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.

5,6-cave


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?...do 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.

QUESTIONS--
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

HELLO THERE!

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

In the Backwoods - May 29, 2017

Hello there everyone!!
I am in the middle of NOWHERE. Bikes, hills, mud, rocks, hilly-muddy-rocky-bike-rides, jungle, rain, horses, cows, junky motorcycles, you name it, it's here. Internet is SUPER ÜBER SLOW. But, this is where I will probably end the mission, so I'd better get used to it.
Because of the change in mission presidents, this transfer will be 3 weeks long (we are already one of those weeks down) and next transfer will be 9 weeks long. I am with Elder V*** from Costa Rica, and I live in the house with Elder P**** from Honduras and Elder O**** from Kansas City. Our house is comfortably small (kitchen and study area are one room, with two bedrooms off to the side with a bathroom in between).
I am super happy for Jessica with all her end-of-high-school stuff--that was a super fun time. I am glad to hear she's enjoying it. 

Dad, I have felt EXACTLY the same way thinking back on the transfers I was assigned to train. I continue to wonder if I took away opportunities to learn from my "kids" for trying to make sure things got done right. I have come to realize that, while doing things right the first time is important, it is often more important to let things be done well but not perfectly so that the one doing stuff can learn. The Lord uses imperfect people to do things perfectly--in other words, if not everything goes as planned or as desired, IT'S OKAY; there is room in the Plan for that. All our errors combined somehow work out. Obviously once we know something we are held accountable, but we don't have to stress so very much.
Anyhow, I need to go. I love you guys! Sorry this was rather disorganized.  Today we went to the caves I went to in my first transfer in the mission. I found my name in the sludge on the wall and took a picture with it. We got soaked on the way back. Pics next week.
BYE
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Time Never Works Out - May 22, 2017

I am again without time to write you all, and I am sorry for that. Let me give you the rundown:

I am being transferred to Gonzalo, which is out by my first area, Sabana Grande de Boyá. I will be with a Costa Rican named Elder V****. Elder W*****, my secondborn, will be one of my zone leaders, along with Elder A**** from my Provo MTC group. More details on the zone and area later.

Jessica--The scripture I've probably come to appreciate most is Alma 7:11-15 (for the importance of the Atonement). More on that next week.

I emailed on Wednesday because we changed out p-day because the aquarium is not open Mondays.

I will respond to the rest of the stuff next week.

I love you guys!
Élder Rowe

Some Stuff - May 17, 2017

We got to skype with Jacob for about an hour on Mother's Day.  We had a few technical difficulties but overall it was Great!  

Hey, I TOTALLY forgot to say HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! I don't know--holidays have next to no meaning for me anymore because being a missionary you don't do anything too special to celebrate them, and nothing is there to remind you what day it is. XD

This week has been great--we've found TONS of new investigators, especially youth and young single adults, who have been progressing impressively. We are going to take a bunch on a temple trip on Saturday and put baptismal dates with ALL OF THEM!! XD

Have some pictures of the sea we took outside the national aquarium today (because frankly they are cooler than the aquarium was haha).

Love you all!
Élder Rowe




Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Not Much Is New - May 8, 2017

Yep. Not much is new. We had our first baptism since January here in Primavera on Saturday (as an area, not as a zone or mission). He is a guy named J****, has been visiting with the missionaries for around 6 months now, and up to recently been what dominicans call a "charlatán" or maybe even a "charlatanazo." However, he has made a lot of changes in his life. He is a single father (unusual for the DR...usually it's the dads and not the moms that abandon their kids), and really wants to be able to preach the gospel. We are going to do everything we can to get him to visit people with us, and we are also making sure he gets the Priesthood and a calling here soon. 

We met a ton of great new people this week. We met a blind lady who has been to Church in another town around here, is the friend of a blind Church member in that town, and who, even without being able to see us, told us as soon as we showed up that she had been waiting for us. The sisters in Consuelo (the town) sent us the reference, but because she lives a little far away it took us a couple of days to get to her. We are super glad we did. We also met a lady who gave us lunch in our first visit with her, and expressed a big desire to know for herself if the Book of Mormon is true. We talked this week to the manager of a TV company office when we received her as a reference, had a short visit, left her the Book of Mormon, and are going to try to visit her again this week.

We talked on public radio as usual. Although you wouldn't understand hardly anything, it is available to listen to via internet. Jessica could practice a bit of that spanish of hers that has been gathering dust. ;) The radio is called Radio Dial 670 AM "EL PODER NOTICIOSO DEL ESTE."

