Monday, February 27, 2017

Transfers and Stuff - Feb 27, 2017

First and foremost, WOW, the Mock Trial team is HUGE!! So many great people! Also CONGRATULATIONS! (Jessica's Mock Trial team took 1st place and will compete at State in a month.  Jacob's team also won first 2 years ago and went to State but we had already scheduled our trip to Hawaii and so he did not help them compete at State.  Jessica is excited that State is the weekend before Spring Break this year.)  I am super excited that you guys are going to state--that will be a great experience. I hope you all do well. I am also happy you see how fun Mock Trial is. It really teaches you a lot about logic, problem-solving, law, and even respect of others. 

What an exciting prospect (both state and BYU acceptance letters) these next few weeks hold for you. (Jessica will find out on Friday evening if she has been accepted into BYU Provo.) That is frankly a real pick-me-up for me this week, along with the fact that there are transfers. My companion has left in the dust all of the communication I've been trying to build up with him for the last few weeks (because there are things I do that bug him)--he hasn't talked to me all day, even if I ask what's up or where he wants to eat. Nothing. Ever since he found out he was leaving the area he basically gave up on it and on me. I know I have lots of faults and that I can be a bit of a know-it-all sometimes, but I feel like I have been trying really hard these last few weeks to change. I have given up, because transfers are tomorrow and he is leaving. He has said himself that he's kind of dead as a zone leader--he wants to go back to just focusing on his area. I hope all goes well with his next companion; he's not too excited for it. Elder J***** is coming to be zone leader with me, and I am really excited. He is a super energetic guy from Idaho (we call him our favorite little hick) who is BEYOND elated to be a zone leader, especially in the zone he's already in. More on that next week.

Thanks for the basketball update. (I haven't been reporting to him how the BYU Basketball team is doing but I couldn't miss giving a update on Saturday's game!)  Glad to see we beat the Zags. I hope Jessica wore her BYU gear proudly to school after that one😂.

(I asked if he had cell phones and how they were charging them, how he was doing laundry, and if he was using flashlights at night since the power has been out since he got there.) We have cell phones--they are assigned to the areas and stay behind when there are transfers. In most areas there is just one phone, but as zone leaders we get two to do extra calls and stuff. We also get text messaging to send information out to the zone quickly and to communicate with the assistants. We use predictive texting, because all the phones are little Nokia bricks made for function over form and flair. They are basically indestructible, though, so that's nice. We have been charging the phones from members' houses, investigators' houses, the chapel (when we're there), and basically anywhere that there are power outlets. However, it has occurred that all the phones in the house but one die and we have to blow through all the calls as quickly as possible before that phone dies. We use flashlights because Elder B*****(one of the other elders in my house) has a warehouse of batteries in his suitcase that his mom sent him with--so many he'll NEVER use them all in the field. We have been living off of those. Remember how I said that we basically do laundry by hand already with how washing machines are here? The only differences without power are 1)we have to either spin the water with a broomstick every couple of minutes or scrub everything with elbow grease and 2)we have no dryer so things need to be hung up on lines for longer. 

(I finished a book last week called Daring Greatly.  In it the author explains the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt is "I have done something bad."  Shame is "I AM bad. " It is good book (warning: it does have a little language).  The author is preaching the gospel in a self help book, she just doesn't know it. I shared a few insights from the book with Jacob in my letter.) This week has been slow, and I have started to feel the shame instead of the guilt--that I AM incapable of making an area progress or that I AM incapable of working harder that I am (which frankly is not very hard at all). I need to stop seeing all the bad stuff and instead focus on how I can be better and the blessings it will bring. I was studying about extending commitments and noticed how it all has to do with keeping an eye on blessings--on the positive. People won't commit to change their lives if they have no positive reason to do so. Likewise, If I wish to change myself I need to make myself see the blessings over all else. Having a new companion will also help; even teaching a lesson becomes hard when you are struggling with companionship unity. I feel like I am trying, but then again I can always try harder. Being with Elder J***** will be a refresher for sure. 
I love you guys so much! Stay awesome.

