Monday, December 31, 2012

Un Banquete del Libro de Mormón

Happy New year everybody!
We enjoyed a great Christmas week.  We spent Christmas eve hanging out with the Cuernavaca and Civac zones.  It was our pday so we were able to play bball in the morning, mafia with cuernavaca, and then Elder Nah made us a super delicious dinner with the Civac zone.  We also broke a piñata that the sisters made.  After all that, the bishops wife made us dinner to take to the house.  We ate it on the roof with Elder Smith and Elder Porter.  The partying continued the next morning when we went to the offices to open presents.  We did a gift exchange withe the secretaries and everyone also bought presents for their companions.  After opening presents, we went to President and Sister Kusch´s house to eat,  They made us an amazing meal with ham, sweet potatoes, funeral potatoes, cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, etc.  I realized after that meal that I miss american food like that A LOT!  So we probably partied a little too hard because everyone in the offices got sick with colds, flu, stomach viruses, etc.  It was a rough week health wise.  Elder Azueta and I were busy with several trips to the airport in Mexico City.  We enjoy traveling but it usually wipes all the energy out of me.  Elder Quinnelly called me this week with some worries about the area in Chilpo.  We talked a little and he told me that a member of the ward who was the ex-bishop, told him that when Elder Quinnelly and I were there that he would get mad at the current bishop for not taking advantage of having the best two elders that the ward had ever had.  I felt good that someone did notice the hard work we did on a daily basis but it is sad at times when we as missionaries dont receive the support we could use to have more success in the work of the Lord.  In the mission, we are trying to help the missionaries earn the confidence of the local leaders and the members so that together we can bring about this work.  This past week I received a little bit of revelation for my life right now and also for the future.  It is nothing new that I havent been taught before but I gained a stronger testimony about it.  The last few weeks I have had days when I just feel like I dont have energy or that I feel more tempted, etc.  As assistants, we occassionally have days when we are traveling the whole day or fulfilling assignments from president all day.  On those days, we dont have our regular hours of study that all missionaries always receive.  After reading some notes from the mission and praying a lot, I realized that my happiness, charity, and even physical energy had gone down due to a lack of reading the Book of Mormon on a daily basis.  In past emails, I have talked a lot about having a sacred grove every morning when we can pour out our souls to our Father in Heaven and feel of His spirit to start every day.  Apart from that great habit, I have come to know that we must feast upon the Book of Mormon everyday.  The Book of Mormon is a source of energy, happiness and love.  We can receive answers to current day problems in that testament of Jesus Christ.  I know the Book of Mormon is essential to our happiness.  It is an evidence we have of the truthfulness of this one and only church of our Savior.  This week, we are starting a new year.  Along with a self-invitation, I would like to make an invitation to each one of you.  I invite us all to have a ¨Book of Mormon Banquet¨ or a ¨Book of Mormon Buffet¨ (whichever you prefer) every single day.  I recognize that there are many great books out there that we can read, including the Bible.  It is great that we read those books, but in addition, we must enjoy the words from the Book of Mormon everyday!  Even if it is just 15 minutes, we will feel more energy, more love, and more happiness in our DAILY lives by creating and maintaining this habit.  And remember, when we think of banquets and buffets, we dont think of taking a few bites and then leaving the restaurant.  We think of all types of food from different parts of the world in front of us on several different plates!!!  I dont know about you guys, but I LOVE buffets.  And every time I go, I try to eat as much as I can!  May we have the same  feelings as we study the Book of Mormon this year.  To those who have not read the Book of Mormon completely through, read it completely through this year!!!  You wont regret it!  To those who have already read it, continue to study it and apply it to your life.  You will find answers and you will find peace.  This will be a great year if we all develop and maintain this great habit of receiving personal revelation through the words of Christ Himself.  I will wait for your letters containing experiences you will have with the Book of Mormon this year.  Love you all!!!!!
Elder Stutz              

Thursday, December 27, 2012

La Navidad: El Inicio de Mi Salvación

Feliz Navidad!!

