always follow. ITs honestly really taught me how to be a leader when I get home. Changes will be in 5 weeks. I hope that they send me off as a zone leader this next change because Elder Christofferson is coming to the mission, and I would honestly like to go to the special zone leader only reunion. Anyways, other than that, all goes good, I will have to tell you later about this new investigator we found, but lets just say he was really cool to talk to, and I hope his whole family gets baptized.

I love you very very much mom. Take care, happy anniversary (ill be here for number 25)


Monday, June 8, 2015

Week 54~~~~

Hi All - If anyone has answers to Kevin's question about what is going on in the world, feel free to write him....I know about law school!!!  LOL

Hi mom, well congratulations again on the 50th, its really something incredible, you look incredibly young and vibrant, and it makes me so happy to see all of the love that these women have for you. Truly its so wonderful. Here in Cosamoalapan, one of the main difficulties of the ward is the gossip and lack of fellowshipping. So it makes me incredibly happy to see how close you have grown with these women, and simply the way that you all treat one another. You are all wonderful daughters of our Father in Heaven, and have really kept the commandment to love one another. 

Hey did you guys get to see the avengers 2, how was it, and is Vin Diesel vision. Next, did you see the new star wars trailer, I heard the trailer was out, I really wish I could see it. I wan to go see it in a discount theater when I get home. How are things shaping up for the 2016 elections, do we have any major republican candidates yet. Could you guys give me an update on the most recent federal reserve monetary policy. Whats going on in Afghanistan, Libia, Israel, and the Koreas. How are Brazil and China´s economies looking. Has the eurozone turned around yet? sorry, lots of questions, this week was elections here in Mexico. I am honestly so grateful for the American political process, we do not have the best men for the job, but at the very least you or I mom could enter into politics, here the political parties choose the candidates, so they really don't have much of an option of who runs and who doesn't, so no one likes any candidate. Anyways, with that said, one of the men we have reactivated backed the main candidate who won here, so he was super happy, and gets special positions for doing that. Its a totally different way of doing things here. That said, people were so unhappy that there have been riots in oaxaca, don't worry, my town is totally calm, but others no tanto. So anyways, thats kind of the update on the physical stuff.

Spiritual lessons for the week.
So things I have learned, this week, the promise in moroni 10:3-5 is more focused on the teachings of the book of mormon than on the book itself. Find any principle, we will take that god helps us to grow stronger if we are humble for example. Read it, ponder about it, then pray and ask God if it is a true principle. As we do this, every signal principle there in the book naturally feels right, and through that we come to know that the book of mormon is true through its fruits.
Second: The most difficult part of my nature that I need to overcome is selfishness. By nature, I recognize that my desires are mainly for my own benefit, and for the recognition of others. ITs something I have always fought with, and it is the number one thing I want to conquer before the ned of my mission.
The people are the same, no one new, but they all keep progressing. We did find 2 or 3 families that had just been forgotten about, that live within 4 blocks of the chappel. I think about the lost sheep, so many people would just forget the lost sheep, but the fundamental aspect of Christ is that he remembered the lost sheep and went for it. We must do the same. Thats all mom (for time), love you lots!


Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 53 - HALF WAY MARK - Pictures: THEN/NOW

Here are some pictures Kevin sent from the beginning of his mission to now....

Here is Kevin in June - 2014, with his first Companion ~~~

Here is Kevin this month on his mission May - 2015 ~~

What a difference a year makes.... ( He is sooooooo skinnny)  Here is Kevin's letter from this week and a few more pictures....

Well I had to start this letter again because I started writing in Spanish. I can send pictures today so here is some cool stuff. So anyways, Happy 50th BDAY MOM!!!!!! Ahh, I remember super well your 40th, with all the people from work, I cannot believe a decade has passed. It is super weird how the years fly. I wish I could be there, but I hope that these pictures will make up for it!

