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

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 7 - September 26, 2016

Hola de Opelousas!

I made it to Louisiana a little less than a week ago. I love it here! The heat is not nice but I can get more used to that. The people here are so nice! 

My training Elder is Elder Bean. He is a really cool guy. He is really into sports but cant play them much right now because of a concussion. He knows Spanish really well.  

So my first area is called Opelousas. It is more of a country area and there really arent many spanish speakers here. My comp and I are the first Spanish missionaries in this area for two years. We are reopening this area for Spanish teaching. It is hard because we have nothing to start with but it will be good. 

The people here are really nice. We have 6 missionaries in a ward of 70 people and they want to feed all of us all the time. The food here is really good. I have had Gumbo 3 times since I have been here! Everyone is open to talk with us even if they aren't wanting to hear our message.

I have been asked two times so far if I am a Jehovah's Witness.

My apartment has two other elders in it. They are Elder Hunter and Elder Otterstrum. We go out with them a lot because they know many people here. They are really cool English elders.

Well that is all that I have for now.
Elder Stoddard
Elder Bean and Elder Stoddard


Saturday, September 24, 2016

To Louisiana!!! (aka Week 6) +

Hello Friends and Family!
Elder Stoddard left the Mexico City MTC on Sept 20th and is now in the mission field. His first area is Opelousas, LA

Elder Stoddard
1914 Creswell Lane Extension, Apt. 7B,
Opelousas, LA 70570

His P-Day will be on Monday so we'll see how his first week has been then.
Thanks for following along on this great adventure.

Brad and Gina

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Week 5 - September 15, 2016

Hola mi amigos y familia!

Today we are celebrating Mexican Independence day here at el CCM. We had the best food I have eaten the entire time we have been here. They really go all out here in Mexico City. We have been hearing fireworks since we got here and this past week they have been even more common. 

The coolest thing that happened this week so far is that five days ago we had a Catholic parade out in front the CCM.We had no idea what was going on but my companion and I went to the top floor of one of the dorms to watch. When we came down we started to talk to a group of Latino Elders that told us that it was a group of Nazis that always have parades. We believed them and watched the parade for a while with them. (editors note: They weren't Nazi's) It was cool to try to understand them and communicate with them. It was very hard.   

After that we went to the classroom and on the way ran into the Latinos in our building that we became really good friends with. We discussed Donald Trump with them. We were not surprised by the fact that they don't like him. That was probably the third conversation that we had with this same group of Latinos about Trump. We all really liked that group and were sad that they left on Monday. On of them, Elder Juarez, almost started crying when he said bye to us and told us that he knew that in two years when we found each other again we would all speak perfect Spanish together. I really hope that I find him again.

Other than the excitement of the parade this week has been pretty chill until today. We played a game called 'Find the Latino' with our teacher Hermana Montoya. In this game we pick one person to be a Latino that has to speak in only Spanish and the rest of us have to speak only Spanish so she has a hard time figuring out who it is. She won the first day so we each bought her something from the store. We played the next day and we won that day so she is bringing us pizza on Saturday.

Not much else has been going on. I am ready to be out of the CCM but I know that the first few months of the mission are going to be so very hard. I want to teach the people of Baton Rouge and serve them as the Lord would want me too.

Hasta luego! The next time I write I will be back in the states and teaching the people of Louisiana.

I love you all!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 4 - September 9, 2016

Hola mi amigos y familia! Como estan?

I am having a good time here in el CCM. This week has been pretty good. I am ready to leave here and be out in the Mission field though. There really isn't much to say about what goes on here. It is the same every week. We have four progressing investigators and one of them is Elder McKay. 

