Moe’s letter – March 24, 2014

Howdy Y’all!

Basically – I’ve been moved to the promised land of the mission. VIDOR, TEXAS! I don’t think y’all will ever fully understand how happy I am to be here. Vidor has been a dream of mine ever since… Well, ever since I was born into the mission. It’s a dream come true!

My companion is Sister Leigh Martinez. She just came from Huffman and was in Summerwood just before me. So yes – we are both brand new to Vidor! We’ve had the joy of figuring everything out together (: They call it “White washing” – like when you shove someone’s face in the snow, which is awful and painful… Well, two new missionaries to an area is awful and painful. But we’re getting the hang of it! (:

There are four wards in Vidor and we are the only sisters. We cover the Williamson 2nd Ward. Our ward is the one who struggles the most. We have the most in-actives and tons of semi-actives. There were less than 100 people at sacrament.

We live in a trailer! A real life trailer (: haha it’s so… “vintage”… it’s the real deal. It comes with a sketchy shower, a family of roaches, wasps, spiders, and moths. It comes with a microwave full of ants, and nasty rotting food in the fridge! I kind of feel like I’m camping… But it’s awesome! I really feel like I’m experiencing a true missionary lifestyle now.

But the country has welcomed me nicely! Our relief society president, Connie Williamson, drove us home from transfer meeting. She fed us 4 times in less than a week… All my mission, people have said, “If you don’t have a meal, just come on by!” but I’ve never had to take people up on that since our meal calendar is chuck full. Well… not in Vidor. We’ve dropped in on them a lot (: And she’s always been nice. She doesn’t really talk a lot; just sort of stares at us. She’s not what you normally see in a relief society president, but I love her! She’s helped us a lot already.

All the elders who serve out here are happy to have us. Apparently the sisters before us (and sisters have only been here 6 months… elders have dominated Vidor for years) had a problem with working in the elders areas. I thought they were kidding, but… no… all of our recent potentials and investigators belong in other wards, so we’ve had to pass everything off. So we’ve been able to spend a lot of time looking for new people to teach! We have a couple of people in our area the sisters left us, but not a whole ton. But the elders are thrilled to have us! I’ve served around a couple of them before so it’s AWESOME. We are going to have so much fun!

One girl we are working with is named Aly Haynes. She’s 13 years old. This poor girl has seen more in her life than any person should have to at her age… her dad passed away and now her adoptive mother is slowly dying of heart failure. She’s amazing though; she attributes everything back to God. She is SO THANKFUL and always so happy to have us over! She is so ready to be a part of the gospel. We were able to make some calls and get a member to go with us; Sister Mott. Sister Mott and I both cried as Aly said the closing prayer to our first little lesson. She said something like this, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for letting me feed the pets today, thank you for feeding me today, thank you for my mother. God, she’s not getting any better, but I thank you for her life today. Thank you for the ladies visiting me. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”. Yeah… I cried and cried when we got in the car. She’s amazing.

Another lady we’re working with is in her 50’s and is pretty much certified crazy. We found her in the formers list… Her name is Susie (: She has severe bi-polorism. Her teaching record says she once stabbed a man, but we didn’t let such a minor detail deter us from meeting a daughter of God! I really like her (: She’s going to be fun.

On Saturday I convinced Sister Martinez to ride bikes with me. I don’t know that we will ever do that again. Remember how I almost got eaten by a great dane in woodville? Well… When we started riding, a dog started chasing us literally right as we left the Williamson’s driveway! (We store out bikes in their garage). So I was screaming from the very start. Well, we detoured and went down another road; we got chased by two smaller dogs and they nipped at my ankles. Nothing too damaging, but horrifying enough. Well, onward we rode. When we went down another street, this dog was laying in the middle of the road. Sister Martinez has the mentality that if we act like we’re in charge, the dog will respect our authority. I do not agree. Dogs who kill just kill! They are cold blooded and heartless! Well this dog nearly bit Sister Martinez, but she still wouldn’t back down on her theory. So that’s 4 so far… As we continued to ride, dogs were trying to jump their fences, chase us up and down from the yard… It was scary. It’s like an email went out letting them know we were on our way! We finally took our bikes home cause I had had enough. We got the car and went to our dinner appointment with the Zambranos. Well dinner wasn’t ready and his wife wasn’t home yet, so we went down the street to look for people. We knocked on a door, and the girl sort of laughed at us… So no luck. The next house has an open car port. We walked passed it and to the door. Right as I was about to knock, it’s like someone released their ravenous beasts on us! Honestly – I really think someone did let their dogs off the chain out back. But these two huge dogs came tearing out of the car port and started to attack us! Sister Martinez tried to keep her cool but I LOST IT! Heavenly Father totally protected us though. The dogs started to bite Sister Martinez and she was able to move her bag just before they took a chunk out of her booty. But I, unknown to myself, began to mace them. Yes – Sister Clegg’s parents had sent me pepper spray when I was in Woodville! Just minutes before this happened, I had the thought to stick the mace onto the keys. I almost put the keys in my bag after the girl laughed at us, but decided just to carry them. But I started to mace them and didn’t even realize it! I froze when I saw orange stuff coming out of my hand, and I realized what I was doing! Pretty soon they were both rubbing their faces on the grass, so I grabbed Sister Martinez by the arm and started running. I could not stop shaking. We literally almost got torn to pieces. A part of me felt really bad for macing dogs, but I don’t even care. They were going to kill us! There are so many stray dogs here, and dogs who’ve been trained to hunt and kill, so I’m not so sure we’ll be riding our bikes ever again.

So that’s the most exciting thing that happened this week… I’m so excited to be out here in Vidor! I love the country. I love these people so much already! It really feels like I’ve been here my whole life. Driving into Vidor on Tuesday felt so familiar. I know that Heavenly Father places us where we need to be!

Oh – our ward mission leader is stinking awesome! He and his wife own a photography business. The field has been slow, so they started photographing dogs! Everyone seems to think that’s so weird, except for me… I mean – so much of our family breeds dogs now that it’s just the norm to have their pictures taken! But some of the wedding pictures in their studio are INCREDIBLE. I can’t wait to pick his brain (:

But I miss and love y’all so much. Thanks for all the emails and prayers!

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Moe’s letter – March 17, 2014

This week has been a good one… We started off by meeting with Monika Monday night. Three doors down from her is a member, so we dropped in to see if she’d walk down with us. So sister banda dropped what she was doing and came along! It was great. Sister Banda has been a member for a little over a year. She and her family just got sealed last November! It’s so great(: So she came and she said everything we needed her to. She talked about how it’s okay to be open to change, that reading the book of mormon will change your life, and that coming to church is what will really help. We didn’t even have time to prep her! She totally listened to the spirit. When it was all done, I think Monika’s heart was softened a bit more (but not all the way!) so we sang to her “how great thou art” again. She cried, like usual.

We haven’t been able to see Nona for a couple weeks now. She has a lot of health problems apparently… Monika doesn’t tell us the specifics, but we kinda know what’s going on. So, it’s a bummer…

We were able to have a lot of members out with us this week. It’s so great when they make the time! Members testimonies really do make the difference (as you can see with Monika).

