Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jan 26 - Miracles

Hey all!!

Well obviously this week was not quite as good as last week but it was still a very good week here in Churubsco. We have truly been learning to count our blessings and see the Lords hand working miracles for us everyday. There was a moment in my mission when I questioned the whole miracle thing, I was like yeah that’s all cool and everything but those are things from like Moses´s days not like right now (not to mention that Moroni made me repent as I have read the last few chapters of the book of Mormon) but, this week we are realizing that sometimes things that are very small are actually miracles. Just happening to be in the right place at the right time, in the biggest city in the world that has over 20 million (more or less) people is such a gigantic miracle. The fact that the Holy Ghost will testify to people so strongly that what two twenty-year-old white guys say is true so strongly that they will change their ENTIRE life, is just another miracle. God is a god of miracles and I invite every one of you to look for these miracles every day.

This week I had some fun opportunities to be with the missionaries in our zone! First of all, last week we did intercambios with the Elders from Estrella, the ward right next to ours. Elder Penrod went with the district leader, Elder Merida, and I got to spend the day with his companion Elder Begley. Elder Begley is awesome!!! He’s got like 11 months here in Mexico, and is just a super down to earth guy from Ohio. I had such a fun time with him, and we had the ability to find new investigators together even though we had no one in the plans! Two miracles really fast that we saw together. First, we were looking for a house that was number 14, and here in Mexico the houses never go in order so we were looking forever without any luck whatsoever, so we saw house number77 and we thought hey let’s just knock here and see if maybe it was 7+7, but more of just planning on asking for their help. Well, the guy that answered the door was a man that the missionaries had contacted over a year ago and they had never gone by to his house even though he told them he wanted them to come by. So, we got to be those missionaries.

Then, later on in the day I saw a guy that I just wanted to contact, like really bad, but we were talking with an hermana to put an appointment for another day and when we turned around he was gone, so we went to the guy in the store right there and asked him if he knew who I had seen. He told us yes, and gave us his address, so we went and stopped by, and he told us that his coworker had given him a Book of Mormon a couple of years back, and that he needs God in his life, and was so happy to see us! How cool!

Then we also had intercambios with the APs this week. I got to go with Elder Velez while my comp went with Elder Teerlink. Elder Velez has got to be one of the funniest guys in the mission. We had a great time together. Then last night I went to the district meeting of Elder Gomez, the DL from the Espartaco district, he taught us a great meeting about the power of prayer to find the Lords elect, and I just love that I don’t have to prepare a district meeting every week anymore! Haha!

So to give a little bit more of the rundown on our zone as a whole. We are the center zone of the entire mission, and the biggest one of the whole mission with 29 missionaries. We have 4 districts, Estrella, Coyoacan, Pedregal and Espartaco. We also have more hermana missionaries than any other zone in the mission. Our zone has a little bit of everything, on our side, the east side, we are in Iztapalapa and so its sketchy, but on the other side it’s like the nicest part of our mission where President Mecham lives, so its super cool being able to see a little bit of everything.

Just to give a quick update on the investigators that we are teaching right now.

Adan and America (and their three girls Alexa, Seuy, and Alison) - they are that awesome family that we found a couple of weeks ago but they are having a hard time progressing because we just found out this last week (another miracle to be shared another day) that Adan has been hiding an alcohol problem, so we are helping him fight through that.

Alejandro Pedroza and Mirna (and their kids Fernando, Alex, Fany, and Alejandra) are an awesome family that totally found what they were looking for in the message of the Restoration, but they have a store, and still haven’t been able to build up their faith enough to not work on Sundays:(

Valeria-So the rest of her family of 4 got baptized the week before I got here, but she still isn’t ready to commit to leave behind some things that she thinks will change if she gets baptized, but she is getting closer every day.

