Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Elder Kennington On Bottle-Feeding the Scriptures

    This week was the fastest one yet... Eesh... We didn't actually have P Day today because of a really important conference about the upcoming months. Little time to write...

     Time really is flying here in Mexico. I cannot believe that I have been four and a half months here in Toluca. And odds are that I might stay one more change here. We will find out this Saturday! 

    We worked very hard this week trying to get our investigators really going on the pathway to conversion. One that we are teaching is super great. Her name is Xochitl, which is an awesome name, I must say. It is Mayan, and I still have yet to ask her what it means exactly. She is a mom with one daughter that lives there with her and a husband who is rather apathetic towards everything that is not peso or beer related. But she is wonderful. She loves coming to church, and actually has family that lives in Indiana that are members, which is why she let us in in the first place. 

   One of the biggest struggles that we have is helping people here to accept the Book of Mormon as another volume that contains the word of God. They practically have the Bible rolled up and fed to them in their baby bottle when they are born, and so helping them to feel the same way about the Book of Mormon is quite a challenge. I have had the priviledge of having basically the same treatment since I was a baby, until the point where I was able to develop an auto-sufficient testimony of that wonderful book. 

   We love teaching about it however, especially with Xochitl. She is enamored with a lot of what we teach (except for the Word of Wisdom... She loves her coffee :) )... (for those who aren't members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Word of Wisdom is revelation from a prophet that explains about five basic things that we should not partake of: alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, various teas, and coffee. If you have any questions there are missionaries and members that live close to you, I guarantee it. :) ) When we shared Joseph Smith's First Vision she was 100 percent attentive and into every thing that was going on. She truly is wonderful. 

    Aside from that, that is what has been going down here in Mexico! Things are great. I love the mission. The church is true. I love you all. 

Elder Kenningon 

    To Sister Thompson: Thank you for the fun little gifts that you sent me through your package to Elder Thompson. I had forgotten just how good Slim Jims are. :) 

    I also got a package from Mr. and Mrs. Clark that has some particularly gorgeous ties. I am using the red one tomorrow. They made my day. I have the best friends and family. :) 

 Preguntas Bien Rapidito 

Q:  What is your mission president like? How much contact do you have with him? 
A:  He is very good. Very humble. And very very inspired. I don't have a lot of one-on-one contact with him, but from what I have had I am very grateful for the opportunity that I have to have him as mission president. From what I have gathered, he is very close friends with Elder Holland, among others of the Apostles. Talk about friends in high places! 

Q:  When is the next transfer? 
A:  No idea.... We find out this Saturday what is going down on that front. Odds are good that I might actually stay here in University one more change, because we have a huge need for good district leaders in the mission, and Elder Thompson is one of the best. 

Q:  Who are you currently teaching? 
A:  We are teaching Lirio, the little sister of Jairo, Raquel, another grandma who loves us to pieces, Raul, who still can't seem to decide if he really really wants to get baptized with us but decides to come to church when we stop visiting him, and a few new investigators who we are going to go teach for the first time today. 

Q:  What is your favorite thing about your apartment? Least favorite? 
A:  Our apartment is good sized; not puny but not huge either. It is nice, and it lets in a ton of sun. The only sad thing? It is all tile floor with cement walls, so it is FREEZING in the mornings. :) 

Q:  Have you put your sheets on your bed yet? (yeah, I saw that you didn’t put them on in a pic Sister Thompson sent me of you via Elder Thompson…) 
A:  uuuummmmmm aaaaaahhhhhh uuuuuuummmmmmmmmmm...... Yes. I am going with 'yes' .... :P THEY ARE GOING ON TONIGHT I PROMISE!

Fun graffiti:  The tree is real, but the branches are painted.

The amazing University District:

A luchador mask that another Elder gave me for Valentines Day. :) It makes me feel powerful. I almost wanted to sleep in it. :) 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Elder Kennington and the Pizza Eating Competition

Buenas tardes!

I am feeling great!! Actually, a little strange. We had a competition with a couple elders from the district today... I ate a whole Little Caesars pizza, four breadsticks, and a liter of soda in 17 minutes... :P Haha. My feet are great. I have loved those boots we bought. To quote Nigel from Psych, "[they] feel like angel babies, swaddled in a cloud" haha. :) 

This week was really good, and quite the emotional rollercoaster. The recent convert that I talked about last week has really dived off the deep end, deciding he is atheist. It will take some work, but he will come back to the fold. We are not worried. Just very disappointed. 

