Friday, March 30, 2012
Hola hola . buenas freaking tarde.!!!! (Hello, hello, good afternoon)`
This week has been really fun and I’m way excited for conference to come because we get to hear from the people that we are constantly testifying about!
We have invited almost the whole world to come to church and watch. We are finding out that most of the people are just confused about what it is because they don’t quite yet know what a prophet is (we have a lot of work to do – that’s what I'm here for, no? ) haha but it’s okay I’m still way way excited!
We had a cool experience the other day with a guy that we contacted his name is Javier, he’s a really humble 40 year old guy. He and his family have heard from the missionaries before but never really progressed. We got to teach him a little about the Book of Mormon. I know that it doesn’t sound like anything special, but all we did was explain what we thought about the Book and how it has blessed our lives. We didn’t have to go into a lot of detail or explain much about it or anything else; just our testimony. Without hesitation he accepted the Book and promised to read it and also to come to church because of the way he felt in that moment. Small things really are huge in the mission. We never know how a person is going to feel. We could be feeling and thinking a totally different feeling than they are but what we know is that the Spirit will always be there; for them, to let them hear and feel what is important at that moment; for us to help guide our thoughts and what we say. That is amazing. By simple things, great things are brought to pass… As I am out on my mission longer, I’m finding out that simple truths and testimonies delivered by us through the Spirit are many times more effective than long winded explanations and trying to prove it all at once; especially to those who are willing or prepared to hear and act.
This Sunday was alright! El Obisbo o Presidente de la Rama aqui (The Bishop or Branch President here) called two semi-active ladies to give talks in Sacrament meeting. He’ is working with them and trying to help them in their process to get reactivated. Pues, (well) they didn’t show up. So he came up to us as we walked in the door and asked us to give talks! Of course we accepted and went along with it fine and gave our talks. It was all good! For the first time I didn’t get nervous to talk. I didn’t worry about what I was going to say, nor if my Spanish was good enough. I was able to go into the scriptures and find what I was prompted to share haha thank goodness for personal and companionship study! So overall it was great.
DAD you’re the man! Thank you for the ideas of how to conduct meetings. I used a little of one of your examples. I really liked el deseo a sevir y las familias (desire to serve and the family). In our meeting on Tuesday, I used both of these things and connected them with the doctrine of Christ; because we can’t help families here without a desire to get out and work and hopefully they will accept the example of Christ and want to better their lives. The meeting went a lot better then I expected for the 1st district meeting that I was in charge of - tender mercies again! We, as four missionaries in this district are going to work .... ha
Um.. My comp asked me to ask yall if you could send a Rubik’s cube for him and he will pay because they don’t have anything original here and he wants to learn. Also if yall could send an SD card for the camera that would be awesome!! They are way expensive here. Actually, I don’t think they sell them here in Dajabon. haha
Anyway I love you and so does our Heavenly Father.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Hey Family! 3/21/2012
Wow, have some questions !! hahaha but here I go . (Matt’s dad played 20 questions and only got an answer to half of them …)
No shock really just more participation in the meetings. I still haven’t been able to have a district meeting. The area is awesome. Dajabon is a really small town, just like a place where mom wants to live.
We always have electricity but only have water for 2 hours in the morning and that’s during our study time. So, it’s kinda hard to get the right focus in the morning while trying to fill up the buckets and gallon jugs to store enough up for the day and then clean everything from the day before and then get in the right frame of mind to study etc. but it works, just something to get used to.
I am sitting in the one of two internet centers in the town,
We buy everything we need for the week on p-day and we cook everyday in the house for lunch and dinner but I usually don’t eat dinner or we eat somewhere else. Elder Ruiz, my old comp taught me how to cook almost everything Dominican style and its pretty great.
We meet in a chapel that has been here forever. It is really close to the baseball field on the north end of town. We are in a branch not a ward; even though more than half of the city has been baptized at sometime in the past. Haha. We have about 50 active members.
I don’t know my address. We live on the east side of the big big school in Dajabon on a way way long road on the other side of the city from the bridge
For Elder Ryan Francom - Elder Van Tussenbrook is like my best friend in the mission. hahah he was in my zone just for the last transfer and he is one of the coolest kids ever! haha
Yes the Haitian/Domincan market is the most famous thing here. I went Friday and Monday!!! I literally spent 5 US dollars and got a tie, three t shirts, a mirror, and hangers.
But, wow this week has been really humbling and really quite strange. I had like 4 times when we were in lessons that I felt like I was in a dream, and that I really wasn’t saying what I was saying and doing what I was doing, kind of a weird feeling but it just didn’t feel like I was there- someone helping me out.
Apart from the weirdness, we have contacted about half of the city now (yes, it’s that small) and wow have I learned how to do house contacts! In my old area we hardly ever did house contacting. So it is strange getting used to this type of contacting, but so great to find how friendly and accepting the people are around here. Every door gets opened and we get to share the gospel with almost everyone. The members here are great and we always always have a member with us to help. The spirit is working way strong in this area.