This week I said goodbye to Elder K**** from New Mexico. He went home early for school this Thursday. I'm going to miss him--we became pretty good friends in our time in the same zones. In two weeks I will have to say goodbye to Elder F*****, which will be really hard. We have become SUPER close. The good thing is that it'll only be 3 months before I see him again; he's doing BYU evening classes, and suffice it to say that we will be spending WAY too much time together being nerdy and stuff. He already set me up with a friend of his for a double-date Lord of the Rings marathon in October. HAHA XD That will be interesting.

Anyhow, not much else is itching my brain right now. I love you all so much, and hope that all goes well this week now that things have calmed down. As far as my call, I can't say exactly when it will be, because the other missionaries I live with haven't told me the times they've set. From my estimates I will call around 5 or 6pm dominican time, but be ready just in case I call earlier. I'm pretty sure I remember all my skype info. I should hope so--this is the last call I'm going to make. Wow. How odd.

Take care, and best of luck (er, blessings--there is no such thing as luck)! :)
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's No Longer April - May 1, 2017

Wow, it's May. I only have 4 months left as a missionary. That is RIDICULOUS (don't remind me--one of my housemates already does WAY too much). I don't have much time this week, again, but I have more than last week, so...here goes.

First things first, last week.
Yes, of COURSE I remember who Ansel is. HELLO! I hope he's doing well. He is going to graduate with you, right Jessica? Now THAT is weird. I'm going to miss your graduation! WAAAAT?!?!
Say hi to Mr. McDonald for me as well. I wanted to congratulate him on taking a few more teams to state in his last few years as coach, and also I wanted to let him know that the DR has some GREAT history and historical sites--seeing as he does Europe trips, I think he might also like a DR trip. Just be ready to not have ALL of the conveniences. There will be many, but, one gets used to what's lacking.

Mom and Dad, I printed off your letter last week and read through it A TON. Thank you both so very much--it has really been exactly what I've needed.  This week some of my housemates have been slacking off on the obedience thing, and for the first time in my mission I have given in to the temptation a few times. I have always striven to be EXACTLY obedient in the little things, but this week I slipped into starting study a few minutes late or leaving a few minutes late. It has been a big booster for me to hear from both of you. In particular, I want to thank you, Dad, for giving me a window into your mission. I feel like we've never really talked about your mission or how it was or what you did. It is probably a lot on my end for not asking, and for not reading your journals like you offered. I am sorry for not being so interested in the mission before the mission. I didn't really understand what it was or why I was going--I just knew I was going. I realize now that I could have been SO much more prepared to be here had I asked around. I just saw it as a future thing that I would deal with when I got to it. Oh well, though--you learn from your mistakes and you move on, not making them again, right? 

SHOOT time is up. I love you guys! Remind me what day is mother's day so I can set a time and not put appointments at that time. 
PEACE

Elder Rowe

PS
Here is a zone pic at our last zone conference, and hereis a family photo (I'm a GRANDPA!!). From right to left, my sons (Elders R****, C****, and W****, all district leaders) and my grandson, Elder S**** (via Elder W****).



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NO TIME - April 24, 2017

I only have 10 minutes left to write, and I am only just getting to my email. And lo and behold, 15 people wrote me the day I have the least time! Oh the joys of being a missionary! ;)

I love you guys so much. I am so grateful that you are all faithful in the gospel and in the church. Despite all that could possibly go wrong in the world or in our lives, I have come to feel this week that the most important thing if you're being righteous is to BE HAPPY. Come what may, it is in POSITIVITY that we find peace. We always need to get better, but we can look at it from the perspective of "what more can I do?" rather than "what do I do wrong?"

Thanks for all your comments and love and support, and I'm so sorry I have no time to say anything more. Love you!

Elder Rowe

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week One of Transfer 13 or 16.33 - April 17, 2017

