Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission Spanish Speaking - August 2016 to August 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Week 83 - March 12, 2018 - Joy

Hey y'all!

So if you follow me on Facebook this letter might sound pretty familiar :) 
This week we had the opportunity to have a meeting for all the missionaries serving in the New Orleans area. One of the main focuses was joy and finding joy in the mission. It got me thinking of a quote from my favorite Mormon Message, "The Refiners Fire." (If y'all haven t seen it go check it out on The lady in the video makes a very profound statement. In effect she said "the greater our sorrow, the greater our capacity to feel joy." I have come to learn on the mission that that is so true. To be totally honest y'all, the mission is hard. Some days you just don't want to go out, you miss home, you miss friends and family, you want to be away from your companion, you want to help people but they just won't listen, and most of all you want to be perfect but you are reminded everyday how far away from perfection you are. I have never felt more sorrow, pain or discouragement than I have on the mission. That being said, I have never had more joy than being on my mission. Sounds funny yeah? How can you have joy while being sad or discouraged? It's because, for the first time in my life, I have decided to follow the Savior Jesus Christ as best as I can. Through him, we can feel joy even in the hardest of times because he is the path to joy! If we will only follow Him then we will have the joy that only He can give! I would encourage y'all, whenever you are going through something that seems too much and you don't feel like it can ever get better, to look to our Savior because he can bring you joy!

Zone Conference was definitely the highlight of this week! It is always awesome to gather as missionaries to learn and to teach one another!

Well y'all I'm sorry for the short letter this week! The next one will be bigger I promise!

Elder Nathan Stoddard

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Week 82 - March 5, 2018 - Dinner with a Pelican

Hey y'all ☺

It's been a pretty good week here in Downtown so here are some of the highlights!

First I got to go on exchanges with my good friend Elder Tu'avaou. He has was one of the elders that served here in Downtown before T and I got doubled in. We did exchanges with him so he could show us some of the good Spanish areas over here! It was pretty effective. He was able to show me some neighborhoods to check out and they ended up being great areas when T and I came back later!

The second cool thing also happened on exchanges. I got to go to dinner with Frank Jackson, a player for the Pelicans! For those who don't know that is the New Orleans NBA team! Frank is a member from Utah and loves taking the missionaries out when he can! He is also really good friends with one of my previous comps, Elder Magee! He is a super funny guy and I mean who doesn't feel cool going to dinner with a NBA player?! 😁😁

The last cool thing from this week was that I got to go to a baptism for a lady in Chalmette that the sisters had been teaching! Because Chalmette doesn't have a building they came to the church on St Charles which is only a 10 minute walk from our house so it was cool to go! Her name is Lakeyshea. She is an awesome lady and I am so happy she decided to get baptized! It was also cool to see all the members from the Chalmette Branch again! 

I think that is all the cool/fun things from this week! I hope all is well back home! Love y'all!

Elder Nathan Stoddard 

P.s. These are some pictures of the area that I am serving in right now


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Week 81 - February 26, 2018 - NOLA life

Hey y'all! 

So this week I don't have too much exciting news to tell. We had a good week and found some cool new investigators. The best part of the week was going on exchanges in Kenner. I got to go with Elder Myers and let's just say, I would love to be that guys comp! We had a good time out tracting and just talking while we were out doing the work. I also came on a great day because we got fed both for lunch and for dinner! That hasn't happened to me since Hammond! I also got to go that night and help with an English class! It was super fun to do that again! 

Other than that everything is going well. It is strange having technology in the mission but it really does help once you get used to it. Love y'all and hope y'all have a great week!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Week 80 - February 20, 2018 - Mardi Gras and Miracles

Hey y'all!!

So this week was another crazy one!! Tuesday was Fat Tuesday and the last day of Mardi Gras. We got to go to the Zulu parade which is one of the most famous parades here in Nola, and it was a freaking party!! The Zulu parade is well known for throwing out coconuts and hey! I got one! It was really funny watching all of us missionaries trying so hard to get a fake painted coconut but hey, memories right? It is definitely a day I will never forget! The one problem, my voice still hasn't fully recovered from all the yelling trying to get coconuts and as many beads as I could! Oh well haha 😂 All in all it was an awesome time but I am glad that Mardi Gras is over cause it made travel really hard in our area.

Now for the miracle of the week. So getting doubled into an area can be pretty interesting because you have to kinda start from the ground up. It has been some hard work on the bike but our work is starting to pay off. We were visiting one of Elder T's recent converts and randomly one of his neighbors comes over and joins in the lesson and starts bearing his testimony to us about how God can help change lives. This guy had been an alcoholic for a long time and Elder T remembers seeing him drunk all the time when he was working with his convert before. Cool thing is tho, this guy decided that he needed to change and so he prayed and God helped him to quit drinking! We invited him to come to our next lesson and he said he would be there and he even wants to come to church! The Lord really does prepare people to be taught his Gospel.

