Dec 27, 2011

Pictures from Mission Home


Trent's email 12/21/11


Hey mom.  I just got to my area this morning (although I experienced it a little yesterday, long story).  I check my email once a week when I write letters.  Wednesdays, now. It´s SO exciting.  Its weird, cuz I don´t have a grasp on the fact that I´m in a completely new place with a complete stranger, nothing is familiar except the gospel.  But, the great thing is, that´s all I need.  It´ll take a few days to feel like I really have a handle on what´s going on, but for now I can totally trust my companion.  Well, at least he seems like a really good guy, and I haven´t been led astray yet.  It´s sweet.  I agree with the sentiment, ¨Some days it seems like you just left and other days it seems like you have been gone forever." I often feel both of those.

It´s amazing how far a simple lesson goes, when you really focus on the important parts, and not the cutsie things.  I´ve learned that SO well with Preach My Gospel.  All we do is focus on the nitty gritty needs of the people.  One girl didn´t think she´d ever see her father again.  We talked about how that´s the PLAN of this WORLD, man!  Of COURSE you´re gonna see him again.  She was so happy.  I think she believed us anyway.  Really, truly, an inspired lesson.  My companion´s a stud.

Espero que uds. sepan, estoy entiendo mucho el Español.  Fácil.  Todavia no estoy flúido, y mucho del Dominicano no hay una manera en lo cual puedo entender, pero español de los Norteños y a veces de latinos entiendo bueno.  Puedo contrubir mucho a una lección.  Estoy tan feliz con todo mi experiencia en el idioma.  Dad, please translate :)

I bought lots of stuff today, I hope you guys are still watching my funds.  I´m not carrying any cash with me anymore, cuz people get robbed here sometimes.  Just as easy to use my mission fund card.  I also payed like $130 for really nice custom-made leather scripture cases and a convenient little bag... you´ll probably think I´m ridiculous, but it´s one of the only practical souveneirs we can buy here and they´re fantastic. 
Interesting, isn´t it mom?  All these guys talking about really different subjects, but really all giving the same message?  That´s so much clearer when you´re a missionary, if you understand the basics, everything falls into place.  And, you study the basics every day so you understand them better ;)
Oh, I thought the mashed pringles were a joke!  Mashed potatoes, you know?  I was impressed with the creative touch, figured Becca insisted.  No big deal.

Well, then, I guess I´m glad ambition is one of my strengths.  I like my ambition :)

Yeah, grandpa probably writes me more than dad ;)  Just kidding, it´s about the same.  Zoe hasn´t written back for two weeks, I´m very upset with her.  But, it´s fun talking to her because she´s got the same sense of humor as I do, while very few other people do...

So I´m glad Nicole´s getting settled.  What about you guys, any word on if you´re going to move any time soon? 

It´s good to hear that Becca´s self-motivated!  I didn´t think that would EVER happen.  I hope she´s enjoying it a little bit these days.  Poor Kenji, I feel like getting fixed isn´t a very fun experience.  I imagine Becca´s having a hay day, though, watching him stumble around the house.  Bueno.

Oh, my apartment is small, laid out alright, and is pretty disastrous.  I have a lot of cleaning to do... I can´t live like this.  It´s okay.  I actually had to buy some sheets and I´m still looking for a good blanket.  We´ll see what happens. 
And Christmas, I don´t know what´s happening.  I think we´ll be able to Skype you guys, there are some rich members around, and President already approved some Skype chats.  Tonight, we´re going to a ward Christmas party and Elder Frómeta (my trainer, from NJ, parents are Dominican and Cuban) said he´ll ask around to borrow some computers.  Oh, I´m in Santiago South, so the city.  Way cleaner than Santo Domingo.  So many cool missionaries.  Things are pretty easy to buy and stuff, so don´t worry about me having anything I need.  We bought a ton of fruits and veggies today, so we´ll eat healthy.  Elder Frometa said he´s gonna show me some tricks, especially with Chinola (passionfruit).  And, we have lots of rice.  I will not go hungry.  I got the Christmas package when I got here!  Maybe I wasn´t supposed to open it yet, but I did.  It had some delicious things!!!!!!! Thank you SO MUCH!!! Elder Frometa was also very appreciative of everything you sent.  I´ve been super spoiled up to this point, having my food (in good proportions) made for me, eating really well, air conditioning, hot showers.  Now, all that´s changing.  (Well, after the Ward Christmas party tonight, and the members who invited us over to eat tomorrow night :D  I´m super spoiled, but i´m gonna take it as a reward from the ward because I was so diligent in studying and obeying in the MTC :)  But, as long as I keep things organized and get familliar with the area more or less, everything will be okay for me, at least mentally and emotionally.  Physically, I might get hit by a car.  They´re merciless here, man.  When I have to run across a busy street, I think of Dad, and shoot the gap bravely.  That´s what he would do.  And we might be walking 100 miles every week.  WOO! I have a hard time not dancing when music plays, and music plays here ALWAYS.  I got in a tiny little taxi with seven people in it yesterday.  It was fun.  The sooner that camera gets to me, the sooner pictures will get to you.

I don´t know if it helps or hurts, but there´s not much of a Christmas atmosphere around here, so I don´t really feel like I´m missing out on anything.  All the snow, the Christmas songs, the smells, reds and greens everywhere, pretty nonexistent around here.  A tree here and there.  Spanish Christmas songs on the Radio (I heard Feliz Navidad at the grocery story today, and my new favorite from the taxi yesterday was a pop song that´s like, ´"Navidad sin ti... hace dos meses yoiupzoixnadw."  I didn´t understand anything else, but it was pretty funny.  Romance in English gets to me sometimes.  Romance in Spanish still amuses me, probably because I don´t understand very well.  Anyway, I hope y´all know i´m praying for you, and things truly are going well, and I can´t wait to start really teaching.  Becca, your due date is still tonight at midnight.  Dad, thanks for emailing me.  I love you!  And I definitely appreciate your advice.  I´ve really been working on loving diligently everyone I meet, and finding the good things about them and loving them for that, and trying to learn from them.  It´s been good.

