Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ups and Downs

Hiya! :D 

This last week was full of ups and downs. 

We had the two confirmations of the daughters of Hortencia, one of the women that just needs to get married so she can get baptized. She is very excited to have her three daughters now members of the church, and for the Spirit that they now feel inside their home. All four of them are very excited; actually, they talked with us last week saying that they had decided to do a fast so that the father's heart would be softened and that he would listen to us and get married with Hortencia. We joined in with them, and it was one of my favorite fasts of my entire mission. Fasting together with recent converts is something else. 

We are kind of struggling with another woman who got baptized about a month back. Right after she got baptized she lost her job, and she blamed it on the church and on God. It was extremely disheartening to see someone who was so ready and so excited to follow Jesus Christ turn right around and then attack the very thing that she accepted. It kind of reminded me of situations when someone receives a heart transplant to save their life, only to have their body reject the new organ. We are working hard to try and bring her back. 

Our work with the ward is doing really well. The bishop created a ward missionary family plan that we are giving to each member of the ward with their families, so as to get this wonderful ward even more involved. Elder Fjerstad and I have been developing a series of little messages and lessons with the goal of helping them complete with this plan by making them more spiritually autosufficient. 

Elder Fjerstad and I are doing great! We just found a family of four a couple days ago that came to church yesterday for the first time, and they loved it! We are so excited for them, and will be putting a goal for baptism with them in our appointment tomorrow night (we didn't have a lot of time to really get into baptism when we first found them). They are really excited to start coming, saying that they learned more from one day in our church than a lifetime in the Catholic. If at all possible, I would love to stay with Elder Fjerstad one more change to make sure they get baptized next month. 

That about wraps it up on this end. I love you all so very much! Thank you for everything that you do! 
Elder Kennington 

Preguntas Bien Rapidito  
Q:  What do you enjoy most about being district leader? 
A:  I love doing interviews. They are incredible spiritual, and it is such a rich environment to be able to help some resolve doubts and realize that they are indeed ready for baptism. 

Q:  Does Giselle’s dad seem any more inclined to marry her mother? What do you think is holding him back? If they get married can Giselle’s mom get baptized? 
A:  As soon as they get married, Giselle's mom is going to get wet. :) SHe is awesome. Her family and us just did a fast so that his heart could be softened, because as of right now it doesn't seem like anything for him has changed. I think what is holding him back is tradition (he is Catholic), fear (he still has never come to church), and a little bit of pride (he always has to be in the right. 

Q:  Do you take public transportation much in this area? What is it like? 
A:  Haha... They are called camiones. Imagine big old rickety buses racing each other down the freeway. Mexico is fun. :) 

Q:  Have you been out to the volcano yet? Was it amazing? 
A:  That, hopefully, is next week. I can hardly wait. I have heard that it is gorgeous, and I will be taking lots of photos. 

Q:  Does the ward do any kind of a party to celebrate Dia de los Muertos? 
A:  Still haven't heard anything on that front. I am hoping so... :) 

Q:  Has Hurricane Patricia done anything where you are? 
A:  Not really. We escaped everything. We were very far away from where all the action was.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cold Feet Doesn't Mean What You Think

This last week was really good.

First off we had two baptisms that have been a long time in the making. The other two sisters of Giselle (who got baptized last week) made it for this week, and they were very excited. We were very worried, as we didn't even see one of them throughout this week (because she is a little bit rebelious and spends all day out in the street with her boyfriend), but she got to church on her own and held true to her goal to get baptized today. I cannot express how excited I am!

This week we are going to spend a lot of our time with Christian, one of our other really good investigators. He has a lot of potential in the church, and has changed a lot. He comes from a past full of drugs and all sorts of other nasty stuff, but is turning everything around. He has a job, has cold turkeyed all of his addictions, and is doing very well. We are hoping that he keeps progressing and doing well. He has also said that he is very interested in getting baptized. I think we can help out with that. :)

We are also going to spend a lot of time helping the Elders (who have a huge family getting baptized this Sunday), and the Hermanas (who are really struggling with finding anyone that will listen and progress). This is an extremely good district, full of powerful missionaries, and I am very grateful to be have the priveledge of being able learn from such phenomenal missionaries.

Elder Fjerstad and I are doing great. I would love to spend more than just one change with him. We are working really well together, doing our best to follow the Spirit and be in the right place at the right time, so as to have a better advantage against the adversary.

