Jan 29, 2012

Trent's email 1/25/12

Dulce de leche is like... it's like a thick caramel.  About the flavor
of caramel, but not sticky... the consistency of lemon bars, more or
less.  And not sticky.  And not crummy.  But still delicious.  Yeah,
the weakness for desserts still exists.  I may or may not have bought
a giant box of chocolate covered raisins from "pricesmart"today (which
is Costco, but here).
I think it MUST be due to the laid back attitude that there's such a
high rate of inactivity.  So many times, we're like, "You PROMISED us
you'd come to church, and you weren't there!  What happened?" "Look, I
was up all night partying!  Obviously, I had to SLEEP eight hours.
How am I supposed to get to church if I go to bed at 7?" That's
basically their attitude.  It's hard to change the mindset that a lot
of people have, that Christ's just good and going to save them no
matter what they do, and because they were baptized as babies.  Wo be
unto that great and abominable thing that they talk about in the Book
of Mormon.  I'm glad you're working to reactivate people!
One thing that always bothered me about the church in Utah was that
there's always a "status." It's good to focus on those that are
struggling in the church, but I hate it that once someone is declared
äctive" we stop caring about them.  That happened a lot.  You guys
know.
Leo is still just as interested, it seems, but he's sometimes hard to
find in his house.  We'll see how things go.  We found another
interested old man who came to church, but he humiliated my comp
because he kept talking to him REALLY loudly in the middle of
sacrament meeting.  It's okay, but it was hilarious to me :)  Mayteé
and Carlos José and Anacaona are SO funny.  We talked a whole lot to
Carlos yesterday about his disbelief in the Bible, and the role the
Book of Mormon plays in our salvation.  We read the last few verses in
2 Ne 33 (look them up) and invited him to read Mosiah 3 and pray about
it, because he's so confident in prayer.  It was so fun to relate the
gospel to what he already believes, and to use the Book of Mormon to
help fulfill the gaps in his belief. I hope he prays and takes it
seriously.  I know he can get an answer, he just has to try.  Next
goal is to take Anacaona's faith in Joseph Smith and turn it into a
testimony of the Church-help her connect the dots.  It'll be hard,
because old people are difficult to persuade, but right now she has
the Joseph Smith movie, so we'll see how that goes.  Mayteé's reading
that same chapter as Carlos José.
And I should mention Adelso and Massiell!  They're good investigators,
but they're a little lazy and even though Adelso's 25 he's CONTROLLED
by his mother, who is apparently a cocaine addict.  Massiell's 12, his
sister.  But, the mom seems okay with their baptism, even though she's
not interested in listening (despite many attempts).  They just don't
come to church some mornings, but they're very interested, and they
love visiting with us.  They have a baptismal date for the 18th of
February.  We'll see how it goes.
Oh, we found out that someone who we THOUGHT was a member, just
inactive, is actually not a member.  She might be an easy baptism.
She's a cutie, and really sweet.  Fourteen, actually reminds me of
Becca.  But if Becca wore the same clothes, I'd have to duct tape her
body before she went out every day.  Anyway, it's a long and confusing
story, but her name's Lidiana and her brother's a member, and she
keeps coming to church for SOME reason.  It's fun to see her learn
more and more.
Yeah, dad's right, you DO love nursing school :)  I'm glad you're
enjoying it, and hope you're learning a lot!  It'll be good to have a
nurse one phone call away when I'm raising kids and they do crazy
things and bust their heads open.  That's a really cool thing, about
you taking the time to get to understand that guy.  Go mom :)
Ah, that CD grammy gave me for my birthday is SO good!  There's this
one song called "bless my son" that almost makes me cry every time.
Love you, mom.
Also, I trip ALL THE TIME.  It's a disaster.  I really wish I would've
learned how to walk when I learned how to walk.  oh well.  I'll get
better.  And I haven't actually fallen on the ground yet, so que lo
sea (whatever).
well, I love you all!  I sent three different letters to you this
time, so maybe you can just take the highlights from each one to put
on the blog.  That would be cool.  I love you all!  Take care!
Sincerely,
Elder Taylor!
Aye, drill.  It's interesting to see the difference between
missionaries who've been in the military and missionaries who haven't.
There's definitely a go-getter sort of drive with those military
missionaries.  Almost hardened, but definitely hard working.  Don't
worry, I'm enjoying this work a whole lot :)  I get two years of
talking to people!  And you know how social I am :)  Dulce de leche is
delicious.  We also bought crema de leche, which is possibly more
delicious.  Did you get to eat with members a lot?  We have to prepare
our own food most of the time, it's kind of a pain, and I don't want
to try something new and ruin it... I wish members cooked for us.
Maybe when the new mission president gets here.  I haven't had
mondongo (cow stomach/intestines) yet, but I want to sometime out
here.  And to my dismay, there's not very much spicy food in the DR, I
was expecting Mexico-type stuff.  Alas.  Hahahahaha, nightmares?  I
can see you waking up in a cold sweat, and telling Becca about your
horrid dream, and her laughing at you.
Ah, I'm so scared to have an angry, boring, lazy companion.  I was
definitely blessed with Elder Frometa.  We laugh every day, he helps
me learn at my own pace, and we work hard.  He's very patient.  One
thing I've learned is how important it is to REALLY listen to