We’ve been stressed all week about transfers. On Friday we had a lovely surprise… The assistants called us and said they needed to meet us at our apartment. Err… what? They needed to drop off a bed. Why? Because Summerwood is going to be a trio! AHHH! So we had to rearrange our whole apartment. It looks like an orphanage. There’s hardly any space between all the beds! But it’s kind of fun. haha. Sister Stofferahn and I made a firm agreement that whoever was coming in, we would love her. We wouldn’t shun her from this great companionship that we’ve had. haha trios are hard…

We went and dropped by a family who I had met a couple weeks ago. Melissa and Tim Stahl! They live right next to some members, the Perry’s. Sister Perry went with us to their house Saturday morning. It was AMAZING. Probably one of the best lessons we’ve had in a long time. They read the pamphlets, had tons of questions, listened intently… The spirit was so strong. At the end of the lesson, Tim said the prayer. I wanted to cry. It was A GOOD PRAYER! He asked Heavenly Father to be open with them so they could understand the book of mormon and build a testimony. WOW! Sister Stofferahn said she could see them in the temple together (: We were thrilled!

Well Saturday night we got a phone call. Turns out, I’M BEING TRANSFERRED! Wow – that came quick. Sister Stofferahn has been here 4.5 months and I’ve been here 3. Crazy huh. And I’m the one who got the boot! Goll dang… Stoff cried and cried; she hates trios. And getting 2 new? that’s cruel. But the pain doesn’t stop there… They took the car. THAT’S RIGHT! We wanted to be mission legends. So what did we do? We created the first sisters bike area. Our 40 day fast was very successful; we proved – through our faith, diligence, and killer quads – that summerwood is tough enough. So now it’s going to be a trio of sisters biking all over Summerwood (: I feel so bad for them… It’s about to get HOT.

So right now I’m in limbo. I have no home… No companion… no bed to call my own… So, sorry, no address right now besides the mission office!

Sunday we spent the day saying goodbye to members. They all wrote me little love notes to glue in my journal… It was so sad 😦 I brimmed, but never cried. I’m learning to control that. I cried all my makeup off when I left Humble, shed a few tears when I left Woodville, and didn’t cry at all now leaving sWood. SUCCESS. haha 

I’m just so bummed! I love this zone. The zone leaders are the best I’ve ever had! My DL is a little crazy… but we can deal with that. But I really, really, really love Sister Stofferahn. I really expected to be her comp for another transfer! :/ I’m so sad. But… I guess we do what the Lord needs us to do!

I have tons of pictures to send, so I’ll end this now… I miss and LOVE y’all so much! Thanks for everything!

 

 

March 10, 2014

Y’all, this has been a weird week…

It started off good! Like… Really good. We went to a less active/part member family’s house. Brother Garza (I may have mentioned him before…) was baptized as a kid but hasn’t been to church since he was 10. He has a 14yr old son and a 9yr old daughter. So right now we’re trying to simply get them to church! Brother Garza has worries about his son, River, because of the path he may be headed down. Brooke, his daughter, has no reservations. She’s totally ready to come to church! She even goes to A-days sometimes. I love them! They are amazing.

Tuesday… Well… Hello Sickness! I started us off with a lovely funky bug, and that went till Thursday. On Friday I was totally pumped to get out of the apartment and work! Except my companion was then sick. We have such great comp unity – we share! So then she was only sick Friday and Saturday, so Sunday we went to church. Well right after church we had to book it home because I was… SICK AGAIN! We called our zone leaders because they attend the singles ward at our building in the afternoon, so we met up with them and they gave me a blessing. We just can’t have another week like this… it was terrible! But it happens I guess.

So in thinking about – what did I accomplish this week? – I realized I really got to dive deep into the scriptures. When we study in the mornings we study for our investigators needs. We don’t read the scriptures for our own benefit… So sometimes, even though we’re reading gospel things all the time, I don’t always feel “fulfilled” because I didn’t get to read something my spirit was hungry for. So we studied for our investigators, but then also go to spend a lot of time searching the scriptures for ourselves! It was amazing.

2 Nephi has become one of my favorite books. I feel like I’ve received so much revelation! I have always loved 2 Nephi 4 (Nephi’s psalm) but now I REALLY love it. And 2 Nephi 5? Wow! I always kind of skimmed this chapter I think… Nephi is all talking about how they became industrious, learned to work hard, built a temple, and studied the gospel… Then in verse 27 he says, “And it came to pass we lived after the manner of happiness”. Everything leading up to verse 27 is a guide to living happily! Work hard, study the scriptures, keep the commandments, and go to the temple. What more do we need? I love it.

In the bible I really attached to the story of Lot. There’s a Mormon message video, “New Years: Look Not Behind Thee” that I’ve fallen in love with. But they talk to random New Yorkers about Lot. It’s funny – but it has one of the best messages! Even though it’s not New Year’s, it still applies. The problem with Lot and his wife is… She desired to be back in the city. It wasn’t that she simply looked over her shoulder to see the destruction, she looked back to see the destruction of everything she deeply loved. They’re leaving Sodom! A wicked, wicked place… But she longed to be there. The Lord said, “…Look not behind thee…” (Gen. 19:17) but she did anyways. She was attempting to live in the past. Kind of like how we start diets? “Okay – one last cookie before I swear them off for the rest of my life!” for her it was, “One last glimpse of everything I love”. She probably didn’t even give the future any consideration – that maybe it could be better than the past! So LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE! Live in faith and hope for the future. Don’t look back and say, “Look how unsuccessful I’ve been at inviting people to hear the gospel” Say, “Look how many people I’ve tried to share the gospel with!” Move forward, keep trying, and don’t give up on yourself. Let go of what’s holding you back! Two feet in the present.

Well I love y’all and miss y’all! I hope y’all have a great week.

Moe’s letter – March 3, 2014

 

Well this past Monday, the 24th, we kicked off our ward’s 40 day fast! One family or individual for 40 days will fast for the short term ward mission plan, which is to pick a date and have someone in your home with the missionaries. SO. Our ward is fasting for their own efforts, but we get to benefit from it as well (: It’s been a pretty incredible week!
 
On Tuesday we met the new mission contacting minimum of talking to 20 people. It was awesome. We hadn’t really talked with anyone that day but then in the last 2.5 hours of the night we contacted all 20! It was amazing. Out of those 20 people we were able to set 2 return appointments. We also got to endure this crazy rain storm… seriously, it was probably a flash flood. We were on the feeder road which is 50mph (and everyone goes 65) and we were going 30! It was wild. 
 
On Wednesday we had a mission-wide sisters conference. It was amazing! We have 80 sisters in our mission out of 210 missionaries. So it was pretty amazing to look around and see so many sisters. Our mission president loves to cry and he cried almost the whole day. It was great… We learned a lot of good stuff!
 
On Wednesday we had a great experience during hour of power. It was much needed since all of our hour of powers here in Summerwood usually don’t go very well. The member we had dinner with referred us to a house around the corner. That lady opened her door, immediately invited us in, and let us chit chat for a bit. She then referred us to two of her neighbors. It was awesome! 
 
We also received a phone call from a guy in NY telling us that he was moving his nonmember friends down here and needed help unloading. He also wanted us to talk to them. We were like, “oh wow, he’s really setting these people up!” but we were excited. Pretty soon we realized his nonmember friends were sitting right next to him while he talked to us. It was awesome! However, we found out they were moving just outside of our ward boundaries so we had to refer them to other missionaries… BUT it was still a pretty neat miracle.
 
