Friday, October 24, 2014

Last MTC P-Day

First, please tell everybody thank you for writing me this week.  I loved hearing from all of them and let them know I was not able to write them all back this week but promise to catch up soon.

Photo Courtesy of Elder Jones.  Elder Stout on the balcony
of their first living quarters.
I am finally off to Mexico next week! wooohoo!! I am so excited! Not really a lot went on this last week a lot more of the same old! Big thing was us all getting our travel plans! Elder Cottle is the first one to leave at 8 pm on Sunday night and then we go all the way up until 4:30 Monday morning! Me and Elder Jones will be the only ones from our district on our flight so we will have to say goodbye to everyone before that! Also, Elder Hernandez got delayed because apparently his mission president thought he was in the advanced class so he planned on him coming earlier so he just kind of assumed he wasn't coming, and won't be ready for him for 2 more weeks, so he has to join the younger district for those two weeks! It's kind of awful for him! But, if we've learned anything here then there is definitely a reason that the Lord wants him to stay for a little bit longer. We are all really ready to leave and get out there to start teaching the gospel, we are getting kind of stir crazy here.

Two really cool experiences that I did want to share from this week though were first the devotional from Elder Godoy! It was absolutely incredible! President Doman said it was the best talk he has heard in his entire life. Elder Godoy based his entire talk off of Alma 26:22 i think! It was incredible! read that scripture and disect it!!! He talked about the 4 principles in that verse and about how they lead to being a good missionary! Pretty much it boiled down to repenting and being worthy invites the spirit, working hard will bring baptisms, praying and studying unceasingly brings spiritual experiences and faith in Jesus Christ will bring miracles. It was so incredible, he just really dove in and was like this is how it is, now go do it! And he also took Moroni 8:2-3 and had us replace the names of Moroni and Mormon with our own and those of our parents, so thats the scripture for both mom and dad this week! Everyone just started bawling! It was also really cool because his son was there too because he is about to go and serve in Rome. And now that you told me you got to talk with him last week dad, I felt like he meant that scripture for me as well, which is pretty cool! I love and miss you so much! I know you said that you didn't think you were perfect parents, but you were the perfect parents for me so don't even stress it! There's nothing I would've changed about my childhood! The second cool experience is that I had my exit interview with President Doman, and I said this to Sam too but I am like pretty sure that he will either be a general authority or a patriarch at some point, that guy has an absolute gift! It started off with us recapping my leadership of the district and stuff, and it felt really good to hear him say me and Peterson were studs haha he's kind of been the closest thing I could have to a dad physically here at the MTC! Then he just broke down and started bawling and told me that now, I am a man, and that he has seen my growth and that he was so proud of me. I just lost it when he said that hahaha I couldn't hold it together, every time he talks the spirit enters the room so strongly, and this was just a whole other level, it was amazing. Then we talked about life after mission and he gave me advice on how to pick a major and how to pick a job, and that me and Peterson need to be sure to contact him afterwards as well. Then he said I want to pray with you, just you one more time before you head off to Mexico. He started off the prayer by saying as my preisthood leader he asked for this blessing on me, and it was almost like a mini-patriachal blessing! He told me the things that I need to do to touch the people's hearts like praying with every single person that will let me. I don't know if I have ever felt the spirit as strongly as when he said, "Elder Stout is ready to serve your people and help bring the lost tribes home again. At this time, as his acting Judge in Israel, priesthood leader, and friend, I invoke the blessings that his father and patriarch gave him to be in full effect right now." And then he just paused and it just hit me right then. He said some things that were like word for word out of my patriarchal blessing, and it was just such a cool experience. Between that, my last father's blessing, and my patriarchal blessing, I think that I could be set for my entire life! 

I have so much enjoyed soaking up the powerful spirit in the MTC and feel like I have grown so much as a man, as a priesthood holder, and as a vessel to carry our Lord's gospel to the world, but I am now so ready to go down and change the lives of those in Mexico, I can't wait!

