May 30, 2012

Trent's email 5/23/12

Hey Ma, Pa, and Ra.
Everything is better now.  The elections are over.  Danilo won, which means nothing to anyone who's reading this, but my companion's happy, and I think our Politician investigator will get baptized quicker now because he lost all of his excitement about politics.  Five a clock in the morning, mom, that's ridiculous!  So, when you were writing this email, I was probably showering, getting ready for the day.  I don't think I'll ever really be able to wrap my head around "time."  Very abstract concept, really.  But I guess, even worse, is living without Time.  God's world has got to be very different from ours.  Or maybe He does have time, it's just a different sort of time.  Who knows?  Not me.  And, not important to our salvation, so I'm not gonna worry about it.
Thanks for always being determined to go to Church every week, Mom.  I definitely wouldn't be on the mission right now if it weren't for your hard work in all that.  I really gained an appreciation for the gospel, which wouldn't have happened if you hadn't set a consistent example.  So thanks.  Really.  Probably saved my soul.
Almost all the less actives know they need to go back, but they're just embarrassed, I think.  There's actually a ridiculous clique, I'm pretty sure, in our ward, of a few women who are very strong personalities that like to gossip, and they've offended a few other women.  It's a bummer, because they're all good women, just misunderstanding and impatience is the problem.  
Where's Dad going for military again?  I hope he enjoys traveling without us, at least a little bit.  Shooting things.  Running lots.  Living in tents and sleeping on cots.  That's what they do, right?  
The internet is amazing!  One of our investigators was feeling stressed out at work, so she downloaded a couple chapters of the Book of Mormon to read and felt better.  It made me really happy, she's really repenting.  That's Yanet, Anthony's wife.  Anthony's still working in the capital til tonight, so I'll give you an update on him next week.  Also, I love being able to watch messages from prophets of God that live on the other side of the world, almost as if I were there watching it live.  I love technology.
Zoe said she was going to send me some vegetable recipes, so I'm waiting for those.  I need to eat more.  I was actually happy the other day, I was craving carrots, and even though I had chocolate in the house, it just didn't sound as good as a raw carrot.  I'm trying to eat healthy, too!
Speaking of chocolate, THANK YOU for the package :)  I'm deciding how to ration that deliciousness of 30 candy bars that you sent me.  
Oh, so I've been thinking a lot this week about the price of salvation.  Obviously, we can't pay our own salvation, and we depend on Christ to pay it for us, and essentially he only demands our will-that we humble ourselves before him, and become submissive, meek, lowly, as a child submits to his father.  Also, reading the sermon on the mount in the New Testament, I realized that God really just wants us to give up everything so we can receive blessings.  "Blessed are the meek, the poor in spirit, those that mourn..."  I decided that, in other words, the price of salvation is whatever we're not willing to pay.  As Joseph Smith once said, A religion that doesn't demand absolutely everything never was able to produce the faith required for salvation (or... something like that).  Lots of people think we're not Christian because we don't believe in that, "I've accepted Christ as my Savior and now I'm saved for eternity" nonsense.  Well, tough luck, that's not Christianity.  That's marketing.
I read a quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, that said something like, "Give yourself to me.  I'm not so much interested in your time, your money, your possesions.  I want you. I want all of you.  No half-effort will do.  Give me your all, and I will give you happiness." 
So, yeah, guys.  Just, give yourself up.  It's the only intelligent thing to do.
So, mom, you said you don't like fresh mango... but have you had a mango that fell out of a tree and you ate it about 20 minutes afterwards?  or just the supermarket kind of mangos?  Because the tree stuff is to DIE FOR.  But, I wouldn't be surprised if you still reject it, we somehow have different appetites.  Hmm.  Maybe this is one of those nature, not nuture things.
I hope Becca enjoyed her culture fair!  I used to think those things were so dumb, but now I appreciate them so much more!  I think it's cuz I've met people from different countries and understand what it really means to HAVE a culture.  Fun stuff.  We did a culture fair with the Folk Dance team that I was on, and someone brought REALLY GROSS TASTING Indian food.  I didn't like it.  But then they brought another Indian food that was good. So, it's all fair, right?  amazing.

