Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 73 ~ Zone Picture from TODAY, Kevin made his zone Pizza for all their hard work!!!

Hi mom, I am so happy to be able to email you. It is absolutely incredible to me that week past week, the time just keeps flying by. I am so thankful for the support of the Ward as you are going through this difficult process of retraining. I feel so much confidence in you, and am so grateful to our Father in Heaven for having revealed the importance of fasting for these times of need. I will be especially generous in my fast this weekend, because I know that there are families with even more need than our own and those families that I see here. IT is such a blessing to be a member of a church guided by revelation from a loving heavenly father.

That being said, I definitely have some interesting things that happened this week. 

1. Missionaries go through a little bit of a midlife crisis, This week my companion saw my photos from before my mission and was telling me how much weaker I as than before (I ever so politely invited him to shut up hahaha) but I decided to run a mile today to see how I would do. There is actually a 400 meter track here in tierra blanca so I took him out, and ran a 4:54. Given I never really ran the mile this is a new record for me, and gave me a, I've still got it, kind of feeling.

2. This week was absolutely and completely a success for our zone. We hit an assistance of 470 this week as a stake. To give you an idea, when I got here it was 370. I am honestly so grateful for the hard work of the missionaries in the zone. I am super blessed to be able to work with so many people who are capable of serving the Lord with all of their hearts, its wonderful. Needless to say that is more than a 25% increase in stake attendance in 2 months of work. At the same time I feel like I never reach a point at which I can sit back and said that is success, because now I feel incredibly nervous that the number is going to drop this week, and feel an incredible need to fix this. 

3. That being said, today my companion and I decided to make some pizza as a reward for the zone, and it went absolutely wonderfully. I now have hand made corn tortillas, empanadas, budin, volovanes, pizza, empanadillas, a variety of chicken recipes, several new taco recipes, a variety of salsas, pastas, and new ways of cooking steaks. So needless to say I am going to be a little chef when I get home.

4. In regards to the hurricane it was so bad they closed schools and a bunch of other things, only to find it rained, which happens so frequently is a bit like saying in California it was dry.

5. Today we were studying and all of a sudden, I saw a pillar of light descend from the sky until it rested upon me. It was just one of those moments when I realized oh my gosh, can you imagine what it would have been like to actually see a pillar of light brighter than the sun, and to see God and Jesus in that light. Wow, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, I feel it with every fiber of my being.

6. So we have baptized 2 weeks in a row and have 1 for this week too, and sounds like we might go a full 6 weeks baptizing every week if everything goes well, so I am super pumped about that.

Just a note, I love Elder Mangum, he is super chill and relaxed, we  get along great and he is a good teacher. One of the best times in my mission right now!

Elder Standridge

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 72~ A couple of Pictures :)

Well mom, it is certainly an interesting week, its honestly so weird sometimes. I feel like I am working so hard sometimes, and yet I feel like the results never come as fast as I would like them to. This week was a good week because we saw that the church assistance really went up for the zone, so we are starting to see a little bit of success which makes me feel good. I wish I could see other missions and their focus because I feel like here sometimes is way different than i imagine how it is in other areas.

In regards to the pants, they're fine don't worry, they just need to be sewn, its mainly the shoes that are starting to wear out. I am so so so proud of you for not studying on Sundays mom, I really want you to know how happy that makes me. When I get back I will work too don't worry, we all really need to be self sufficient and I just feel incredibly guilty the way that I depended on you guys so much before my mission. When I get back I want to be able to pay for my food housing and college. My goal is to be self sufficient, I don't want you guys to have to pay anything. At least that is the goal.

Mom the reason why I haven't sent pictures is I lost my memory card so I borrowed one to send them. I will have good ones next week because I did volovanes with a companion in a bright pink apron, so I look very pretty! Hahaha, I am just honestly impressed with the people at church they are so wonderful. Its honestly great how much they are there for you guys. Please tell both Laura and Chad and And Garry and Diana how grateful I am to them and how much I look forward to seeing them soon. I really hope that we can enjoy some time together.

