Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Highs and Lows - July 25, 2016

So yeah...I´m pretty sick. I can´t think straight. I also can´t write too much without getting nauseated, so we´ll see how much I manage to get written here.

We had another baptism this week. E***** is a less active member who got baptized like 30 years ago and his records were lost since he inactivated shortly after being baptized. He had a TON of opposition the day of his baptism. His daughter came to live with him because her husband was trying to kill her. He got his cellphone stolen. He got to talking with a pastor from another religion. In general, he just felt bad. But he didn´t let Satan win.

We went out with our ward mission leader twice this week. He is one of the founders of this particular region (as in, one of the first people to start living here), so he knows EVERYONE. He introduced us to a bunch of less actives and we got a couple of references through talking to those less actives. That was pretty cool.

This week was really great. We found a few new investigators, and have made some plans to better our management of the area. Just last night and today have really sucked. I´ve had a little of everything--fever, bone and muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, etc. It´s been a long 24 hours. Hopefully this is behind me, since I am already feeling better. Everything tastes bitter, though. WHY DOES EVERYHTING TASTE BITTER?!?

Anyhow, that´s all I think I´m gonna get out this week. Next week I´ll upload some photos from this week and stuff. Love you guys!

Élder Rowe

Monday, July 18, 2016

I'm soaked but not with sweat! - July 18, 2016

Happy Stormy Season! Lots of rain here! And when there is no rain, it's really hot outside! I am actually coming to like it, though (or at least I'm getting used to it).

(I told Jacob that his cousin opened his mission call and is going to Brazil in November.)  I'm not gonna get to see him dangit! Tell him he's going to love it! Time in the mission field is really divided in three equal parts, according to community observations here: the 3 months of training at the beginning, the last month at the end, and the 20 months in between. XD. (I told Jacob that our plums and nectarines are on and that we are enjoying fresh fruit.) I really do miss fresh peaches, cherries, and plums--although fresh passion fruit, bananas, and starfruit certainly don't disappoint.

Anyhoo, my mind is kind of blank this week; we'll see what comes out of the recesses of my id.
Ah, as far as your experience, mom, that is actually REALLY common. Like, every other person here. (I explained in my letter to him that I got to go out with the sister missionaries.  Here is a piece of what I sent him "We met with a lovely lady.  She was very nice and said she loves to study "the word" and is very knowledgeable.  Unfortunately she was more interested in arguing (even though she was very nice and didn't raise her voice) about points of doctrine.  We started talking about the nature of God and then she started bringing up other doctrinal points.  We would be explaining one thing and then she would skip to another point of doctrine that she wanted "clarified."  Needless to say we bore testimony and left on good terms but she is definitely not interested in being taught (even though she says she is.)  It reminded me how grateful I am to have the fullness of the gospel in my life and I need to not take that for granted.") I don't mean to speak bad of Pentecostals and Evangelicals, but I mean rather to speak honestly and directly--quite often they tell people to argue with other churches. You have no idea how many people shout at me "Joseph Smith is in hell; repent before you join him" and then add "Christ loves you" to make it not sound insulting. Our problem here isn't that people don't believe in God; on the contrary, it is that they believe in a different God. It's the same Bible and the same teachings, but apostasy is real, my friends. And it can actually be rather frustrating at times, because people become unwilling to even hear what you have to say about the definition of faith because they think you're just trying to get them into your church to get yourself or your pastor more money (because ALL the other missionaries and churches here seem to be like that).