What is Swiss Chard?
Cops and Cowboys... SO Kanab.  I like it.  And I'm sure all those boys were super content.  Wish I could've seen the exploding watermelon.  That's okay.
Okay, Special Needs Mutual sounds awesome.  I'm glad you enjoyed it!  Go Saya!  Next time you guys see her, tell her to write me, cuz she still hasn't.
Speaking of writing, I have letters for 
sitting on my desk, already sealed... I just don't have addresses for them because the semester ended and I'm worried they moved, so if I send it to their college dorm they'll never get it!  Becca, will you hack my facebook account and email those girls for their addresses?  Please?  Courtney has my password :)  Oh, yeah, and Katie's probably engaged by now.  The last letter I got from her, she was super enamoured with some boy named Jeffrey Hyer.  Sigh, lots of people are gonna get married in these two years...
So, that's that!  Things are going well.  My comp and I are gonna start fasting more in hopes that things progress a little more quickly.  I am happy, studying lots, burning in the heat, learning lots.  But, it's life!  Love being here.
Miss you all, and see you soon!
Elder Taylor

May 21, 2012

Trent's email 5/16/12

Hey family!
Thanks, Mom, don't embarrass me too much with compliments.  I'm glad
you're happy, it seemed like a ridiculously short time to talk.
Hahaha, how could I not have a good attitude?  I came to serve the
Lord, right?  Our fellowshipping activities will hopefully get better,
the last one was alright.  Yeah, members are pretty weak here, I'm
hoping these activites will get them more excited about the missionary
work.  We have a lot of people lined up to come with various members,
we'll see if they pull through for us.  Utah is one of the highest
baptizing areas in the world as far as missionary work, so you guys
will be in good company.  It's contagious once you find someone, you
guys will want to keep sharing the gospel.
Well, honestly, I didn't really get as close to President Lee as I
thought I would, him being my mission President.  He's a good guy,
very well prioritized, but we don't often get to see much of his
personality.  My biggest fear when he leaves is that all the tigre
(disobedient) missionaries are gonna try to walk over President
Douglass--Everyone knows that President Lee rules with an iron fist.  I have no idea when

