Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to Columbia

So I’m back. I feel like I’ve done this before. Hahaha. First to Charleston, then to Columbia, then to Charleston again, and BACK to Columbia. Déjà vu is becoming a big part of my mission.

So yes I am back in Columbia. I am opening a Spanish area in downtown Columbia – it’s an area I actually covered back when I was in Windsor Lake. So now there are two Spanish companionships here in this zone. Exciting. And there are a lot of interesting circumstances as well as not-so-exciting happenstances along with my new area. They are as follows:

1. Exciting - my proselyting companion is great. He is a "visa-waiter" that has just come out of the MTC and is waiting for his visa so that he can go to Brazil. haha Elder R asks everyone we talk to if they know any Brazilians nearby so that he can talk to them. It’s great. He is a cool kid and a hard worker.

2. I have a great zone leader comp – Elder P. He also has a visa waiter for his proselyting comp – Elder E. The not-so-exciting part is that we all live in a very tiny apartment. One bedroom. Elder P and I sleep on the floor. It's fine. I knew sleeping at the foot of mom and dad's bed would pay off someday. haha. Seriously it is really tiny. We'll make it though. elder R and Elder E have already been approved for their visas so they could be leaving at any time...

3. Exciting - sweet ward. Great Ward Mission Leader.... we have a lot do... so I’m happy. There isn't a whole lot of Spanish - that's mostly in the Windsor Lake area.... so I’ll be doing about half of my teaching in English – not so exciting.

4. Not so exciting - we have no one to work with seeing how we are opening the area. But like I said before there is a lot to do... so we are currently building our teaching pool.

5. REALLY exciting - part of my area (for zone leaders in the East Columbia Zone) is that I get to work with the Assistants every Sunday at the Fort Jackson Military Post teaching and baptizing soldiers. Amazing experience. I went yesterday and they are just so humble and willing to accept the gospel. They baptize like crazy there. It actually is the highest baptizing unit in the entire nation.

Well that’s it. Love ya
Elder Stoneman

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adios Charleston

Hey Fam: Things are going great. Mom, I DID see the devotional. So great. I saw you multiple times. It was fun trying to point you out to the other missionaries. They thought it was so cool... and then they started pointing you out by themselves. "No... She’s THAT one..." one missionary would say to another... haha.. I’m excited for the package. I don't need anything in particular. I’m good. I’ll be sending home my package today.

R’s baptism was great. The spirit was so strong. He just loved it. The baptism was on Wed. because J wanted to be there. We had F speak at it. His testimony is so strong. Afterwards we went over to his house and ate dinner. He and P are so anxious to take the temple classes.

The confirmation went well too... R began to cry... very touching. And then later in Spanish Gospel Principles class he introduced himself and told his conversion story. He told about how we came to visit him, and he didn't have time for us - so we left a card. A few months later a friend came up to him talking about how he wanted to go to the Mormon church but didn't know where to find it... And then he said – “Well, I’ve got a card of theirs, so let's call them... “ And you know the rest. He told the story and it was way funny especially how he didn't have time for us... everyone loved it.

The 1st pres devotional was really cool. R, A and M came. They really liked it too.

I got the phone call about transfers... I’m leaving Charleston on Wednesday. One of the assistants said that I’m staying a zone leader and will be opening a new area.

I’m really sad to be leaving. I have been in Charleston for a year. I love it. I would really love to show it to ya'll one day. There are great people here. My goodbyes are going to be packed the next few days. I can already tell. I got swarmed after church yesterday. I’m going to miss everyone and the area so much.

Well, that’s it... love ya!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Southern Thanksgiving

This week has flown. I really only had 2 full days of proselyting,. The other days were packed. But it was a really good week. A lot of great things happened.

Thursday. Thanksgiving was amazing. Man. I can't even believe how good it was. Best meal on my mission. We had a lunch appointment at the relief society pres's home. To sum her up... southern, sarcastic, intimidating, funny, and SOUTHERN. Beautiful home. She was so funny. She kept picking on and messing with my companion... just teasing... it reminded me of back home... but southernized. It was hilarious. Elder P and I were laughing pretty good. The food was amazing. She made a sweet yam soufflé, tons of flavorful meat and stuffing, and lots and lots of dessert. So good. I stuffed myself. By the time our 5 o clock dinner appointment came around I could hardly eat.... but I did. And man! It was good too. I was so full. It was a good day - full of food, sports (we played soccer and bball in the morning), and I watched a sweet home video of a member of the bishopric alligator hunting/wrestling. Such a good day

R is doing well. He came to church yesterday and was interviewed. He will be baptized on Wednesday and I get to perform it. I’m really excited.

Friday and Saturday we had the training meeting. It was great. President and the assistants trained. The zone is just struggling on how to teach people and work effectively. But with a lot of role playing... the zone is doing better. A lot of the zone is baptizing in the next few weeks. I’m really pumped. We are on fire.

We had four people at church yesterday who are all scheduled to be baptized in the month of December. Also... I found the Tellos and they are on date to be baptized on the 18th. Elder W and I are working really hard and are being blessed for it.

Transfer calls are this weekend. I’m nervous. Everyone is saying I’m gone. I’ll be so bummed. I love this area. Charleston rocks. But I’ll go where He wants me to go.... :)

Love you guys,

Elder Stoneman

Monday, November 15, 2010

Los Amigos Ancianos

Dear Fam:

That’s great about Josh’s mission call! Tell him that most of the people I meet and teach are from Oaxaca... really really cool people... he might learn a dialect. Y cuando regresa hablaremos en espanol.... buena suerte primo. Te amo.

The baptism is set for this Wednesday... J is incredible. So he gets cooler and cooler every time I speak with him. His friend R wants to get baptized as well. They are the funniest guys - two old friends. They love us and love church. J passed his interview and everything is all set. Miracle.

Elder W and I are seeing some really great success. We have 4 people on baptismal date at the moment. We're getting along just fine. I am just learning to love him and serve him and be his friend.

Elder P is baptizing this week too. North Charleston is still a really tough ward - but we're working on it.

I feel like I’m growing a lot. There is just so much to learn and do. It's crazy. I’m excited and having fun. My testimony is growing too.... I am currently reading the Book of Mormon for the second time in Spanish... marking gospel and missionary terms. The BoM is great. I love the scriptures. I taught the gospel principles lesson in Spanish yesterday at church and the topic was the scriptures. I know that they are true and are the words of Christ. And that we will have happier lives and prepare for salvation by reading them daily.

There is a missionary testimony for ya.

I was running all over the place yesterday. Teaching and going to different ward buildings and fixing investigator problems. Stressful but I realized how much I love it. Yesterday was just a great day. I love missionary work.

I really love you guys,

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Lot of Miracles

It has been an eventful and exciting week. A lot of miracles were seen.

First, J. We received a media referral last Monday for him. We spent all week trying to see him. We finally made contact with him. He is 72 years old. He previously investigated up in North Carolina. He studied the Book of Mormon and went to church regularly with the elders up there. While up there, J’s wife got really sick - so he went back to Mexico for a few years, losing contact with the missionaries. He had taken his Book with him though and had read the whole thing. When we taught him on Friday you could tell he already had a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He did not, however, have a testimony of Joseph Smith. Elder W and I taught him about JS. It was an amazing lesson. We asked him to kneel in prayer with us to ask God if JS was a prophet. J gave the most straight up sincerely asked prayer I have heard. What he basically asked was: “GOD!... IS THIS REALLY TRUE?” During his prayer we heard the change in him. He had received an answer and began to thank God for it. He committed to baptism with such excitement that I’d never before seen. He told us that when he goes back to Mexico he is going to tell everyone that JS is a prophet. He is so cool. We went over the next day and he had invited a friend to come and listen. I had actually taught his friend a while back and had given him a card - the same card that J searched for to find the missionaries. Way sweet story. He was so excited about church yesterday that he moved his baptismal date up 10 days. He will be baptized next Wednesday. He just knows so strongly that the church is true. It’s been 12 days total from the day we found him. Cool story that I thought I would share.

Anyway.... other than that things are great. Elder W and I are getting along. We are seeing a lot of other successes. A’s sister is investigating. It's great.

The weather is nuts. Suddenly it dropped like 30 degrees in a week. So I’m cold. Mom I will be buying some more stuff to keep me warm. Thanks for the money.

Well that's it for this week. Love you guys.

Elder Stoneman

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hey Ya'll

Hey ya'll...

Thanks for the emails. Thank the Goomi for the letter. Happy birthday McKay. How are you, Mol, and the Burg doin’?

Mom... downtown Charleston is so cool. I wish you could see it. I picked up a couple of things there for you and for the fam. I’ll be sending home another package in the next few weeks.... don't open it.... and keep it safe. It will contain a few SOUV's.... :)

Auntie Cath.... I haven't spent the cash... today we are thinking of going to Fort Sumter or bowling (depending on time).... neither of which I have done on my mission. Something crazy. And we may go out to eat. Thanks again.

