Monday, October 26, 2015

10/26/15 - 12th LETTER FROM LANGLEY

A General Epistle-Update,

Bright colors!!! Deafening explosions! Book of Mormon heroes brawling it out with huge swords!!! Heavy bass!! Thick, almost tangible suspense in the air! If that's not intense, then I don't know what is. That's basically an abstract illustration of how this week went down. It was pretty incredible. So, we worked really hard. In fact, I am really tired right now as a result. And I will continue to be even more tired as these days go on. And that is a sign of doing something right! This work, this Church, is truly that stone cut without hands, barreling down the mountain.

The Old Ship Zion is primed, ready and locked and loaded. It's armed with cannons and has the power to smash through anything in sight. And that's what's going down. The Hastening is in full swing. The only limit to it is our faith. I'm not going to waste this e-mail going off on how important the Work is, but just know that I know who is at the helm. And He is the most powerful being in the universe.

This week, my studies have taken me to the Plan of Salvation. And the book of Alma, for the prophet Alma and his companion Amulek teach the Plan of Salvation SO well! On the mission, there is a new meaning to the promise of the Book of Mormon, that "a man would draw nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Book of Mormon, Introduction), and that is because out here, I am living the Book of Mormon. Alma went and preached the word of God to everyone and anyone who would listen. And it drove him to his knees in prayer. He wanted to help these people so much that he, "[wrestled] with God in mighty prayer, that He would pour out His Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that He would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance" (Alma 8:10). Whoa. Sounds like a missionary prayer to me! As I have prayed for the people I am serving, and really had the Lord on my side, I have seen a difference not only in the success of my missionary service, but in the attitude I have toward it. There is a lot of opposition out there, for sure. And being a missionary doesn't mean that you are in an impenetrable bubble of the Spirit, but it does mean that you are a representative of Jesus Christ. That you have authority from God to preach His gospel to and teach His children more about Him and His love for them. That as you exercise that authority righteously, you unlock power from on high to invite the Spirit not only into your life, but into the lives of others.

I am grateful for my call to serve a mission. For what is means to me each and every day.

During this week, we had a lot of opportunities to teach and to invite. We taught our investigator S, and she is doing so well. She's faced a lot of opposition, for sure, but she is grounded in the Book of Mormon. And that is honestly what is going to pull her through to her baptism later this month.

J, one of our investigators, is doing so well. He came to church again this week with his girlfriend and everyone thought that he was a returned missionary. The branch presidency is convinced that he is a member. "So you grew up in the church?" they'll ask.

"Um...I am actually exploring, discovering the truth right now...and these guys are helping me..."

Solid! The biggest blessing of them all is being able to be a part of someone's conversion to the gospel. Luckily, it is the Spirit that does the work, but it is a blast to watch the truth change someone's life.

We also found a new investigator, K, who is a super fresh/fly/jivin'/cool/slick Filipino guy that just started university. He is awesome because he is so genuine as we teach him. I love how truth-seeking he is, which you can tell he is as he asks the most inspired questions ever. His desire to be baptized is founded on the belief he has now that the authority from God has truly been brought back to the earth.

We are also teaching another guy named H who is friends with a member. Member work is where it is at! I am grateful for my companion, Elder Gawrys. He is a huge help in the zone and in the area. Life is going well.  Funny experience: we were cooking REALLY quickly in our apartment before we had to head out to teach some people, and Elder Gawrys accidently put the plastic cutting board over the hot, metal frying pan while we were cooking chicken to keep the heat in. As we turned to grab the chicken, we pulled off the cutting board...and literally it was as if we were pulling out a slice of plastic pizza...we're talking strings of melted plastic oozing off of that board...and it melted a huge circular shape into the cutting board! Ha! It was a priceless "elders-trying-to-cook" moment...oh, and I tried to give Elder Gawrys a was so bad that people on the street laughed at him and he had to go and get it professionally cut to fix it...

I hope everyone has a great week! I'll keep you all in my prayers. And remember: life is awesome, the gospel is share it!

