Friday, November 28, 2014

An Unsettling Experience

Hiya y'all!

This week was good. We had interviews with President, and then directly after training with the assistants. It was fantastic; they taught a ton of technique for securing people for attending church which was wonderful. There is a lot that Preach My Gospel doesn't have that we needed to learn.... For example, when a person says "Que Cree..." the following will always be a lie about why they can't come to church wish us, and we have been practicing navigating around these "reasons."  Haha.

Despite all of this work and practice we were unable to bring investigators to the chapel with us, which was a huge disappointment. We were able to reactivate two menos activos (less actives) this week, which was great, but my heart is full of my investigators, and every time we have empty seats next to us in the chapel, it breaks.

We are trying to figure out what is going on, but so far have been unsuccessful. Looking forward to answers to our many prayers and fasts; as soon as we fix whatever it is we are gonna have super exito!

One quick thing:

Last night Elder Medina and I were working in one of the Colonias close to our house and were waiting for the bus. Across the very busy street in the dark we saw a man dragging what we could only assume was his girlfriend by the hair several yards to their car, when he started to literally beat her up.

We couldn't do anything because we couldn't get across the street, but I have never been so angry and frustrated at the same time. Fortunately after a couple of minutes one of the men on the other side of the street stepped in and stopped it, but it doesn't negate the fact that it happened.

Men, there is no excuse, ever, absolutely no excuse, to lay a finger on a woman out of anger. It takes a coward who has the heart of a worm to do so. Every woman is a precious daughter of God, a princess of a king. When you pass away you will have to look the Eternal Father in the eye and say that you hurt one of his beautiful daughters. I can guarantee the shame and the pain you will feel in that moment will far outstrip any offense or fault you may have found with the woman in question. There are not words sharp enough that can cut deep enough into your heart to understand this.

Women, if you have a boyfriend or husband who is like this, please know that a.) you are loved by your Father in Heaven and those around you, and b.) that there is ALWAYS someone better. The most heartbreaking thing I have seen yet in Mexico is when this woman went to the defense of her abuser, stopping her savior, only to be beat up again about fifteen minutes later. You are the best judge of what to do in your situation, but do not forget to counsel with your loving Father in each judgement you make.


Calming down....


Ok. Ready.

Thank you all so much for your continued love, prayers, and support. Know that it is returned equally, and I appreciate every bit.
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Mas Rapido
Q:  Where do you hang up your laundry to dry?
A:  We hang it up outside on a clothes line that you can't see in this photo :)

Q:  Has the altitude (you are at 8,793 feet) affected you?
A:  Yup. I am so grateful that the landscape is flat as paper because I am often very short of breath. :)

Q:  Did Elder Medina have a fun birthday?
A:  Yes, as long as the P day lasted. He was a little upset that we had our P Day cut short. :)

Q:  Toluca is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country; are you in a suburb or in downtown Toluca?
A:  Downtown Toluca for sure. The nearest green is a neon building down the block. Will send a photo if I can sneak one. :)

Q:  Do you think you might be able to visit the volcano there?  According to Wikipedia you can drive right into the crater and there are a couple of beautiful lagoons to visit.
A:  If we have time on P Day!  I can see it from the street; it is huge! That would be way cool.

It is Birthday Time with Elder Medina and one of the families in the ward.

A slug that we found on our house on the piece of birthday cake that Elder Medina brought home.

An upgraded Chinese face (it's an inside family joke thing...)

A Christmas stocking that was a gift of one of the members.

A nativity that one of the members has.

Absolutely horrifyingly ugly slippers...

The package I sent him...

More members that are absolutely wonderful.

(And once again, Elder Kennington is wearing an article of clothing I have never seen before... nice jacket kiddo!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Adorable Four-Year-Old Gatekeepers

I don't have very much time today, so this will be brief.

We worked extremely hard this week, searching for people to teach and help. The problem that we are running into right now is that we have tons of contacts, and many first lessons, but we can never seem to nail down a second lesson with anyone, let alone helping them to come with us to church. Whenever we pass by for them the second time either no one answers the door, or a nervous four year old answers the door reciting "mom and dad aren't home and there isn't anyone else here. Thanks!" Adorable as the latter is, it is a little frustrating when we can see the mom peeking out at us through the upper window. :)

We are trying as hard as we can to learn and grow every day, identifying each night things that we can improve to be better missionaries. We have grown and learned a ton together, but simply our success isn't reflecting that right now. I am really excited for the day we can finally bring someone to the chapel who will light up like a bonfire when they take a hold of our message.

