Monday, January 25, 2016

Simplicity and Courage - Jan 25, 2016

Hi there everyone,

First off, thank you so very much for all the thoughts, prayers, and support. It actually makes me want to cry. :)

This week has been much the same as the last, as far as numbers go: less than 8 lessons in the entire week. We have one progressing investigator, R*****, who gives me a lot of hope. He is 19, and for being 19 in the DR he is VERY different. He is concerned with faith and religion, doesn´t drink (as far as we know... it doesn´t seem so), and has a baptismal date for the third weekend in February. Although he doesn´t capture information all that quickly, he strives to read the Book of Mormon and to read the pamphlets we give him. We also gave him the Mormon Channel website so he can watch and listen to mormon messages, scriptures, talks, etc., since he said that would be easier and rather handy for him. Although we won´t baptize this month, I know that the Lord blesses us according to our obedience, ESPECIALLY in the mission. And honestly, I shouldn´t be as depressed as I am right now about Elder H*****: he still goes out and works (we walk the streets all day), we still talk and laugh and joke, and he doesn´t get mad at me too often. We only clash when it comes to teaching styles (although we´ve almost fixed that) and because we´re both prideful (myself more than him) about our way of doing things (for example, going out with members: I feel it should be a fellowshipping experience for the investigator that we should not pressure the members too much, while he just wants to call a member and have them walk visit to visit with us for 2-3 hours).The root of the problem, I think, is that pride, that desire to do things my way, and also my fear of men over God. I am not very direct, and I teach in circles. I need to learn simplicity, and courage, but I´m not yet sure where or how to start. However, I know the Lord will give me direction as I keep studying and praying. He will help me to think small, to think simple, and to help the great things come to pass therefrom.

Also, if the mission plaques are still a thing, I think I´ve decided on the scripture I want for it. It´s in Luke 22:31-32, and with the JST it reads:
"And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift the children of the kingdom as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
I´m not entirely sure yet, but that does stick with me. There´s also D&C 6:36-37, which is our mission "lema" (slogan, I think?). I like how, if you translate it into Spanish, it doesn´t just say "Look unto me in every thought," but it says "elevate your every thought unto me." That´s really my biggest goal this week: elevating every thought to the level worthy of a representative of Jesus Christ, lifting myself thereby out of anger, frustration, demotivation, or whatever else.

Again, thanks so much for your prayers and support; I know that I am loved, and that gives me great comfort.

Élder Rowe

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Patience and Optimism - Jan 17, 2016

Hey there everyone,

Sorry, this is going to be super short--President Corbitt asked me to give a report on what was up with me and Elder H*****, and I had a lot to specify. Thus, rapid blurb.

This week has been even harder than the last. Our two baptismal dates for the month fell through, and their work schedules complicated themselves so we can only see them Fridays and the girlfriend is the only one who can come to church Sundays. We talked to 4 less actives and an investigator Saturday about coming to church (and they accepted the invitation) but none of them showed, despite frantic calls to all of them. Sorry, that´s really negative--I need to look for the positive stuff that happened this week.
I´ve taken up journal writing again now that I have more time (i really slacked off on that), and it has helped me develop patience with Elder H*****. I have felt my patience growing a lot with him, and we are actually getting along all right now outside the house (he still hates me, though, because I want to be honest with President Corbitt and for some reason he won´t tell me and I can´t figure out). I have had a LOT of time to do scripture study as well, and I have loved the time I´ve been spending in an in.depth new testament study. There really are a lot of nuggets of wisdom and joy in the apostolic epistles, once you wade through all the apostate mistranslation XD. We have specific plans for February about getting a weekly calendar going so members can go out with us more easily. I feel good about the future: I just don´t know about transfers (that could be a touchy subject, depending on how the next one goes the 9th of February). EMU! also we have an investigator, V***** whose birthday is feb. 9th. EMU! Also congrats Jessica on getting into Forté! I can´t wait to see and hear all the arrangements you guys do when I get back.

Sorry to disappoint you guys with not much to say about the week, but next week I will have more time and thus more I will be able to say.
Love you all,
Élder Rowe

Life is hard! - Jan 10, 2016

Hello there everyone,

Elijah, that´s awesome that you got to go on your first snow outing and pass the Sacrament for the first time! I am super proud of you, bro!