Dad, thanks so much for the leadership advice, I shared that with Elder Peterson and we tried really hard to build a one on one individual connection with each person in our zone. We have all come to think that if Marion G. Romney, Bruce R. McConkie, Neal A. Maxwell, David A. Bednar, Dieter F. Uctdorf, and Jeffery R. Holland all served at the same time then the world would be ready for the second coming. Haha those guys are quoted so much here! We love them! I remember you telling me about 121 before I left, and it is one of the very first things that Doman had us read when we were made zone leaders! I can say that the three moments here where I felt my testimony grow the most, were the first time I recited the 1st vision from memory, giving that blessing, and then my interview with President Doman! I uploaded all the pictures that I have taken thus far to dropbox but I will still send a couple with each email so you can put it on the blog or whatever! Thanks for all the updates on the sporting world! Doman has kept me updated on BYU yes, but I can't believe that about the Hawks!!! Ugh! Let me know any big storylines! I heard the cowboys are actually looking good this year! Wooohoo! Go Utes!!! i am glad yall liked my handwritten letters!!! Elder Jones told me as well that you were all friends on fb now! Do you post like 100% of my letters? or just bits and pieces of them?? I will definitely ask people all the time how I can get better. I know it will be hard again once I get down there, but I think I have a lot more of the base to lean on the savior now than I did before! Thanks so much for the story about your zl's we all laughed here! Haha i will always remember presicion! I love you pops!
Photo courtesy of Elder Jones.
Elder Jones - Elder Stout - Elder Peterson

Mom! Thanks for sending those pictures! Yeah Elder Jones has already taken like 1500 pictures! I am actually just now getting over my cold so I think I am fine! Actually maybe some sudaphed cuz I went through like half my stash! Yeah, I went to the doctor here! Oh, I totally forgot to say it above but I also got my first haircut here, and it's almost as good as Dad's used to be, but not quite!! I wish you were here to help me too! Good luck with your interview! I know that you will kill it!!!:) I am really glad that you do that now! Idk why but I just felt really prompted to share that with you!! That's really cool that you are connecting with the other parents! There are 10 people in my travel group heading down to Mexico City! 7 of them were in the main Mexico City South district, then Elder Jones and I and then a guy who was fluent and so he was in the advanced class! Thanks for trying with the orthodics! My shoes insoles are just starting to get beat up a little bit and I feel like they would fit just a little bit better with something else in there! Also, thanks for all the help with packing!!! I made a list of all the things that were in each suit case so hopefully that helps!!! Okay so for calling what Elder Cottle got was his parents got him like a prepaid cell phone for like $15 that has minutes on it that he can just throw away afterwards, because otherwise I ahve to buy a calling card! And I will probably only be able to call from Salt Lake or Atlanta cuz I can't call across the border!! Thanks for all the pictures!:) 

Mom & Dad- Moroni 8:2-3
Sam- D&C 131:6 (also my thought to the seminary class this week) Study your butts off, the Lord knows everything and can help with everything, the spirit can teach everything not just religious stuff, so learn it all as much as you can! But especially learn about the gospel as much as you can so the spirit can direct you! (Dad also share D&C 84:85 with them)
Jake- Ether 12:13-15 Look how much faith can do!!
Max- 4 Nephi 1:15 just remember how happy God can make you!!

Love you all! I might not be able to write until a week after I get there!!! I love you so much, and miss you!!!

Elder Stout

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One week until Mexico!

Howdy yall!
I know this has been a tough week for you all, I have been praying about all of you all the time, and I hope that you have seen the hand of God in all of your lives over the last week because I know that he is there to help you all, I love you all so much, and wish that I could be there for all of you right now!