We were thinking this week a lot about our teaching approach after some exchanges we did, and we really feel we've been going about proselyting wrong. We know that the Spirit does things for us if we put in our part, right? Doing our part to open people's hearts, to gain their trust, and to strengthen their testimonies includes getting to know them and being their friends to a degree. We can't pray and ask the Spirit to reveal to us someone's necessities if we haven't first tried to find them ourselves. We met with a couple of people this week in which we tried the approach, and both really opened up to us. We got them talking the first five minutes of the appointment, and we came to know a ton about them and what they could potentially need. Of course, we need moderation in all things, and we can't go around just making friends of the missionaries--they need to know our central purpose, or they will never progress.
Last week we went shopping in Bravo, a small chain but high quality grocery store here in the DR, and found tons of american products. I got mint dark chocolate milky ways and a decaf Coke, and Elder R**** bought Welch's grape juice and A&W Root Beer (WHICH ALMOST ISN'T DRUNK HERE--you can't find it in any soda machines). All people drink here are Country Club sodas (crappy Coke fruit brands that taste like carbonated cough syrup), Sprite, Fanta, and Coke. And if the US has a soda problem, the DR has a soda epidemic. EVERYONE drinks soda with almost EVERY meal, even if they make natural juice to accompany it. Thank goodness I haven't picked up the habit.
Oh, guess what? I haven't mentioned it because I thought I would just keep dealing with it because the hole was small, but my brown shoes have a hole in them. My left foot gets soaked when it rains. Time to use the 2-yr guarantee! XD (not necessarily--I can deal with it if it's too much trouble to get the shoes from them).
Also, today we ate in Sbarro and it was really good. Beef & Tomato pizza is deliciously acidic and savory.
Also, we FINALLY married and baptized (well only baptized the wife and an 11 year old daughter) the M****-V**** family after a YEAR with missionaries! Elder T*****, who is ending his mission in my district, was the missionary who contacted them, and Elder Sm*** got to come back from San Pedro (about 2.5 hours away) to baptize them.

Have a great week guys!
Élder Rowe

Into the Inferno - July 11, 2016

So... I'm gonna talk business first and then get to whatever else hits my mind. You guys deserve to know what I'm doing, and not just what I'm feeling.
For this coming weekend we have 4 baptisms set in stone, but 5 planned in total. First is the M****-V***** family, who will be married this Friday FINALLY (after a year as investigators because the husband didn't want to get married--they have 25 years together and three kids, but he has been afraid of commitments until recently). A****, the middle child, wants to wait until he knows more things, but he is already ready according to the baptismal interview questions, so we'll see if his family can't convince him this week. We also have R****, the sister of one of our recent converts, who is almost prepared knowledge-wise. She seems to be lacking a little in testimony, but we are going to decide after meeting with her tonight whether or not we will postpone her baptismal date.
We've got a less active whose records were lost and who thus needs to be baptized, named E****, set up for the 23rd. He knows EVERYTHING, and has even stopped smoking and drinking coffee, but he just hadn´t gone to church--until yesterday! We are pretty stoked about that.
For August we already have 4 families in our sights as baptisms:

First are A**** and N****. A**** we met a few weeks back, and she is SUPER prepared. Learns super fast, knows ward members--everything. She just isn't married to her husband. Yesterday we met him, and he is SUPER cool--totally open to hear our message, excited to see us again and to chit-chat some more, and on top of it all A****'s mom invited us over for lunch next Sunday. WOOT.
Next comes the O***-P***** family. The parents both work in the 911 service here as drivers--the dad works 24 hours straight in an ambulance one day of every 4, and the mom works 12 hours on a motorcycle every other day. We went contacting Tuesday and found the kids at home. We came back the next day and the parents invited us in, sat down the kids, and were super attentive and interested in what we had to say. Something we've noticed here is that every time we meet someone with lots of potential something bad happens--either tons of motorcycles keep passing by, or someone is cooking or cleaning and keeps getting up to leave, or a phone call comes in, or something. This time there was none of that, but Elder R***** and I both felt fear--fear that we were going to mess up, and fear that they weren't going to believe us. We conquered that fear, but it was weird to feel that for the first time since my first transfer, nearly nine months later.
We barely met a B***** family--a jeweler and his wife who are already working towards getting married, who are open to hear us, and who loved the Family Proclamation we left them. Other than that, we don't know much. We can only meet with them on Sundays, so it'll be a while.
Also, one of the young single adults in the ward has parents who are not members: J**** and A**** C****. They are pretty cool, and have known most of the missionaries that have come through the area in the past 4 years. The wife seems to be a friend of the missionaries, but the husband said (off to the side) that the only reason he's not baptized and not going to church is because his wife doesn't want to get married. Another M****-V**** family? ;) We're going to see what we can do there.
Great to hear you guys had a good time camping. I miss camping. I also miss the cold. We have passed here from summer (October-April) into inferno (May-September). I don't think I've ever soaked a shirt before, even working out in the sun in 100° heat. The thing is that it's WORSE at night in the houses--they're all concrete, some with metal roofs, and the heat is intense. Like, sauna intense. It becomes your whole being. I feel bad for sitting on couches and stuff because I leave wet marks. I feel bad for the last people to meet with us during the day, because we probably reek of sweat.
Anyhoo, out of time. I hate it when the power goes out when you first get on the computer. XD Love you all,
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Whole Lotta Contacting - July 4, 2016