people-How are you supposed to know how to help them if you don't know
the problem?  I feel like I've been progressing SO MUCH as a
missionary, and really as a human.  Sometimes I find myself wondering,
"What did my dad think the first time he was teaching a woman, and she
started breastfeeding her child right in front of them?" or "What
would my dad say to this guy swearing at us right now?" I realized
that I don't really know you half as well as I should, and it made me
sad.
But, I have picked up some of your habits.  I cross the street like a
maniac, my companion thinks I'm gonna kill myself.  I just time it
right, and pay close attention.  And I like to walk fast.  My
companion's better than me at getting along with everyone, though.
You're really good at that--just starting a conversation and making an
instant connection.  I fall short a lot of times if I don't find
something we have in common, but my companion can do it just like
you-instant friends.  He's very loved by a lot of the Dominicans.
Probably because of his sarcastic sense of humor, which you also
have.
Aye, it's so hard knowing where to teach.  I figure, if I don't feel
like we should go there, we don't.  More or less.  It's nice not
having to call all the shots, the companion really helps.
It's so funny that you don't like dealing with people.  You're so good
at it.  Sounds like a good thing, I hope you're enjoying that relaxing
time.  My companion and I were reminiscing to times when we had the
ability to kick back, watch a movie with our family, eat some popcorn,
and just relax.  No relaxing time here :)
Oh, I'm sure regalos will be necessary.  I'll let you know when I find
something good.  Do you think Becca needs more necklaces?  It's pretty
funny, almost every girl has a necklace and earrings with her name on
it, all in the same exact style.  I guess that's the trend.Thank you
for your money, I'll let you know when the time comes.  Don't worry,
there's still plenty left :)
How good that mom is enjoying working outside of the house :)  I was
afraid she'd miss her TV too much. I do have a fantastic mom, and
you're lucky too.
Well, even though you're being a slacker at work to write me an email,
I'm happy you wrote me.  Love you mucho!
Your son,
Trent
Aye, drill.  It's interesting to see the difference between
missionaries who've been in the military and missionaries who haven't.
There's definitely a go-getter sort of drive with those military
missionaries.  Almost hardened, but definitely hard working.  Don't
worry, I'm enjoying this work a whole lot :)  I get two years of
talking to people!  And you know how social I am :)  Dulce de leche is
delicious.  We also bought crema de leche, which is possibly more
delicious.  Did you get to eat with members a lot?  We have to prepare
our own food most of the time, it's kind of a pain, and I don't want
to try something new and ruin it... I wish members cooked for us.
maybe when the new mission president gets here.  I haven't had
mondongo (cow stomach/intestines) yet, but I want to sometime out
here.  And to my dismay, there's not very much spicy food in the DR, I
was expecting Mexico-type stuff.  Alas.  Hahahahaha, nightmares?  I
can see you waking up in a cold sweat, and telling Becca about your
horrid dream, and her laughing at you.
Ah, I'm so scared to have an angry, boring, lazy companion.  I was
definitely blessed with Elder Frometa.  We laugh every day, he helps
me learn at my own pace, and we work hard.  He's very patient.  One
thing I've learned is how important it is to REALLY listen to
people-How are you supposed to know how to help them if you don't know
the problem?  I feel like I've been progressing SO MUCH as a
missionary, and really as a human.  Sometimes I find myself wondering,
"What did my dad think the first time he was teaching a woman, and she
started breastfeeding her child right in front of them?" or "What
would my dad say to this guy swearing at us right now?" I realized
that I don't really know you half as well as I should, and it made me
sad.
But, I have picked up some of your habits.  I cross the street like a
maniac, my companion thinks I'm gonna kill myself.  I just time it
right, and pay close attention.  And I like to walk fast.  My
companion's better than me at getting along with everyone, though.
You're really good at that--just starting a conversation and making an
instant connection.  I fall short a lot of times if I don't find
something we have in common, but my companion can do it just like
you-instant friends.  He's very loved by a lot of the Dominicans.
Probably because of his sarcsastic sense of humor, which you also
have.
Aye, it's so hard knowing where to teach.  I figure, if I don't feel
like we should go there, we don't.  More or less.  It's nice not
having to call all the shots, the companion really helps.
It's so funny that you don't like dealing with people.  You're so good
at it.  Sounds like a good thing, I hope you're enjoying that relaxing
time.  My companion and I were reminescing to times when we had the
ability to kick back, watch a movie with our family, eat some popcorn,
and just relax.  No relaxing time here :)
Oh, I'm sure regalos will be necessary.  I'll let you know when I find
something good.  Do you think Becca needs more necklaces?  It's pretty
funny, almost every girl has a necklace and earrings with her name on
it, all in the same exact style.  I guess that's the trend.Thank you
for your money, I'll let you know when the time comes.  Don't worry,
there's still plenty left :)
How good that mom is enjoying working outside of the house :)  I was
afraid she'd miss her TV too much. I do have a fantastic mom, and
you're lucky too.
Well, even though you're being a slacker at work to write me an email,
I'm happy you wrote me.  Love you mucho!
Your son,
Trent