I am guessing this is one of his instructors.
Okay, so the biggest thing that happened this week is that I got released as District Leader, and was then immediately called as Zone Leader! I am serving with Elder Peterson and it has been awesome for the two of us. We have both grown so much as leaders and I love serving in this calling so much more because it is a lot more spiritual and a lot less stressful! We have had to go in and talk to every district about obedience, not because any of them have been bad, but just because we just wanted to stress WIN, I think you may have seen that on my door, but it stands for What's Important Now, and what's important now for us is serving the Lord with all of our heart might mind, and strength! So we went in and we had everyone take off their name tags and put a piece of masking tape on the back, where they wrote one sentence about why they are on their mission so that whenever times get hard they can always look back and remember why they are here. Then we had them look at the 2 names on the front of their plaque. Jesus Christ and the name of their family. That's what we represent at all times and we have to go about our work in such a way that we are always making them proud! We read some scriptures and stuff so, so I think that it all went over pretty well! Then last night we got to welcome the new district in our zone! We kind of explained to them all of the different rules like always having to be with your companion and stuff! We acted out two skits, one showing them what happens if you are out of your room past quiet time, where Elder Peterson whacked me with his shoe horn, haha then another one where Hermanas Rhondeau, Wells, and Wilson (the Sister Training Leaders) and us demonstrated the rules having to do with page 33 (the flirtacion page) and how there are a bunch of different rules surrounding guy/girl relations! It was a lot of fun. There is a new Elder named Elder Burns from Toronto who looks exactly like Gus from Psych!! Really cool, plus right after the meeting he came up to me and had my whole testimony in Spanish written down and was asking me what everything meant in English so that he can learn, he is an awesome guy! Also, I had the opportunity to give my first priesthood blessing this week. Right after we had been called as ZL's one of the DL's for a younger district told us he had been struggling with his district and asked me to give him a blessing! It was an incredible experience! I felt the spirit take control of me, at the very beginning my voice was stuttering because I was so nervous then suddenly boom I wasn't! The best way to describe it is at the same time it felt like I was meticously thinking about every single word, but at the same time, they were just coming to me! I like caught glimpses of this guy on his mission, and was able to tell him that the Lord is preparing people for him in Mexico and it was so soo so powerful!

Goofing around.
We had two awesome devotionals this week. On sunday, the guy in charge of the videos came and talked to us. I want to ask everyone who sees this to go watch the uplifting message, Because Of Him that was released last Christmas, and be watching for a special new Christ video this Christmas. I can't give away any details but please check on December 7th! Also, the other speaker was phenomenal! We have had a member of the quorum of the 12 come to speak and this was the guy I took by far the most notes on! His name was Larry R. Lawerence and he was a member of the 70. He talked about the 4 ways that Satan gets us and our investigators. Direct Temptation, Deception, Contention, and Doubt. It was so cool! Our branch president knows him so I will try to get everyone a copy of his talk! It was just so powerful and very different because it wasn't this is how to have a good mission like everyone thus far has been, it was very enlightening!

As for our investigators, Alberto has set a baptismal date! Marcelo is having trouble obeying the Word of Wisdom and got kicked out of his house when he got drunk, so we had to let him know that Jesus and God are there for us even when we don't 100% meet up with their expectations and what they want. And Alan, can't learn fast enough, he just devours everything that we tell him, so we come in prepared for a 30 minute lesson and within 5 minutes he has just absorbed everything we have said so we just talk with him and he is so nice!

I sent a letter home at the end of last week that answered most of the questions you asked me Dad, but I will reanswer them here too!
Check my call letter for the address.
There is very little chance my visa didn't clear since I went to the consulate so that is a very good sign! I should get my travel plans tomorrow, so I will send a letter asap then to let you know when I am leaving and everything!
Everything you said I need, plus my CTR ring, my orthodics and my oil I think are the three other things I can think of! Oh and another pair of black slacks, athletic socks and then either my grey khaki or my tan khaki (the ones that are wearing out) shorts! Um read through all of the letters to make sure that I didn't forget anything, I think my first letter, first email, and the letter you haven't gotten yet should have everything! And I think my USB thing has been working fine, so idk what you mean by that!
Thanks for trying to upgrade me! That'd be awesome! Elder Peterson wants to know if you can pull some strings for him too haha.
I might need a sweatshirt for Mexico, I don't know, I've needed one in Utah but I am not sure about in Mexico, and also maybe a pair of cheap vans or converse type shoes so I have something else besides my brooks for P day. Oh and maybe one more pair of dress shoes! Or at least have them for when i ned them! Also, I can't think of anything else right now that I'd need!
I am going to be sending home at least one suit and a bunch of books! I may have more, but I am not sure yet!
I am not sure exactly how much money I have right now, I will include it in the letter that I will send with my travel plans, sorry!
You guys know what I like, one thing that I really do want though is Gatorade! THey only have powerade here!
I have no ideas how to send packages to Mexico, talk to like the Corbetts maybe? There's that DHL thing Sister Wiley has!
I have heard rumors that Dear Elders work internationally sometimes too depending on the mission, so look that up! I am really sorry, I don't know a lot of what's going on!