You Already Know,
Elder Stock

That haircut, though...XD
This is after the professional revisions had been made...
(oh.....I feel so bad for his companion!)

Monday, October 19, 2015

10/19/15 - 11th LETTER FROM LANGLEY

An Epic Epistle....Epic-stle? the World,

Wow. To quote a wise, goofy fictional character in order to describe this week, I will just say, "THAT....WAS.......AWESOME!!!!"

And it was.... Holy cow what a week. So, Elder Gawrys and I have seen so many miracles together. This week, we got transfer calls as a mission......

And, well, we're, uh....

I don't know how to word this, but we are...

Staying together for the next transfer!!! WAHOO!!!! Not only am I excited to stay with Elder Gawrys because he's awesome, but I am excited to stay in the Fraser Valley YSA branch. It's a thrill to be able to work alongside so many amazing young single adults. Most of them are recently returned missionaries, and so I always feel so inadequate taking them out to lessons....because they know how to be a missionary in today's world....something that family ward members just don't have. It keeps me in check and keeps me continually improving, for sure. I am grateful for the YSA culture of missionary work, though. It's more member driven naturally because people actually invite their friends to partake of the fruits of the gospel. It's almost as if the most success in missionary work comes when the members are the source of finding new investigators or something like that - that may or may not have been directly quoted from Preach My Gospel...

I've learned some very valuable lessons of how to be a member-missionary from the members in this branch. And it really comes down to a very simple principle that President Monson even spoke about in this most recent General Conference: being an example!

It's something we hear all the time, but it's a true principle. As we "let [our] light so shine before men," (Matthew 5:16) and really show by our works and our personalities that we have internalized the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will see marvelous success in missionary work. Because Heavenly Father, as we speak, is preparing His children, His chosen vessels, to receive the restored gospel, the lost words of the Lord (Amos 8:12), and as we set the example and show them what they are looking for, they will recognize this and they will desire to receive it in their own lives.

We need to be "an example of the believers" (1 Timothy 4:12), and the way we do that is by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in ALL aspects of our lives. In word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith, purity, etc. At work, school, play, in all interactions with our brothers and sisters of God. As President Monson says, "as we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others". I know that that is so true. I would like to share a miracle that occurred yesterday that highlights this very eternal truth.

In the branch, we have a member named Brady Moore who is incredible. He's so missionary minded and so faith-filled. He obeys the commandments, and lives the gospel of Jesus Christ not just on the Sabbath, but throughout his daily life. As a result, as he was riding the bus to his school in Surrey, he met a friend--one of his classmates named Tushar---whom he began to talk to. The two became good friends as the days went on, and Brady naturally invited him to the YSA conference that was happening in Burnaby. Tushar went on Saturday and had a ton of fun, but he wasn't going to go to church the next day. Respecting his choice, Brady went to Sacrament meeting. During the bearing of testimonies, he stood and bore powerful testimony of the Savior. Then, as he did so, he mentioned that he has a friend who really needs to be here right now. The Spirit overcame him, and he quickly finished his testimony, and then grabbed his things and turned to us. "I have to go and pick up a friend, elders," he said, determined to follow the promptings he had received. He walked out of the chapel.

Within a couple of minutes, Brady again walked into the chapel with his friend, Tushar. They sat next to us, and people from the YSA region bore their testimonies of this gospel and this church, and how it had blessed them in their lives. One of our investigators, S, who is getting baptized this weekend, even walked up and bore her testimony on the power of the Book of Mormon and how it changed her life from night to day.

At the end of the meeting, we talked to Tushar. He told us that he has never felt so much peace in his life, and that he wants to be baptized. Speechless and ecstatic on the inside but playing it cool on the outside, Elder Gawrys and I taught him about the Restoration with Brady and set a baptismal date for November 8th with him, testifying to him that the Spirit he felt in the meeting that day could be with him for the rest of his life as he was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I'll never forget what he said afterward. "This feeling I had today is the feeling I had when I met Brady. And the feeling I had whenever he talked to me. It's good, man. I don't want it to go away." Wow. Can we all be like Brady?!

