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

Answering Questions- March 27, 2017

Hello there everyone! This week went by CRAZY fast. 

I am glad to hear that Mock Trial state was great! I think we placed 19th or 17th or so (when he was involved 2 years ago). I honestly can't remember. As far as tracting went, we did a LOT. We met a bunch of crazy people in the street, because here there are no help systems for people with mental problems--they just let them wander the streets looking for food and entertainment. They bully them a lot, too. We met a guy who said he was "sent by God; there's Moses, then Abraham, then Jesus, and then God sent me." We pulled ourselves out of the conversation with some effort and some help from people sitting out in the street telling him to leave us alone. We always meet skanks (I'm sorry for the harsh wording, but there is no better way to describe them) who try to flirt with us or say they want our eyes or our children (or a child with our eyes). We met this week over 5 people who, upon opening conversation with us, proceed rapidly to tell us that they are Pentecostal Christians, as if to imply that they don't need any preaching from us. They almost always reject us, saying that we need to find the wicked or the strayed ones who don't go to church, and that we shouldn't waste our time with them. There is a transvestite guy who lives 3 blocks from us who always says hi when we go by (he lives on a main street); he is always dressed in the weird tight-t-shirt-super-short-dresses immoral women wear here. We met a lady on a guagua to the capitol this week who was super awesome and receptive, and works on TV here. We set an appointment for yesterday, but when we went to visit her, the number she gave us is not hers... GAAH. That is a look into a day of tracting in the DR. We meet all kinds of people, many receive us the first time, and next to no one receives us a second time. It is a really great feeling when people keep being home and when they progress, though. You start to feel like it's all worthwhile.

I asked a number of questions and these are his responses... Daily life is a lot better with power. We always have cold water without having to buy little bottles every day (we have 2 fridges, so we put our 5-gallon bottles of potable water in one of the fridges and use the other for food), and we can keep leftovers from what members give us. We eat with members 3-4 days a week (fridays, saturdays, sundays, and occasionally another day). We cook for breakfast, and the other elders cook dinner (I decided a long time ago to eat dinner earlier, so I get a snack around 6pm instead of eating a meal at 9:30 or 10pm). On P-Day, we usually play basketball in the morning (outside the chapel or in a rec center nearby), go shopping if we need to, get together at our house with some other elders from the zone (since our house is the centerpoint of all San Pedro and the guagua/bus routes. There aren't that many things to see. Because of disobedience in other missions, in the entire Caribbean we got permission to go to beaches taken away, so I can't go down to the boardwalk or to the beaches here to take pictures. IT SUCKS. A LOT. I would LOVE to bring home pictures of dominican beaches, but we can't even ask a special permission to go. We have to travel a TON for exchanges. The farthest area is 2.5 hours away, there is another area about 1hr away, then one at 45 minutes, then one at 30, and then a few that are 10-15 minutes away because they are in the city itself. San Pedro is considered one of the "campo zones," because it has 5 little-town areas and 6 areas in the city itself. As far as experiences as a ZL, I need more time to think on that one. I need to take a moment to slow down and think of all that has happened, because time FLIES when you're always busy. I really enjoy this house of 4 because we all get along well. I have been in houses of 4 where things are great like that, but if you get into a house of 4 with one or two people that don't get along with others or start to have problems, it does make things messy sometimes. I have some pics, but I left my camera at the house. I will send them next week. 

Anyhow, I don't think my brain can take much more. I love you guys so much! Enjoy SoCal! (We went for Spring Break.) I'm going to go play BANG! with the elders in my house and the elders from Quisqueya (a good friend of mine, Elder F****, has the bullet with all the expansions). 

Elder Rowe