Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A White Week

This last week was all over the place. We spent the majority of the week working on getting everything ready for the baptism yesterday. The baptism went really well. We had a lot of people from the ward show up (a great sign that we are getting the trust of the ward back a little bit), and the service went really well. It was a young girl named Monserrat, who is part of a family that was less active just a little bit ago, that we've been working with for a while. Even though she is terrified of water and had to get baptized twice (because her hair came up out of the water...), she was a real trooper and toughed it out really well. She is awesome.

We are kind of struggling with getting our investigators to church because, while there are many that we are teaching, we still don't have the help of the ward on Sunday mornings to go pick them up ("it's sooooo early in the morning" or "I can't go because I've got to visit ____ because they are sick," and all sorts of stuff like that. We have been passing by for the majority. Even with that considered, it is going well. Elder Zúñiga and I have high hopes for February. We just barely found a couple days ago this huge family that lives in this pueblo out in the middle of nowhere, who just happen to be family of some recent converts. We are excited to start teaching them.

Elder Zúñiga is doing well. He has grown and learned a lot this change, and I am enjoying the time that we have left in this change. I cannot believe that there are only two weeks left until transfers. Time is flying!

It snowed on the volcano this last week. It is gorgeous! Elder Zúñiga and I tried to go today, but there was too much snow and they wouldn't let people go up because of all sorts of "hazards." They told us with wide eyes that there was roughly FOUR INCHES of snow on the mountain. Good grief. School back in Utah keeps going even if we get a foot and a half... :) Haha. But we wandered around for a little bit, enjoying the peace and the quiet. :)

Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  Can you buy wool socks to put on your feet while you are sleeping? If you wear wool socks to bed that will keep your feet warm through the night. Wool socks would also keep your feet warm during the cold mornings/evenings.
A:  I went and got myself a pair a couple of weeks ago. It has been about 30-35 degrees Farenheit here! O.o

Q:  When is the next transfer date?
A:  The first of February. That day I start my last block of changes in the mission... :( Four more changes after this one...

Q:  How is your convert (Juan?) doing? (the one who just showed up at the church building having seen it in a dream)
A:  He is doing AWESOME! He just blessed the Sacrament yesterday. :):) He keeps talking about saving up a lot of money to buy the house where he is renting, moving, then having the missionaries live there with all their groceries bought and not having to pay rent. :) He is doing really well. The bishop feels like he is ready to get the Melchizedek Priesthood two weeks from yesterday. :)

Q:  What is your favorite Alan Rickman (Prof. Snape) role?
A:  The obvious Proffessor Snape. He was the perfect actor for him. ... Man.... I have no idea what everything is going to look like when I get home... Everyone is getting married, getting older, going to school, and dying. Man.... O.o

El Nevado with snow

Baptism of Monserrat

Elder Kennington

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Warming Hearts -or- Lions & Tigers & Bears/Flamingos/Snakes/Owls Oh My!!!

Phew.  Crazy last week. :)

We are working really hard with the recent converts and the less actives right now. We have a baptism for this Sunday, which is the young 9-year-old daughter of a less active family that we've been working with (named Monserrat). This family is doing really, really well. The family couldn't be happier.

We are also working with another young man that is the son of a recent convert who looks really good. His name is Ismael, and even though he has a lot of doubts about organized religious activity (He had some horrible experiences with some local pastors when he was younger), he is progressing quite nicely. He went to church for the first time yesterday and he really, really liked it.

We also found a miracle yesterday who also has a lot of potential. Her name is Fabiola, and she is passing through a lot of really hard stuff right now. Her two children are both in the hospital thanks to some really bad accidents and need operations (they are 3- and 2-years-old), and her husband is almost never home thanks to his work. She came to church on her own looking for help and comfort, and found some. :) We are excited to start teaching her this week. She lives in a pueblo that is super Catholic, which is a huge step for the work in this area.

The ward is really warming up to us right now. Many of the families here always invite us out to eat and to spend time with their family. We have to be careful so as to not cross the line of being friendly with the members to wasting time. :) But it is a line that I am grateful exists, because I really struggle in wards where I feel abandoned by the ward. I work best when I feel love and support from those around me. And in my last three areas, Palmas, Haciendas, and Las Torres there has been no shortage of that. :)

Oh. And today we went to a zoo out in the middle of nowhere. I was expecting a dinky run-down sort of place, but it was actually really nice. Almost as good as the Hogle Zoo. :) We went with Ismael (our investigator) and another young guy from the ward. Twas a party!

