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