I have never been so busy during the Christmas season.  This past week, President Kusch, sister Kusch, Elder Azueta, and I went to all the zones in the mission to have Christmas conferences.  In the conferences, we saw skits from each district, a white elephant gift exchange, a slideshow of all the service projects in the mission, messages from President and sister Kusch, and dinner.  We enjoyed traveling around the mission, getting to know many different places.  We saw a bunch of super funny skits and mostly, we enjoyed being with the missionaries and celebrating the true spirit of Christmas with them.  I had the chance to go to Chilpancingo again.  It felt great to go back.  We actually got the opportunity to visit a little with a convert named Margarita.  She just found out she has cancer but her faith is as strong as ever.  She told us that the Lord has blessed her with the faith and testimony that she needs to overcome this trial that she has accepted so that she can grow and be stronger.  We also went to the stake musical program that the missionaries helped a lot with.  A couple elders (including my ex-comp Elder Pearson) organized an amazing program.  The music was amazing and everyone that went loved it.  They were able to do the same program in half of the stakes in the mission to help with the relationships between the members and the missionaries.  President had us talk to a few companionships during the conferences to help them out.  Elder Azueta and I loved talking with these elders and helping them apply the principles they teach everyday as missionaries.  We felt completely guided by the Spirit in those talks to ask the right questions and give the right advice.  These experiences have helped me come to know my Savior better.  One Sunday, during the sacrament, the bishop asked us to speak because the speakers didnt show up.  I felt impressed to speak a little about the reality of the Atonement because it is something that I have had to apply a lot more often the last month.  Feeling so tired and, at times, sick, I have had to trust in the Lord more than ever because there is no time for physical rest.  What I have discovered is that the Lord does not give us a physical rest from working in His vineyard.  But He does provide small spiritual breaks when He comforts our hearts and speaks peace to our souls.  I have needed those feeling of comfort and peace now more than ever and I am so grateful for the hope the abides when we live righteously.  I wish everyone a very merry Christmas.  I hope all of us can identify a gift that we can give to Christ this year.  I am most grateful for the Atonement and my family than I am for any other gift because the best gifts are eternal!  Love you all! 
Elder Stutz  

Venid a Cristo y Perfeccionaos en Él

Hey Everyone!
We had quite an eventful week!  Ill start with our two trips to the airport.  Unfortunately, we had to take an elder to the airport because he wasnt willing to obey.  It was really sad to witness it but it did help me value my mission even more.  I really do love being here and I am grateful to be able to be obedient because it is the better way to live for sure.  The second trip was a much happier occasion because we were able to pick up a new elder.  The best thing about this elder is that he was in this mission 3 years ago but had to go home for health issues.  But he has recovered and is willing to sacrifice two years of his life right now to serve the Lord.  He has a great attitude and will be a great addition to the mission.  The best part about going to the airport for us is definitely eating a fat and delicious Carls Jr. Memphis burger!  A quick update on our few investigators that we have.  We continue to teach Luigi in the rehab center.  He is overcoming his addiction to cigarettes and loves reading the Book of Mormon daily.  He believes that he will be able to start going to church in January so we are looking forward to that.  Also, we have a possible baptism for this week named Omar.  He is a middle aged man who lives alone because the rest of his family lives in the US.  He is excited to get baptized but is always really busy with work.  So it is just a matter of finding him home, teaching him, and prepare his baptism.  We also just started teaching a young single adult named Alejandra who is studying here in Cuernavaca.  She just randomly showed up at institute one day last week and the teacher gave us the reference.  She told us she loved it and she came to our ward activity and to church this past week.  She is really excited to learn and she already knows a lot.  We actually havent taught her yet but she volunteered to offer the closing prayer in gospel principles even though we have never taught her how to pray.  She did a great job!  Also, we are helping a family prepare to be baptized the first week of January.  It is a single mom with two kids that are 16 and 11 years old.  They have been in teaching for a few months but this Sunday they came back to church and are more interested now.  They have committed to be baptized the first week of January so we will be helping them prepare.  The ward is doing excellent, especially after our Christmas activity.  Tons of members and investigators came and we were asked to prepare a skit and a special musical number for the program.  For the special musical number, we sang O holy night, one verse in english and one verse in spanish.  The members really enjoyed it.  The skit turned out really funny actually.  We did a Grinch/Capitan America skit.  I was the grinch, a grouchy friend of a member of the church that didnt seem like he would ever accept the Gospel.  Elder Azueta and Elder Porter were the Capitan America missionaries that recieved a reference from a member who really wanted to help the grinch.  In the lesson, the member shared her testimony with me and my heart changes!  Then I get baptized along with my whole family!  It was a fun skit that made the members laugh but also ponder their personal responsibility to share the Gospel with their friends, family, and neighbors.  Yesterday, despite being a little sick to my stomach, I loved the primary program!  The kids sang great and the small and simple phrases that they shared with us at the microphone penetrated my soul and left me pondering about the simple Gospel trues that even little children can live.  The principles of the Gospel are so simple that even kids can understand them.  We, as adults, need to be more willing to obey, without excuses, just like these innocent little children.  In my new assignment, I have learned that we, as converted members of the church, must ALWAYS invite EVERYONE to come unto Christ.  I learned that principle when we did divisions with the zone leaders here in Cuernavaca this week.  I did them with an elder that I actually met at BYU before the mission, Elder Leakehe.  I prayed fervently and studied the scriptures the day before I did the divisions to know what I could share with him because he is already a great missionary.  I received some revelation in my studies and I shared those things with him.  I also asked him a few questions that I felt inspired to ask.  Throughout the conversation, he constantly told me that what I shared and asked was very inspired because it had been on his mind.  We both grew so much in that half hour that we had together talking about the mission and the Gospel.  That experience taught me that we can help ANYONE progress in the Gospel, even those that are already converted and are on the right path.  I love helping the elders progress spiritually and have better relationships with their Heavenly Father and with their Savior.  I think that is why I am loving this calling so much, even though we are constantly super tired.  This week I would like to invite everyone to examine their lives and identify the people they can help so that they can be closer to Christ and have more happiness in their lives.  After identifying the person, seek revelation through prayer and scripture study.  I promise that you will be guided and that the person you reach out to will repent and get better.  I testify that repentance is for EVERYONE, EVERYDAY.  I love all you guys!!!!
Elder Stutz        