On Sunday about 9 people from Dajabon died in a wreck on their way back from Santiago. The city canceled the carnival because of it. butTTTTTTTTTTTT that whole day as we contacted we found out that everyone had a neighbor, friends, or family member that died in that wreck. I felt terrible for them, but it was awesome for us as missionaries as we had the opportunity to share our Saviors great plan of Salvation. We had the opportunity to share our testimony with about 10 family members that we KNOW that their family members who passed on are going right back to the God that gave them life and that they will be just fine. It was one of the most quite/sublime days I have ever experienced in my life, but one of the most powerful, spiritual experiences that I’ve had in my mission as well.
Also, we did a service project in Monte Cristi which is a city north of us and right next to the beach. I’ll be going there shortly for meetings and work... but the service project involved clearing out weeds for the new house that the church there is going to meet in. They gave me a machete and I went to work. ha and let’s just say that I’m glad to have a weed whacker!! The service project went well and I ended up paying a kid to climb a coconut tree to knock down the cocos for us to drink haha .
FAMILY I love you and can’t believe Staci is pregnant. I’m so excited for her. haha
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Dear Family, 3/14/2012
WOWOWOW a lot has changed in the past 24 hours!! You know how I didn’t know if I was going to be transferred or not well…..
I got a call from President Lee ( Matt’s mission Pres) yesterday and he told me that I was getting transferred and that I was going to be a district leader, but he wouldn’t tell me where my assignment was going to be! A lot of thoughts ran through my head during and after that phone call.
I actually got transferred for the first time in my mission! I was being transferred from the only area that I have been in since leaving the CTM (MTC) – and all of the close relationships that develop when you work with people for a common good. I really came to love my peps in El Ejido! But leaving El Ejido was way way hard for me and I don’t know how I am going to function without them. They are amazing people and I really hope that I will be able to see them again during my mission or after, or when I’m dead, whichever. It became my home away from home.
It was very humbling to hear about my new calling as a district leader, especially since I haven’t even been a senior companion yet. Ha. But then to be left up in the air as to where I was going on the transfer, well I guess that I was already numb so that didn’t really matter – I’ll go where you want me to go…..
Today I got the news that would be transferred to DAJABON! It’s on the western most part of the mission right on the border, literally right on the border of Dominican Republic and Haiti. There is a river that runs in between the two countries that’s kind of like the Rio Grande, I guess, not very wide and not very deep right now. It’s kind of a dry climate where they grow rice, coffee and cows. I might have to use some of the Creole language that I learned from Elder Alexis when we were comps! haha
So, I found out that we are whitewashing (starting from scratch) this area. The mission just barely opened in Dajabon and we’ll split the area around here with another set of Elders. They have been here for about one or two transfers I think.
My comps name is Elder Gurrero and he is from somewhere close to the capital, Santo Domingo. He’s a really cool missionary. He got lowered I guess you could say because he hasn’t been very obedient during his mission. He was almost sent home but the president gave him another chance and sent him out here with me. He is almost finished with his mission. Anywho, we´ll work hard – don’t really have any other choice in this newly created area. haha but it’s cool.
We got to our house today after a bus ride of 2 and a half hours. It’s a brand new house that the mission just bought and they put brand new stuff in it, but it’s still missing a lot; kind of missionary minimalist. Haha. The house is nice but there is nothing in it hahah No gas , barely any water, and not a store anywhere close. We don’t know any members or where the church is haha. We feel a little bit lost. I know I really need to come up with some ideas of how I’m going to work here hahaha . But it’ll all be good! We were sent here for a purpose and it’ll be up to us with help from above and hard work to find out what that is! The other missionaries that are in this general area came over to help us out a little bit – a little orientation I guess. But wow, it has been a big big change and I really really needed it. haha
Elder Ruiz stayed in el Ejido and Elder Stratford who is in my same group (in the MTC at the same time) got sent there. I hope they do well and I’m jealous because I got sent to the desert and they are in the city, but it’ll be fun.
There are just two companionships in my district. The other is another missionary from my group (in the MTC at the same time) who is training. So it’ll be sweet to learn together. !!
I hope that everything is going well at home I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Hello Hello!! 3/7/2012
How is the family!! The week that yall had sounds pretty exciting!!!
I am still in el Ejido currently and I could be transferred somewhere else this next Wednesday – but who knows. So if I am the e-mails may be later -. haha That has been a big question for me and my comp because I highly doubt that we will be together another transfer but it could happen and if it does we'll work, ha!!!.
To your question: I teach something along these lines; Teaching kids to pray has always been fun. I have used the example of if you don’t talk to your parents or friends for a long time how are they going to feel..? Bad right! That’s how heavenly father feels when you don’t talk to him and thank him for what you have. He feels bad too!! haha I know it sounds lame but it’s true and it seems to be enough explanation for most of them.