R and A were baptized! I’m so pumped. Man it was great!! It was a really spiritually uplifting baptismal service. Sister W, a Spanish RM, spoke. We watched "By Small and Simple Things" and then the missionaries sang - "I need thee every hour". Elder C baptized A.... in Spanish. He had to redo it because he got the name wrong but he did it like a champ. R was baptized by Bro T - a really cool guy who fellowshipped R and A. These were first baptisms for both Elder C and Brother T. On Sunday I confirmed A in Spanish. Elder C confirmed R in English.

Transfers.... we got the calls. As zone leaders we receive the call from the assistants and then call the zone. Our zone has 12 companionships - 24 missionaries in total.... 12 of them are leaving. Every companionship is changing. Crazy stuff. It’s a big transfer. I.... am staying. Elder C is leaving and so is Elder D. Elder P and I get to stay together as zone leaders. I’m excited. 3 transfers with Elder P! He is the man. Elder P is training a new missionary, and I’ll find out who my regular companion is on wed.

By the end of next transfer, I will have been in this area for 6 months.... plus I had the 6 months in Goose Creek. That means about a year of my mission will have been spent in Charleston.

Love to everyone,
Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Already Week Six of the Transfer!

Crazy week. Week 5 of the transfer. Pretty cool. We are now in week 6.... So transfer calls are coming up on Saturday. We have interviews tomorrow. I had to type up a report on each missionary so it killed my time today. Not too much time to write. I will apologize in advance.

Auntie Cath thank you so much for the hump day note and cash. Very thoughtful. Love you so much. It will be spent "madly" :)

So I’ve been all over the place this week. I interviewed this sweet guy for baptism in the downtown Charleston library. It was cool. That was a really good day. We did talk to everyone... because we were literally teaching all day. It was cool. Downtown rocks. I’m going down there today.

R and A are ready to be baptized. We've been over there a few times this week with a few members. They are the coolest couple and absolutely ready for baptism. They were interviewed the other day and all looks well for this weekend. R gave the prayer last night said something along the lines of "Thank you for having the elders come over and bring members. Thank you for the opportunity to be baptized. Please help us prepare." Very sincere. It will be a great service this Saturday. Pics next week.

Elder C’s 8 year old nephew wrote him a note that made me think of the kids. With poor spelling and uncontrolled handwriting it read:

"Dear Elder C.
I hope you are enjoying your mission.
I’m in school and it's not off to a good start.
Signed C"

haha Kids are great.

Well, that’s it. Love you guys.

E Sto

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 11, 2010

Hola.... soy yo el Elder de la Piedra y estoy bien aqui.... que tal vosotros? Como estais? (As our friends from Spain would say... also our friends from the scriptures)

Hey Mom and Dad. I’m doing well. Thanks for the prayers and love. Tell Grandpa Goomis thanks for the letter. It meant a lot and it helped me so much.

It has been a really good week. We had a miracle and Elder C and I are going to baptize!! R and A will be baptized on the 23rd. They are so solid. Great couple. They had been pressed by their uncle to not be baptized - but they overcame it. They told us that they have a testimony and they don’t care what people say. We had a really great lesson with them on Saturday. They love the church. R really likes the scriptures and he was talking about how he is working on applying what he learns from them. They are just really great people - really solid too. Keep them in your prayers so that all goes well for their baptism.

The zone is doing great. A lot of baptisms. We have really amazing missionaries, and very hard working.

I love Spanish. Elder P just asked me a question and I literally answered him in Spanish.... totally a habit now. Mom, what kind of Spanish can I take at the U? What about study abroad?

F and P are doing really well. I really will go to the temple with them. I sat through one of the sessions with them at conference. They are so cool. F was just called to be a ward missionary in the Crowfield Ward. Their kids are growing fast too. It's amazing to think I met them almost a year ago.

Sam thanks for the email man. You rock. That was a great story about bathing Addison! hahaha That's sweet. Does she have the Bella stank? Yikes if she does.

I love you guys.

Elder Stoneman

Hey, All Ya'll!

Hey all ya'll... thanks for the great emails. I loved the story of Gunther prepping for baptism... I loved it. Sounds like things continue to keep on keepin on.

Things keep on keepin on here as well. SC has finally cooled off. It's chilly in the mornings and in the evenings. It gets dark around 7:30 and there are fewer critters! Elder C and Elder D are happy about that. Both are absolutely terrified of bugs. The girlish shrills that come out of their mouths are hilarious. Especially because Elder D is so huge. hahahahaha. I don't know if I had mentioned this but a few months ago there was a bug is his car and he punched it and broke the car windshield. hahahaha Of Mice and Men?

So along with the cool down brings the miserable suit coat season. Yes it is cool, but with a jacket it's HOT. I’m getting my suits dry cleaned this week. I’ll rotate so I’ll have something to wear. Everything is great though. My clothes are holding up really well.

The leadership meeting went really well. I once again stayed in an apartment with 10 missionaries and one bathroom. yikes. haha It was fine. I got to meet and work with (we'd go and proselyte in the evenings) a lot of really cool missionaries. I’m to the point on my mission where I know most of the missionaries out here. We were able to go to the temple one morning. We did an early session and fasted that day. It was really cool.

General conference was so good. Particularly President Uchtdorf's talk... totally directed towards me. Mom, I didn't see you a lot, but when I did, it made me happy. Thanks for singing your heart out.

We are teaching a wonderful couple. They’ve been coming to church. Keep them in your prayers - they are going to be baptized on the 23rd.

That's it. Love you guys!

Elder Stoneman

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hump Day - done!

Hump day... done! It’s weird. Time is going by so quickly.

I got a really nice letter from Max. I wrote Ben and Sam and Molly. I asked them for emails to find out the latest. I gotta go... but I got your email and the package from Jana. Freaking sweet.

We have another 4 day meeting this week in Columbia. I’m stoked. I’m going up right now. The weather is cooling down, but still warm. Rained all day yesterday... brought back fond memories of last winter.

I’m doing well but a little stressed out. I keep getting more and more responsibilities from random people. A lot of people rely on me and sometimes it's tough.

Mom don't worry though... I’m keeping a good attitude. :)

Love you guys.

Elder Aug

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

North Chas Comps

Zone Leader Council

Finally Cooling Down!

Hey Mom and Dad.

Mom - thanks for the email... I loved hearing about the goings-on back home. I’m a little bummed though... to be honest. I want to go to the fair!!! I’ll miss next year's too. Oh well...

To answer some questions, Mom... no effects from Hurricane Earl. Although... it has cooled down a ton. Finally. I heard from a member though that there is going to be a HUGE hurricane at the end of the month... true or false?

Oh Mom... thanks for the picture of Max. That has got to be the coolest picture I have ever seen. Max - you da man!

We had a way good week. Elder S came and trained us at zone leader council. He trained on consistency (which was what I trained on). It was cool. A few days later we had zone conference and he trained on similar things. I really think that we will see some success from this... we've actually been seeing some SWEET stuff from our leadership training in July. Pretty amazing. President McConkie is the man.

C is still a little if-y for this weekend.... but a better if-y.... I have faith. It'll happen. She and her son are so cool. They've been to church 4 times now. She's just concerned because she "hasn't felt the presence of God at church yet" Elder C and I are going to do a church tour with her this week and make it a really spiritual experience. Pray for her that she will feel it's true.

Dad... can I have our priesthood line of authority? also... I don't know the conversion story of the Stonemans/Gibbons/Bannatynes/Bays..... can I get those stories?

Oh bytheway - transfer calls - everyone is staying in North Chas from my apartment. Only four people in the whole zone are getting transferred. Small transfer. So Elder P and I are still the zone leaders. And Elder D is staying. And obviously I get to baptize with Elder C.

We met these Honduran sisters last Sunday. We've taught them every other day. They are so solid. I am amazed how well they are learning and truly want baptism. They are on date for the 2nd of Oct... conference weekend. Keep M and M in your prayers.

That's about it. I love you guys.

E Sto

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pictures!!!...finally....I know

Return to Goose Creek

Hey Mom you sent that letter just in time. I was so glad to receive it. I also got a letter from Derick. Sounds like things are going really well for him. I also got a letter from the Goomi. Thank you so much for that.

I went on exchanges last week back into the Goose Creek area. Man! It was so cool to go back for a day. I loved working the old trailer parks - Piggly Wiggly, Summercreek, the pines, red bank... heck yeah! I loved it. It was also way sweet because I got to visit F and P. Man! They are doing so well. They really understand the gospel. They fed us of course.

Then the next day I went on another exchange back in my area. I don't remember if I ever mentioned Elder T - my DL from the Goose Creek days. He's now an assistant to the President. He came down to do exchanges with me. It was so fun. Spanish work. He doesn't speak Spanish... so I would just teach and then translate both ends during a lesson so Elder T could understand and teach as well. Pretty cool.

Other than that...

