Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 25 - Elder Penrod's Last Week

Hey all!

Well it was a pretty action packed week just getting Elder Penrod all ready to go! It is going to be really hard to say goodbye to him, it’s not just changes like normal, but well he’s going on now to start his real life now. We have grown so close in these last 4 months together, and I know that he is going to do great things getting back to the States, but it’s going to be a hard transition losing the big brother that I never had. But, with that said, I am officially staying in Churubusco, and I have no idea who my next companion will be, so that will have to wait until next week!

So this whole week was just a lot of Elder Penrod saying goodbye to people so not a ton to report... But the pictures are: Me with Alexa, Zoe and Alison! They gave us dinner on Elder Penrod’s last Saturday, it was super awesome to be with that family, it was so sad for us that Alexa and Zoe didn’t get baptized while he was still here, but we both know that someday they will!

The next one is us with Elder Best and Elder Bojorquez! We did intercambios with them on Saturday and it was a lot of fun, I got to work with Elder Best, and he truly is one of the best elders that I have ever met, I have learned so much from him and was really sad to hear that he will be having changes and leaving his area. Actually on that note, I am kind of excited but also kind of nervous for the changes in our zone because of the 24 missionaries in our zone 13 have changes, so our zone will be almost completely different next change, the Assistants told us that they have never seen changes like this in a zone and that it was all revelation so here’s to big things to come in Churubusco!

The next picture is a picture of the Assistants, us, the Sister Training Leaders and an awesome family from our ward named the Barroso family, and also Azul! 

The next one is my fave dog in the world Cookie, and the young men’s president Hermano Carillo, who helps us A TON! He’s awesome!

The next one was the final dinner with a convert family of Elder Penrod, the Ortiz Muñoz family, they made us hot dogs and hamburgers for his last Mexican meal haha. And finally, the last Elder Pedrock-Elder Star (the names we’ve been given in this ward) picture from the cerro de la estrella!

Well, we’ve got to go soon to go get everything packed up and ready, but I will be back to Tuesday next week!! Have a great week all!!

Elder Stout

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 19 - Shortest email

Hey all!!

Well right now its 545 and our pday ends at 6 o clock so this will probably be the shortest email ever and well like no personal emails today! I am really sorry! Also next weeks email will probably be super short too because Monday is our pday and its also the day of changes and we will be running around like chickens with their heads cut off because its Elder Penrod´s last day here!

So, the big events from the last week happened on Saturday. First of all we had an awesome mission conference with L Whitney Clayton of the presidency of the 70! He really helped us just see how important the small things are, he would point out small little things that PMG says that we are supposed to be doing, for example, we are supposed to invite the head of the household to offer a kneeling prayer at the end of every first lesson, he asked us if we were doing it, and we said like well sometimes... and he said ´´well it seems to me that there are sinners among you. Repent.´´ Also, a lot about teaching more simple and not assuming anything about those we teach. Really simple his whole presentation, just a lot of things like that, and how we truly just need to have more faith that things are going to work out, it was a really cool conference!

Second, we had another baptism on Saturday afternoon! It was an hermana named Jaqueline, and it was super cool because her husband was able to baptize her and confirm her. Her husband is 22 and she is 19. They have two adorable little kids, one named Angel and the other Magi! They are an awesome family that we had the opportunity of reactivating and then the hermana had some very spiritual experiences to make the decision to be baptized!

Sorry for the short email, I will include anything else exciting that I forgot in the email next week, but have a great week!!

Elder Stout

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 12 - Blue Week


So first of all the title doesn´t mean that I had a bad week or anything, it’s just that we baptized a little girl whose name is Azul! So I thought it was kind of funny!!:)

Azul is just yet another amazing story of how the Lord is blessing us here in Churubusco. About two months ago we were walking down the street, and we heard someone just yell Elders!! And here in Mexico City, no one, like usually not even members call us Elders, they all call us the brethren! So we turned around really fast and saw Azul and her sister Jocelyn and her mom Mari walking there. We went up and started talking to them and we found out that Mari and her family have all been members of their whole life, but right before Azul turned 8 they went through some really tough things and they stopped going to church. Azul had been asking her mom for about 2 years now, Mom, when can I get baptized??

