Monday, September 29, 2014

A Dunk, a Drunk, and a Birthday


Elder Kennington has leveled up! He is now level 19. Plus 1 Spirituality, plus 3 Spanish, and other normal stat bonuses.

But seriously, things here are fantastic, and my birthday was loaded with wonderful experiences. 

Firstly, I had my first baptism yesterday!! It was absolutely incredible. His name is Crisanto, he is about 75 years old, mostly deaf in one ear and completely so in the other. He practically leapt in to the baptismal font. This incredible man has spent his life devoted to following the example of Christ, and when he found out there was more that he could do he got so excited he could hardly stand it. :):)

Pictures will hopefully come too. We shall see if the computer cooperates. 

Small funny experience too... Elder Lanza and I were walking (nothing new there. ;) ) to an appointment when we happened upon two old ladies beating up a drunk guy. From what we could make out the drunk guy had tried to hit one of them, and, judging by what was in front of us, he bit off way more than he could chew... Though beating up is a strong word for rolling around on the ground pulling each other’s hair, the drunk guy was still losing badly... The women said that they were ok without our help, and left the guy panting upside down in a clump of grass. Priceless.

The things I am learning here are blowing my mind! I feel like I have grown so much from last week alone. The only thing that I feel is really holding me back right now is my ability with Spanish. I have so much I want to say and do, and about eight words to do it in. I love the people, and for now my actions and smile will have to do all the talking. Thank heavens so much of communication is nonverbal. :) 

I am out of time for this email (we have even less time than usual because we had zone conference today...) so I need to wrap up.

I love the Gospel. I love missionary work. Please, if you have anyone that you know who isn’t a member and needing help (which is more people than not, I am finding), reach out to them. Show them you love them and want to help. And, if it is right, try and bring them to the church.

I love you all so much, and pray for you always. Thank you for your continued love and support! Every bit means the world to me. 

Ta ta!
Elder Kennington

Don’t have much time answers to your questions

1. Cooking: Do you cook for yourselves? How/on what do you cook because it didn’t look like there was a stove or anything in your apartment picture. What do you eat?
Cooking, we don’t. :) Not enough time! We eat cold cereal in the mornings and then the members feed us gigantic lunches, so dinner isn’t needed. :)

2. What is the village like? Is it far from Zitacuaro? Is it like a little suburb or something? Or is “suburb” implying something still too big?
Village, it is mountainous and tiny. The downtown part of the city is about the size of our neighborhood, max.... It is big, but sparsely populated.

3. How is the laundry thing working out for you?
The laundry thing is still being figured out....

4. How long has Elder Lanza been out? Where in Honduras is he from? Did you know we have a neighbor from Honduras?
Elder Lanza is in his 18th month.  He is incredible!!

5. Were you able to bake your birthday cake? Or did you just make the batter and eat it? (I had sent a cake mix with him to make his birthday cake)
I am going to just make the batter and then eat the cake, cause we don’t have an oven. :):)

6. What is grocery shopping like there? Or any shopping at all?

We go grocery shopping in Zitacuaro, about an hour away. It’s fun!! Not much time!! D: Looks like the computer won’t work for pictures today. Maybe next time. Oh. Tentative release date for my mission is July 18th, 2016. Thought you might like to know. :):):):)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bonus Material

The Mama Note:  One of the blessings of technology is how instantaneous communication can be. I happened to be on my computer when Owen emailed his weekly letter home on Monday. Thanks to the wonders of the internet I got to "chat" with him a little and find out some extra details about his mission and how he is doing:

M:  Do you prefer snail mail?
EK: Snail mail is exactly what I need. :) If you could do that I would really appreciate it...Time on a computer on this end is so limited...

M: How do you find the food?
EK:  Holy cow. The food down here is so good. I love it!!!! haha. Even the pig skin soup (no joke) was good. :)  Everything here is about 10 times richer than in the states... Holy cow.

M:  Are you feeling better today? What were you sick with?
EK:  I am feeling much better physically today. I don't really know, aside from the fact that it sucked. :) Haha. I just couldn't keep anything down for a day. But fear not! I still worked equally hard that day, without breaks and everything! :D Honestly I can do anything physically here. Mentally and emotionally it is hard though. More so because my companion doesn't speak a lick of English, nor does anyone, so I don't have an outlet yet. :)

M: I saw your first photo. Is it still the monsoon season? Are you warm enough?
EK:  Yes, it is still that season. Every day we get more water than Utah does all summer :) And yes, I am plenty warm!! :D The coat is perfect. It rains every day right now, from about five o'clock on to about midnight. And it rains hard.