It has been a trying week. Towards the end of it I began to feel really inadequate and discouraged. I felt like it would be really tough to baptize much with Elder C. I took the advice from a previous training about dropping those investigators that wouldn't progress. We dropped two different investigators. It was tough, but we had faith. My spirits were lifted as the Lord blessed us... we had an amazing lesson with an investigator who is getting more and more solid for baptism on the 18th. And then someone (non member) showed up to church. A young woman who is living with her very active extended family for a year. Her uncle got up and bore his testimony in Spanish and told her that he wasn't asking her to convert but to be open to the gospel as they would be taking to her church every week. It was incredible. We are going to see them on Thursday. The ups and downs on the mission are pretty huge. I've learned how to endure them. I still may get frustrated every now and then, but I press forward.

I really hope I’m with Elder C for one more transfer. We have some really cool people coming up and I want to baptize with him. Transfer calls are on Saturday.

Keep C in your prayers. She is just right on the verge of conversion. Pray that she'll just accept and make that step. She and her son are scheduled for the 18th of Sept.

Well that's it for today. Elder P and I have zone leader council today. We have a general authority coming. I have to give a talk. yikes. My topic is what the mission needs. I chose to speak on consistency.

I love you guys.

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Casablanca? French?

Max and Brooke – congrats! Casablanca? French? What...? How many languages is that now, Max? Geez... you’re wicked smart. And the biggest loon. Love ya!!

Mom and dad check out the DC temple. I hear it rocks.

Decent week. I have some time to write about it and tell some stories.... and I’ll TRY to be funny... but I’m not promisin' nothin'!!!

Elder P has got to be one of my favorite missionaries out here. We'll talk in English accents around the house. Only when we're joking around... or complaining. "Then the bloody lesson was interrupted by an extremely annoying child." Mom - Elder P is so pumped that you are in the tab choir. He's always like.... “I can't believe it, man! Can your mom sing Come Thou Fount? That's my favorite, dude!” It's hilarious. There was a picture of Sky in the Ensign, so I told him that he's my best friend. Once again pumped. Then he said, "He looks like he'd be in High School Musical or something." I told him that he was.... and Elder P just busted up sayin’ how cool that was. We have a good time in the apartment.

We're doing really well in the zone. We have awesome missionaries. The Middoni Zone is always packed with the best. There is a companionship - Elders P and R that tore it up the other day. Elder P and I gave the zone a challenge and they did the best. We’re pumped! As a zone we had 11 baptisms in August. That is a great improvement from previous months.

Elder C is doing really well. He's really quiet and kind of in his own world, but he's actually a really funny guy. And he's becoming a great missionary too. Tomorrow we're doing senior companion day. That means that he makes all the decisions and leads out. I’m excited for it.

M didn't come to church, so now she can't be baptized on the 11th. Too bad. C and her son both came and are on date for September 18th. Really cool investigators. I love working with them. We're working with other people as well. They are just kinda struggling keeping commitments.

Anyway. something pretty cool happened that I want to tell you about before I end today. The other Spanish elders had a few baptisms the past few weeks. Anyway at one of them they had F (my first convert from February) give a talk. He spoke on baptism. Man. It was pretty strong. Elder P doesn't speak Spanish and he was there and told me later that he could just feel it. F said some amazing things. He is the absolute most solid convert. He really does understand. He understands the gospel. And everything. It was incredible.

Here are some of the things he said,

-THIS is the true church
-I remember asking the missionaries why they go out in the cold teaching people. And then they told me about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and it caught my attention.
-I remember when I was baptized and I had only gone to church about five times before... Now I go every week to take the sacrament. And now I’m looking to go to the temple with my wife... and I’m looking toward the day when my children are baptized.
-I remember what Hermano Stoneman told me – ‘If you have any doubts or questions... ask God.’

Enough said. It was something that I will never forget.

I love you guys,

Elder Stoneman

Monday, August 23, 2010

Charleston Missionary Fireside

"We're Charlestonians!!"

Hola - que onda? Pues estoy aqui disfrutando los correos electronicos de mi familia. Pues tengo algo de decir.... So, I’m not funny anymore? I think I got more complaints about not funny emails today than doors slammed in my face this past week. jacked. haha I love you guys. Sorry I forget the funnies. But no worries I got this sweet quote book that I write funny quotes and stories in.

It was a decent week. Kinda slow. I think I’m used to the heat. We went in to eat at Arbys on Sat and an old guy offered to buy us lunch because he was impressed that we worked out in the hot sun. We sat and ate with him and his 90 year old mom. I think she had dementia. She kept saying, "We're Charlestonians!!" haha Like 5 times at random moments during the conversation.

Yesterday we had something way sweet. A Charleston missionary fireside. President came down and spoke. All members, investigators, less active, and recent converts were invited. Wondeful turnout. The meeting itself was very spiritual. There was this recent convert family that was baptized 6 months ago who spoke. They have got to be the most solid members I have ever seen.. I was in the zone when they were investigating. I remember hearing about them. It was so sweet.

Our investigators are doing really well. However we can't find L. We'll see. The others are coming along for the 11th of Sept.

I’m sorry to say the same thing over... but I really will write more next week. We had to go to the library today and I’m out of time. Literally. Also I’m going shark tooth hunting this afternoon. I promise to write more.... and be funnier next week to please my audience.

I love you.

Church is true.

E Sto

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This Week Has Been Awesome

Hey Dot Buther and Dot DOD:

How are ya? How's Grandma Goomis? How's Cath? How are the kids? Schools startin’ up. Wow. Gunther's getting baptized in about a month, right? That's so cool. Send me pics. Fo sho. I hear Kev is almost home. Now it's just me and Peter who are out, right? Have you heard from Sky or Land? I got an email and a letter from Skyler. Jana thank you for the letter it rocked. I’m awaiting the package. :) Bill Barnes - thanks for the email.

This week has been awesome. I’ve worked Elder C and we've had awesome success. A few miracles that happened:
-We finally taught L’s husband. It was a quick 10 minute lesson. It was a miracle we found him. It was perfect timing. He himself is not interested, but we got his permission to baptize L. He said he was cool with it, so she will be baptized in 2 weeks
-On Elder C's first day we contacted this way sweet lady, M. She was pretty interested. We went back and taught her a few days ago. She's living in very humble circumstances. Her husband was taken by La Migra to jail. She is a single mom - two younger boys (8 and 9) and an older boy who is married. We committed them all to baptism in that lesson for the 11th of Sept. She gave a way solid commitment.
-We had a very spiritual lesson last night with V- another lead. He had been taught the gospel before in Mexico. He got on his knees and asked if José Smith was a prophet. The lesson was awesome. He also committed to be baptized on the 11th.

Elder C was so excited. He's really quiet. I’m having a lot of fun with him. He's a good kid. He's really enjoying the mission experience so far. Elder C is progressing very well. His teaching is great - in the few lessons we've had in English. He has such a great spirit and a strong testimony. He really cares and has a sincere heart. Elder C is willing to sacrifice and take advice. He really is the best missionary. Thanks again to President for this opportunity. Elder C is a little concerned about teaching in Spanish. He's not frustrated... he just is a little bummed that he can't quite teach the same that he could if he were teaching in English. I told him that it takes time. He's patient.

So moving took literally all P-Day last week. Ugh. We're STILL not unpacked. We’re getting that done today. The new place is nice. I like it. There's a business center here so I don't have to worry about the stupid library when I email. I also don’t have to worry about the stupid laundro-mat. Washer and dryer! Boo yah. So yeah, things are good.

No one has been at church for us so far this transfer. Lame. Why is that so hard? haha. Seriously, I don't get it. Well, actually I do... they're just not used to going to church every Sunday. What can you do?

Um.... I think that's it. Tell Bentley, Siosia, and Kev to write me.

Love ya all!
E Sto

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We Are Still Moving!

August 9, 2010

Hey mom and dad. I’m sending a short email today – we are still moving. Thanks for the emails and updates on the happenings in SLC and around the world. We’re in the middle of moving and if I don't take the opportunity to email now I won't get another. Everything sounds decent back home. A lot of changes. The boys are growing up. Bummer... send more pics.

Well things are the same here in SC... Still hot. I hear it'll cool down in about 4 weeks. The new ZL comp is awesome. He was already in the zone so he just came from down the street. haha. His name is Elder P and he’s from California. He's way awesome and a great leader. He's also hilarious. His mom is from England so he can do this way sweet accent. He reminds me of Max.... just without the bigger build... and head.

My new proselyting comp.... is brand new. I may have mentioned this last week - I’m training a new missionary. President called and broke the news that Elder B was leaving but that I was getting a new missionary. He told me to work him hard and to make him a great missionary. He basically told me to baptize with him too... haha the pressure is on.

His name is Elder C. He's from Seattle. He's a good kid. He's a little timid with Spanish.... but he's doing great. He's talking with people and helping teach. It's cool. I’ve been looking back to a lot of the things Elder J did - he was such a good trainer. I’m surprised I was his only son. So I look back to Goose Creek to help me out. I’m having a good time. Training is a little hard, especially with all of the other stuff I have to do. Elder D is still here. So that’s great.