Emma, you´ll be happy to know that your weekly "gibberish" has brought a smile to my face and helped me destress myself. Thank you for being you and keepin´ it real!

Jessica, a ** on the ACT is AWESOME! That´s the big-brained sister I know! I know that finals and Forte or Track and Stroup are gonna be real rough here soon, but I also know that YOU CAN DO IT! Just do me a favor and do something I always lacked that made it so hard for me: even when you have no time or are most tired or whatever, take the time to pray sincerely, and to read at least one verse of scripture before you start with homework (try flipping open the Book of Mormon to a random page after praying, and watch the miracles happen). It will clear your mind and strengthen your soul, and not having such practices as habits before the mission is one of my biggest regrets. But, there´s always room for repentance, right? :)

Okay, if last week was rough, this week was death; but honestly, I have a lot more faithful, hopeful, ánimo-filled outlook on the coming week this time. We were traveling every day this week, so we had almost no lessons and filled our time with unsuccessful contacting because I don´t know where any of the members live (Elder M***** and I hardly visited them) and because I don´t know where half of our old investigators and less actives live. Monday night we stayed the night at the APs house because Elder H*****, after cutting off his girlfriend of 2.5 years (he has a year in the mission), had a breakdown. Tuesday we had our interviews with President Corbitt two days early (with a zone not our own, but because of what went down Monday night), and didn´t get back to our area until 5 or so. Wednesday we lost the morning and half of the afternoon with a dentist appointment for Elder H***** (two premolar root canals, yay!). Thursday we were at the stake center early in the morning for the training for our Zone (Ozama) that accompanied interviews with President Corbitt (but we ducked out in the middle to get Elder H*****´s root canals capped and sealed before returning to the training), and that lasted until 5 or 6. Friday we had our district-zone meetings that took all morning, and Saturday we were in the mission office until 3ish so Elder H***** could meet with a psychologist. So yeah, madness. However, we still have two firm baptismal dates for this month in the R***** family, Fr***** and G*****. We finally got a hold of the records of all the members in the ward, with addresses and markings as to who is active, who is less active, and who has moved away. We have plans to go out with at least three members this week, and we have visits set to train members to obtain (and then give us) references. Though our numbers have been low, for our obedience we are being blessed, I know it. Although I might be tired and a little exasperated at our lack of numerical success, I have felt the Spirit more strongly in the lessons we have had, and I have felt more inspired to work hard even when I might be soaked in sweat and it is 8:30 pm and still 80 degrees outside plus humidity and we have no appointments and have already contacted all the areas it´s safe to visit at night. I know it sounds bad, but I know I´m with Elder H***** for a reason, like you said, and I feel I´ve been able to work a lot on developing charity this week.
I hope everything continues to go well for you guys, and that you have a sweet week.
Élder Rowe

Monday, January 4, 2016

Change is hard! Jan 4,2016

Hello there Winter... I miss you. (We have been telling him about the cold and snow we have been getting.)

