Monday, April 25, 2011

With President McConkie

Good Friday

This week had been pretty awesome.

The base was kind of tough. I was so excited for Brother C but he didn't show up... he apparently went to a protestant service. Lame. I did teach an Hispanic soldier though. Sister M. She was pretty cool.

Following the base, we went to the Columbia ward to go to church with L. He received the priesthood. It was way sweet. The first thing he said when he sat back down was - now I can baptize my wife. He is so solid. He is a great fellowshipper. He is studying and loving the gospel. His wife is still hard to meet with. She is interested though.

Other than L’s wife, we aren't really working with anyone. Elder Douglas and I are out proselyting in the evenings and finding very cool people... (but then they aren't at their return appointments :)

Elder Douglas and I were out the other night and randomly came to a neighborhood. We wanted to knock just one more door. It was about 8:50.... We knocked it and a man came out from the side door. He was in a lot of pain, having just had back surgery. He was a rough looking character - cigarette in hand and covered in tattoos. But he was super nice and humble. He told us that he had grown up in the church... but was never baptized. He really wanted to meet with us again. You could tell he remembered the good experiences he had growing up. We are going by today at noon. His name is Ron. Right before we left he asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon. Elder Douglas and I are super stoked.

We had a leadership training meeting this week. It was pretty hectic getting ready for it. It turned out to be a great meeting. It was yesterday - Good Friday. Elder Posey, out area authority came. He is being released on May 1st. He trained us on becoming converted. It was awesome. President then trained on the Savior and his atonement. He referred back to it throughout the entire day actually. He also spoke of the loss of his son which happened around this time of year. It was a really spiritual meeting. Elder Douglas and I trained on committing investigators to baptism, church, etc.

I received a package from Steve Hatch. Tell him thanks and that I love them!!!!!!!

Love ya'll,

Elder Stoneman

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Transfer Week

The base was way cool on Sunday. Actually it didn’t start out all that well. It seemed like I just wasn't seeing any success. Every soldier I taught was either graduating or not interested. Super lame. Elder T taught the investigator class and he taught this awesome soldier named Brother C. He’s cool. I has just met him, and he committed to baptism. It was Elder T’s last Sunday on base so he's having me teach Brother C tomorrow.

So now I’m approved to drive the mission van and the trailer. 12 passenger! I’ve driven it all week. I’m sick of it already. That thing is huge!

Transfer week is always an adventure.

Monday we were just crazy before the plane arrived with new missionaries. We got there just in time. Their flight came early. That never happens. So President was late.

New missionaries - they were an awesome bunch. Actually all of the trainers are stellar. Elder T is one of them. He has left me to fend for myself. haha. He actually got the best missionary of the group to train. They will have a great transfer.

We took the new missionaries to the temple grounds. We call it the sacred grove experience. We got them up really early their first morning and drove them to the temple. We didn't let them see the temple, so we drove the back way. Elder T and I dropped them off in the forest right behind the temple and President led them out. Elder T and I then parked the van and president's car. President McConkie took the missionaries and had a short devotional saying that, "This is sacred ground." They all read from the Joseph Smith history and sang the first vision hymn. He then let them go pray and have their own sacred grove experience. He pointed them in the direction to go afterwards and then.... he left. When the missionaries came out of the woods they saw the temple. It was a testimony builder for all of them. They loved it. President then talked about bringing our converts to the temple.

Transfer meeting is always hectic.

Transfers went smoothly. Usually something goes wrong. Something did. There was a missionary who had to go home due to health issues. It was tough to see him go. Great elder. So we had to make a few arrangements so that his companion would have a companion. Other than that it went really well.

The departing missionaries were quite the bunch of missionaries... haha. An interesting bunch for sure!... but a lovable bunch at that. Elder W was one of them. Honestly... it was tough to see him go.

So I have a new comp. Elder Douglas. He is the man. I’ve been waiting to serve with this missionary for a while. He is one of my best friends out here. I am so pumped. He is from Cottonwood Heights Utah. He played basketball in high school... he actually played with Sam McConkie - President's youngest son. He was good buds with Sam growing up.

Elder Douglas served in Mt Pleasant - which is the downtown Charleston area while I was a zone leader there. He is a star missionary. I remember he was always a huge help to me and Elder P. He baptized some really neat people down there that I got to interview for their baptisms.

At the transfer meeting when he walked up to meet me after President called his name for the transfer, he said to me.. "It's a long walk. Longest of my life." He's nervous to be an assistant but he will do awesome.

So yeah - Elder Douglas and I get along great. We're gonna have a sweet transfer. We're working hard and we'll have success.

We’ve already had some sweet adventures - we needed to take beds around to the missionaries that didn't have them. Namely Elder T. We brought bunk beds. Elder Douglas and I broke into their apartment and set up bunk beds. Surprise!! I left a note that said, "Bunk it up, brethren!" haha. We drove to the upstate to do that. Along with a dryer. It was like Tetris trying to fit it all in the van. We had to take seats out.... anything to not have to take the trailer. I hate the trailer. I’m good at driving, but the trailer just stresses me out.