It's all good though. We're working with some great people. F is still way awesome. We have 2 people on baptismal date for the 28th. L and S.... who both have the same problem: their husbands... It's hard to teach the husbands because they're not home. They’re working. and then they come home and say.... "debe aprender mas..." So they're progressing but... it's taking some time.

Well I need to let Elder P email his fam.

Love ya! Love to Grandma!

Elder Stoneman

More next week…

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm Sure Set For Cake

Man, I opened my email this morning and my mail last week.... and they were FILLED with birthday emails/shout outs. Thanks to everyone. I enjoyed it. :) I felt so loved that I wanted to do something. Sooo.... I’m sending out a birthday shout out to everyone who had or will have a birthday in the year 2010. Happy birthday everyone!!! I love you!

It was a great week and a great birthday. I got the package mom. Thank you. The mini dictionary is so awesome. The bible too. Thank you. The treats were absolutely amazing. I love candy/treats. and surprisingly I don't eat very much of that.

I’m sure set for cake. A less active sister gave me a cake yesterday. haha It was so random. She's quite a cooker though. She sells at La Pulga - tamales and such. She made this cake.... 3 leches. Oh man! It was awesome. And then another missionary made me one. And then Elder B and I made brownies. hahaha Soooo good.

We had interviews this week. I’m surprised on how much of the input they take from the zone leaders - on how everyone is doing; conflicts, leadership suggestions, etc. It was cool. I had a great interview with President. He is great. So is Sister McConkie. Mom - she always talks about you. haha She even brought the Church News with your pic just to show me.

Elder H and I finished up our exchanges this past week. It was a blast. We go into areas and just work. We always seem to have really good success too. It’s a lot of fun. My zone is packed with awesome missionaries.

So between interviews and exchanges... the week was kind of shot. Elder B does really well though while I’m gone. He has got to be one of my favorite companions. Seriously. Great guy. The bummer part is that he is being transferred. I am so bummed. At interviews I even tried talking President into letting us be together one more transfer. haha No go. So I am staying in this area as a zone leader and also training a new missionary.

Elder H leaves this week. I’m also going to miss him a lot. I’ve learned so much from him. Great missionary. We all had a lot of fun this transfer. Elder D is staying. Boo yah!

We are moving apartments next week. Yikes. Hectic. BUT we are getting our very own washer and dryer. holla.

Well sorry this is so short and sporadic... I don't have any more time.

Thanks again for all of the birthday wishes and pictures. I loved it. Have a great week. Give Grandma my love.

Elder Stoneman

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Pretty Sweet Week

Hey Mom and Dad!

It has been a pretty sweet week. F was baptized. L was not. Her husband wouldn’t let her and wants her to wait. Oh well. She came to F’s baptism and really liked it.

The service was so awesome. I conducted. We sang "El Alba Ya Rompe" which is the upbeat version of "The Day Dawn is Breaking". Totally an F song. His full name is F P C C. Elder B baptized him - so when he heard his name before the service he was so nervous. There was great fellowship and many investigators present. Some recent converts of Elder B’s bore testimony. They were so nervous but did really well. A fantastic member, Hermano E gave a talk and rocked it. Then we sang "Conmigo Quadrate Senor" to finish. F loved that one and was singing it loudly with us.

We have interviews this week. Elder H and I had to prepare a sheet of paper saying how each missionary in the zone is doing. That's what took up my time this morning. Sorry I don't have much time left to write you. So anyway we have interviews and I’m going to attempt to talk President into letting me stay with Elder B for one more transfer. I’ve been on exchanges so much and with all of the meetings, I’ve hardly had time with him. He's an awesome missionary.

We're going to downtown Charleston for exchanges tomorrow. So Elder H and I are going early to check out the Battery and such. I may pull out a little cash to buy some souvs.

Que mas? Que mas puedo decir? Pues... me encanta el idioma de espanol. De hecho... yo quiero estudiarlo en el colegio. Tambien seria bien chido si yo pudiera usarlo en mi trabajo. Pues es todo. nos vemos.

Les amo mucho!

El Elder de la Piedra

Four Days with Eleven Elders in One Apartment

July 19, 2010

So it's been a great week!

We had the four-day meeting. Crazy stuff. Basically a third of the mission was there: Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Trainers. It was cool. Basically it was a training of what we already knew... just bringing it all back from memory. Nothing new. Just making sure that we're doing it right ... and better. Also to improve our personal conversion to increase convert conversion.

They covered eight points - among which included: revelation, commitments, sacrament meeting, Book of Mormon, prayer, and how to begin teaching. It was great. They taught and we had great discussions and then we'd role play. One time I had to role play on camera and then the whole group critiqued the lesson that my comp and I had just taught to one of the Assistants. Yikes.

The first day that we got up there... the President's brother (a stake pres in Colorado) trained us. He taught of the doctrine of Christ. That has been a huge focus the past little while... teaching members, investigators, and living the doctrine of Christ... the gospel. Basically faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, endure to the end. It was really neat.

How each day usually worked out was that we would start the meeting at 9... they'd train. Lunch at noon (we had to take care of our own breakfast and dinner), and then they'd train again until 5. At 5 we'd go proselyte. it was so cool... we would proselyte, applying what we had just learned that day. Then the following morning we'd return and report. President would ask us how it went and people shared some pretty great miracles.

There was a great spirit felt there. To help change the negative attitude that is present in the mission, some missionaries created a "declaration". They presented it and it read that we need to be more focused on the missionary effort, to have more urgency in our proselyting, to truly bring souls to Christ. Then we all signed it. It was great - Sister McConkie had some MoTab playing and we signed an actual document with a feather pen. We would walk up to the podium and announce our name and the district/zone we represented and individually sign it. "I’m Elder Stoneman representing the Middoni Zone…” Every leader did that. Lastly, President got up and said, holding back tears, "I'm President McConkie and I represent the finest group of missionaries on earth.” And then he signed. Man, it was like a movie. He set the feather pen down right when the song ended. Epic. It was powerful though.

So that's about it. I spent four days with 11 elders in one apartment... with one bathroom. hahah Ouch. Elder H and I got up at 5:30 a.m. every day to run and then snag first dibs on the shower. We run about every day. Elder H is such a good guy. I spend a lot of time with him... Visiting the zone's investigators and meetings and such. I love it. I’m learning a lot. I’m going to miss him for sure. He goes home August 4th. Elder B is mostly with Elder D. They get along well and the work is progressing really well for the North Charleston Ward.

Elder H and I had a meeting with the Stake President last night. The branch is a no-go. It’s disappointing - we need it so much. Oh well. For now there is not enough people or leadership.

Elder B and I have a baptism this weekend - F. The families fell through - they're still cool... but P won't be baptized until August. F is a good guy. Really easy going and excited for baptism. He kept telling members at church yesterday that he's getting baptized - basically inviting them.
L is still waiting on an answer from her husband. If all goes well she will be baptized this weekend with F. Keep them in your prayers.

Oh also - we found M and R.... the T's!!! They had moved.... but into this area. We of course picked them back up to start teaching them. Cool miracle.

Well that's it for the week. I miss you. Hopefully Grandma is doing better. Give her my love. I’ll get some time next week to write some handwritten letters. I love you guys.

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rockin' Ghetto Ties

Hey Mom and Dad:

The mission is great. I’m doing great. No bed bugs yet. Another apartment in the zone has serious cockroaches though. Ha-ha. They’re finding them in their study books and in their clothes and in their cereal. So I’m counting my blessings. Ha-ha. Everything else is great. The zone is doing well.

I’m emailing this afternoon because we have another zone meeting tomorrow... otherwise I would email tomorrow... we are at a church where they have a family history library with computers.

So South Carolina finally cooled down. yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-haawwh!!! Just a little bit. On Monday night we went out to work... biking (another story later) and it just poured. The saying "when it rains it pours" was developed in SC for sure. I just got soaked. I have a bunch of ghetto ties that rock! One of them stained my shirt. Jacked.

Other updates:

No more nightly calls!

I’m a biking elder... our car is in the shop. I’ve biked for a whole week straight. Once again – jacked. I get it back tomorrow.

Laura... is getting baptized on Saturday.

Family Mania... we've been finding families like those elders are finding cockroaches.

Some crazy stuff is happening in the mission. A LOT of changes. We'll know more about it at zone conference tomorrow.

Sorry, the guy that let us in said he has to leave. I spent all my time on zone reports to the assistants. Sorry. I’ll catch up next week and explain more on the other things.

Love you!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Columbia, SC 6/23/2010

Good Goobily Goo, It's Hot!

It has been a packed week. Less sleep. More work. Still talkin’ to crazies. “Good goobily goo, it's hot!” ...someone said that to us the other day... and with a straight face. Ha-ha... and I’m lovin every minute!!

