Monday, December 29, 2014

Elder Monster Listens to the Spirit

Hello all! 

Merry Christmas! It was a great Christmas. We had a TON of incredible experiences.

This Thursday we took out two baptismal fechas for this Sunday
 with one of our Zone Leaders which we were really excited about. Jairo, and his mom Italia. Truly ready for this gospel.

And the following day the mom told us she didn´t want to be baptized.

We were devastated, and quite frankly very upset. She wouldn´t even tell us why she didn´t want to be baptized. Just kept on saying no. 

So we thought and prayed and fasted and had the impression to do a family home evening with one of the members in the area, and bring this family. We set it up and got to the night of.

And the member family said everything that we felt was wrong. To the point where we thought we were going to lose both fechas, rather than save one. Talking about all the doctrine about baptism, to baptisms for the dead, to the Law of Chastity. I have never been more frustratedly silent. And then the dad of this family asked Italia if she would be baptized this Sunday

And she said yes.

Elder Thompson and I were in utter shock. The Lord truly works miracles and he chose to do so in a moment of great pride on our part, in that we thought that we knew better as to what had to be done for Italia. 

And their baptism was beautiful.

Truly miracles happen. Please, never underestimate the sheer raw power that members have in the work of Salvation. There are not two different churches, one for the members and one of the missionaries. When they work together, miracles happen. They really do.

I love you all so very much and hope that you had wonderful Christmases. Ta ta for now. 
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Mas Rapido
Q:  What did you do the rest of Christmas Day? 
A:  We went to food with member family, and then we worked as normal!! That is how it went down- :)

Q:  Whose house did you call from? Did Elder Thompson call from the same house? 
A:  We called from a member family´s home, and Elder Thompson was upstairs making the same call. :)

Q:  What did you think of your Christmas presents? 
A:  I loved loved loved them. It was great, and they made me think of home. THe pack of bubble tape is already almost gone... The Mint M and Ms have long since passed as well. :) Thank you so so much. I love you.

Q:  Any funny companion stories to share? Any language gaffes recently? 
A:  Yes, but I am really short on computer time right now. Computer problems. Will share sooon.

Q:  Are your shoes still holding up? Garments? Socks? Belt? White shirts? 
A:  They are all doing great! The socks are kind of gross. I have started buying new ones because I cannot get the smell of mission feet out. It's kind of really gross...

Q:  Do you wear your suit much? 
A:  I wear it every Sunday, Zone Conferences, and things like that. :)

Q:  Are you warm enough? 
A:  Most of the time. The nights here are frigid, and leaving my bed every morning feels like stepping out of the Celestial Kingdom into an Arctic Blizzard...

This is for my brother Evan:

Our baptisms on Sunday. Jairo was a Cristeano and his mother Italia was a Jehovah's Witness.

This morning we helped our recent convert family move a ton of big heavy bags of corn, and discovered a mouse infestation. I killed 21 of them. I am now, to them, Elder Monster. :) Here is a photo of them! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Elder Kennington and the Christmas Festivities

The Mama Note: We got to have 40 minutes of video chat time with Elder Kennington Christmas morning. It took a little while and several phone calls from Owen to finally get something working, but we succeeded (I had such a hard time telling if he was talking to me or someone else in the room because it was 3/4's Spanish and some halting English on the phone calls as we tried to hash out technical issues. Does anyone know how it is possible to video chat in FB?). It was so good to hear his voice and see his face. His speech has taken on a definite Hispanic cadence -- the rise and fall of his voice and how he would pause in his speaking. Love it!

The pumpkin that keeps re-appearing is Jeffrey, created by Evan out of one of our garden pumpkins. He has graced our kitchen since October. I think he looks like one of the Plants Versus Zombies zombies, but don't tell Evan I said that. 
Owen said he needed to get off at 11:40. Here we are, waving good-bye at precisely 11:40 a.m. -- check out the clock in the upper right hand corner.

He talked to us about the challenges of contacting people there. They are very reluctant to be straightforward about where they live, when they'll be home, even what their names are. Owen said they have an extra chapter in their versions of Preach My Gospel that focuses entirely on technique and using creative ways to get around people's innate caginess. He also explained he has always felt very safe and hasn't had any experiences yet with being mugged or anything. He did say he got he and his companion lost once and that was unnerving, but they finally figured out where they were and made it home safely. He has had some powerful experiences with the Holy Ghost working with him and his companion as they have worked with the less active families in their ward there, including helping one family stay together.

Anyway, there is a little extra to share from his Monday email, plus lots of pictures. Enjoy!


I need to start by saying that it is seriously weirding me out that Christmas is this week. *Estoy muy animado que ten ere la oportunidad por hablar con mi familia.