Esperanza-We just barely found her, and she has gone through so many hard things in her life, and loves the doctrine of being made clean by the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Rebels (Mauricio, Alan, Aldo, Alan, Julio Cesar and Javier) - They are like the gang of our area, they are all like 20 years old and all cousins, and known for causing well a lot of problems in the community. But, they accepted to start listening to us, and they came with us last week to do a tour of the chapel and felt the spirit super strong. They are sometimes hard to teach because they sometimes have like a big tough guy attitude, but the fact that they are even listening to us is a miracle!

We have some other investigators, but these are those that are making the most progress right now.

Well, that’s all this week!

Elder Stout

Friday, January 22, 2016

Jan 19 - A week with a 70!

Hey everyone!

So this was one of the most incredible weeks of my entire mission! It was highlighted by the visit to our mission by Elder Paul B Pieper of the first quorum of the 70. He is in the presidency of Mexico, so that was such a cool opportunity to be able to meet him. Pretty much all of my email is just going to be about the amazing opportunities we had last week for that.

So our big training with him was on Thursday we had four of the seven zones in our mission all come together to hear him that day. To start off Elder Penrod and I had to get up in front of everyone and talk about the vision that we have for our zone and what things we have seen that are going good, or not so good. It was super stressful, I honestly never thought in my entire life that I would talk in front of or report to a 70 but there it was. But afterwards he told us how professional we were and that he really liked our report so that was awesome. Elder Pieper was such a powerful speaker, he talked about how we need to do the Lord work in His way. He showed us a bunch of examples of how the Lord taught in the Bible and challenged us to become teachers like that! He shared a bunch of really cool experiences and pretty much told us is that a problem all over the world, is that the missionaries are converting the people, that we have more desire that they accept the gospel than sometimes they do, and that is not the Lords way. So he focused on how we can change our teaching style so that the people convert themselves, or better said so that it’s the Holy Ghost touching their heart that will change them, not the words of a 20-year old missionary. He focused a lot on how much importance we should place on DC 20 37 as missionaries but also how we should let the investigators know what the Lord expects of them, and let them be more in charge of completing those steps than us putting the timeframe. Something really profound that he said is that our testimony in the church doesn’t mean much, what is really important is our conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

After the training, President Mecham got up and explained that Elder Pieper was going to interview 10 missionaries that President had selected to represent our mission. He started reading off the list, and I couldn’t believe it, but I was one of the names that he read. I was the last one to pass through, and it was such an incredible experience. He has such a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ, and it was just radiating from him. He shared with me experiences about his life, and really challenged me not just to be a missionary like Jesus Christ but a leader like him, to apply everything that I learned not just to investigators but to all those that I serve. Wow, what an incredibly awesome experience!

Then, on Saturday we had a super cool leadership council with Elder Peiper. All of the Zone Leaders and the Assistants were there with him and President, and we made a plan for how to bring to pass all of the things that he taught us in the mission. He talked to us about the importance of revelation as a leader and to truly be involved with every missionary that we are serving. He told us that he has NEVER taught to another mission what he taught to us and that it was not what he had planned to teach, but that after prayer and fasting, he knows that the Lord is preparing special things for this mission. He commented on the strength and unity of the leadership in this mission and called it an example mission ´´not only for Mexico but for the world´´ the spirit was so strong in that meeting and I am so happy for the opportunity that I had to be a part of it! We also got to take a picture with him, so Hermana Mecham will probably be putting it up on Facebook this week.

Also, I had the awesome opportunity to spend a bunch of time with President this week. On Thursday night after the conference, he came out to work with Elder Penrod and me and we had some awesome lessons with him, every time he opens his mouth, the spirit testifies so strongly of his words. After that, we had what Elder Penrod and I are calling the van training, because before dropping us off, he just shared some very spiritual thoughts with us about what we are going to do as a mission. All about the importance of becoming united through love with the members, so Elder Penrod and I are working super hard on that. We were both practically crying the Spirit was so strong telling us that we need to bring this work forward in our zone.
Then, yesterday I had my quarterly interview with President, and a lot like Dad told me in his email, he asked me how it was to go from being in the refiner’s fire in Topilejo to being in paradise in Churubusco, and we just laughed about how big of a change it has been. It was an awesome interview where he told me that it wasn’t just him that trusts me enough to put me here, but that it truly came from the Lord, he gave me some councils on how I can be better, such as truly coming to know and be like our Lord Jesus Christ. We were supposed to have our interview for 15 mins and we took a little over 30 haha but it was so worth it.