Hope that you have a wonderful week!
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  Why do you think the Lord kept sending Lehi’s sons back to Jerusalem on retrieval missions instead of having them gather everything (plates of brass, future spouses, etc.) the first time they left?
A:  Probably for the same reason that I now have more than a year in the Toluca area, and I have three different areas as part of it. I keep coming back here as well. I consider it a huge blessing (even if Laman and Lemuel didn't). It was an awful lot that they had to do. The Lord isn't interested in us having everything all at the same time, even if it would be more "efficient." He has our growth perfectly scheduled. We will not become stronger in the Gospel faster than we are able, and certainly not faster than is His will. I am a firm believer in steady, strong, and constant growth. The strongest converts are always the ones who come to church a few times, reading constantly the Book of Mormon, and all that great stuff. Much stronger than one who just shows up at the chapel and gets baptized that very Sunday. I imagine that there were specific and distinct lessons for Nephi and his brothers on each trip.

Q:  Do you get the Teachings of the Prophets manual for Priesthood to read/study for church?
A:  Yep! I made off with one last Sunday and have already devoured the whole thing... :)

Q:  What was your most interesting encounter this week?
A:  Was it the pack of dogs that chased us around for half an hour? Was it the drunk guy that passed out in front of us and face-planted in the asphalt? Hm. I think it was probably the miracle that came to church on Sunday that I mentioned in my email. :)

We had frost on the ground this morning.  Elder Zuniga about had a heart attack.  It was the first time he had ever seen anything like that.... Ha ha :) Mom Note:  If you look closely you can see how pink his face is from the cold. Love messages from my missionary!

Zacango Zoo Pictures!
El Nevado, the volcano Elder Kennington got to visit before Christmas.

With Elder Zuniga, Elder Kennington, a boy from the ward, and Ismail.

Me and Evan in a nutshell. Ha ha.  Two little angry raccoons!!

I love lions.

Elder Zuniga and Elder Kennington

I found Hermes, the owl that belongs to the Weasley family.  He was having a bad day.

I hope Elder Kennington actually bought one of those.

Elder Zuniga studying in the apartment.  They do not have electric space heaters down there, and the gas ones are too dangerous.

I found a demon Rubik's Cube.... O o

Elder Zuniga got tired.

They had a white tiger!!!

The reptile house was my favorite.

The coloration on this snake reminds me of a popcorn jellybean.

Missionary gorilla and lion!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ward Building


This last week was awesome! And tough at the same time.

Juan, the guy that had a vision of the chapel, just got baptized on Sunday. He is an incredible convert. As of Sunday he has the official assignment of taking care of the door during Sacrament Meeting and welcoming everyone in. ... He got it because he asked for a calling in Priesthood (still before he was baptized). He is incredible! It has been a privilege to be able to work with him. I have learned much about what it means to be a Christlike man from him. The four things that I have grown to respect in a man is humility, love, selflessness, and bravery. And Juan has all four of these qualities in great measure. He has inspirired me to try and figure out what I can do better so as to have these same qualities.

The ward is struggling. These last couple of Sundays the number of people coming to church has dropped drastically. We are hoping that it is thanks to the holidays and the new church schedule (we now start Sacrament Meeting at 8:30). So Elder Zúñiga and I have pulled out the ward list and started working colony by colony, visiting all of the families that are registered there. There are roughly 600 members here in this ward, and last Sunday only 69 came. We really build the ward working with less actives, baptizing part families and reactivating inactive recent converts. There is much to do.

Elder Zúñiga is doing well. He has been battling this awful cough for the last week and a half (I think it is thanks to the cold and the altitude; out there in Chiapas it's hot. Always.) He is growing a lot. I see a lot of leadership potential in him. He has a great way with people.

The area is doing well. We still have a couple of investigators that are progressing, and at least one more that will get baptized this change for sure. She is a young girl that is part of a less active family that we are working on activating right now. She wants to get baptized on the 17th this month, and I think we could work with that... :)

Love you all!
Elder Kennington

Preguntas Bien Rapidito
Q:  Was New Year’s Day as scary this year as last year?
A:  Nope! Not at all! :D This time it was really really calm. We didn't even see any dead guys.... :/ Not that I would complain about that. :)

Q:  Did you get to do any New Year celebrating?
A:  Yep! We and all the other missionaries in the zone got together in our chapel and played volleyball and had a nice dinner of some diving tacos al pastor. :):) We have a lot of very very very competitive missionaries in the zone who don't like to lose volleyball games... :) Haha.

Q:  Do the little pueblos you serve in have names?
A:  Yep! There are five where we spend most of our time. San Bartolo, San Felipe Tlalmimilolpan, San Juan Tilapa, and Caputitlan. :)

Q:  What is the most beautiful part of your area?
A:  Any part of the pueblos out of the city. When it hits about 6:00 the sun touches the horizon and starts bathing everything in the breath takingly gorgeous gold light. I love it so much... Every day it is a huge struggle to not stop and take an hour's worth of photos... :) Haha. I think I got those genes from you mamí. :)

Juan's baptism

An awesome family that gave us food yesterday, instantly winning our undying loyalty. :) :) Jaja. (So now he is laughing in Spanish?)