Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finding Everything But Sleep

Well, this week was chalk full of just about everything!

We spent about an hour a day this week working with one of our golden investigators, who is about sixteen years old, so she could be baptized this Sunday. It was great! She was wide open to everything we had to offer, and was learning loads. She called her mom at the beginning of the week to obtain permission to be baptized, and it was all great. Sunday morning her mom called and gave a stone-cold "no" for her answer. Ouch. I hope that when she turns 18 her desire to be baptized still burns. She is an incredible young woman, who would be an incredibly strong member. Fortunately she can still attend church and everything else, so things are looking up.

We also had a huge surprise this week. Remember the town drunks that I mentioned earlier, named Jesus and Moses? Well, we haven't seen Moses for a while, despite our extensive efforts to look for him. It came to Saturday morning and we found him at his house. He had read the pamphlet we left him about the Word of Wisdom a week before, and had quit alcohol immediately afterwards. One week completely without it. We are so excited! He wants to be baptized, and we are thinking that he can be so in about two weeks!!

We found three new families this week, had an all new record church attendance of 21, and contacted everybody in sight.

And I got transferred yesterday. I must admit I felt like my heart was being torn in two when we were leaving my little Crescencia Morales...

I am now in the heart of Toluca, Mexico State.  It is a night and day difference!! We have warm water, the apartment is medium sized, and we even have a WalMart within a five minute walk of our house. Holy cow!! I am having a huge culture shock all over again. :) Haha.

My new companion, Elder Medina, is great. I love him already. He is from the Dominican Republic, with fifteen more days in the mission than me. Sheesh.  My "mama" is just barely older than I am. :) I am really excited to be working with him. He is a fireball of energy and excitement about the work.

I am out of time for today, so I will wrap up by saying thank you all for your prayers, love, and support. I love you so much!

Elder Kennington

This week's Quick Q&A
Q:  Another missionary from our ward is serving in Oaxaca, Mexico and experiences frequent earthquakes in his area. Does Owen notice any up where he is?
A:  No, I haven't...Dang. Sounds like things are really exciting where he is at!!

Q:  Any talk or preparation for Dia de los Muertos?
A:  Holy cow, everybody here is dying of excitement. Every store is packed with Halloween merchandise! It has taken great self control to not purchase any myself...

Q:  Where do you go for zone conferences?
A:  They are in my area, at a church building. They are fantastic!

Q:  Commodity you miss the most from home?
A:  Sleep. I have about eight hours for it every night, but have slept pretty badly almost every night in the mission..... :/ Tis ok though!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hiking and Teaching in San Bartolo

This week has been crazy, but good.

We spent a lot of time in San Bartolo (about an hour's hike from San Mateo) this week with a family that we met Monday. They are really fantastic, and are really receptive to our message. The only trouble we are having right now is getting them to church, because it is so far away.

I had a pretty nasty sick day this week too. I woke up with a fever that wasn't too bad, and I was having an extremely difficult time explaining it to Elder Lanza and asking if he had any Tylenol for it, so I just blew it off. We worked hard that day, walking and talking a TON, and it steadily got worse. Haha... We worked until the end of the day and it was obvious that something was off because I couldn't move faster than a snail. When we got home I immediately took my temperature and it was 104 degrees....Ha ha. My first thought was "no wonder..." and then I fell asleep on my desk. That was an interesting day.

I spent a lot of time studying the Atonement this week because we have lots of investigators who struggle with alcohol and need help changing, and I read Alma 7:11-12:

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions of every kin; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people.

"And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

The thought came to me that there are many people that think the Atonement of Christ is for all of God's children.

But this is false.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is for every one of God's children. See, one of the things I have been thinking about is just how beautifully the Atonement applies to every one of us as individuals.  Christ has your name individually engraven in His palms, because it is for YOU that he died. For you, that he suffered in Gethsemane. "...that he me know how to succor his people...."

I am out of time for today, but I want to bear my testimony that I know Christ lives, and that His Atonement is there for you to take advantage of, that you may have more happiness and peace in your life.

I love you all so very much and pray for you each night!
Elder Kennington

This week's Q&A:
Q:  How does the mailing thing work for you?
A: I don't know. It is kind of confusing. I just know right now that I give my letters to the ZL (zone leader) .... :)

Q: How are the shoes holding out?
A:  The shoes are fantastic. I love them so much. Eccos were the right ones to go with.

Q: When are your zone conferences (this is when missionaries get their snail mail)? Have you gotten any of my snail mail letters?
A:   My zone conferences are once a month, I think. And I have gotten one of your snail mail letters... the mail here is so weird.

Q:  What is the weirdest thing you've eaten so far? What is your favorite new food?
A:  Ummmm.... Parts of cows I didn't know even existed. Who knew cows had so much edible rubber? Favorite food? Carnitas. Meat and bread. Yum.

Q:  Do you get to do any sightseeing on P-day? What is a typical P-day like?
A:  We occasionally do sightseeing (like last week). They are full of buying food, haircuts, and other necessities. Like basketball. :) Tell Dad that all the churches here have basketball courts too. Not soccer fields.