On Friday we were a little disappointed. Our relief society president goes above and beyond in her calling and hosted a lunch for all the new move in sisters. She also told us to invite Nona and Monika. They were both so excited! Buuut then they didn’t come… So we were really bummed. We had dinner with a new family in the ward and they were really neat. The mom has been fighting all kinds of illnesses; breast cancer being one of them. She has such a strong testimony and the will to endure! She was awesome. I want to talk to her all the time…. PLUS she’s related to the odom’s! So that was crazy. She has family in Woodville and Vidor Texas! It’s such a small world.
 
On Saturday we had a lesson with a young mom, Michelle. She lives in the really rough part of our area. We had met her on Friday while she was outside and asked if we could come back the next day at 1. She said, “yeah, yeah that’s fine” which to us didn’t sound very solid. Well, we went anyways (even thought it’d take a bit of our miles…) and she was waiting for us! We sat down in her garage and had the first lesson. I don’t think I’ve ever had a lesson go like this… She has had such a terrible life. It took everything in me to not cry. She has 4 kids, not married, been abused growing up (her mom just threw her out on the streets when she got boyfriends, then would drive around looking for her when the boyfriends were gone), was forced into drugs by men in her life, raped multiple times… she’s had it bad. So she doesn’t really have a lot of trust or faith in Christ and our Heavenly Father. She knows they’re there, but she doesn’t know how to talk to people who haven’t ever rescued her when she needed it. So we focused a lot on the Atonement (which you don’t normally do in lesson one) and how the restored gospel could heal her. She was a little stiff at the start of the lesson, opened up to us, and by the end of the lesson she PRAYED! I love prayers. Especially when investigators pray for the first time (: My heart was soaring! She had the biggest smile on her face after the prayer. We are SO excited to go back! She even said she’d come to church the next morning, and we arranged a ride for her. However…
 
Sunday morning at 7:45am we got a call from Michelle. She had just gotten home from the hospital and was so tired. Her friend Maria was beat by her husband really bad so they were there all night. I have never, in my whole mission, had someone call and tell me that was the reason they wouldn’t be able to make it to church. She wanted to come, but physically couldn’t. She just cried on the phone with us; so tired and upset. My heart BROKE. I know that as missionaries we tell them as they come to know the truth of this gospel, they may face challenges, but God would help them. Is this real life?! Satan so desperately doesn’t want Michelle at church that Maria suffers? Maybe it would have happened anyways, but it was terrible timing… My heart hurt so bad all day at church. It really broke my heart that that happened… I can’t imagine living in a way that you were fearful of your spouse. 
 
Even though that was terrible, and we don’t ever want it to happen again, we are excited to keep working with Michelle. It’s experiences like these, ones that bring us so low, that make us soft and pliable for the Savior to mold us. Michelle has had a horrible life, but she is now prepared to receive a message of happiness! That she can change, that the hurt can literally be taken away. We had asked her if she’d be willing to place her sorrows at the feet of the Savior, and she hesitated. She really doesn’t know how. But we know, without a doubt, that the Savior can heal us. I LOVE this girl! 
 
Our Bishop spoke to the relief society on pornography yesterday. It’s what he spends 90% of his time on as a bishop, and one of the top 3 things the general authorities are worried about for the entire church. It was a little scary at first… he told us that 9 out of 10 young men (10-20) develop a problem with pornography. It freaked me out. That means, that the chances of me meeting a guy who’s never been plagued with that disease is very low… It’s scary! But he talked about how the danger is when people slip and see it, then go months without it because they “have it under control” but then slip again 9 months later. it doesn’t seem like a problem because it’s occurring so irregularly. He said that people need to speak openly about it, that kids shouldn’t feel scared to talk to parents and spouses need to talk openly all the time. But then he gave the women all homework, which I think would be good for all of us… he said to visit the church’s website, combatingpornography.org and also put filters on your computers, smart phones, and tablets. A lot of them are free! he mentioned ‘net nanny’, and ‘covenant eyes’. Most of the time it’s all an accident, but you can’t get rid of it. So don’t take the chance and but the blocks up! Since I have two teenage brothers who need to get ready for missions… this would be a good place to start taking all defensive action against the adversary (: So yep, a little awkward in relief society but it freaked me out and made me worry about the boys. Brother Tuttle from the Saratov approach movie said to all the youth, “If you’re not worthy, get worthy. You either won’t be able to go or wont be successful”. and it’s true! So this is one of those things that you gotta take to the bishop and he’ll lovingly handle. So, LOVE YOU ALL! GO PUT UP A BLOCK EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM! (: 
 
So yes, it’s been a great week. So many amazing things! I miss and love you all so much. Thanks for everything you do!
 
— Sister Stockinger
 
 

Moe’s letter – February 24, 2014

Howdy Y’all

Well this has been an exciting week… We have the car back! Last Monday was our last P-day on bikes. Whew! No more falling over with groceries… Thank goodness! We finished up our Mission 40 Day Fast on the 20th. It was bitter-sweet… But more on that later.

On Tuesday we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders. I got to spend a day with Sister Kempton… She’s nice… She sings really well and has mastered the “sister missionary voice”. Maybe that means I need to be more consecrated since I feel like I still sound like myself. Or just a weird southern hick. I don’t know. But we had a good time and were able to contact a lot of people! I’m super excited to work with more people this week.

Wednesday was the best day ever! We got to go to the temple (: It really is the most beautiful temple! It’s so unique. I love it sooo much. But we got to go with our whole zone. Our zone isn’t very big though… So it was nice. I think it’s been about 6 months since I’ve been. If y’all haven’t seen the new video… You’re missing out!

On Thursday we had dinner with a family who probably eats better than anyone else on earth. I had the yummiest dark grey soup! It was blended up mushrooms with a cashew base… You think it sounds gross, and it looked like gutter water, but it was seriously soooo good! We also had “healthy kool-aid”. It was dried up strawberry bits, kind of like herbal tea, but without all the gross leaves and crap. It was seriously so good. It’s called, “London Fruit and Herb”. Order it on amazon! It was good… with some stevia in it! 

On Friday (wow. I’m flying through this week!) we had our zone meeting. It was also our first day back in the car… We had to drive 20 minutes to zone meeting. We nearly died. We were going so fast! Wow! My own driving made me sick. We have decided we will definitely be on the bikes, except for pday, Friday meetings, and rain. annnnd it’s been misting/raining a lot (lovely humidity!) so we’ve been using the car. It’s super weird! But for zone lunch we had pupusas. Aka: heaven. One of the Spanish elders have an investigator who has a little pupusaria (don’t quote me on that spelling…) and it was the best thing ever! It was this sketchy little hole in the wall, didn’t look safe, didn’t look sanitary… and we only got a little sick! (: it was seriously so good. I think we could risk upset stomachs again.

We also saw Monika for a little on Friday night. She and Nona were going out of town so we went to see her quickly. She was telling us about how she finds strength through the Lord, and in the morning she plays a CD that helps her. “Let me play it for you”, “Uh, maybe another time (ah! apostate music!) We should probably get going…” “I’ll just play the beginning real quick for you” “Uh, oh, okay…” *looks for song track… starts to play…* “OH LORD, MY GOOOOOOD! WHEN I IN AWESOME WONDEEEEEER! CONSIDER ALLLL! THE WORLDS THY HANDS HAVE MAAAAADE!” *Monika bursts into tears* Whoa! It’s “How Great Thou Art”! and she likes it! She started sobbing and telling us how much she loves reverent hymns but the church she goes to is like a rock band. Now, mind you, this is all rather interesting… She always tells us how much she loves her church and how she doesn’t want to immediately change. She’s been going there for 4 years. One of the things she said she loved about it was the music. Turns out, she doesn’t really like it. So we had the pleasure of telling her that song is one of the most popular hymns at our church, among many other beautiful reverent hymns that worship our Heavenly Father. She just cried and cried. So we’re pretty excited! She also told us how people at her church never say hi to her, and how she felt so welcome at our activities cause everyone talked to her. She is going to LOVE church. We just need to get her there! We also decided that since she’s a 72 year old German lady, who probably won’t be very critical of our voices, we will sing a hymn for her at the end of every lesson. Whoa – stepping out of my comfort zone!

