Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pre-Christmas Photos

Just photos this week.  We get to Skype with him on Christmas Eve!  Can't wait.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Christmas and First baptism!

Merry Christmas everybody!

We won't have a p day really next week for email or anything because our pday got switched to Christmas, so I will just talk to you guys on Skype! So for that I will be going to an internet cafe and it will be on the 24th because we have not been able to find anywhere that is open on the actual Christmas day! I have no idea exactly how it will work or anything, but we are planning on like early afternoon your time like 12:30ish?? I don't know but I hope that will work!! I will have to figure out everything as well! I have 40 minutes to talk so that will be awesome! I can't wait! Also, the package came in a while ago, but because of changes last week no one got mail delivered but they told me it was there, so I should get it tonight! Super excited!! Also, y'all have something coming your way so be on the lookout!

So this week absolutely flew by!I can not believe that I am sitting here right now again, I was like just here! Boom suddenly it is Monday again! We had an incredible week, like our best one yet! There was some holiday this week for the Virgin Guadalupe and a lot of people get really drunk so we had to be in our house really early too of the days and it was still like one of our most successful weeks!
So I got to baptize someone this week! His name is Rene Cayetano Diaz! He was an investigator in the ward just over from us, and we were with him his sister and his brother and the elders that taught them because my comp had to do their baptismal interviews and I ended up being the person to baptize him, which was really really cool! i was able to memorize the prayer and do it right the first time and everything! He is an awesome kid though, and it was such a cool opportunity, Elder Neyra one of the two elders that taught him is awesome, he is like my best friend in our mission so far, we are from the same generation too!

So for our investigators Azucena is still preparing for her baptism either the last week of December or the first week of January and she is golden, she loves learning about the gospel and everything! Out other investigators we haven't been able to meet with much but Maria de Jesus is progressing, but won't go to church! Then we have a new 14 year old girl named Valeria who is the cousin of the whole family Alquicira so in our first lesson she gave an awesome prayer because of how much she has been surrounded by the church. Also, the Alquicira Fiuentes family gave us those snowmen and a bunch of candy when we ate there!

We did a really cool activity on Saturday where all the Elders that meet in our ward got together at this really central part of our town and we all sang Christmas carols, and then in between they had a screen playing church Christmas videos while we went out and contacted, and I contacted the most people, I contacted 29 people by myself it was awesome! I am so excited for Christmas!! I love and miss you'll a ton, and hope all is well!!!!

Elder Stout

He answered a few questions for us.  Here are some excerpts from his email to the family:

I hope everybody's health picks up in the ward, that is really hard to hear!! I will pray for them all this week for sure, send them my love!!

Mexican Christmas traditions are pretty much American ones, the one that is different that I have seen so far is that they use pinatas here for Christmas too!! Hahaaha they also eat corn for Christmas because apparently it is like really fancy! My street that I live on is Calle Laurel, one chapel is on 5 de Mayo and the other is on Rosal! (I found them all on maps.google.com)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Almost Christmas

Hey yall! How is it going??

Work has been awesome here this last week! Thought you all should know that I got sick for my first time last Tuesday! But I took some of the pills Mom gave me and lets just say that they worked too well....haha then on Wednesday I had to go into immigration in order to renew my visa, so I guess I am legal now! It was a super long and boring trip, but I got to see a lot more of the city! I decided I am going to do what Andrew does and send home one interesting fact a week about the place so this week it is that like all of the houses have big pipes or other things sticking out of them down here because if the house is unfinished then they don't have to pay property tax! Last night we had the coolest opportunity to go to the Vistitor's Center next to the temple and it was so cool! We took two future investigators and the whole ward rented out two buses to go, they have like all these Christmas lights set up everywhere and it was just such a cool opportunity to go and see it all! I loved it! Also, tomorrow are changes and me and my companion are both staying in San Pedro Martir 1bis, and my companion is getting made district leader! The only people leaving from our district are Elder Batt, the old district leader, and Elder Quinn the old zone leader, I am going to miss them a ton, they were such great examples of leaders, and they helped me so much!
Our investigators this week was kind of a more down week. Maria and Carlos still can't meet with us because of their work in December and they weren't even at church yesterday. Maria de Jesus is progressing but has no desire to go to church which is really hard! We had two new investigators this week Condilo and Gloria who are married and are like 60 years old but we had two lessons with them but they said they believe in the Book of Mormon but are too involved in their other church to leave so that was a bummer big time. Then Azusena is progressing great and just doing awesome and should be ready to get baptized on January 3rd so fingers crossed!!
I love you all and hope it has been going great!!

