Monday, September 26, 2011

Elder Aug is Comin' On Home!

Elder Stoneman's mission report is scheduled for Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 12:50 in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building chapel. Please join us afterwards for an open house in the social room of Canyon Road Towers at 123 2nd Avenue, SLC, 84103.

Holy Cow!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Holy Cow!

This is nuts. I was doing alright until I opened my email inbox this morning. I got about 10 emails almost all of which were entitled something to the effect of "holy cow."

Holy cow is right. I couldn't help but include it in my own title.

This last week has been so awesome. Best way to end the mission.

Elder Augilar and I found a ton of new people. We have 7 people on date in the month of October. We taught a couple as well who came to church. They followed us there. It has just been way fun. We have worked hard and the Lord blessed us.

We went out last Monday night and found this kid who is 15 years old. He was pretty interested. At the end of our porch lesson with him, we went to go and get a pamphlet out of the car. Elder Aguilar felt impressed to stay behind and talk to him. Elder Aguilar said to him, "Sorry, I still learning English. I from Mexico." The young man responded, "You’re from Mexico?!?! I have a good buddy from Mexico." It turns out this good buddy is a recent convert in the Spanish branch who is 13 and way active and solid in the gospel. So we've taught him with this friend of his and he came to church yesterday.

R and E are the couple that we found. Way cool. They were waiting outside for us to come and guide them to church. They are cool.

Saturday evening was the dia de hispanidad. The Hispanic culture celebration party. It was awesome!! All kinds of food and culture. There were dances from various countries. It was so cool. Taliq came. Members brought their friends. Part member families came. And some more of our investigators came. It was so great.

Church was pretty cool. I bore my testimony. We had 3 investigators there. It was just a good last week. I’m happy about it.

But now I’m trunked. You finally got me. I contained it until now. And now I’m freakin out!

I’m totally kidding. I’m only kind of trunky.

Today we ate at a barbeque restaurant. Probably my last good southern meal. I’m getting fed by some Hispanic families tonight and tomorrow. I have to pack today. I’ll be sending home a package or two. Don’t open in case they beat me there.

Wednesday is transfers. I get to see the other end and point of view of the transfer week. I am confident that all will go well. I am grateful for my mission. Missionary work is helping the Master in his work and glory to help others live the gospel. I love these people so much.

Being a missionary is such a blessing that I will be forever grateful. There is no greater calling. I am humbled by the experiences and trials I have faced. Especially this last transfer. I was not able to baptize. I learned this lesson even more so in the past six weeks that all the miracles and success stories I have seen throughout the entire mission have all been by the hand of the Lord. He has carried me and helped me do His work and has allowed me to participate in many conversions.... and I’m not totally sure why. But I do know that His hand was there – and it was not me. For "as to my own strength I am nothing." I am grateful to have studied the Savior and his glorious plan of redemption. I am grateful to have taught the message of restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ everyday to new people. and of these things I have established and fortified a testimony.

I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement. Thank you for your love and prayers.

Elder Augustus Archer Stoneman

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hey Y'all !!

Hey this will be a shorter email today. I need to send the Assistants pictures from my mission for the departing slide show.

It’s been a rough week. I’m definitely glad it wasn't my last week. This week is... and I am going to make it the absolute best.

We had 8 people committed to come to church. All of which bailed on us Sunday morning. No one came. We are needing to drop more investigators. There are a few who are really cool and interested that we will hang on to.

I think my favorite day last week was Friday. It was so legit. Elder O. and I went for a run. Elder A. and I did weekly planning. It was a really good planning session. He is really a good missionary with a lot of great ideas. We then got a call from a recent convert who was baptized the week before we got here telling us that he is moving. We have worked with this guy a lot. He went out with us to proselyte. We helped him prepare to bless the sacrament. We also helped him write a talk for church. They have fed us a lot! We went over and had pizza and just talked about the gospel. We pumped him up to endure to the end. To keep living the gospel wherever he lives. He thanked us and then we said goodbye. The rest of the day was just awesome. This Saturday there is a HUGE activity for the branch. It’s a Hispanic culture celebration. We are inviting everyone!! We put up flyers and such. We also visited some investigators and had great lessons with them. It was a good day.