Anyway, Stay safe, love you all!
Sincerely,
Elder Trent Taylor.

Okay, so packages get here alright to the DR address.  I think it´s pretty inconsistent-could take two weeks, could take four.  But they get here.  Florida´s much more consistent, as far as I can tell.  However, please tell everyone on my blog, and facebook, that FLORIDA is the only place that´s really worth sending letters.  They get here WAY faster.  Thank you!

Dec 18, 2011

Email home 12/15/11

This is me, writing for my last time from the CCM.  Next time you hear from me, I'll be a real missionary.  I'm a littlelot stoked.  Demasiado.
So, I have assignments for all of you.  Because, you know, I love you, and I spend 14 hours a day studying the gospel, I want you all to read/watch a conference talk.
Mom, yours is Matthew O. Richardson's, I believe from Sunday Morning.  The best part is toward the end, with his story about the hike.  I thought you might like it with all the scriptures you shared with me.  If you're feeling ambitious, I also thoroughly enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf's about "Serving the Lord's Way" which was on Saturday Afternoon (I believe) and Elder J. Devn Cornish (who's one of the Area Presidency here, lives next door) about the Power of Prayer from Sunday Afternoon.  But please read Matthew O. Richardson.
Dad, Dallin H. Oaks gave a fantastic one about the teachings of Jesus Christ... I think it was Sunday Morning but it could've been Priesthood.  I really liked it, and I need you to read it.  I think you'll really like it too.
Becca, this is going to take only 15 minutes.  That's not even half of an episode of Harper's Island.  So, pull out your iPad, get on LDS.org, click on the Conference link on the Right side, then find the one by President Monson on Sunday Morning called "Stand in Holy Places." Watch it, and write down on a piece of paper three things that you liked about it.  Then, email them to me.  If the email ISN'T in my INBOX by Wednesday before you go to bed, you're gonna regret it.  Remember, I'll be home when you start dating.  Also, if you want more, watch President Packer's, "Counsel to Youth," Saturday Morning.  It's directed just for you and has good advice.
 
okay, that's your assignment.  This is my first real commitment to someone, so don't start me out with negative statistics.
Speaking of statistics, we've been teaching our "teachers" as Ïnvestigadores" here in the CCM, and our first one is "getting baptized" today.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of teaching to baptize one guy!  Sheesh.  I can't imagine what it'll be like with real people.  Dad, I realized you never really told me very many mission stories, especially about investigators and stuff.
So, I want you all to know that I've made a lot of progress in myself.  When I showed up to Provo, I wanted to be leader.  district, or something.  I wanted to have a calling that showed how well I was doing, or at the very least, validated me in my life up to that point.  I didn't get one.  I know, Dad, those are the exact type of people that drive you CRAZY at church.  But, it's what I wanted, even if I knew I shouldn't have.  Anyway, the other day, Elder Cornish was here.  He shared D&C 121:34-35 (or something close to that) that talks about "many are called but few are chosen" because others "aspire to the glories of men" or something like that, and I realized that I now have grown past that desire.  I don't need validation, and really, a calling to leadership proves nothing except that the Lord needs extra service from you at that time.  The real validation comes from living a just life-reading the scriptures each day and knowing you're doing what they're teaching.  Praying to your Heavenly Father each day and feeling the Spirit testify that you're doing what you're supposed to.  Feeling the Spirit strongly in your lessons because you HAVE the Spirit.  Having prayers answered.  All of these little miracles have happened to me una y otra y otra vez, and I'm so happy to see that I've grown past that desire.  As I wrote Courtney today, I feel like more than twice the man I was last time you guys saw me.  Really, this is a life changing experience when we do it right.
Which reminds me-Anyone reading this that is preparing for a mission (whether in two weeks or ten years), the two things you need to strive to understand are these:  The Lord loves you more than you can imagine.  Every thing you see, every blessing you have, is from Him, and without Him, you'd be NOTHING.  And, why do you love Him?  If you strive to figure these two things out, and really understand them, you'll have a fantastic experience on the mission-Well, at least in the MTC-and you'll grow immensely.  I know these are the best two years FOR my life, because of all the fantastic skills I'm developing.
AH!  I am so long winded.  So, we had our first experience in the field, we went on splits with the missionaries.  It was incredibly scary.  I realized that I really DONT know what's going on (I've never even talked to ANYONE in my WHOLE life about the Gospel who hadn't heard about it) and I don't know how to operate by myself.  Thank goodness I'll have a companion to help me figure it out, and the Lord :)  I'm SO excited to get out in the field and really teach people, because I know the Lord wants to bless them :) 
Mom!  Becca!  I LOVED the package.  It was hilarious.  I was a little peeved when I saw that you mashed my pringles, but the cranberries were super delicious, and nothing in the world tastes better than pecan pies, even when they're loaded with preservatives.  Thank you :)  I was very amused, and very happy.  I neglected to tell you last time.
One thought I loved from Elder Cornish's devotional this week is this:  "The Lord doesn't want us to be obedient.  He wants us to WANT to be obedient." That's what a broken heart and a contrite spirit means.  It's funny to see the difference in how much people enjoy their missions when they've had that change of attitude.
Am I more ambitious than the rest of the world?  I feel like I'm receptive to any opportunity that could help me learn and grow, because I want to be the best person I can be.  Others, I feel like are just OBLIVIOUS because they just THINK they're perfect and they ignore the real world.
Mom, I eat TONS of fruit and veggies here, way more than any other Elder. After a year of not being able to afford them at BYU and three weeks of hardly ANY in Provo, the fresh fruit here is AMAZING, and I consider vegetables a blessing.
Grandpa's been emailing me, he told me Becca stayed over.  How was that, Becca?  I bet you had fun :) Mom, dad, is it cool to go back to Temple square together?  you know, the place where you finally decided to get married?  You know me, I like that mushy stuff.
Mom, we'll definitely have 6 Americans in the "guagua" with us, maybe four latinos.  I don't know, because I'm not sure their leaving on the same day.  Furthermore, I don't know if we're taking a bus or a van because it's the same word here, but it's one of the two.  The Americans are Cool, my old companion Elder Barrus, Elder Cannon, Elder Welburn, Elder Wilkinson (England), and Elder Jenks.  I like them all, especially Elder Barrus.  we're pretty good friends, he's a good guy.  The Latinos are good, too, especially Elder Cruz from Mexico and Elder Vergarra from Panama.
Don't worry too much about batteries.  Even though they're crazy expensive here (like $1/each for AA), it's still probably better than sending them.  I also need them for my CD player, so we'll be alright.
Umm, the rules for email should change next week.  I don't know exactly what's going to happen.  I've only been emailing you guys, Zoë, grandpa, and Cody.  Family, and Cody cuz he can't write.  I might be allowed to email everyone in Santiago, but I don't know if I'll have time cuz I spend so much time writing you and Zoë.  Anyone can email me, that's cool, and DearElder.com is a really good service-It's what Courtney uses. Just know that I won't get it til the next Thursday after you send it.  And I'm always up for letters, but those take even longer.  Learn how to use the pouch, if you so desire.  I'll try to write you a letter back, but it'll take about two weeks to get there.  I have more time for that.  I hope Lance and Teresa are doing well, along with Grammy and her surgery.  I'll pray for them all, since we missionaries get extra attention and all :) 
 