The best thing that happened this week was yesterday while teaching Elder McKay or Ryan, his investigator name. We had our first lesson that we actually felt the spirit very strongly. We didn't do much prep for the lesson we just decided that we would answer any questions that he had for us about what he wanted to know about the gospel. He brought up Joseph Smith and how his friend had told him that he was just a crazy man that wanted many wives and that wrote the Book of Mormon for his own personal gain. We were able to teach about Jose Smith and the fact that he is a prophet of God and that through him the gospel was restored. We then talked about church and Ryan asked why our church was so strange and different from any other church. Elder Porter then started talking about restored truths that we have that no other church in the world has. He brought up Eternal Families. While he was talking about families a scripture popped up in my head. It was D&C 137 verses 5-6. It talked about Joseph seeing his brother Alvin in the Kingdom of God and seeing his parents with him. It is the first time that I know that I was receiving a prompting ever in my life. So I asked if Ryan would like to live with his family again and he said yes. I then had him read those scriptures and testified again that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that without him and without the work that God did through him we would never have know that we could live with our families again after death and have the priesthood authority to be sealed together as families. Elder Porter then testified of how that knowledge had helped him in his life when his aunt had passed away. He testified of the comfort that the gospel brings and that us as missionaries desired this for him. It was the most powerful testimony I have ever heard. He finished with a challenge to pray to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that our message is true. Ryan said that he would. I finished our lesson by promising Ryan that Joseph was a prophet of God, that I know that he is a prophet because of prayer and because of the things that I have felt in my life. I promised him that if he would pray and ask God in faith if our message was true that he could come to the knowledge of it for himself. I promised him that God loved him and his family and that this gospel was true. After that Ryan asked if he could offer the final prayer of the lesson. He had always been so shy about praying but not last night. He wanted to pray and we knew that our message had made an impact on his life.

This is why I am a missionary. How can this church and this gospel not be true when I can feel love for a person that I have never met? How could this church not be true when I can feel the spirit so strong and have a desire for the welfare for a person that is only acting as his friend. I am a missionary because if I can have these feelings and these desires for someone that is only acting as an investigator, then how much more will I feel it when I am truly working for the salvation of a soul that needs the gospel? 

I am ready to be out in the field. It will be so hard and the language will be a struggle but I know that this work is important work. There is no greater work that I could be doing at this time in my life. I can not wait to meet the people of Louisiana and feel the love for them that I was able to feel for Ryan. I can not wait to see the blessings that the gospel will bring to people. I want to be the best missionary that I can be so that through me the Lord and the Spirit may touch the lives of others and bring them joy.

I leave my testimony with you.

I know that this church the the true church of God on the earth today. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He truly lived and died for us. I add my testimony to that of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He Lives! Because He lives we WILL all live again. I know this to be true. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that through him the Lord restored his true church on the earth today. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet on the earth at this time. I know this because of the power of prayer and because of the Spirit that I feel in this church.
I promise that all who pray with faith in the Savior Jesus Christ can know this for themselves as well. 
I leave you with the scripture John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not you heart be troubles, neither let it be afraid.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Week 3 - September 2, 2016

Hola amigos y familia!
Things are going great here at the CCM. This week we lost one of our teachers, Hermano Zamodio. He was so awesome and we are sad to see him go but he has been waiting for 7 months to get his visa so that he can go get married. (in Virginia) We might actually get to see him one last time tomorrow.

P-Days are really nice when you don't go to the temple. There is so much time to relax and play games. We slept in for a little bit this morning which was really nice.

A typical day at the CCM starts with us having personal study in the morning from about 7-8. After that we have breakfast and are back in class by 8:45. At 9 we start language study with a teacher and from then until lunch we study language, study the Book of Mormon and teach one of our investigators (either a teacher acting as another  person or a missionary acting as a person that they know). After lunch it is gym class for an hour and then more of the same. As I have said the schedule can be repetitive but I have learned so much in the past 4 weeks. I don't know of any other place that within 4 weeks I would be able talk with someone in Spanish and be able to deliver a gospel message with minimal time to prepare.

The best part of the CCM is teaching investigators. Yesterday I got pared randomly with Elder Knapp and we had to teach a 15 minute message to an investigator that we had never had background on. We just prayed before and started teaching. It was a cool experience because Elder Knapp and I have never taught together but even without planning before hand we knew what we needed to teach. We both know that the Spirit was guiding our lesson.

That is all that I really have to report for this week. I love it here but can't wait to be in Louisiana teaching real people about the Gospel.

I love you all!

Hasta luego!