I have been studying a lot about the Savior this transfer. It has been a great study. I’m reading the New Testament. I memorized the living Christ. I’m excited to read Grandpa's book.

This morning I took the time to write down what I understood of the Savior and His role in God's plan for us. It was such a good experience to write down what I know... to write down my testimony. I have a testimony of God's plan and of His work. I have absolutely loved taking part in it.

Elder Stoneman

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Baby Named Steve

Hey Family!! How goes it?

Hey mom thank you for the email. Thanks for the money. I really don’t need that much. I may be sending a package or two home with some more souvs.

Thanks for inviting people to come and visit. I think it will be fun. I can’t wait to see Sky.

Alright enough trunky talk.

Things are pretty good here in Greenville. It’s been kind of a harder week. That’s okay though. We’ve learned a lot from it. We drove out to Easley to do some English work out there. We spent all day trying to visit part member families, but no one was home. It was pretty trying. We kept good attitudes though.

Our investigators are not keeping their commitments. We have a huge teaching pool, but no one is coming to church. We did have J come. The part member that plays in a Mexican band. Hahaha it's called Techno Caliente. Hahaha. He got in at 3 am Sunday morning from a gig and STILL came to church. He has a good desire to be with the family at church. He needs to get married before he can get baptized. That seems to be everyone’s concern at the moment.

I heard from Elder Douglas - they went to visit L. L is doing so awesome. He has to work down in Charleston a lot. But he takes his gospel principles book to study in the hotel. He is a ward missionary and doing missionary work. His wife had the baby. They didn't end up naming him Steve. hahahaha L told me in June that they were thinking Steve. hahaha I don't know why, but I thought that was hilarious. It just doesn't fit. but anyway he is doing very well. He attends church regularly and goes out with the Spanish elders a little bit too. It's awesome.

The mission tour with Elder Peiper was pretty cool. He has a powerful testimony. We all got to shake his hand and then when he started speaking, he had us ask him any question pertaining to missionary work. how to do things more effective, what if this, what if that?... etc. he then talked about the doctrine of finding answers to our questions. he spoke on that for about half hour. it was neat. He then went through each question and discussed them with us. He gave a lot of good tips and advice. The spirit was strong in the meeting and helped answer many of the questions as well. Personal revelation.

President and I give him a blessing gave a blessing to an elder. President Holm is such a great guy. Along with President McConkie, he has been a huge help and influence in my life.

Elder A is doing well. He is really mature which helps the most in becoming a great missionary. He understands the work and the importance of it, and he is also very teachable.

M didn't come to church. It's been pretty tough to get him there. Something that has struck Elder A and me is that we should drop our investigators who are not progressing. We need to be spending our time and the Lord’s time more carefully. There are people prepared. We have already been finding some great new people.

Well I love you guys!!

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hey Y'all

Hey ya'll. Here is a summary of the week:

So M didn't turn out to be what we'd hoped. We went over and had another good lesson with him. We worked out everything with his ride to church too. We had everything worked out and then ever since he has been avoiding us. He’s doing a good job too!! So we will see what happens.

I met a woman last night who is in the English ward where we serve. Her husband and son weren't home so we spoke to her just on the front porch for a while. After a short visit, she asked where I was from. I told her Salt Lake City. She got all excited and said "Oh we used to live there!" I asked her what part and she said very casually - the avenues! My jaw dropped and I was like, "No way!!"

She lived there from about 1990 to 1993 and then she proceeded to list off a bunch a people she used to know. The Barnes. The Burtons. The Shrums, that attorney who wears a bowtie and rides his unicycle to work. hahahahaha I was dying. It was nuts.We are going back to visit later this week.

So that was pretty cool.

