Feb 21, 2012

Trent's email 2/15/12

Ooh, the Vegas apartment.  Sounds like fun :)  I didn't know Dad was a
neat freak!  Ah, every day I learn a little more about that guy.  I
kind of envy your terrific weather, we've had some pretty warm days
followed by some pretty heavy rain.  But, it's all good.  I actually
enjoy suffering a little bit, makes me feel like I'm doing the
"missionary thing".
Okay, school stuff is NOT boring.  Courtney tells me about school
stuff all the time, and it's not boring.  Hahaha, I remember my
friends telling me stories about "new doctors" giving them shots.  You
should've seen the doctor that gave elder Frometa stitches the other
day, he was pretty bad.  I was surprised Elder Frometa wasn't
shouting.  Oh, he cut himself on a can of corn.  No big deal.  That
was almost two months ago.

Sorry to hear about Becca's leg.  good she made it around Vegas just
fine, but I'm sure it'll start "flaring up" again when school rolls
around.  Is she still enjoying soccer?  And how's piano?

I think Zoe's alright.  She doesn't write me very often because she's
ridiculously busy (remember, she's in the IB program, which is like a
whole schedule full of AP classes).  So, we write every once in a
while.

With Lidiana, the missionaries just baptized her older brother.  He
was the only one who was interested in listening at the time, I guess,
but now she's rolling around. I found out the other day that she
usually works til three in the morning on Sundays, but she's still
made it to church five weeks in a row.  I don't know how she does it,
but it makes me feel really stupid for showing up late to church
sometimes.  Staying active is a pretty big struggle.  It's amazing how
many people we find that aren't active.  One of my teachers in the CCM
down here said it's because there was a time where missionaries were
just baptizing, but they weren't baptizing well.  The converts weren't
"True converts." So, maybe that's why.  Also, to me it seems like
missionaries don't do very well letting the ward take charge after the
baptism.  Lots of new converts just get attached to the missionaries
and then let their activity in the church drop when their missionary
leaves.  The mission now is focusing on getting a member at every
lesson the missionaries teach so those bonds can start early and
strong.  Hopefully it'll help.

So, we were blessed to have Elder Bednar come talk to the mission this
Monday.  It was fantastic.  120 missionaries, the mission President,
and him in one chapel.  Plus, you know, the translators and security
guards and stuff.  It was different than anything I expected-we came
prepared, having read two talks he'd given previously, and he asked us
what we learned, then shared with us more about what he thought could
help us learn.  One of the biggest things I learned was that a lot of
times, we like to think that we're objects-something that can't act
for itself, that is just subject to whatever is going on around
us-when in reality, we're God's children, and we're made to be agents.
We choose what we do, we can't blame other people or other things for
our choices.  Lots of people like to say, "Oh, yeah, I wanted to go to
church, but there was this and this and this..."  we're agents unto
ourselves.  We choose our priorities.  I know God judges us according
to our situation, but He still expects us to "Have no other Gods
before me," which refers to ANYTHING that could take you away from
doing what He has commanded.  Elder Bednar also shared a scripture
that said something like, "He who puts his father or his mother before
me is not worthy of me." That's not to say we love our family less,
but we love Him more.  Also, he talked about how in one country, the
government forbid meeting in church houses, so they held church under
a mango tree.  Because all the gospel really consists of is the
Spirit, the authority of God, and God's children, coming to Him in
repentance.  Oh, and he said, "If you haven't been rebuked by the Holy
Ghost recently, you need to repent."  Being rebuked is a good thing.
That's the point of this life-to improve.
It was a fantastic conference.