Here is a little fill in of the week:

-I showed up to transfers a little anxious. Obviously. Before the meeting started President came up and found me and pulled me aside into a classroom. He ended up telling me where I’m going and who my comp(s) would be. I’m back to Charleston. My proselyting comp is Elder B. He’s been out 2 transfers. My ZL comp is Elder H. It is his last transfer. His comp is Elder D. We all live together near the same old Crowfield Ward building. After filling me in President asked me a favor. He had been called by the stake in Charleston to do a training at the stake's mini MTC for the priests. He couldn't make it so he said he'd send his zone leaders in his place.

-Friday morning Elder H and I drove to Moncks Corner and taught 24 priests how to teach the first lesson. It was cool. You know... to pretend like I know what I’m actually talking about. It was a neat experience. Then they fed us some amazing food.

It has been a crazy week. A lot has been happening. The nightly phone calls are rough. There are a lot of calls to make. The area is great. HUGE. Elder B and Elder U had been working with some great people. There is a great potential for baptisms this transfer. Elder B is a great guy. Normal. Which is good. So is Elder H. Elder D is the man. His family is from Fiji. It is going to be such a good transfer.

Church yesterday was way sweet. It was weird to be back in the same building - just a different ward. We had gone a little early so Crowfield was still meeting. I got so many weird looks and double takes. I saw P and F. That had to have been the best part. The other Spanish elders had told them I was back. They were so excited. They brought pictures for me from K’s kindergarten graduation. Hahaha. They had each written me earlier that week. I’m not even kidding it was the most amazing heart felt convert letter someone can get. F and P are still working towards the temple. F gets teased at work. But he holds strong. It was so good to see them.

I heard from Sky. He shot me quick email. He’s training. He wrote a lot in Spanish. Its weird. hahaha I can't wait to just kick it with him and Pete ... speakin’ Spanish!! :)

Mom - I’m doing well. To answer some of your questions... I’m staying hydrated. It's hot, “good goobily goo”!!! The AC works at the apartment... but possible bed bugs. For the 4th of July... I will be on lock down. haha Just like on New Years and on Halloween. I’m eating well. We live the law of consecration at the apartment. So we all buy together. It's cheaper and there's more food.

Thanks for the emails from the fam. I loved hearing about it all. Sounds like things are the same... except my kids are growing!!! I loved the baseball pics.

That's it for today. I need to go finish the Book of Mormon before zone conference. Almost done. I’m closing in on Ether.

I love you all so much.

Elder Augustus Stoneman

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Keepin' Hydrated!

Hey Mom and Dad!

Thanks for the emails this morning. It was nice to open up a bunch of mail. I hope all is well in SLC. The weather sounds nice.... it's hot here. haha Actually, I think I’m getting used to it. I have done really well about keeping hydrated. Oh! The AC is fixed. It's been working like a champ for a week!

So it's been one of the best weeks of the mission. Elder A and I had some great success. We met most of the mission standards and goals that we had set to stretch ourselves. We finished the transfer strong. The only disappointing thing was that J backed out of baptism. She told us on Wednesday - it was one of those heart-CRUSHING moments. I was so upset. I felt we handled it well though. We went over Thursday and it turned out she was worried that her husband would leave her. We had a very spiritual lesson. Then we worked things out so that we could talk to the husband ourselves. We had another spiritual lesson with him. We read and talked about the tree of life and compared it to J and baptism. He was way cool and decided she could be baptized. She's now praying for another date.

Transfers. We got transfer calls. Usually we just get them from the zone leaders on Saturday night. Well I received a call from President Saturday morning with a little "early news." I will be transferred out of Windsor Lake next week. The rest of my district is staying. I have loved the Windsor Lake Ward, but it’s all good - I’m needed elsewhere.

Top quotes of the week:

1. We taught this guy, Mr. R, and he offered the closing prayer... and among the MANY things he prayed for: "Heavenly Father, please bless my kittens... You know who they are..." and then he just chuckled to himself.

2. In talking to a contact – me: “We're looking for people who are pure in heart and desire to learn more about Christ.” The guy we were contacting: “Well I’m pure in heart.... but I watch a lot of TV...” And he just left it at that...

Thanks for everything, everyone. I hope you all had a great week and have an even better one this week. I love you all so much. Take care!

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Elder de la Piedra

Elder Stoneman, Fire Marshall

June 14, 2010

Hey Utah...

I hope you're enjoying the lovely Utah weather... SC is intense! It really is so hot. Seriously it hits higher levels every week! We’re hanging around 100-103 degrees and the humidity is like 90 %.... ouch. It’s been a decent week. A little slower, but overall... good! A lot of exciting stuff!!

So I ordered a new nametag.... Elder de la Piedra. I got it because the folks I teach CANNOT say my name. "Hola, yo me llamo Elder Stoneman." "Anderson?" No...Stoneman" ... I ordered it and then totally forgot about it... and then it came in the mail. I was very excited.

Elder Stoneman, Fire Marshall. We had another exciting experience in the trailer park. We visited a lead who invited us in and as we were walking up to the house, she went inside first and then yelled, "Ayudeme!" (“Help me!!”) and then booked it outside. We could see that the stove in her kitchen was on fire! A neighbor ran up with a hose. Bad idea. He sprayed it and it just got bigger. Luckily it finally died out. We hung around to see if she needed any more help.

Transfer calls will be on Saturday. Wow, this transfer has gone by so fast. Crazy! Despite all of my complaints about the heat, I really am enjoying South Carolina. And I love missionary work.

Thanks for everything. You all sound great back at home. I was sorry to hear about Graham being sick. Max and Brooke... hahahaha Max WOULD be rooming with a 10 year old named Fabio. Sam and Colin: I loved the letter. I owe you. Melissa - soccer mom. Ben - attorney at law AND on the field. haha Send me pics of the boys playing ball.

I love you all so much,

Elder de la Piedra

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 5, 2010

The News From South Carolina

It has truly been a crazy week!! I can't even believe it. It went by way fast too. Probably because last time I emailed was Tuesday... but it still seemed pretty fast.

Thanks for the letters. The emails were running a little low... but it's cool. I’m terrible at writing outside of my weekly email. I understand. I did however get a letter from the Goomi. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa! Sounds like you two are keeping busy and all is well with you. Thanks for the love. I’m sendin’ it right back!! Expect a letter soon.

We had a baptism this weekend!! S and D were baptized. We’ve been working with them with the English elders who work downtown. Looking at their teaching record, they've been taught a lot and for a long time. The hold up was the dad. It seemed like ever since we got here though, the dad calmed down. He’s been way cool. He let them get baptized. Now everyone in that house, including his mom and sister and his girls, are members except for him. He does come to church and everything. So we shall see.

The baptismal service went really well. The girls speak both Spanish and English. The dad requested the service to be in Spanish - so we had it in Spanish. The girls asked Elder R to baptize them because he is brand new. hahaha A greeny! The funny part though is that he's an English elder and had to do the prayer in Spanish. I had taught him this past week and he had it down. I was impressed (sounded a bit hick though. haha)

The bishop of their ward (downtown, Columbia 1st Ward) doesn’t speak Spanish - so I ended up conducting the meeting. The girls' aunt got sick so I gave the talk on baptism too. It was really cool though. The girls came up to me after and were so excited. They ran up and hugged me. Don't mean to sound conceited but... I am their favorite. I sing them awesome Spanish songs and say funny Spanish jokes. They are a good family. The dad pulled me aside afterwards and invited all four of us elders over for tamales later that night. It was a way good day.

I went on exchanges with one of my zone leaders today. I got a lot of good training to be a better missionary and a better leader. Elder P is the man.

We found a new family - six people! They are way cool.

I got a letter in the mail from M in Goose Creek. She said that everything is great and that their family really misses me. She said the visits from the missionaries just aren't the same. And that I am F's and H’s best friend. The boys are in Puerto Rico this summer. It was a really good letter. They sound like they are still so solid. I will be able to go to the temple with them next year. I’m looking forward to that.

Well, that is about it. I think I crammed everything in. It was an amazing week. I love you all. Talk to you soon!

Elder Stoneman

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Elders and Sisters and Burgers, Oh My!

Memorial Day in Columbia

Columbia is Off the Hook!

Hey Mom and Dad:

It was good to hear from you both today Sounds like things are way awesome back at home. A lot going on. I’m pumped that Peter was able to head back out to Honduras.

How're my kiddos doing? I haven't heard from them in a while. I hear about them, but a letter from the kids is always cute. Hob... see what you can hook up for me, okay? Get your cousins together and send me something good :) I got a letter from Auntie Cath last week, and thanks Ali Barnes for the email. It was great to hear from both of you.

To answer your questions: my district meeting went well. I tried to give some good training on bringing up baptism in every lesson. I am drinking lots of water. I am eating okay. Elder A is great. We're having fun and working hard. It’s a new month so we have been given more miles!! We're allotted about 40 a day now. We were doing about 25 a day. It will be nice to go find some new areas and such.