Saturday was AMAZING. We had dinner with a less active family (who’s officially active, as of yesterday!). Their family quit coming to church for about 10 months after they moved here. Well, two Sundays ago they came and the mom, Sandra, cried and cried about how she is ready to come back and that her visiting teachers saved her. So we visited her on Tuesday, she invited us for dinner on Saturday – our only open day this week! – and she just glowed with happiness. Well Saturday morning she informed us that she met a lady and invited her for dinner. Wow! came to church once, heard talks on rescuing others, and she’s already doing missionary work?! It was amazing. So we had a nice dinner with a nonmember who just adopted a little boy (Sandra and her husband adopted their son as well!) and found out she wants to meet more moms in the area. Uhh, perfect! Summerwood is a boom town of young families! It’s crazy stuff. 

After dinner we went to a fireside. Have y’all heard about/seen the movie, “The Saratov Approach”? It’s apparently incredible. It’s about 2 elders serving in Russia who were abducted for a week and held ransom. It happened about 13 years ago. Everyone has been in an uproar about it! They talk about it all the time. Well, one of the elders who was kidnapped came to Summerwood and spoke! Elder/Brother Travis Tuttle. WOW. It was amazing. He shared some pretty wild stories. Our mission might get to watch it (the Crawford’s loved it!) so we’re hoping we’ll see it. It just amazed me… He talked a lot about how they did all they could to show love to their captors. He and the other missionary worked a lot with the movie producer and so it’s all REALLY accurate. He said he’s amazed at how real it is; seeing his experiences play out on screen. I wish I could explain and share the stuff he shared, but I know it won’t be the same… It made me so thankful for the safety and experiences I’ve had on my mission! But he’s the one who said, “Don’t live, then die. Live until you die”. and the reason he says that is because while they were being held captive they came to the realization… no one survives a kidnapping. Today the statistic stands that about 4% of people taken are killed. Why? Because they either don’t get what they want, or they do get what they want but still have to dispose of the evidence that it was them. So go back 13 years… still not so good. But he talked about how they decided that they would do all they could each day to live. Every time their captors came into the room they would take their hand, put it on their own heart, and say to them, “Do you feel that? I love you brother”. He knew at some point, he felt in his heart, that he would die, but he was okay. He wasn’t giving up on surviving, just accepting that he needed to do all he could to live UNTIL he died. Not just… “okay, I’m alive but feel half dead. Can’t they end it now?”  They did all they could to live each day the best they could and survive. He talked about being 100% committed. 99% won’t cut it. You have to be willing to step up to whatever is put in front of you. He and the other elder were good elders; obedient, worked hard each day… yet here they were. They found themselves becoming 100% recommitted to the Lord, 100% recommitted to helping each other, 100% recommitted to loving every single person around them… You can’t give up on anything or anyone. Wow – I wish I could tell more… I don’t even know how to put it into words! Go see the movie. It’s everyone says it’s amazing, the experiences he shared with us were beyond incredible… Major faith building. 

On Sunday we had some really great talks in sacrament on enduring trials. Brother Boots said something that impressed me… Well, first of all, he and his wife have been married more than 10 years and they haven’t been able to have children. They’ve tried everything, doctors don’t know what’s wrong, tried to adopt but everything fell through… They don’t know why the Lord won’t bless them with that joy. He said he finally came to a realization… It’s not that Heavenly Father doesn’t want them to have kids, it’s that He has something for them to learn that only this experience will teach them. He’s GOD! He can teach us anything! If He had another resource, wouldn’t He use it instead of depriving other souls of coming into a strong LDS family? He talked a lot about how they’ve taken ‘heat’ from the LDS community over the years. People ask questions all the time, people talk down to them for not having kids… It’s been a struggle on all fronts. However, Heavenly Father is in control. So that idea just really set with me… That of all the trials we could face in life, the ones we have are because it’s literally the only resource Heavenly Father has to teach us what we need to learn. We would never learn the correct lesson or principle if we went through something’s different. So it made me appreciate my struggles… Heavenly Father doesn’t sit up there and laugh and gets ready for the next big one. He probably feels great sorrow watching us go through pain, wishing we could learn another way… But we have become stronger so we can be like Him.

“Faith without works is dreaming, works without faith is drudgery, but faith and works together is destiny” – Harold B. Lee

I know that we have some serious trials ahead of us, that people won’t always want to listen to us, that our investigators won’t always progress… but that all things are possible if we have faith. Moroni 7:35-37… Miracles have not ceased! We can do incredible things if we want to.

I miss and love y’all so much! Thanks for all y’all do!

—- Sister Stockinger

 

 

Moe’s letter – February 17, 2014

Ohh boy, week two of the transfer down… this one feels like it’s flying by already! Thursday is our last official day on bikes. We’ve almost made it the full 40! Whoooa…

Monday we had the week started off good. We had dinner with a super cute family, the Whartons. They have 4 adorable kids! 3 boys, 1 girl. The little girl, Shyan, is such a tomboy. Can you blame her? She’s 3. During dinner she usually starts to hum the Star Wars theme song, or tell us about softball practice, or tell us how she’s gonna beat up her brothers. Yeah… She’s awesome. So this past Monday we had dinner with them and then did a FHE lesson. We talked about prophets, how general conference is coming up quick… ya know. Then we played “Don’t Eat Pete” except… “Don’t Eat The Prophet!” Yeah – we’re brilliant. So the kids got SUPER excited. Except… after the oldest boy went, the rest just seemed to burst into tears. I guess they were a little young; got surprised by us all shouting, a little embarrassed… it was awesome. 3/4 kids crying! Best. Missionaries. Ever. Needless to say, we probably won’t ever play that game ever again.

On Tuesday we were up in the North of our area… Which is about 8 or 9 miles away. So once you get there, you wanna stay there. You don’t just bike up there for one person. So we were up there, with nothing planned cause everything fell through, and we didn’t just want to turn around and bike back. So we were cruising around, looking for a member home with a bathroom, and we came to a street… “Doesn’t a potential live on this street?” remembered Sister Stofferahn… Yeah, there was one. I had never met her, never been to her house… all I knew is Stoff mentioned there was a cute old German lady who lived on the Banda’s street. So we were just riding and then I looked at a house and said, “I think she lives in that one!” Uh, how would I know? I’ve never met her! But we locked up our bikes, went to the door, and there stood our little German lady, Monika! She invited us in and we had a good little chat. While talking she said, “let me call my daughter and see if she’s close to being here. I bet she’d like to listen”. Our thought was, “Oh gosh. She’s going to use her daughter as an excuse to get rid of us…” But then we kept on talking, she said we could come back… We quickly invited her to a Relief Society activity that was happening on Thursday and then left. 