Well, the Lord sent me and Elder Penrod to answer her question! In a matter of two months, Azul and her entire family have come back to church!! The daughters are some of the strongest members of the primary and the young women’s organizations in the ward! Azul is the most intelligent little girl ever!! I have never seen someone so excited for their baptism like her! She asked Elder Penrod to baptize her (what a cool opportunity, because its probably the last time he will be all in white as a missionary! :)) And then she asked me to give her the gift of the Holy Ghost! One of the pictures attached in a big letter that she gave me to tell me thanks for accepting to give it to her. My heart swelled up with an immeasurable joy as that little girl thanked me!!!:)
The baptism went super smoothly, and was a nice spiritual service. Her dad who isn’t a member was there and told us afterwards that he could barely talk for the knot he felt. The primary put together an awesome little choir that sang I like to look for rainbows, and Azul was just beaming that they would sing just for her. Her sisters gave some awesome talks as well!!!

This Sunday was just another incredible experience here in Churubsco. First of all, Elder Penrod and I got to the goal that we had set for Sacrament meeting attendance! My first week here, we were a whole 85 people in sacrament meeting and two days ago we finally got up to 140 which is the goal! But, even better than that it was my favorite Sunday, fast and testimony week! The best part was right after I gave Azul the Holy Ghost, she was the very first person from the whole congregation to bear her testimony and she just got up there and started thanking the whole ward, and telling everyone how happy and loved she felt.

President Mecham was in our ward this week, and it was amazing to see the expression on his face as this little girl expressed her joyful experience of being taught and baptized. Then Alexa from the Olivares Puebla family (who still hasn´t been baptized, but we are making slow progress) got up and shared a testimony about prayer. Then Elder Penrod and I both got up and shared our testimonies and it was such a spiritual experience for the both of us...Just all in all the meeting was great!!! We had two investigators named Dulce and Ivonne who were there for the first time with us, and they left feeling such a strong spirit! I love when that happens!

The last big news from last week was how Elder Penrod and I rose to be even better in our leadership position. We held a big ´´pump up´´ zone training last week, where we pretty much tried to help people realize what we have realized, this is God’s work, these are His children, He is pulling for us, the ones that make it hard are us! We just need to let it go, and just work as He wants and not be our own worst enemies and get in the way. We then invited the Spirit to help us set goal of people to find and baptize these next two months. And well, it must have worked because the goal for April is double what we had in March, and then the May goal is double that goal! Wahoo!

Then yesterday, Elder Penrod and I decided to truly help the missionaries in an even bigger way than ever before. We have a ward here where there are four hermanas and well we know very little about how the work is there because we can’t do exchanges with hermanas. But, they have been having difficulty finding new investigators, so we went and spent almost 5 hours of our day over in their area just contacting everyone that we met, and we had so much success! We were able to give the hermanas a bunch of references! Things are looking up here in the Churubusco zone!

Elder Stout

Monday, April 11, 2016

Apr 3 - General Conference, Christmas for Missionaries

Hey all!

So last week was definitely a more down week than the last two have been! I will start from the cool things other than general conference!