Because it is Christmas this week we had an all-time low for church attendance yesterday, 35. But of that 35 people that were there, there were three of our investigators that we brought and six more menos activos [less actives] that we worked with in the week. We are hoping to start seeing some serious fruits from our work, even hoping to **sacar una fecha baptismal por uno de nuestros investigators, se llama Jairo. El tine como 22 amos, per vea como 16. El es muy bueno, muy curioso y con muchisimo hambre por conocimiento.

We had our Christmas mission conference this last week, which concluded with a little Christmas themed talent show. I got to sing a beautiful arrangement of What Child is This, and then afterwards I played a few Christmas numbers on the violin. Really, it was a blast, and it brought home to me the power that music really has.  Two hundred missionaries crammed into a chapel all dying of hunger and wanting to head to the cultural hall next door, chatting and having a marvelous time, all went quiet to listen to each person that had something prepared. Really, music is incredible.

Additionally, we watched a documentary called Meet the Mormons that was released in the United States recently. It was to help other nonmembers understand us, and it is incredible. I would highly recommend it.

I don't have much time left, so I will rely on my family this week to give a more satisfactory report on everything, as I will be calling them in a few days. :)

Nos vemos!! Les amo mucho!!
Elder Kennington

*I'm very excited to have the opportunity to talk with my family.
**take a baptismal date by one of our investigators, called Jairo.  He has about 22 years, but looks like he is 16. He is very, very curious and with much hunger for knowledge.

This picture with me and Elder Lanza has each other elder that he has trained so far in his mission. :) Elder Lanza is my new Zone Leader!!!!

Elder Thompson!

Owen has purchased a violin to use for special musical numbers. He is keeping it in the mission home safe-keeping. Other missionaries who play will be able to borrow it until Owen comes home from his mission, when he will bring the violin home. Owen's viola at home is a little jealous.

We went to the ward Christmas party, of which the highlight was the annual live Nativity Scene with the Primary kids. This year it didn't work so well because Joseph had a crush on Mary and it was obviously not returned in the slightest. I thought Mary looked a little too murderous....Baby Jesus didn't exist because the baby's mom had the cold, so they just left the little blanket open. If He hadn't been born yet I guess I understand what Mary was a little less than complacent. Also, five minutes prior to this moment the angel had been stealing food from the kitchen and acting more like a little Satan than cherubim.....Ha ha

I asked Owen about this picture when we talked on Christmas. He said one of the speakers talked about the blessings Jesus brought with His birth. Everyone in the audience had a slip of paper with a blessing brought by the Savior and as the speaker mentioned that blessing, the person holding it joined the Blessing Train led by this little engineer as they paraded around the cultural hall.

Elder Thompson gives the violin a go.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Short Note in Which He Wanders In and Out of Spanish

This will be short again because time doesn't exist in the mission. Haha.

First off, being halfway through December without snow and this kind of warmth is seriously throwing me off. It is super hot in the middle of the day, and then even colder in the night and morning. I am pretty certain that there is some sort of chemical reaction between the cold and my blanket in the mornings because each morning my blanket weighs a TON ... Haha.

Things are good here. We are working on a new plan of attack, and are hoping that we are met with more success. We are going to focus on working with the *Miembros Menos Activos porque es mucho mas facil por encontrarlos y ayudarlos a ir a la capilla. Por medio ellos esperamos que podamos encontrar mas personas por ensenar y traer a un conicimiento de la Iglesia.

**Pues, Elder Thompson es lo mejor, la verdad. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him so far this week. Having an American companion, I didn't realize how much of a habit that Spanish had become. It made me pretty happy. Spanish is coming much more quickly now.

We have one guy we are teaching Jairo. He is 22 and great. We found him just before the ***cambio and he came to church without any prodding or searching, completely on his own. We talked with him after church, and then didn't see him all week. We went to find him yesterday morning (Sunday) at his house to come to church, but he wasn't there. In fact, none of our investigators were. We were a little sad as we headed to church without any people, and then were shocked to find out that he had beat us to the chapel, with a Book of Mormon. I am so excited for our appointment with him this week.

Life is good. I love the mission. Five stars. Woooo!
Ta ta!
Elder Kennington

*We are going to focus on working with the Less Active Members because it is much easier to find them and help them go to the chapel.  Through them we hope we can find more people to teach and bring a conicimiento of the Church.

**Well, Elder Thompson is the best, really.


Preguntas Mas Rapido
Q:  How big is your zone? How many elders and sisters? What geographic area?
A:  Our zone is actually pretty small. 16 hermanas and 8 elders. Geographically about 10 square miles.

Q:  Who was the family you went to the train station with? It seems you have a lot of pictures with the same family.
A:  The same member family. We visit them about every two nights because they live super close, need a lot of help. No one else wants to talk when it is dark. They are afraid. This family is just plain fun. I love 'em to bits. They are converts of just a few months.