Anyway, my times up. Love you all!  Read your scriptures and pray every day, and don't forget, the Gospel ROCKS!

Dec 11, 2011

Email 12/8/11

Hey fam.  I wanted to say... something that missionaries shouldn't say, but Dad says all the time.  I guess I won't.  I'll let your imaginations take this one.

Dad, I'm glad you admit your sins (not writing me).  Now, repent, and do better :) Courtney told me you invited her to Thanksgiving, she thought it was super thoughtful of you and was almost sad that she already had plans.  Thank you for doing that.  I feel like it's difficult, being so far away from home.  I never realized how much of a crutch that was for me, being three hours away from home.  So thank you for taking care of her.  I know we talked about me being focused on the work, and not worrying about Courtney getting married or whatever.  I have to admit, it was more difficult than I was expecting when I got here and I wasn't getting letters from her (gotta love that Dominican Mail system), but every day gets a little easier, and I'm pretty much ACTUALLY ready for whatever does happen, just ready to work hard and do what I'm supposed to.  A little separation has reminded me how scary the idea of marriage for time and all eternity really is.  So, I'm set.  No trunkie feelings. Darlene, if you're reading this, I will NOT be that missionary who's lousy til he gets his Dear John :)

Yeah, so, I wasn't homesick at ALL until I got physically sick.  Then I just wanted to be in bed and have mom bring me soup.  Guys here, they're like. "Hey, man, you look disgusting.  You okay?"  And I'm like, "Naw, I feel pretty awful," and they're like, "Well, that sucks.  Get up, I have to eat dinner."  It's okay though, I have the Lord.  Lots of prayers were answered last week for sure, and I was sustained in strength and support by the Lord :)  I got better around Saturday/Sunday.

Got any snow?  I just know you love snow, Dad.  The threat of getting hit by Becca's snowball everytime you walk outside... as if she wasn't already scary enough, now she's armed with ice crystals.  Woo.
Love you too, Dad.

Latvia?  That's crazy.  Yeah, first week's pretty crazy, but she'll make it through.  Almost all missionaries say "Once you get past Sunday, the rest is easy." I disagreed, but whatever.  Blake Benham is in Russia Samara.  Justin Crandall is in Hungary, though, and cool thing: in Provo our class was in a building with a bunch of eastern European speakers, and I made some friends.  I now have a pen pal who will be serving in Hungary. I figured since Justin never wrote me back, I can hear about Hungary through Nover Suranyi (or something like that.  Her name, ironically, is Hungarian, even though she's American).  So, if Sister Kerr entered three weeks earlier, I would've met her.  Latvians were close to us.  Too bad. 
I'm glad you feel good about nursing school!  Becca needs opportunities to be a little more responsible, that'll be good for her :)  And a break will be good for you, cuz I know how crazy those times can be.

Okay, I only used the debit card once, that $63 charge at the mall I had you check on, so if there was other charges, please cancel them or something.  I hope not.  Ooh, and if you like those Isaiah scriptures, you should have Courtney send you the scripture chase she sent me for Christmas.  There are so many beautiful scriptures about Jesus Christ coming to the world, you should all read them!  Court did a good job finding them all :)  Thanks for sharing, Mom.

So, if you haven't sent the package yet, PLEASE send American postage.  I need them for the way the Church does mail here.  We don't mail internationally, we use a system called the Pouch that sends mail to Salt Lake.  Then, I need postage for it to get from Salt Lake to Provo, or wherever else.  Thanks for the other stuff.