Monday, December 10, 2012

El Poder del Testimonio

Hey guys!
Today we are writing from the furthest zone away from Cuernavaca, Lásero Cárdenas (on the coast).  We are doing divisions with the zone leaders today here because they are both new to the position and to the area.  Elder Azueta and I traveled from 10PM last night till 10AM this morning in a bus to arrive and we will make the same trip tonight to head back and help President with some more special changes in the mission tomorrow.  Elder Azueta and I are very busy and tired a lot but to be able to keep going everyday, we have started to play basketball bright and early in the morning.  We do drills and have a lot of fun.  So im trying to get back into bastekball shape again!  Last saturday, we had an interesting experience.  After playing bball, we went to the secretaries house at 7AM to help them move.  When we opened the door to their house, we were surprised to find about 6 inches of water in the whole house.  They didnt know how it happened but we had to get all the water out and all their belongings out in 2 hours.  We used buckets, cups, and a dustpan and got everything out just in time for them to move into their new apartment.  It was a prettty fun experience, throwing water at each other and moving houses with soaking wet shoes and socks.  At the beginning of the week, we spent all our time preparing for the mission council with the zone leaders.  The council turned out excellent!  President talked about a lot of great things and we had a couple hours to be able to ask the zone leaders inspired questions so that they could determine what they need to do in their zones to have better results and more converted missionaries.  I felt the Spirit really strong as we helped these zone leaders realize their potential and the potential of the elders in their zones.  I know most of them really well and during the council, I could see and feel a lot of big changes in all of them.  In their time in the mission, they have become more converted to the Lord.  We asked the zone leaders to write Christmas cards to President and Sister Kusch, explaining to them what they are going to do differently as missionaries so that the mission has more success.  This was our gift to president and when we gave them the cards at the end of the council, they both began to cry and expressed their love for us.  They truly are amazing people.  Sister Kusch calls Elder Azueta and I her Mexican children because she loves spoiling us with brownies and ice cream everytime we go to the house to help her husband.  They have become two great friends of mine.  On Friday, we did our zone service project in a rest home.  We cleaned the place up a little by mopping, sweeping, cleaning the bathroom, washing the windows, and washing the sheets.  We also had the chance to sit down with the elderly to talk with them about their experiences.  It was funny to talk to some of them because they either dont have good memories, or they have mental issues and have basically gone crazy.  I loved it though because we were able to make little autobiographies for the elderly there which included a memory from their lives and a picture of us and them.  I made one for a guy named Belecio and he talked my ear right off.  He couldnt remember most things from his life, being 89 years old, but he did love having my company.  We finished the service by singing them Christmas songs.  It was really touching being able to see the joy in their faces while we were there.  In our area, we have only had time to teach one family.  This family was a reference of a recent convert in the ward.  It is a family of a mom and her two daughters that are 21 and 11.  The two lessons we have had with this family have been so powerful.  They want to change because they want to have a more united family.  A member came with us to our last appointment and as he testified of the blessings of the Gospel, he began to cry which made the family cry which made us really happy because we knew they were feeling the Spirit.  In that moment we committed them to be baptized on December 29th.  They came to church yesterday and loved it so much.  We already feel like their best friends.  Unfortunately, yesterday we found out that they live just outside of the boundaries of the ward, so we will not be able to continue to teach them.  I was sad because this family is one of the most special that I have ever taught, but I know that they will still get baptized and receive all the blessings that they are willingly to recieve through sacrifice.  I had the opportunity to speak yesterday in church and I talked about that experience with this family and the member who bore his testimony.  I talked about the difference between a missionary and a member bearing testimony in a lesson.  It is always better when a member does it because it is more sincere and convincing to the investigators.  As members of the church, we must always have our testimony ready to share with anyone at any moment.  The scriptures teach us that through our testimonies, we can rescue those that are lost (Alma 4:19?).  I invite all of us to think about and identify opportunities that we can take advantage of to share our testimony more often and with more people.  I know that our testimonies can change the hearts of those around us because I have seen it happen.  When we think someone in our lives will never change, we can always rely on our testimony to help their hearts soften.  I love this work and I hope to be able to help the elders around me become more converted to the Lord through the testimony I have.  Love you all!!!!  
Elder Stutz  

