Mar 25, 2012

Trent's email 3/21/12

How is Elder Sweeney?How long has he been out on his mission?
Mom, Dad!
Thanks for the update, both of you.  I sure appreciate it.  Except
tell me more about the politics stuff!  And Courtney said there's some
stuff going down with Anne Frank's temple work and Randy Bott saying
inappropriate things to the Washington Post.  I want to know about
this kind of stuff, guys!
Mom, I'm proud of you for doing school!  I hope you're having a fun
time, even though it's difficult.  Pretty jealous of vacation, not
jealous of the cold.  It's hard to give 100% when you're feeling good,
I can't imagine trying to work this hard through being sick.  It's
hot, but at least my immune system's keeping me protected well.
As for Elder Sweeney and I, we have our ups and downs.  He's not as
mellow as I thought he was at first, but still pretty mellow.  It's
weird, I'm just really used to the way Frometa does things, and
sometimes Sweeney gets on my nerves.  But, it's okay, it's all about
patience and learning, right?  He's a fantastic missionary, and I'm
glad I get the chance to work with him.  His spanish is also
impressively good, inspires me to keep studying and working at it.
mom, you're definitely right about inviting the Spirit.  That's
basically what Elder Bednar taught us--bring the SPirit, and get out
of the way.  You guys can't really teach anyway, you're 19 years old.
It's true.
I'm glad there's so much good news with the family!  But I definitely
don't agree, living in Kanab would not be fun.  Too quiet.  Then
again, we walked out in the field last night and it was BEAUTIFUL to
be out of the city for awhile.  I never appreciated how nice it is in
St. George, with the mellow city, and so much wilderness nearby.
Pueblo Nuevo really is crazy.  Elder Sweeney came from the mountains
in "Bonao" and he has lots of trouble sleeping here. I've become an
incredibly deep sleeper, which is a skill I've always kind of wanted.
So, we've had some fantastic experiences this week.  First of all, we
have to buy filtered water from the corner store (henceforth will be
referred to as a "colmado"), and on our way back, my companion broke
one of the four big bottles we have.  That was last week.  Good
starting point.  It was actually really funny.  But, the next day, we
were contacting (aka trying to find more people to teach) and he
walked right up to a door, knocked on it, and the guy answered and
said, "I prayed last night, one of the very few times in my life that
I've prayed.  I prayed that I could get a job so I could fix my
relationship with my wife, and also that God would help me know if I'm
doing anything wrong.  Today, I got a phone call for an interview, and
I don't think it's a coincidence that you guys knocked on my door."
His name's Anthony, his wife's name is Janet or Yanet, we're not sure.
so, that was a fantastic tracting experience.  We'll see how that
goes.  Right after that, we went up to the next floor in the apartment
building, an American answered, we said, "Hello!" and she said, "I'm
not interested, bye."  Then, closed the door.  One of the warmest
welcomes and one of the rudest rejections I've experienced so far,
back to back.  THere you go, Mom, you asked for experiences last week
:)
Also, also, there's one part of our area (really, it's just two
streets) that's full of houses.  I think I mentioned it before, makes
me feel like I'm in America.  Well, the little bit of contacting we've
done over there proved to be really difficult.  On Saturday, we were
nearby, and it started to POUR rain.  We were hiding under an awning,
but I remembered something someone told me in the MTC: "Dominicans
think that if you get wet in the rain, you'll get sick.  If you're
tracting in the rain, they WILL Invite you in.  It's like, Dominican
law.  they always yell 'no se mojan!'"  So, I said, "comp, let's go
get in some difficult houses."  So, we went to "parte bermudez"
(aforementioned difficult area).  We got rejected by three different
houses, even though we were soaking wet.  I filled out our personal
information (names, cell phone number) while my comp talked to a woman
who was in her garage who didn't invite us in, and I almost couldn't
write.  She didn't invite us in.  But, we arrived at one house where
they finally let us in.  The parents are architects, the oldest
daughter is 13 and speaks perfect English (mom too, she's from Puerto
Rico) and they are the most beautiful family.  My companion keeps
dreaming about him as a stake president.  The mom saw some of the
commercials about the family when they were running here (I think in
the 90s) and her dad was really good friends with some missionaries
when she was a kid, so she's excited.  We left them a book of mormon.
We're going back today to talk to them again, and we're really
excited.
So, that's the mission work in Pueblo Nuevo.  Love you all, keep me
updated, gotta go!
Yours,
Elder Taylor

