Thursday, July 20, 2017

Photos! - July 19, 2017

1- Zone Photo (my companion and I are in regular clothes because we biked there and got all dirty, while the others all got together and came on a bus)

2-The Waterfall

By the way, I don't have much time to write because we went to the caves again this Monday and got lost along the way, so I am cutting into lunchtime to write some stuff home.

We showed up early and found the path up to the top of the waterfall. Elder O**** and I took and hour nap up there, and it was the most relaxing experience I've had in some time.

3-Nap spot

We made Snickerdoodles in the form of a brownie (we lacked Cream of Tartar, though) and it came out AMAZING

We had a baptism on Sunday--her name is L*****. Her son, J****, the larger man next to her, is waiting on papers to get married to his wife and get baptized

4- Baptism

I figure I'll just unload my week via pictures, for time's sake.

There were TONS of bats in the cave this time. Also, I don't know if I've expressed before the magnitude of this cave. It is HUGE. Like, 3 stories tall in most of it (and then there's the 3 story drop within it to an underground river) and it has got to be 20 yards or so wide throughout. Elder W***** is a big nature/exploration/adventure guy, and he said this was probably the biggest cave he'd ever been in.


ALSO and last of all we had our first zone conference with the Smiths yesterday and it was SUPER powerful. They teach as a companionship, and have a big focus on the importance of the Spirit. We talked also about exact obedience and how it is probably best of all to obey not for fear nor for knowledge of the blessings it brings, but for NO REASON ALL. As in, Adam offering sacrifices "I know not, save the Lord commanded me" obedience. Covenants should be the driving factor for what we do and how we do it.

8-zone with new Mission Pres and wife

Love you all so much! See you in 37 days (but who's counting? XD)
Élder Rowe

Waterfall Devotional - July 10, 2017

Sorry, no pictures until next week--I left my SD memory reader home thinking we'd pass by the house before writing (we didn't have time because we were at a waterfall all day as a zone :D).
Good to hear you enjoyed 4th of July. Elder O**** and I found in the capitol some cheese-stuffed hot dogs, so we ate those on the 4th, ate the leftovers in mac & cheese on the 5th, and didn't actually sing the national anthem until thursday the 6th.
The whole world is changing so fast! I forget how much stuff happens every summer--Katie leaving, Abbie and Jace working on papers, visits from family, sheesh. For how many changes are going on, the world sure is small. The fact that a good friend of mine in the mission, M*** A******, is in Jessica's ward, and that the girlfriend of another missionary that I know lives on her floor, was almost too much for me to take in my tired, sweaty state. The humidity has been real today.
That is particularly because yesterday we went to Sabana Grande de Boyá (20 minute bike ride) to help the zone leaders prep for their baptism and let Elder O**** do the interviews. We did an intercambio to get more done, and it started POURING while we were looking for a kid who was supposed to get baptized who had left the lesson we were teaching him. To make a long story short the baptism went through, but Elder O**** and I didn't stay to see it because we had to get back to Gonzalo before dark, and it was already raining and there was no power in town. We got into Gonzalo and it started raining sideways and we could barely see. We got SOAKED. It rained through the night, but has been clear all today. However, the humidity has hung around. Elder O**** and I biked out half an hour down the highway to get to the waterfall for the zone activity devotional/picnic we had. It was AWESOME. My companion and I arrived early, so we took an hour nap on top of the waterfall in the shade (pics to come). I felt more rested after that therapeutic hour than I have in the last month of sleeping in my bed. The bed was way more comfy, but, who cares? At the activity we made ham sandwiches and shared testimonies together. It was super special.
This week we talked a lot on intercambios and in general about "exceedingly great faith" and making our goals into divine "promises" from the Lord via personal revelation. While it is something better explained in person, I will talk about the goals a bit. When you ask the Lord about a goal before you set it, and through revelation you get an answer, you then have no fear to fulfill that goal and to sacrifice anything for it because you know that the Lord has confirmed it and that with teh eye of faith it has already come to pass. This works for baptizing people and finding new investigators, but also can be applied to other goals, like studying, doing homework, finding a job or advancing therein, financial goals, marriage goals, and pretty much any other situation where you plan to do something but don't exactly know how yet.
Love you guys so much! Thanks, Dad, for the solar eclipse info--I will enjoy my last P-Day so much more now!
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Regular Week - July 3, 2017

That's what we had--a typical week. Nothing too crazy (except when we biked like 10 or more kilometers up and down hills on rocky roads in one day to try to give follow-up to investigators all over the area; we usually try to work one little village per day, and visit a few times each week).