I'll meet President Douglass, maybe not til the first interview, which
will probably be in August.  We'll see.
I have learned SO much about the importance of constantly nourishing
your testimony--there is so much doubt in the world, so many different
ideas and philosophies and theories and religions and interpretations
of the same scriptures and lies about the Church and mistakes that
people in the Church make that it's so EASY to forget that one
truth-this IS the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And to start out,
the ONLY, only ONLY way we can know that is through the testimony of
the Holy Ghost, which will ONLY come to us through constant
nourishment.  Once we REALIZE that this IS God's Church, we can
receive SO MANY benefits from its message and really trying to LIVE
the gospel.  I know that reading your scriptures every day is the
first step to a truly happy life here on earth and a happy eternity.
That's why I tell you guys to read your scriptures every time I talk
to you.
Also, I realized something on Monday while we were talking in our
district meeting.  Sometimes, God makes promises that maybe seem
contrary to logic.  Like, give up ten percent of every dollar you
earn, and you'll have everything you need, or take time to read your
scriptures and you'll be able to accomplish all the things necessary,
or, one I've been struggling with as a missionary, don't take naps,
and you'll be a more successful missionary.  I realized something in
detail, hopefully I can explain it well:
It's like Alma 32.  Alma says, if you exercise FAITH (don't take a
nap, even though you're DISGUSTINGLY TIRED), you're planting a seed
that will grow (the promise is, you'll be a better missionary-as in,
you'll have the energy to do all the things necessary).  Maybe
sometimes you let it fall to the wayside (you decide to nap anyway).
But, every time you exercise that faith, it begins to grow, and you
see fruit (wow, I'm accomplishing my role as a missionary), and you
know it's a true principle.  But, maybe you forget next time.
Eventually, if you do it enough times, you'll figure out that it
doesn't make SENSE to nap, even though it seems more logical, because
you trust more in the promise of the Mission President than what your
own body tells you.  Through that knowledge, you've witnessed the
truth of one of God's promises, which are many.  Now, I think that
that's how people end up seeing God.  They keep exercising faith SO
MANY TIMES, until there's no possible explanation in their minds than
the existence of God, our Creator, and then they no longer exercise
faith, but have a perfect knowledge, and they, as the Brother of Jared
in the book of Ether was, are thrust through the veil.  This is
essentially the lesson Elder Bednar taught us when he came, but now
I'm experiencing it in my life, and my faith is growing.  I'm not
saying one day I'll be strong enough to see God, but I'm saying I'm
gonna keep working on my faith every day, in one way or another, and I
want everyone within the sight of my words to do the same.  And that's
ANOTHER way you can gain a testimony of the truthfulness of this
Church--obey the leaders with FAITH, and strengthen your testimony.
I actually think blended juices sound wonderful.  If I knew how to
make them taste delicious, I'd just blend up fruit all the time.  Have
I told you guys yet that my favorite juice here is beet juice?  It's
also really good mixed with Oatmeal juice.  I bought a gallon last
week, and it's delicious.  They also make carrot juice and cherry
juice, but I don't like those all that much.
I really like that 1 Ne 13:40 verse, Mom, thanks for sharing!  You
know what I never appreciated at home that I really like reading now?
The title page, introduction, and testimonies of the golden plates
before the Book of Mormon even starts.  We ALWAYS invite investigators
to read the Introduction, at least the last two paragraphs.  Remember
that promise!
So, bananas are amazing in this country.  I love them.  I could eat
one every day, if I wanted to.  They also have sweet oranges, and
right now it's MANGO season.  Have you guys eaten fresh mango?
FANTASTIC!  I think pineapple is a strong competitor for most
favorite Dominican Fruit.  As we say here in the DR, esta pela va
(it's on!).
Speaking of Pelas, it's elections here in the DR on Sunday, and I
couldn't be any more excited for one event to be OVER.  Campaigning in
the DR=giant speaker trucks that play the same song five thousand
times, and if they drive in front of your house you MIGHT think you're
experiencing an extremely noisy earthquake.  Plus, Jose, one of our
favorite investigators, is deeply involved with politics, and won't
committ to a baptismal date until the election's over.  They say
people are gonna fight on Monday, though, no matter who wins.
And so it goes.  Anthony and Yanet are doing alright, just gotta take
it step by step.  I've realized that I have been focusing a little too
much on the baptism and not enough on their personal testimonies, so
we'll get there.  I really love being in Pueblo Nuevo, we're close to
everything and I know lots of really cool people.  I'm finally
starting to get a hang of the mission work, I think (ha, I'll probably
say that same sentence lots of times in the next two years).  Always
learning, always studying, ALWAYS praying, always waiting for
Gabrielle Cunningham to send me a letter (someone please post that on
her facebook wall, if her name's still Cunningham.  Maybe she got
married in the past seven months, who knows?).
I know this is the Lord's work.  I know the Lord is taking care of me,
and my comp, and all of us.  I know He'll give us more blessings than
we can imagine, if we'll just be humble and do what He asks.  I know
He suffered for our sins, and I'll be really happy one day when I get
to thank Him for all that.  I know we can become better through His
Atonement, whether we're good or bad.  I love you all!  Please, share
the Gospel with your friends, with your family.  They need it JUST AS
Elder Taylor