Jan 24, 2012

Trent's email 1/18/12

Whewy! What a week!
So, there are some really good foods that I'm gonna miss when I get out of here.  I probably shouldn't be thinking about that right now, but they're so good!  Dad, I bet you've had dulce de leche, just the little brown caramel-type thing?  So delicious!  Also, they sell "bizcocho" flavored ice cream, which means "cake," so there's little pieces of cake inside.  We pay 25 pesos for a whole big cup of ice cream.  That's like 80 cents, for things you'd pay $4 for in the US!  I love it.  We get one every Tuesday night, because it's P-Day eve.

Wow, I don't really know what to say.  Yesterday was a cool day.  We have a list of all the 'members' that live in the ward boundaries, so we went around to all the ones we didn't recognize (which is most of them).  It was interesting to see how many of the inactive members really wanted to come back, they just fell out of the habit, I guess.  Whenever they really started talking, they wanted to come back.  Some have children that aren't baptized.  My companion is excited, cuz that's an easy re-activation/baptism.  He wants to get eight more baptisms before he leaves in another 3.5 transfers (like five months), so I think he's hoping for some easy ones.

We might get some easy ones, too.  The other day, we contacted (meaning tracted to his door) this guy named Leo, who was possibly the most friendly guy ever.  When we walked away, I asked my companion, "was he drunk?" "I don't think so...." Usually, nice people are drunk.  Correction, usually extremely friendly people are drunk.  We've decided he wasn't.  We had trouble getting in contact with him again, and finally we did on Monday.  He was SO excited about learning about Christ.  We gave him a Book of Mormon, he said he'd read Moroni 10 and get baptized February 18 if he got an answer.  This could very possibly be the easiest baptism ever.  We'll see if he actually reads.  Hopefully his wife (who's as nice as he) will be as excited as he is to learn more.

Also yesterday, we had to spiritually wrestle with Mayteé and her family again.  So, Anacaona thinks that Pablo was a corrupt apostle (that's Paul), and he really was just in it for the money. So, we can't use most of the New Testament to teach her until we slay that dragon, which will take some hard work.  Mayteé, her daughter, thinks that the old testament is just a MESS, so she doesn't really believe in that.  And their brother, Carlos José, has a firm testimony of Jesus Christ, but doesn't believe in the Bible.  How that works, I'm not sure.  Here's what happened:

So, we go to their house, planning to teach Follow the Prophet (I don't know why, it wasn't a logical time).  We share scriptures, ask a few questions, explain the way the organization of the church works, show them a chart of the prophet, the twelve, and the seventy, talk about why it's important to follow the prophet, and when we think we're all done, I extend the invitation to Mayteé to follow the prophet.  She tells us, THEN, that she doesn't believe in prophets because she can't trust in one person.  Carlos said the same.  I said we wouldn't have the bible without prophets.  Carlos said he didn't believe in the bible, and Maytee said she didn't believe in the Old Testament.  She said we were more like prophets than Thomas S. Monson, because we preach the gospel.  My companion testified that he KNEW, that any one of our leaders here in this part of the world, especially President Lee, would die for him, just as Jesus Christ died for us.  It was powerful.  Anacaona wanted every prophet to do something extraordinary-she believes in Joseph Smith because he translated the book of Mormon, but how is she supposed to believe in Thomas S. Monson?  We haven't answered that yet.  Mayteé said "If I want to serve a mission to Haiti, I don't need the permission of the prophet." It was really amazing how easy, how simply, we answered her question though-a testimony of the principles of Preach My gospel: LISTEN, don't TEACH-I simply explained that without the prophet, US preaching to THEM wouldn't be possible.  And, plus, because of the organization of the Church, we're able to teach in EVERY PART of the world, not just randomly.  Plus, we know exactly WHAT is most effective to teach, and we know how to teach the full truth.  It made my testimony of prophets grow immensely.  The organization is an inspired system.  So, Mayteé promised she'd keep reading and praying.