The reason mom why we call one another brother and sister is because we are one giant family. To me, we are all brothers and sisters of Christ. Now that being said we have a sacred responsibility given from God to take care of our parents and our children. Hey by the way, have you seen Deborah from Red Lobster lately? I haven't heard you mention her in ages.

Hey mom in regards to our living conditions these are by far the best living conditions I have ever had in my mission. I have a super chill clima. I live with a 40 year old single sister and her mother, and they give us food regularly. (I hope I don't get fat). We have a decent shower, and I have a super duper comfy mattress. The sisters give us a lot to eat, its honestly great, we have 5 or  sisters who all worked as cooks and I am honestly super impressed and happy. That being said I have a ton of work. The bishop is never there and no one takes any responsibility. The ward is basically run by the second counselor and there are so many open callings, but we have ex-missionaries that are being used by the stake. Its ridiculous but we are seeing some progress. we started off with 110 when I got here and this week we had 137. So there is popping up the assistance little by little. I want to see the ward get to 150, that's my goal.

 Kevin's Companion and sleeping quarters

You have come so long in 3 short years mom, I love you so much. I am loving life right now. Hahah, you will soon get to see Lauren and all of them when they finish up, its funny how soon they finish, you wouldn't even notice it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

WEEK 71~~

My week was really quite stressful mom. I feel like sometimes I am pushing against a brick wall just hoping that it will move but it never does. It sucked because we had more than 20 people in the zone with baptismal dates Saturday, but they keep falling and like people don't work, its just stressful because I don't know what to do with the elders sometimes. The thing is that I have noticed how the number of baptisms has kept going down since President Cordova has got here. I noticed that generally people had better results when they just got mad at the elders and yelled at them until they baptized. After Sunday went poorly I lost my patience with one elder who lets just say is less than obedient and less than diligent, and just let him have it. It neither made me feel better nor do I truly believe that the conditions will improve based on what I did. Furthermore I feel that it had the negative result of hurting my trust with the elder. I was feeling guilty about the zone so I decided to call him about my doubts. He responded to me that the secret was to do 3 less active lessons and 10 contacts everyday, if we do it, we will have success. This is the same thing we have always been told, but he said it with such certainty and I felt the spirit testify to me that what he said was true. He told me how happy he was with what I was doing, how the Stake President was so happy with how we were helping with the less actives and how he just wanted me to be patient and the results would come. I knew he was right, I knew I should never chew anyone out again. I really hurt inside for what I did. It was honestly so hard, but I know what to do now. I love the atonement of Jesus Christ. I love how I can become clean. Mom if it weren't for him, for what I did, I would be unworthy to enter into the presence of God. I would be forever cast off from his presence. How terrible it would be without him. I know that through the spirit we can feel better. I love and treasure him.
That being said, I am grateful for the chance to feel stressed and learn here as a missionary. What a gift it is to be able to learn how to lead in the Lords way. What a gift it is to be able to face challenges and difficulties in so many different ways. Trying to get the spirit, trying to get revelation, trying to get results, trying to build up our ward, it is honestly so difficult.
I did have an honestly interesting experience. There is a woman who had a sealed family. The father began by cheating on her, and continues to this day. The 3 daughters have slowly but surely fallen away from the church. They have slowly but surely given up their blessings and have fallen away. 1 never got a testimony, 1 was a seminary teacher for years, but just never seemed to find her husband and decided to live with a man who was not divorced, and 1 believes she is happier without the church. There is another family with a daughter that is thoroughly hurt by the fact that no one cares about her in the church, and feels that there is no one there that loves her. She therefore no longer goes, and has taken her children and husband with her, one of whom is almost at mission age. I don't know, but I feel these families. First off, how important is for a parent to put a good example. IF a parent falls, the children must try and swim with a mill stone around their neck. Second, how important are home and visiting teachers, as well as all of the leadership, they dont know how much they help. I don't know what will happen, but I am going to give everything to help them, I want to rescue these families.
I am impressed by general conference, especially Elder Eyring, I need to listen more to the spirit, and am focusing on that. I love you very much mother, I am sorry to hear about your difficulties, but as LEhi said to his son jacob, the Lord will consecrates thy afflictions for thy gain. I love you.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 70~~