Funny story:This week I went to La Sirena to do shopping with Elder H*****. I was looking through card readers, and all of them were around 800 pesos and up. I saw one that was 420, and appeared to have the right slot. I bought it, got home and opened it, and as it turns out it was for SP or something (an older type of card that is incompatible with SD but has almost the exact same pins at the insertion point). It could read micro SD, but not normal SD. GAAH. La Sirena´s return policy is crummy, too. If it´s not in its original packaging in mostly one piece, it can´t be returned, and I had to destroy the hard vacuum-sealed plastic case to get it out. Thus, 420 pesos wasted. Another funny story (but less funny): I went to pull money off my personal card to pay for it, and.... I forgot my personal PIN. After the third try (entering it wrong), for security measures (since there´s apparently a lot of credit card fraud here) it locked my card. I´m not sure how we´re going to fix that, or if I can change my PIN without calling in and unlocking my card or what. A little help on that one, please?
Anyway, this week has been, well, interesting. I am trying to be more exactly obedient this transfer, and one of the things I slacked off with last transfer was the opposite sex rule (no lessons with members of the opposite sex, regardless of age, without an adult male to accompany us). That made this week really frustrating. Because almost all the men work all day, and because we had so many investigators who were progressing who don´t have spouses or live with sisters, daughters, mothers, etc. only, it meant most of the appointments set for this week fell through and we spent 3 days straight contacting, 9 hours a day (3 in the morning, six in the afternoon). With next to no lessons with the people we contacted, and only a sprinkling of new investigators to show for it, I felt like we were just walking around aimlessly for 3 days, and that many of the return appointments we sent didn´t show promise. Sunday I hit an emotional low, and I hit it hard. I was fasting for knowledge on how I could better help the members with the missionary work here, and for success in our next upcoming Noche Blanca January 30th, but unlike any other fast in years, I felt energy-less and didn´t have the will or desire to do anything. We got to church late because I got up late from the discouragement and utter exhaustion, and even after eating I didn´t feel much better. However, I decided to forget my woes for the rest of the evening and press on to the appointments we had for the evening before Ward Council. I discovered that the Spirit had been sustaining me all week, I saw the good things that had come from my time with Elder H*****, and the sinking feelings left me, for the most part. The mission is still hard right now--we don´t have very much set in stone--but I know that in my weakness and my lows I am learning much more than I would if everything were alwats just fine and dandy.
Also, being with Elder H***** has been, well, different. He´s a dual-citizen from Guatemala (Born and visited) and Mexico (raised and lived), is slightly bipolar (he said so himself-I´m not criticizing him), and can be a little crazy and disorganized. There are a lot of things about him that bug me, or that I feel like he could do better. HOWEVER, I am not focusing on the bad day to day, nor am I focusing on what bugs me. He´s not the kind of guy I´d typically befriend, but I am trying anyway. He has difficulty with being too negaitve with himself, and I am trying to help him with that. He is struggling with his relationship with the girlfriend he left at home (he has 11 months in the mission), and I am trying to help him with that. He wants to learn English and learn to cook, and I am helping him with that. I have really found that helping others and turning outward really helps you forget about the stuff that troubles you or bugs you about another person. While I miss Elder M***** a lot, I am doing my best to befriend Elder H***** within myself. I have a goal for the whole mission to get along with every companion, whether or not I disagree or have a hard time with them internally. I don´t want it to sound like I´m really having a hard time with Elder H*****, because I don´t think I am. I just already see some things that will be trials for me this transfer.
I hope everything continues well back home with school starting up again (and Elijah, earn that money and buy that iPod!) I miss you all, I miss the cold, but I´m almost (not really) used to the heat and the distance from home.
Best of luck and best wishes, 
Élder Rowe

Happy New Year...Almost - Dec 28, 2015

Hey hey hey,

Happy New Year (a bit early, I know, but better early than late)!

I really don´t feel like Christmas has come and gone; half for the weather (still hot) and half for the difference from Christmas back home. First off, Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) is the celebratory day. Basically everyone is at home with their families having a good time and sharing spiritual thoughts and stuff, and then at like midnight they eat their dinner. Dinner always includes pork, chicken, plantain things they call pastel, giant loaves of semi-sweet bread, and what they call a russian salad, which is like a potato salad but with a sweeter, milder sauce and made mostly with hard-boiled eggs and apples. Dinner may also include rice, moro (rice cooked with seasonings and garbanzo beans), pasta salad, lasagne (not italian style: just seasonings, pasta, and beef or chicken), and various types of empanadas. Everyone makes enough food to feed near 25 so they can have tons of family over and can have leftovers for a couple of days. Christmas day everyone sleeps in (obviously, having been up until 2 or three in the morning), then hits the street in the afternoon and evening to spend the time with friends drinking and dancing in front of the corner stores (colmados), every one of which blares its music even louder than the usual 24/7 ruckus. That continues until 2 or 3 in the morning again, and then everything calms down until New Year´s when 
I´m told the same thing happens again (for which cause the 24th, 25th, and 31st we need to be at home before 6 unless we are at a member´s house and they can give us a ride home.)
Élder M**** is getting transferred! I´m sad about that one--we´ve really become great friends and consiervos (fellowservants) out here in Los Tres Brazos. The ward is even sadder to see him go, though: with six months out here, he´s practically part of the ward. We were joking that he´d have a ton of investigators and members suddenly begin to appear in his new area (he´ll be a zone leader in la Zona Oriental. My new companion is Élder H****, and he will take Élder M****´ place as district leader. He has just under a year in the mission, and beyond that I know nothing. More on that next week.
This week the Lord has definitely been supporting my self-esteem a bit. I began to feel a lot of inadequacy this week looking at our low numbers, few progressing investigators, the departure of the guy who knows the members and knows his way around best, and the fact that half of our investigators are gone until the end of January visiting family. Saturday and Sunday, though, the Lord bolstered my spirit. We met two new investigators, one on Saturday who came to church on Sunday (after a quick 5-minute lesson because she had to go) and one on Sunday who had tons of questions, tons of desire to learn, and asked US for a Book of Mormon. After walking all over the place having short lessons and saying goodbyes with Élder M*****, I have come to realize how many places I do know how to get to. I have learned to cook enough to make something different for all 3 meals for 4 days straight. My dense study of the New Testament has given me all manner of insights on better ways to teach like the Savior taught and to love as He loved. We´re in a season for the next few weeks when it will be easy to teach families, since everyone will be at home, and because everyone is more friendly (and even more informal, if you can believe that).
All in all, I am looking forward with a great hope for further accomplishment next week, next month, next transfer, and next year. It will also be great to have some extra time New Year´s Eve to do some study of how I can plan better and study with more intent and focus.
See you in 2016!
Élder Rowe