I just had such a spiritual high this week. I am so thankful to God for the opportunities that He has given me.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Stout

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jan 12 - Bienvenido a Churubusco! (And Tuesday PDays)

Hey all!!

Well I have had an absolutely crazy week! We are just so busy all the time here with an awesome ward and all of the assignments that we have! First of all, I am going to be having a little less time to write:( because we are always going to be doing stuff for President and other missionaries and things like that, but I will do all I can to still respond to as many people as possible!

So first of all....I have never been happier in my entire mission!!! My companion is awesome! I love him! His name is Bryce Penrod, he’s from Pleasant Grove Utah, but is a recent convert to the church. He is 25 years old and has 20 months in the mission. He got baptized when he was 22! He is an incredible missionary, it is so nice for me to be a junior comp for the first time in such a long time because he is such an awesome missionary and I have already learned so much from him! We get along like super well!

Our ward as well is incredible! I love it! We have so many members who are willing to help us, and I have just felt so much love for every person that I have met here so far! I absolutely am in love with everything that we are doing here, I love my assignment I feel like I am helping so many missionaries, what a miracle is has been that every time I have met or been talking with one of the missionaries from my zone that I just feel this love for them and a desire to help them, I feel like I have started off so well building my relationship with every one of them! I am just so happy here, in the best area, best ward, best zone and with the best comp! It has been an incredible week. I feel so incredibly blessed by the Lord for all that he has given me.

We had a bunch of success finding people last week. First of all, a new returned missionary that got home the day I got here, took us around our area and just like introduced us to all of this friends which was super cool. One of them was a young man of like 20 years named Mauricio who I think is one of the Lords elect because since the first lesson he has completed every reading assignment we have given him because he is just looking to come unto the Lord. He told us that ever since he was a kid and has seen us on the street he has just had a super strong desire to take to us and now he finally has the chance. We also found a super cool family, the Olivares family. We just decided to contact the hermana in the street one day and then we went to talk with her and her family a couple days later. She, her husband, and their three daughters were just super receptive to the message of the gospel and we are hoping so much to help them again this week.

So to describe my area really fast before I have to go. Half of our ward is in a super rich area close to where President Mecham lives, and the other half is in delgation Iztapalapa, the ghetto of the city, and you guessed right, me and my comp work in the uglier half and the other missionaries from our ward work on the other side. But, I feel completely safe here, so many blessings this week from God!

Until next week,
Elder Stout

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jan 4 - Happy New Year

Hey all! So first of all, a note to all that starting next week my pday will be changing to Tuesdays for a change in assignment! Only the last week of every change will I have pdays on Mondays, that’s probably hard to remember...Haha but I will remind you guys for the week that I go back to Mondays!

Wow, so I can’t believe that I am heading out of Topilejo. All in all, it has been an incredibly hard area. I have learned how much difference it can truly make to have leaders who know what they are doing here because many times we have had to save the branch from some utter apostasy haha. But, I am going to miss more than anything the kindness of the people. Just everyone here is nice. Whether they be members or people who have never even heard of the church, it’s just incredible that you can pretty much talk with anyone!

The best thing to happen to me here in this area was to really see a huge improvement in the obedience of my district. We had a lot of difficulties in the beginning of my time here to truly try to be 100% obedient but after I searched through prayer and the scriptures I was able to find a way to motivate the missionaries to be who God wants them to be. I felt so good inside, a true manifestation of the Spirit to be able to help the work here in that way!