Elder Stout

He sent us a few additional answers to questions that I thought I would share here:

Lord really blessed us this week while we were looking for a house and turns out we were on a wrong street but we went up to the house and it turned out to e a menos activo that no one knew existed so now we can talk to here more! 

Church was a lot better this week, I didn't have such a hard time and we talked about familysearch.org so it reminded me of all the times dad would like show me and Sam what he was doing at work! 


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Happy December

Hey!! Can't believe in just a few weeks I get to talk to you!!! You asked for pictures of my apartment so I included them, and I am so lucky that I have been uploading pictures to dropbox, because last night I accidentally deleted all my photos, apparently that's what format memory card means! But they are all on drop box minus like 6 so I will just re-download them! Phew!!! Also, make sure to ask me if you have any questions on photos that I send because I am sure at times they are pretty random!

Sounds like you all had an awesome thanksgiving! I had a good one too! I went on splits with our district leader Elder Batt and we pigged out that night on root beer and kettle chips that his family had sent him in the care package!

This turned out to be a lot slower of a week than we had expected because like no one was home! Like literally over 50% of our appointments fell through! It was a huge bummer! But, I did have two cool lessons this week where the spirit just totally took over! First we were teaching Azusena about the last half of the plan of salvation, and I just was able to really powerfully testify about the Spirit World and the lower kingdoms about how God doesn't really punish us but it's a punishment we inflict on ourselves, because we know we didn't realize our potential, which just really hit her, and she started like crying during the prayer because of the spirit, and it was really cool, because we never take that approach, but I felt like we should! Then we were teaching Javier the recent convert, and we were talking about like reading the scriptures and praying. Javier really wants to serve a mission in a couple years, and I had a really cool experience where I felt like I was giving Sam all of the advice that I want to as his brother about what he should do before a mission, and I honestly felt like I was talking to Sam, it was so cool, but I felt the spirit prompt me to promise him that if he did these things every day he would be one of the most powerful missionaries ever and we were all just kind of like woah, because we felt the spirit really strong then!

Only other thing this week was my interview with Mission President! We talked about my goals and he loved my idea to have a checklist for every investigator with the baptismal questions and the qualifications for baptism in D and C 20 37, and mark them off when we teach them that thing so they can truly be ready for baptism! I just told him I want to get better at lesson planning to be able to really help the person we are teaching! Cool thing, he asked me if we spoke Spanish at home! So, I guess it really is coming along!

Last thing, everyone needs to go watch He is the Gift! And everyone needs to go to YouTube next Sunday!! This video is huge, it has such a cool powerful message, and it is already helping us so much down here!! I love you all and will talk soon!!

Elder Stout

A few other things he sent to just the fam...

Scripture of the week is Isaiah 1:18

Mission president is so awesome! He is just straight business and he like pumps us all up! Too bad we will be getting a new mission president in July! That'll be weird!

We also asked him to send pictures of his apartment.  He delivered...see below.  Fun to see what his living arrangements are like.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Woohoo! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I really wish I could be there to spend it with you, but we will probably eat with one of the Alquicira families and then go get tacos with the zone leaders, so don't worry about me!!! I am going to miss dad's smoked turkey and mom's rolls though!!

Update on the investigators! Carlos and Maria weren't able to meet or come to church this week because they are really busy with work at this time of the year, which is really frustrating because I feel like if we can keep constant contact with Carlos then he could get baptized! Azusena (I referred to her as Susena in a past email oops finally learned how to spell her name) came to church yesterday for the first time and loved it! We are really hoping she will be ready for baptism by December 20th, she really wants it to be like a Christmas thing, but she has to come to church every sunday from now until then so we will see. We had a slower week this week because I had to go do immigration stuff one day and the offices are like 2.5 hours away so that took a while, but this next week is looking good!

So this week I had a tough experience, Ana decided she didn't want the lessons anymore, I took it really hard because I had been connecting better with her than Elder Hansen adn I had been taking charge of those lessons, so I got really down. But, then I realized I was getting down because of myself not her, so I changed my attitude and prayed for her instead of myself, and then she came to church yesterday for the first time in a really long time so we will see where that goes! But then the couple of days after we had that really tough day with Ana we have had a bunch of really good ones in a row! We got a ton of contacts the day after and set up a bunch of appointments with members for new investigators this week which is awesome, because we haven't had anyone new in a while! Then yesterday, the ward like just jumped behind missionary work and extended so much love and support for us and we are just packed this next week it is going to be awesome!