We now have... I wanna say 56.  But eight are leaving tomorrow because they got their visas to Mexico, so they're going to that MTC.  We're going in to the field on the 20th.  It's a two hour drive, I heard, to Santiago.  Which might be really scary.  Traffic here is WAY worse than Mexico, at least the parts we went to. 
Becca!  If you're writing a Zombie movie, you should let Courtney be your stage manager.  She says she likes doing that.  And I want to edit your script... but I don't really have any time.  :(  When I get back, we'll make movies, ok?
Whoa, Teresa's hanging out with her fam?  RAD!  Good for her.  So, y'all will have to stay home?  Go to Grammy's?  Whatever it is, have fun!  I'd just as soon hang around with you guys, bored, as I would with Teresa and their family... if you remember, that wasn't exactly the biggest party of my life (Teresa, I love your house.  This is simply a comment about how I had no one to play with all those years).  Dicken's Festival!  Haha, that was a fun crazy little winter... I hope you enjoyed it.  I'm glad we moved back, too, they're all really good people.  Chase should be hitting the field about the same time as me, so that's really good!

Cody and I have been emailing a little.  He's doing well, it sounds like.  If y'all want to know more, his blog is ontheroadtovalor.blogspot.com

Umm, food hasn't changed.  I speak really well, but I'm still not fluent.  All the latins say I'm the best whitie.  I'm learning three big things!  I wrote them down for y'all:
1) I've always had a large group of friends, people who genuinely just love being around me.  This is my comfortable state, this is my support system.  However, here, I don't know what changed--the people I'm around probably has a lot to do with it, the fact that I'm not very fun any more (because I don't spend time being fun, really...), the fact that my sense of humor's way different than everyone else's... anyway, I feel pretty alienated most the time.  I think this is the biggest thing I'll learn while I'm out here--that big group of friends is great, but I need to learn to rely on the Lord for my emotional support.  I know I'm not alone, and I've had lots of good comforting nights given up in prayer.
2) I try to be a passive person.  Cody would scoff if he read that, but when I'm with people that I'm not super comfortable with, I try to let people have what they want. However, I have ALWAYS believed that if I treat people with patience, they'll treat me with patience.  I expect the golden rule.  Here, I get to learn the platinum rule.  People won't treat me well, and I'll have to keep serving and respecting them anyway, without anger.  I'll have to let people walk on me a little bit, turn the other cheek.  Because I need to be like Christ, and that's what He did.  So, patience.
3) Also, and this'll be Dad's favorite, I have to learn tolerance without condescension.  I have to understand people's debilidades, and love them, and help them learn, and not expect them to live according to my standards.  But, at the same time, while I'm being tolerant of them, I cannot accept less from myself.  I have to keep working as hard as I can, love the lazy companion I will have, and teach them to do better so we can accomplish the work.  It's a challenge, and I'm excited for it. 

I got a new companion (again).  We're now in a trio.  That's 4 missionaries, out of 28, that have left this MTC.  I don't know what's up.  The last guy just had serious separation anxiety, so he should be back soon.  Anyway, this new companion is quite the package.  I'll be learning a lot about #3 through him.

Dear family, I love you all.  Dear friends, WRITE ME.  Cuz... like twenty six of you said you would, and only about four of you have.  So, if you want to go to hell, be a liar (2 Ne 9:34.  read it in spanish, it has an extra little ZING).  Or, write me.  Your call, really.

Oh, my camera decided to stop charging.  I don't know what happened.  No matter where I plug it in, it APPEARS as though it's charging (like, it has the charging screen up) but even if I leave it in all night, I turn it on in the morning, and it turns itself off in about thirty seconds.  I think I'll just buy an overpriced, low quality camera here, unless you guys really want to send me a new one.  Remember, I can't take video here, so if you DO get a new one, don't worry about video.

Have a fantastic week.  I'll be counting down the minutes til my first toca de puerta!  Love yall.

Your missionary,
Elder Trent Taylor

 Hey!  I got your package on Friday.  I forgot to tell you.  That was the 2nd.  Love you!

Dec 4, 2011

Email 12/1/11

Family!
Sounds like Thanksgiving was fun :) I had some weird tasting apple pie, but it was good.  I was happy. Becca, I wanna play soccer with you!  Keep kicking butt, okay?  And we'll see if you can kick my butt when I get back.  The turkey was delicious, and I really like the temple.

CCM-Centro para la Capacitacion Misonal... or something like that.  MTC in Spanish.  Esmé is my car, and I was esxpressing thanks that you were driving her around.  The Latino missionaries showed up, and I can keep up if they speak relatively slowly.  It's pretty nice.  Ooh, could you also send me some American stamps (I need them for the pouch) and a long sleeve shirt that actually fits me? They don't... have good ones here.  Everyonés short.  You should've seen me in the temple today, they gave me a big FAT shirt.  THe sleeves were too short, but the collar was gigantic.  And I need stamps to write people letters in the states.  I think Courtney's engaged already cuz I haven't gotten letters from her in the last two weeks, but I still have some other friends I'd like to write.

I like having hermanas here.  They have a nice calming influence over all these crazy crazy elders.  It's nice to have someone half sane to talk to, because all my roommates are silly guys.  I'm glad you like all the new stuff, Mom.  Becca didn't go to church?  Come on, Cheese, I'm spending two years straight at church, you can't go once a week?  Well, I'm glad the tree's going up, that's fun.  What's your favorite ornament, Cheese?

So, the holidays here should be interesting.  They celebrate Dec. 24 more than Christmas, I don't know why. It will be a little rough, not being with all of you on Christmas morning, but what I'm doing is the real reason we celebrate Christmas--Preaching the gift of Christ to the world.  So, I feel like I'll be pretty okay.  I definitely know I'm being sustained day by day by the Lord.  I have energy I never thought possible, and am learning things at such a deep level, and spanish at such a fast pace.