Elder Rowe

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

No Power for 2 Months? What??! - Feb 20, 2017

Well, first off I really appreciate all the comments on working hard and the Lord being pleased with my service--it has been a slow week. We've been doing tons of contacting and looking for new people, but almost every return appointment has fallen through and so we have nothing to show for it. The whole zone is struggling, as a matter of fact. I am happy today, though. We had my first relaxing p-day for a long time, and President Corbitt emailed me some sheet music to see if I could play it for a choir when Elder Anderson comes to visit the mission March 14th. Guess what? It is the same I Stand All Amazed (Sally DeFord) arrangement that I've been practicing since before the mission. Just another testimony that the Lord knows what He's doing. 

Yes, I did get another memory card, (His current one said it was corrupted when he tried to upload pictures) and I am already taking pics with it. Next week I will probably have some photos for you all. Adversity came this week from all sides. Elder R**** and I didn't get along too well, we both are sick today, our house has been without power for two months (and it won't be fixed any time soon) (I remember him saying they had an issue with the power but didn't realize it was an ongoing thing...), the gas for our stove ran out and we didn't have money to buy more (we don't cook anything but ramen anyway, because everything else spoils because we can't use the fridge), our investigators aren't progressing or are hiding from us, and even contacts are rejecting us. However, we are being blessed with a few flecks of gold here and there, we have resolved our differences, march is almost starting (with lots of potential investigators, a visit from Elder Anderson, and a temple trip), and the Lord is helping me to recognize where I'm failing. This week for 3 days in a row I studied in ch. 10 of Preach My Gospel (teaching abilities), each day I discovered something I was doing wrong or not right enough, and went out and applied that thing and had super spiritual, direct lessons with investigators. I was reminded of the perpetual necessity of improvement.

I love you guys so much! Thanks for the refocus. The prayers are always appreciated. The Lord is passing me through another refiner's fire it seems, (dealing with leadership AND a slow area) but I know He is doing it for a reason. I need to learn how to get a ward up and going without overstepping my authority apparently, because that has been the state of pretty much every ward/branch that I've been in. Or perhaps dealing with slow, loose members is preparing me for something or giving me paitence. I'm not sure. The Lord knows. I just can't wait for some more of the rays of hope He always shows. 

Wow, I sound bipolar or something! I go from excellent to bad from one week to another. Honestly, though, that's how it is--each week is its own universe and lasts forever while you're in it. Each day is so full of little things that affect your attitude. If you have just one bad day in a week, it can ruin all the good feelings you've had. Not that the Spirit is finicky, but rather that we as human beings are finicky, especially when it comes to things we hold so close to our hearts. In a sense, that is all missionary work is--opening to the world a glimpse of the truths and things most sacred to you, leaving them to think what they will. That's why rejection hurts so much--they aren't rejecting us as people; they are rejecting what we know to be true, and often are not even willing to find out for themselves. They are content to walk in darkness or to stay blind because it's comfy.

Anyhow, talk to you next week!
Elder Rowe

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Finding new people is fun to do, to do to do, to do to do... Feb 13, 2017

This week Elder R**** and I spent a LONG time looking for new people, and we have really been blessed with amazing new investigators. We found a guy and his sister whose defunct brother had been baptized--they had a 1980s edition of the Book of Mormon in their house, and have been receiving us rather openly. The only problem is that they do a lot of talking for so little doing. We also had a young adult come to church on Sunday out of the blue. She is a neighbor of our Ward Mission Leader and has been reading in the pamphlets we left her. We also talked to the mother of our Young Men's president, a lady who acted like a total skank until we decided to cautiously accept her invitation to come by and visit (we brought our ward mission leader with us--as soon as we got there she proceeded to express her belief in God and how the street life had ruined her and how she wants to change), the father of a family of former investigators who wants to come closer to Christ and overcome the obstacles currently in his way, and a few other new people. I had my first Mission Leadership Council (AKA zone leader council) and gave (with my companion) a presentation about resolving companionship unity problems. It was good, because we really needed it. We have been able to notice many things that we are both doing wrong that we can fix to be better friends. We are two very different people, Elder R**** and I, but we are striving to get along, and we haven't let any problems get big.

E****--I have been wanting to give you a huge hug for so long and tell YOU I'm sorry for all the times I ignored you or brushed you off. You are SUPER cool, and I was way too lost in myself to realize it. I did that to certain degree with all of the family, but I feel like I did it most to you. Can you ever forgive me? I forgive you for bugging me, of course--that's part of growing up together with an age gap! Even though I will be away at college, I hope to spend a lot more time with you when I get home. Being away has helped me realize how much i have been missing.