 But we have learned from the experience. We are going to do a much better job of helping our investigators be prepared for the inevitable trials and tribulations that the Adversary will throw at them when they start on the path of become members of the church of Jesus Christ. One thing that I have been working on and have learned is the importance of conversion. It doesn't matter if someone gets baptized and they are not converted, for if they are not converted we, as missionaries, are not laying up good store for the Lord. Our job is to build the foundations of Zion in our respective missions, but if the bricks that we are laying are made from sandstone, then we are doing only a shadow of what we need to. 

 Baptism will come from conversion, but conversion won't necessarily come from baptism. 

Talking of which, we had the confirmation of Alejandro yesterday, and it was very powerful. We all felt the Spirit and he is very excited to continue learning and growing in the church. He has come a long ways, from some of the darkest paths of life, and is very excited to continue in this path. He feels like at last he has found the way in which he needs to and is capable of changing. We are so happy for him! 

I am out of time and gotta run, but thank you all so much for writing me. If I don't respond to an email or miss writing some of you, know that the neglect is never, ever intentional. I love you all so very much and pray for you daily. Take care! 

Elder Kennington 

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  What do you do to pick yourself back up when you feel discouraged? 
A:  It depends. Usually it is just the little hungry grumpies, so I go buy a little 300 ml Coke or something (by the way, Coke down here is AMAZING. Won't touch any junk food for years when I get home...), say a prayer, and try to remember the people. Usually when I start getting disanimated it is because I have forgotten about the people and started thinking about myself. 

Q:  What do you still need to do/get in the way of clothing? (These are so Mom-type questions) 
A:  A few more socks, a pair of pants, and one new shirt. Got a new suit which looks super studly. :) 

Q:  Have you learned to do any Mexican cooking there? 
A:  I have tried, but people here in Toluca are super closed off, and they don't talk that easily. I have however, learned how to make real tortillas from scratch. More to follow. :) 

Q:  Are there any ethnic restaurants there in Toluca? I don’t know if I can picture a Chinese restaurant in Mexico… 
A:  Actually, there is a Japanese restaurant in our area. To be frank I am way to scared to even think of trying it. I have seen how the fish that they serve there look as they are going in, and it looks like they scraped fish-shaped garbage off of the highway. ... Eesh... O.o

This is what our area normally looks like. It is very beautiful, in its own way.

Elder Thompson reveals his Spiderman alter ego.

The new suit!  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Elder Kennington on Losing Some and Winning Some

This week was quite the roller coaster.

We worked our tails off, running all over the district trying to help out the other missionaries get some people to church and get some baptisms, and were met with fruits on that front. One other companionship managed to bring seven to church yesterday!

It did come at a price however. We went to go visit one of our recent converts last night (Jairo, my first baptism here) and were met with a rather unpleasant surprise. He had been struggling a little with his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and had been messing around on the internet and found all the antimormon stuff there. He believes it 100%. He basically told me to my face that I had betrayed him, and that we had led him astray into an apostate church. I am not going to lie, it was really hard. A testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is one of the most valuable things we can have in this life. If you don't have one I would exhort you to work on one. If you have one, I would beg you to maintain it. Keep it fresh and strong.

But it wasn't all bad. For example, we had another baptism yesterday. This man is named Alejandro, and he really is an incredible example of the power of the church. He came to us saying that he wanted to change. The other Sunday he borrowed a triple and a Gospel Principles manual from a member, and then the guy read all of them in less than FIVE DAYS! He came to us basically telling us to let him get baptized yesterday. He really is incredible. He has a testimony, and it has turned his life around 180 degrees, from some of the darkest and most depressing paths.

Elder Thompson and I are really happy right now, working our hardest to continue growing as missionaries. The most important thing that I learned this last week? Baptism is a fruit of conversion. Conversion does not automatically come from baptism.

Gotta run now. Thank you so much for your love and support. I love you all so much and think about you often!
 Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  More detail on the state of your clothing please -- socks; shoes; shirts; pants; suit. What is repairable? Popped seams can be fixed….
A:  Have bought a few new socks. They are ok. Actually, have bought the suit too. The pants were beyond repair... I got home one day and was suddenly very grateful I had used a coat all day because I found two massive holes in the bum. Each one about four inches by five. Huge monsters. :) This new suit looks really good. I really like it. Will send pics this Monday.