First of all, we got to have a leadership council, and special zone leader interview with President Mecham. I have learned so much from him, and his leadership style; very simply in our interview he called us to repentance and let us know that we need to be better. Elder Penrod and I have felt pretty good these last few weeks, because our area has picked up big time and we are starting to have a bunch of success with even more to come. President asked us about those baptisms, and saw how pumped up we were, then asked a simple question, ´´so why did the Lord assign you two to be zone leaders? ´´ We thought about it for a minute, and said, ´´because He wants the zone to progress in His work´´ and he said, ´´how right you are. We know that you both know how to find, how to teach, how to baptize, that’s why you received this calling. But, as a zone leader, your personal success is not really your success, your success is measured by those you have called to lead; even though you may be baptizing, and finding and teaching, if your zone is not doing it then you are failing. ´´ Very simply, President in 5 minutes changed my entire outlook on leadership. We have decided to, saying it extremely, sacrifice our area. We are going to be spending so much time with the other elders from the zone, trying to truly strengthen them in all aspects of the work, and we both know that the Lord will protect our area and help us to make the best of the time that we do have there.
Also, today we had a nice American feeling today because we went to a big mall in our mission to buy Elder Penrod his going home suit! Just 3 weeks left with the guy! It was fun seeing some American stores, eating Burger King and Hagan Daz and just forgetting for a little bit how the outside world, like our area looks haha!

Lastly, for some sad occurrences in the mission, there were a bunch of special changes made in the mission. Only one affected our zone, but it brought Elder Bojorquez to the zone with us! The day before we did intercambios with the district leader from Estrella, so I got to work with Elder Bojorquez again! It was a super fun experience, I am pumped ot have him in the zone with us, it was honestly one of the funnest days that I have had in a while!

So onto general conference. All of our recent converts and our next few (fingers crossed) baptisms all came to church! Tamara and Rubi loved it! America came, and left with a renewed desire to stand for the ´´hard right´´ in her home with Adan. Elder Penrod and I got permission to get the stake high council room all set up with a projector and everything so that all of the English speakers could watch the conference in English because it is just so much better to hear their actual voices, and all of us gringos were all together in saying that this was probably the best general conference that we have ever seen. Especially the priesthood session just blew us out of the water! My favorite talk of all had to be Bishop Waddell´s talk about how we can always remember Jesus Christ, it just helped me with so many of the questions that I went into the conference looking for answers. Gary E Stevenson is becoming one of my favorite speakers as well, I loved his talk about keys! 
Everyone is looking for the car that will lead them back to eternal life with God, but so many of the cars, don’t have the keys to do it! Through the restoration of the priesthood through Joseph Smith, we have today the priesthood keys necessary! Then, as always Jeffrey R Holland brought home the show for me with that amazing talk on just giving it our all in the gospel! If we try to do all that God asks us, but we fall short, He will count it as if we did. We can´t give up, we have just to always keep moving and doing better. Then in the priesthood session, there was not one talk that did not draw my attention. Russell M Nelsons talked helped me to really refocus on the incredible blessing of the sealing power in order to have eternal families, there is no other way and there is nothing more important, I need to help the people that I am teaching get to that point! President Owen added on to the lesson that I learned from President Mecham this week and helped me open my eyes to what leadership in the Lords church really means. President Uchtdorf gave a great talk on charity, the most important attribute that we could ever acquire, in missionary work or anywhere else in life. President Eyring´s talk had a quote that pretty much all the missionaries went crazy about... something like ´´Celestial marriage is the most important thing that we can do...It is the priority of a returned missionary and should be very early in his post mission plans. ´´ Considering that 5 of the Americans watching the conference from our zone watched our last conference as missionaries, that quote with Uchtdorf´s talk really got a lot of attention from us haha. Lastly, President Monson´s talk was just a short but purely powerful testimony of priesthood power. I have learned in my mission, and will continue to learn my whole life, about the miracles that can truly come about through the priesthood of God.

Best wishes,
Elder Stout

Saturday, April 2, 2016

March 29 - The Lord's Elect

Hey all!!

Well, I won’t have quite intense of an email as last week, because well that may have been a once in a while experience! But the crowning event of this last week was our baptism of Tamara and Rubi this last Saturday!

These hermanas we found after about a month of me being here in Churubusco. We were at that time teaching another family who we had contacted (surprisingly the same day as America, who was baptized last week) and they were doing alright but not super well, and one day they gave us a reference about some people that really needed God, at least that is what they told us. Haha they said they were people who’d probably never accept us, but that we might as well give it a shot. The names of these people were Tamara and Rubi!