We are doing good work. We are finding more people. I have a feeling that Elder Aguilar's next comp will be an English elder. So I am beginning to push more towards English work and working in the ward. We have some cool English investigators.

I love the branch. We have gotten to know the members really well and established some great relationships. I’m loving it. Yes - just like McDonalds. haha. Seriously I would kill to have like 6 more months here to really get some stuff done. Mom, don’t worry I won’t do can take a deep breath - the plane ticket is already purchased.

This week is zone conference and a mission tour with a GA, Elder Peiper. That will be on Friday - I’m pretty stoked.

Have a great week!!

Elder Stoneman

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Missed Us!

This week has flown by!! Seriously. The time is ticking... my mission is not finished!! I still have work to do!! And it doesn’t help that my family is throwing trunky comments at me left and right. hahahaha.

So no rain at all. No hit from Irene. Charleston and Myrtle Beach got evacuated though. hahaha I have already missed some crazy adventures in the office.

We are driving a car. Thanks for the letter Ben. You are hilarious.

It's been a good week. We are working with a part member family. J married into the L family. The L’s are recent converts who were baptized in Washington and just moved out here. J plays in a Mexican band. He is awesome. He is really smart and looks like a movie star. He really likes church. Sister L works every Sunday, but he still brings the kids to church.

Alright I have a cool story....

On Thursday Elder Aguilar and I went to this trailer park to call on people. After we left, later that night, we were doing our daily planning and we got a phone call. The number was saved in our phone as M C... so obviously the previous missionaries knew who he was. I answered and this really nice guy is on the other line. He said that he saw us in his trailer park that day and was asking why we didn't come and visit him. hahaha I was like... well... I don't really know who you are. I explained that we were new in the area. I asked if he went to church, he told me no because he had an accident. He wanted us to come and visit the next day.

We went over and knocked on the door. No answer. Honestly the whole thing was a little eerie. Especially when we went to go and knock on some of the other doors of the trailer - there were wheelchair ramps all over the place. We found a side porch with a ramp leading up to it and a HUGE door. we knocked it and this guy came to the door. I thought he was M and he said "Just a minute." So we waited there for like 10 minute - I was so confused.

He then let us in and I suddenly realized that he wasn't M. The room we went into was small and the majority of it was taken up by a hospital bed. Sitting the bed was M. He is from Mexico and is paralyzed. About 5 years ago the missionaries knocked on his door and he was pretty rude to them. A few months later he was drinking and driving and got in a serious accident and is now paralyzed. After a while he invited the missionaries back and for the last five years he has studied the gospel.

He can move his arms a little bit, but he only has full use of this head. He speaks fine and is very bright. He does everything with his mouth - he writes. he has a phone that is propped up in front of him that he uses a pencil in his mouth to dial etc...

He uses the same pencil to flip through the scriptures to read them. He just sits there. It is unbelievable.

M has a strong testimony of the gospel and wants to be baptized. He told us that he was baptized Catholic and grew up Catholic. He said that he realizes it’s not correct and does not want to be Catholic anymore. He knows the church is true and wants to become a part of it.

I talked to my district leader and he said that missionaries have worked with him for five years. He has only been able to come to church twice as it's just hard to get him there. In one of our lessons with him, he said that another reason is because that he doesn't always trust every set of missionaries to take him out of the house. M told us that he trusted us from the moment he called that night.

M is on date to be baptized on Sept 17th. The hard part is now to get him to church. His family has a van but the dad uses it for work. We don't know what to do. But we will get him there. We are also gaining favor with the family, they apparently haven’t been very receptive. We taught his sister last night and she is pretty interested.

PLEASE pray for M and his family. We need a miracle.

I love you guys!!!

Elder Stoneman

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm in Greenville!

Wow. What a crazy week and half it's been. Since a week ago Saturday so much has happened... I hope that I’ll be able to fit it all in this email.

The “3rd” Assistant, Elder C, went back to his area for his last weekend. Then Elder Douglas and I picked him back up Sunday evening. Saturday was a blast. We did some shopping and I got some great souvenirs. Thanks Auntie Cath. Love ya. I sent home a package with the goodies. Don’t open!