Before I answer questions and get to talking a bit about the week, one question. I keep hearing TONS of rumors about the state of affairs in the Middle East and USA. Is it true that missiles (non-nuclear) have been fired and that war has been declared between some countries? I can´t tell from the rumors if they are threats or facts, but I'm hearing enough about it that I am intrigued. I know I'm not supposed to know too much about that kind of stuff, but, my curiosity is KILLING ME, especially since people are now coming up to me either congratulating me for choosing such a good president or ranting at me for choosing a racist madman (even though I know next to nothing about our present president and I didn't even vote in elections).
Emma (she is currently learning about authentic German food in her German class and asked about his favorite Spanish dish)--I know next to nothing of Spanish dishes; the only one I really recognize is Paella, a shellfish rice with veggies. You have to specify the country, because every single Spanish-speaking country has its own buffet of flavors and dishes. As far as Dominican dishes go, i can tell you hands-down that my favorite is Habichuelas con Dulce (sweet bean soup). It sounds super gross, but is probably one of the best things I've ever eaten. I will make it for you when I get home, because it is actually not that hard to make.
Jessica--Easter was rough on us here. They celebrate Holy Week, which should mean lots of remembering the last week of the Savior's life. However, here it means parties and inflatable pools and alcohol in the street for a week, and it was really hard to find people at home. Well, that's a lie--we just didn't want to get so close to the parties full of angry men on drugs and drunken, scantily-clad women. It wasn´t all bad--we found a really cool less-active girl who is the adopted daughter of our branch president who is showing great progress. She lives in La Romana, but is here visiting because college got out for a time and because she was in a bad ninja-bike wreck. She has really been able to feel that the Lord is calling her back to the fold, and we are SUPER excited to see her progress towards activity again, since she hasn't been to church since the day she moved out of her parents' house on a rebellious streak around age 16 (she is about 23). As far as my celebration of Easter, it was primordially reading scriptures, but honestly, I feel like I didn't even celebrate it. It was weird. Sacrament meeting was normal--no one even mentioned Easter--and it was a normal day of proselyting. I feel kind of bad, like I should have done more. It's just that on a normal proselyting day there is no time to do anything. I was up until 11 pm anyway doing a zone leader report for the assistants.
Mom & Dad--(I shared highlights with him from our Sacrament Mtg.  This is what I shared with him... Sis M spoke about the Atonement.  She referenced the talk from Brad Wilcox about Grace.  I was struck again by his idea that when someone is learning to play piano we don't expect that they play a song perfect the first time.  The options are not play at Carnegie Hall or quit. So why do we think we have to be without error in this thing called life?  We need to learn from the times that we make mistakes.  The hardest part is making changes.  It is often fairly easy to recognize that we are doing something wrong but changing the tendencies that are so ingrained can sometimes be overwhelming.  It is a life long battle to change our "natural man" tendencies to become more Christlike.)  I agree with the point of change. This week I have been able to recognize so much stuff that I'm doing wrong. I let so many people pass by without sharing the gospel with them, and I let so many things get into my head that I lose focus. The changing the behaviors has been the hardest part for sure. I still haven't made all those changes like I've wanted to. I can't tell if it's pride or fear or shame or whatever, but I can tell that my opposition to change is definitely not faith. I commented to President Corbitt in my letter last week that I have been justifying a lack of faith on my part as "realism" (accepting that things will go wrong and thus not getting too attached to anything). Any counsel on that one? How can I overcome my supposed "realism" and pass to faith. I am seeing opposition on a daily basis as a Zone Leader because I see most of what goes on in the zone. I see it in my area, and I have seen it all mission long getting stronger and stronger. I know that I can't stop the opposition from growing, so how can I grow to withstand it? How can I desire that more?

I love you all so much. I hope you have a great week, and don't forget to study and pray. Don't ever forget, PLEASE. I know that God loves each and every one of us, and is merciful in our weaknesses and failures. He only wants to see us grow, but He can only help us do so if WE TOO want to grow. Así que, don't get comfy with where you are. I think that has been one of my biggest errors as a missionary at this late phase in my mission. I have stopped seeking to make changes for one reason or another. Take Care!
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Title Unnecessary - April 10, 2017

Transfers are indeed this week, and...

...

...

I stayed.

Elder J**** is headed off to Sabana Perdida to train. I am receiving Elder C**** from my group. I have no idea where he is from, but I have only heard good things about him, so I am excited. The other zone leader with me, though, is Elder F****, who is in ANOTHER AREA. We are going to be calling each other A LOT, and doing A LOT of intercambios (DERP--exchanges). It should be new and fun, though. I am super happy that I stayed here in Primavera. I have come to love San Pedro. It is hard to describe, but its atmosphere is just...different. People are more receptive, most of the conveniences of a big city can be found there, and there are always other missionaries from the zone at my house or with me, because any time we have to go somewhere as a zone for meetings or anytime we go do something on a monday we all get to spend time together. It really makes for a united zone.

My biggest goals this month have to do with talking to EVERYONE. Everyone I see, everyone who gets close to me. If I don't do it, I will never see any more success as a missionary and we will never have success in our area. President Corbitt has talked a lot recently about how the first law of heaven is obedience, and how the first law of the mission is talking to everyone. I really need to get better at that. 

