Hello family! We are 3 weeks into this transfer… time is flying by! I love Vidor so much, I don’t ever want to leave! Not that I don’t love my companion, but I kind of hope if someone HAS to get transferred in 3 weeks that it’s her 😛 hehe (:
Ah! One more thing!
If y’all haven’t seen the video on lds.org titled “Because of Him” you’re missing out! We’ve shared it with so many people this week. It makes me cry, every time. The moment when Mary is in the tomb and turns around to see her Savior…. MY HEART BURSTS!
I just wanted to add and let y’all know, that I know my Savoir lives. He is the reason for everything. I am so thankful for the knowledge I have of this gospel. I don’t ever want to go a day without it! I know Christ knows me perfectly and personally. This is His gospel! I’m so thankful I get to share it with everyone!
I miss and love y’all so very much!
This has been the craziest, busiest week! Hopefully I can get everything in…
Last Monday was sister Martinez’s birthday. We had the BEST homemade cheesecake from Sister Smith. Wow! It was to die for. We also taught a lesson to Aaron; Word of Wisdom! Apparently he smokes a pack and half a day and drinks coffee every morning. We had no clue. So he committed to quitting! We went and picked up tons of cinnamon candies, gum, toothpaste, and grapefruit juice to help him out.
Tuesday we had a great morning at our crochet group. It’s growing! We’re trying so hard to get less actives there. We’ll see how it all pans out. Aaron was so committed to quitting that he made himself violently ill at work, so he did have to smoke a little that day. He cut down to only half a pack!
On Wednesday we met with a former investigator who has a lot of emotional problems. She’s only 16 years old and has SEVERE depression. I never know how to handle these things… I feel like I’m not very sensitive to emotional struggles because I just can’t fathom them. So being sensitive and not talking to her like she’s a baby is difficult for me. So… we’ll see how it goes.
I also found a member who does doTERRA and has the big oil book! Wooo! Making friends where ever I go (: haha
On Thursday we had a great hour of power. We had our dinner and thought with the Quirante family. They are HILARIOUS. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much, so hard, in such a long time. He’s a counselor in the bishopric at church, a PA, and just too much fun. We all had a great time. He seriously has incredible faith though, as does his wife, so we had a great spiritual thought with them. They were so excited about hour of power! We met some good people, set a return appointment annnd…
Met a man with a pet squirrel.
I asked him if I could take a picture of him and his squirrel. He said, “You can hold it!” “OH. I don’t want to hold it.” “Just hold it. *hands it to me*” “Oh. Okay” “put it on your shoulder!” “OH. I don’t want to put it on my shoulder” *take the squirrel and places it on my shoulder* Meanwhile, sister Martinez is LAUGHING and taking pictures. Well, while this squirrel is on my shoulder, a car drove by and scared it. That little sucker JUMPED DOWN MY SHIRT! It was so awkward. I was screaming, the man was shielding his eyes (thank goodness) and sister Martinez was shocked. Well that stupid little squirrel POOPED DOWN MY SHIRT! But I didn’t find that out till 3 hours later… So I walked around with poop pellets in my shirt. SO NOT OKAY. But I guess that’s the sacrifices we make as missionaries… President Crawford DIED laughing when we told him. So, it’s all good.
On Friday we met a guy who also suffers from severe emotional problems. His name is Jeremiah. People call him Frog. or bullfrog. If you catch the joke… But the elders were with us (Thank heavens) so they kept an eye on Frog as he asked me to take a walk with him so he could open up and tell me personal traumatizing events from his childhood. This poor guy needs help. But we’re supposed to meet with him soon! The elders went all “papa bear” on us the whole time; they were scared he was gonna snatch us up! But he’s actually very nice, even though he has a rough exterior.
On Saturday we had our studies with President Harris; a counselor in the stake presidency. We’ve had one study session with him before. WHOA. He just blows your mind. We learned about the atonement, details in the scriptures, deep doctrine… It was incredible.
We also got to go follow up with a potential, Chris. He has some problems as well… most people in Vidor do. But we went to see him and his buddy Tom was there. We sat down and talked a bit about the restoration; a lot about baptism and washing away our sins and the past. They both accepted baptism invitations and set up a time to meet with us! Tom is stinking awesome though. He has tattoos all over his face, smokes, and uses crude language… I am SO excited to see how the gospel will transform him life, if he’s willing. Chris is extremely respectful and kind. They are roommates so we should have all our lessons with them at the same time.
We managed to get Aaron to come to a baptism. He’s been to one before, but we wanted him to feel the spirit. He REALLY enjoyed it. Things are going good!