And those were the coolest things that happened.  Leche de vaca is exactly what you guessed, mom, real cow milk.  And it's not very good.  We can't get rid of the sour taste.  We're gonna stick to powdered milk.
And thank you for the peanut M&Ms and the camera, I'm enjoying the food and I was GOING to send pictures, but I need a USB-SDcard converter.  I'll go buy one, no worries.  The taxes from Florida packages do come out of my budget, but it's alright. I always leave a little extra space for things like that, and if Florida's more reliable, that's better anyway.  For the record, it wasn't really the worst week ever, I was kidding...

Ooh, what new foods have I eaten?  I tried to make some fried plantains, but I failed.  They were still pretty good.  We had some guanabana juice--it's like a super rich, super juicy, super big grape that you blend up and add water to make it thinner.  I hope I spelled it right.  Also, jagua juice is good, but I had that quite a while ago.  Pastalon is NOT very good, it's like mashed up bananas with... I don't know what.  Probably some sort of cream with like, mayo or osmething.  and cheese melted on the top.  I'm digging "pudding de pan," which is like baked bread pudding, I guess.  Pretty tasty, I get it often.

I'm glad you got the reference, mom, I'm sorry I insulted you.  Good luck with school! it does sound crazy... ugh.  Tyler Olson's in SPAIN?  Aye, mi madre.  That's crazy.  Spain sounds SO difficult, I hope he's enjoying himself.  His dad's a really cool, nice guy, so I hope you enjoy his class somewhat.  Aye, sheesh, apartment in Vegas sounds a little crazy, but if it's easier on dad, that's good.  Please don't be living in Vegas when I get home.  Ugh.

Well, I love you all.  I'm doing well out here, for sure, just so you know.  Don't worry about me.  I'm actually now in the mindset of that 730 days is an extremely short time, I better enjoy EVERY one.  And I am.  My companion and I are still getting along great, and I'm becoming a way better teacher.  It's funny-at the beginning, I just tried to learn how my companion did everything, but I've realized a little more that when you try to learn from Preach My Gospel, you really get the most effective teaching skills.  Which I guess makes sense, it was written by like, 100 old men that know the gospel better than their own houses and have probably served quite a few missions, while my companion is only one guy.

oh, if your name is Miquelle Leslie or Tiele Quist, I promise I'm writing you back.  Sometimes the mail is slow.  Sometimes I am slow.  You'll get your letters soon!

Dear family, you're wonderful. Thank you for your support physically, financially, and most importantly, emotionally.  I love you all.  Take care.

Sincerely,
Elder Taylor

Jan 15, 2012

Trent's email 1/11/12

Worst week EVER.  First, I found out that I look like Krocker from
Fairly Oddparents (Becca will have to show you.  Everyone agrees.  I´m
sad).  Then, I realized that there´s just NO room in my budget for
Peanut M&Ms, so I´m gonna have to give those up.  Whatever.
On the positive side, everything that really matters is fine.  Plus, I
did find a HUGE bag of cookies for half price at the store today,
staying in budget is going well, I bought some brownie mix for a
special treat, and Courtney says I have a beautiful face, so those all
compensate for all those sad things that happened.
So, call me an apostate, but we have an investigator named Kelvin who
lives on a farm.  They showed me a lot of the plants and stuff that
they grow, it was super fascinating.  Yuca is very common here, it´s
like a chewyish potato type vegetable.  Not super delicious, but
interesting.  Not bad.  Also, Kelvin´s neighbor sells fresh leche de
vaca every morning, so my companion and I bought a gallon to probarlo.
We boiled it last night, and it was kind of a fiasco for our first
time, but now we know how to make it an easy process.  You apparently
have to add salt to make it good.  I haven´t really given it a good
shot, so I´ll get back to you on that next week.

I keep having weird dreams about me being home, but wanting to be on
my mission.  It´s weird.  I wrote in my journal the other day about
how fast weeks fly by.  Every once in a while, when I miss school or
warm showers or not WORKING all the time, I wish I were home.  But,
really, I know that the moment I get home I´ll wish I were here again.
I realized that there might be people in this area that I need to
help, and I only have this time right here right now to do it. I
definitely enjoy every day. Missionary work is easy because we´re
doing the best thing we can be doing, and we´ve got help from the best
teammates in the world.

and it´s fun.  Always a challenge, figuring out how we can help
people, how much we need to Answer a question versus stay on topic,
what things we can do differently to help people better, so on.  Today
we played basketball with most of our district, which was really fun.
It´s good to see other people besides your companion that are just as
busy and going through things just as difficult as you are.  Plus,
being able to speak English is nice for a whole day.

so, desafios.  We have one investigator, Adelso, who´s so excited
about the message we have.  He reads (although he´s slow), he´s happy
to see us, he´s 25, he understands well.  BUT HE DOESNT COME TO
CHURCH.  Three weeks in a row.  I´m frustrated.  It´s okay, though.
His family (two hermanitos and mother) just got back into town, and
I´m thinking maybe the Lord wanted us to wait for them so they could
all be baptized together or something.

