Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Rumors and Spare Kitchens

Buenas tardes! 

     This last week was good. The heat here in Mexico is starting to decide that it wants to be serious. I am seriously considering overcoming my disgust for sunscreen. But that doesn't change the fact that the work here is going very well! We have two families that are progressing that I am very excited about. The first family is a family of four. The dad is working on quitting smoking and the mom is slowly taking out her strong Catholic roots one by one. 

     We were expecting them in church yesterday but they never came. We visited them after the services and found out why they decided to not be home. The brother of the husband had talked with them in the morning, and found out that they were accepting visits from us, and proceeded to say all sorts of the weirdest things. Some of the rumors that he passed on are the common ones, like we all had 7 wives and the like. But I had never heard before that there were some people that think that every Sunday at the end of Sacrament meeting we do a "wife-swap" and every couple switches up with another. Naturally the mom in this family was pretty freaked out. :) We did an impromptu lesson of the Law of Chastity, and this family left feeling a lot better. Sounds like they're back on board for coming to church next Sunday. :) 

     Elder Gavilla is doing well. He is still learning some of the ropes of the mission rules, and trips from time to time (but Heck, I am too!), but is still working hard. He loves to laugh and smile, which is making this change a lot easier. I really enjoy teaching and working with him. He has a very powerful testimony and a close connection with the Spirit. 

     That about wraps it up for now! Hope that this week is the best week yet and that the hand of God is visible in each moment of your day. His hand certainly is here. 

Hasta luego! 
Elder Kennington 

Preguntas Bien Rapidito 
Q: What regional difference in food type/preparation have you noticed now having served in three completely different areas? Do they have different names for the same thing? 
A: They have all the same things, basically. One custum here is that they always serve a soup before the actual meal. And everything is fried. And nobody uses an oven. The only thing they use their oven for is to store dishes and that sort of thing. I thought of you and the unfortunate plastic bowl back in our house in Provo. :) 

Q: Does your little mercado sell fresh fruit and veg? 
A: Yep! Just bought about 3 kilos of apples. I think I am set for the week. 

Q: How is the haircut this week? How often were you needing to get it cut before The Dreadful Buzz? 
A: It's... Better... (?) Haha. I used to get it cut once about every 3-4 weeks. 

Q: You’ve mentioned the high number of dogs running around there. What about cats? Feral? Domestic? 
A: A few cats, but not many. We have more in Payson. All feral. :) 

Q: Evan would like to know if you have met any Russians? Have you met any other non-Mexicans at all? 
A: No, I haven't met any Russians... I have met many Mexicans who have lived in the United States, one from England, a few from the Dominican Republic. 

Yes/No kitchen questions. Do you have: 
A hotplate:                         yes 
Microwave:                        no 
Crockpot/slow cooker:    no 
toaster:                               no 
Stove:                                 no 
Oven:                                  no 
Freezer:                             yes 
Frying pan:                       yes 
Cooking pot/sauce pan:   no 

Q: How typical is your kitchen set-up for other places you have lived or homes you have visited? 
A: They all have a microwave, a fridge, and a hotplate. That about sums it up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Elder Zombie Kennington

This week was a party. We worked our tails off working with some of our investigators. A couple weeks back we started working with a man named Hector and his family, and they are wonderful. They love us to bits, and we always look forward to visiting them. Due to some past bad experiences with some Jehovah's Witness missionaries they weren't too keen to let us in, let alone come to church, but this week they will be coming to church for the first time. And Hector has almost completely kicked the smoking habit that he has had for 35 years. The secret? He picks up the Book of Mormon every time he gets the desire to smoke. Another testimony that it is a book inspired by God with the purpose of blessing the lives of God's children. If you haven't read it within the last 24 hours I recommend that you pick it up and see what God would like to say to you.

This Sunday was a little interesting. I had spent Saturday night sick as all get out, so when it came time to get ready to go the following morning I think a zombie could have dressed himself better. But we got out to door, got some good contacts, and then half an hour later had to dash to a member's house to borrow the bathroom. :) Kept this up through the whole day, but that didn't stop us from enjoying a junta* (forgot how to say that in English) with the ward. The ward is really struggling with each person being anxiously engaged in his calling, so one of the stake councilors was there for the junta. Everyone left with their eyebrows a little singed, but with high hopes for the progress of the work of the Lord here in this ward. :) We got home, and I had one of the best sleeps that I have had in my entire mission. :) Twas heavenly.

Eso fue todo para esta semana. Elder Gavilla esta bien. Trabajando muy duro y aprendiendo mucho. Estoy agradecido por su humildad. Nos va muy bien. Hasta luego! Les amo muchisimo, y espero que esta semana sea la mejore.**

Con amor
Elder Kennington

*Junta = literally "board or assembly."  Probably like a gathering, conference, or something.
** "That's all for this week. Elder Gavilla is great. Working hard and learning a lot. I am grateful for his humility. We get along very well. Hasta luego! I love you all a lot, and I hope that this week is the best."