I love you all so much, and miss you too!!!!!

Elder Stout

Below are some answers to questions we asked him

What is a normal day like?

Normal day is waking up at 6 to go play fronton! Then I make myself some scrambled eggs and have honey nut cheerios before I shower! Then we have an hour of personal study, an hour of planning time, an hour of companionship study, and an hour of language study! Then we usually have one appointment right before lunch, and then head with the ZL's to an hermana in the ward who feeds us well and one of us shares something with her! Then we walk around and try to follow up with contacts, and menos activos all afternoon! Then in the night we have some sort of ward activity whether its a meeting, a class of English or just a lesson at the chapel. Then we go teach our investigators in the night, and usually end by sharing something with a member, before we come back, make some sandwiches, confirm plans for the next day and then write in my journal and I literally am falling asleep by 10 every night!

What is your apartment like?

I have been meaning to send pictures of my apartment! I will tnext week, it is actually pretty nice! We have like a hot plate, mini fridge, and microwave for our appliances, two hard as rock beds, our toilet doesn't work right, we have to turn on the hot water in the morning! Haha but its nicer than most!

What is church like?

The church is really nice! It is barely out of our area, like 10 mins walk! There are two chapels here really close, but one is called the visitor's center and they only use it for activities and it is the oldest chapel in Mexico which is really cool! I will let you know what church is like soon but for some reason that is the thing I have the hardest time understanding, it is impossible!!! I don't get anything and I don't know why, but it seems good!

What do you do on p-day?

On p days we wash our clothes which takes forever, I will never take a dryer for granted ever again, our clothes literally dry for like 3 days in our apartment, then we just buy stuff we need and email and then we go play volleyball before we have a district meeting at night, then usually visit a family! The morning and night are the same on p days!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

2 Months!

Alex and his first companion in the middle
Hey everybody!

Today is officially two months after I left home and reported to the MTC! How cool! It has already gone by really really fast! So pretty much this week was insane because I was responsible for knowing the area with my new companion, and I don't really know the area so it was a lot of getting lost and trying to find people and a lot of frustration! But, he is awesome! His name is Elder Hansen and he is from a small town of 150 people down by St George, he only has 6 months in the mission, but is already training! He has even had a crazier few weeks than I have because when I first got here he was training someone else from my generation but that companion had to go home, so he has had four companions in four weeks, hopefully we are together for a little while! He is very different from Elder Lewis but it is probably good to experience different types of people this early on! My Spanish has improved a ton in the last week because I am the one that already kind of knows the people we have been teaching or the members so I have had to talk a lot more! But, I think it is really coming along for only three weeks here!

So this week we gained some new investigators! When we went to meet with Susena, her daughter was there and they were both super interested in the Book of Mormon but they have to work out the time to come to church still, so they will be kind of stagnant until they can make that a priority, plus we can only meet once a week with them so it is slow going. We didn't get a chance to meet with Maria Ester and Carlos Vega this week but they both came to stake conference so that was a good sign! We had two really good lessons with Ana Gasparlino and set a baptismal date for the 6th of Dec but then she didn't come to church so that is frustrating! She doesn't want to go because she doesn't understand, but she doesn't get that going will help her understand better! Then Gabrielle Torres' husband got out of jail and even though they both can't get baptized until he is off parole in two years we started teaching him! Then we had the funniest experience in the world, our neighbor is 84 years old and I think that she might have dementia or something just not very bad, but she is just really lonely so we help her like clean sometimes and stuff but last time we were like anything else we can do and she is like yeah, I want to go to church with you guys so we started teaching her. We taught her the whole restoration and everything and she was like that is beautiful and stuff and then our next lesson she said she believed the Book of Mormon was the best book ever and she sleeps with it under her pillow and stuff, so we asked if she would pray to know if our church was true and she replied with, of course I know that the Catholic Church is the only true church. Which led us to the awkward conversation that La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días is different than the Catholic Church and we were both just laughing because she honestly thought we were Catholic but we were invited back so we have to figure out if there is actually something wrong with her mind or if we can keep teaching her!
Alex and his new companion

Looks like companion study and a lot of junk food
The members here are amazing! There is this one street really close to our house where the family Alquciera lives, I mean like the whole family. There are like 5 different houses that all stem from the same family! There are like 6 recent converts in the family and the bishop and the relief society president and just like half the ward, it is so awesome, whenever something falls through we just walk up and down that street looking for someone to teach and we always get invited in and get 2nd dinner and like a goody bag to take home and a bunch of references of friends to teach and we just love them so much. The other night we taught the Alquiciera Fiuentes about prophets and then they just brought us out enchiladas part way through our lesson, and then sent us home with milk, yogurt, flan, donuts, muffins, and cinnamon rolls! They are so awesome!!!