Updates on campo life:

(Brad asked him these questions and these are Jacob's rapid fire answers...

How is the food different out in the campo?...had any unusual or weird stuff to eat?...wondering after seeing the cow head last week! (Jacob sent us a random picture of a cow head.  It was dead. we weren't sure if it was on the side of the road or what...)
Are the needs of the members changed or does it seem the same everywhere?
What are your typical sabbath day activities? you find yourself "subbing in" church teaching a lot or "putting out fires" or do the members pretty much handle it?  Do you have dinner appointments? Has the transition with Pres Smith and his wife started to affect the mission yet or too early to see that? (The new mission Pres just got there on Saturday...)  What is the word on the street about the transition?  We read their bio and it sounds like they are two pretty accomplished and great people...! )

Food is all rice, beans, and chicken. They butcher a cow once a week, but I don't know if I trust the conditions enough to buy there. There are no supermarkets or even slightly large stores, so we have to buy everything in bulk elsewhere and bring it on bikes or in a rented pickup-truck-taxi. Sometimes we eat with a member or investigator, but not too often. And here, it's lunch appointments, not dinner appointments. There have been many, many days in my mission that I've gone without dinner because the biggest meal here is lunch. The weirdest things I've eaten here have been some fruits that actually aren't all that weird. It was in a poor Haitian town that they were cleaning the cow head to split it up and cook it, and we don't eat there. We had a member who we'd pay to cook for us, but she moved to the capitol, so we cook for ourselves. Another campo fact--all the Dominican campos are dying, little by little. EVERYONE has plans to move to the nearest big city, because there is little-to-no power, no running water (bucket showers for the win!), and no nearby convenient bus routes. They save up for YEARS to move, even if they have to go into debt for a house and the father has to go a few months early to look for work.

The needs of the members out here are summed up in two F's: Friends and Follow-up. If a member out here has friends in church, they will keep going, no matter the age. Well, unless the branch president or someone else offends them, but that is another story. That is why the follow-up is necessary. We try to pass by all the members each week in between our visits with investigators to keep them excited. We have also been trying to reactivate adults. Our branch is almost entirely children as far as its active population goes. We have an average attendance of 45 people, but only 2 adult members besides the branch president (one is the primary president and the other is the elders quorum president). My companion and I are serving presently (by asignation, not by setting apart) as 1st counselor and secretary, respectively. We have some adults investigating and showing up at church every Sunday, but they are waiting on papers because NOBODY has money to get legally married out here and many people aren't even declared when they're born (they have to go through an extensive and expensive declaration process to be able to have a birth certificate and ID).

At church we do everything--I accompany, my companion and I prepare, bless, and pass the Sacrament, we teach 2 hours of Gospel Principles (because there is no Relief Society and because the adult members still need basic doctrinal support), we help the branch president plan for the following Sunday's meetings, etc. The only thing we don't do is deal with primary, and suffice it to say I am exceedingly glad (Dominican children are rather insolent and noisy, but in the hilarious kind of way). In Sabana Grande de Boyá, my first branch, there are now 6 missionaries--2 teach gospel principles, 2 sit in to help, and the 2 sisters literally hold the 2 doors to the primary shut for 2 hours because there are so many children in that branch now. XD

We still haven't met or heard from the Smiths. They showed up late Thursday night and the Corbitts left Friday morning. We will see how all that goes. Personally I am super excited to meet and work with them, even if it is only for 2 months.

Love you guys so much!
Élder Rowe

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I have no time to write again sorreeeee - June 26, 2017

yeah, I have like 5 minutes now. BRAIN SPLURGE

Mom, our job being to love others is absolutely correct. You can tell people out here that they need to repent and do all the logical convincing and scriptural proving you want, but without love in the invitation they will never truly repent. They might do it for you, but they won't do it for the Lord. I have also learned from companionships and being in branches that while there is often a "right" or "more proper and correct" way to do something, if you don't let the other person try it themselves they will never learn. It was like in my CompSci class when we were writing programs. The TAs don't walk around telling you to fix stuff--they wait for you to ask for help and then give you a suggestion that leads you to ponder until you come up with the answer yourself. It feels so much more rewarding.