I am not going to lie, I am pretty worried about how it is all going to go because the two missionaries that have me worried, Elder B. and Elder B. are the two that are going to stay here because they are going to close one area and those two are going to work together, but I know the Lord knows what he is doing.

Finally, the biggest miracle that I was able to have here in the branch of Topilejo was the hermana Socorro that we found. From day one it was just a miracle, we just happened to run into here on the street and she was all like hey what took you guys so long to get here, so that was pretty cool. Then she was just so ready to accept the gospel and was truly one of the Lords elect that we were looking for. Even though her baptism went a little haywire as I have told y’all, but afterwards she just hit the ground running again and has been a super strong member, even helped us to find Salome her friend who should be the next person baptized here in Topilejo. Sad note on her that her health has declined a lot lately so please keep her in your prayers, I think that I will truly miss those two the most.
I have learned SO much here in Topilejo that I look forward to applying in my next area the ward Churubusco, for those who know Elder Duncan Hamilton, I was told last night by a family that it sounds like I am following him because when he left from here he went to that ward as well, so that’s pretty cool! My new comp is named Elder Penrod but I won’t meet him until tomorrow in the changes!

Wow, so I will have a lot to update next TUESDAY! I hope that you all have a great week, keep me in your prayers that I can do the best possible in my new area where I am going!

Elder Stout

Dec 28 - Feliz Año Nuevo!

Hey so this week is going to be a really short email because about an hour ago I just finished talking with my fam, so I feel like there’s not much else to say!

Here’s 4 pictures for you this week.

#1 Is my mission family, its my dad Elder Hansen, his other son Elder Gomez, one of my sons Elder Hilario and his two sons Elder Gallejos and Elder Gomez!

#2 is us playing Jenga for Christmas with the family while we waited for the food to cook!

#3 these are Jorge and Gerson, two awesome 
young man (and future stellar missionaries) from the family that invited us to spend Christmas with them.

#4 I got to play Santa for all of the Elders in my district which was super fun! 

Well I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Love and miss you all a ton!

Su elder favorito,

Elder Stout

Dec 21 - Feliz Navidad

Hey all, first of all a very Feliz Navidad this week to all! I love and miss you, and hope that you all enjoy this special holiday. I want to invite everyone to ponder a little more on the Christ part of Christmas this year and to do your best to have the spirit of Christmas which is truly just the spirit of Christ.

This week is all kind of a blur, I am really sorry I am super tired right now, and all I can think about is our mission Christmas party that we had today! It was quite the adventure! We started of with skits as zones. Ours did a funny one it was the things we were going to ask Santa for. Our part of the skit was the best (in my opinion) in our zone there are two branches and the branches have the infamy of being the hardest and having a ton of problems, so we sang a parody of Demons by Imagine Dragons to Santa about all the problems in the two branches to try and get changes! haha it was funny! other people did about asking Santa for more food or other things, but our skit turned out really well. Then we ate, and while we ate, we watched Frozen, that was a hoot, because I haven’t seen a really movie since last September! Then we played basketball all afternoon, I am so rusty, but it was so fun to get out there again! Afterwards we had a white elephant gift exchange and I ended up with a tie that has the Virgin Mary on it, so that was interesting, and then some elders and hermanas presented their talents, which was super cool. They did some awesome like country versions of hymns and stuff like that. Then, President-who we didn’t know sings- got up and sang an incredible version of O Holy Night, the spirit was so strong!

Apart from that, we had some success finding new investigators. We found an hermana in a part member family where her mom is less active that wants to get baptized named Gabriela. We also found a couple that owns a store named Victor and Leticia who are both just awesome, and are already reading from the Book of Mormon!

We had our branch Christmas party last week as well and the elders we all sang a song together in English that was cool!
Well as I said I am wishing you all the best in this Christmas season, have a great week and a Merry Christmas!

Elder Stout