EK: This week was kind of interesting because it was a festival week here. Lots of drunks, parties, booths, games, music, etc.  was way cool. Just not many investigators. :)

In commenting on his picture with his mission president....
M: We noticed your hair was slicked down. I've never seen you wear it that way. It works well for a '30's mobster look... :)
EK: THAT WASN'T EVEN ME!!! President Whitehead requires all of his missionaries to have a part, and that was the AP's doing. They went crazy with the gel....I have since then got a haircut, so I look much better now. :)

It was so wonderful to connect for just a few moments. He was gone abruptly, but we both knew that was going to be the case. I got to wish him happy birthday though -- his birthday is this week.  If you get the urge to write him, please see the right side of the blog for direct letter and package mail, as well as an address for pouch mail. The pouch mail instructions are here. He would love to hear from you!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Car Wrecks, Drunks, and Amazing Mexico


So. Since I´ve been here I have been in a car wreck, spent a day sick as all get out while working, and almost got punched by a drunk guy.

Now that I have your attention, I would like to take this moment to say that I LOVE it here!! It´s incredible. 

Just a bit of elaboration so certain parties (namely my mother :) ) don´t worry too much. The car wreck wasn´t too bad. The taxi driver´s pride took the heaviest blow. Yes I was really sick, but I got a blessing and am doing much better. And about the drunk guy... Well... He was gesticulating wildly while trying to figure out the philosophical reason behind why there are sixty seconds in a minute and only twelve months in a year... Haha

The people here are incredible. The first thing that struck me as we were driving to our apartment was how little most everyone here has. Then, when we were proselyting and were in member’s and investigators house’s, I was struck even harder by this fact. Then, yesterday, as I was walking around with Elder Lanza, I was struck hardest by something else.

The realization hit me that it doesn´t even matter. These wonderful people have enough, and they can´t wait to share it. They take fantastic care of the missionaries here. My area is about as out in the boonies as you can get in my mission. It´s in the Zitacuaro area. My town (town might be too big of a word) is called San Mateo, or Creecia Morales. 

Elder Lanza is great. I like him a lot. He is a native of Honduras, so his Spanish is flawless, though he speaks almost no English. This is the most English I´ve seen, read, heard, or spoken for a week. :) He is about as tall as I am which, here in Mexico, is gigantic. I´m about a foot taller than most people. Haha. I think this might be close to how Alex Durrant felt at home.

I don´t have much time for this email (The keyboards here are very different, so my typing speed is vastly reduced..), but I just wanted to say that I love you all very much. Thank you so much for your prayers, love, and support. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Will share some stories and lots of fun stuff next Monday! 

Elder Kennington

This is maybe 1/1000 of Mexico City from the plane. It's crazy big. Holy cow is it big.
A panorama shot of my of my new room with Elder Lanza. The bathroom doesn't have a door and it faces the front door. And the toilet doesn't have a seat. :) Ha ha. And it is by far the best living accommodations for miles. :)

Elder Lanza tries the violin for the first time, and the guy on the right is Herman. He is the only Melchizedek priesthood holder for miles, excluding us. We have Sacrament Meeting at his house. There were five other people there yesterday. :)

 Guess who found a violin? :D  I got to play on it for a few minutes before I gave it back...

Taking pics while proselyting....

This one is grumpy because I fell in the mud and the other side of my pants was completely covered. Harrumphf.

The Mama Note:  There is some additional interesting stuff to share with you because when he emailed this home yesterday I happened to also be on the computer and got to ask him some questions via email. I'll share what I learned tomorrow...

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Arrival of Your Son to the Mexico, Mexico City West Mission

We just received this email from Owen's mission president. He has arrived safely in Mexico and is already serving in his first area. I was so excited to finally get word after five days:

Dear Brother and Sister Kennington,

President Whitehead and I want to let you know that your son, Elder Kennington, safely arrived in Mexico City last Monday night and is working hard.

We are so thrilled to have your son in our mission. With the help of the Spirit, President Whitehead hand-picked top-notch elders and leaders in this mission to train this great generation of missionaries, whose arrival we have been excitedly anticipating for some time now. We can tell already that they are going to be valiant, obedient, hard-working, and loving.