Mar 20, 2012

Trent's email 3/14/12

Dear familia!
So, another week has flooown by.  Except this one brings some changes,
and I like change.
My new companion's name is Elder Sweeney.  I'm still in Pueblo Nuevo,
and I have to show him around the area.  It's weird, cuz he's in
charge, but I have to help him know how to run the area.  Plus, I have
to show him to all our investigators, and tell them what's going on.
Everyone's going to be sad that Frometa is gone, investigators never
like change.
Sweeney's cool.  He's actually from Oklahoma, Ada, Oklahoma, and his
dad went to OU for law school.  He's the youngest of 5 and his
brother's a dentist (Kace Western, in Ohio).  I was NOT expecting an
American, but here we are!  Kind of a quiet guy.  It's weird, I was
actually expecting someone who would come in and start telling me what
to do, but he's mellow and not very opinionated, really.  We already
went shopping, so we're all set for the week, and for the rest of the
day, we'll probably just hang out in the house and maybe write some
letters.  Until six.  Lots of appointments after six.
Wow, mom, I don't even know where to start with teaching experiences.
I feel like I'm not a very good teacher, I need to work on it alot.
We have lots of people who just decide that "everything that talks
about God is good," and so it's hard to convince them about the one
true church, and the necessity of authority.  A lot of people don't
really care what you have to say, they're just happy that you're
blessing them by talking to them about God, so they'll just pretend
like they understand and keep nodding their heads.  Also, I feel like
I'm incapable of asking people good questions.  It's something we're
supposed to do as missionaries-ask people questions to see how much
they understood.  My questions ALWAYS seem to confuse people, so
they're never effective, and I eventually feel like people learn
nothing.  But, I don't know how to teach any more clearly, or use
questions... I'll be reading lots of Preach My Gospel this week with
my companion to figure out this problem.  Sometimes, I want to think
that some people are really incapable of understanding our message, no
matter how many times we try to explain it-they won't let go of their
misconceptions about God, and His infinite blessings for anyone
"good."  They often compare themselves to the people in the street
drinking all day, and decide that, because they're not like that, they
will receive the love and blessings of God.  Even if we try to explain
D&C 130:18-19, they don't get it.  Maybe I need to start telling
people straight up, "You will NOT receive the happiness that you can
receive if you don't CHANGE."  I don't know.  I still feel weird
chewing people out.
So, that's my summary of teaching experiences.  This coming week, I'll
try to write down some specifics for you so I can give you a good
story to hear.  Sorry it's not that satisfying.
Oh, so people don't slam doors in our face. One time this week, I was
tracting with a new missionary (splits with the new guys, it happens
sometimes) and we met a family that had attended Church before.  The
husband was semi-friendly, but the wife wouldn't look at me.  After a
few nice comments and offers to help around the house, she smiled at
us.  But, when we tried to set an appointment, they said, "No, we
already know about your message." I tried a few more times, but their
answer was that they already have a knowledge.  Looking back, I
should've asked him what it was that he "knew," but I just left.  That
was one of the very few rejections that have happened to me in the
last three months.
I can't believe you guys are in Vegas, hanging out by a pool.  That
seems SO far away, so impossible.  But, you know, I'll be back
sometime, and it'll be fun :)  For now, I'm still enjoying being a
missionary.  I'm not complaining, I just feel so far away!
Thank you for sending me a package!  I'm really excited.
This week has been weak.  We spent a lot of time bumming around,
saying goodbye to people.  I am just a pushover sometimes, I wanted to
be working, but he wanted to just pass by one or two houses, but we
spent SO long in those houses.  Ah, well.  Only happens every once in
a while.  I really need to start courageously insisting on doing
missionary work, finding more people to teach.  Even the people that
seem most determined to make a change in their lives have a hard time
getting to Church.  I think 9:00 AM Sunday and Dominican don't mix
well.  Lots of people sleep in too much.  We might have a good
experience with Abraham, I don't even remember if I've told you about
him before, but he's the 16year old brother of a less active, who, one
time, hung around to watch the Joseph Smith movie when we were
teaching his brother (we teach less actives every once in awhile), and
he showed up to Church the next day, so now we should be baptizing him
soon.
oh, that's a hard thing.  We're supposed to set baptismal dates with
everyone, like in the first or second lesson (to help them start
making changes, and motivate them to start making them quickly, like
coming to church and receiving an answer about Joseph Smith), but in
my experience, the people that Accept the baptismal date never take it
seriously, and the people that don't accept the baptismal date don't
really progress.  I don't know how to change that, either.  That's one
thing that drives me crazy about this country.  Everyone claims to
have such great faith in God, but to them that just means praying to
Him whenever they're in need.  It doesn't have anything to do with
keeping commandments, going to church, helping other people... just
asking him for everything.
But, we keep working, looking for people that are willing and ready to
change.  The earlier mentioned "new missionary" was kind of robotic,
but he kept saying, "Let's go find a family to teach!"  That's got me
some good motivation, because I've always thought that was important
to do, but it never seemed important to Frometa, so I didn't worry
about it too much.  I also read on one of the first pages of Preach My
Gospel that we need to focus on Families, so I think that'll be my
goal this week.
Oh, and to my knowledge, no one from our mission has been called out
to Cuba yet.
Well, family, I love you.  Take care, work hard, play hard, sleep
well, pray lots.  Don't forget about me!  I think about you guys all
the time, and miss you lots.
Sincerely,
Elder Taylor