Everything is going great here, I love and miss you all!!!!

Elder Stout

Cool Mexican pottery

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Week 2 - Still alive!



Still alive and doing well here, no sickness or anything yet, all has been great! I don't have very much time to write today because we got a call last night that Elder Lewis has special changes, so I will have a new companion this afternoon. It is really weird that they would transfer out a trainer halfway through a change, but it might be because Elder Lewis has been here over 6 months so he would have been leaving this change anyways but now I will get to spend almost my whole time with my new companion, so hopefully he is cool, it is weird because I feel like we just started to work really well and click together and now there is a new companion. Also, I am really scared because I am in charge of like knowing the people from the area now and how to get around which is not something I was planning on.


All in all, we had an awesome week though. Thursday we do a planning session for the whole week and I had the impressions to look at the old investigators and menos activos and we were able to put in our schedule to go and try and contact a lot of people because right before I got here they had a big baptism and so now most of the lessons we teach are to actives and recent converts so we need to be teaching more investigators and less actives so that went really well and everyday we have been trying really hard to contact all of those people! It was perfect because Wednesday I was feeling a little homesick again but then that got me re-excited on Thursday and I am doing awesome again, and am so excited to get to work. 


Our main investigators are Ana, Susena, Maria & Carlos, and Gabrielle. Ana has a really hard time understanding the lessons so we take like 3 appointments to teach each lesson, but she has been able to retain more and more each time and it is definitely because of the spirit! Her siblings were baptized right before I got here. Our problem with her is that she doesn't want to go to church because she doesn't understand it, we were supposed to baptize her next Saturday but you have to go to church 5 time before you can be baptized so we will have to push that back:( Then Susena is brand new and she is golden! She came to us asking about all these things that are in the bible and why aren't thy in the Catholic church and how she thinks she should have a personal relationship with God, and boom we have all her answers! She was the first person I got to ask to be baptized and she said yes! Only problem is her husband is very anti-religion and is an alcoholic so we will see how this goes week by week. Next Maria and Carlos, Maria loves the gospel and has already almost read half the Book of Mormon in just a few short weeks but Carlos is less sure. We were able to share the story about Alma 32 and the growing of faith with him, and I really home that helps because I think that like it says in Alma 32:21 he thinks he needs to know 100% but faith is about taking that first step and believing that what you've been feeling is right! Then there is Gabrielle who like Susena and Maria is just perfect! But, her boyfriend just got out of jail so they can't be married until he is off parole, and she can't be baptized while they are living together and not married:( so I might not see much progression there!


Okay, the food this last week was so good!!! I love the food here, I can't even really describe it, but pretty much we start every meal with like a soup, then we have like tomato rice with vegetables in it, some incredible meat dish with a savory sauce and tortillas! Then we drink like limeade or fruit punch pretty much is the best way to describe it, and have like fruit with cream for dessert! And I am not sick yet! Haha


We have been spending a lot of time with the menos activos, and it is so hard to get them to come to church because apparently its part of the culture here that you don't need to fulfill your commitments so people say yes to things we ask just to avoid confrontation with no plan of doing it! The culture is very different here, it seems like about 50% of the people have children before the turn 18, it is incredible how many people my age or just a little older already have families, it is sad, but they are so happy too! It really reminds me of kind of a run down Rome here. There is no way of differentiating what is in a building just by looking at it, and most people like run business right out of there houses, and it's a lot like that, just not as touristy! Also, it is really cold here in the mornings and the nights because we are up in the mountains, but then it is tough to dress because the sun really heats up the afternoons! One of the pictures is my cuate (dude/bro/man) Javiercito! He is a recent convert and Ana's brother, he comes with us to teach all the time, he is 15 and he is going to serve his mission in Seattle I know it! Oh also there is this cool thing called pouch apparently where the church like delivers mail. So I can like send a letter to any other missionary without postage, it will just get delivered so that's cool, and also they just take normal letters back to the US, so I need a lot of US forever stamps so that I can send letters, I only have one left! That's all for this week, I love and miss you all!!!