We fed your son dinner soon after he arrived and sent him to bed in the basement apartment here at the mission home with the other elders. The next morning we fed him breakfast and then he was interviewed by President Whitehead. Next he was briefed on the rules of the mission by the APs and oriented by the office elders, the assistants to the president and myself. Afterwards he met his new trainer and companion that he will have for the next 6 weeks at least, Elder Lanza. We took pictures, fed him pizza and then he was whisked away with his companion by taxi to serve in his new destination of Zitacuaro, in the state of Michoacan. 

Thanks for raising this wonderful young man. We love him already.

President and Hermana Whitehead

Want to know where Zitacuaro is? I did too. Here's what Google Maps says. It looks like it is approximately 75 miles due west of Mexico City (it's that red print ovalish-shaped place way to the left of Mexico City). 

Fun Facts:  Zitacuaro is approximately 6500 feet above sea level. It was burned to the ground three times in the 19th century. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Well.... This is my last email from the MTC... Wow. That time flew by much faster than I expected (said just about every missionary ever...). This will be my last email from the U.S. And I can hardly wait!!

I leave at four-thirty in the morning on Monday, meaning I only have one full day left in the MTC, that being Sunday. I'm pretty stoked.

A few good language gaffes occurred this week. :) I don't have long with this email because there is MUCH I have to do today (being my last day I can really pack and get ready to head out!), but here is a little list:

1. Remember the city of Boracho, from The Great Race? Its name is very fitting, as I just discovered that, in Spanish, Boracho means drunk.

2. Elder Lofgreen discovered that the word for "to worship" is unfortunately close to the word for "to pee"... Yup. You know exactly where that went.

3. Elder Demars made up a new word in a lesson without meaning to. "Felizipaz" is when you are in a time of peace and happiness, but are too lazy to use three words to describe it. 

Music has played a huge role in this week as well, as I've been discovering that some of my old favorite choir pieces are mission appropriate, so this missionary has been a very happy camper whenever it comes to studying on the computer. :)  Additionally, I got put in charge of a second special music number for our zone, and I am particularly excited for this one. We are doing a little arrangement that I worked on of Be Still My Soul. The catch for the number was that it had to include our entire district, and some of the elders in my district do not like to sing high, so rather than avoid an argument by either letting them out of it or forcing them to sing uncomfortably high (neither of which would EVER go well...) I did the logical thing and transposed the whole thing an octave and a half down. :) ... I am thoroughly enjoying the bass line. Ashton Wiersdorf would be proud of me. 

I met a lot of people this week too that I knew from "the real world." I found Graham Carmen (he just shipped out to field this Tuesday), talked several times with Jace Thompsen (who says "hello Mr. K, how are you doing?"), saw and visited a bit with Tyson Gunther (who is doing well and I was happy to see), and almost tackled Ashton Wiersdorf (I was so excited I could hardly stand it...). It's incredible seeing the difference in these young men already. They were powerful forces for good before their missions, but even just a few days into the MTC the difference is night and day. I could see them coming from a mile away, they shine so brightly. 

As I have been studying and listening this week I feel like there has consistently led me back to the whole idea of "remembrance." As I've been thinking about this, I've realized just how much I have to remember as a missionary and someone who is now responsible for their own care and life. Everything from remembering to make my bed every morning (which I never once did before my mission, EVER) to remembering that my mission call comes all the way from God. It's a *little* bit to keep track of.  But it is all worth it. I have seen so many blessings already come from living a pensive life of this nature. When tempted, all I must do is remember my true identity as a missionary and son of the divine God. When being beaten down by the lies of the adversary (and myself when I occasionally believe them, I must admit) all I must do is remember that it isn't even about me. That all of this is about the people I am going to meet and edify/strengthen/uplift. "Turning out", as Elder Bednar once called it. There is power in a memory that can change a life at the present. I guess that is why we are encouraged to make good, strong, and happy memories that are full of light and faith. Because a memory is eternal, and if we have the right ones we can rely on them to help us through anything life throws our way. 

I'm out of time for this email, but I just wanted to bear my testimony that I know God is real. That He is our Heavenly Father. That He loves us more than anything. He has created worlds without end, galaxies, universes, and all for us. There is nothing that He hasn't given us. And He continues to bless us. We owe Him everything, absolutely everything, yet all He asks in return is that we love Him back. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thank you all so much for your continued love, prayers, and support. It all means the world to me. Truly. I love you so very much, think of you often, and pray for you always.