I found creepy German from Indiana Jones 1 sunglasses. :)  Not mine, but fun to wear!

Elder Kennington tests out the First Vision filter on his camera...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Investigators Cometh and Investigators Goeth

Phew! It is a huge relief to be able to sit down and write to all of my favorite people! This week has been crazy full of walking and hiking... I am convinced that when I leave the mission field I am going to have the body of Apollo. Haha. I wouldn't complain.

We have two new investigators right now, but investigator is kind of a strong word. We have befriended the two town drunks, and they both started trying to quit alcohol. The thing that made me smile to myself when we were first getting to know them we found out their names are Jesus and Moses. Perfect for two drinking buddies, I guess. :)  They are fantastic though. We even had Moses at church yesterday, which was fantastic.

Unfortunately this week had a couple disappointments too...  We have spent a lot of time in San Bartolo, which is a neighboring town of Crescencio Morales (where our apartment is). We had three families out there that are fantastic. Unfortunately, however, we lost one of them Saturday because they decided the pamphlets conflicted with the Bible... Shortly thereafter one of our investigators with a baptismal date for this Sunday back out to. We haven't been able to figure out what happened there yet. The area that Elder Lanza and I are working in is brand new though, never had missionaries, so these setbacks are not extremely surprising. Heck, that is a mission in a nutshell.

Also part of a mission though, is a huge amount of success and joy. No matter what happens each day I go to bed happy as all get out and excited for the next day. I've been learning a lot about the Gospel and myself quite a bit. 

One thing that has really helped me was reading Mosiah 7:29. I was kind of passively reading this in my morning study, when the phrase, "hedging up their ways" and "stumbling block" caught my attention. "For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them."  These stumbling blocks aren't placed in our lives so we can fall and fail. They are here to get us on our knees when we trip over them, that we can remember Father is there and that we need His help.

I'm out of time for this update, but know that I love and pray for you all, always. You are very special to me, and I hope you know that. Thank you so much for the continued love and support. Every bit means the world to me.

I love you!!
Elder Kennington

Some extra Q&A from this week:

Q:  Where did that plaid shirt come from (he sent a picture last week I couldn't forward in which he is wearing a plaid shirt I had never seen before, with birthday cake goo on his face. Since it was kind of a weird pic I did not post it here):
A:  That is the nightgown that I've got ...  :):)
(Remember from the MTC when he talked about ribbing another elder in his district about his nightshirt? The elder's grandmother made one for Owen and another elder and sent them to them)

Q:  Did the raw batter make you sick?

Q:  Are you warm enough at night? Do you need warmer pj's? 
A:  I'm perfect, thank you so much! The nights here are great. Most of the time it rains all night.

Q:  Christmas wish list?
A:  Will mail it to you through snail mail. :) Oh. If you want to send me packages, never use UPS. They never make it. Always use the USA postal system, it is the best. Would you mind sending word out? (Now you know!)

Q:  How od you get to Zitacuaro for shopping? 
A:  We take a rickety bus that sounds like it is going to fall apart if we run over a penny. Haha. I love it. Will tell more in my next letter.

Q:  Where do you use a computer to email home? How long are you supposed to have for emailing?
A:  I use a computer in Zitacuaro. And we have one hour total for email. :) (Some of that is needed for emailing his mission president each week to report on their work)

This is Crisanto! :D

 My birthday cake. :):):):):):):) The hermanas here are fantastic!! (Mom: I knew this couldn't be the cake batter because there is no way candles would be upright in it...)

 This is my nightgown. :D

 Found this waterfall near San Bartolo. If all goes well I will be able to baptize in it. :):)

 Visited a pyramid today. I am the one furthest to the left. I think you can zoom in and actually see me, if you like. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Humble Pie and Conference

I have eaten a lot of humble pie this week, so the cake I had last week was a little redundant. :) 

As always the Spanish is proving to be a major challenge for me, as I try to figure out what is going on and why. Much of what I am doing right now is following Elder Lanza’s lead. I am doing my best to not become frustrated, and am learning a lot about patience and humility though, so it is not being wasted. 

Thank heavens for General Conference. I hope that everyone who reads this was able to listen to conference and the inspired messages thereof. I especially hope that everyone was able to hear President Monson talk about the Bismark. If I have learned one thing from the mission so far, it is that even the tiniest changes in direction, mentally emotionally and spiritually, have gigantic impacts. Most of the temptations and challenges that the Adversary drops in our path are not intended to stop us in our tracks. In fact, rarely will that happen. What he will do, and almost always does, is lay little pebbles in the path of the boulder, so as to slightly divert its trajectory. 
For me, most of these pebbles take the form of a thought. It is almost always very small. Something that bugs me that I want to dwell on about my companion or the mission, or simply a thought that is telling me that I can’t do something or that something is hard. I need to be careful to not give these thoughts much place, because they will always take root and always grow quickly.

I’m out of time for this email, but I have enough time to tell you all that I love you. I pray for you. Thank you so much for your example, love, and support for me. Every bit means the world to me. Really. If you get the chance, I would highly encourage you to watch or listen or read the General Conference talks. Exhort would be a good word. :)

Thanks again. I love you.

Elder Kennington