I don’t think I made mention of this in my group email last week, but told my mom… Yes, I bought a crock pot. Yes, I plan on being a master-crock-pot-cooker! Yes, I plan on hauling it from area to area because… Well – I have 9 months left, it goes in a box, and I think after Summerwood I’ll only have one more area. President made an announcement that everyone can plan on staying in their areas MUCH longer; he’s sick of moving 200 missionaries around haha. So I figured: sisters stay in their areas for an average of 6 months. If I have 6 months in Summerwood, 3 months in my next… Boom. I’ll just ditch my super cute teal crock pot in that apartment and the Sisters can thank me! And yes – we have used it! We’ve made 3 things so far; 2 successful, 1 failed! hahaha uhh… We made the jalapeno corn I talked about on Christmas, Cinnamon rolls, and marinated some deer steaks then tossed those in with red skin potatoes and carrots. Which one failed? Hm… The cinnamon rolls. We just decided to see what would happen if we threw dinner yeast rolls (Rhodes style) with some cinnamon sugar in… Well things were going good, but we had to leave them in longer than expected… they were toast. BUT the corn and deer meat was AWESOME. Yep. I can cook. Most of the time…
Tuesday was pretty stinking awesome. We went and did some family history with Shelley. We really want to go do baptisms with her, but we are afraid we’re rushing her out of our own selfish desires of wanting to be at the temple… SO. She totally has the desire to go, but we’re afraid of some other situations that have been going on that maybe we should wait and let her get into a groove… We’ll probably go with her by the end of the transfer (before Feb. 2nd) because we both want to be able to go with her. But anyways – I printed names from Dad’s side! WHOA. Talk about a spiritual experience! I now have this piece of paper with 8 women’s names on it in our apartment, and it’s staring me down! I can’t wait to do their baptisms and confirmations!
Wednesday was awkward… Enedina (who is only 16) was getting her baptismal interview and we were helping her friend Kevin (who is only 16) get his jumpsuit ready. We were running through the drill with Kevin; be there early, wear white underwear, bring an extra pair, a towel… Two elders were standing there with us, and Kevin (in his adorable Belgium accent) said, “I don’t know that I own a pair of white underpants” we sort of froze. I don’t know why we froze, but we did. The elders did their best not to laugh at the shock on my face as sister stoff says, “Okay. We’ll call your mom” WHAT??! WE’LL CALL HIS MOM!?? CAN’T HE FIGURE IT OUT?! So that night, we called Kevin’s mom. She laughed her head off at us. She answered the phone and said, “Hi sisters! Are you calling cause Kevin needs white underpants?!” Man… I thought the awkwardness would end, but no. She described Kevin’s underpants to us, asking us our opinion. I wanted to die. This poor boy. I pray that this is only something Belgians do and that it will never happen again.
This Thursday, Dad will be proud to know that we didn’t go to the ghetto for Hour of Power. We had dinner with the Hales family… This is the family who rescued us from the tornado watch, who’s son is serving in the Twin Falls mission? Idaho falls? I don’t know… and their other son was mortified that a soaking wet sister missionary had to sit by him in the car. So – I have a great history already with this family (: but we had a delicious dinner and sister Hales insisted on sending a picture to our mothers! So that was fun. But they didn’t know where to send us for Hour of Power, and we didn’t feel like driving too far. So we went cruising around the neighborhood, then decided the HEB parking lot would be a prime contacting place. Ya know what? Even as a missionary, just walking up to people is super hard. It took me a few minutes to get over my selfish fears. BUT we had a great hour of power. We contacted a lot of people, got some referrals for other missionaries, and had a lovely discussion with a college student. It was great.