Hi there guys! Happy 4th of July! 🎆
Elijah--Scout camp will be the BOMB. Archery is super fun. So are metalworking and kayaking. Just FYI, if you do metalworking, you'll have to use a lot of your freetime to go back to the metalshop if you want to finish your project. (at least, I did to finish my hatchet head)
Emu--They do have fireworks in the DR, yes. They just don't use them July 4th, and as a missionary I can't use them. :(
Jessica--Just so ya know, I could TOTALLY see you as an elementary or middle school teacher. Totally. ;)
Questions first, I guess. As for when I email, there is no set time during the day when it takes place. I just do it when I want. Usually we go in the afternoon because it ensures that everything else gets done first and that we get back from wherever we go (like today, when we went to the Duarte street market--more on that later). Also, our internet center has A/C, and that is only on if there is power, and the power goes out every day around 10, then comes back on around 2:30 or 3 and doesn´t go out again until 7 or 8. It is also just habit/custom among missionaries to make it the last thing they do. Some will print out emails in the morning to be reading them and think out a response, others know they won´t get their emails until the afternoon, etc.
(I asked Jacob about laundry...) Every area has the same kind of washer (except a few areas in the Santo Domingo zone, because they get to live in parts where there is MOOLAH), but ours is badly broken. It washes fine (standard spin cycle), but the dryer is shot. It´s a spin-dryer, and it doesn't turn anymore. So, ever since I've been here in Villa Esfuerzo one person does laundry Monday and wrings out everything and leaves it hanging up sopping wet, and the other person does laundry bit by bit in the mornings and evenings all week. Yeah, it stinks. The office promised us a new washer-dryer, but it's been two weeks and we've heard nothing. Thus, we are definitely calling them this week.

My companion is cool. Super intelligent. Went through some crazy tech boarding high school where they have you work on a farm in the mornings and do classes in the evenings. A giant rulebook, demerit points, working weekends as punishment instead of getting to go home, the works. He maybe slept 5 hours a night, MAYBE, during those three years. All of it was intense focus on biology and agronomy, and so he knows TONS. Like, to the point that he decided to buy aspirin and grind it into powder to mix with lime juice and make salicylic acid for acne instead of buying an expensive cream or gel. He is also no longer sick. We've been getting along great.
As a district leader, my first week I was a tad unorganized, but now I am doing much better. I have a little binder to take notes on my district's day and to gather numbers or any other information the Zone Leaders or Assistants ask for. I feel like I'm starting to get used to it.
This week everything fell through. I mean EVERYTHING. The good news is that we now have 30 contacts to sort through for potential this week. We are also really close to getting a family (M**** V****) married and baptized. After a year as investigators, and with their paperwork nightmare coming to a close, the husband finally said he wants to get married, and they will be married before the 16th of this month. At least the mom and two kids will be baptized--the dad needs more testimony. We are super excited, and Elder Sm**** has permission to come back from San Pedro (in the campo, about 2 or 3 hours away) to baptize L***, the mother.
I mentioned the Duarte street market--every city or municipality has its central street named after Juan Pablo Duarte, the brains behind the Dominican Revolution. It's your classic street market, (and you can probably find photos) with everything you could ever want or need (and most of it ripped off or pirated): apparel, electronics, housewares, games, paintings, furniture, jewelry and watches, with fresh fruit and street food everywhere. It's loud, it's messy, it's smelly, but you can get whatever you want cheap (it may not last unless you REALLY take care of it, but at least you got it cheap). I bought a mirror a little bigger than dad's computer monitor for 200 pesos (46 pesos is a dollar--go figure), a simple little speaker to hook up to the DVD player for 650 pesos, and a mini Reina-Valera Bible with a zippered case for when I go contacting (the Reina-Valera is the Church's standard Bible translation in Spanish, just as it is the King James in English) for 600 pesos.
Anyhow, I love you guys. I've been studying this week about how to study effectively, and I challenge you guys to go look at Preach My Gospel chapter 2, the latter half, and try out some of the study activities there. They are SUPER cool, and a lot of them are great mission preps. Also seek to pray sincerely before and after studying so that the Spirit may be with you, because the biggest thing that stuck out in my study was that without the Spirit you'll only learn with your head--your testimony and desire will not grow. Have a great 4th and a great week!
Élder Rowe