Teaching these two hermanas strengthened my testimony so much in the fact that this is truly the Lords work. First of all, they just showed me again that these things that I share every day are true, and that God wants as many people to accept these things as possible, so He is out here preparing the hearts of these people to receive the message of the gospel, and if we let Him, through our faith, obedience and diligence, He will guide us right to them!

We went to contact Tamara and Rubi one night when actually we were having a pretty tough day, and based on what the family had told us we didn’t have a lot of faith that they were going to go anywhere with the gospel. So, when our other plans fell through, we just decided to go see Tamara and Rubi. Tamara came out, and just simply asked us, ´´Can you teach me about the Bible? ´´ Taken aback we told her “sure thing, we can do that!”

We later found out that just hours before a close family friend had passed away and that for one of the first times in her life Tamara had been praying asking to find God. The next 5 weeks were the fastest Elder Penrod and I have ever seen someone become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. At one moment, Tamara said, ´´6 months ago, I wouldn’t have cared one bit to learn about God, now I can’t live without these things that I have learned. That’s just because God hadn’t gotten me ready yet. ´´

Tamara always loved every lesson, even some of the deeper stuff like Repentance or certain commandments and things like that she would just be in tears and say ´´how wonderful it is that God loves us enough to give us this, thank you Elders for coming to share this with me. ´´

Rubi her 15-year-old daughter is 4 years away from being the best missionary the world has ever seen! She never once didn’t read a chapter or something that we had left with her, and she was her mom’s babysitter pretty much haha always reminding her, ´´Mom, we don’t drink coffee anymore´´ or ´´it’s time to pray Mom! ´´ Haha she is super quiet but truly loves Christ and the gospel. Their dad, who doesn’t live with them, was visiting them the week before their baptism and was startled that they were going to be baptized, he asked Rubi, ´´So you are going to be a Mormon, ´´ and she responded, ´´Sure thing Dad, ´´ he said, ´´well did you know that they are going to ask you to pay a tithe on everything you earn?´´ and that wonderful girl said, ´´Of course I do, but for all that I have received that is nothing to pay. Plus, it’s not them who are asking it of me but God, and actually he asks you for it too, but you just don’t obey Him. ´´ She is so awesome!! Her testimony astounds me. These sisters were prepared by the Lord and are truly his elect. Our calling isn’t to come out here and try to convince people or prepare them, we are here to collect the elect, we have been called to the harvest. Teaching Tamara and Rubi changed that for me forever.

So the baptismal service was a huge success. Rubi asked Elder Penrod to baptize her and Tamara asked me!! The first time I have been able to be in white together with my comp! We planned a big surprise for the hermanas. A couple of weeks ago in church we sang, ´´Onward, Christian Soldiers´´ and Tamara commented to me how it was a super beautiful song. So, we pulled together about half the elders from the zone and we surprised her by singing it acapella right before we went down to the font. Rubi and Tamara were just both in absolute tears. Tamara said in her testimony afterwards, ´´I want to thank the Elders for that beautiful song, but even more my thanks goes to God. I have never felt that loved by my Heavenly Father in my life. ´´ These are going to be two very strong members of the church, and I can’t wait to see what things the Lord has planned for them.

Just to finish up on a different note, we had a zone training this last week. Elder Penrod and I were stumped on what to teach the zone (see included pic on what happens to our desk when we have to plan a training...) We wanted to teach something inspirational that would change not just the work, but change the missionaries. I remembered a district meeting that I had given while I was in Topilejo helping the missionaries to remember why they decided to serve a mission. We decided to copy that idea, and to help the missionaries think about what type of missionaries they wanted to be, where they are, and how they can change to be those missionaries. We based it on Alma 4 and we talked a lot about Christ like attributes and how we can develop those, I learned so much, and I just hope the missionaries did as well.

I hope that everyone has a chance to listen to the living Apostles and Prophet of Jesus Christ this weekend in general conference, I am so excited to be inspired and learn what the Lord needs me to learn.

My love to all,

Elder Stout