so, I decided I'd tell you a little bit about daily life here in the
Dominican Republic, specifically in Pueblo Nuevo.
I wake up at 6:30 to pray, use the bathroom, and do exercises.  I
usually do jumping jacks first, and then other stuff.  Sometimes I
stop early so I can make some pancakes for my companion and I (we
bought a HUGE bag of bisquick, and even though it's not the best, it
is "quick.")  or some eggs or something.  Then, I eat or shower,
depending.  It's ridiculously quiet in the morning.  The sun comes up,
and it's usually really beautiful orange and red colors.  I start
studying the Book of Mormon (President Lee told us all to read the
Book of Mormon and highlight all the names of Christ and count them at
the bottom of every page) for an hour or so, then we have
companionship study for two hours, where we talk about some of the
"fundamentals" of mission work (because I'm still in training) which
are Revelation through the Book of Mormon; Revelation through Prayer;
Revelation through Church attendance; We invite, they commit, we
follow up; how to begin teaching; Doctrine of Christ (baptism,
repentance, faith, holy ghost, endure to the end); Role of Holy Ghost
in Conversion, and one more that I can't remember right now.  Lots of
it comes from Preach my Gospel, but we also do a lot of watching a
movie called "The District," which shows real missionaries doing real
lessons and applying the principles, so that we can learn more.  Then,
we practice some.
Sometimes we have meetings after that, or sometimes we go preach for
an hour and a half.  People are usually up around 10:30, so I haven't
gotten yelled at for waking people up.  Usually, Dominicans will yell
the two phrases they know in English as we walk by, and the kids will
yell swear words, because that's apparently all they know.  Then, we
go back to the house, and outside people walk by selling all sorts of
fruits and veggies: oranges, pineapples, avacados, papaya, huge
carrots, something called yuca, potatoes, lettuce, etc.  Oh, we
usually buy about $1.50 worth of meat at the meat store, and go back
and Elder Frometa cooks some good rice with whatever meat we chose.
Then we eat, I study Spanish, sometimes we sin and take a nap (my goal
is to NOT take naps this week), and then we leave again at 3 to more
appointments.  We plan every night, but planning never works very well
because people aren't ever home, even when they say they will be, and
we can't teach women without a member present, and we've had two
members bail on us last minute this week, so usually our planning
involves writing down a bunch of names based on where we'll be in the
hopes that they'll be home and we'll be able to teach them.  So, we do
that for six hours.  Sometimes, we have really spiritually lessons.
I'm learning that the less I talk and the more I let the Spirit teach,
the better the lessons are.  The Book of Mormon really is a powerful
tool.  At least five times a day, a car drives by blasting
ridiculously loud music, so we have to stop talking for a minute.
most of the houses are made of concrete, but quite a few are also made
of wood.  They all have very weird colors.  The area I'm in is really
a neighborhood, with blocks and road signs (sometimes) and stuff.
There aren't very many stopsigns, though, so people just drive through
and honk.  All the houses are different colors, like blue, green,
orange, red. It's really gotten rid of any desire I could've had to
have an orange house.  Some of them are disgusting, with the wood
rotting, or cement cracking, but people still live there.  There's not
a very good waste program here, so people just throw their garbage in
the streets.  Also, about twice a week we hear about someone who got
shot the night before (and everyone says it's because they're involved
with drugs), or crazy things that happen.  Sometimes, when we go to
the other part of our area called Baracoa (that's where Maytee lives)
late at night, we run into drag queens, who are always eyeing us.
Then, there's another part of our area really far from here called
Otra Banda, and to get there we have to cross a pretty scary bridge.
It's held up so far, though, so I'm not too worried.  At night, we'll
usually spend 5 pesos (that's like, 15 cents) on a snack at the
colmado (little corner store with all your basic needs), go home,
plan, maybe make some food, and go to bed.
On mondays, we have district meetings, and that's when I get all the
mail from the last week or so.  On Wednesdays, we have pday (as you
know) and today we played baseball with the whole zone (there were
about 25 missionaries there).  On tuesday nights, we celebrate "pday
eve" with a cup of ice cream that we buy locally.  Really good stuff,
about 75 cents for five scoops of ice cream.  Try getting that deal at
Baskin Robins.  There's lots of catholics, and lots of "bancas," which
is like a lottery place or something.  Anyway, that's typical
Dominican Missionary life.
And I'm doing fantastic.  Still loving it, kind of surprised that I'm
already so far into my mission, but still feeling like I'll never
finish, having a blast with Elder Frometa.  Everything's good!  I love
you guys, pray for you lots, and always look forward to writing you on
Wednesdays.
Anyway, I'll see you soon!  Much love!
Elder Taylor.

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