Go Cougs!
I guess he hasn't heard how bad the season is going....
Thanks for all of the updates! I lvoed the pictures on the plane! I am really glad that the whole celebration went well yesterday! I really wish that I could have been there for it!! But, I am glad that everyone did such a good job putting it together! I lvoe you all! Thanks for all of your emails this week! Thanks for keeping me updated on everything that is happening! Have fun tomorrow at Park City! I am sure you are loving Millie being so close to you mom! haha Thanks for all of the updates about what's going on at home! How is the team doing in general for xc?? Any DECA stuff yet? Tell Mackenzie congratulations for me! I really wanted to see that movie, I hope it was great! I am glad they got to sleep over!:) I am glad homecoming was such a blast as well! Cyclocross sounds fun dad! Maybe youll be winning championships when i get back!! Yeah, I still haven't talked to Elder Olsen really, but we will probably be on the same plane together! Thanks for all the advice that you all offer all the time! I love you all so much and miss you as well!!!

Dad- Alma 37:17 I don't know why but your comments about the temple made me think of this!
Mom- John 16:33 lean on our brother Jesus Christ
Sam- D&C 84:85 just like I said in my email, just learn as much as you can right now!
Jake- Mark 5:36 I love that scripture, never be afraid!
Max- Moroni 7:15 now that you are baptized this applies to you too!!!

I love and miss you all so much! Talk soon,
Con mucho amor,

Elder Stout

Friday, October 10, 2014

MTC week 3 - Conference and Priesthood Choir

Alex and his MTC District
Hey everyone!
I love and miss you all so much! But this week went by so incredibly scarily fast! I cannot believe it is already p day again....Like boom I was just emailing you guys like an hour ago!!!!! It is so very weird to have this experience! I really do know what you mean that it will fly by, and I have been talking to Andrew Millett and Corbett and they have said that 6 months in the mission supposedly feels shorter than 6 weeks in the MTC so that is really really scary!!

Okay so lets see what has happened in the last week! The big thing was general conference! Oh my gosh, I don't know if it is always this good but I was enthralled by every single talk, it was amazing!! I took like 30 pages of notes in my spiritual journal that dad gave me! Haha and I cannot tell you how incredible it was to be at the conference center! The second that President Monson and the apostles walked into the room there was a noticable difference, it is something that I cannot really describe but if I ever doubted that those men had the power to receive direction from Heaven for the world, then I do not now. You could just feel the spiritual strength of all of them! I loved Craig C. Christensian, Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Quintin L. Cook! Such powerful messages I loved the comments on testimony and taking personal accountability for everything in our lives because this church and the gospel of Jesus Christ are about having our own personal relationship with God!! Which leads me to something that I have really enjoyed studying this week, I have spent a lot of time in 3 Nephi when the savior visits the Nephites because it is the most true account that we have of the words the savior actually said! So, this week I read 3 Nephi 12:7, read it as a family. I thought of it in a way that I never have before! I thought of it as there are really three separate parts rather than just the same things again. We need to first ask our Lord whatever we need, then we need to go seek his words to find our answer and then finally we need to go back and knock at his door and ponder the words and that is when the spirit will truly testify to us and let us know what the answer to our question is! D. Todd Cristofferson's talk from Saturday Morning was so good, so was Cheryl A. Epslin's! But I think my favorite was Henry B. Eyering's from Sunday morning about how repentance and revelation are continuous and that glimpses won't be enough for us! I will explain more about that in the letter I will send tonight as well!! I loved Charles A. Goday's talk as well, very different idea that was soooo cool! Then everyone here at the MTC loved David A. Bednar's on Sunday afternoon. Richard G. Scott also delivered a very powerful messgae about family life! Please go back through and watch these talks again together since I don't have enough time too! Also, I am trying to watch Saturday afternoon and rewatch Priesthood since I couldn't take notes during that! General Conference is so amazing! I just want to restress especially to Jake and Max that this is the scriptures being written today, this is the same as the stuff that Nephi, or Alma, or Paul wrote!
Home and Mexico City.  Not that far apart, mom!