I am sad to see Elder J**** go, because it has really been a fun transfer, but at the same time I am glad to have something new. My clothes and shoes are doing fine. The shirts are a little yellow, but that is to be expected. My suit is coming along nicely.  (It is common in his mission for the missionaries to have a suit custom made.  It is very inexpensive (by our standards) and it helps the local economy.) This next week I will go in to try on the jacket before they put the sleeves on for fitting, and I will be sure to take some pictures. We are cooking somewhat, but members are still being good about giving us food. We are also low on money because of exchanges and meetings, and with transfers coming up things will be even tighter, so we haven't been able to buy stuff to cook with. 

I LEFT MY CONFERENCE NOTES AT HOME. Darn. I did like this conference--really, I did--but for some reason a lot of what was said blew over me this time. I felt spiritually uplifted and inspired, and I remember some of the things I received confirmations of truth for, but I don't remember much else. I know that the talks on repentance were all aimed at me--I need to develop better habits of daily repentance for the little things. I also need to repent of life before the mission, in the sense that I can't go back to the way things were. I can't fall back into not progressing or wasting time or being irresponsible. I need to make better habits, fill my time with more uplifting activities, and in general be more consecrated to the Lord. This Sunday President Corbitt came to our branch and taught about consecration. He mentioned that in the case of a person who is not a missionary that doesn't necessarily mean giving up all you have, but rather means using your time wisely and doing all things "in the name of the Lord." It made me think a lot.

Anyhow, I am totally out of time. Sorry it took me so long to write so little...I got lost in thought a few times, as I have in these last few weeks more and more often.

Love you all!
Élder Rowe

Here are a few pics. I promise I will take more this week! (the harrypotteresque thing is at a service project we did, and the other one is from the tramp park)






No Time - April 3, 2017

So... today we went to a trampoline park called Summit in Sambil in Santo Domingo. It was basically some American millionaires who came and put it in to make even MORE money. It is SUPER nice, and we got permission to take a big group of missionaries there. I will send pics later. They had dodgeball, long trick tramps, foam pits, noodle duels over foam pits, 3 differently-heighted hoops for dunkball, and some open tramp space for simple tricks. IT WAS SICK.
Jessica and Mom--I need to review my conference notes again before i can say that (we both asked him to share what he got out of General Conference). Ask me again next week. Also my brain is mush from jumping on tampolines all morning. Although I absolutely LOVED this conference, I need to go back and look them over because for some reason it mostly went in one ear and out the other (I still feel weird and bad about that).
This week I am kind of frustrated. I feel good, and I feel excited to keep working, but enduring to the end is becoming difficult. Not in the sense of the whole mission, but rather in the sense of being in my current area and zone. We have a STACKED zone, full of former zone leaders and ex-assistants, experienced sisters, and long-time district leaders, and we are all working super hard and striving to be obedient. Even thus, almost all of the baptismal dates we extend and that people accept have been falling because of lack of church atendance. NOBODY is going to church. We are passing by their houses, calling them, inviting them all week long, etc, but they don't come. This week has been a testament to me that it's not us--it's the Lord who does His work. We need to be exactly obedient and exceedingly diligent, but even then some things won't work out unless He wants them to. He is teaching us all something. in Primavera, Elder Johnson and i invited around 50 people to come to general conference, leaving them a little card the mission made with the schedule and location, and around 15 of them committed for sure to come. We called them all Saturday morning, and all were committed to come either Saturday or Sunday. Only 1 person that we invited came. We received 2 references from members, though, so that was good. That was the tesimony-builder to me that it is the Lord's work. For all our work 1 person came, but by His will and pleasure 2 people who were super prepared to meet us were brought to us.
I know that the Lord desires that we repent, not out of fear of condemnation but out of love for Him. That was the biggest thing I got out of conference. The Lord doesn't just want behavioral change--He wants to change our very natures and desires so that we can become exactly as He is. I testify that God's plan of salvation is perfect and that Jesus Christ's sacrifice, death, and resurrection have infinite power to redeem us from sin if we will but abandon that sin which chains us down and holds us back--literally damns (dams up) our eternal progression. Through that sacrifice we can be made whole, pure, and one day, perfect. I know that through Christ's atonement we can all be healed, strengthened, and blessed with peace and comort in times of trial, and of that I testify in Christ's name. Amen.
I love you all very much, and hope that you have a great time this week. I hope for lots of good pictures!
Élder Rowe