Well the next day we got a call from Monika. “I talked to my daughter and we would like to attend this activity. But I read your pamphlet and saw at the back there’s a dress code for church. Do we dress that way for the activity?” WHOA! Not only is she coming to an activity at the church, but she actually read the pamphlet we left her with! What the… this was too weird. So we made plans for her and her daughter to come to the church the next night and join us for the activity!

Thursday night came and we sat in the foyer waiting for them. Well, they were out in the parking lot debating whether or not to come in… Finally, they did. Whew! The spirit grabbed them by the shoulders and drug them in. They almost left to go get coffee! So they came in, it was super awkward for a minute, people weren’t saying hello… Then the activity started. We learned how to make homemade bread and jam (cause that’s not super Mormon or anything…) but they seemed to be having a good time. Monika’s daughter, Nona, turned to us and said, “So what does it take to be a Mormon? How do you know if you’ve become one?” Uh… So we had a good little chat on what we do as missionaries, baptism, all that jazz… And she never flinched. She didn’t put up a wall! People started coming up to them and introducing themselves, chatting, making them feel welcome… Then she said, “Well I think I’d like to come here again. When does church start?” Uh… Is this real life? So after we ate yummy bread and jam, we gave them a church tour. They loved it. Nona was so receptive! It was crazy. She loved the idea of relief society. It was so great.

Off they went, on their way home. Turns out, in the parking lot, this crazy little member stopped them and invited them to a fundraiser we were having this coming Saturday. We didn’t invite them cause we didn’t want to ask them to pay… Ya know? We didn’t want it to seem like we were just trying to get money out of them. Cause… we don’t do that here. That’s something nice that sets us apart from other churches. Well, they decided right then that they wanted to go. So on Friday, we stopped at Monika’s since she’s a widow of 5 years, and gave her a little Valentines Day treat. She informed us then that they were coming the next day! We were so scared.

Saturday rolls around, Nona and Monika show up, and… They loved it. The ward did such a great job decorating for this dinner! It was awesome. It was called, “Love One Another Cafe”, they had the young men wait on everyone, the young women were hostesses, helped in the kitchen… They had people playing beautiful romantic music live… They had a photographer there with a cute set up… It was amazing. It didn’t look like a church gym! So Monika and Nona were very impressed. However, they informed us they couldn’t come to church the next day cause they didn’t have any dresses. However, they really wanted us to come and give them the lessons. Nona is so ready. She wants to get things done! She is really excited and wants to get her husband involved. Monikda is little more hesitant. She doesn’t want to quit smoking… Nona is so ready and will do anything it takes to quit. She even asked if we believed in healing and if someone in our church could heal her. Uhh… yeah? So we had a great talk about the priesthood. She thought it all made sense!

So basically, we are super pumped. Nona is awesome. Monika is awesome. We are so excited to work with them! 

I know this is getting crazy long… But I have to talk about Friday morning.

We had a wonderful visit from Elder Aidukaitus of the seventy. He’s from Brazil. He was stinkin’ awesome! Wow… He talked about setting goals, creating a vision, how to accomplish things… he was so funny. He’d chastise us, watch the horror on our faces, smile, giggle, and say, “Elders and Sisters, the Lord appreciates your service. You’re doing many good things, He just wants it done better. Okay? Let’s move on.” Then giggle some more. It was scary, but hilarious, but terrifying, but wonderful… all at the same time. He was awesome. So he talked about how the field is white, ready to harvest. Then posed this questions, “Elders and sisters, if the field is ready to be harvested, why aren’t every single one of you baptizing weekly?” Uh…. awkward… “You have to set your goals to match what you want to accomplish. If you set a goal of zero baptisms for the week, are you showing the Lord you have caught the vision and believe that He will help you harvest the field?” Hm… uh…. really awkward… “Do you always have to have a name to back up a goal? Shouldn’t you just expect the Lord to make up the difference if you’re doing all that you can?” Aww man… sinking in chairs… “Elders and Sisters, go baptize weekly.” AHHHH!! REALLY!? WE CAN DO THAT??!!! Internal eruptions for everyone! It was mind blowing. It all made sense… It was awesome. 

So literally, right after we leave this meeting, we got a phone call. Some lady called us and said, “Hi my name is Carolyn Bornn and I was told by a friend in Kingwood that I’m supposed to be in your ward. Can you find me a ride to church this Sunday? I’m very excited to go.” “Uh, yeah! Sure! What’s your address? Um… are you a member?” “Oh no, I haven’t been baptized. I just moved back to the area and really feel like now is the time in my life to get back to church. I’d really appreciate it if you could arrange my baptism as well!” ?!?!!!?????!!!!!!??? IS THIS REAL LIFE?!! We literally just got told to baptize weekly, and this lady calls ready to be baptized. She’s been attending the LDS church since 2003. The ward she was fellowshipped in is the ward she’s been holding out for to be baptized in. Well, she decided this past week that it doesn’t matter where she’s baptized… She just needs to jump in and do it! Isn’t that great?!

She’s not in our ward boundaries.

So we had to pass her off to the other sisters… Yep. Our “Elder Aidukaitus Miracle” got stolen away from us. She literally knows everything about the church. She is ready to be baptized. We texted the Crawfords and told them the miracle… They showed the text to Elder Aidukaitus and he just giggled, they say. He was so awesome..

Sister Stofferahn and I also did our first Spanish contact! It went like this…. I said hello to this guy, “Hi!” he just waved back. “Oh… he doesn’t speak English…” I look over my shoulder and Sister Stofferahn is talking to him! AHHH! So I go back. She then begins our little memorized thing of, “We’re missionaries who don’t speak very good Spanish, but there’s other missionaries who do. Can they come to your house?” Well he just starts to gooooo off in Spanish. We were picking up bits and pieces, then we heard “Colorado”. WHAT??! So then we were done. We just gave him a Spanish Mormon.org card. It was terrible…

But – we did it. and now the Elders can help us improve! haha! It was awesome.

So this was a glorious week. We had a great time. It was definitely a week of learning… We get to go to the temple this Wednesday at 11. We are so excited; we really need the time to ponder. So much work needs to be done! But yes – we are doing good and things are picking up!

I love being a missionary. There’s no greater work! Sometimes I think about what I could be doing… working, school, dating… and I just don’t think any of it could satisfy me. It all sounds so weird. Blah. I love this gospel so very much! It is a gospel of pure joy (:

I miss and love y’all so much! Thanks for the love and prayers. 

— Sister Stockinger

 

 

Moe’s letter of 105 reasons you should serve a mission – written the middle of January 2014

Maurinda wrote this letter to her brothers the middle of January with it being a list of what makes a mission great…all from Moe’s perspective..in no particular order. Some stuff is funny, others spiritual. She wrote to her brothers and said, “I always thought I understood what people meant when they said a mission helps with every aspect of your life. Now that I’m here I don’t even know how to describe how incredible the mission really is. I’ve learned things about myself, about other people, about God, about Christ, about why mom and dad do all the stuff they do…can’t totally explain it. Missions are a blessing. If you serve, the Lord will give you the best opportunities. You have to give Him your all, not cut corners. Honestly, you do not want to miss out on this experience. I LOVE MY MISSION! You’ll hate life if everyone has legit mission stories except you. BUT, serve God because you love Him, not cuz other people are telling you too.”