Our investigators are going pretty incredibly! We are teaching three people right now! And we are pretty sure that theres a chance we could be teaching a non-member! So first we have Marcelo, who is illiterate and is addicted to a bunch of different drugs, we helped him find hope through Christ and find reasons to stop doing drugs and to follow Christ's example. But then when he was applying for a job he failed a drug test that tests the last 6 months so he got really upset and used drugs again. So we went in and taught a powerful lesson about how God loves him and doesn't want him ruining his life like that, and how we can see the potential that his life has and we want to help him get there and he took that really well! Then there is Alberto who used to be a Catholic until the pastor couldn't answer some of his questions, so we had him read James 1:5 and pray about Joseph Smith and he loves that story and completely believes that God would talk to us individually and the first night we gave him the BOM he read all the way to Alma but he doesn't realize why he needs to be baptized again so we read him D&C 22 about priesthood authority and 132:7 and told him that what sets us apart is that we have the same power that Jesus taught about and that really hit him, he was like wow I never thought of that. We had him read 3 Nephi 11-19 about baptism he said that he does believe we are the only ones that have the power of God and Jesus and that he has no reason to not be baptized! Then the last one is the real one! His name is Alan and he goes to BYU and he just wanted to know why all of his classmates and his member brother are so happy, he told us that he thinks the bible isn't translated correctly and that he wants to learn more about our Book of Mormon because he was intrigued by Joseph Smith's quote that it is the most true book in the world. We just got to know him last time, but we are teaching him again tomorrow night! 
MTC Comps and Bros for life!

We had a meeting with Elder...yesterday after he didn't talk at all with Marcelo and just told him how much we loved him and the reason that we ride him is because we want him to be great, we want him to be incredible! He really was hit by that, and then I told the district we are over halfway in, we have gotta be all in because this is the only time in our mission we will be able to focus on improving every second of everyday, and they are going to be the best district in the world because I can see how great everyone of them is going to be, they are like the most incredible group of people I have ever met! I love them! Then Elder ... bore his testimony and started sobbing and it was so touching, I think we are moving in the right direction!

Scriptures this week!!:)
Dad- John 3:27 especially in your job, take my 3 steps, run everything by the Lord
Mom-Alma 21:16-17 Just remember I am going to be fine!:) The Lord will bless me for my service! Extra 2Nephi 2:11 Appreciate the hard times, just like the good, I know times are tough right now but just love life!
Sam- 3 Nephi 20:8-9 Think a little more about the sacred responsibility you have to bless the sacrament!
Jake- Alma 5:45-47 Just like I told you about me praying, you are old enough to really pray and ask God for help, do what Alma did and start building your testimony little buddy!
Max-2 Timothy 3:15-17 Start learning about God now little man! He is the most important thing that we can learn about!!

Aleder Hernadez' sketch of the MTC District
(look, Elder Stout is not the shortest)
I also had an idea! Maybe you guys could buy a quad or something, idk how much they cost, but then get 6 markers and mark the scriptures I send for each person in a color and then scriptures I say I like or for the whole family in another color! Idk just an idea! I will write a letter soon with a little more info! I love and miss you all so much!!!!:)

Con Amor,

Elder Stout

Friday, October 3, 2014

Week 2 - Elder Stout is totally into the MTC routine now

Hey everyone!

