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