It's been a great week. We've have had some good rain. It’s nuts! Just comes out of nowhere. And the lightning and thunder is crazy. We were watching a film with an investigator and it just dumped. And the thunder was over powering the audio on the film. I could be wrong, but it sounded like it hit the trailer next door. So weird. The humidity is unbelievable. I think I’m getting used to it though. Although people keep saying - this is nothing! ... I wish they'd stop telling me that.

There is a baptism this weekend for two little girls that we’ve been teaching with another set of elders. They are a Hispanic family and live in the English elder’s area. So we go over to keep the parents updated and teach the girls with the other elders. It's going to be a wonderful baptism. The sisters had their baptism last weekend. It went really well. One girl from a family of six. They're working with the rest of the family.

Other than that Columbia is off the hook! Not much time to write this week. Sorry! Love ya!

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I am Loving the Field

It has been a pretty good week. I am loving the field. It's hard, but fun... I do miss everyone. I was so pumped opening up my emails this morning and seeing all the love waitin’ for me. boo yah. I thoroughly enjoyed all of news and updates. And the pics of Calvin in the ballet.

So, it is incredibly hot. I go through a full 2 liters of water in my camel back every day. It gets cloudy and then when the sun finally breaks through I feel like I’m in an oven. I can honestly say I’m a bit concerned about the summer.

The ward continues to be very friendly. We have a lot of member exchanges which is very nice. We need the rides.... and their testimonies too of course! Good people out here. Seriously. I love it.

We are teaching quite a few people now. The past couple of weeks Elder A and I have had some great success and blessings ... and have gotten some really good numbers! My district is doing so well. The sisters had 8 investigators at church!! I hold my first district meeting tomorrow.

We had a zone conference last Thursday. Amazing. There were some great trainings. There was an emphasis on the BoM and then towards the end of the meeting President issued the challenge for us to read the entire BoM in one transfer – in 6 weeks. and mark every reference to Christ. I'm so excited to do that and it will be a good experience. It already has been.

When Elder Andersen came and had President share the story of his dad - after he sat down Elder Andersen asked if the missionaries had ever seen the footage of Elder McConkie's final testimony. President said no. Then very frankly Elder Andersen suggested that he show it to us. So we ended this zone conference by watching Bruce R. McConkie's final testimony. Way cool. Then we closed with "I Believe in Christ." It was very sweet.

THEN we got new phones. I'm rocking a blackberry. :)

I love the work. I love the people I work with. They have such an incredible culture.

Well I gotta go. Sorry this is so short. Let me know if there is anything specific you'd like me to write about next week. I love you all!

Now go do some missionary work - and think of me :)

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elder Stoneman at Work

Saying Goodbye in Goose Creek

Hey, Home!

How’s it going back in Utah? I hope all is well. Thanks for the letters Mom and Max. Loved them.

My last few days in Goose Creek were awesome. I stopped to see both convert families. They were devastated. I’m not gonna lie... it was really hard to say goodbye. They are so awesome. They showed their gratitude for me. They thanked Heavenly Father for sending me and for the gospel and for bringing their families closer together.

So then I packed up and left.

Then transfers. I’m not in Greenville (Elder D was wrong!) I’m actually in Columbia. Wow. I’m in the Windsor Lake Ward area. It's awesome. The area is way cool. Big trailer parks! Love those :) And there isn't as much biking to do. We also have more monthly miles allowed us on the car.

President announced my name at transfers... with a surprise calling - District Leader. Man, I didn't expect that one, President. Seriously. I wasn't expecting anything. But I am excited for it. I get to learn me some leadership. boo yah.

The district is made up of just me and my comp and a set of sisters. The sisters were very excited to hear that my sister served a mission.

My new comp is Elder A. He's only been out 2 transfers and this is his greeny area. He's a good guy. Really cool. We get along great. He's from Ogden

We're working with a great couple. Other than that, we need to build the teaching pool.

The ward itself is awesome. Okay, let me say this... they are "The Friendliest Ward on Earth" ... that is their claim.... literally. Apparently the First Presidency knows about it type thing... and they make sure everyone knows it and believes it. It's awesome. The bishop is really nice and caring. The ward mission leader... amazing. He knows how to do it. Very missionary minded.

Well that's really about it. I’m gonna jet... but all is well... I think I covered almost everything but if you have more questions about the area of whatever... shoot them to me and I’ll answer them next week.

Love ya!

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wee Portion of Note to Mom

Thank you for the love. For teaching me to love. For the delicios mom-food. Thanks for teaching me to love music and performing. Thanks for supporting me in all my various efforts. Thank you for a loving home. Thank you for your generosity. Thanks for sending me out on a mission. And thank you for making sure you write at least something every week.

You are always my mom... so it's always Mother's Day. :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

There are so many turtles...

May Day 2010

Well Hey!

How’re YA'LL doin? It was awesome to hear from everyone this morning. Thanks for all the mail. Things sound busy and growing back home... I’m missin out on a lot... but it's ALL good... I’m a missionary! boo yah

It has been an awesome week. It continues to be way slow during the day and way hot. Ugh. The famous humidity I’ve been hearing about finally hit. Not even joking... it's a whole new level. One day Elder Dunn and I were making comparisons to the humidity... you know when you are sitting in a car when it's turned off, on a really hot day and the windows are rolled up... it's kinda like that. Except you can't EVER get out of the car. haha It's everywhere!

ANYWAY... besides the hot conditions... things are great. We had some decent success this week. AND we had two more baptisms!! M and P both showed up no problem to the service... early. They looked so happy and excited.

The baptism service itself was way cool. Once again, great turnout and fellowshipping. Elder Dunn baptized M and I baptized P. They came to church the next day and we had ward members confirm them. Then throughout church they were awesome. New solid members - they participated in class and mingled with the members. It’s a blessing to see that alone.

Well that's about it.. Love you all!

Elder Stoneman

Monday, April 26, 2010

Having a Sandwich in SC

News from Goose Creek

Hey Mom and Dad.

Thanks for all of the news!

The heat and humidity are nuts. It rained yesterday during church and then stopped. When we walked outside, I felt like I was suffocating. ... I don't know whether to breathe it or drink it!

Max, thanks for the email, brotha! It was way good hearing from you. The stories and advice rocked. Thanks... good luck with everything.

It has been an awesome week. It continues to be a bit slow during the day...other than that, we are working with awesome people. We had a baptism last Saturday and two more scheduled for this weekend. We are working with a few others that will most likely be ready for next transfer.

Early Saturday morning we drove to Columbia to hear Elder Neil L. Anderson address the mission. It was awesome. We received some great training from the brethren and afterwards returned on our merry way.

We returned to Goose “CRIK” about 3 pm and went back to work getting everything together for the baptism. Stressful!! Luckily... the other ward that we were working with was on top of the ball. The Hispanic members rock! Great fellowshipping. Finally everyone was there and ready and the service began. Amazing service. The talks were outstanding. Great turnout. The program was way nice too. D is the man. He had gotten a haircut. and was all ready. Earlier in the week there were some issues, but it was obvious that he really does understand and didn't go into this blindly... it has been so cool working with him. It was a sweet experience... he thanked us for working with him and teaching him because no one had ever taken the time before... he thanked us for changing his life.

It was an exhausting day.. but looking back, it was all worth it.

So we have two more baptisms this week. P and M... it will be the same service and it's gonna be a good one. They both showed up to church and are excited for baptism. This week is going to be crazy though. Keep P and M in your prayers.

Well that's all for today...
Love ya!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elder Stoneman on Mission Lane

Aug and Frogs at the Aquarium

Hey Familia

Hey familia!

Como estan? Que tal? Super bien? Que bueno. Pues voy a escribir un poco en espanol por que no he escrito NADA (de la idioma celestial) desde el CCM. La mision es bien chido. Me encanta la obra misional. Es cierto que es bien duro pero los sacrifios son para mi propio benficio.Ttambien es muy divertido - a platicar con tantas personas y compartir el evangelio restaurado. Nuestros investigadores y conversos son AWESOME - some Spanglish there - ... y es todo. Les amo mucho.

Well it has been a busy busy week. Elder D and I haven't had the greatest success - in fact we've been gettin kicked out of trailer parks right and left... WE'RE NOT SOLICTORS! Unbelievable. But yeah... it's been pretty slow. Also... it's hot. Seriously... it's not even summer yet... the daytime is rough.

Speaking of the heat... Sam... with some of your money I bought a backpack... not just any backpack... it has a bladder! It's the Wal-Mart version of a camelback. It's way awesome. Keeps me hydrated. Thanks!

Well, beyond our rough/slow week, we have had some great progress with our solid three. D had his baptismal interview with one of the missionary presidency... they came out and President Evans (who is such a great man... spiritual giant) said he was ready for baptism. All is looking well for this Saturday for D's baptism.