Mar 12, 2012

Email home 3/7/12

Wow.  I´m such an idiot.  I just lost my whole email, which took me 30
minutes to write.  Stupid google mail, where´s the automatic save??
What year is this, 1992?  Lousy world.
Okay, so, here´s the jist.
Dad, thank you for the political updates!  I wish I could participate,
but I should live in a different state if I want to make a difference.
Mom, the ward has about 100 people, maybe a little more, with quite a
few kids.  It´s actually pretty big by ward standards.  There are
quite a few branches, though, so not everything´s the same.  Elder
Jenks y Elder Lowe, from Rafey, are serving in a branch.  We´re only
in one ward, which we actually share with the ¨office elders.¨  It´s a
large area.  Elder Hale recently went home, so I´ve become, by
default, the ward pianist.  We have a small, dinky keyboard, in quite
a large chapel, so I´m not heard very well.  Thankfully.  Still
haven´t mastered sight reading.
Next transfer, Elder Frometa should be gone, and I should get a
different companion.  That happens next Wednesday, so I´ll be writing
you with a new companion.
Or, maybe, I´ll be writing you from a different country.
On February 16th, Elder Bednar dedicated Cuba to be open for
missionary work.  It sounds like a few missionaries will be being sent
there next transfer.  He said, however, it would be the hardest
working, most diligent.  My comp actually thinks no Americans will go,
and he knows quite a bit about Cuba because his dad´s cuban.  I don´t
feel like I´ve done much, so I doubt I´ll get sent there.  It would be
cool, but I´d be happy to stay here.
In other news, our new mission President´s name is President Douglass.
Yeah, he´s white.  I think he served his mission in Ecuador, so he
speaks really good spanish.  That´ll happen in about 4 months.
Yeah, pdays are always on Wednesdays, but things could change when the
new president gets here.
Okay, I neglected to mention, until now, that the entire month of
February is called ¨carnaval,¨ which is a big party.  The mellower
dominicans say that it´s just another excuse to party, because they
always have one.  Carnaval consists of lots of drinking, parades,
confetti, and something called ¨Lechones¨ every Sunday.  A lechón is a
person who dresses up in an extremely colorful jumpsuit that has lots
of bells and mirrors sewed onto it, walks around wearing a sparkley,
colorful mask with horns that are four feet long and a nose that is
two feet long, cracking a whip.  Kids pulled out the whips in the
middle of January to start practicing, and I think they´ve all been
put away now, but it´s amazing how strong they can crack those things,
even some of the short little ones.  I tried, I looked pathetic, and
didn´t even get a little crack.  But, that´s okay.  Anyway, I don´t
know the story behind the lechones, but they´re cool.  Oh, they also
carry around inflated cow stomachs and whack people with them.
Someone should look that up.
Thank you to everyone who sent me a letter this week!  I got lots, so
I´ll try to respond as soon as possible.  I´m already way behind.
Today we played basketball, and I did terribly, but it was fun.  My
spanish is coming really well, I´m happy.  My biggest problem is still
budgeting, I somehow ended up spending most my money last week and I
still have two more weeks to go on this transfer.  I think it might
have to do with the packages I´m getting, or maybe I just need to eat
less cereal and milk.  I bought a ton of oatmeal, so that should help
out.  Also, I haven´t been buying any junk food.
I learned ALL KINDS of stuff this week, like the importance of
following the Holy Ghost, how much Heavenly Father loves us, what a
real missionary spends his time doing, how to love people, when to not
argue with people and just let it go.  I´m learning so much.  My
trainer says I´m way different than when I arrived, and I guess I can
feel it.  I´m excited to start with a new companion and learn
different things.  I think it´s just a rule that people start to get
on your nerves after three months, 24-7.  Still love him, but excited
for a change.
Also, I´m still working on humility.  That´s such a hard thing, I
think for everyone, but maybe especially for me.  I have to keep
reminding myself to ¨look up,¨ like Carl B. Cook said in Conference,
and how it said in the January ensign.  Read that stuff, by the way,
it´s fantastic!
Love you all, take care, and thanks for all your support!  I
definitely feel your prayers.
Sincerely,
Elder Taylor!