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  Tell me more about Elder Gavilla and his family background.
A:  He is from Veracruz, and was born to a member family. His grandma was the first convert.

Q:  What comments have you gotten about your hair this week?
A:  Just about everything... :p Haha. I got asked by a person that I contacted in the street if I was really just undercover military scouting out the area... :)

A:  ... Ok... :p

Q:  Okay, #3 wasn’t really a question. Here is one: Where will you go now for a haircut?
A:  I don't know. I think if I wanted a better one I would blindfold my companion and give him an Exacto knife. Yeah. I think I'll do that.

Q:  What is your Chamapa apartment like? Send pictures?
A:  It is bigger than the one in Toluca and very nice. Two bathrooms (no idea how we managed to score that) and easy to keep clean. Love it.

Q:  What would you like me to include more of in my letters to you, both snail and digital?
A:  More news about what is going on back home with everyone. Just out of pure curiosity. Like what you did this week? The list of tidbits? Loved it. Everyone in the world back home is getting married. O.o

Q:  Which specific investigators would you like us to pray for?
A:  Maria Ines ( an new investigator from this week whose dad is a self-described retired Mormon), Lupita and her family, and Hector and his family.

Q:  What brand of hair gel do you use?
A:  It is called Ego. It smells nice. :)

The trainers picking up their greenies from the mission home.  Elder Kennington is in the back on the right side.

This is from me, the Mom.  I'm not counting or anything about how many Sundays until it's Mother's Day and I get to talk to my missionary!

The new companionship! Elder Kennington and Elder Gavilla, obviously taken before the Haircut of Doom.

The Haircut of Doom!  I wonder what the shaved-in part looks like...

Elder Kennington's apartment

The kitchen looks a little sparse in the cooking appliances department to this mom.

One last apartment picture.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Elder Kennington and a Newbie Companion

Esta semana que ya paso fue lokisimo. Ayayay!! 

Pues, ya tuvimos los cambios. Elder Taylor su fue a un area se llama El Oro. Esta cerca Michoacan. Y yo me quede. Y con quien? Tal vez teine un poco de curiosidad porque yo no wrote this past Monday*. It is because I spent all of this last Monday in President's house. Why? Because I am now training again! This missionary as new as it gets. His name is Elder Gavilla, de Vera Cruz**. He strikes me as a good elder with lots of willingness to work. I am very excited to see what this change contains. Also a little stressed. This is a huge responsibility. I can only imagine how Elder Lanza felt training a new missionary who didn't even understand a thing he was saying, and opening a new area. My respect for him, which was already sky high, shot up even more. I will send photos next week. 

Because it was Monday I went to get a haircut and the woman there asked me what I wanted. And I told her the same the I always say. She nodded, said yeah she could do it, and then in 45 seconds gave me the shortest buzz cut of my life. I look like an escaped prison inmate trying to pose as a missionary. It is so short I couldn't do the line for my hair (I didn't realize how much I had grown to love that line, by the way). Mom, do you remember how that electric razor you gave me for my 18th birthday had a trimming attatchment on the back? Yep. You know exactly where that went. I had my new hijo [companion] put a line in my hair with that. Fortunately the line looks good. Everything else? I have seriously considered wearing a paper bag over my head with two holes cut out for my eyes. :P 

Bad haircuts aside, we saw a miracle this last week with Elder Taylor. When I was back in the MTC in Provo we had to go up to the Mexican Consulate for to start our visas. When I was there I tried talking with a couple of the workers, but unsuccessfully because I didn't speak Spanish and they didn't speak English. But I remembered one of them; an hermana that tried hard too. 

Now, fastforwarding about 8 months. We were walking in the street and this woman honked her horn and gestured to us to come over. We did. And I immediately recognized this woman from the Consulate back in SLC Utah. Yup. She remembered me personally. We talked for real this time. Her name is Areli, and she will be here for about five more weeks. Apparently she got to Chamapa the same time that I did. And she will be here for this transfer before she goes back to Utah. And she listened to us and invited us in to give the message of the Restauracion. Which went extremely well. She is so incredible. She even has photos of the Salt Lake City temple on her fridge. 

To quote The Incredibles: "Coincidence? I think NOT!" 

We are very excited to be working with her. 

Gotta run now. Thank you all so much for the love and support that you constantly send my way. If you could make sure to keep my investigators in your prayers it would mean the world to me. I love you all! 

 Hasta luego! 
 Elder Kennington 

* Translation:  "This was week was really crazy! Ayayay.  First of all we had transfers.  Elder Taylor was transferred to an area called El Oro.  It is in Michoacan.  And I stayed behind. But with whom?!  I'll bet you're wondering why I didn't write on Monday." 

**Translation:  "Elder Gavilla, from Vera Cruz." 

 Missionary photos. Last Zone meeting photos. Good stuff. The majority of the misisonaries that you see have less time than I do. This Zone was really young.