On Friday we exercised some faith and went to the ghetto. We contacted some referrals, tried a few potentials… nothing. Down the street I could see some kids playing ball. Sister Stoff is AWESOME at basketball. Me, no. Y’all know I don’t have hoop skills. Wow – listen to me. I’m so white… Okay – sister stoff is legit. I made her get out of the car, and walk down the street with me to these kids. As we walked, it’s like someone rang a dinner bell and people just started coming out of their houses! We talked to so many people. AND we were fearless (thanks to the night before!) Finally, we made it to the group of teenage boys. We stood there for a second, not really sure how to go about it, when one boy looked at us and said, “y’all wanna play or just stand and stare?” I held all our stuff and sister stoff went out and balled it up. While she schooled these kids in basketball and blew their minds, they all asked her how she got so good! So she told them where she was from, why she was here as missionary, all that jazz… Some of them listened really intently. They begged us to come back and play again. So we posed the question, “Would you ever want to play on a court?” Their eyes went huge. So we are now in the process of setting up a “basketball bible study” for Saturday mornings. I am so excited. Sister Stoff is totally meant to be here to fellowship these kids! They need some good examples.
On Saturday we had dinner with a family, the Davis’. When we got our dinner schedule, a ward missionary warned me that the dad is VERY inactive. I wrote it in my planner, trying to take note… Well – we went to dinner and I totally forgot. I had seen the mom and kids at church, but our ward is HUGE so I don’t always see people with their spouse… ya know? Well He and I were the only one’s talking at dinner, which I thought was weird. His wife and Sister Stoff just sat there! So I carried conversation… He told me about his job, we really connected cause he was in ND and since dad’s up there, we talked about different towns. I told some stories about dad, he laughed, I laughed, we all chuckled… He told me about their family trip to BYU, showed off pictures, taught me a thing or two about micro biology and the 3D printer… Man. I LOVED talking to this guy! I probably could have talked all night! Sister Davis kept smiling at me, Sister Stoff kept glancing at me, and I just thought, “okay, weird. whatever”. I shared a message, people got teary eyed (sign of success!), and they committed to pray as a family, and specifically as a couple. I left dinner feeling pretty good. Wow – what a great family!
Fast forward to last night. An active family brought up how they were “working on Brother Davis”. My ears perked up, “Brother Davis, the one around the corner? HE’S LESS ACTIVE?!” It all started flooding back to me. Whoa. Sister Stoff started laughing – “I was wondering why you were talking to him so much and being so bold! You talked about the Idaho Falls temple!” Uh, yeah?? I was suddenly so scared. Apparently, it’s a big deal for anyone from the ward to talk to Brother Davis. I guess he just is not open… Last night I just laid in bed thinking about this family. I LOVE this family! I thought that he was totally active, we talked as if we were old friends, sister Davis sort of reminds me of mom (she has glasses, short blonde hair, cooks with a crock pot! haha). But I was so afraid that I might have said something too bold; maybe something that would scare sister Davis and she wouldn’t be able to invite us over anymore. I don’t know! but then I realized; NO. I didn’t remember that he was inactive because I needed to go in and talk to him like a regular person. If I had gone in, walking on egg shells, dinner would not have gone that way. Sister Stoff reassured me that I didn’t say anything stupid. Whew!
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but this experience (and basically this whole week) helped me come to a realization… We cannot go into people’s homes with preconceived notions. We have to look at people the way Heavenly Father sees all of us; as a little child. I know this sounds so cheesy and dumb, like stuff I should have learned 9 months ago, but watching sister stoff play ball with these inner-city kids, and talking with brother Davis as if he was a regular brother really opened my eyes and had a profound effect on me… I LOVE THESE PEOPLE! I love Texas! I love Summerwood! We are all called to our missions with a specific purpose. I know that I was called by a prophet of God to the Texas Houston East Mission, but this week I have felt such overwhelming love and gratitude for REALLY knowing that I’m supposed to be here. I am so excited to keep working and to be out here.