Mar 4, 2012

Trent's email 2/29/12

Parents!
Fantastic to hear from both of you :)  THis week has gone by
extraordinarily fast, even as far as weeks go around here.  Soon, I'll
probably have a new companion. Yach.  It's been good, though, still
growing a lot, and happy to be here :)
First, business.  That package cost me about $20 from my "apoyo," so
I'm taking out $20 from my personal account to make up for it.  Also,
I don't need tennis shoes out here, but if you can find room in my
boxes at home, that'd be great.  Also, before I forget, my companion
thinks Dad's cool, with all the stuff I tell him about.  Like, theater
rooms, and iPhones, and stuff.  I also realized that when I get back,
Dad and I need to basketball it up.  So get ready, mi viejo, cuz I'ma
take you down.  (love you :)
Wow, poor Dr. Dean, playing the same song with Becca and me.  Ah, how
I miss playing the piano.
So, we're going to Costco today (it's actually called pricesmart, but
I'm almost certain they're the same company). It's the hang out spot
when we have our designated "pday in santiago," which means we get to
go anywhere we want in the mission.  I'ma buy more raisin bran.

I think there's a little less than `120 missionaries, but it's close.
There's very, very rarely a conference with the whole mission because
President likes hearing and talking to the missionaries, so he can
apply his wisdom directly to our experiences.  We do Zone conferences
with the President every other transfer (transfer-six weeks), and the
Zone has about 30 missionaries.  It's cool.  I like them.  When I'm
done training, we'll only have 1 hour of companion study every day.
And I really like this firm schedule, it makes me feel way more
productive.  Takes some discipline at first, but that's what the MTC's
for.
Wow, 100% on Pharmacology!  That's fantastic.  I remember taking lots
of tests thinking I didn't do so well, and then surprising myself.
THose are the best :)

So, this week I started reading Jesus the Christ.  And it is
fantastic.  I so miss the intellectual world of college, so it's
really fun to read James E. Talmage talk about what happened during
the Life of Christ.  I'm learning all sorts of things that I never
realized (I think I need to finish reading the New Testament), and
there are some really cool images and discussions in that book.
Apparently (according to my companion), Albert Einstein and James E.
Talmage were friends, and Einstein said that Talmage was the smartest
man he ever knew.  BUt, my companion also says lots of things that I
don't know if I can trust... It's hard around here, because we don't
get the opportunity to research the internet or anything, so a lot of
our information is hearsay (outside of the standard works and the
mission library).  So, yeah, if someone feels like looking up random
quotes.  While you're at it, will you find out if missionaries in ALL
countries get the same amount of support money?  I've heard otherwise,
but my companion says every mission gets the same.  We get almost $100
on the 1st and 15th of every month.  Just wondering.  and also, I
wonder if there are any ATMs here that I can use that won't charge my
personal account with Chase?  Okay, that's all.
Dad, what you said is so true about "loving them into baptism." Hardly
anyone remembers what the missionaries tell them, but the Spirit is
what converts people.  I've been trying so hard this week to just
bring the Spirit into our lessons, through our testimony, through my
obedience to the little rules, and through the scriptures.  It's
amazing how well we can teach if we just do those three simple
things-We've had a lot of success just in the past two days because
I've changed my style.  Hopefully that'll turn into good fruit,
meaning baptism.  Also, we've been finding new investigators like
crazy.  We're just running in circles with many of the ones we have
right now, so it's been fun to change it up quite a bit.  Hopefully
we'll get some to church soon :)
I've been studying lately in Alma 45-60ish.  Captain Moroni is SUCH a
boss.  Wow, so confident and willing to do what he needs to do to
accomplish the Lord's will at any moment, I love hearing about it.  I
wanna be like Captain Moroni!  And Teancum, also awesome, and Helaman,
and the sons of Helaman.  Man, I love those chapters!
Spanish is coming really well.  I find myself translating for the new
missionaries every once in awhile, which is nice because I remember
being there three months ago.
Ooh, I just remembered.  We have a picture of the seventy, and there's
this one guy that I think looks just like me.  Carlos A Godoy.  Tell
me what you guys think.
Speaking of people that look just like me, Tiffany Diener sent me a
package, and enclosed her senior picture.  We definitely have pretty
much the same face, and my companion says she's hot, so I guess I make
a prettier girl than I do a guy.  It's cool to see that sort of stuff.
Well, life's fantastic here.  STill eating lots of fresh pineapple and
stuff like that.  I've been so happy this week, I think it's because
we're changing things up and because I've had a stronger portion of
the SPirit with me this week.
I know this is the Lord's work.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a
prophet.  I know Christ came and died for us, and we are now in His
Church, progressing so we can become like Him.  I'm so happy to have
the opportunity to help build His kingdom, and to be built in the
process.  I love this mission.  And, I know this gospel is made for
families, like us.  Thanks for being such a wonderful family to have.
Yours,
Elder Taylor
P.S. No worries.  Two years are gonna fly by.