Elder Stout


So scriptures for this week:

Dad John 5:19 thanks for your example!

Mom 3 John 1:11, everything good is of God!

Sam Proverbs 4:3 keep priorities in line, everything will get better, it is the knowledge that matters!

Jake- Deuteronomy 31:6-8 The Lord is always there for you!

Max Ephesians 6:1-2 Mom and Dad know best always remember that!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Elder Stout is in Mexico!

Hey everybody!!!

Last American Meal - Panda Express
I made it! I am in Mexico!!!! The area that I am serving in is called San Pedro Martir 1! It is on like the outskirts of the city but I am still in the big city! There are 4 of us serving in this ward, me and my companion Elder Lewis from Manti, as well as the zone leaders! Yes, that's right I got a white companion!!! Haha that is so nice, he is able to explain to me how everything works mission wise and I am learning a ton from him. He has been out just over a year, and has been in this area for 6 months so he knows like everyone which has been really nice!


On the plane
The flights went great to get down here, it was so nice to see dad at the airport and then to be able to call and talk to everyone even though it did make me a little more homesick, it was definitely worth it! Elder Jones and I ate our last meal in America at the Panda Express in Atlanta haha it was awesome, then our flight was delayed leaving so we didn't get in here until 7 pm. Then the AP''s and the mission president picked us up there (after my bag got searched at customs for like 20 minutes) and for our first meal in Mexico we ate at the Carl's JR. right in the airport hahah it was really weird. Also we found out that night that our mission isn't allowed to drink Coke, are you kidding me?? that's what Ihave been looking forward to since I got my call!!! So that's a bummer! But its whatever, I will just enjoy it more when I get back. That night we had all 10 of us from Provo as well as 6 from Mexico City all stay in the same house then in the morning we got orientated, met our companions and we were in taxi's and off to work. We literally work non-stop, we are like late to every appointment because we have to plan them so close together, it is so awesome. In my area (and most of the mission) there is absolutely no tracting and almost no contancting, literally everything is from the members! So awesome! We had our first baptism this week, Elder Lewis got to baptize Abigail Romero Lira, who is our bishop's daughter in law! I got to be there for like her last lesson haha but it still count's! We have I think 4 other investigators with baptismal dates too, and at that baptism, a young guy like Sam's age just came up and told us where he lives and that he thinks he wants to join the church, so we are going to meet with him tomorrow!
Probably a view from the first apartment


A lot of the work here is working with recent converts and less active members. The culture here is Catholic where it isn't that important to go to church everyweek so a lot of people don't understand why they need to keep doing stuff after they are baptized so those are about two thirds of our lessons right there! Also, like anytime you go to anybody's house here they give you a ton of food. We are supposed to make our own breakfast and dinner and eat lunch with a member, but we end up just eating with members all day long. Haha plus agua does not mean water here. No body drinks water because it is so unhealthy, so we walk into someones's house and they are like do you want lime or grapefruit water? haha it is awesome though! I haven't gotten sick yet either which is awesome, but Elder Lewis said he didn't get sick until his second week, so fingers crossed with that one. THe food is way different than I imagined, it's almost like curry! It's like rice and then some meat with some rich sauch that you mix all together and eat with a tortilla and so far so good! I have loved almost everything I have gotten so far!


First Baptism, only 5 days in the country.  The work is
moving so fast in Mexico!
Day of the dead was crazy especially since we live right by a cemetary, but we had a baptism on the craziest night, so there's no way that I would rather spend it! All in all, it has been an awesome first week. I was really homesick the first couple of nights, but getting to work (especially having a baptism) got me out of it! I miss everyone so much, and I do kind of miss the MTC, haha but I know this is where I am supposed to be!


Alex and comp
Random thoughts: Everyone drives like a lunatic down here, it a lot worse than in Rome. We ride these micro busses whenever we ahve to go somewhere and they cost about  40 american cents to go anywhere but they are packed full and there are always people hanging off the side. For our excercise we play what's called Frunton which is exactly like squash without the raquets so tell grandpa Carlos! We had a lesson at a member's home last night who is like super rich so he gave us Black Cherry sodas and these awesome crossiant sandwiches, him and his wife remind me 100% exactly like Brother and Sister Newton, so weird! Like they even look like them! Best part of the week was they have pan de los muertos or dead bread that is literally this sweet bread covered in cinnamon and sugar, it was like I died and went to heaven!


Love you all, and miss you all as well,

Elder Stout

Happy Halloween!