Can we all just live the gospel of Jesus Christ so well and be so Christ-like that others will feel the Spirit as we are around them? I testify to you that we can. Let your light so shine. Light they way, and then invite them to walk the path of discipleship with you. When we are doing all that we can, then we can help others as well. I have learned that the most important thing that Jesus Christ did, second only to His Atoning Sacrifice, was to be our Exemplar. He led the way so that He could say, "Come, follow me..." Let's do the same. All it takes is a little bit more effort. But we can do this. The Lord has entrusted us with a little sliver of His vineyard. So keep it well.

As this week went on, I was reminded again and again of the love that Christ has for us.

And that is the motivation for His work. As I strive to be more like Him each day, I realize just how perfect He really is.

As I read from the Book of Mormon every day--my absolute favorite book of all time--I realize just how merciful and loving He is. I realize the effect that the gospel needs to have in our lives. The same gospel that has the power to change us. My week was fantastic. And I know more than ever that this is Christ's church. His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, testifies of it. And you can't argue that. I know that the Book of Mormon is true because it is what has helped me gain such a strong relationship with my Savior. And I am grateful for it. Now let's go share it!

You already know,
Elder Stock

Welcome to Brookswood...good ol' Langley!
 YAY! We're staying together! 
Let's take the worst selfie ever!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

10/13/15 - 10th LETTER FROM LANGLEY


Wow. Sorry about the late epistle/update/letter/indicator of mental capacity to do missionary work, but it was Canadian Thanksgiving yesterday! And "holidays are excellent opportunities for finding and teaching because many families are together and are at home" (Missionary Handbook, 17). True doctrine, that is. We got to teach some people that would not have been normally able to meet with us simply due to the fact that it was a holiday and they had some free time! Yesterday, we taught a man named Hugh about the Restoration. He was fascinated by it all, and loves the pictures in the pamphlet we use to teach the lesson... We've got to work on getting him out to church, now...

After that, we headed over to the Onedo's home where we were fed an amazing, bountiful, Thanksgiving feast at the hands of this incredible Ethiopian family--the father of which is a master chef and the children of which are in our Fraser Valley YSA branch. The crazy thing is that back when I was in Burnaby, the Onedos lived there and we ate at their house all the time. Now, they've moved to Langley as I moved! With that cooking, I'm not complaining. "Don't question miracles," as the saying goes...

We also got to eat another Thanksgiving feast on Sunday with one of the members of our branch and his father who lives up in the Yukon... His cats were battling the whole time, and it was pretty frightening. Definitely the most action-packed animal fight I have seen in a while. (My entertainment standards have fortunately lowered A LOT over these past months...) Our member, Quentin, illuminated us on how Canadians see us Americans. It was hilarious. I feel like I am hearing more about soon-to-be President Trump up here than I would if I was in the states.

Our super solid investigators, S and J are doing so well. As a mission, we've really been focusing on how to better help our investigators progress to baptism. Because we have proven to the world that we can baptize. Now it's time to help them to gain this spiritual conviction and enduring conversion that will aid them throughout their entire lives.

It's been a miracle being able to teach such incredible people throughout my mission. Seeing their desire to learn and to share the gospel once they realize what it truly is always motivates me to do better in my own life and to continually strengthen my conversion. The faith that these people need to have in order to live the gospel of Jesus Christ astonishes me, and is undoubtedly another witness that our Heavenly Father loves us and is actively involved in our lives. That He has not stopped speaking through His servants the prophets, that His Son---our Savior and Redeemer--lives today and continues to minister and succor us through the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is wonderful. Wonderful to me.

S has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. And when your faith and testimony is grounded in that, then you are seriously not leaving anytime soon. J is someone whom we are teaching who was referred to us by a member who he is dating. Unlike the "date 'em, dunk 'em, drop 'em" situations of the past. J is very truth-seeking, and notices that there is a gap in the faith he has grown up in. He feels the Spirit and reacts to it. He learns the doctrine and runs with it. We are so excited to continue to help him prepare to be baptized. Because that is where it's at. Making covenants with our Father in Heaven are why we are here. Why we do what we do as members of the church. And what we invite others to do, as well.

