Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Power issues in the DR- Nov 28, 2016


I don't know what it is about going to the temple that is so exhausting, but it really is. We went through (3 of the zones in the mission) on Friday, which involved getting up at 5 in the morning and being at the temple until 3.  I pulled out some money and bought my district pizza today. The crust was great, but it had low-quality, sweet sauce and weak cheese. We ate at the Conde, which is a street in the colonial city section of Santo Domingo (pretty cool, if we ever decide to do a DR trip--lots of old buildings, artifacts, and general history to be seen. Did you know that the DR has received US military interventions twice here? Once was to try to make it a US territory in the 19-teens, and once was what they call the "war of april," when the US sent troops to prevent a rebellion against the dictatorship they were in favor of.). Lots of touristy stuff for sale. Especially this one kind of precious stone only found here on the island called Larimar (it's a really cool light blue, and when I am leaving the mission I'm going to get some for you guys--earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces, you name it, they have it in larimar).

So, yeah, Thanksgiving was not a thing until at the end of district meeting one of the sisters in the zone said "Happy Thanksgiving." Suffice it to say we did nothing. Scratch that, last Sunday I ate a canned beef stew for lunch because we had to run back to the chapel so I could play the piano for another ward's conference. 
That is quite the Thanksgiving experience. At least there were delicious leftovers! XD

 I emailed on Tuesday (I asked why he emailed last week on Tuesday instead of Monday) because power was out up here Monday, and our only internet center is in Hipódromo (where the power was out), AND it doesn't have an inverter-battery system. We still haven't moved to the apartment we were discussing, and I think it's for a couple of reasons--first because there are some companionship unity problems in the house (at least there were until recently), and second because President is now into arranging transfers full-time. We find out what will go down on Saturday night, and I am still in shock of how fast the time has flown.

Hey Dad, I think I may have grown around half an inch thus far, but it can be hard to tell sometimes because these Dansko shoes make me a full inch taller. Props to Elijah for the growth spurt! (We measured Elijah and he is now 5' 6") I think it would be cool if he passed me up, because we'd get the full reversal family-wide: younger brother taller than older brother taller than dad, and younger sister taller than older sister taller than mom (We measured last night and Emma and I are about the same but Jessica is about an inch taller than both of us.) Ha!

So... power went out and this is all that Google had saved when I got back on... welcome to the DR. XD

Love you guys! This week was slow, so you're not missing much by the fact that I can't write anything more. Until next week!
Élder Rowe

(I googled it and found this picture of Larimar)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Brain is Mush - Nov 22, 2016

We had our first baptism Saturday (in this area)!! A lady named A**** from our area finally got her chance! She has been waiting for a long time, and was basically a dry member. She hasn't been able to be baptized for some time because her boyfriend wouldn't marry her, but he suddenly moved away upon my arrival in the area, and so she is good to go. She will be super faithful and active.

Thursday we went to the temple with the ward and investigators. A**** couldn't go, but a whole family who we've been working with went. We are trying to prep them for December. They have a charitable foundation which, among other things, provides free English classes. the downside is that the professor can only show up Sunday mornings. We were thinking of offering our services another day so that they could clear up Sunday mornings to come to church. The wife is a dry member and has a HUGE testimony (even told us a story of how a few months back she dragged the missionaries form house to house of her diseased friends offering them priesthood blessings because of how great her faith was in their capacity to bring healing!), and the husband's testimony is slowly growing. The only thing right now is that they can't go to church...GAAH! The best people always have the most opposition between them and baptism--this I had never realized before the mission.

Well, I'm not exactly sure of what else I can say. I am exhausted, and can't believe that we are now in Week 5 of the transfer. This transfer has gone by incredibly fast. It is as if each week is fast, although each day takes FOREVER. While the ward went cold just before we got here, we are working super hard to reactivate and rejuvenate them, and I love the people here. We are going to go through the temple as a mission this friday, and I am super excited. I have been preparing myself (and as a mission we have been preparing ourselves) more than I think I ever have in anticipation thereof.

I love and miss you guys. More from me next week. Also, tomorrow I hit 14 months (WAAAAAT?). Time flies when you're serving the Lord.

Élder Rowe

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Average Week - Nov 14, 2016

Life treated me pretty well this week. Nothing too crazy, nothing too unusual, nothing too exciting. I did get a few birthday miracles, though. They were mostly small things that would require a ridiculous amount of explaining to give context to, but for example we were waiting for a bus in the dark to get home and some members pulled up and gave us a ride that put us home exactly on time. Don't freak out--we knew they were members right away because they had General Conference playing on their windshield-mounted phone, and it turns out they are from a neighboring ward and are siblings of a family here in Los Molinos.