This week has been good but pretty long. I don’t know why I have been feeling a little bit down these past few weeks and to know that you all are praying for me and that I have your support no matter what I do makes it a little bit easier. Probably just a test before transfers or some such wonderful thing! Haha
About my clothes - my shoes and pants are okay. I am using the shoes that I have had for the past 4 years now more than the others, but I am still using the others. One pair of my pants absolutely tore apart while I was washing them. Thank goodness for the bishops’ mom, she’s fixing them for me and the others are fine
We had an intercambio (trade-off) with the zone leaders. I went to their area this time. We had my comps birthday and yeah other than that we are always in the street teaching!!!
We have had about three people come up to us and stop us to tell us that they want us to come by their houses, which is way way strange because usually it’s the other way around. I’m way glad because for the most part my comp doesn’t like to contact houses, so it’s good that people are contacting us .haha. One lady stopped us and said.. soo I have a family member that is part of your church and I would like to know more and have you visit her as well because she is inactive for the moment!!! So we took down her address and we will be going there tomorrow, I think.
When I was in the intercambio we met a lady that used to live in my area and her sister still lives here, she told me " look, go to her house and knock on the door and tell her that you want to share a message about the word of God and she will let you in,. but don’t you dare tell her that I sent you!" hahaha.
Sunday was the best Sunday yet in el Ejido for me. The chapel was full of people for fast and testimony meeting and every one that I have never heard bear their testimony did!!! It was awesome and you could feel the spirit way way strong. Then at 9:40 the Bishop walked in (church starts a 9:00 ) with his little rowdy kids and kind of killed it !!! hahah but it was way awesome to see everyone there and open up finally ! Tender mercies!
Oh yeah! We found out that we are getting a new mission president in July. President Douglas, like dad found out in the Church News. He seems like he is a nice guy. He is a lawyer and supposedly knows Spanish perfectly. I don’t know how I feel about having an American as mission president. I’m sure he’ll be great or he wouldn’t be coming to the greatest mission in the world; it’s just that I really like serving with a native Dominican. It will be great either way!
um HEY CUBA IS OPEN FOR THE MISSIONARIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When Elder Bednar was here on February 13th he talked to us and then on the 16th he dedicated Cuba for missionary work! How cool and we also found out that they will be taking 10 missionaries from the Santiago mission and putting them in Cuba! Unfortunately they won’t be taking Americans haha. Dad I know that you worked with Cuban refugees in Miami when you were out. I’ll bet this is great news for them!
It’s just an example of how important and powerful God is. The people of Cuba will truly be blessed now because they have waited patiently for this day to come. God is good and loves us. I have been able to feel his love a lot in these last weeks he has helped me grow and has helped me realize things that I can improve and things that I’m doing good. He has a plan for me and for every one of his children!
Something that I love to share with the people here is that we aren’t ever ever ever alone. He knows who we are and will always help us if we let him.
Ha, this is something that I have had to tell my prideful self all of the time - open my heart and my mind and let Him in because those are two things that he doesn’t have, unless we give them to him.
Mira (look), I love you all and miss you a lot.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Saludos a todos! (Greetings everyone) 02/29/2012
Una semana bien llena de actividades , bautismos ,conferencias y comiendo!! ( A week full of activities, baptisms, conferences, and food!!)
This week has been awesome and full of things to do. Saturday was a busy yet fulfilling day for our ward – Temple, baptism , and party - All of the ward went to the temple during the day and they even took one of our investigators with them!! haha Upon their return to the church building in the bus from the temple in Santo Domingo, we had everything ready and waiting for the baptism. So when they got off the bus we helped everyone with their stuff and then they came into the church for the baptism. The font was full and the baptismal candidates were really excited to be baptized; it was a great feeling.
I got to baptize them and it was way fun. Isaac felt weightless in the water I felt like I almost threw him in the water and pulled him out like he was nothing. During the testimony time we had some kids from the primary give some talks and bear testimony. It was way fun.
After the baptism Hermana Belkis invited us over to her house and while there she had a cake for my birthday! ha I love her she is like my mom here in El Ejido. So we had a little party there with that family and then on Sunday we were invited over to another family’s home to have lunch after church and we had potatoes and they were amazing! But it was soon ruined when she gave me carrot cake and I had to eat it. .... ha - no confetti cake here!
We finished all of the walls on Romy's house finally. Now he can live in it a little bit easier and it’s a lot bigger as well. We spent the morning on Monday working on his house and then we went over to the church to our activity that we planned for the ward! There was a pool for the kids and volleyball and basketball for everyone else. Also, they played dominos and we had hot dogs on a stick and after we had spaghetti. The activity honestly lasted from 3 in the afternoon hasta (until) 9:30 at night!!! It was awesome. After we ate, we all sat down in the chapel and our lider misional (ward mission leader) invited a few people to portray a family and have a mini FHE. It went over well and set a good example for the members to do their noche de hogars (family home evenings).
We found out that our office Elder, Elder Hale, went home this week. He’s suffering from loss of memory, I guess, which stinks. I hope that doesn’t happen to me.... ha
but yeah, this week was awesome and now we get to do it over again because Elder Ruiz va a cumplir (birthday is) on Friday. So we are about done with birthdays just as yall are. !!!!
I love all of you and wish and hope the best !!!