1. You get to pray a lot
2. You learn how to get along with people
3. A stronger testimony
4. Sweet quads from your bike!
5. Weird food – and like it!
6. You get to make people cry happy tears
7. Feel the Spirit more than ever
8. Meet awesome people
9. Make lifelong friends
10. You LOVE the mailman!
11. Mission presidents are legit
12. You have a sweet purpose each day
13. You learn from your mistakes faster
14. Listening to people pray for the first time
15. You learn how to kick dogs & not feel too guilty
16. You learn how to listen to the Spirit
17. You understand the scriptures more
18. You gain a better knowledge of the Atonement
19. You get to play basketball every Monday!
20. You learn scotch tape and Ensigns make anything pretty
21. You get a sweet name tag!
22. You learn to be Christ like
23. Your experiences turn into post-mission legends
24. Monday is now the BEST DAY EVER!
25. You learn who you really are
26. You learn who your Father is
27. You learn how to cook
28. You learn how to speed clean
29. You get to help people change their lives
30. Seeing the Light come into people’s eyes is better than a sunrise
31. You see people for who they really are
32. You get to live somewhere you probably otherwise never would have! A “pin-drop-on-a-map” town 😊
33. You learn “cause & effect” quickly
34. Heavenly Father answers prayers in unexpected ways
35. You love anyone and everyone
36. You appreciate your family
37. You appreciate a home-cooked meal
38. You become an expert stalker
39. You are the Master of awkward situations! It’s awesome!
40. You get to go to the temple!
41. You can see the hand of God.
42. You can feel the angels rejoice
43. When your heart hurts it’s usually a good thing
44. CHRISTMAS ROCKS!
45. Thanksgiving rocks too
46. You learn neat stuff (like skinning animals)
47. “The Best Two Years” suddenly makes sense!
48. 2 years/18 months goes by WAY fast
49. 2 years add up to 10% of your life thus far
50. Worn out shoes are a mark of hard work
51. You get given the ugliest ties/skirts you’ve ever seen!
52. Pit-stained white shirts are a mark of glory (but still gross)
53. You learn to love MoTab
54. People don’t judge you for crying
55. You get to learn a new language even though your call packet said English
56. 9 am is WAY late in the day
57. You get FAT & HAPPY!
58. People laugh at your lame jokes
59. Your journal becomes Holy Scripture for your posterity
60. Sometimes your journal starts to sound like the Book of Mormon
61. You learn how to cut your own hair
62. Shaving becomes less important to Sisters & more important to Elders
63. You get good at singing hymns
64. Your standards change for the better
65. You’re GENERALLY happy in the worst situations
66. Having less is no big deal
67. Mom sends you sweet stuff
68. Your best friends are people you NEVER would have hung out with in high school
69. A piece of earth (your mission boundaries) becomes holy ground
70. You get to exercise your priesthood
71. Reading the Book of Mormon has you on the edge of your seat
72. You learn how to study
73. You learn how to be selfless
74. You memorize incredible stuff
75. You learn how to budget better
76. Sometimes you have nerf wars – aka: fiery darts of the adversary
77. Staying up til 10:30 pm is WAY too late!
78. You always look sharp
79. People wave at you
80. Bad weather is your best friend
81. You help create eternal families
82. You learn how to do hard things
83. You learn how everything in life really does revolve around the gospel
84. You realize fellow shipping is key… Mormons talk funny!
85. You see how blessed you are to be born into the Church
86. Bike helmets aren’t THAT bad
87. You wish you’d never quit piano lessons
88. You worry more about others than yourself
89. You gain confidence
90. Obedience is everything
91. The “primary answers” are super important
92. Birthdays really aren’t that important
93. Baptists aren’t THAT scary, but…the JWs are!!!
94. You get good at fasting
95. You learn how to set good goals
96. You learn how to talk about your personal feelings
97. You rid yourself of bad habits
98. You won’t let small stuff stand between you and The Lord
99. You learn that putting God first helps everything else fall into place
100. You let go of worldly things and realize how much happier you are/can be
101. True repentance is possible
102. Heavenly Father loves us no matter what
103. Heavenly Father expects us to show gratitude (plus He deserves it)
104. True faith leads to action
105. Serving a mission is the BEST choice you could ever make! It makes all the difference.

“I can promise you if you give Heavenly Father your absolute best HE WILL BLESS YOU! I haven’t always given my 100% and it’s only made me suffer. When I give Him my all, everything else works out in my favor. Seriously! Heavenly Father knows I’m sacrifices precious time … I could be working, dating/getting married, or be halfway done with school by now. It’s so worth it though. I wish I could accurately describe what a mission is really like. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting. I usually sleep really well. But the way you feel when you see other people make a good choice or when they pray for the first time or come to church..ITS PURE JOY! Like WOW. Overwhelming joy and happiness! I really don’t think there’s anything better I could be doing or people I’d rather spend every day with. I love my mission!” (Then her testimony…)

Sigh. I don’t tire of reading this list over and over. Love the feelings it gives me, the growth in her.

Moe’s letter – February 10, 2014

This week we’ve done… a lot but nothing? We aren’t really sure what happened. 

We feel like we’ve been so productive for the past 2 weeks but haven’t had much to show for it. Granted: missionary work doesn’t always produce immediate results, but… STILL! haha we were feeling a bit bummed out. It’s really obnoxious riding 20+ miles every day and not having anyone to teach… But that’s what makes this such a fun game (: 

We are learning that right now we are separating the wheat from the tares. We have so many names the elders have given us to work with that we just can’t keep up with them all! So, a couple people have dropped us… Normally, we get really frustrated, but it’s all good. They’ve met us, they were interested at one time, and now they can wait to bump into new missionaries. Now we can focus on knocking on everyone else’s door!

This week we had a pretty big miracle though. Sister Davis from the Humble ward texted us and told us we needed to go visit her former sister in law, Michelle. Michelle has been inactive for a few years, but had raised her first 2 kids in the gospel; one of which is on a mission. Her son on a mission told Sister Davis that she needed to contact the missionaries and send us to his house… 

And it happened to be ME! Sister Davis’s daughter is also on a mission and we’ve been pen pals for a while. She got my letter telling her I was in Summerwood and wrote back and said… “Go see my aunt!” AND (now try to keep up…) one of our ward missionaries, Sister Malwitz, had scheduled a dinner for us to have dinner with Michelle and her nonmember husband and daughter. All of this happened last Monday. So it was totally inspired for us to go over and spend time with them! It was crazy. But it turned out really well! Randy, the nonmember husband, sees us riding bikes all the time and worries about us. So now we have a good friend with a truck who will send his wife to get us whenever we need (: haha It’s awesome! So we had a good ol’ time visiting with them and finally building a relationship. We hope to start working to build them up!

Thursday we ran into some technical problems… Sister Stofferahn broke her bike. She had tried to curb hop the night before and totally biffed it. haha! It was so funny. But apparently that broke something on her bike. Her chain keeps falling off, even if it’s on a middle gear, and she doesn’t touch the gear shift so… We don’t know. It feel off 4 times within an hour so we finally gave up and called a member. This member, Sister Smith, has been awesome! She takes us places all the time. She’s wonderful! But her husband has a truck so she came to get us and also let us borrow her bike. So we’re in business! It’s been great. 

We think we’ve finally worked everything out with our ward mission leader to get a ward 40 day fast going. It should be starting in two weeks and we’re so pumped! However, we aren’t really sure where bishop stands on it and so… he could shoot it down. 