Then we went on exchanges in Spartanburg. We had a great time. I taught some Spanish guys. My Spanish is struggling – apart from exchanges and L, I haven’t studied or spoken Spanish in months! But it was still a good lesson.

Love ya!

Elder Stoneman

Monday, April 11, 2011

L's Baptism

Transfer Prep!

Hello Family.

Conference was awesome! Elder Gonzalez is our area authority and I loved his talk when he committed the entire world to be baptized. He tops our group baptismal commitment that we give on base. There were so many great talks. Elder Holland’s testimony was amazing. It was totally different from any other conference talk I’ve heard. The music was great too. It was great to see you mom!

Last weekend was pretty crazy. Even though it was conference weekend, we still had services on base. Conference doesn't start until 12 so we were able to stay and teach and baptize and still make it to conference. The soldiers came. So did President McConkie. I asked him if he wanted to teach the investigator class. He did. He got up and started to teach. The soldiers were in awe. One of the members was so pumped he asked if president would keep coming back. Haha. I ended up helping president out in the lesson. We taught the message of the restoration together. Neat experience. Two soldiers raised their hands - Brother D and Brother C. It was their first time and a member had brought them. I will teach them both tomorrow - if they're ready, they will be baptized.

Then we went to the Sunday morning session and L brought his wife and daughter. We weren't able to hook up the translation - so his wife didn't understand. Bummer. But she has really opened up to us and the church.

In between sessions, we had L’s baptismal service. President and Sister MccConkie came. We had a huge turnout from the ward. I baptized him. The spirit was so strong when Bro B confirmed him. President spoke and we had another one of his fellowshippers speak. L will be a solid member. He’s got such a strong testimony. He is one of the favorite people that I’ve met out here. I know that I was sent to teach him. I’ve worked with him since around Christmas time.

So after conference weekend, the week got even crazier. We’ve been running around getting ready for transfers. Elder T is leaving. I will get a new comp. I still can’t tell you who it is... but he is a very cool guy. I am really looking forward to serving with him. He’s been a good friend of mine on the mission for about a year now and he is great. We are going to tear it up... and then we’ll need some humbling and divine help when the new president comes in order to help him with a smooth transition.

We have new missionaries coming in on Monday. I love new missionaries... they are so fun. We have been prepping for them.

One of the zones this last month was a baptizing zone. They had 16 confirmations in March. We took them to the temple to do a session and Sister McConkie fed us lunch. It was a great. Spiritually uplifting. President gave some great words.

I’ve written bout the B family... the convert fam down in Charleston. Well they went through the temple last week. When we visited the zone, we saw them there. It was so great to see them in the celestial room. I spoke with them for a bit.

Well I wrote early this morning because I’m off to Gaffney for a blitz. We'll work there during the day and then come back and make all the transfer phone calls to the missionaries.

Love ya!

Elder Stoneman

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bi-Lo Wedding Cake

I’m very glad to hear that things are well. Give Grandma my love.

So it's been a great week!

The wedding went great. So awesome. haha Elder T and I went around to find plates, cups, forks, punch and a cake! It got to the point where the wedding was in an hour and we still didn't have a cake. We went to a Bi-Lo and there was the perfect size cake we were looking for. The kicker was that its colors were red white and blue. To me that wasn’t the best fit for a wedding. We of course didn't buy it but we bought another cake and had the lady write congratulations in Spanish on top.

The turnout was good. L cut his long curly hair. They both looked so good and very happy. I translated the ceremony and then we had cake and punch.

L did not get baptized as he was scheduled for last Sunday. Bummer. We found out like right before the wedding that he had not told his wife about getting baptized. She has been a little stand-off-ish.... so we did not want to create any problems. We pushed the baptism back a week to give L some time to talk to her. It's been pretty stressful waiting for that and and waiting for her approval. We had gone over Tuesday night and we role played with him - practicing how to tell her. That didn’t go well. Finally I just asked L to tell Elder T and I why he wanted to get baptized. He then explained about how much he cares for his family and that he knows that baptism is something that will bless his family. He said that he knew he would become a better husband and father. It was amazing. After he was done I suggested to him that that was what he needed to tell his wife. He finally told her Thursday night, and she is supportive. She will be coming to his baptism tomorrow and staying for general conference.

Other than that the week has been pretty mild. We've had interviews in Spartanburg and Columbia - and we go up to Greenville next week.

We had transfer planning last Monday. I know who my new comp is... haha... sorry I can’t tell ya yet. We will have another planning session though this upcoming Monday to make any changes to the transfer scenario. It's looking good. We only have two transfers left until President Holm comes in.

We had zone leader council yesterday. So awesome. The zone leaders are just pumped. We are having some real great success so far this year. President McConkie has received some phone calls from various general and area authorities telling him that they've noticed how well we're doing. Apparently we are in the top tier of the southern missions. We are focused though on doing even better. We are doing well but we're not settling for that. There is so much more we can do in the Lord's vineyard. We have so much potential.

Well I’m stoked for conference. As usual, mom, I’ll be having every missionary sitting around me keeping an eye out for you. It makes the songs even better than they already are.

Love ya!

Elder Stoneman