P and M are going to have a joint baptismal service on May 1st. Everything is looking great for them. Elder Urry spoke with P... and because Elder Urry is the man, got her to feel comfortable about baptism and put her on date for the 1st. M is ready. She even told us that she is ready and prepared without us asking. They are both awesome - we've got some awesome baptisms comin up.

Love ya‘all,
Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunburn, Watch Line, Tan Hand

My Converts Rock!

Hey Mom and Dad. It was great to hear from you. Sounds like all is well. Tell Grandma Goomis thanks for the great letter. Mol, thanks for the email too. Although reading through I think I may have missed a few things... Colin is playing baseball and Sam is the coach? Awesome! I don't think I knew that. Max is going to Japan? haha I made that one up... I could see it though...

All is well here. It is pretty warm. It's not too bad.... but working out in the weather for hours on end makes it a little rough. It was way hot last week. It warmed up to 91... plus some humidity

Elder D is pretty cool. Way funny kid. His Spanish rocks. His dad went to Guatemala on his mission and then they’ve adopted a little Guatemalan girl into their family. The area is way awesome. I have a feeling that this is my last transfer here. So I’m kinda bummed. But some great stuff is going to happen in these next few weeks.

So it's been a crazy week. Our four solids have started to melt. Well not really... but this week their concerns/doubts have surfaced.

We had 5 investigators at church yesterday. It was way awesome. Because the stake is spread out, we were all over the place. The boundaries are so weird. I went to THREE different wards yesterday. Ouch.

So I had a great opportunity last week. Before the mish we had bought me a Spanish set of scriptures. At the MTC they also gave me a set. F asked me a few weeks ago about a bible... "con tabs" He wanted the nice kind like I have. It totally didn't occur to me... but then I came upon the extra set one day and it hit me. So I wrote my testimony in the triple and a note to him and Paz in the bible and gave it to them. They were so excited. He brought them to church yesterday.

So we had a lesson over at F and H’s house the other day. We were teaching M. The boys were out playing and didn't know that we had come. They came right at the end of the lesson and were talking about how they had just shared with their friend about church and then they said, "Did we miss anything?" - realizing that they had missed the lesson. They were disappointed. So we filled them in and then I asked F to pray. His prayer was great. A couple of things that he said,

"...the reason I’m praying is just so that we can at least know when they (the Elders) come over... so we don't miss anything."
"...also... bless our little friend, so that he can know about church."

I had given them a picture from the baptism and F was like, "Wow... that's really nice... Mom! Where are we gonna put it?"

They are awesome.

Well that's about it. We're going to the aquarium with the Pritchards today. They actually leave for home in a few weeks and they've been dying to take me there. So the whole gang is going. Gotta love it.

Love ya all
Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coat Season - FINISHED!

Hey Mom and Dad. Conference was awesome! Mom... there were no close ups... I’m disappointed. I’m totally writing the First Presidency... haha except that is against the rules... (in fact I just read that in the white handbook this morning). I loved it though. We watched conference in the Crowfield building on the big screen. Can I just say that the
First Presidency is the best... they know their stuff. All amazing testimonies and talks. I loved it. The music was great too. Thanks for singing your heart out, Mom! I could hear ya! :)

Oh also... coat season... FINISHED. Money.

So transfers have come and gone. President announced my name once more with the calling of senior comp. And he then assigned me to Elder D. He's awesome. He's a bigger guy and pretty funny. He's been out about as long as my friend, Skyler. In fact they were in the same zone at the MTC! His Spanish and accent are very good, so it's a positive sign for me that I will keep coming along with my own Spanish.

There were two new Spanish elders that came down to the Charleston area to split the stake with us. Elder U is training Elder B. Elder U is also my new zone leader. I’m pumped. He's way cool. He served with Elder J for about 7 months and they were zone leaders together. Also... when Elder F and I arrived from the MTC, that’s when Elder J and Elder U split up... so that they could train Elder F and me!

So we've got four solid investigators. Elder D and I fasted and have come to the conclusion of four baptisms this transfer. We already have our solid four. Keep these people in your prayers. Here's a little about each of them:

-P... we've been working with her for a while. She and F are doing great. they came to conference. Mom. I had given F a choir CD sampler and I said that it was from you and that you wanted him to have it. So, he remembers EVERYTHING. He sat down at conference and the choir started singing. He leaned over to me and said, "Tu Mama esta en el coro?"

-M... the mother of F and H. She can't get over how much she loved attending church. The family feeling she felt from within the church was so powerful. We gave her a BoM and she's been reading. ACTUALLY studying! Gotta love it. She offered a kneeling prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help her keep her excitement about baptism.

-D - he's awesome. His brother is a convert. He's struggling a little with WoW... but on his own he's been attending an addictive recovery class with the T family from the ward.

-M. We found him last night. and in the first lesson we committed him to baptism. He strongly accepted.

The work is great. I am doing great as well. I am edified and refreshed from conference. AND MY SUIT COAT IS OFF! Life is good. Thanks for the prayers, mail, and love.

Love ya,
Elder Piedra

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stoneboro and Stoneman

Happy Day

Transfer Time!

March 29, 2010

Hey! What's happenin’, Madre and Padre? How's it all goin’?

Thanks for the emails. I glanced at them a little bit... sounds like everyone is great. Thanks for the emails last week... from everyone. All the sibs, auntie Mary and Cath, and Jana... the emails always bring a good laugh. Thank you all.

We got transfer calls. Elder W is leaving - so I'll be getting a new companion. As I’m sure you've already guessed... I’m staying in Goose Creek! Boo yah! By the end of this next transfer I will have been in GC for 6 months. I’m stoked. There are some great people we've been working with that will definitely be baptized in the coming weeks. So I’m pumped!

The baptismal service was rockin’. The boys showed up in brand new suits and shoes and ties.. I can't wait for my nephews to be wearing their own suits. We had a great turnout and the mom (who we have been having trouble finding and speaking with) showed up! She was great! She loved it and was really attentive in the Joseph Smith movie. I had the opportunity to baptize them both. After each had come out of the water they each said something to the affect that "that was cool". Later on we were just talking. I was quizzing them about gospel principles and commandments. I asked them... what is the Word of Wisdom... F, 11, said "it's about taking care of your body." and then I asked what five things do we need to avoid. H 10, listed "coffee, tea, alcohol, drugs, and TABASCO." hahaha It was hilarious.

The boys were confirmed yesterday. Elder T confirmed F and I confirmed H. Their mom was there to witness it. She loved church and got some great fellowshipping from las hermanas in the ward. There is great teaching potential there. Also P returned to church. Keep her in your prayers that she will know that baptism is right... she's living as a member... just nervous to actually become one.

Elder L usually translates at church. He serves in the other ward and has been doing the translation ever since Elder J left. He wasn't able to yesterday....leaving it up to Elder Stoneman. I attempted and it was tough. Testimonies and prayers were easier, but the first talk I ended up paraphrasing... VERY basic and simple paraphrase. So during the intermediate hymn I ran and got a Spanish gospel principles book and after the second speaker introduced his topic, I flipped to that part of the book and just read from it... haha.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "You can’t convert beyond your own conversion." I just want you all to know that I know that I am converted. This work is true. It is of the Lord and He has helped me immensely. I know that this Church, with its restored gospel and priesthood, is true, and that it is the kingdom of God on earth. I love it and I love sharing it everyday. Being a missionary has changed my life already. I have become converted.

I love you all and thank you all for the love, prayers, and letters. Have a great week. Pictures are on their way.

Elder Augustus Archer Stoneman

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sky and Aug in SC

Quick Random Fun Facts

Quick Random Fun Facts
1. The bugs have begun! AH! They are big and gross. Gotta love it though.
2. Also the reptiles have begun as well. Lots of lizards and frogs.
3. The peeps here call rain "liquid sunshine".
4. It's been hot. I’ve been able to shed the coat two different times now. And man is that a wonderful feeling!! Only two more weeks and it's for good!
5. We've been having some great success. Also I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on my Spanish from the natives recently. Too bad I’m gringo :)
6. The boys we are working with are doing great. They are all set for baptism this weekend.
7. Transfer calls are this upcoming weekend. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego going to send Elder Stoneman?

Well, I hope you enjoyed the fun facts! Have a wonderful week.

Elder Stoneman

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bit of a Crazy Week

Honestly.... bit of a crazy week.

Thursday ... rain. That is literally all I can say. Rain. Well, I take that back... I’ll say more - it just dumped. It wasn't bad though because it wasn't windy or cold. Just very very wet. Question: do suits always reek when they get wet? Because mine do, but only when they're wet. So ANYHOO.... pretty awesome day though. Later we ate with some members... good thinking on their part - they took us out. haha We were soaked.

In the middle of the night I woke up sick as a DAWG. Yes dawg. Much like the Provo J-Dawgs. We went out and worked for a few hours when I felt better.