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  Are there church hymns you sing often on Sundays in Spanish that are not in our English version of the hymn book? 
A:  Not really There are one or two that we sing sometimes that aren't. There are only 209 hymns in the Spanish Hymnbook. 

Q:  Did you listen to General Conference in Spanish or English? Were the two Spanish-speaking brethren dubbed on the Sunday afternoon session? 
A:  I got to see it in English. It was so so cool!! :D 

Q:  Where do you go shopping if your little local street mercado doesn’t have what you need? 
A:  Ummm... We make do... It is the only place we have in our area. :) We have to travel about 1 hour outside the area if we wanna go to the bank. 

Q:  What do most people in Chamapa do for a living? 
A:  They do everything from drive taxis and combos (Volkswagons) to selling food in the street. For the most part it is a very humble part of the city, another blessing for which I am very grateful! Their work schedules are crazy, so helping them get to church is often quite the trick. :)

Missionary photos. Last Zone meeting photos. Good stuff. The majority of the missionaries that you see have less time than I do. This Zone was really young.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Elder Kennington and Semana Santa

This week was totally insane!!!

First off, this was the Semana Santa (Holy Week) for the Catholics here, and for those of you at home that is the vast majority of Mexico. :) The climax of the week was Friday, when they had their big parades. These parades are basically reenactments of the Savior's long walk to Golgotha and subsequent crucifixion. These parades included:

-A Jesus Christ leading it in full costume, crown of thorns and all, and with his giant cross. Actually, later that day, the guy was literally crucified (though they only tied him to it, they didn't nail him to it, they only tied him to it) and left him there for a few hours. Additionally, in the parade there was a group of people behind him with whips beating and spitting on him
-A gigantic Mexican flag with the Virgin Mary emblazoned on the front
-A group of about 40 virgins weeping and wailing
-A Satan in full costume dancing around in triumphf
-Another group of women singing and wailing "perdon, perdon..."
-10 to 12 other "criminals" to be crucified
-20 more "Roman Soldiers" causing general havoc
-A Drum band of more Roman Soldiers
-Pontius Pilate and Wife
-Monks with faces painted have white and half black
-People blowing conch shells
-Lots of graven images
-Lots of images of the Virgin
-And about 10,000 people following behind as part of the parade and normal townspeople.

It was a very different experience. While they were doing their best with this great spectacle to create a hugely moving experience for all present in the which people were expected to succumb to uncontrollable sobbing, there was another moment in which the Spirit testified more powerfully to me of the divinity of Christ and the depth of His sacrifice took place inside a tiny little room on our small chapel, listening to an Apostle of the Lord testifying of the reality of a loving Savior.

I really hope that everyone had the chance to listen to the General Conference. It was truly a powerful one. I particularly loved the themes of family, parenthood, and, in the priesthood session, fatherhood. My future family that I long to have has been one of my greatest dreams for quite some time now, and I realized this last week that it has been another great reason for me to be in the mission. What better place is there to learn how to be a good future father and husband? I have learned a lot of the importance of a family centered in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ here in Mexico, for, while there is a huge number of families, there is a vast difference between the ones that are covenant making/keeping families vs families founded on solely something else. In one situation the family is focused on obtaining eternal joy, while the other tends to fall prey more often to momentary happiness.Please, never forget the value of heavenly treasure. Maintain that eternal perspective and allow it to influence the most valuable blessings you have right now: Your agency and your family. As a representative of Jesus Christ I testify of the value of doing so, in His sacred name, amen.

I love you all with all my heart, and wish to help you remember that your Savior loves you even more.

Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  What is your average daily schedule?
A:  6:25 a.m.  we are on our knees praying. 7:55 we are in personal study. 8:55 we are studying as a companionship. 9:55 we are studying language. 10:25 we are out in the streets contacting everyone in the world. 2:00 we have one hour for lunch. 9:30 pm we are in the house planning the next day. :) That is a normal day!

Q:  What is the best thing you did to prepare for your mission?
A:  I didn't miss one night reading my Book of Mormon. I now have about 3 years running where I have read at least one verse a day. And developing the idea of what an eternal perspective is and trying to apply that to each of my decisions. 

Q:  What do you wish you had known before going out?
A:  MORE of Preach My Gospel, and more of how to follow the Spirit. I could have done a much better job of hitting the ground running on that front.

Q:  What has changed the most about you since being in Mexico?
A:   ... I don't really know.. I haven't been paying much attention to me, so I haven't been watching for that... I guess my love for the Savior has continued to grow and expand. And it is much easier for me to feel the Spirit, remain patient, and practice the Christlike attributes.

Q:  Have you gotten your shoes fixed? How are your feet doing?
A:  Nope! The shoes are still just fine! No problems there. Eccos were the right shoes to go with. :):) And the feet are doing a little better. The callouses that basically form a second sock are a God-sent protection. :)