Elder Kennington

The class pet: Santiago. He likes wasps, flies, and anything that wiggles in a web. :3  He's adorable.
 Zone meeting! And after we certainly didn't line up all the trash cans in the room to see which district was the best at shooting balled up paper in them.  And of course my district didn't COMPLETELY DESTROY EVERYONE MWAAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!! Nope. None of that. :)

Hermano Dolbin, one of four of my teachers with my district.  He was incredible!! Love him so much!

Hermana Steward, a second teacher (who purposefully always called me Elder Kensington.... :)

And Hermana Savage. All of them were incredible, and teachers here for a reason.  :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hola de el CCM

Wow. Time keeps on flying. Just one week left at the MTC. I must admit that I am very excited to hit the mission field. It's going to be much, much more difficult than the MTC, but I am completely content with that. Not that I will miss the 10 hours of in-class time a day, but I look forward to being up, doing, and practicing what I've been learning when it counts. 

I must say that there are some easy things that I will miss about the MTC, however. Every Saturday morning we have to do service (which is cleaning the classrooms on West Campus. The classrooms are old dorms, so our classroom is exactly the same as our apartment, sans beds. Literally). We have seven zones, so each zone just has their service day on their P Day. 

Today we had two zones show up for service, including ours, so cleaning jobs were a bit scarce. Some people got assigned to wipe down doorknobs. Some others got to sweep entry ways. Most had assignments that involved black rubber gloves and heavy-duty cleaning spray. Elder Lofgreen and I? We were at the back of the line, and by the time they got to us they must have been desperate for jobs because ours was:

"Go in each classroom, turn on the faucet, run it and the garbage disposal for a second, and then turn them off."

Yup. Missions are difficult things. Despite the trials I have experienced, my faith remains miraculously strong.

We are officially headed to Mexico!! We just got our travel itineraries yesterday!! I am leaving the MTC at 4:30 in the morning on the 15th, and heading right up to the airport in SLC. I have one layover in Atlanta Georgia, which will last about five hours, so it'll be a decent trip. :) I should arrive in Mexico City at 9:46 pm in about nine days. 

And talking of heading out, I just realized that I have officially completed a month on my mission. It hasn't felt anything like that. 

But it seems that some of the other elders are feeling like it's been much longer than that. Our district is doing fantastic, but the district just younger than us is having a really hard time. Just in the last week they had an elder go home, one of the natural leaders/culture builders, and another elder have to go to the ER because the stress was too much. It normally wouldn't be a problem, but either one of these elders didn't confide in anyone or ask for help. So the problem just festered until it exploded. It's testament to something that our branch president said to us on our first Sunday in the MTC:

"When you are having a hard time, and what you're doing isn't helping, do not hesitate to reach out to those around you. Look on your right, and on your left. God put those beautiful people as part of your life for a reason. It is our divine calling, whether or not you are a missionary, to care for neighbor. Love them."

I am so grateful to be a part of my district. We are all brothers, and are extremely close. I've really needed it, because the adversary hasn't ever left the Lord's missionaries alone. I've not felt closer to the Spirit in my life, nor has the adversary ever worked harder to convince me I'm not good enough, not capable, and not a missionary. 

More evidence I'm exactly where I need to be. :):) If the adversary is leaving me alone he's obviously not worried about me, and if he's not worried about me then I'm not doing my job right! 

I'm out of time for this email... Thank you all so much for your love and support! You mean the world to me. You're in my prayers every night. 


Elder Kennington

A perfectly knotted tie...

Waiting for choir practice

Owen and Elder Wall at choir practice -- which we're supposed going to hear more about later

The Home Boys!! Elder Kennington and Elder Goodsell hail from the same home ward and this was the last chance the two of them had to get a picture together in the MTC. Elder Goodsell headed off to Finland this last week after over two months in the MTC learning Finnish.

Owen's companion Elder Lofgreen. What is most remarkable to the Mom/Editor about this pic is Owen's MADE BED.  All. The. Way. Made. As in everything tucked in neatly! The gospel must be true if this is what happens to eighteen-year-old young men when they go on their missions.

Elders Lofgreen and Kennington at the Provo Temple