The ward is also doing very well. We are trying hard to work with the bishopric, and they are very cooperative, but the rest of the ward leaders are proving to be a bit of a trial. A few are only interested in being "seen of men," not willing to help us out our even put us in contact with willing members from their organizations. My companion and I are looking for ways to serve them to try and see if that helps.

Thank you so much for all that you do! I love you all, and pray for you every day.
Elder Kennington

P.S.  The floor is really cold in the chapel, being tile. So I saw fit to wear my boots. I almost considered baptizing in them...    :) Elder Fjerstad is a stud!

Preguntas Bien Rapidito 
Q:  Can you get the following at your local Walmart? Just put Y or N next to each item 
 a. Bisquick, Krusteaz, or some other just-add-water pancake mix si 
 b. maple syrup or fruit syrup si 
 c. fresh eggs you trust si 
 d. frozen orange juice concentrate si 
 e. bacon you trust si 
 f. yogurt, and do you like yogurt any more si y no el yogurt de Mexico me destruyo... :P 
 g. I am thinking of depositing money in your checking account so you can buy locally the ingredients for a yummy Christmas morning breakfast. What do you think? Estaria genial. Hay muchisima comida aca. :) Ojala que me quedo hasta la navidad. 
[It would be great. There's plenty of food here. :) Hopefully I'll stay until Christmas.]

Q:  What are the chances of you being transferred out of Toluca and away from Walmart before Christmas?
A:  son buenos. Porque todavia son dos cambios despues de este hasta la navidad. Vamos a ver. Me gustaria quedarme por lo menos un cambio mas. 
[are good. Because they are still two changes after this until Christmas. We'll see. I would like to stay at least one more change.]

Q:  Is the district leader position one that tends to keep you in place for a change or two? I mean, is it more likely you will stay in Toluca/Haciendas for at least one more change because you are district leader?
A:  Mas o menos. eso aplica mas a los lideres de zona 
[More or less. That applies more to leaders of area]

Q:  Do you need any new Christmas violin music to get ready?
A:  SI! O Come o Come Emmanuel, o Carol of the Bells. No se. Una o dos ideas estaria perfecto. 
[YES! O Come O Come Emmanuel, or Carol of the Bells. I dont know. One or two ideas would be perfect.]

Q:  Kyle Thompson mentioned something about a brother there giving you a suit? Details?
A:  Jaja si habia un hermano en mi barrio cuando estaba en las oficinas que vio que mi traje estaba algo destruido. Este hermano es super rico (la semana pasada visito a 4 o 5 paises nada mas porque quiso visitar a un amigo...) y me regalo una. :):)
[Haha There was a brother in my neighborhood when I was in the office he saw that my suit was destroyed. This brother is super rich (visit last week to 4 or 5 countries just because a friend wanted to visit ...) and gave it to me.]

Junta with the ward mission leader, who was sick that day...

Elder Fjerstad being tired

The ward mission leader


One morning I woke up to somebody lifting up the mattress. The bed moved, trapping me in between the wall and the mattress in a mound of blankets. Looking up I saw a camera and a crazed look on Elder Fjerstad's face: "Let's go EXERCISE! " :D. I responded by going back to sleep.

I got revenge that night as Elder Fjerstad was reliving his childhood and blowing bubbles with his gum. I chucked a lid at the bubble. Twas hilarious. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Long-Awaited Baptism

Hi there! :D

This last week was full of ups and downs.

We have been working hard, and it has been a little trying, but in all the right ways. I feel like I am growing a lot as a missionary and as a son of God.

We had a young woman get baptized yesterday who is phenomenal. Her mom has been investigating the church for more than a year but has not been able to get baptized because she isn't married to her boyfriend. She has been praying and praying that her family gets interested, and finally after about 16 months her three daughters decided that they wanted to be a part of this. And yesterday the oldest, Gisel, decided to take the decision.

That also shocked her younger two sisters so much that they said yes to getting baptized the following week without hesitation. They are very excited. But not nearly as excited as the mom of the family. :) We are still working with the dad, and hope that the changes that he sees in his family and as he realized that this something good. We are very hopeful for this family.

I love the ward here. I have never been in a better ward; I can't say it enough! The bishop here is doing a great job of supporting us and asking for help when and where they need it. I never realized before I got here just how crucial it is to have the bishop's trust to make any lasting effect in any given area. We are working a lot with the members trying to find more new families; our investigator pool is looking a little empty.

