Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Missed Us!

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

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

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

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

Alright I have a cool story....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you guys!!!

Elder Stoneman

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm in Greenville!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This transfer is going to be SWEET.

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

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

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

Elder Stoneman

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Named the Giraffe Carlos

With Mr. Pig at the Piggly Wiggly

Last Time in Charleston

Goodbye to Fort Jackson


Finished the Mission Map

Three Assistants

Max thanks for the email. You had me laughing pretty hard. Love ya!

We had mini zone conferences this week. In September we are having a GA come to tour SCCM. President Holm has not had a zone conference yet and he didn't want his first one to be the one with the GA... So we threw together a mini zone conference schedule. It was fun. We did 7 zones in 4 days. It was just like meet the president tour all over again. A LOT of driving. It was a great zone conference. President Holm trained on his vision of the mission. He had us make cards to give everyone. His focus is member work. He is pushing it. Everyone is on board so it will be so awesome... we just need to start applying. As a mission we are just not used to working effectively with members. President Holm gave us really good advice and tips on how to do member missionary work. It’s what the mission needs.

President Holm got speak a lot with Uncle Dan at the MTC. Uncle Dan told him to call me Augie a bunch. And he has. hahaha. I’m glad to hear that they're there in Novosibirsk. Give them my best.

I have a replacement. President called Elder C. to replace me the new assistant. We did things a little differently this time though. President announced Elder C. in the first round of zone conferences because that was the zone we were in. President had called him the night before and told him to pack his bags. Elder Douglas and I figured out the rest of the logistics. and Elder C. has been our companion since Tuesday. Three Assistants! He will be able to go through a full transfer week and help us prepare for it. It's been a lot of fun in a 3-pack. He is a way funny kid who reminds me a lot of Peter Burton. I leave the office on Wednesday for my new assignment! Will keep you posted on that.

Fort Jackson was great last Sunday. I taught the class. a soldier raised his hand for baptism. He is RLDS. He said that he has attended church his whole life but has never felt like the way he did on Sunday. He recognized it as an answer from God. He wants to change his life and become a better person. He committed to being baptism tomorrow.

Love ya... I will write a week from Monday... August 22nd

Elder Stoneman

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fort Jackson July 2011

The Time is Far Spent

Hey y’all:

This week has just flown by. "The time is far spent... there is little remaining to publish glad tidings by sea and by land..."

I love my mission. As the time passes I find myself reminiscing of the good and hard times and I also feel an increased sense of urgency.

Thanks for the birthday package. It was the best... yes I opened it early. Worth it. hahaha. I’m looking forward to the do it yourself cake. yum. Elder Douglas and I will enjoy it for sure. Thanks for the cash as well. Monday is going to be a blast.

I love the cd mom. Thank you. It has some really great ones on it. When I read the title, my mind immediately went to Grandpa Gibbons and his book about the Savior’s mortal ministry. How is it coming along? Tell them I love them and pray the best their way.

I gave the other cd to President Holm. He was really touched. and thanked you profusely. He sends his and sister Holm’s love and thanks across the way. They called me today to tell me that they were listening to it and absolutely love it.

So at fort Jackson last week two soldiers were baptized. The first was brother K. He is just as awesome as his name. He just turned 18 and a few weeks ago he raised his hand saying he'd like to be baptized. We've been teaching him and he has been very accepting to the gospel and gospel living. So on Sunday I pulled him out after the sacrament was passed so that he could be interviewed. When I pulled him out his face was just drenched in sweat. It was a little warm in the building but I asked if he was nervous, he got a big grin on his face and said, "Yeah!" He was baptized. He is just a great guy. I have not seen anyone as happy as he was after baptism.
The experiences continue to be so incredible at Fort Jackson.

So it’s been another week with more of the same - interviews and trainings. We went down to Augusta for a meeting. President Holm is handling it all well. He will do some incredible things.

Love ya all,

Elder Stoneman