We set our first baptismal date of the transfer and month on Tuesday! Her name is A****, and she has been waiting on her boyfriend to commit more to the gospel and to marry her so that she can get baptized. Suddenly the boyfriend decided that there was nothing there for him and moved out, and so now she can get baptized. WOOT! We are super grateful and excited.

We're looking into moving out of our house of 4 (at the request of the office elders) and we found a pretty nice little apartment out in La Ureña where we work, so that we don't have to pay 160+ pesos every day just in transportation. Updates on that later.

On Friday, we did a service project for an investigator of the other elders here in Los Molinos, which involved shoveling up a pile of dirt, rocks, tile, cinder blocks, and general trash in one corner of the yard and depositing it in another corner of the yard to make the dirt even. We got some lovely blisters from that one (yes, we've been using antibacterial ointment and bandages).

Sunday we met with a couple of Haitians for lessons (in our area there are TONS of them). One of the guys speaks Spanish pretty well, so we taught in Spanish, but the other only speaks Creyole and English, so I taught in English and translated for Elder C***** (it also helps that he lives with a young RM in the ward named B**** who speaks Spanish, English, AND Creyole). Both are super interested in finding out for themselves, seeing as they are both surprisingly well-educated. We are looking forward to much progress there.

I actually do feel older, having hit 20. When you're 19, you think of people who are 21 or 24 as so much older, but when you hit 20 that mental barrier is broken and you start to realize how close to your age they are. I imagine that the same-age spectrum only widens with time. It has been really weird trying to remember to tell people I am 20--my companion has had to remind me a couple of times XD. The weirdest thing, though, is that I will return from the mission at age 20. I am rapidly approaching my last Christmas, New Year's, and Easter in the DR. That is INSANE. Time just needs to slow down and take a breather, because as of right now all it's been doing is accelerating.  I have found so much joy in being here serving others, and I don't want it to end. but, it's like (I-can't-remember-which-general-authority) said: We are celestial beings unaccustomed to the ending and beginning of things. We expect everything to last forever, but this world is nothing if not temporal. 

I love all you guys. I hope everything is going well for you. I pray for you. I feel your prayers. Share the Gospel! It feels so good. Make a goal to spread the good tidings especially this Christmas season. Invite the whole world to come and see! 

Till next we meet,
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

That week where things didn't go as planned but are looking good for the future - Nov 7, 2016

Let me start from the beginning of the week, so I can keep my thoughts in order.

Monday--Went to eat Mexican food, did shopping, met our ward's 1st counselor in the bishopric (after a week in the area not knowing him), no lessons.

Tuesday--Called at 6 in the morning to remind me to be at the mission office at 7 to renew my residential visa (in other words, I was not advised; I was asked by the elder who was supposed to do an exchange to go with me, who was waiting for me further down the route). Got an agenda (got organized again), had ward council (SUPER people-focused; it was awesome), no lessons.

Wednesday--Paid $$ to get out to La Ureña--nobody was home. Had correlation mtg (not effective at all--just us and the 2nd counselor in the bishopric), then found the ward mission leader's house and visited him. He is a programmer, and leaves home at 5 every morning only to come home at 8 pm, and is thus not able to fulfill his role as ward mission leader; no lessons.

Thursday--Stumbled though weekly planning, but made plans to contact some investigators the missionaries were already visiting. Ate Venezuelan arepas with a Venezuelan lady in our ward. Lost 2 hours there because other elders got too comfy; no lessons.

Friday--Morning spent walking in the sun in the semi-american neighborhood to no avail. Met R**** (recent convert) in the afternoon, and out of nowhere she referred her best friend to us. Super shy, but super receptive (also friends of other religions are bugging her to join ANY religion, and were pumped when they walked by and saw us sharing). Also met with recent-convert-less-actives R*** and W***, who are struggling with the simple doubts (well, he is--if it were for her, she would go every Sunday. but she can't with her small children unless her husband takes her there on his motorcycle); lessons.

Saturday--International Day of Service (at least, in the Caribbean Area). Cleaned some streets and a mini rec center. In the afternoon frantically helped a sister in the ward move (no priesthood could be there except the guy with a pickup) before rain and Sunday ended all prospects of continuing. There went the whole day. No lessons.

Sunday--R**** didn't bring her friend (didn't even come), and R*** and W*** didn't show (again). Went to La Ureña, set up lots of appointments, met a guy who talked to us for an hour and a half as we tried in vain to direct his ramblings, and met a lady who is 100% ready for baptism who has already had a baptismal date with whom we are going to set a date for this weekend if we can.