In other news, I'm sick.  Last night was horrible.  There's a fever/flu going around, so I have a headache, I'm super cold, and I have a cough.  But, it's not as bad as I make it sound, I'm pretty okay.  You know me, flare for dramatic. Mission President's wife gave me some ibuprofen, I've been drinking a lot, I got a blessing.  I feel like it'll be gone by this time tomorrow, no worries.  I'll let you know about the Christmas traditions after I'm out in the field, experiencing them :)

Oh, I'm living up to our name, "Taylor." Assuming it originated from "Tailor," that is.  One of my pockets tore off a little bit, so I sewed it, and today I went to the temple in white pants that I HEMMED MYSELF.  Yeah, you read that right.  I hemmed pants.  I felt like such a woman. In a strong, apt, cool way. It was exciting.

Well, I'm doing alright, is the moral of the story.  We went to the Supermercado, and I picked up all kinds of things I need.  Will you tell me how much it drained out of my account?  I'm still trying to figure out if it's cheaper to withdraw cash from ATMs or just pay with my card (cuz you know, conversion rates).  If there were no extra fees, it would be about $61 (Dont worry, i got some oreos and found a cool tie!  Plus, study materials that I needed).  Their supermercado is a giant walmart.  okay, same size as walmart.  Has everything.

Anyway, love you all.  I think I'm gonna go take a nap now.  Have a good week!
Aah, By the way, I didn't get a package.  Thanks for sending it, it'll probably come soon.  Love you all!
And one more thing, while I'm waiting for my companero.  Dad, I so appreciate you.  Like, I never realized how you always have a really good attitude, especially about scary things.  I don't think you're afraid of anything.  Lots of people here are ornery, grumpy.  I really miss having you around.  I find myself gravitating toward President Glazier, because he really reminds me of you.  I wish you were here to guide me along the way, but I know I gotta do it for myself.  And I know Christ is helping me out.  But, I want you to know, you're really a great dad, and I miss you lots.

Love,
Trent

Email 11/24/11

Dear family,
Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Yeah, we're rocking and rolling here in the CCM.  Today's our preparation day, so we basically just went to the temple this morning.  They made us cheeseburgers for lunch though (which was pretty fantastic, I must say), and we're apparently having a huge-o-mungous dinner.  There are two turkey's thawing in the sink, so we're pretty excited.
I don't imagine you'll have time to read this today, it's Thanksgiving at OUR house!  I'm glad you have returned to your partying lifestyle, even if I'm not there to enjoy it.  ~sigh~ Spanish fork, we had some good parties.  If you do read this before then, say hi to everyone for me, and tell them Happy Thanksgiving!
Mom, did you get your birthday present?  The speakers, I mean.  I hope you enjoyed the flowers, flowers bring nice color to rooms.  I noticed I've been missing color here, where everyone wears white all the time, and pink ties are considered radical.  I hope you enjoy your iPod function on your new shiny iPhone, since half the world would probably kill for something so legitimate.  I'm glad Grammy's so excited, tell her that I'm having a really fun time, and I still think of her whenever I go to the baptistry in the temple! (remember that one time, I think I got confirmed for almost a hundred people!)  Good for Grandpa and all his siblings, spreading FO's ashes.  Thanks for driving Esmé, she's gonna need some company.  She needs attention, like me.  Language arts homework?  I feel like I'm forgetting everything I know about the English language in order to learn spanish grammar, spanish vocab, blah blah blah.  I never really realized how good I was at English until I was shown how drastically terrible I am at any other language.  Good luck with homework, Becca!  President Glazier remains to be THE MAN.  He helps me think so critically, and I'm learning a lot about the gospel and how to be a more effective teacher.  Latino Missionaries get here next week.  The church hires cooks to make food for us, so I'll have to figure it out when I get out in the field.  We just have about an hour to cook/eat each meal, so it'll be a fun experience, trying to figure out things I don't know about cooking with ingredients I've never seen before.  Woot. 
I got an email from my old companion who had to go home.  He's doing well, and he says he's excited to come back out on Feb 1st, he'll go straight to the field.  So, that's good news.  Mom, Missionary work is TOUGH!  I mean, we're doing 3 weeks, and we don't just obtain the skills.  Lots of hard work, lots of frustrating, embarrassing situations, lots of trial and error, but eventually, we'll get it down :)  Hey, while I'm thinking about it, could you maybe try to find my little brush for my razor?  I think I left it on my bathroom counter... and my razor needs to be cleaned.  If it's packed, no big deal.  I'll cope.  Also, be smart about how you pack that SD card.  They like to rummage and steal in the postal service down here.  I've heard pictures of Virgin Mary/Christ get them to leave it alone.  Or just slip the SD card into a brownie (wink wink) or something.
 
Cheese Brain, we really need to figure out the story for Sweeney Todd.  And either way, I still think that song is creepy.  Judge Turpin sounds creepy, Toby sounds creepy, Sweeney is creepy, and Helena Bonham Carter is creepy.  But, I am talking to you, and we both know that one of your favorite shows, Harper's Island, is creepy.  Maybe I should've named you CREEPY brain.  Hehe.  Wait, is Andy on your team?  She sat on you!  Ah, soccer sounds like lots of fun!  There's not enough grass to play soccer here at the DR MTC, so have fun for me, okay? 
No, you having a bad memory is NOT a good excuse for not writing me.  Do it every Sunday, that's a holy, good day to write me :)  And, I was thinking about you the other day when we were "teaching" one of our "investigators." I realized that I hope you're praying a lot, because just like you like talking to Dad and Dad likes talking to you, Heavenly Father likes talking to you, and if you listen to the Spirit, he'll talk to you, too.  That's what we told our "investigator."
Keep writing me!
 