May 15, 2012

Trent's email 5/9/12

Hey family!
How are you guys doing?  I´m quite well, it was a hard week but a good
week.  Always learning more, especially with the trials.  I was super
excited about going to a special fireside in the mission home on
Sunday with Anthony and Yanet, but they fell through on us, so I was
really upset, thinking Anthony that had lost all of his excitement
about the church (he didn´t come to church that day either), and I
didn´t want to work, but I sucked it up and we kept contacting.  We
found a guy who was doubting the Book of Mormon, but then we showed
him a scripture in Ezekiel in the Old Testament that talks about the
Book of Mormon and he started believing a little bit.  We´re going
back tomorrow.  Tonight we have our first hermanamiento
(fellowshipping) activity, hopefully it goes well and lots of
investigators show up.  I love how there´s always someone being
prepared or something cool going on, even if I´m feeling like I´m not
doing a good enough job, the Lord´s always there to help us if we´ll
keep working and being diligent.  In the last few days I´ve felt
completely motivated to just jump out in the street and start finding
people to teach.  This is the most fulfilling work in the world!  My
testimony´s growing so much, and what better gift can I give to
someone than helping them receive the fullness of the gospel??  It´s
funny and almost sad how much time people waste on false doctrine, I
just love helping people find the truth, and how simple and wonderful
it is!
I´m sorry this email´s short, but I spent a ton of time trying to
upload photos that wouldn´t upload, so I´ll just talk to you lots on
Sunday, okay?  I´ll either call at 11 or at 5ish, depending on my
companion and the Baret family, whatever´s best for them (that´s Utah
Oh, but Anthony and Janet are doing well for the most part.  Still
excited, just had a little stumbling blocks this week, but they´re
gonna be baptized in the next week or so.  We still haven´t
reorganized the date.  Also, Elder Rodriguez is a fantastical
missionary, and I´m really glad to work with him, but sometimes I have
to talk too much and I don´t like it.  It was nice to have Sweeney,
who always had something to say.  But, I do have more fun with
Rodriguez, I think.  I bring him out of his shell, which is always
really fun for me.
It´s amazing how easy it is to do the work when you´re really just
loving the people here.  The twelve week training program teaches us
to ask for charity every time we pray, so I´ve been trying to do that
and I feel like it´s really helping me progress as a missionary.
Tomorrow I´ll have my last interview with President Lee, because he´s
leaving in June and we´re getting President Douglass.  I´m really
excited for the change, just because change is fun.  Hopefully
President Douglass keeps everything under control, President Lee rules
with an iron fist, so I´m sure lots of tigre missionaries will want to
test President Douglass.  It´ll be interesting.
In other news, today has been a blissfully peaceful preparation day.
It´s fun to play basketball every once in a while, but sometimes it´s
better to be able to take your time and write lots of letters.
Oh, hey, my umbrella broke.  And here, there aren´t any big compact
umbrellas (as in, big enough for my comp and I, but small enough to
carry with me everywhere I go).  If you could send me one of the 10
dollar ones from Walmart, all black, I´d be SO happy. We´re heading
into rainy season.
Thank you for all your love, support, letters, packages.  Oh, I found
the 20 bucks you stuffed in the last package that was searched by
customs.  You hid it so well, not even I could find it!
I love you all, see you soon!
Elder Taylor

That´s my district from last transfer.
Elder Jenks Cali, Stratford (Utah), Me, Sweeney OK, De Leon, and RUiz.