We went store contacting Saturday night. This lady with AWESOME fashion came up to us and said, “Sisters! Come to my house for Easter lunch!” “uh, okay?” Turns out all her step kids are members in the other 3 wards. She and her husband are not… The kids’ mother passed away, and she had been the member, so that’s how they all came into the church. They have one son in Guatemala right now, and other leaving for Lima, Peru in July. She is AMAZING and definitely needs to be baptized. Her name is Renee Tamayo. However, she lives JUST outside our area so we’ll have to pass them off to the 4th ward elders.
So Sunday we had 1 lunch date, 1 dinner, and 3 desserts. It was crazy, but so much fun. The Tamayo’s are all Mexican so we had the most incredible fajitas. I was in heaven. The guacamole they made was seriously sent straight from heaven. WOW. Renee kept shoving food down our throats though. We were SO FULL! and we had our own dinner appointment in 45min by the time we made it out of there. No one on her husband’s side speaks English, so we just sat there and pigged out the whole time. haha! Awesome.
We had dinner with the Johnsons. They are so great. He’s also in the bishopric. They have a 15 or 16 year old daughter who’s autistic; Stephanie. She’s so funny. We have the best time. So we ate as much as we could there, but I thought I was going to die. Plus dessert! But we watched a few Mormon message videos with them and had some great conversation. They are an amazing family.
After that, we went to have a lesson with Aaron where we had our 3rd dessert. How can you say no to blue bell ice cream? It just doesn’t happen. Especially when they have “I ❤ Chocolate”; chocolate ice cream, fudge, brownie pieces, and chocolate hearts with smoothing running melted chocolate in the centers. I don’t know how they do it. BUT IT’S AWESOME! So we talked a lot with Aaron. He’s been doing GREAT with word of wisdom. He’s come to church 3 weeks in a row, and stayed for all three hours yesterday. Actually, next week, they asked him to coteach in priesthood with brother Allred! He’s kind of excited. It’s on the talk from Holland in October, “Like a broken vessel”. So we watched the talk, watched some Mormon message videos, and talked about setting a new date for him to be baptized. The 26th is just too soon and he needs to be free of smoking. So sometime in May is when it will happen! He’s very anxious. I love him and his family SO MUCH! They are the best.
So finally, Sunday night – last night. Earlier in the afternoon we had called a potential to set up a time, Bobby. Well while we were visiting with Aaron, bobby had called and left a voicemail. When we got it, I was so scared. He called, crying, asking where the church was because he needed help. You could hear cars zooming by in the background. He said he needed help now or something bad would happen… So we called him back! Turns out, he was about 100 yards from where we live, looking for our church. We went and found him, sat down, and had a discussion. We did our best to lift his spirits, but I felt like I had nothing to say. My mind was blank. He kept talking about “ending things”; his life is extremely hard. He’s only 28 and both his parents are bed ridden. He’s the main provider. He’s gotten messed up in drugs and mild drinking, so we talked about stopping that. Finally, we just called the elders to come rescue us. They came speeding down North Main (they live 15 minutes away) and came to help us out. They ended up giving him a blessing of comfort which was AWESOME. Bobby looked much better by the time we all left.
This was so scary! I couldn’t stop shaking. I’m just all, “What is going on?! Why is everyone depressed?” And that’s why we need the gospel. People have no clue how to cope with things. They have no idea how to receive answers to prayers. The world is falling apart – the gospel is our only stable support. This week has totally strengthened my testimony in the Savior and power of the priesthood! This gospel is for everyone, and everyone desperately needs it!
I seriously love serving in Vidor. It’s a unique and special place. I’m excited to see what kinds of changes happen in people as we start to teach them the truth. I LOVE being a missionary! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I miss and love y’all so much! Thanks for all the prayers and emails (:
— Sister Stockinger
This week was a little rough… but it started off awesome! We got to watch the Saratov Approach… Whoa. A little ways in I had to think, “Should I really watch this?” but I finished it and am so glad I did. It was AMAZING. Very inspiring.
Monday night we met with a lady named Brandy. She doesn’t actually live in our ward boundaries, but the Elders asked us to teach her in hopes that she’ll progress with sisters. She’s been going through a lot, and we thought we had a breakthrough with her… but she didn’t come to church. Soooo… We’ll be working on her some more.
On Tuesday we went contacting for a few hours and I got a HUGE blister on my foot. It’s lovely. But it was totally worth it; we contacted a lot of people! So our potential investigator lists are growing, which is much needed. Oh – we had our crochet group for the first time that morning as well! It went good. We had one less active come and she says she’s coming again tomorrow! We’re really trying to get her some friends. Our RS president was THRILLED we set this group up, so she announced it in RS yesterday. Hopefully more people will come!