El Servicio Amoroso

hey guys!
I had a very crazy week that flew by very fast.  So last Monday, I found out that the Arroyo Quezada family was going to go to the temple to get sealed on saturday (Yemir and her family).  They invited Elder Pearson and I to go with them and we were super excited to go.  I called President Kusch to get permission.  He told me he would love for me to go but that he needed me in Cuernavaca for some meetings.  He then went on to tell me that the Lord wants me to serve as assistant to President Kusch.  I felt a little sad that I wasnt going to be able to attend the sealing but I was excited for the new assignment.  It was difficult to say bye to everyone in Chilpancingo.  I got to be great friends with the members and converts after being there so long.  There were tears shed and I took pictures with the ones I did have the opportunity to say goodbye to.  I then left to Cuernavaca on wednesday to begin to learn my responsibilities.  Elder Forrest is the assistant that left and he trained me all week.  He was in my BYU leadership class and we met in the MTC so we were already great friends.  I am now with Elder Azueta who has just a month being assistant.  He is from Mérida, Yucatán, México.  He has about 15 months in the mission and we are already great friends.  He is super funny and cool!  We were busy all week planning the changes.  We are in charge of transporting all 190 missionaries in the mission so we lost some sleep and were super busy.  I was sick with a cold all week so I am glad I got through it haha.  I am getting to know Excel better as it helps us plan and be better organized.  The best part of last week was Thanksgiving.  President and Sister Kusch invited us to eat dinner with them.  We went with the 4 secretary missionaries from the offices and we ate an american thanksgiving dinner in the mission home.  I felt like I was in my house for the first time on the mission haha.  After the dinner, President and sister Kusch, by our surprise, invited us to watch the Cowboys vs. Redskins game.  It was real fun, we had a blast!  As assistants, we do have a ward that we work in, the Palmas ward.  We dont get to work much but when we get a chance we teach a quick lesson.  We use most of our time helping president with whatever he needs.  We live in an apartment with two of the secretaries so the apartment is a little bit bigger.  The mission home and the mission offices are about 10 minutes walking distance from eachother, so thats convenient.  We do drive a toyota corolla that is super nice.  I am not allowed to drive it until next week so that should be fun.  I am super excited because in the coming months we have a ton of activities for the mission.  In December, we are traveling to all the zones to have Christmas conferences and in January we have zone conferences.  So Elder Azueta and I will be on the road a lot and we will be mainly focused on the missionaries.  It is weird to go through a full day and not teach a single lesson.  It is also weird to realize that all of your thoughts are revolved around the missionaries and not at all on investigators.  I will have to get used to it but I do love serving and helping out the missionaries.  One nice thijng is that I know that I will finish my mission here so there is comfort in knowing the fate of the next 6 months.  I did get the opportunity to talk with Elder Oswald last night because he goes home this week.  It was awesome to catch up with him and we are stoked to hang out at BYU after the mission.  Today we have the opportunity to go to the airport to pick up all the new missionaries coming from the MTC in Provo.  I am excited to help them start to love the mission a ton.  Even though I have been sick and I havent slept much, I am feeling great!!  I am loving the work and I hope to serve President and the Lord the best way I can.  I taught one lesson this Sunday in a rehab center.  We recieved a reference from a family of recent converts from the state of Mexico of a son that is in this rehab center.  He came out and surprised us by his great manners and relaxed appearance.  He is just a regular 20 year old that got caught up with the wrong friends.  But he is doing really well.  He has already read up to Alma in the Book of Mormon and wants to get baptized even though he hasnt gone to church.  We wanted to put him with a baptismal date but we were not sure when he could because he is in the rehab center.  Elder Forrest must have felt inspired because he challenged him to be baptized on March 22nd of next year.  The young man said yes with a smile on his face and told us that his scheduled date to leave the center is March 21st!!!!  I love seeing miracles like this in the mission.  Love you all!!!!      
Elder Stutz    