Mi-sion es consagrada - June 28, 2016

Hello there!

Well, Elijah, I can tell you that whatever you saw there was NOT what the majority of the DR looks like. (We saw an episode of Island Life on HGTV that was filmed in the Dominican Republic.) XD We are definitely teaching all dem peeps this week; we had 29 lessons (and that was with Monday night taken up by Elder Sm*** saying goodbyes and not teaching lessons)!
That is a great goal, Em! I know you will feel the Spirit strongly every time you read if you always start and end with a prayer. The Lord will open your mind, and I'll come back to find out that you've become smarter than me. ;)
I really like the President Packer quote as well. (I sent him this quote "If all you know is what you see with your natural eyes and hear with your natural ears, then you will not know very much.")  Really is a slap in the face to the prideful, but the truth hurts. Maybe I needed another slap to the face. XD Pride is ALWAYS something that can be worked on and humbled. 
As for my time with Elder Sm****, I was indeed able to help him out with Spanish. We went HARD on pronunciation, and his pronunciation and understanding of subjunctive are much better than they were. I am super grateful the Lord let the Spirit work in him so he could remember and adapt better to the rules and vocab of the language. My new comp is Elder R*****. He is from the capitol of Guatemala, is an only child of 19 years of age, and has 5 months in the mission. More on him later.
I did, at the request of President Corbitt, a study of Alma 26 this week. It was really edfying and motivating, and a couple of things stood out. Firstly, in verse 27 we learn that it is only after every effort and every breath we've used, and when we are about to give up for exhaustion and dismay, that the Lord gives us the success we so need and desire. It is then, when our strengths abandon us, that the miracles flow and the consolation is strongest. I was also connecting it with the George Albert Smith quote you sent me about how we are not here to pass the hours of this life to move on to some celestial sphere to do nothing, but rather that we are preparing ourselves for positions we'll fill in the hereafter. I applied it to the mission. I am not here to while away my mission and then go running back to the world, but I am rather here to develop the strength (through giving every effort) and testimony (through teaching others) to be able to take on whatever assignments the Lord has for me for the rest of my life. The minute, day-by-day decisions here have lifelong effects. Thus, I can't ever "let myself slip" into laziness, tiredness, or into giving excuses. There is no reason why I'm not helping thousands to come to the knowledge of the truth save myself and my weaknesses. I am really nothing. If we apply the same principles to any other missionary in any other mission, and if all the missionaries in that mission apply those principles, the Lord will provide them with the same success and miracles that we are seeing here in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East mission. 
A little saying that has become the "theme," more or less, of the mission this month is "Mi-sión es consagrada", which is a play on the word Misión, since Zion is Sión in Spanish. Basically, it says "My mission, my Zion, is consecrated." The mission is really our Zion--we are planting the stakes of Zion´s tent and fortifying them here in the DR. Thus, just as Zion cannot be edified save on the higher law of consecration, so too missionarywork cannot be carried out to utmost effectiveness save it be by consecration too. Now that the whole mission is obedient (getting out the door late is the worst thing you'll here about here), we are working towards total consecration. That is, not sitting around talking Star Wars at lunch with my Zone Leaders. That is, not spending our time in the street talking about stuff back home between appointments. That is some missionaries keeping fewer photos of home or of girlfriends. That is other missionaries not taking pics of new movie posters that are coming out. As we seek to focus all thoughts on the missionary work, I know the Lord will continue to show forth miracles among us here.
Until next week, 
Élder Rowe