Q:  Have you caught up on your sleep yet?
A:  NOPE!! :D Haha. Not going to in the mission. Honestly, I am fine with it though. I am accustomed to functioning with minimal sleep. :)

Q:  Have you gotten the package from Aunt Cristina and Uncle Richard yet?
A:  YES! It got here this last Tuesday. Haha. The tie that I am wearing in that last photo that I sent home is one that I got from them. Thank them so so much for me. It made my day. I was having a pretty hard time here, and it came at just the right time. They are the best.

Q:  How are Veronica and Marta doing? Is Veronica settling into the ward?
A:  Sigh... Veronica kind of exploded... One of the hermanans here said something very unkind without meaning to and Veronica took huge offense. We are still trying to get her to answer her door. Haha. She will get back just fine, it will just take time. :) With Marta we are still struggling. She started setting up fake appointments with us, which means that she is either losing interest or is just feeling like what her pastor keeps telling her is right.

See. You can get Little Caesar's Pizza here.

Our zone at zone conference.

Notice the particularly posh tie on the particularly handsome missionary.

We had a baptism!! His name is Alejandro, and he is fantastic. He read the entire triple, and Gospel Principles manual in about five days. The guy was hungry for change. When we asked him how he felt about baptism, he told us that it was something that he really wanted to do this week. ... Heck, we weren´t going to complain! :D

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Elder Kennington and the Bucket of Miracles

This week was really good, really hard, and, above all, really building. 

We struggled a lot with being disanimated this week, just from sheer tiredness and stress. We did splits with the Zone Leaders a lot, dashing all over Toluca and the surrounding areas without being able to work much in our area, making bringing our investigators to church quite the trick. :) 

It came to Saturday and both Elder Thompson and I were really struggling with having the energy and sheer willpower to continue working like we need to. We got to the church at about four o' clock in the afternoon to meet with the bishop of another ward to talk about some of the people that we were teaching who had family who lived in his area. We walked in the first people we saw were the bishop and his wife from Elder Thompson's last ward, so he was really excited and wandered off to talk with them a bit. 

I kind of meandered around looking for something to do and then the stake president and his wife from ZITACUARO walked around the corner, almost running me over. I was so excited! It had been months since I had seen them and they were very happy to see me. We talked for a while about how things were back in Crescencia Morales. The tiny ward there has grown, having seen a few baptisms. Like Moses, the town drunk for example!! :D 

When the other bishop walked in and talked with us, and that went down well. We built some trust with the other ward and hope to see some more stake coordination result from it.

 And then this young woman walked in. Her name is Elizabeth, and she was about 17 years old. She has been coming to church for about six years, alone, and has a testimony that nearly burns down the buildings she is in. She is a powerhouse. And she isn't baptized, as we learned that day. We invited her, and got out the baptismal date for the 15th this month. 

Miracles exist, and the Lord just dumped out a bucket of them on our heads this week. 

Like with Marta. There is still a lot of hope with her. We spent a good deal of time with her yesterday, building her faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, finally building it to the point to where she felt the need to pray about them sincerely, thus putting everything in the hands of the Lord. 

Which I am continually learning are the best hands in existence. 

That about wraps it up for this week. Thank you all for your love and support. Hope that everything is ok back at the ranch, and that hope is constantly growing and being found. I love you all so much. 

Elder Kennington 

Oh. And I kind of complete six months in the mission this week. Not freaking out at all. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Preguntas Bien Rapidito

Q:  Am I even saying that right (“preguntas mas rapido” = “really quick questions”)? 
A:  Es "preguntas bien rapidito" :) 

Q:  What was the hardest thing you did all week? 

A:  Working through a lot of the desanimo that struck this week. I don't know why but a few days this week I felt like I was wading through gel. But the Lord helped us out and we found many people anyway. :)

Q:  Did you get to visit with Marta again? 

A:  YES! We worked really hard with her last night, doing our best to help her understand how to build a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. This is not over yet with her. 

Q:  What is going on with your feet? Bronwyn said you have huge blisters on your heels and soles? 

A:  Haha, yeah... My heel and ankles are pure blisters just by virtue of how much we walk. I have taken to using the boots when my feet hurt, and they have been a huge blessing. They are like two clouds for my little happy feet. :) 

Q:  What is the most fun thing you’ve done this week? 

A:  TODAY ELDER THOMPSON AND I BLEW BUBBLES FOR HOURS. And we found out that we are airbenders, in that we could manipulate the bubbles into doing awesome things. :):) Haha. That, and we have taken to playing slugbug here to keep us animated. You would not believe how many bugs are here...