Last night I think we had the scariest dinner of my whole life. We had dinner with our stake president, President Banks. This man… whoa. He’s mono-toned and scary. But he immediately sat at the table with us and started grilling us on what the ward was doing to help us. Turns out: they do nothing! We didn’t feel like they did nothing, but to him, they do nothing. So now everyone is about to get their booties kicked in next week’s meeting. We feel a little bad… but he said, “Sisters, when’s the next baptism?” “We’re shooting for the 9th!” then his head snapped up, looked at us with big scary eyes and said, “The 9th of what?” “Um… er… March?” You’d have thought we’d have said August by the way he reacted! “Sisters, have you had a baptism this month?” “No, sir” “Sisters, what is your bishop doing to facilitate a baptism this month?” “Um, well.. er…” “Sisters, go to your bishop, tell him I sent you, and inform him that there will be a baptism before Feb. 28th. Am I clear?” “Er, uh, yes, sir…” “Unless he has given you names to work with, has gotten on his knees with the ward council and prayed about it, has personally driven you around, he has not done ‘all that he can’ to support you. Are we clear?” “Yes, sir” “Great. Sisters, when’s your next baptism?” “Uh, well sir… Sunday the 23rd?” “That sounds like an excellent day. I’m looking forward to it”. 

WHOA! We almost burst into tears we were so scared. So we went and told bishop… he didn’t really care. He just said President Banks gets going and doesn’t know how to stop. But… We’re afraid. We think he’s totally going to get laid into next Sunday. Whooooa… So Sister Stofferahn and I are now working like maniacs to have a baptism on the 23rd. We’re gonna pee our skirts if it doesn’t happen and we have to have dinner with President Banks again! Holy Moly… He knows how to get stuff done!

So that’s the jist of the week. Things have been going well, but could go better. We feel like each week we step up our game, but then we realize there’s still more to do… So who knows, maybe this transfer will be the one I lose all my hair. I feel like I could rip it all out at this point… gaaah! Crazy crazy life.

But I miss y’all so much and am thankful for all y’all do! Love you!

— Sister Stockinger

 

Moe’s letter – February 3, 2014

We’ve been working hard, biking like crazy, trying to meet more people and get into all the doors the elders contacted for us.

We’ve had some crazy ice storms. It’s been so cold. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the wind burn through me like this! Whoa.

Monday we had tons of groceries and since we’re on bikes… It was a little difficult. I almost biffed it in the middle of an intersection. SO embarrassing… My life. Man – it’s rough (: haha

There was one day in particular where all the rain froze overnight… We were riding our bikes (stupid. yes, we know) looking for some past investigators homes. We came to this bride that had about a quarter of an inch of ice on it. So what did we do? We hopped off our bikes and started skating! We took a pretty sweet video. However, as we were dancing our little hearts out, having a blast, trying to make the most of the frigid air, we turned around and found a couple staring at us. Yeah… They looked at us like we were stupid. Granted – we had our helmets on, we have bikes, we have skirts… we looked ridiculous. It was rather embarrassing.

We got to take Shelley to a lesson with us again and then she walked around her neighborhood with us. She’s awesome. She can talk to anyone! She puts us to shame. I stinkin’ love her guts! We spent most of the day with her… She’s great.

We got dropped on our booties by Jose. He sent us a million texts and told us he couldn’t meet with us anymore cause of his mom… I just remember how my own mom said if I was ever in a situation I needed to get out of, I could use her as an excuse (: He’s such an awesome kid! We almost cried. haha He says he’s loving the Book of Mormon he just can’t have us over anymore. :/ we tried to work with him, but aren’t sure… It was disappointing.

I also accidentally tipped my bike over and knocked my handle bars loose. Whoops… I didn’t notice till we were far away from our apartment. I kept thinking, “This feels weird… what the…” and then I realized I could wobble them back and forth like a teeter totter. So we had to ride all day on the scariest road – West Lake Houston – and my bike nearly thrust itself into traffic a few times! I did not have control of that sucker. So I nearly died, but a member fixed them up real good for me that night. Whew!

We had transfer calls… We’re staying here – big surprise! haha. But we’re losing a lot of good people in our zone. HOWEVER: our district leader is getting moved out after being here only one transfer, and Elder Whimpey is getting moved out of Fred, so we’re praying he’ll come here and make Summerwood one big party! This round of transfers is bittersweet. We’re losing a lot of good missionaries. Breaks my heart! 

I got to have lunch with some members from the Humble Ward; Niki and Jen. They took us to chilis! It was so nice. I am so thankful for the relationships I have with people here! They mean the world to me. I’m so glad people are willing to take care of me while I’m away from home… Heavenly Father is looking out for me!

On Saturday we had the best dinner appointment ever! Well – sort of. We had steak. The steak I was giving was so bloody I think it could have walked off my plate. So I just didn’t look at it and put it in my mouth. Thankfully it was marinated well enough you couldn’t taste the blood, but every once in a while if I thought about what was going on in my mouth I would gag. It was so gross. BUT at that dinner our member invited some friends to join us. Our member called us the night before and basically warned us we better be on our best behavior and not whip out lesson one or she’d kill us. So we were shaking and nervous the whole time that we’d say something wrong and make her freak out. Well, we survived. We shared a Mormon message video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”, and the dad, Carlo, was listening intently. We left after that. Turns out they asked question after question about what missionaries do, the church, why we called our member by “Sister” and “Brother”… It was AWESOME! She was so happy and now she feels she knows what direction to take to share the gospel more with them. Her friends even said, “We would love it if they would come to dinner the next time we have y’all at our place!” Wow. We were so happy. Seeing members share the gospel is… amazing. I feel like a proud mama (: haha

So we’ve been dealing with some difficult ward members… I can’t go into details, but I want to share with y’all the things that have been helping me through it. There’s a song on a CD we have; just a mix from another missionary. In it there’s a line that says, “Earth has no sorrow heaven cannot heal”. It tickles my heart strings every time! I think about this phrase a lot. I also think about some scriptures in Luke 22. I think it’s in 32-34… maybe 33-35… But Christ, in the midst of his suffering, asks Heavenly Father to remove the pain. Then it says he was visited by an angel who provided strength. What the… Who could possibly encourage Christ to finish the most important event in history? What could that angel possibly say? Well I already firmly believe that we were with Christ while he suffered. I believe that one by one, we handed our pains and sorrows to him and watched him suffer for us individually. Could it be that we strengthened him? One by one? That we promised Him He was doing what was absolutely necessary; that so many of our brothers and sisters still needed His aid? In the next verse it says in His agony he prayed more earnestly. Whoever was there, whoever strengthened him, must have reminded Him that it had to be done. That we needed Him. He is our brother. We love Him. Without Him, we are nothing.

I know without a doubt that Christ is my Savior. He strengthens me because He too had a moment of weakness; He needed to be reminded of His purpose. I think sometimes it’s so easy to get lost and wander around. We lose sight of what we’re actually aiming for. Christ should always be the center of our focus. He can carry us through anything! 

I love this gospel and I love being a missionary. I know that we are all given a divine purpose. I know this church is true!

Thanks for all the love, prayers, and emails. I appreciate it all so much! I miss y’all and love y’all!