Hahaha, Dad, it's okay you don't write much.  Sometimes it's hard to know what to say when it's the same stuff every day, right?  I laughed OUT loud when you told me about those 12-13 year olds in that tiny room, and you being in charge of them all.  I hope you all can reach order amongst the chaos, but if not, at least you can have a party.  I didn't know about Howard W. Hunter getting a bomb threat at BYU, but maybe I do remember a story about people singing that song.  Thanks for thinking about and praying for me, I'm praying for you guys, too!  All the time.  I'm enjoying my time, for sure.  And I've already learned a little about how working helps you get through those tough times (Although I know much tougher times are to come).
 
Hmm.  This week I've learned so much about how much I can only rely on the Lord.  I mean, I have good people all around me, but it's not like high school or college where I could surround myself with the same sort of people that I wanted to be, where I could choose who I hung out with because we laughed together and played together.  It's important to have the Lord as my best friend, so I can have fun even if I feel alone.  sometimes, I think about how much fun it's going to be to only have ONE roommate, who'll probably hate me every once in a while, and I'll just have to keep being happy and keep finding ways to bring the Spirit into our companionship.  That's okay, it's a learning process, and I'm sure there'll be times when my wife hates me, so preparation, right?!  Hahaha. 
Also, I don't know if I've said this already, but that's alright.  I've realized so strongly that everything is about Joseph Smith and the Restoration.  Not to discredit all the other stuff we teach, because without the Atonement, none of our lives would mean anything.  But, I keep thinking back to conversations I had with my semi-Anti-LDS friend, who would nitpick at the rules.  Who would say that it's stupid how we don't drink coffee and horrid that we're so, in her word, "sexist."  Really, the truth is, IF Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ, and IF he translated the Book of Mormon through God's power, then none of those little things matter.  This is God's Church on the earth today, and we should be so thankful that we have a prophet to help us receive eternal life.  The little things HAVE explanations, if you accept that Joseph Smith saw God and this Church is lead by our Savior today.  That's why it's called the Church of Jesus Christ.  If you really have a testimony of joseph Smith, the little stuff doesn't matter, just remember who's in charge (that's Jesus Christ).  If you don't have a testimony of Joseph Smith seeing God, then by golly, read that Book of Mormon and ASK your Father in Heaven, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.  It's a message that will bring you and your family so much happiness, as long as you continue to do what the prophets say.
Phew.  I can't wait to tell people about this message.  Sorry if I'm soapboxy, but that's what I'm here to do, is teach, right?  Anyway, I don't know who that was directed at, I just wanted to share it.
Another thing my President has been telling me is to figure out the difference between John 3:3 and john 3:5.  look it up, it's fun.  A little difficult.  I've also been thinking about the difference between transgression and sin and studying Mosiah 2-5.  What kind of king saves his whole city from damnation?  A good one, that's for sure. 
 
Mom, I think it's funny that you said thanks for letting you be part of my mission.  We both know that without you, I wouldn't be here at all.
I love you all!
Have a fantastic week, and I'll talk to you later!
 
Love,
Trent

Nov 20, 2011

Pictures

Trent's pictures from the MTC in Provo, Utah
http://gallery.me.com/taylor.dds/100288

Email 11/17/11

Family!
mom, I was glad to talk to you as well.  I miss you a whole bunch!  But, I know I'm doing the right thing out here, so no problem.  There's not much of a variety, but I love the food.  Recipes would be fantastic, I'll see what we get when we get out there.  Make sure grandpa knows that he's gonna see FO and Bev again, because he will.  It's gonna be okay :)
Becca, I love you oodles and bunches.  There are lots of cool lizards here, the other day I saw one as big as... something really big!  Like, a ferret or something.  I bet you'd like it.  I miss you!  You should keep me updated about what happens at school and stuff, okay?
Dad, thanks for your advice.  There's a lot of stuff in there that was really helpful--I'm not looking at it right now, but I definitely appreciated the stuff you said and will be reading it more tonight.  I love you, and I hope you're having a fantastic time working, even if it "sucks."  I'm so glad to hear you're praying together!  And I have a good question for you- What's the difference between John 3:3 and John 3:5?  My MTC President told me to figure it out.  It was a pretty fun chase for me.
So, I'm rocking it up over here.  As in, I'm having a blast, but I boast not of myself.  Our MTC Pres is quite spectacular, really incredible guy.  These guys here are also very good people.  I am excited, though, for the Latinos to get here.  I need to practice listening to natives now.  When my teachers speak to me, they speak slowly, and I understand almost every word.  I'm getting good at conjugating.  I need to work on speaking faster, but comprehension of natives is still my biggest flaw.  I know how to teach the lessons in spanish, pretty much.  I've been doing a lot of teaching "The Restoration," I need to teach more "plan of salvation" and "Gospel of Jesus Christ" (which includes repentance, baptism, laying on of hands, etc).
A guy in my district said it best: We're on an island on an island.  So we're eating all the dominican food (more on that later), we're slightly exposed to Domincan weather, and we're speaking to Dominicans, but we're not allowed to go outside the gates that encompass the MTC/Temple grounds, and we hardly ever get to see any natives besides our teachers (and occasionaly some members that come to the temple and stay on the 3rd floor of the MTC building).  We are isolated.
Food's getting better every day.  It was always good, but I think I'm starting to love it.  Breakfast is generally a chocolate-oatmeal thing, super delicious, with as much bread (looks like a sub) as we want, some cereal, and occasionally something delicious like eggs or french toast.  Also, pbj for the sub-bread.  And there's milk, and some really sugary juices.  Lunch is always "la bandera"- Rice, beans, pollo of some sort, and some meat, plus potatoes, usually papaya and pineapple, and concon-really well-cooked rice.  Dinner is usually something small, a couple tacos or something like that, which is not a problem because you gorge yourself at lunch because it's so tasty.  And we get SUCH fresh vegetables, peppers and things.  lots of avocado, Mom :) I love it.
Oh, bananas here are astounding.  I love them.  They always have bananas out, and I like them.
Cool little experience--There's this superpopular beverage in the vending machine here called "Malta morena," that all the Dominicans, especially kids, really like, but none of the Americans like it.  My district decided to try it out.  It was carbonated... umm... I don't know really how to explain it, except the aftertaste was super weird.  One of the guys in my district with a bit of a shadier past said it tastes a lot like beer, which makes sense because it's wheat based.  Anyway, I don't want any more of that, but I'm gonna try some of the other vending items they've got :)
I'm in another district now.  It's good for me, because I like making new friends.  Long story short, my companion had to go home.  My new companion is a really quiet, fanastic guy.  Hard worker, and isn't afraid to speak spanish, even though he's not very experienced.  It's gonna be a good companionship.  I've been learning so much about teaching, and am once again really excited to get out there and show the world what the Lord can bring them.
Other than that, it's been one spiritual experience after another.  I have such a strong testimony of the restored gospel, how God loves all His children, and how this gospel is for US to bring US happiness by getting closer to Christ.  I wish everyone could hear this message, I wish I could sit down and talk to everyone about the beauty and happiness it offers.  I can't imagine how much our Father wants us to hear this message.
I love you all (including you friends that are reading this)!
Have a fantastic week!
Love,
Trent!