We also had dinner with the Smiths that night and challenged Aaron to pray about being baptized on April 26th. He said he would, and that he’d also come to church and read a chapter a day out of the Book of Mormon. He’s doing so well. I LOVE THIS FAMILY. My heart is ready to burst! We have the best discussions with him.
On Wednesday Sister Martinez got really sick. She went and threw up during our dinner appointment. That was exciting… They have no clue, so it’s okay; her ego was saved. Whew! (: Unfortunately, we got dropped by Brittany. She’s the one who’s dad had a heart attack and we didn’t get to see her for a couple weeks. We stopped by on Tuesday, set something up for Wednesday night, then Wednesday morning she called and said no thanks. Bummer, but at least she has a Book of Mormon!
On Thursday we went to a knitting group at the library. Yes, I can officially pearl stitch and knit stitch. I don’t like it though… But we got to meet a couple ladies (which was the goal) and had some good conversations.
We also had President Interviews on Thursday. It took HOURS. So we got to hang with the assistants and sister Crawford; lots of good and useful training. Poor President Crawford is becoming more and more weepy as his time to be released approaches 😦 Sister Crawford was a mess… It’s so sad. They are AMAZING! I love them so much.
Thursday night we had Brother Allred join us at the Smith’s home. We followed up on all the things Aaron committed to do… It was awesome. He said he prayed about being baptized on April 26th, and feels that it’s the right day!!!!!!! He’s still working on gaining a solid testimony of Joseph Smith, but is headed in the right direction. Watching conference with him was AMAZING. He really connected with L. Tom Perry’s talk. He said he feels like he’s been pulled here and there and has ended up some place he never intended, but it’s better than he expected. So we asked him to expound on that. I asked, “How has studying the gospel helped you?” he replied with, “Starts with an ‘every’, ends with a ‘thing’ ” I thought my heart was going to jump up and out! The spirit was so strong as he bore testimony and has come to realize how the gospel is helping him with everything. He’s been reading the Book of Mormon every day, is praying sincerely, and is doing all that he can to gain a testimony. Having Brother Allred there was excellent as well. He really helped solidify Aaron in the way of reading the Book of Mormon. After Brother Allred went on this little talk about the Book of Mormon, Aaron turned to him and said in the goofiest way with the biggest smile, “I loooove you!” We all just laughed because we knew Aaron is getting a firm foundation and is really connecting with people in the ward!
We have a dinner with them tonight at the Tolman’s – he was so excited when we invited them to come. He is really grasping and cleaving to the gospel!
Oh – I also read a chapter a day with him and then text him about it. Sometimes he replies, other times he doesn’t. But today we had a very detailed conversation about the 2 recent chapters. He is getting so much out of the scriptures! It’s the craziest thing. He has really caught hold of the Spirit and is trusting Heavenly Father!
Friday night we went and helped Kayla Labaron with some wax seals. She’s been planning a wedding for her cousin (she has a degree in interior design). So we went and helped with some details. The next day, Saturday, we went to just help her finish up the wax seals for the ‘Thank Yous’. Well… We ended up being there for 6 hours. Hurray for service! It turned out awesome though. Her cousin married a nonmember and most of the guests there were his, so we were able to talk with a ton of people! It was awesome. The wedding was GORGEOUS. Holy cow. I wish I had taken pictures! But this guy has a sleeve tattoo and is a total punk. So they had these sugar cookies that said “Vans” on them in place of his grooms cake. Everything was so elegant but edgy. It was a lot of fun. But Kayla just thanked us and thanked us (I really don’t know how she had intended to get it all done… So much to do!) But it was all so much fun.
Sunday Aaron came to sacrament meeting but then had to go meet up with some builders for their house. We were happy he came for that though!
So today is Sister Martinez’s birthday. Kayla is taking us to get out nails done and then we’re doing some shopping.
I have to get going… Someone is waiting. But I love y’all and miss y’all! The church is so true!
— Sister Stockinger
I LOVE THIS PLACE! Vidor is seriously beautiful. I mean – aside from all the trailer trash… but the fields are gorgeous, the trees are huge… IT’S AMAZING.
Last weekend or so, the 4th ward elders had one of their investigators move into our area. So we get to teach her! I thought it was kind of rude when Elder Harrington laughed and said, “Now she’s your problem”…. but now I understand -_- She’s a tough one. Her name is Amanda, she’s possibly still addicted to cocaine, and she has no sense of commitment. She’s a tiny bit crazy, but 100% lovable. I just hope we can actually teach her soon!