We had Stake Conference this week, which was really cool. They piped a live Conference in from Salt Lake City, where Sister Reeves, Elder Anderson, and a couple of the Seventy in Mexico spoke. It was slightly amusing because they didn't use for this, so Sister Reeves and Elder Anderson spoke in Spanish as best they could. Elder Anderson did great, only mixing up the words "holes" and "eyes," and reading the Spanish with a very French accent. :) But it was incredible too. He talked about sacrifice, and I am currently surrounded by people who often sacrifice everything to be a member of this church. One of my favorite concepts that he talked about is the fact that sometimes we have to sacrifice good things for better things, and these sorts of sacrifices take the most faith. A mission is exactly that sort of sacrifice, and definitely not just for the missionary himself.

Gotta run now...I love you all so much and think about you often, praying for you always.
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Mas Rapido (Very Quick Questions)
Q:  What was that black ribbony hat thing Elder Medina had on his head in the photo you sent a couple weeks ago?
A:  Ha ha. That was a hat from a four year old girl that is a part of a member family who fed us that day. Isn't he adorable?

Q:  Any animal encounters this week? Besides the stuffed variety?
A:  No animal encounters... Here in the concrete jungle the closest thing we have is drug addicts and drunks... :)

Q:  How does the financial situation of most members and people you meet there in Toluca compare with Crescencio Morales?
A:  Holy cow, so much more money. Some people here would be considered rich in the United States. It is a difference of black and white here. I miss my little pueblo. :)

Q:  What are the typical jobs people hold in your area?
A:  The kinds of jobs that you would find in any given American city, with more prostitutes and pornography artists....Also, every three houses in the street has a little shop that is like a mini gas station. :)

Elder Medina is trying to learn juggling with a couple of ill-fated oranges.

Looks like there wasn't any permanent damage from walking into that tree last week...

I found Dr. Pepper!!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D (Mom note: I didn't know he even LIKED Dr. Pepper...)

Owen gets his cute legs from his dad. :)

Elder Medina doing laundry. We do all of ours by hand in this little thing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sherlock and Watson


This week was interesting. We worked very very hard trying to find people to teach because right now we don't have any progressing investigators. The major struggle that we are having and the reason we don't really have anyone right now is because literally 98% of the people that we teach don't live in our area. They are from De Effe (the Federal District State of Mexico) and surrounding areas, so we have tons of contacts and first lessons, and nothing to show for it.. Getting people to come to church is like pulling teeth, both among most of the members and the investigators. The ward here has more than a hundred people, and we have an average right now of about 45 people showing up... We have our work cut out for us! Thank heavens the bishop here is incredible. Very focused on his duties and responsibilities. I have learned a lot from his example about how I can be a better missionary.

Once again I had another really bad sick day; the worst yet. It was kind of like the first two rolled into one, with a few other stomach problems thrown in, and I was forced to take one day in the house. I am feeling much better now, but when it came to about four o'clock in the afternoon I was asking Elder Medina to review the section in the mission manual about dedicating graves so that he could do mine the following day. Haha. 

We did have one incredible experience this week. We were out contacting one morning and we felt impressed to contact a woman who was saying goodbye to someone at her door. As we approached with the words "Hi, how are you, we are missionaries" she said, "I know Elders. Will you come in for a second?" As it turns out she is an inactive member, and has been for four years. She went inactive because her mother, who has 94 years, has been extremely sick for that long, and she was caring for her mother day and night all day every day. She asked if we could give her a blessing. We walked into the room where her mom was, and the only person I have ever seen lying in a bed weaker was my father when he was millimeters from death. All she could do was simply lie there staring at the ceiling and breathe. As we laid our hands on her head and began to give her a blessing, I felt the sheer amount of love that the Lord has for this beautiful woman fill me up from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. It was the kind of love that comforts beyond words, and blesses beyond comprehension. She doesn't have much time left here, but I know that she will have a reception better than all others waiting for her on the other side. It was incredible how thin the veil was that morning. 

I am out of time for this email, but I just wanted to bear my testimony quickly that I know Heavenly Father lives, and that He loves each one of us more than we can possibly imagine. He wants nothing more than to bless us. If we trust Him and love Him in return, through the sun AND the rain, we WILL see His hand in all things, and be grateful. I promise this, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thank you so much for your love and support, as always! I pray for you, love you, and think about you often. 

Ta ta!
Elder Kennington

Quick Q&A:
Q: Any fun(ny) languages gaffes this week? 
A: Not this week, unfortunately... Haha. Will keep you updated.