Anyways, here in Mexico things have been going super well. You should know that May here is known as the month of hell, because of how hot it gets (its true) so needless to say, I am super happy that we are finally in June, but..... that means that the mosquito's start! By the way, weird things you find in Mexico, I looked down at my shirt and there was a mutant ant that could fly, like an ant with wings, super odd!!!

So anyways, interesting news about my secret culinary arts license. So there is a woman here who gives us fruit cocktails for free whenever we stop by (she has been a member for years) I have since attempted to learn how to cut fruit and have gotten pretty good at it. I can completely cut a papaya or any other fruit super fast to make cocktails. I honestly love them. Also I have officially gotten down how to make tortillas by hand (with a little machine, but also hitting the masa), and how to make different salsas of all different types. I've learned how to do empanadas, picadas, memellas, I still need to master the panucho though (which is basically like a tostada, but you put the meet inside of the fried tortilla. Oh and by the way, here, no one else drinks plain water, everyone makes fruit waters, so I will have to make some watermelon water. I will definitely miss the mango's and the pineapples here. By the way, every morning I get up, and run in the middle of the street, which given Mexican taxi drivers is about as safe as wearing lady gagas meat dress in shark infested waters. Nevertheless, we had a ward activity this week and some of the neighbors came and were really interested in talking to us because they want to learn to be super athletic, and see me running in the morning! (Although the town was having a 5k and some of the members asked if we could participate, so I asked president, and he told me no in a tone that told me I was stupid for asking, so there you go)...

I just wanted to send this photo to contrast from 1 year ago. I did not actually get the code until today mom, so I will try and go today or if not today during the week to pick up the money, thank you very much for sending that to me, I really appreciate it.

Anyways, in regards to this week, we have really gotten some ward members that have become like family mom. I want you to know how well they take care of us. We have been working with a couple that are named veronica and anselmo. Wow, I cannot believe how much they have changed, Veronica and her daughter are not members and anselmo was super close to going on a mission but never went They're about 45 years old, and invited us to eat with them, and I love them.

We now have a new ward mission leader which is honestly making me super excited because he works super well with us, and knows all of the ward members. His family honestly is great, and he has a brother that we all call 3 brothers, one of whom is called hulk, because his shorts are all ripped at the bottom. (they showed me a photo that said, single, and had the hulk, married and had Shrek, which I thought was hilarious) Anyways, something interesting, our ward mission leader and his wife had deactivated, weren't going, and weren't working in the Gospel. Our relief society President, who was the hardest worker in the ward, just moved, and there was no one to take her place. Anyways, my companion and I went and gave a lesson to the ward mission leader and his wife about the importance of covenants, and they both just reactivated, 2 weeks before the relief society president moved. When his wife reactivated she just started working a ton, and was chosen as the new relief society president. Now my companion and I aren't magic missionaries neither did we do a ton of prep for the lesson, nor did we even think she could be the new president. But as I play it out in my mind, I see a perfectly logical course behind my actions, in spite of not knowing what I was doing. The same thing happened when we found Veronica and Anselmo, and everyone else that we are teaching. As a missionary I have come to realize that God has created a perfectly formed plan, and he will accomplish what he wants to with or without me. Had I not gone with that sister, I am sure a ward member would have, or she would have heard a talk that inspired her, or something would have happened. I am just a tool here to accomplish the work of God. I love my mission, it has made me realize how small I really am, and yet, how infinitely vital the role that I play is as a missionary. Of all the people in the city of Cosamoalapan, my companion and I are the two that God, the most powerful being in the universe is most focused on. What we do, to help his children reach salvation, on a daily basis is so much more important than anything else that is being done in this city. I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to serve here in this role, and even more excited to continue serving the Lord for the rest of my life, even when my time as a missionary has ended.

Mother I love you so much. Study and work hard, keep trying, I know everything will be okay. I invite you to try praying before study, you will feel the spirit inspire your mind as you work on the problems, I promise you. I love you very much, happy birthday, more photos soon.

Elder Standridge