Nov 14, 2011

Elder Taylor's Address

Here is Trent's address for about the next 6 weeks:
Elder Trent Nathaniel Taylor
Missionary Training Center
Avenida Bolivar #825
esquina Calle Genesis
Los Robles, Santo Domingo
Republica Dominicana

Nov 13, 2011

11/11/11 Email Home

Dad!  Mom!  Becca!
So, I really only have time to write a little email, so I'll just reply in one email to all the emails I've gotten.
I'm glad you said all that stuff, Dad!  As I was telling mom yesterday, it's pretty intimidating coming to a country where... frankly, I don't understand what's going on.  You always made it look so easy when we went to Mexico, but that's okay.  All the elders got sucked into a bunch of Dominicans taking their bags in carts to the bus, but I wouldn't surrender my bags.  I don't like having to pay people.  I ended up tipping them a dollar anyway, because they had everyone else's bag.  I'm definitely taking it "day by day," I feel like that's the best thing I can do here.  Slow down, don't stress, and remember why I'm here
From what I can tell, my Spanish is better than most everyone else's.  Of course, I am the most verbal, but the people I have heard speak are not very good.  The more practice I get, the more I'm going to speak really fast and really well.
Half of me wants to be really scared about being in a strange place, where I don't really have a "home" and can't speak to people on the streets and everything's really dirty.
The other half of me, the one I'm listening to, has faith that I'm being taken care of, is worried about the welfare of the other 23 guys here with me (5 in my district are from Utah, 1 from Colorado, 1 from Cali, 1 from England), knows that I'm incredibly lucky to have such supportive people in my life and such a can-do attitude, and is half ready to jump outside these MTC gates and just start trying to teach the gospel to these poor Dominicans.  I love this gospel, so much, and am stoked to share it.  Just let me out!
We''re super pampered in here.  It's American territory, really.  Everything's clean, water's safe, electricity works.  We're essentially on temple grounds, so it's a pretty important area.  We'll be playing basketball and ping pong, foozeball, and volleyball.  And foursquare.  Not too different from Provo.  But it's super small, the people we travelled with constitute the entirety of the MTC.  There'll be a bunch of Haitian and Dominicans showing up in three weeks.  My new companion is from Draper, Elder Josh Tracy, he's a sports guy, kind of aggressive, but we get along. He's hard working.  He also loves all the music that I brought (which we've been listening to :), so that's something we can connect on.  I like it.
Oh, breakfast was scanty today.  We had rice cereal (think oatmeal, but like, ricemeal.  It was pretty good), a sort of bread with jelly and PB, lots of platanos, and they have an endless supply of three cereals: Corn flakes, raisin bran, and froot loops.  Really hungry.  Really excited for lunch.
I LOVE being able to communicate in Spanish, to some degree. At least that I can understand better than the others around me, it makes me feel a little capable.  
Becca, don't stress, we're going on that scavenger hunt, okay?  And if we live elsewhere, we'll find plenty of places in which to scavenger wherever we are :) We can come scavenger in the DR. 
San Antonio is hot, right Dad?  Am I going to hate being a doctor after 10 years, or did you have fun at your conference?  The guy we ran into in the airport was going home, fresh off his Santiago mission, he told us that he couldn't believe it was over and would do it again in a heartbeat.
"Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I think it can be easy, if we have faith :)
Mom, good luck with the whole school decision!  I hope you can figure it out.  It'd be pretty cool to have a nurse for a mom.  You could help me study my anatomy or something.  But, otherwise, you can use that time you would NORMALLY use to go to school to cook lots of meals, and then you could give me some of your wonderful recipes!  That would be just as useful :)  Haha, just teasing Ma!  I love you! 
You are wonderful, family!
Thanks for all your letters, keep the updates coming!

Nov 8, 2011

11/3/11 Email home

Dear parents and sister!
Hey, I'm having a fantastic time down here!  It's hard work, but it's definitely worth it!  I love being obedient and succeeding at the things that I do.  Spanish is coming well.  Four tips for you:
1) Don't talk to France-bound missionaries.  They're dumb.
2) Room with latinos.  They're hilarious.
3) Don't say anything too loudly.  People are EVERYWHERE!
4) Listen to the Spirit.  It's real.
 