Q: Weather there this time of year? Still raining all night? 
A: The raining season is over, so everything is bone dry right now! Ah!! Heeeellllllppppp!

Q: When is your next zone conference? 
A: We have them every first Tuesday of the month.

Q: Where do you use the computer to do email in Toluca? 
A: There is a little internet cafe down the street from our house. :)

Q: What is something you wish Utah had that Mexico does? 
A: Rootbeer, more inexpensive chocolate, and sane drivers in the road. (Mom Note: I'm not sure he read the question correctly...)

Q: Are you still just eating cold cereal for breakfast?  
A: Nope! I have upgraded to Ramen. Life is truly extravagant. :):) 

Funny story quickly. In the Dominican Republic it is not offensive to refer to a person by their color (here tampoco), so for a while I have been Elder White... This got me thinking about Psych a little bit because our relationship is very much like Shaun and Gus. Literally one day we were walking and Elder Medina told me that we were like a pair of detectives searching out people. I responded, "Yeah! Like Sherlock Holmes! Which would make me Robert Downey Jr. and you a black Jude Law." Life is great here. 

Zone Conference

Caution: God Protects Us

Dying in my bed...
Guess who walked face-first into a tree because he wasn't looking where he was going? Lots of blood for a tiny cut... Really, I am ok. The thing that took the biggest blow by far was my pride, and second was the tree that tried impaling me in my eye. Harrumphf. I think I am gonna sneak out in the middle of the night and chop it down. It is a video because Elder Medina had it set to video and I had not idea before I cleaned myself up. Haha.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Settling In In Toluca


This week was really good, and I learned a ton.

Firstly, my Spanish is finally starting to take off. I can understand most people without too much trouble now, and can easily contact people. 

Toluca is a completely different animal, when it comes to just about everything. Firstly, the people. Holy cow, are there a ton of people. And the people here are much more open to our message! We have many new investigators every day, and are hoping to see fruits from their growth very soon. The people here in Mexico really are incredible strong. What they have to deal with here is crazy. Life in Utah is a very sheltered one, in many ways. 

Secondly, Toluca itself. Busy. Very very busy. And the entire city is flat as all get out. Crescencia Morales was extremely mountainous, so this is a huge change. I'm not too sad that we are doing a bit less hiking to tell the truth; at least my legs are a bit happier... Haha. 

The church is big too. We have about seventy active members in this ward, and the bishop is sharp as a razor. To be frank I was a little afraid of him when I first met him because he was so focused and intense in his calling. I'm pretty certain I left my first meeting with him with my eyebrows singed because he is takes his responsibility as bishop very seriously. 

Elder Medina is fantastic. We get along great, are working hard and having a marvelous time doing so. We share many of the same interests, namely the computer games/tv shows/movies/etc, so a smile is never far away. He has just fifteen more days than me in the mission, so we are learning together, and we are both learning a ton. 

I'm starting to understand just how the members here view missionaries. It is an incredible feeling to make eye contact with a member, smile, and see them light up. Every person has something special to share, and these people are no exception. And they cannot wait to share whatever they have. The missionaries here are very very well taken care of. 

I am out of time for this week, so next week will be the week of stories. And I have many good ones from this area already. Six weeks here is not long enough. 

I love you all very much, and pray for you every day. Thank you so much for the love, letters, prayers, and support. I wouldn't be here without you.


Elder Kennington

Quick Q&A:
Q: Do you have to change your clocks back to Standard Time down there?
A: Yup! We had one extra hour to sleep one night. That was lovely. It is a bit of a problem now because every night it is dark around six and no one wants to talk after six.

Q: Did you have any special restrictions for Dia de los Muertos?
A: Nope! Just work as normal. We handed out candy to some of the kids while contacting their parents. That was great. :):)

Q: What is Toluca like? All big city?

Q: Did Elder Lanza stay in Crescencio Morales?
A: Yup. And he is training another elder, this time a latino.

Q: Have you heard from any of the other MTC elders you came out with?
A: Yeah! They are all having lots of success. Elder Lofgreen has had a couple baptisms.

Q: How's the language now?
A: The language is a little better. Still working on it. :)

Q: What do you know about your companion?
A: He loves League of Legends as well, and is from the Dominican Republic. His birthday is 17 November, and he is 18 right now. Haha. I am older than my mission momma. :)

Elder Medina and a ginormous monkey at a member's home.

Elder Medina, members, animals (live and stuffed...)