Today--usual P-day stuff; Went to Megacentro (I ate a very large [XXL, to be precise] burrito from Taco Bell and ate 200 pesos of raspberry-kiwi frozen yogurt), bought more cologne [they have lacoste white here :)] at a place that mixes the fragrance with other stuff so it lasts longer  and sells it cheap (I got 50 ml for 580 pesos, and that with an "8-hour guarantee" [if the fragrance doesn't last 8 hours on you, bring it back for a refund or exchange]).

Jessica--(She asked how keeping the Sabbath day holy has helped him on his mission.) Keeping the Sabbath day holy is something I thought would be impossible to not do as a missionary, but the point of the Sabbath day is to not do stuff we'd do other days. Even if it means just ironing and shining shoes the day before, it makes a HUGE difference in how you feel during the day. Also, having a focus and repenting BEFORE you get to sacrament meeting makes it SUPER spiritual and special.

Mom--(I sent quotes from Pres Benson's talk on pride given in April of 1989 by Pres Hinckley.) Thanks for the notes on pride. I feel like it really is true that many of us sin in ignorance. It is one of the hardest sins to avoid and repent of. Could you send the entire talk in an attachment next week? (already done :) ) I want to print that out and study it in full.

Love you guys! More spiritual stuff next week--this week I feel kind of de-focused because of the lack of teaching and all the stuff that happened. 

Élder Rowe

D****'s baptism from his last area

A nasty infected mosquito bite.  He says it is healed now.

The U**** family from his last area

His new Companion Elder C**** and the mission President and his wife

Missionaries love to eat :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Santa Vaca! - October 31, 2016

I don't have much time, so I'm just going to brain splurge:

It feels like I just went through the last 12 months of the mission this week. Whitewashing stinks in this area. We live in a house of 4, but we all work in the same ward. My ward (Los Molinos) extends from the Km. 12.5 of the Las Americas highway until Valiente (it's like 9 kilometers long). The area division is pretty stupid, but we survive. My area is Invi-Dorex and La Ureña. The other elders have everything else in between. It costs 80 pesos for a round trip to la Ureña (because we'd waste a lot of time walking). It's about a half-hour walk to the ocean from where we live in Invi-Dorex, but there are no beaches. We just take public transit everywhere, to have as much proselyting time as possible. Invi-Dorex (we just call it Hipódromo) is full of rich people with almost American style houses (lawns, high fences, two stories, open layouts, etc.) and apartments. There are some members who live up there (ourselves included), but it stinks as far as proselyting goes. People hardly live in their houses, and when they are home they make sure it looks like nobody's home. I've only been down to La Ureña twice and it is huge; however, from what little I've seen it will be the best as far as proselyting and finding investigators goes. The thing that stinks is that it's a 10 minute, 25 peso bus ride and a 15 minute walk from the church, so a lot of investigators and members out there struggle to come to church for money reasons. It is half city (the half by the Las Americas highway) and half campo (up by the Av. Ecológica), and there is always a lot of movement. It feels more homey to me, seeing as I have been in the city for a year. My new son is a stepson,  Elder C**** from Sinaloa, México. Stepson because I am technically finishing his training, since he served one transfer in the Mexico DF North mission while awaiting his visa. The other two guys in my house are Elder Co*** (7 months) from Portland and Elder O**** (13 months--my group) from Brasil. The district is just us four. I have been a little disappointed by the obedience in the district and zone thus far. There seemed to be so much more unity, effort, and organization in Hainamosa, and Las Americas A has been different. Not to say it can't get better, nor to say it is the fault of anyone in particular. Suffice it to say that there will be some changes in the obedience of my household ASAP. I always thought that such things as I'm seeing had been done away with already, and that I was still somewhat disobedient by lack of effort. I don't meant to be prideful, but I feel like I need to bring some others up to the level that I'm at before we can push for consecration. I just hope that the Lord can tell me how to do so without pride and without causing problems between our companionships.

Yikes that sounds so negative. I need to better my attitude this week. I have tons of pics, but they will have to wait. Basically, all I am saying is that there is a lot of work ahead of me right now. I just need to take things one day at a time. 

I love you guys. I pray ever for your safety and well-being. I feel your love and support; I really do. It is hot here. Really hot. I got sunburned for the second time on my mission (my first time since training) when we went out to La Ureña to just walk around with the other Elders (ELder Co*** was just serving there) and meet people. Our house was messy and full of junk, but we got most things organized, cleaned, and trashed already. Talk to you more coherently next week!

Élder Rowe