— Sister Stockinger

Moe’s letter – January 27, 2014

Did you know Heavenly Father answers prayers? I feel like this has been my #1 sermon my whole mission… HE HEARS US! It’s so neat. But more on this later…

We started off the week pretty good. We had a member come to a lesson with us (Well, Sister Conder and I… we were on exchanges). We were able to visit Jose! We met him during the Hour of Power when we almost got kidnapped and met that crazy lady, Linda. But Jose is a senior in high school and is getting ready to graduate and go into the military. He said his family probably wouldn’t listen to us, but we were welcome to talk with him. We finally set up this appointment and it was AWESOME. Jose lives in the random two neighborhoods of the ward where they go to a different high school. Enedina, who was just baptized, is the only member of our ward who goes there (cause she doesn’t even live in our ward boundaries… long story!). Well, she’s the only Mormon he knows. He says he loves her example and wonders how she can be so kind in such a horrible world! Jose is amazing. Our lesson went so well. He was honestly excited to read the Book of Mormon and pray about Joseph Smith! I am THRILLED for him. He accepted a loose baptismal invitation. We have another appointment with him TONIGHT! We are excited.

On Tuesday we had a great miracle. We were able to meet with an inactive member, Brother Tony Garza. He hasn’t set foot in church since he was 10! He works for a mining company based out of Australia so he gets to do a ton of world traveling. He has two kids, River and Brook, who of course haven’t been baptized… The sisters haven’t been able to visit him for months because of all his traveling. However, we finally got in! He made it clear he wasn’t interested in coming to church, but then we got talking about what we do as missionaries… I asked if he’d be willing to let us come and teach lessons to him, and he said he’d talk to his kids! Whoa! I didn’t mean to involve the kids, but that’s okay too! (: Then our member, Sister Smith, invited Brook to Activity Days. It just so happens River has motorcycle races on Wednesday nights and Brook needs something to do. Well, the very next night was Activity days… AND THEY WENT! From what we’re told, she loved it and Brother Garza was very happy. Sister Smith gave them a tour of the building and Brook would say stuff like, “So when we come on Sunday, where do we go first?” Well, they weren’t at church yesterday, but that’s okay. We have made significant progress! We are excited.

On Wednesday we had some great lessons! Shelley came to a lesson with us and did AMAZING! Her testimony to this guy, Matt, was perfect. She really enjoyed going out with us so we hope to do it again soon. 

We also got to meet with a member’s husband with a member, Brother Naegle. This guy, Josh, is legit. He’s into nutrition and workouts, he plays on the church basketball team and softball team (even though he’s not a member), and he does sports commentary for the Mountain West Conference in Las Vegas! WHOA! He’s super cool. His wife, the member, swears her life on DoTERRA Oils and is a huge animal lover. Basically, we all hit it off really well. We are so excited to work with him and teach him more!

So we just made it through 3 days of the week, have had 4 members out with us, and have 3 new investigators. MIRACLES! This is huge. Last week we taught 3 less active/recent convert lessons annnd that was it. zero new investigators. zero member presents. And we had sacrificed so much by being on our bikes! This week we were majorly blessed for our hard work and efforts. And it’s only up to Wednesday! We have so much more to come.

On Thursday it was a rough day. I was sick in the morning so we stayed in for a bit, then we finally got out on our bikes. IT WAS FREEZING. As in, 35 was the high for the day. Humidity cuts through you when it’s cold! Holy cow. But then… It started to rain. Our faces were so frozen it felt like hail was hitting us. It hurt so bad! Our hour of power wasn’t fruitful this week, but that’s okay. We can do better this week!

On Friday we had an ice storm. It was so bad in parts of the mission that President Crawford told everyone to stay in their apartments until further notice. So we deep cleaned, cooked, did various things… We were inside most of the day doing paperwork. However, when we were able to leave, 5 elders (3 from fall creek, and our 2 zone leaders) came to our area to blitz it. We sent them to the wealthiest part of our area. Sister Stoff and I are afraid to track there because we don’t know what to say to people who seem like they have it all. So we made the elders do it (: WOW. Heavenly Father answers prayers! The Fall Creek elders taught 2 lessons and set return appointments; that makes 2 new investigators! We are thrilled to meet them this week. Our zone leaders also taught a lesson, but didn’t set a return appointment for us since they didn’t know our schedule. Well… Let me tell you something. 

Heavenly Father often answers your prayers through other people. He has the ability to align other people’s lives with our own. For the past week I have been praying VERY specifically. I’ve said, “Heavenly Father, help me this week to find a family with a mom and a dad with 3 kids. But please make sure one of the kids is at least baptism age”. Well we’ve been working and working, and still hadn’t found them. However, our zone leaders did! They found a mom and a dad with 3 kids, the oldest being 14. They only got to meet with the Dad and 14 year old daughter, but they cried as they told us how spiritual their lesson was. This family is so prepared! The daughter even asked them a profound question and said, “could I find my answer in the Book of Mormon?” WOW. She is so ready! We all cried even more when I told them how they answered my prayer. 

“God is preparing people to receive your testimony of restored truth. He requires your faith and then your action to share fearlessly what has become so precious to you and to those you love” – President Eyring

As Alma taught, “Everything denotes there is a God”… There is a God! He hears and answers our prayers. I know he does. I’ve seen it for myself! It still warms my heart to think: my specific prayer was answered. AND it was answered so quickly! A week of praying? That’s not long at all. When you have a righteous desire Heavenly Father will help you fulfill it.

On Saturday Sheri Dew came and spoke to 18 Houston Stakes. Wow – talk about powerful! She taught about locking onto absolute truths. There were 4 that she talked about. 1) Mortal life takes us to Godhood 2) We each have a divine errand 3) We are not supposed to go through life alone, and 4) Everything is about the Savior. It was amazing. There is so much more to each of those topics, but really… think about them! Something that she said that struck my heart was, “Heavenly Father won’t make us learn anything. Agency authorizes the Spirit to teach us.” Whoa! To even feel the Holy Ghost, we have to exercise our agency and let it touch our hearts and teach us. I know that sounds like a “no duh” but it was amazing to me.

I really loved this week. This was the best week. We have been blessed to fill our teaching pool with 5 new investigators! We also have a lead to my miracle family. WOW! What a week of miracles! 

Last week was seriously just the worst… but I can really see how heavenly father will bless you for your efforts. Maybe not immediately like we’d hope. but He always will.

I love being a missionary! I love working hard. I love being here in Summerwood! The Summerwood ward mission plan states that for the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 they will have a total of 12 convert baptisms. So far they have 6! Sister Stofferahn and I are blessed to have been a part of 3 of those… However, with the influx of faith we’ve gained this week, and the hard work we’re putting forth on our bikes, we have decided that we are going to get those other 6 baptisms before we leave Summerwood! Why not? We know Heavenly Father helps us fulfill righteous desires… We have a family of at least 3 to work with, 5 other investigators, plus MORE people that are waiting to be found… We can do this! Heavenly Father requires our faith; WE HAVE FAITH! We are becoming more fearless and are putting it into action. 

Oh, just for laughs… On Saturday I had on sweater tights. They’re glorious. Except… I managed to walk 4 blocks with my skirt stuck up behind my backpack, but had no idea because I couldn’t feel the brisk air cause of my tights. EMBARRASSING! I was waving at passing cars, talking to people… It was stuck for quite some time. GAH! I was mortified when Sister Stoff noticed. We died laughing though… Oh man.

Thanks for all the love, prayers, and emails! I miss y’all very much. Thanks for everything you do!

— Sister Stockinger