Elder Fjerstad and I are doing well. Elder Fjerstad stresses. A lot. Which makes him work, talk, walk, and do everything much faster. I am having a hard time keeping upwith him! :) He is a phenomenal missionary, and has grown so much since the MTC. And he was awesome in the MTC too. :) We are working really hard to use the good relationship that we have to improve drastically how we teach and work. This change has been wonderful, and will keep getting better.

Hope that you have an incredible week!
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  How is your clothing holding out? How are the shoes holding out? 
A:  It is holding out pretty well. The boots are in the best condition. My shoes are more than a little sad, but I just can't bring myself to buy more... :) Haha. The shoes have a lot of sentimental value and I feel like Andy trying to throw away his toys when I think about buying others to use instead... :) 

Q:  What is the biggest challenge being district leader? 
A:  For me, it is having to prepare juntas and direct them. I wish that I had done more acting in High School, because it would really help me to get out there in front of more people. :) 

Q:  Who was the family you were celebrating your birthday with, in the pictures you sent? Please tell them how grateful I am for taking care of my boy for me when I couldn’t be there myself for his big day. 
A:  Will do. :) That was the family that I told you about in the long email, whose oldest daughter got baptized yesterday. They are wonderful. We did a family home evening with them and they did a mini suprise party. :):) 

Q:  Do you feel homesick very often? What do you do to work through it? 
A:  ..... Would you kill me if I said no......? :P:) In terms of thinking about home, that is a daily thing. But in terms of really really missing it and feeling bad because I am not currently there, not so much. I know that here soon I will be back with you. I start feeling a little homesick when I start thinking about leaving Mexico because I know a lot of the people I knew here I likely won't see again in this life. I know at home the vast majority of my friends and aquantances (close and not so much) aren't even thinking about me, so that makes it a little easier. I love you guys so much. :):) 

Q:  Do you ever wear those bright orange soccer shoes you bought? Do you play soccer very often with member families? 
A:  Yep! We play every Monday! Even though I am terrible at futbol I still really enjoy playing it. I will definitely be following it more later on down the road. :) 

Q:  Would you be sad if I didn't do a Christmas package and put money in your checking account instead? Do you have any package wishes? I haven't decided which to do just yet... 
A:  I wouldn't! However is easier and best for you and the family. :) In terms of package wishes, chocolate is always nice. Socks, ties, and stuff like that. I particularly like stripy ties with colors that smack you in the face screaming "HERE I AM LISTEN TO MY MESSAGE AND HAVE A BETTER LIFE." :)

Gisel, Elder Kennington, Elder Fjerstad

Gisel and her family; Elder Kennington, Elder Fjerstad

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Elder Kennington and the Surprise Baptism

This last week was wonderful, made perfect by the conference and a baptism. The only way it could have been better is if we could have had more investigators come and see the conference.

We had a baptism yesterday, a man named Miguel. This man is truly a miracle. He is the husband of a member, and has been investigating the church without any desire to get baptized the past 5 years, and two Sundays ago his wife just came back to church for the first time in years. While we were talking with him during after the Sacrament Meeting we asked him how he currently felt about baptism, and to our utter shock he said: "I want to get baptized next week. Can you help me out with that?"

We were flabbergasted.

During the week we visited him on and off, coming up to Saturday morning to explain how everything was going to go for his baptism the following day, where he showed us the white shirt, white tie, and white pants he had gone ahead and bought because he was so excited. He will be an incredible member here in the ward, and I am certain that will be a leader in the near future.

Then came the conference. I loved it and learned a lot, and almost filled up a notebook that one of my best friends gave me before the mission. I had a little bit of a hard time applying everything I learned to my mission right now, but feel a lot better about the hope I have to become a decent human being... ;):)

I particularly enjoyed the Priesthood session that talked a lot about faith. In his talk in the priesthood session Elder Uchtdorf said something very interesting, comparing faith with an altar. I had never thought of faith in that way, and decided to make my faith an altar where I can take all doubts, fears, selfish desires, and unbelief to be sacrificed in favor of hope, strengh, and an enlightened life.

That about wraps it up for this week. I love you all so much, and continue praying for and think of you!

Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q: You mentioned, tantalizingly, in your last letter that you have a whole new slough of responsibilities and then did not elaborate. What are your new responsibilities?
A: I just started my first change as a district leader here, which is always a party. And President at the same time transferred some missionaries into the district that need a little bit of help... :) This change is going to involve a huge learning curve and all sorts of stuff. I now have to organize juntas once a week, speak at zone conferences, do baptismal interviews, interchanges with my missionaries, and working all the time with them. Woo!