Sunday at Fort Jackson was amazing. What a great way to finish my time there. I spent 9 months there and so many great things happened. This last Sunday, Brother E was baptized. He is the RLDS soldier. He told me that he always attended church growing up and also attended other churches, but never felt the way he did at church his first Sunday at Fort Jackson. His battle buddy brought him. Brother E told his buddy that he would go to church but would not join. His buddy, Bro EV said that you could see the change of heart on his face within the first five minutes. So awesome.

Brother EV did not serve a mission. He recently went through the temple and when he gets home he will be sealed to his wife. He seemed so grateful and pleased that he has been able to do missionary work at Fort Jackson. He told me with tears in his eyes that the past two weeks have been incredible. Bro EV has loved sharing the gospel and bearing testimony to Brother E. He was able to get in the water with his friend and baptize him. So cool.

Monday we did all of the last minute transfer stuff before the new missionaries arrived. It was nice to have 3 assistants to do it all. We had to set up 23 beds at the mission home. There were 25 of us sleeping the two nights at the mission home including the Holms.

We had to take the van and 3 other vehicles to the airport in order to pick up all the new missionaries. We got there right when they were coming down the runway. 20 of them!!! They were all so excited.

We took them home and fed them. We spent the next couple of days with them and we also had a meeting with the trainers. So at one point we had 40 missionaries that we had to worry about for rides, sleeping arrangements, etc. It was so fun... but man it was a LOT on our plate. On Sunday we ended up spending hours on the phone making calls, arranging rides, finding living arrangements, temporary transfers, etc to make all this happen. It was draining. PLUS we had to go and open another apartment Tuesday evening late. We opened 8 new areas this transfer. For those we had to gather proselyting materials, phones, dvd players, cars, etc. For real. This has been the craziest but most fun transfer ever.

Tuesday night we had a testimony meeting with the new missionaries. I couldn't believe it, it was super powerful. The spirit was really strong there. At that point I was getting a bit nervous about leaving. It was a little stressful - but as testimonies were borne and as I bore my own, I was strengthened. It was peaceful and I’ve felt great ever since.

After the testimony meeting Elder Douglas, Elder Clarke, President and I worked on the transfers. To make a long story short (we were up until midnight).... we couldn’t find the right trainer for the native elder who was called to English-speaking, and we couldn't decide who would be the right companion for me. So to solve both problems, my new missionary to train is a native Hispanic elder who is called to speak English.

His name is Elder A. His English is good, but his accent makes it rough. He is AWESOME - he is a convert of the church of 2 years, he is 22 and just baptized his 20year old brother before leaving home. He is from Guanajuato Mexico, but has lived in Texas for the past few years. He was born in California so he is a U.S. citizen but has lived his whole life in Mexico. Elder A joined the church because of a girlfriend he has. His parents were not totally supportive of him serving a mission -they didn't want him to go. But, he got a letter from them in the MTC saying that they are okay with it now.

Elder A and I will go to the Greenville 4th Spanish Branch. We also will serve in the Greenville 3rd Ward. We will do about 50/50 Spanish and English work. We speak Spanish and English about 50% of the time (my Spanish is coming back and his English is getting better). Funny huh? The white kid was called to speak Spanish and the Mexican was called to speak English and we were put together. Elder A’s testimony and teaching skills are phenomenal. He is awesome.

This transfer is going to be SWEET.

But anyway we are getting our feet on the ground. We had someone at church yesterday. We also have 2 people on baptismal date. One of them we found last night. Sister C - she previously investigated the church and already knows Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. She and her husband didn't get baptized because he didn't feel ready. He is now in Alabama working and she committed to baptism on the 17th if her husband is okay with it. She is supposed to call and ask him. Please pray for sister C.

I miss the office. A lot!! But it's so great to be back to regular missionary service.

Well I think I’ve crammed it all in. I sure love ya!!

Elder Stoneman