France:  So, generally when I'm sitting down near people I don't know, I try to start a conversation (surprised, anyone?).  Well, today at lunch, I was doing the same thing, and all these guys were going to France.  Personally, I thought I was quite charming, but they disagreed, apparently.  Everything I said, they had a very clear "buzz off" sort of mentality.  Whatever.  It must be a France thing (Sorry, Brother Staheli!)
 
Latinos:  First of all, we got new roommates, cuz all the old ones left.  The new ones are all latinos, very great guys.  Oh!  Someone tell Elder Bennion and Elder Bird in Montana that I know Elder Murillo... they should know what I'm talking about.  Anyway, So our old guys, they didn't speak perfect English.  Saldana, from Mexico, couldn't tell the difference between "sheet" and the smelly stuff.  We woke up one morning (the morning of sheet exchange) and he says, "Where do I put this sheet?"  We tried to explain the difference between the two, but no matter how many times he said it, it still sounded vulgar.  Good morning.  One night, one of the Elders and I were  fake arguing, and another Elder said something that sounded like, "que quizas!"  We later informed him that "butt" was a better, more MTC appropriate word.  Besides the hilarity, they're great with helping my Spanish.  Loove it. I don't know if I'm getting a new native companion next week, but at any rate, I don't want to be left behind by the Dominicans.  Or, get left behind as little as possible :)
 
Loud:  Another Trent-offending-someone-because-he-spoke-too-loudly story :)  I have a friend from St. George/YASE named Kile Allen, who's really short.  Yesterday, I hugged him, then when he was out of earshot, I said, "he's so SHORT!"  Unfortunately, the guy in front of Elder Barrus and I thought we were talking about him, then gave me a really dirty look.  It was sad.
 
Spirit:  So many good experiences this week.  I started to fall into a bit of a mental trap: I'd sometimes wonder if the Spirit was actually an outside influence or simply ourselves, feeling happy.  This week, I've had so many confirmations, so many guiding moments, so many fantastic experiences, that I can't deny that it's an outside influence. I had the opportunity to take part in a blessing for one of the Elders the other day, and I totally felt the spirit.  I think I even saw little bits and pieces of his mission while the blesser was talking about the people he would help. 

I've been paying really close attention: the Spirit of the Lord comes to our hearts to testify of truthful things, to bring us comfort and inspiration, and to help us through all our trials.  I know the things I've felt have been directly related to my repentance and obedience, and the influence of the Spirit has made me so happy.  Don't forget to say your prayers night and day, family, because it's easy to forget how important this Gospel is.  Don't forget the REAL reason I'm out here for two years: to bring people unto Christ :)
 
So, I should've told you last week, but I forgot to mention it.  I have my travel plans, we're travelling with eight other elders (And I believe there are more) who are all going to Santiago.  We're leaving next Thursday, and it's basically an all day thing.  Show up at the travel office at 3:00 AM, be in the DR around 9:30 PM.  Layovers in like, Dallas and Florida or something like that.  And, I'm 90% sure I'll be able to call you guys during one of the layovers, but I don't think I'll be able to write til NEXT week.  Elder Barrus and I are so excited to get to a different culture, where we apparently have 90 min per meal.  It's going to be so beautiful.  I sure hope I can play music there, they don't let us play it here.  Also, my district is kind of slacking lately, I hope it gets better out there.  Maybe someone will kick us into shape cuz it'll be a smaller MTC.
 
I think I'm going to mail my SD card home before I leave so you can see all the pictures I've gotten here.  I'm glad you liked the other one!
 
Becca, i'm sorry you've had a crazy week!  I love you, keep having a blast, keep being tough, and keep working hard in school, okay?  It's totally worth ANY effort you put into it, I promise.  Oh, and I am seeing Parker a lot.  We play basketball together at gym time, he comes and visits me, it's very fun.
 
Mom, I'm glad you're going to the temple!  I went for the second time today, and it's starting to make more sense than ever.  I like it, it's very, very uplifting.  The MTC in Santo Domingo is also adjacent to the temple, so I'll probably get to go each preparation day there, as well.  I'm sorry they switched you... Tough luck, I guess. Thank you for your love and support, and all the wonderful things you sent me :) They definitely put a smile on my face :)
 
Dad, what's up with you, man?  Where's your emails?  I love you, I hope you're having fun in Vegas and with your new calling :)  It's really funny to me, you teaching 13 year olds.  Don't mess em up too bad.  Just so you know, I really was wishing you were in the temple with me today to ask all my strange doctrinal questions.  There are lots of details that are fuzzy to me about the temple ordinance, and you're pretty smart about those things.
 
Thank you for taking care of all my financial things, and for checking my grades and so forth!  I'm so set for everything I need, except I might need that small suitcase again!  I think my bag's going to be overweight with all the things I've added to it here in the MTC.  I don't know if you'll be coming up here anyway, and you can have it sent to the MTC for $1 at the BYU bookstore... it might be cheaper to have Courtney buy me one and send it to me than to pay postage for something so bulky.  I only need a small one, but I have to pay, like, $130 if my bag is overweight. Sorry I didn't prepare better :(  I love you all very much.  I'm having a good time.  Attitude is everything, just like always, and I haven't done anything really crazy lately, like reprimanding my roommates in the Lords name or anything (Apparently, some guy did that once... Lots of psychos in this world).  There are lots of fun things to keep me entertained, but the best part is being fully immersed in teaching the gospel.  I love it.  Teaching is going okay, we still have a lot to learn, but that's why we're here! 
I know that I'm doing the right thing.  I know that I have your support, and I'm not worried about the little things.  Thank you for being such a wonderful, supportive family.  I pray for you every day.  Love you!
 
Sincerely,
Trent