Spiritual thought:
1 Peter 1:7-9
  7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
  8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
  9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Isaiah 48:10-11
  10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
  11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

Sometimes we are called to go through trials that we don't understand. We know we have faith and yet life is still hard, bad things still happen. Many times I have asked myself why life has to be so hard, I mean I feel like I would enjoy it more if it was easy right? Isn't that what God wants? These two scriptures have come to be some of my favorites over the course of my mission. They really put in perspective for me why we have these trials. God wants for us something more precious than gold, he wants our salvation. In Isaiah he states that we aren't refined with silver. Why? With the Olympics going on I will relate it to that. What is the goal of the Olympics? It's to get the gold right? To reach the highest that an athlete can go. It is the same with God. He doesn't want us to get silver, he wants us to reach the highest we can and get that gold. Like Olympians, if we want the gold we must work to become strong enough or fast enough to get the gold, the only difference is that it is our faith that we have to work and that is why God gives us trials. If we didn't have trials we would never have to use our faith and it would never get refined into something stronger.  He will never refine us into anything less than the best so trust Him and know that, as he said to Joseph Smith, "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

¡Dios les ama mucho!

Elder Nathan Stoddard


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Week 79 - February 12, 2018 - Downtown

Hey y'all!!

So first off biking in NOLA is nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be! The area is actually super bike friendly and there are so many back roads to take that you can avoid the major roads very easily. The one problem right now is Mardi Gras. We live about 4 blocks from St Charles Ave and that street has almost constant parades during Mardi Gras! On car it is so look hard to get around. Biking makes it easier but you still have to weave your way through a ton of people and parade floats to get to the other side to work. So that has been the adventure of the week is trying to get through the parades.

On transfer Wednesday we went to the St Charles Church building and met for a ward function and to watch one of the parades with the ward! It was super fun and a good way to meet members but the funny thing was that some of the members that came for the function were from the Chalmette Branch! So I got to see the Farrells less that 24 hours after leaving Chalmette which was actually pretty cool. And the parade was super fun but it was also raining so we got soaked but it was worth it! Elder T even caught a teddy bear from one of the floats.

The last adventure that we had this week was biking to a ward King Cake party to meet more of the members and to talk with the non-member families they invited. It was about an hour and twenty minute ride! As we were leaving to go back home we realized that the Mardi Gras parades would be in full swing by our house and ghat there would be crazy drivers everywhere so we called the Mission President and got permission to stay with the Spanish Zone Leaders for the night. It's a good thing we did too cause as we went to load up our bikes onto their bike rack I realized that my front tire had gone flat while we were at the party. So it was a blessing that President gave us permission to stay the night!

Other than that this week has been pretty slow. Getting doubled into an area around Mardi Gras is kinda difficult. We spent the rest of our time trying to learn a bit more of the area and trying to find where the Hispanics live in this area but we weren't too successful this week. Hopefully when the craziness of Mardi Gras dies down we will be able to get around better and find more people.

Love y'all and hope y'all have a great week!

Elder Nathan Stoddard


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Week 78 - February 6, 2018 - Fourth Quarter

Alright y'all

So it is now official. I'm in the last quarter of the mission. If I had to compare how I feel right now to someone else, I would say that I feel like Tom Brady from last years Superbowl. I 'm down in the fourth and have never felt more comfortable. Its time for the final push to win the game. I am moving areas for this last quarter. I will be serving in Downtown New Orleans with Elder Tonumaipe'a, or T cause it is hard to write his name every time haha! I am excited and can't wait to see what this last 6ish months bring. Oh and Downtown is a biking area so now I will really feel like a missionary haha! 

And the moment we have all been waiting for, DONALD IS DUNKED! It was a long hard road but it has totally paid off! Because Donald is in a wheelchair, we had three of us in the font to baptize him. It was Elder Israelsen, Hernandez and I and we had to do the ordinance three times! But hey it all worked out and Donald is now an official member of the Church! Whoop Whoop!

Other than that is was the standard missionary week. We did a lot of tracting and found some really awesome investigators that are super interested in the message. One of them, Nessia, is about our age going to college and she was super into the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. She understood completely the need for a restoration and how the priesthood needed to be restored if the apostasy actually happened. It was awesome! We also found a cool new Spanish family that let us come in and teach and said that we are welcome back anytime! So hopefully the Spanish Group here really starts to grow!

Well that is all for me this week! Love y'all!

Elder Nathan Stoddard

Week 77 - January 29, 2018 - Meetings and a sick week

Hey y'all!

Alright to be honest there isn't really anything for me to report since last Wednesday other than Elder Hernandez and I both got sick so it really took down the work for the weekend! So we are happy to have a new week and a fresh start. 

Spiritual thought for the week. Moroni 7:41
"And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise."

Y'all we have so much to be hopeful in! We have a Savior that loves us and sacrificed himself for us! Because he did that we can have the hope, through faith, that we can once again live, and see our family again!

Love y'all!