Hi mother, I am really glad to hear that you are doing well at home, it sounds awesome with what you are doing with the bar prep. Will you get the bar results before I get home? Hey can you find out when do I have to decide on my classes for byu? I want to know your opinion on something. The econ department at byu is notoriously hard. If I want to become a professor I will have to take these classes at some point, but if I go through Econ, I might put at risk my scholarship. Although idk if I want to be a professor or no. If I decide to do other things, I could take classes to learn Portuguese and learn how to do personal training and get a degree in that in 1 year, and then finish out accounting (I have to send in my application in may and i need to take like 2 more classes). That being said, I don't know what you think, personal training is a small dream of mine, and something I would really like to do because I find it super interesting but I don't know what do you think?

Mom they say that there are different levels of faith in our lives. It gradually grows over time but we can see certain specific things that people do that show the size of their faith. For example with tithing, some people never pay tithing, some people buy it when things are going good, others unless their is an emergency situation, and others no matter what happens. It is incredible mother, because choosing not to study, eat out, work, and other activities on the Sabbath Day we show the degree of our faith. Mother I really admire your faith and more importantly, I admire how your faith has grown. I remember when the idea of going without iced tea was about as unthinkable as jumping off a Cliff! It makes me so happy to see how much you have grown and changed. I would honestly do anything to have someone like you here in my Ward, because I know how much it would help here in the work. That being said, I would use some of your Sunday time to rest, some of it to be with Dad, but also I would talk to some of the relief society presidency about who is less active and needs some help or a good friend. Or you could talk to the missionaries and ask if there is anyone that they would like you to accompany with. Mom, I am sure that missionary work brings blessings. These blessings are many, from increased testimony to increased love, but for me two of the greatest are the approval of Heavenly Father and the new relationships with the people you serve. I may be the one on the mission but you have grown so much mom. As the Lord said to Peter, when though art converted, strengthen thy brethren. The Sabbath day is a relief, a delight, and I will make you a promise, that each step you take in the Gospel, you will receive more and more help in your law school. I know how hard it will be, but I know how capable and incredible you are. If you are going to ask permission, then ask through President Jordan, there is a much higher probability.

That all being said I would like to comment about how my week is going. I had a really interesting week in a lot of ways. Right now we have found a single mother and her two daughters, and they are honestly incredible. I left this 9 year old little girl alma 12 to read, and when I asked what she thought she responded wow, I loved how it talked about how we can avoid the spiritual death that separates us from God. It is honestly so incredible because I cannot get that response out of 90% of the people here, but a 9 year old Little girl was more capable. Its so incredible here. Her mom loved conference and is honestly progressing quite well, although she still took her daughters to Catholicism this weekend. I honestly believe that this family will get baptized and it makes me really happy. Something that makes me really frustrated is the widespread amount of lying that has been going on recently. I hate when people tell me they re going to do something and then don't do it. Its just like acceptable to some people and I don't understand it. I always have so many people here who say they will do things but then they never complete. That being said I have also found some people with an incredible amount of faith and love. The sister that we live with is so kind to us, and treats us so well, she is single and in her 40´s and I feel bad for her, because she is that type who has always been waiting to get married but never has. In addition, this week we had 17 less actives in church,which made me really happy. There is a man who everyone calls Pita ho has brought his whole family back. Its honestly incredible because he was he Ward secretary and all we had to do was visit him 1 or 2 times and he was active again!

Anyways, I love you and Dad very very much. You are wonderful and I am so thankful for all that you do for me. I realized just how true the love is that you have had for me, and honestly I cannot describe how very grateful I am for that. Please tell Grandma just how much I love her, I would love to hear from her if she can. I miss her terribly and want to hear what is going on with her and Doug right now.  Take care for one more week!