Yesterday, as a mission, we all fasted. We are having a “40 Day Purification Fast”. We fasted to ask Heavenly Father what we need to give up and put aside in order to become renewed, pure, missionaries. We are rounding off our edges, becoming more refined! We found out about this on Friday… Sister Stoff and I talked A LOT about things that might be holding us back and came to various conclusions. So together, we are working and supporting each other to become more consecrated. Honestly – I’m a little scared. We’ve set some goals to really change our nature; not just our behavior for 40 days, but working on our nature – who we are as missionaries – to become better for the rest of our mission. I’m scared, but also excited. I feel like after this week I have such renewed hope and excitement! I’ve felt bogged down for awhile, but I feel good! I am so excited.
I won’t share all the things that we are going to be working on, but I’ll share the one that I’m most excited about… We have parked the car. Yep. We are going to bike for the next 40 days. We feel that as we do this, we will become “Master Contacters” which in turn will help us become “Master Teachers” and eventually, “Escalator Missionaries”, which just means you always have a pool of potentials, pool of investigators, and pool of progressing investigators… You are continually keeping up with all aspects of missionary work. Hopefully I’ve explained this all correctly… This is going to be difficult, but I am so excited. I’ve always wanted to be in a bike area, so I’m thankful that my companion is game for such hard work! Although, some of the roads we have to ride on are very busy… So, I went all “Mama Bear Protective Status” and am making Sister Stoff wear a reflective vest with me at night!!!! AHHH!!!! Dearest family – can you believe it?! I’m riding a bike. And not only that, I’m wearing a helmet… AND NOW I’VE ADDED A VEST! Which the mission doesn’t even require! I’m doing this out of my own free will. Wow – Mama Bear Nerd Status. Remember how I wouldn’t even wear a helmet on my scooter? Wow… Look at how the mission helps you grow (: I don’t want my brains smeared on Texas roads though. That’s what ‘coon’s and armadillos are for…
So, I think that’s the jist of this week…
Hang on – I almost forgot to tell you about Enedina’s Baptism! What the heck??! Whoa… Okay – Enedina got baptized! It was the most spiritual baptism I’ve ever been to. Since we didn’t have to find or teach her, it was nice being laid back and not stressed over planning her baptism. I mean, she’s been coming for a year and a half… the ward LOVES her. So many people claim her as their own. Her baptism had the Spanish branch and our ward there. We had a stinking sacrament meeting! It was overwhelming. After she was baptized, she just hugged and hugged us. We took a picture (: It was amazing. But listening to the talks given from people who have grown to love her so much, made me reflect on my own life… What was I doing as a 16 year old? Was I coming to church and loving it? Was I writing in my journal EVERY DAY about what I learned from the scriptures? Was I even reading my scriptures and praying every day? This girl is amazing. My heart was so full, I was crying so much! The testimonies given by ward members and family were so powerful. The bishop from the Pine Trails ward was there; he gave a brief testimony. He shared that he joined the church when he was 17. He advised her this: “Don’t ever leave the church. You may feel tempted, you may feel the weight of the world pulling you, but don’t do it. Don’t ever leave the church”. Tears were streaming from my eyes… I know that spiritually I had left the church in my teens. I had not been doing all the things I should have! I had so many people in my mind, both family and friends, who I worry may follow my example. I was not like Enedina. But that’s the beauty of the gospel; repentance and forgiveness! Our Savior made all things possible for us.
I am SO thankful to be a part of this gospel. I don’t know how people get along and survive without it. I know that I am called as a missionary for a reason, that my Father is looking out for me, and that my Savior is helping me overcome all my challenges. I know, without a doubt, that Joseph Smith saw God and Christ. I know that the priesthood power is real, and that He used it to translate the Book of Mormon. I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON! I can’t go a day without reading from it. I know that this is God’s restored gospel here on the earth. I know we have a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and that he is guided by our Father.
I am so happy to be here. I love Texas. Looking at a map will never be the same!
Thanks for all the prayers, emails, and love. I miss and love y’all so much!
— Sister Stockinger