Recently, I've been pondering a lot about what makes a successful missionary. My thoughts are drawn to my ponderizing scripture of the week, found in the book of Mosiah. The Lord says unto Alma in this verse, "blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people" (Mosiah 26:17 emphasis added).

We are here. As latter-day saints across the world. To establish a church among His people. And as we establish this church, by inviting all to come unto Christ and helping them get there, then they--the people of the church--shall be established, as well. They shall be the Lord's people. What does it mean that the people shall be established? I believe that it all comes back to having that firm foundation. The church is here as a vehicle to help us become like Christ, to inherit the kingdom of God. It does so through the ordinances and covenants within it, which in turn become our foundation. These ordinances and covenants alone, though, are dead. But with Christ's priesthood authority, they are made alive. We find that as we keep our covenants, we receive power and are bound to the Savior. Our foundation is rooted in Him and His gospel. And we are thus established on the land just as a building would be, with its foundation surely planted.

That's my purpose. As a missionary. To establish strong centers of the Lord's church wherever I am called. To represent the Savior in all that I do. To be a Christ-like missionary...not just to do "missionary things"... I am grateful for this time I have to serve. I see miracles each and every day. And I know that my Redeemer lives, and that our Father in Heaven loves us. Individually. He knows us by name. They restored Christ's church on the earth once more through a prophet named Joseph Smith. I know that he was not only a prophet, but a righteous man of God. And I know these not of myself, but of the Spirit. For by the power of the Holy Ghost, we may truly know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:5).

Highlight reel: we got to have an awesome gospel conversation with two deaf guys in Surrey central (teaching Kristian in Burnaby is a blessing in more ways than one!), we are finding so many people who have a desire to be baptized, we made a ton of fake movie trailer audios for ideas we have in the of our missionaries, Elder Sigrest, is now know as Batgrest...etc. Elder Gawrys and I are having a blast, as usual! And there is so much to be thankful for. Last night, in my prayer, I ended up just thanking God for everything I could think of. And I cannot describe to you the feeling of peace and gratitude I felt as I did so, I encourage you all to try that out, especially in this Canadian Thanksgiving season.

I am grateful for all of you and your support, and hope and pray that this week will be amazing for us all.

Elder Stock

Preach that gospel, yo!
 Found Rocket Raccoon....long trek to Earth!

Monday, October 5, 2015


A Epistle of Epic Proportions,

This week a literal prophet of God commanded the entire world to repent and bore the most powerful witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ imaginable, whilst losing strength in his own body and regardless gave his all to the cause of Christ. Let's take a step back and realize how blessed we are.

Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His servants, the prophets, seers, and revelators of our day, to counsel us and deliver His will unto us. Blessed are we if we hearken to this counsel! I loved basically all of the talks that were given over this weekend of conference, especially the one given by Koichi Aoyagi...and partly because the beginning of this man's epic talk sounded like the plot to the next kaiju movie...

I loved the analogy of the surfers and the barrier of the bay, and that takes a lot because I can't tell you how many analogies I have heard of commandments being fences keeping evil away, but this one was just terrific...probably because it mentioned evil-looking sharks...

Elder Holland's talk about mothers was stunning. I'd like to give a small shout-out to the best mother in the world (mine, of course):

Everything that Elder Holland testified of in his talk about mothers is true of you, mom. You are seriously amazing.

Shout-out ended.

I loved, loved, loved the counsel given to us to teach more simply and with clarity. That is something I strive to develop every day, and it is so rewarding to be able to learn from the Lord how to simplify His gospel message.

Ponderizing is now one of my favorite words.

Scripture to PONDERIZE this week: Alma 36:27--> God will still deliver us as we continue to put our trust in Him!!! (Good ol' Alma...he's inspiring)...