We have a pair of sisters, Mabelle (17) and Chantel (10) who showed up
to Church on Sunday and LOVED it.  They really enjoyed their YW and
primary classes, and They´re eating up the lessons.  But, because
there are so many women in the church and we have such a need for
active men, we have to wait 9 weeks to baptize women if there isn´t a
man with them who´s taking the discussions.  It´s a little
frustrating, but I can´t change it.  It might be a good thing.  I
think they have like 6 siblings, so maybe after a little time, we can
get their whole family together, including their Dad and cuñado.
Families are definitely essential in the gospel.

One lady, Ani, and her son, Aldo, are really cool.  Elder Frometa had
gone by 8 times to their house and she never ¨had time¨  But finally
one day she let us teach and we invited them to pray together, and
they got super excited about it afterwards.  They might be a good
little family.  We shall see.

Anacaona is trying to quit smoking.  I´m not sure if she´s buying the
message-like Grammy said, it´s hard for old people to change-but her
daughter is searching hard for her answer about Joseph Smith and the
Book of Mormon.  She was actually really irritated when she came to
church and lots of the members weren´t paying attention very well to
something that was hard for her to do (walk alone to church even
though she was sick, it was hot, and her legs were already really
sore).  I wish everyone understood the importance of the gospel like
Mayteé does.  Hopefully she gets her answer.

My companion´s kind of tigre (means tiger, wants to say rebel).  One
guy yelled at us as we walked by "evangelicos!  Uds. son malos!"  My
companion turned around and made it look like he was gonna punch him,
the guy threw down his cigarette ready to fight, and my companion
offered a handshake.  It was kind of funny.  We told him we weren´t
evangelists and that we´d like to come by his house and "Share" with
him, which is the word we use for teach.  He wasn´t in our area, so we
just passed him as a reference, but it was funny.

Other than that, we just teach all the time, extend commitments all
the time, and hear excuses for people not following up with their
commitments all the time.  It´s difficult, but we´re learning,
growing, and finding the right people.  Oh, Haitians have even weirder
baptismal rules!  Because 95% of Haitians in the DR are inactive, they
have to go to church for 6 months before they can be baptized.  Crazy,
right?  When was the last time we went to church for 6 months
straight?  I think they can miss a few weeks, but still...

Hey, Becca.  I really like the size and color of the journal you
bought me at Desert Book.  Do you think you could find more that are
just like it?? I think it would be cool to have a collection of
mission journals that are all the same size and shape.

Also, can you guys find me a check book? I need to keep track of the
things I buy better, but I don´t really have great resources here.
Something I can carry around with me all the time.  I don´t know,
maybe I should just use a notebook.  Let me know what you think.

Dad, I´m glad the diet´s making you feel better!  I hope you have
energy at work, I know when I don´t eat I can´t work.  It´s pretty
killer.  Thanks for the politics and Smiths update!  Im´glad Bachmann
dropped out :)  I sure hope Mitt wins.  I feel like hés most
qualified, and the country only doesn´t like him because he´s Mormon.
Stupid world.  Sheesh, school.  That sounds so weird, the
concept of studying all the time!  A little, anyway.  Don´t be too
nervous, Mom.  Just do your best, and don´t worry.  Becca, tell Mr.
Eaton hi for me, and enjoy school, okay! :D

We read that same thing in Sunday School, Mom!  Haha, I thought it was
very cool.  I´ve been thinking about doing my own, but we´ll see.
Don´t worry about the spiritual stuff, that´s one part I´m not missing
out on.

Although, I do feel like this letter is significantly less spiritual
than those of most missionaries.  I pray all the time, ask for help
all the time.  Maybe I´m not noticing the miracles.  Maybe I just
consider the miracles as part of every day work.  Let it be written
that I KNOW the Lord is helping us along every single step. I couldn´t
be who I am, doing what I´m doing, without His constant guidance.  In
fact, there´s no way I could leave behind you guys (especially Becca),
Courtney, school, Zoë, everything, for anything besides the Lord´s
work.  But because it´s His work, it´s easy.  That´s probably the
biggest miracle, the one being worked inside me.  I feel like I´m such
a better person than I was before, and getting better every day.  I
just hope it´s good enough to really teach these people the message
that will bring them so much happiness.