J*****--I wish you and the team the best with Mock Trial. It will be hard, but I really enjoy the competitions--you finally get to take things 100% seriously. As far as discouragement, the biggest help to me out here has been reading about the Atonement, ESPECIALLY from Jesus the Christ. I would highly recommend you read it before the mission field--although you'll understand it way more out here, it is a great testimony-strengthener. It looks super long when you start it, but it sucks you in as you go. Anyhow, back to the topic, one of the biggest parts of my testimony is and has become that of the Atonement. I love reading in Alma 7 and Isaiah 53, and in general going to any scripture that mentions the Atonement when I feel down. I can always feel the Spirit so strong when I read how Christ descended below it all (D&C 122:5-8).

E***--CONGRADJERLATIONS! I hope you come to enjoy driving as much as I do; it is one of the biggest things I miss out here. I haven't sat in a driver's seat in 16.5 MONTHS, MAN!

Mom--Thank you always for your love and support. Thanks for your quotes and commentaries. I feel like I needed the bit on adversity this week--we haven't found hardly anyone who can be baptized this month, and we are slacking off as a result. I need to up my obedience in little things again, because I am falling in old ruts that I thought were long gone. It is frustrating how even though Satan hardly ever tries anything new, it takes so long to learn to resist temptation and so little to stay in bed an extra 5 minutes and break 6 months of good habits.

Dad--That is very true. At first, I have to admit that I was doing a lot of things in the mission field for others, because I felt I needed to impress or be an example or gain trust or whatever. I have come to realize that missionary work is only effective and fulfilling when you do it for the Lord and for yourself. I have come to love my Savior more than ever before, and to trust even more in Him. I am nowhere near where I want to be, nor even where I think I should be, but I am far closer than I was before the mission and than I would be had I not come out here. I feel so blessed that the Lord has given me a desire to learn and to be obedient, because that desire has carried me through the times when I thought I had no more reason to be out here.

I wish I had more to say, but seeing as I just woke up from my first p-day nap in MONTHS I am a little drowsy. I love you guys so much! I can't wait to spend more time with you again. I have to admit that I feel trunky already, but i am NOT DEAD YET. I will sprint to the end for sure. Keep me commited on that one, alright? ;)

Until next week,
Élder Rowe

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Mere 15 Minutes... - Feb 6, 2017

. . . to write everything that I have to say. We went all the way to Santo Domingo today to buy fabric for and commission custom suits (for those of us who are heading out before September here in San Pedro). Speaking of which, there is a guy here who makes custom, handmade suits from whatever material you give him for 3800 pesos. I bought all the fabric I need today in under 1000. It is going to be dark grey, with green in the pants pockets and a sweet DR sunset fabric inside the suit jacket. Just over $100 for a custom, hand-tailored suit of any fabric and style of my choosing!! I couldn't pass that up (also apparently he takes forever to do it). We also ate at Denny's today (disappointingly small portions for a ridiculous price tag, but it was still good). Because it's 1.5 hrs of travel from San Pedro to Santo Domingo and another 1.5 back, we basically didn't do anything else today.

Also, this week a guy and his member wife got married on friday, and the husband has a baptismal date for the 25th of this month. I hadn't met him until recently, but he is super cool. He knows a lot and asks many questions. He is our biggest potential baptism this month, but because we basically left the area dead for a week things have been kind of slow. However, the Lord is preparing people out there for us, I know it. There were some former investigators who, out of the blue, came to church on Sunday, so we set some appointments with them. 

HAPPY BIRFFDAY EMU. (His sister is turning 16 this week... I want time to stand still and speed up all at the same time!)

I have indeed meditated somewhat on the subject. (She asked if he had thought about his readiness to marry once he got home.) I have been thinking a lot of home, especially since President already sent me my "final interview prep/you're-going-home" letter. With seven months left? :/ I have come to realize that I won't be able to progress all that much spiritually unless I get married.  It is the next step in my progression (seeing the RMs here is enough to convince me to marry early--they are a bunch of lazy bums). XD

Sorry if I'm missing any other questions--no time left. Love you guys! Take care.
Élder Rowe