Q: How are Alejandra and Cristina settling in? Do you find as missionaries that once someone is baptized most of the pre-baptism anxieties settle down?
A: Yes, and no. The pre baptismal stuff all quiets down, but then comes the real life trials right afterwards, because the adversary doesn't like it when people renounce him completely. :P Alejandra is now looking for a new job because the day after her baptism her boss turned all lascivious and nasty and he won't stop harassing her... Sigh. But she is still doing really well, all things considered. :)

Q: Are new members confirmed immediately after their baptism or do they wait until Sacrament Meeting the following day?
A: Yup! They always get confirmed the first Sacrament meeting after their baptism.

Q: What is a cultural/historical/museum-y sort of place you have been to recently? Do the elders just not “get into” that kind of stuff? This is your monthly reminder those kinds of experiences are important too.
A: Quite frankly, most of the missionaries that I know see all of that kind of stuff as a waste of time, especially the leaders. And in this current area, there really isn't a whole lot of cultural stuff to see. Over the next couple weeks we will hopefully have a P Day to go up to Volcano over there on the other side of Toluca! That will be cool.

Elder Kennington's birthday cake supplied by some members in his area.

Members celebrating Elder Kennington's birthday.  Hello Elder Puca!

Birthday celebration

Baptism for Alejandra and Cristina don't know which is which). Elder Puca and Elder Kennington.  

Must have been a great baptismal service for eleven new members.  So exciting!  Elder Puca is fourth from the left on the back row.

Elder Fjerstad, Elder Kennington, Miguel and his wife on Miguel's baptism day.

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Companion Old Friend


Phew. Got that out.

 It has been a pretty crazy few days!! For starters, Elder Puca and I had a couple of baptisms yesterday! We are so excited for them, and the covenants that they have made with God. Firstly was Alejandra. She was prepared so well by the Lord. She cried as she was walking out of the baptismal font she felt so powerfully the Spirit. Before the baptismal service I was giving her a tour of the stake center (where the baptism was being held), and showed her the baptismal font. She took one look at it and said that she had seen it several days before in a dream, and that she knew that she was where God wanted her to be. She is wonderful.

The other baptism was Cristina, the woman that is the wife of a member. She almost didn't get baptized! She had so many doubts and fears, and they were beginning to paralyze her. But she made it through, and also is so very grateful for the decision she made. We saw a lot of help from the Lord as we testified and helped her to understand for what reason we get baptized and how it is a demonstration of the love that we have for our Heavenly Father. ...

 And then came changes.

 Elder Puca is now in D.F., working by Cuajimalpa. His companion is still a little fresh, with about 4 months in the field.

 I stayed.

Do you remember my district from the MTC? Do you remember one of the Elders in that district that I was friends with in Middle School? Elder Fjerstad? Yup. We are companions. SCORE!! I am so excited for this change! It is going to be incredible!!

We have a lot of great people for this change. It is going to be full of learning curves and twists and bends, but it will be incredible. I can hardly wait to begin. :):)

Thank you all for the birthday wishes and for all that you do. I love you all so very much! Have an incredible week!

Elder Kennington

P.S.  My birthday was awesome. There were several members and investigators that had bought me cake, and it was an incredibly successful day in terms of finding new investigators.

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q: Did you get to see the Super Moon last night?
A: Dang. I was inside scrubbing the bathroom floor. Almost as cool. :) Haha. Loved the photos!

Q: Who are you most looking forward to hearing at General Conference?
A: I can't wait to find out about the three new apostles!!! I am also looking for a lot of guidance. I just got a whole new slew of responsabilities this change and I am wondering how the Lord wants be to complete with all that I am doing right now.

Q: How many sessions do you think you will get to see? Live? Re-broadcast?
A: I will get to see all of them. Were this not the case Elder Kennington would throw a hissy fit and then start his own church. :);)

Q: What was the kindest thing you noticed all week?
A: There is an incredible family here (our ward mission leader, la Familia Santillan). They are phenomenal. I have never met members normales that are more dedicated to the work of the Lord. They are one of the big driving forces here. I guess that each little act that they do to help us out isn't too huge, but the sum total of everything they do is staggering. They are always ready to give us food if the food appointment falls through, they are always ready to give us rides and come with us to our appointments to bear testimony... And they love us. I feel like they are the closest thing I have to local parents right now. I love them so much. :) Almost as much as my own incredible parents. :):)