Take care now, y´all.  (Right foot, let´s stomp).  Parents, please
excuse that popculture reference that you´ll never understand.
Whoever else reads this, please enjoy it.

Ah, one day soon I´ll be the one who doesn´t understand any popculture
references.  Ah well.

Love you all!  Cuídense!

Sinceramente,
Elder Toilet.

(sometimes, Dominican pronunciation cracks me up).

Jan 9, 2012

Email home 1/4/12

Family!
So, I'm trying to attach a picture of me smiling, that I took because
there's a webcam in this Internet business.  I'm doing well!  I spent
most of the morning trying to budget my $3621 pesos that I get for the
next two weeks so I'd know how to spend it (thats 38 pesos to the
dollar, so a little less than $100).  We went to "La Sirena" just
barely, and I feel pretty successful, I think.  Kept things divided up
pretty well, and bought LOTS of fruit, along with two giant aguacates
for only $15 pesos each... that's two giant avacados for less than
fifty cents each, mom :)  I love avacado now.  I'm glad I came on this
"mission" thing, it made me open my mind a little more to food.
Which reminds me, I bought bananas, too.
Which reminds me: Mom, eat seaweed, Courtney, eat steak, Becca, eat...
I don't know what you actually like and don't like, because you always
just seem to dislike whatever I like and vice versa.  Eat something
you don't like, then.  Dad, just keep doing what you're doing.
And I did eat some fresh tomatoes with cheese.  It was okay.

Oh, there has been some cool stuff happening this week.  I try really,
really hard to be obedient.  At the same time, I feel bad telling
other people what to do when they're like, maybe iffy, cuz I don't
wanna be obnoxious.  I'm gonna figure out the balance one of these
days.  I have a seriously wretched conscious, though, because I stayed
up a little too late last night and I had nightmares about me breaking
the rules.  Like, my parents coming to the mission (sound familliar?)
or crazy things like that.

Mom, it's ridiculous how "religious" often hurts people more than it
helps them.  I believe we talked about the book... AH!  What's it
called?  Things Fall Apart.  That's it.  I believe we talked about it,
if you haven't read it, read it.  And here, I notice more than
anything.  "No, no, we're THIS religion, and we don't want to listen
to what you have to say." People end up worshipping their religion so
much that they don't have time to listen to Christ.  Ah.  'Sometimes
you wish you just had time to pray for, sit down with, and show the
truth to everyone.  But you don't.  We're here to find those that are
ready, and declare repentance to those that maybe need a little push.
"Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo al ayudarlas aceptar el
Evangelio Restaurado mediante la fe en Jesucristo y su expiación, el
arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepción del don del Espíritu Santo,
y el perseverar hasta el fin." T'hat's our purpose.  But yeah, a lot
of the "religious people" are just holding on to another vanity, just
like an overwealthy person, or someone who won't give up their coffee,
or whatever else.  That's okay.  Agency.

Spanish is good.  It's actually really good.  I understand nearly
everything when I'm talking to someone who speaks normal.  Although I
still have a lot of work to do as far as speaking goes, the
understanding is good.  And I'm a better reader than most Dominicans.
I'm in the process of teaching my companion grammar, cuz he knows
spanish without the grammar.

Some cool things that people said to me:  "I saw him and I knew he was
walking with God." I liked that.  The guy might've been drunk, but I
like to think that God walks with us when we're obedient, hard
working, and brutally exhausted.  Which I was at that point.  Zone
Leader (talking to my trainer):  "When he's been out for six months,
he's gonna look like he's been out for two years." I think that
reflects the changes I've made in my attitude.  I don't know.  Or
maybe I'm just super... overworked?  No, I'm really not.  My comp's
way more stressed out than I am. One of the Office Elders (because
they're in our ward):  "Man, you guys have the perfect companionship.
That balance between hard work and fun, that's so essential and you
guys have it." It's true.  We had EXCELLENT numbers this week (for
this mission, that's teaching 45 lessons), and the Zone Leaders
actually gave my trainer a boche for working me too hard.  Psh.  Guy
whose house we contacted: "You guys were sent here for a reason: that
Book of Mormon is false!" That day, I learned that the Spirit really
does leave when you argue with people.  He knew the doctrine of Christ
pretty well, but kind of worships the Bible, in a way.  We wasted half
an hour.  I need to listen more and talk less, still.

Well, I don't really have any epic experiences.  Our investigator who
is hopefully getting baptized soon slept in past church again, but he
was super embarrassed and he's definitely repenting, I can tell.  I'm
glad he's on the process.  I can testify, though, that God DOES walk
with His missionaries when they do what they're supposed to.  It's
amazing how well we handle things that go on here.  And we have so
much support from the Church.  Ah, I can't wait to see how some of our
lessons turn out.  I'm really getting a hang of lesson #1, the
restoration.  Ít's fun to teach :)  It's fun to contact.  Mission work
is fun.  I really am enjoying it.  I don't like wasting time at
members houses, I don't like sitting around, I wish I didn't have to
sleep (because Dominicans sure don't).  In fact, I decided that the
only reason NYC is the "City that Never Sleeps" is because there are
so many Dominicans there.  The work is sweet.