Jessica--let's see how much I can get in with the time I have left.
First and foremost, it is OKAY to feel overwhelmed. It is all new, so it will pass within a week or two. Second, DON'T FALL FOR THE FROSH DATING CULTURE. You don't have to be focused on dating if you don't want to, and college doesn't have to be a contest to see who can get a boyfriend fastest or who can make out with more people first. I know you don't see it that way (nor did I), but tons of people around you will. Unfortunately, because the honor code is "on your honor," there will be people who break it and try to pull you into doing the same. Choose your friends wisely, and it is OKAY to be way more mature. Don't succumb to the temptation to lose that. It is something that will attract to you the kind of people you'll want to hang around. Also, don't feel committed to please everyone--if you don't like someone or you think they're not mature enough to be good company, still say hi but don't hang out with them. That is the wonderful beauty of college--because you have total control of your time, you can choose COMPLETELY who to spend time with. People from your ward, people from other wards, people you meet in the lobby, classmates, people who just so happen to eat at the Canon Center or the Wilk at the same time, etc. Enjoy the freedom, but keep the standards. While it's not as bad as at other colleges, even at BYU people take liberty to mean libertinousness and freedom to mean freedom from consequence or conscience. You're smarter than that, because even in a couple of days you've already seen it, and I am super proud of you for that. Love you so much!

Sorry I have no time left. GAAH. We are still getting SOAKED every single day by intense rain. We had stake conference Sunday and I got to see all my Villa Esfuerzo people again. I cried and laughed at the same time. It was super great. Our bikes aren't breaking down anymore, which is great. No sign of the crazy lady, though apparently she isn't crazy and just pretends to do so until someone gives her money, and if they don't she has money and phone and means to get back to the capitol and follow someone else. 0.o what even is this country sometimes XD

I love you guys so much! Can't wait to see you again, but I also don't want to leave! GAAAH!!

Élder Rowe

Yes, singles wards are WEIRD. There isn't much you can do about changing how people treat sacrament meeting or classes, but you can change how you come to sacrament meeting. Try an exercise--set some simple rules for yourself, or pick a couple of honor code rules, and put the list somewhere you'll see and remember it. Each week try to live that rule EXACTLY--to the second, to the inch, to the whatever. Then before church on Sunday repent sincerely where you fell short, and think about the marvel that is forgiveness and grace as you take the sacrament. I GUARANTEE you that the spirituality of those meetings will increase for you, even if others don't treat it seriously.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Opposition Intensifies - June 19, 2017

WOW. I have no idea where to begin this week. I will give a summary, then answer some questions, and see if time is left for anything else.

MONDAY--got Elder V**** and Elder P**** packed and ready to go (there are just two of us in an area for 4 missionaries now because there are only 151 missionaries in the mission instead of the usual average around 175-200). Nothing too unusual. It rained all afternoon. (last Saturday my black shoes, already dying, got so soaked that I think they are done for good--I might bring them home as a keepsake if I can kill the fungus on them)

TUESDAY--Elder V****and Elder P**** left, we reorganized the house (it is THE BOMB now, and is super clean all the time), fixed the bikes which are always breaking down, and did some visiting, but nobody was home. It rained all afternoon.

WEDNESDAY--Elder O**** had a new District Leader meeting all morning, and it took all afternoon for us to get back. On the way I bought some black shoes--by chance the very same slip-ons I had before the mission that were slightly too small for me, except that these ones are my size and nearly unused. :)  It rained all afternoon.

THURSDAY--Spent 2 hours updating the Area Book (which hadn't been kept because "we didn't have teaching records", which Elder O**** and i found hidden at the back :/) then 2 hours planning how we'd manage visiting 4 towns each week not including Gonzalo itself. Fixed the bikes AGAIN. It rained all afternoon AGAIN, and HARD. As we were coming back from Tío Filín (20 minute bike ride on a rocky, hilly trail) Elder O****'s left pedal fell off his bike so we walked an hour and change back to Gonzalo in the dark in the pouring rain. We put a baptismal date though!

FRIDAY--District meeting all morning. Went out to Sabana Larga (another town, 20 minutes away biking down the highway that passes nearby). On the way back, Elder O****, using one of the now extra bikes from when there were 4 of us, blew a front tire beyond all repair, and we walked an hour and change back to Gonzalo. We had a movie night activity to which everyone showed up late, only to find out that the branch president needed to go get the movie still (he's a little slow sometimes). Suffice it to say that didn't happen. It rained in the early afternoon.