This week went great! Not too much to report because we have pretty much fallen into the same schedule everyday!

6:15 wake up and shower
7 breakfast
7:30 Choir
9:30 study time
11:30 lunch
12:30 Spanish Instruction
3:30 Gym Time
5 Dinner
6 Study Time/Spanish/Investigators
9 Zone Meeting
9:30 get ready for bed
10:30 sleep

Haha it is literally the exact same thing every single day at this point! But it is good that it is so structured because it is really helping me get used to knowing what I should be doing at all times and know how and when to do what! Let's see what interesting has happened this week!! Well we are teaching two new investigators, a man named Marcelo and a man named Alberto! Actually yesterday we had an incredible experience with both of them! Alberto was telling us how he used to be religious but he had some questions that couldn't be answered by the pastor at his old church so we asked him to read Santiago 1:5 (James 1:5) and he started crying and saying he didn't think that he could ask God for himself and that led us into telling him about a young man just like him who had his life changed when he acted upon the words of those scriptures! Furthermore, Marcelo is struggling with addictions to Cocaine and Heroin and when we went in he started telling us about how the drugs made him hear the voices of the devil in his head and how he was so scared, and Elder Jones brought up priesthood blessings and our companionship was able to participate in a Spanish Priesthood blessing for the first time and he told us afterwards that he felt something leave his body which is really really cool!

I am sorry I don't have as much to share this week but it is just a lot of learning spanish! I finally understand how to use por vs para which are the two ways of saying for in Spanish haha and my speaking is getting a lot better, I don't have to plan out what I am going to say before I go into lessons anymore it just kind of comes out, i can like actually have conversations now!!! Okay I sent Jake Sam and Max individual emails but I will respond to Mom and Dad's right now! The food is starting to get old, I miss our food so much from home! Bleh I want food that wasn't prepared in mass!! 

Sounds like you guys have had an incredible week there and GO HAWKS! Dad, yes all of those pictures come through hotmail but idk if I wiould be able to download them to the card, but I have loved getting all the pictures from yall! 

I see Sam has stolen my seat at the table, hmmm idk how I feel about that! But congrats on homecoming! I really want to hear from Pulini, but I haven't yet!! and thanks so much for doing that thing for Brenna mom! I think these pictures are working so hopefully you should be getting 7, I will send the rest next week when i have more time, let me know what you think of the pictures or if you don't know who they all are, or if there is an easier way to send home pictures because this email is already filled up of space! Haha I am trying to stand by Elder Cohill the DL of the older district because he will probably be on camera a lot haha! 

How was the playdates all this week??? I will try to think of stuff but I think you know me!!! haha i don't need anything more than what I said in the email last week! But thanks for thinking of me!!!  I am going to respond to your Dear Elders through letter because I am running out of time! But, i love you all!! Thanks for your email Dad, I didn't have the opportunity to go to the Temple today because of choir practice but I am planning on going and doing initatories and sealing next week which will be awesome! 

Nothing to really report about the District we have had a hard time focusing recently because it is very difficult for a bunch of teenagers to focus for 10 hours a day but we came up with the saying "Lord's Time, Lord's Servants" to refocus each other! So that has been helpful. Spanish is like a 7 out of 10 but the gift of tongues is definitely real because in lessons I can speak quite a bit better! 

Okay I will include the scriptures in the letter that I send as well because I am officially out of time, I am so sorry I want to tell you all so much more but I love and miss you guys so sososososo much!!!!!! Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers!

Elder Stout

Photo 1:  Elder Stout and a member of his district with the donuts that Ann sent to him his first week

Photo 2:  Elder Stout's MTC District

Elder Stout and his companions Elder Peterson (blond on the left) and Elder Jones (on the right) both are very, very tall guys!