Oh, don't worry about pants, I'll buy some here.  If you've already
sent them, thank you!  However, I would like you guys to look up some
(appropriate, obviously) jokes in Spanish and send them to me so I can
use them.  They're fun icebreakers/time passers.  I have a few, maybe
Dad can explain.

Que es la diferencia entre una pera y la novia de un misionero?
Una es pera, y la otra no espera.

Dondé vive Jackie Chan?
Allá! (with karate chop hand motion)

Qué hace el pez en el mar?
Nada.

Yeah, I need more.

Oh, who won Republican Nomination?  I love telling the missionaries
who've been on the mission for a long time about the Mitt
Romney/Mormon/Stephen Colbert stuff, but today I realized that I don't
actually know what's going on anymore, and we should already have a
nominee.

Dad, mom didn't say anything about the dinner with the Smiths, I bet
that was fantastic.  Love those guys.

You should give me their address!  And Kara Taylor's address.  And
Grammy's address.  I'd like to write them all.

Oh, and don't worry about sending me Peanut M&Ms or snickers for the
next... probably six months.  I stocked up on Peanut MMs.  There's an
American import store close by.  It's not cheap, but it's not any more
expensive than American candy in America.

Good luck with sharing the Gospel, mom and Becca.  It's a great thing
to share :) Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm inviting people
to baptism, not as an alternative to what would make them happy, but
as a better route of happiness.  Remember that there IS no greater
happiness than this message.  Without it, I feel like we'd be truly
lost.  I know it's weird, sounding like a preacher sometimes, but
you'd share a soda if it was the best soda you'd ever tasted, wouldn't
you?  So be their friend, and let them know WHY the gospel's the best
thing that's ever happened to the world.

Hahaha, on one hand, sitting on the couch sounds so nice, just eating
popcorn and chatting.  On the other hand, I totally get how Dad feels.
So unfulfilling, when there's so much to be done.  I AM excited to
get back to school, though (deep down, where it doesn't bother me) and
start learning to be a doctor again.  I'm sure I'll miss this focus
after all the work here, though.  I love not having to worry too much
financially or mentally or physically.  Just follow the schedule, and
everything will be fine.  I think I'll make myself a schedule and a
budget when I get home so I don't have to worry as long as I follow
the standards.

Mom, good luck with school.  Remember why you're doing it, and have
some fun!  Remember that I love you, and that we're all supporting
you!

For any friends reading this, I'd still love to get photographs from
all you, if you have any!  But print them and send them, cuz there
aren't good printers here.

Much love.  Stay safe!  Pray a lot, do good work.  I'm praying for you all!

Love,
Trent.

Jan 3, 2012

Email home 12/28/11

Ooh, Macbook AIR!  How cool.  Those are fantastic for school.  I´m glad dad´s so excited to buy everyone everything, still.  That´s funny.  

I think it´s funny, being out here for only two days and being able to talk to you already.  It was like, everyone in the mission had been waiting for it to happen cuz it´s something that only happens every once in a while, but I feel like I've been talking to you guys all the time lately, simply because I just left two months ago.  But, I did love seeing you guys.  Glad to see everyone's happy.  My companion's family was neglecting to tell him that his dad has had two heart attacks.  Please don't do that to me, in the event that anything happens.  Just let me know.

We've made some more good contacts.  My companion is confused, cuz we're having significantly more success than he did.  He thinks it's because we're happy people, and we take it seriously when we need to.  I've decided that, from my limited experience, a good missionary does three things.  1) Loves everyone-companion and EVERY person he meets, no matter how scary they seem. 2) Has ultimate faith in the Lord 3)  Just does what he's told.  They've figured out this whole mission thing from years of experience, so if you follow the rules and plan and schedule and if you are where you're supposed to be at the right time with a good attitude, everything works out.  I'm not saying I'm gonna have a 60 baptism mission (which exists, apparently), but I know I'm gonna have success, whether the numbers come or not.