Anyway... P is getting baptized this upcoming Saturday. It's gonna be sweet. She and F are both doing great. F came up to me at church yesterday and, all on his own, asked me how and where to pay tithing. He remembered. He truly understands. It's awesome. They will be a fantastic member family.

We are working with some kids. That's a lot of fun. They are 10 and 11. The dad is a less active that we knocked into a few weeks back. He was baptized in New York and wants to come back to church and wants this for his boys, too. The kids' names are F and H. The dad wasn't able to come to church yesterday, but he dropped off the boys, so they sat with me during Sacrament Meeting. It was pretty funny... the bishopric was doing a lot of sustaining. I’d hold my arm, they'd turn their heads and look at me, and their arms would be up immediately. After one of the times I looked down at H, and he had both index fingers and thumbs extended... making sure which was right and which was left and that he'd held up the correct hand. It was great.

Thanks to all who wrote. I got a ton of mail. thank you! Mom, the distribution goods are just fine. Thanks again. I had a woman in the ward hem my baptismal pants. All is well. Thank you. Sorry I don't have more responses or comments to emails and letters, I have yet to read most of them. Will reply soon. But thanks again for the mail!

I’m going to finish here. Love you all and be safe!

Elder Stoneman

Monday, February 22, 2010

You Missin' the Boat, Stone!

February 22, 2010

Well as you can tell I finally switched over to the NEW (in coordination with GOOGLE) and after spending half an hour to make it work... here I am... and I’ve got a new email. It’s way cool though. It’s set up just like gmail. So yeah. Don’t send anymore mail to ...send all the goods to - and by goods I mean... email. *I didn't want there to be any confusion*

It's been a crazy week. Elder J has gone home... he left me to figure out what I’m supposed to do in Goose Creek. Luckily I haven't burned down the place.... yet. And no that is not a threat. Hey! That rhymed... unintentionally.

So transfers were on Wednesday. We got a member to drive all four of us. so we crammed with her, her 17 year old son (who was actually baptized last weekend), the 4 elders, 2 bikes, and a whole lot of luggage. It was a tight fit. We finally made it there. and Elder J along with about 5 other missionaries sat up on the stand along with the greenies. We then had the meeting and they all had the chance to bear testimony. Then President started assigning new companionships. He called my name along with the assignment - senior comp, and has put me with Elder W. Cool guy. He's only been out one more transfer than me... so as I’m sure you can imagine, we're trying to do our best with understanding the hispanos rapidos. Pero, esta bien.

Now I’m needing to lead and make decisions with where to go and who to visit and all that. It's pretty cool, but I feel like I’m just on my own since my companion isn’t used to the area. Also I’m driving... which is weird. But it's all good - I’ve got rockin’ tunes to listen to ... namely MoTab and HIMNOS. Holla.

My new comp: Elder J Whittingham from Provo is the name... football is his game. You probably recognize the name... I sure didn't... haha... his uncle is the coach at the University of Utah. Elder W played in high school and is a really nice guy and a good missionary. His Spanish is decent. We try... tratamos... haha that's what we tell everyone.

The other day we got stopped by a guy that loved talking about the Lord. like a "clap yo hands, hallelujah" type thing. He talked to us for 20 minutes and didn't really have much interest in what we had to say, but rather what he wanted to say. It was way funny. He kept calling us different names in his unrelenting rambling. Elder W became Whitney and Whitley and Whitning. I was Stone. I asked him if he'd have any interest in learning about how God has called a prophet on the earth today. That's when he replied - "You missin' the boat, Stone!" in a "wazzup, DOC" kind of way. Hilarious.

Well I’m great here. I’ll have more time next week... seeing how I lost 30 minutes. But it's all good. I love you all. I’m going to try and attach some pics.

Love ya.

Elder Toby Stoneman
...wait a minute... my name's not Toby

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tacos de Lengua

No... I’m not breaking the rules... P-day is indeed today! How are all y'all doin’? Thanks for the emails/letters this week. I heard from everyone. Sweet.

So it's been a way cool week. Last Monday evening, after enduring an awkward dinner appointment, we went to work. Elder J and I visited the V family who are actually heading back to Mexico. We had the opportunity to give the mom a blessing.

After that, we visited F and after talking with him for a while, both he and we realized that he was ready for his baptism. Throughout the week, we were able to visit him almost everyday, he came to our Wednesday night English classes, and he had his baptismal interview. Everything was awesome. (R T is ready for baptism as well, but not for this week.)

Thursday, we went on exchanges again. I got to do English work. So that was fun. We also taught a lot of their investigators - way cool people and a lot of families. Everyone here is so nice. And I realized teaching the gospel in English or Spanish both have their ups and downs. For me, one's not harder than the other. They’re just different. But what I did realize is that I just love teaching. It’s a lot of fun.

So, as requested from Brooke, I’ll fill my peeps in on the various weird/cool foods that I have been eating. Most recently... tacos de lengua. Cow tongue. It's as delicious as it sounds. Actually, it was pretty good. But I’ll still say it – it was chewy :) but surprisingly good.

Saturday was a crazy day. F’s baptism was set for 7 pm. So throughout the day, Elder J and I were all over the place. It had just snowed the night before, which in itself is crazy I might add - 3 inches! So the library was closed due to that, but we needed to make a program. Also F requested the Bishop to perform the baptism, but he got kidney stones... so we needed to break it to him and figure out who would do it... PLUS we still needed to find someone to preside at the service. We were on the phone all day. Then we had forgotten about baptismal clothes... so we were running around with that. Finally, we needed to be at the church 2 hours early to fill up the font. Crazy day, plus a regular day of missionary work. We were exhausted.
Everything worked out though. The service was awesome, we had a decent turnout, and you could tell F knew he had made the right decision. I had the opportunity to perform the ordinance of baptism. It was way cool.

So transfers are tomorrow. I got the call on Saturday night and.... I’m staying in GOOSE CREEK! wooo! Elder J is going home and Elder W is being transferred so all four of us are going up to Irmo tomorrow morning. and then I’ll head back to Goose Creek with a new comp.

Well I love ya and I hope you all have a great week.


Elder Stoneman

Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm Full

Dear Fam:

Things are awesome here. We are working with 3 way cool people. We've had to push back their baptismal date... but we are working and hoping for February 13th. The way things look though... it's pretty for sure. So basically... EXCITING! I’m pumped. Rigo, Fransisco, Andoni are all way into it and have such a strong desire. They are ready. And yes I spelt that right - Andoni. But yeah... they are all looking good. They all have wives and the wives are interested too, they just aren't progressing as fast... but we are indeed teaching families. So fun. The days and weeks go by pretty fast.

Story of the week. So earlier this week we had a dinner at a member’s home. Actually the family feeds all four of us weekly... it's the kind of thing that we look forward to every week just because something crazy always happens. "They can't possibly top last week..." ... and they do. EVERY WEEK. Remind me to tell you the stories someday. ANYWAY... last week after eating at their house, Elder Johnson and I were just absolutely stuffed. We were so full. We then go straight to a lesson at the Tello family's home and... she had dinner ready for us! AH!!! She insisted that we eat... and boy did we. I was so impressed - Elder Johnson did awesome. He just pounded it down. So after finishing and feeling a bit sick, we sit down to our lesson during which, another woman in the house begins to make us a treat for before we leave. AH!!! We get served each a huge mug of hot chocolate and some Mexican snacks. It was the kind of thing where I could not drink even the hot chocolate. Rough. We finally finish and leave, waddling out and off to our next cita. The Hernandez family. Well, we walk in and one of the first things the mom says is "Would you like some hot chocolate?" True. Elder Johnson: “NO! ... uh we're fine, thanks.” Seriously I was still full the next morning.

Moving on – to answer a few questions:

The weather is weird. It’s just all over the place and it all happens quickly . Warm, warm, warm, cool, cool, rain, warmish, rain, freezing, sun, warmer, cold, warm, hot, cold, rain, wind, cold. But I’m pretty used to it and expect anything. I dress warm. I’ve got my rain jacket in the car just in case. and I am staying healthy. I have yet to catch anything.

We've been packed with member dinners this month. So Elder Johnson and I don't cook as much as we did, although we're branching out in our breakfasts so that's fun. Then we take what's called "Spanish lunch" before we go out for the day to proselyte - so we cook then too.

Our schedule: we rise at 6:30, pray, exercise for 30 minutes, eat, shower, and get ready until 7:45. We then have personal prayer for 15 minutes and then personal study starts at 8:00, comp study at 9:00, language study at 10:00, and then at 11:00 Spanish lunch (because only the Spanish elders do it). Then we leave the apartment at 11:30 and are out until 9:00 pm with dinner thrown in there. At 9:00 we plan our next day and then go to bed at 10:30.

We see President McConkie about every other week. Love the guy. Que hombre.

So yeah, things are great here. I’m loving it. My testimony has grown so much. I have such a strong desire to serve and learn more and share more everyday. I have learned so much. This area rocks.

Love you.

Elder Stoneman