SATURDAY--I was informed Wednesday that W**** and J**** M**** (converts of mine from when I was with Elder S**** in Villa Esfuerzo) were getting sealed Saturday, and I got permission to be with them in teh endowment session (their whole stake presidency was there too, and it was good to see them and catch up a bit) and the sealing.  On the way to the temple we got new tires and inner tubes and a new rear brake for the bikes so we can hopefully stop fixing them for good. We ate at Wendy's (where Elder O**** unintentionally spilled his soda, then spilled the one they gave him to replace it 10 seconds later. We died laughing) and then ate some nutella-filled Krispy Kreme doughnuts (when you're in the capitol you have to take advantage of what you can! ;D). We had to leave the tires and tubes by President Corbitt's car, because everyone was running late for the sealing and rushing around. When we came out of the temple they were gone. As it turns out, some other missionaries from the zone had a temple trip and saw the tires and took them to Sabana Grande de Boyá for us. I got to see a whole bunch of Villa Esfuerzo members and catch up with them. We got a ride from a member to near the bus stop (we almost missed the last bus home) and as we were walking to the stop some crazy lady started following us without our knowledge. She got on the same bus, but she didn't look that crazy. We figured it out when she said she was Mormon, that God had baptized her without water and made her a missionary, and when she got off the bus with us in Gonzalo without paying and ran off into the woods. We went into town and she caught up to us and started trying to introduce herself into teaching with us and saying she was going to live with us now and that we needed to transfer her records here to Gonzalo. We went to the branch president's house and devised a stratagem to ditch her, turn a couple of dark corners, and run to the house, lock the doors and turn off all the lights. The branch president sent her to the police station so she'd have somewhere to stay, and she disappeared. It miraculously didn't rain.

SUNDAY--Crazy lady showed up at church. Stayed all 3 hours. Started teaching 3rd hour from Psalms when we were out in the hall trying to help the branch president control the bratty tweens that were running wild (our branch is almost entirely children and youth because of past missionaries' baptismal focus). We took her to the police station, and the branch president gave the officer 100 pesos for a motorcycle so they could take her to Sabana Grande and ship her off to the capitol. We left here there locked in. Not 10 minutes later the police officer left with the money and let her out, and she saw us again. We turned some corners and lost her, and we haven't seen her since, but members tell us she's still wandering around looking for us. Spent all afternoon changing the tires on the bikes as fast as we could so we could go out to Tío Filín, but time ran out and we couldn't go. The bikes have new tires and one has a new rear brake, and we shouldn't have to fix anything else about them for some time. Spent all the rest of the afternoon organizing the secretary's office (President Rojas of the branch called me as his secretary) and did some updating of records (which are horrifically disorganized and outdated). Had a good lesson and went home, super pumped to GOLF MONDAY!!! It rained again all afternoon.

MONDAY--we got up at 5am to go out and wait for a bus from 6:30 onward to go golf in the capitol with some other missionaries. We waited 3 HOURS and EVERY bus was full and didn't stop. We gave up and came home. Spent the day sleeping and cleaning, and here we are, soaking wet from the crazy rainstorm the campo unleashed upon us on our way here to Sabana Grande to write you.

I am doing well on the bikes. My butt hurt like crazy the first week and I was sore the first 3 weeks in the rear and legs, but i am over it now. There are lots of hills out here, and it is definitely a workout. I am on bikes just as much as I walked in other areas--if we are proselyting, we are on bikes. If we have district meeting, we go on bikes halfway. The only time we don't use them is if we get super intense rain and wind(which almost happened today on the way here) or if we go to the capitol. We have no fenders, my bag and my clothes are getting super dirty every week. The good thing is that the mud stains come out :). 

Last thing--having been a zone leader has helped me manage my time so much more efficiently. Because as a zone leader one always has meetings and calls and other stuff to do (and as a junior companion I have none of that to do), I have learned to cram as much proselyting time in as I can, but over all else I have become WAY more efficient and effective in lessons. Use of time, inviting the Spirit, etc--all of that is key to making lessened proselyting time effective.

Love you guys so much! I've gotta go. BYE
Élder Rowe

PS--President Corbitt only has 2 weeks left as my mission president--this Sunday the Smiths enter the Provo MTC and next week is my last temple trip with him and with Sister Corbitt. *cries*

Still Here is Gonzalo - June 13-2017

I don't have much time to write today--I'm writing a day late because the internet in Gonzalo is terrible (there is only one center(ç) and we had to travel to Sabana Grande (20 mins on a bike) to write home today in an internet center there.

I tried the new card out. It's a different PIN, but I have it memorized already. It works just fine. (His debit card on his home account expired and we had to send him a new one.) It's weird that the card is vertically oriented. Also, the chip thing is nice. When I left that wasn't even really a thing yet, but it has even gotten here fast.