On Tuesday we had a lesson with a referral from our zone leaders. It was amazing! We taught the restoration… Her name is Brittany. When we finished up, I asked, “of all the things you learned today, what would you most like to know is true?” and she said, “I want to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I can’t wait to read it!” WOW! Perfect answer. So we got to explain how if the BofM is true, then Joseph Smith is without a doubt a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s kingdom again on the earth. She just beamed and beamed (: We expected to have her at church on Sunday but her dad had a heart attack late Saturday night… So off to Houston she went! But we should be seeing her tomorrow!
We also received a call from Aly, our 13 year old investigator… Her mom changed her mind and no longer wanted us to meet with her. Aly said, “My mom says this isn’t our religion… but I think we don’t even have one!” She is looking for so much more… She is so prepared! We just hope and pray she will find the church again in a few years; that missionaries will knock on her door and reinvite her to listen and receive!
Back on my first Sunday in Vidor, a recent RM came up to us and said he wanted to go out with us (in the most appropriate manner! haha). So he came out with us last night… It was awesome. You can tell that once upon a time, he was a GOOD missionary. We visited a more sketchy area with him (hurray for having priesthood out!) to stop in on some less actives. It went pretty good, but we’ll see how long-term plays out. But so this RM served in Chile and got home 2 months ago. He said the closing prayer at our lesson and he kept saying, “Bless the Arellano Familia, er, family…” it was so funny. He’s still in Spanish mode.
On Thursday we had dinner with a less active, Hillary Hanks. She made the yummiest gumbo! Mmm… She went to culinary school for 2 or 3 years. She can cook anything… as well as crochet! So this is nuts – try to keep up.
A very active member, Sister Smith, crochets like no one else I’ve ever met. Hillary is the same way. Sister Martinez knits, I crochet. So we’re all – hey! let’s get these two together and have sister Smith fellowship Hillary back in!
Well on Saturday we met this AWESOME lady, Misty. She had a very basic crochet project out, so we got talking about it… In the end: we’re starting a crochet group and found other Sisters who want to learn! This ward is lacking in socializing. They never do relief society activities, nor do they do their visiting teaching… ever… So we’re trying to spice things up! So far we have 3 active sisters who want to be in the group, one less active, and one investigator! TA DA! We’re getting things moving. Well – I guess I should say – if they DO do a relief society activity, it’s with all 4 wards, and it looks like half a relief society from a single ward showed up… It’s tiny. So we really need to get our women to be active and more involved.
Oh my goodness – that women’s broadcast! Absolutely amazing. I wish I had my notes with me… I’ll try to bring them next week. I loved looking around the room and seeing all the young girls there. When we sang that song? It made me cry. I’ve never noticed how the verses break up like that! A child and parent talking… awww! I may or may not have cried, wishing I was home with my own mommy and sister, but we can’t be too sure about that (: Mother’s day is sneaking up quickly, so my one last phone call home will soon be had! Eeek!
In sacrament meeting we had 86 people. We’re a little ward and a big branch. This ward is struggling… but testimonies were strong! I jotted down a few phrases… “We should be frantic to be at church – it’s where we take the sacrament”, “Our Father is waiting on us”, “Live His commandments and come unto Him daily”. Pretty good stuff. But I really love that first one; that we should be frantic to be at church. I think I’ve taken church so casually and so lightly in life, but as a missionary I can see how the sacrament is truly a saving ordinance. I was studying “Keep the Sabbath Day Holy” one morning and was reading in 3 Nephi 18. In this chapter Christ is establishing the sacrament here in America. In verse 4 it says, “And when they had eaten and were filled…” then again in verse 9, “And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled;…” I really thought a lot about those two phrases; eat and were filled, drank and were filled… They didn’t fill up their stomachs (though on some fast Sundays I could totally clear that bread tray! haha). But they were partaking of these emblems and being filled with the spirit of God. The Holy Ghost cleanses us during the sacrament; it’s the baptism of fire all over again. It just really meant a lot to me… that we have this saving ordinance to cleanse us and keep us coming closer to our Father every week.
I hope y’all are just as excited for conference as I am. I can’t wait to hear our prophet’s council. I know he is our Lord’s prophet! It’s making me sick to think the last time I watched April conference I was spending my 4th day in the MTC. Time has flown… But I know without a doubt that I love this gospel. I know it’s true! I know that Idaho State was a good choice, transferring to BYUI was a better choice, but serving a mission is the BEST choice I have ever made.
I miss and love y’all so very much! Thanks for all the prayers and love.
— Sister Stockinger