Q:  How often does the gas go out in your apartment? Have you been electrocuted yet by putting an IRON IN THE WATER??? The iron you use to iron your clothes? (Your mom seriously face-palmed herself when she realized what you were doing...)
A:  No, that was another iron that was used only for this purpose. A member lent it to us. It worked wonderfully. Haha....Please don't kill me.... :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Another Transfer ... Staying Put But with Someone From Home

It was mostly pictures this week from Elder Kennington. He did say:

Well....Elder Medina got transferred.... To tell the truth I was pretty depressed.... I learned and grew a ton with him.  My new companion is Elder Thompson. He is tall and from Spanish Fork. My first companion in the field who has any English. 

Looking forward to this week. I am going to learn a lot with Elder Thompson. He has about 7 months in the mission.  Wooooo! I love you all so very much, and wish you a fantastic week.
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Mas Rapido
Q:  How are you notified of transfers?
A:  Our district or zone leader calls us in the wee hours of the night... This time we were notified at 12:50 in the morning on Sunday.

Q:  What is the church building like in Toluca?
A:  It is just like the church building we have, only without carpet. Every building here in Toluca has nothing to do with carpet. Only tile.

Q:  Do transfers happen the day before P Day or on P Day?
A:  They happen on P Day early in the morning. They're fun. :) We have about 50 missionaries in the train station all chatting and having a marvelous time. It's nice. :)

Elder Kennington is Eminem

Elder Medina is 2Pac...

2Pac meets a Minion...

Elder Medina getting scolded by one of the hermanas here.

The half-iron in the bucket is what we used to make hot water for bathing this week 'cause the gas ran out. Shhhh.... :) [Mom Note: WHAT???? AGH!!!  He's gonna get himself electrocuted for sure. Do guardian angels help out with such foolhardiness?]

In the taxi headed for the terminal...

Saying good-bye in the terminal. Elder Medina is in a new area called Valle de Bravo.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Espanol es Esta Apoderando (Spanish is Taking Over)

[Mom Note:  Owen randomly switches into Spanish half way through his message. Google Translate did an amusing job, and I am not certain of its accuracy. For example, I am pretty sure they didn't have any baptisms this transfer...]

This will be rather short for today because we are really short on time. Last P Day of this exchange, and we had lots to do! Crazy that six weeks are already up here.

La verdad, no quiero irme. Me gusta muchísimo esta area, y tenemos muchos investigadores bueno. La única cosa de que estoy un pocito triste es que no tuvimos la oportunidad por bautizar en este cambio. Elder Medina es fantástico; le disfrute muchísimo. Tuvimos mucho éxito con los miembros menos activos en este area, entonces no perdíamos nuestro tiempo.

[From Google Translate: I really do not want to leave. I like a lot this area, and we have many good researchers. The only thing that I'm a sad little well is that we had the opportunity to baptize in this change. Elder Medina is fantastic; will enjoy a lot. We had great success with the less active members in this area, so we did not lose our time.]

Tuvimos cambios (We held exchanges) this Thursday in the entire zone for one day, and my companion for the day was Elder Palacios. He has 22 months in the mission and is extremely tired; notwithstanding, he is an incredible elder. I learned a ton from him.

I learned a lot about being more direct and strong in my contacts and when I extend a commitment to an investigator. I have been afraid to offend, but I have learned better. Everyone here in Mexico really really needs our message, but rarely do they have any idea just how much.  Consequently, they are not likely going to jump out of their chair to keep any commitments we extend. I think this will help me a lot with the success that we have been missing for so long.

That is about all for now.... Know I love you all so much.  That I pray for you every night.
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Mas Rapido
Q:  Do you get any sense of whether you will stay in Toluca for the next transfer? Does President Whitehead seem to move people around frequently?
A:  I am thinking that I am going to stay. Pres. Whitehead moves people a lot. Elder Medina has two transfers here now, so I think that he will be headed out....Sniffle. Can't believe that transfers are next week.

Q: When does Mexico start the Christmas holiday push?
A:  Mexico started the Christmas push about twenty days ago.... And I thought that the Americans were excited for Christmas. What Mexico lacks in snow it makes up for enthusiasm for Christmas.

Q:  Any plans for a mission-wide Christmas celebration of some kind?
A:  Ummmm... 24 of December we watch movies as a Zone (stuff from Disney and the like), eat pizza, and play soccer. Stoked for that. :)

This is what all of my area looks like

Our zone on exchanges

Elder Medina steps behind the camera to capture our zone

Also, a house with a ton of fantastic colors that I loved. :):) I want a house like this!!

A fantastic family that is recent converso, y sus hijos les gustan muchisimo los Legos tambien. :):)
[a recent convert family whose sons love Legos!]