So, gross thing that happened this morning.  Apparently evaporated oil likes to recondense on the top of our cabinet, where we've been storing some dishes that we don't use very often.  And in the 4.5 months it's been a mission home, it hasn't been cleaned, and probably a long time before that.  Well, recondensed oil is GROSS, the best way I can describe it is with the viscosity of hot tar.  And when your cleaning supplies are limited to a scrubbrush, water, pinesol, and vivacious youthfulness, you're gonna need a WHOLE lot of the last one to get it off.  I probably scrubbed the top of the cabinet for two hours.  I think I sweated more today than I have walking around tracting.  Anyway, as soon as almost all of it was off the cabinet and on the scrubbrush, I went downstairs to try to expell it from the scrubbrush to the concrete (because the scrubbrush was so dirty, it wasn't working, and the oil wouldn't .  The bishop of our ward, who happens to live right below us, came out and gave me a product that is MADE for removing that stuff.  On the bright side, I think I'm stronger now, we have cabinet space, I have more cleaning experience (future husband points, right?), and I laid aluminum on the top of the cabinet to ensure easy removal next time (thanks to suggestion of mrs. bishop).  But, our kitchen is deliciously clean, thank heavens.  I don't fear E. Coli any longer.  Oh, except maybe from INSIDE the fridge.  I didn't get there, unfortunately (cursed oil).  But, next week.  And my health's still good, so there probably isn't any E. Coli anywhere in the kitchen.  And I can probably survive another week.

In other news, I figured out how to enjoy cold showers.  I just pretend like I'm going down a really big, fun, coldish waterslide (like seven peaks!) and just dive in.  once the water hits your spine and makes you gasp, it stops being so painful.  And I can pretend like I'm at a pool or something, which I sort of miss.  So, killing two birds with one stone.  I feel so efficient and resourceful =)

I still need to figure out how to budget better.  I overspent by about $5, maybe 10 dollars.  I think when I finally get the basics in the apartment (and everything is clean again) I can spend a little less.  I don't really know how to live cheaper... we eat rice, beans, a little chicken, and cereal.  I guess we could give up the powdered milk if we have to.  Or the meat with the rice.  And I did buy oreos and a couple tasty drinks at the corner store.  I'll figure it out.

Sheesh, quite the party with the family, eh?  Sounds exciting, seeing everyone.  


Oh, I got some bleach on one of my pairs of pants.  so, yeah, it's ruined.  I don't need one now, but next time you send a package, if maybe you could get some money out of my account and buy me another pair, that'd be nice.  Did I tell you that Florida's apparently the best for letters, while FedEx to the mission home is probably the best for packages?  I think I did.  I think they said that because Florida taxes out the wazoo for packages.  But, do whatever you need to. 

Thanks for the update.  Kristen and Austin graduating, it's like the world's at an end or something.  Hahaha, lots of UVU students, huh?  Well, it has some REALLY good programs, so that's good.  Tell Jessi good luck for me.  That sounds really hard, all that work and school.  How's Brit?

Some days my spanish is really good.  Some days its really bad.  Today, I haven't been speaking Spanish because I'm a sinner.  But, life's good.  I felt super excellent on... I believe it was Sunday night.  There's a member named Melvin, and he has a sister who's pretty... oblivious?  She's fourteen, just like Becca, and her name's Liliana (pretty, right?).  Anyway, I don't really know her status, she's apparently a member that sometimes attends another ward even though she lives in our boundries.  But, she didn't know who Joseph Smith was, or about the importance of the Book of Mormon and prayer.  so we taught her (and a bunch of other people were there) about those things, the restoration, and she prayed at the end of the lesson, and I felt something so fantastic.  Like, I was immensely happy that she prayed, even though we get people to pray ALL the time.  I feel like Liliana's prayer was something that Heavenly Father was waiting for for a long time, and He was extremely happy when it happened.  I'm definitely blessed to be a part of this process of people getting closer to their Heavenly Father.  I wish I could help everyone I know understand all these things that I'm teaching and learning.

Which, by the way, is so fantastic.  I was just walking down the street yesterday, and felt like I had a backpack full of gold, or money, or something, and I was handing it out to people.  If people understood our message, tha's what would be happening.  This message is WAY better than any physical thing.  The knowledge that God loves you, wants to listen to you, and has sacrificed everything so that you can live with your families for forever, and is willing to help you EVERY STEP of the way, in any aspect of your life--if people understood how true this really was, how much it can help them, they'd want it more than gold.

I'm getting accustomed to being here.  I was looking out at the city today, and it WASN'T weird, this time, that I'm in the Dominican Republic.  It has been the past few weeks, but I'm finally acostumbrándome.  Although I don't understand everything yet, and I generally have NO idea where we are at any given time of the day, I'm feeling comfortable, ready to work, sane.  My companion's got a good head on his shoulders, so he takes good care of the both of us.  And I'll figure it out sooner or later.  Hopefully before he leaves in three months =)

I love you all!  Have a fantastic week.  I pray for you, and love you.  Thanks for everything you do, which I know is a lot.  Two years is gonna go by before y'all know it, just take it one day at a time.  Cuídense!

Amor,
Elder Taylor