Debéis Volveros Como un Niño Pequeño

Hey Guys
We had a pretty excellent week this past week.  We started it with our zone bbq on monday in our house.  Everyone brought food so we ate well and had a few hours of great bonding time.  I got to know quite a few of the elders better and we really enjoyed ourselves.  On Tuesday, I did dvisions with Elder Cantú in Chilapa, a small village about 2 hours from Chilpo.  We focused on taking initiative and being persistent with recieving references from the members.  The village used to be the catholic capital of the country back in the day so it has a giant cathedral downtown that has a huge statue of Michael the archangel fighting with the devil.  It is a pretty cool place and the branch only has about 6 years since it was organized.  It was fun to meet some of the members, the pioneers of this village for the church.  We also had the chance to meet a single mom thisa week that is raising her three small children without a husband.  She is battling a very tough disease that makes her body very weak.  We were so touched by her circumstances and her intentions to know more about Christ and His church.  She will for sure be baptized in the future because she is so humble and in such need for the Gospel blessings in her life.  Margarita, the lady that got baptized last week, told us about a miracle that happened to her a few days before.  She needed to make a cake for some kind of assignment but didnt have the ingredients.  She couldnt leave the house at the moment and did not know what to do.  After thinking without coming up with a conclusion, she saw a big supply truck skid around the corner outside her house and out flew a full cardboard box in to the street.  The truck did not seem to notice that it had lost some cargo and continued down the road.  Margarita went outside to check what was in the box.  When she opened the box she found tons of the exact cookies that she needed to make the cake.  She thanked the Lord for the miracle.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!  We loved being able to participate in the confirmations of Margarita, Oscar, and Ariana yeserday in sacrament meeting.  I confirmed Oscar and felt strongly that he will serve a mission one day and represent the Lord worthily.  That feeling brought me great joy!  I would like to end with an experience that has to do with us being thankful for the Gospel in our lives and sharing it faithfully with those aroundus as a result.  This experience happened when we were doing our ward visits to the inactive members of the ward.  A young kid of about 3 years ran out of his house to yell at us.  This kid is the younger brother of a young man in our ward.  The young man is the only member of his family.  Every time we pass his house, his younger brother runs out at screams ¨Nacho is in the house!!!¨  always thinking that we are going to visit him.  We pass by often and it is very rare that we are on that street to go visit his older brother.  But it is always funny when he does it.  We have just started teaching the dad of these two brothers.  He is going through many trials, trying to leave alcohol after 40 years of using it.  This time when we passed by, the little boy ran out and yelled ¨My dad is in the house!!!!¨  I laughed like usual but then felt a great feeling that this little boy´s spirit was pleading that we share the Gospel with his family.  What an example!!!  We can always learn so much from  the small children in our lives.  That we may be bold and fearless in our preaching of the Gospel like this innocent little boy to show our thanks for the blessings in our lives is my prayer!  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!
Elder Stutz