Almost Christmas - Dec 21, 2015

¡Feliz Navidad! (Y Noche Buena)

I cannot believe that Christmas is right around the corner, nor that my second transfer is almost over. Transfers are the 29th, and it would kinda stink to be transferred between Christmas and New Year´s, but... We´ll see what happens. 

It is still hot here. It rains every other day now, and in the mornings it´s nice, but otherwise there is no sign that Christmas is this Friday but the lights that absolutely cover the bars of nearly every porch and patio (at least, when the power´s not out). Elder M**** and I have been getting along great. We´ve really become great friends over the past six weeks, and i really hope we get to keep working out here in Los Tres Brazos together.

This week has been an improvement over the last, since we´ve been much more focused on our goals than just writing them down. In planning we´ve been making sure to contact members to go out with us days in advance, and have been trying to firm up as many citas as we can for this week, since half of our investigators left to visit their families until mid-January and the other half may or may not have family visiting. We have a good number set in stone, but we´ll see how much success we have. With an eye of faith, we see ourselves at all those appointments and more.

This week we set two baptismal dates (and a marriage date) for Fr**** and G**** R****, a couple we met a while back who have been busy with work and school until now. Fr**** is amazingly spiritual, er, interested in spiritual things. He comes from an Evangelical background, so sometimes it gets awkward asking him to calm down a little bit or to try to get him to respond specifically to doctrinal questions. However, he and G**** are super nice, have a ton of ward members as neighbors and friends already, and had the opportunity to attend church with us on Sunday. Elder M**** and I are exceedingly excited to keep working with them (at least, if we don´t get transferred).

We´ve also been working a lot (and I mean A LOT) with the Familia P****, which consists of B**** (35, mother), L*** (15), B*** (14), and D*** (13). We get along really well with them, and have been able to be really didáctico in our lessons, getting everyone involved. However, their mom works until late, and the kids have had school and thus none have been keeping up with their reading assignments, even though they be 1 PARAGRAPH LONG. It pains me to see that, since they have so much potential to be a strong family, and because the gospel will be able to have such a positive influence on L***, B***, and D*** in this critical time in their lives. But, armed with treats, videos, and new teaching ideas, we´re going to keep visiting them this week and pushing for progress. I can see them being baptized and heading for the temple, and I cannot rest until I have done all I can to make that dream a reality.

This Thursday we´ll have a zone lunch that the zone hermana (sister) leaders are going to make, and we´ll practice a skit for Friday, when we have a Christmas activity as the city zones (Ozama, Las Americas, y Santo Domingo) at the mission office Friday morning. Thus, the skyping will take place in the afternoon (for me; keep in mind I´m three hours ahead). As for an exact time I am unsure, since none of the internet places here have webcams. We will be in contact with members about going over to someone´s house to skype, and I will see if I can get permission to send a quick email once I know a more specific time. It will be (my time) after 1 but probably before 4 or 5, since we´re planning to have a dinner at a member´s house. However, it may be at the dinner that I skype, so again, I will try to get permiso to let you know.

Until then, Merry Christmas, and safe travels!
Elder Rowe

We did email back and forth a couple of times and got to Skype with him for an hour.  It was wonderful to see him!  He is doing well.  He has put on a few pounds that he says it is muscle... This companion has put him on an exercise regimen. All I know is that it he looks good and sounds generally happy.