May 6, 2012

Trent's email 5/2/12

Dad, I'm impressed, as always, at your ridiculous work ethic.  I hope you're not killing yourself.  moreover, I hope you're enjoying yourself.  2 Ne 2:25!  Life's good, enjoy it!
How weird, Mom, that you have so much family that I didn't even know about!  I mean, I guess I knew they existed, but weird to think about it, all of them together.  I almost feel uncomfortable imagining all those old people I don't know who probably smell weird :)  I do remember Kay's house, wasn't it full of cookie jars that were cat shaped??  That was quite a while ago, and the house was fairly dark, if I remember correctly.  Of course, it could just be the obscurity of old age, clouding my memory.
Man, I can not TELL you how excited I am for Anthony and Janet to get baptized.  Two Saturdays, I hope.  They're doing alright, Anthony's still not drinking, Janet said she's been praying a ton and she feels good, they're liking Church, we're doing a family home evening with them tonight, and there's a special Fireside in the Mission home on Saturday that I'm planning on inviting them to.  I almost feel like the 12th is a little too soon, but we'll pray about it and see what the Lord says.  Mission work is fantastic when you get someone who really benefits, really changes, from the message of the gospel.
Elder Rodriguez is not impressed with the work ethic of our ward as far as mission work goes, but we had a special Comité Ejecutivo meeting with the leaders of the church about Mission work, and I tried really hard to give them ideas and get them excited about the mission work in this ward.  We set up a plan to have a special brothershipping night every week, so we can keep inviting our investigators to... well, basically a party specially for people investigating the gospel.  i think it'll really help the work progress.
I also love Elder Rodriguez.  Takes the work seriously, but he and I have similar senses of humor.  Elder Frometa left me some nerf guns, and we've been having a ball with that.
Also, this morning was wonderful.  I told Elder Rodriguez about the guy who sells fresh cow milk in our area, and he said, "Vamos para allá el Miércoles, entonces," so we bought another gallon of fresh cow milk, me hoping that Elder Rodriguez knows how to get rid of the sour aftertaste.  We boiled it this morning and it's sitting in the fridge right now, so I'll let you know next week.  But, the point about the wonderfulness was, it was just chill.  Early morning, walking through a remote farm area, nice breeze, next to a river.  So relaxing.  I want to live out somewhere that's close to a farm area, something quiet.  Really, I understand you guys so much better as I'm growing up: remember how I used to hate quiet?  Anyway, it was really relaxing this morning, and I was very happy.
Also, Rodriguez is a cleanaholic!  We cleaned SO well this morning, and it made me happy.  I finally feel like I can walk through the house without smelling something rotten, or getting a pile of dirt on my feet.  It's just really great.  Maybe the best P-day ever.
And we lost two good investigators this week.  They're just not willing to give the church a chance because of their previous beliefs. Junior, an Evangelical that we contacted one day, was doubtful that people needed authority by the laying on of hands.  We proved it to him, because it's disgustingly clear in the Bible, and he just kept arguing with us with stories and things that the church has taught him, so we basically just stopped and prayed and left.  Elder Rodriguez has a really good knowledge of scripture.  Then, Celina, a 16 year old, just decided that she wasn't interested in the church.  We've been working with her for about 5 weeks, but she just decided that this wasn't the true church, even without coming to church once.  She did read three or four chapters of the Book of Mormon, but she's already decided, so what can we do?  Keep contacting.
Which I don't mind.  I like meeting new people.  Everyone needs the gospel, whether their a drug addict or a saint.  I'd rather spend time on people that are willing to listen than people that are smart.
One of the most important things to do as a missionary is to always INVITE people to do things-to come to church, to read, to pray, to listen, to serve. We can't take anyone's agency away, they have to choose to act. Also, I realized this week that my only job isn't just to be ready to teach people and be working when I'm supposed to be working, but to also prepare myself to teach clearly and with power.  If I could help EVERYONE realize the importance of the Gospel, they WOULD choose to follow it.  My job is to take their feelings and thoughts and help them see how the gospel can help them, and let them go from there.  As Elder Bednar said, it's some of the hardest work we'll ever do, but when we do it right, it's the best work we'll ever do.
Also, I've been focused a lot less on life in the States.  I think it's cause I have a Dominican comp who's pretty focused on the work.  It's nice, because being so focused on the work has helped me feel better about where I am and what I'm doing, and helped me progress quite epically this week.  I'm gonna keep that up.
oh, when do you have church on Sunday??  My schedule's like this:  Wake up at 6:30, chill in the house til 9, when church starts, leave at 12, eat, and go start working again at 2:30.  Then, at 6:00ish we're probably gonna leave for the fireside in the mission home. So, if your church starts at 1, I'll call at like, 11:00 Utah time.  If it starts at nine, I'll call at like, 1:00 Utah time.  If it starts at 11:00, I'll call at like, 3:00 Utah time.  Fair? Or, if you're gonna be in Vegas, it's a whole other story.  Just go to church, and figure out when would be best for me to call, and let me know.
If you still have the email address of Froiland, the member in this ward who emailed you guys to tell you about me calling for Christmas, send him an email and tell him what to do tonight!  If he doesn't get an email, I'll check my email on Saturday night so you guys can tell me what time to get on.  is that okay?
Ah, gotta go!  Love yall!