I stayed here in Gonzalo with transfers, and I am with Elder O**** from the other area. Gonzalo and its border towns are now just one area that Elder O**** and I have to manage. This will be an interesting and intense 9 weeks. I am super excited.

I will take advantage of what little time is left to send pictures. I love you guys! BYE

Élder Rowe

"This picture is when I had pinkeye as part of a tropical fever cold virus thing I got. It was going around, and it was inevitable. I was sick for a couple of days and got permission to wear sunglasses for the light sensitivity, and then everything cleared up."

The river where they hold baptismal services.

Fruit called Marañón or Cajuil (kahueel) which tastes somewhat like unripe starfruit (Carambola),

Fitting his custom suit he plans to wear home.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Week - June 5, 2017


First and foremost, congratulations to Jessica for graduation! I am super happy for you! Now it's on to bigger and better things. You are going to LOVE college.  BYU singles wards, activities, new friends, minimal homework because summer term, outdoor activities, intermurals, you name it, it's there. Man that makes me trunky. Anything makes me trunky these days haha :D. Well, I say trunky... it's not that I lose focus or stop working--it's that I want to be home just as much as I want to be here.

Emma, sounds like you have an exciting summer coming up. TREK. IS. THE. BOMB. Enjoy it, because it is literally a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Also, I am CERTAIN you can make the trek clothes fashionable one way or another. You are cool like that.

Elijah, I can't wait to talk to you either. I hear you guys got my flight plan--where do I pass through? I was the one who put in the date, the destination, and the email, but I don't know the route. I am super pumped to hear you bust out some sick drum solos Elijah! I'm sure you have made yourself a boss at that by now.

I would love to send you guys some pictures of my area--beautiful jungle hills, countryside, cows and horses, rocky "roads"--but I left my memory converter at home :(. 

Today we had a super powerful zone activity. We had a mini zone conference about miracles in the mission field and some special musical numbers, then ate baleadas (more or less Honduranian tacos) and played domino and told jokes. The activity really made me remember how much the mission has changed since I've been here. It's something that would take too long to explain now, but there have been some revolutionary changes in this mission in my time here, and it has led to great success. When I showed up in the field, the mission baptized an average of 50-70 people monthly, with retention under 50%. Now the mission baptizes an average of 200 people monthly with around 60% retention, and both of those are constantly climbing. It has not been us as missionaries--it is wholly the Lord blessing us for applying His principles. 

One I can explain now is Exceptional (or in english, "Exceedingly Great") Faith in Jesus Christ. This is faith as described in the Book of Mormon, but it begins in Revelation 12:7-11. We read that there was a great war in heaven, and that those who fought there overcame Satan and his followers through 1)the blood of the Lamb, 2)the word of their testimonies, and 3)having no fear of death. We know by modern revelation that Michael, the leader of the good side, is Adam. We read that Satan was cast down to Earth, but we know that Adam was not there yet. Thus, this battle was in the PREMORTAL life, and those who fought were EACH ONE OF US. We have all ALREADY OVERCOME SATAN! How? Points 1), 2), and 3). 2 and 3 have to do with bearing testimony and trusting in God enough to experience physical and spiritual death and risk losing a place at His side in order to grow, and President Corbitt has talked about missionary applications thereof. But it is point 1) that we will end considering. The Book of Mormon teaches us how it is possible that we overecame "by the blood of the Lamb" even though we probably didn't even know what blood was and even though Christ had not even been born, much less brought to pass His Atonement. Jarom 1:11 tells us that the prophets and priests taught the people to believe in Christ as though his coming HAD ALREADY OCURRED. Mosiah 3:13 and 16:6 teach us this same principle. So "Exceedingly Great Faith" (Alma 13:3, 19:9-10, 34:15-17, among others) is trusting in the Lord's promises and covenants with us as though they ahd already been fulfilled. We then go to Alma 5 to understand how, step-by-step. 5:15: 1) Look forward to the fulfillment of the promise and 2) see it fulfilled, 5:16: 3)imagine HOW the promise will be fulfilled (waht we need to do) 5:17 4) not imagine lies (you can't do it, it's too hard, you've already failed, you're unworthy, etc). If we follow these steps regarding ANY promise or commandment that the Lord has given and that we wish to see fulfilled, even requiring miraculous intervention, WE WILL SEE IT AND REJOICE (Ether 12:19).

There is some food for thought. I love you guys!
Élder Rowe