Oh, and Elder Christofferson's throw-down on why we have a church in the first place was perfect in every sense of the word. Such good timing, too. I can't tell you how many people in this world are all like, "I don't need a building to worship God!" We need the church. We can't fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ in isolation.

I could go on for days about the raw awesome that was general conference, but I will just ask all of you: will you go and restudy your notes/re-watch the talks from this general conference?

*Pauses for a "yes"*

Thank you! So, anyways, this week was awesome. I mean, anytime you do missionary work, life just gets more and more awesome, but this week in particular was awesome.

We got creative with our food choices because we were out of money, and so...that was interesting. By the grace of God, last night we were able to scrounge up some stuff hiding in the cupboards and the fridge for a Mexican food night! Now I know for myself that the story of the loaves and the fishes was possible.... (I'm kidding...the Spirit already bore witness of it a long time ago...)

This week, I learned a valuable lesson of repentance and procrastination. Before everyone freaks out, the lesson came through an analogy...

I have been walking around for the past two transfers with an intense ingrown toenail. Unwilling to fix it due to either pride or fear of needles (probably a mixture of both), I let it fester and grow for months. Walking, which used to bring me so much joy and loss of weight, now became a task that required my constant vigilance and brought increasing pain. Finally, I decided to change it all. When the pain became so rough to bear, I reached out to the fabulous Elder Croshaw, a podiatrist-senior-missionary-undercover-superhero in our mission. He called me up on his way back from Chilliwhack as they were passing through Langley. Luckily, we were heading back from Abbotsford at the same time, and so it worked out perfectly. We pulled in to the Fraser Valley YSA chapel and he unveiled the tools for the job: needles, clippers, science-fiction-toenail-root-killing-chemicals, etc. And the games began.

Sitting on the couch in the foyer of the church meetinghouse, with my foot propped up on a chair for the black market operation, I felt like I was in one of those sketchy movie scenes where the guys end up having to get a surgery done in, like, a back alleyway or something...except this time it was in the Lord's perfect, true and living Church, was kind of different...

Anyways, after agonizing moments of numbing fluid being pumped into my veins by needles, I realized as soon as he started clipping that it hadn't taken effect! Don't worry...I won't go into details, but....everything ended well. My toe feels great.

Let that be a lesson. If we procrastinate the day of our repentance, all that it means is that it's going to hurt even the day...

We had our zone meeting this week, and I loved it. Such an amazing meeting! I got to train on how to have greater faith in the Work, and how to find people... It was pretty funny. I did a punk move on the zone. To get everyone to get the point of bashing is bad, I told them to open up to Chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel about finding and told them to find the section called, "Bashing with People"...they got the humor... I told them it was right next to "Sleeping In" and "Being Apostate"! Oh, I make myself laugh sometimes...

We got to watch a hilariously cheesy video about car safety, and learn how to plan better and how to use our time more effectively in the Lord's service. We also got to take a group picture as a zone! I love it. I love being in Langley, and the Work that the Lord is leading here.

We are teaching so many awesome YSA people, and the work is definitely hastening. I am grateful to be here and honored to be a part of this great and marvelous work. I love this gospel. It is so true. And it has been restored through a modern prophet. The Book of Mormon is undoubtedly true. By the power of the Holy Ghost, I know this to be true. And that is all that matters. And I know that as we build our faith, we will be strengthened for the storms ahead of us, because with and through Christ, we can do all things.

With awe and respect,
Elder Stock

The Langley Zone!
From left to right: Top row: Elder Gawrys, Elder Mattingley, Elder Slack, Elder Haase, Elder Swallow, Elder Sigrest, Elder Stirland, Elder Frei, Elder Jorgensen, Elder Nielsen, Elder Stock, and Elder Samis. Bottom row: Sister Christensen, Sister Cendreda, Sister Mumford, Sister Bernard, Sister Miller, and Sister Shroeder.
 The Vancouver British Columbia Temple here in Langley.
 That moment when you find yourself in this situation...