Aug 29, 2012

Trent's email 8/22/12

Thank you for the birthday wishes and birthday present =)  I very much enjoyed it.  Especially the Nutella and I´m really excited to make that cake that you sent me =)  Hopefully my oven will cooperate.  We ran out of gas this week.  Hahaha, I don´t exactly feel like an adult.  I was writing Courtney today and told her that I´m not ready for all the responsibility that comes with being an adult.  Kids?  Feeding a family?  Working so my wife can eat?  I mean, I´ve never had such serious personal consequences for my actions, for my daily life.  I don´t really understand how you guys do all that.  I´m starting to finally realize how little responsibility I´ve had my whole life, and how hard it WILL be to be an adult.  It´ll be hard.  Takes lots of faith.  No wonder Dad works so hard all the time.
Junior and Yudelkys and their family are determined to make me dinner on Friday.  We were going to do a companion exchange with my district leader, but she wouldn´t let me because she wants to make me dinner.  So, I´ll be well taken care of.  I think I´ll bring the cake over to her house.
I love that Skittles game.  I´m sure you had a really fun time watching all of those girls drool everywhere, and cleaning up afterward.
What?  Fitness for life is in quarters?  How dumb.  She has to do it, or the other quarter goes to waste, doesn´t it?  Hmm.  Well, that´s interesting.  I hope she´s enjoying school.  Moreover, I hope she´s enjoying Tennis.  That´s such an awesome program.  Kids here would probably be so happy to have a tennis ball and tennis court that they´d play all day every day, just to be able to have something to do to entertain themselves.  She´s so lucky.  It´ll be fun to go back and watch her play.
I wish you guys were all together.  I really liked hearing that you were all eating dinner together every night.  I´m gonna try not to ever commute like that.  Thanks, Dad, for working so hard for us.  
Do you like exercising, mom?  I feel so much better when I exercise!  Especially when I do cardio in the mornings, my energy for the day is WAY better.
Wow, I can´t believe that THAT´S how Brady tore his ankle!  Poor kid!  Man, that´s so obnoxious.  I mean, the mission´s a hard, hard transition, so for him to get here, get accustomed, and then have to go home so soon, and probably go back out soon too... wow, that´d be hard.  Especially for something so stupid!  Poor kid.  I hope he gets a really good States mission, with lots of good spiritual experiences.  Did he learn Spanish well?  Ah, Strong kid.
Twenty years old.  It´s a different sound.  I´m definitely a different person than I was at 18.  Hopefully that´s good.
It should be my last week in Pueblo Nuevo.  Who knows where they´ll send me.  Maybe really far away, where it´s super hot, the ward is full of apostasy, and there´s rarely electricity, like Dajabón.  I kind of want to go to the hardest parts of the mission, just to say that I did it.  Santiago´s pretty cushy.  But, I won´t be complaining too much if I don´t have to deal with mosquitoes the size of my hand.  It would just be a good life experience.
I´m having a good week.  I get my comp, more or less now, and I´m just not worrying about things I can´t control.  He´s a good guy, and I hope he has a good mission, and it´s out of my hands.  Our President is awesome.  Yanette is getting baptized on Saturday.  We have a ton of progress going down in this area, if Elder Robertson doesn´t get lost they should have a couple baptisms next transfer.  I hope one of them will be Anthony, Yanette´s husband, so I can see them get sealed in the temple.  I made brownies for a family that made us dinner.  They were good.  The family is AWESOME.  I think they´ll progress.  I hear lots of stories about areas in Dajabón where the area´s so small, you end up going back to teach the same people lots just because there is no where else to go.  I wish they´d just cut my current area in half, because there´s SO MUCH work that needs to be done here.
And, life goes on.  I study, I pray harder, I´m trying to memorize lots of verses in the Book of Mormon.  I´ve been trying to plan better and stick to the plan, instead of just winging it.  We´ll see what next transfer brings.  Man, August FLEW by.  Feels like it was just barely August 1. I love how good it feels to work hard.
I love you guys. Take care until next week.  Keep writing me!
Elder Taylor

Aug 22, 2012

Trent's email 8/15/12

Hey Mom, hey Dad.
Man, am I tired.
I don´t know how so many people do this mission thing.  It´s hard work.  I think I need to relax more often.
I´ve been reading Miracle of Forgiveness this week.  Really fascinating!  I think everyone should read it.  I wish I would´ve understood these principles before the mission, I would´ve lived a much more successful life.  People in the church say it´s a really harsh book, but it´s just because they like believing that 

they´re without sin, even when they´re not.  Miracle of forgiveness makes it clear---we all have sins, and we need to fix it if we want to get where we need to be for Celestial Glory.  Sins are bad.  Stop sinning.  I like it.
President Douglas is really focusing on service.  I think it might actually be the whole church, the Ensign really focused on Service too this month.  I like it.  We cleaned one of our investigators backyards yesterday morning with the missionaries from Rafey (who now are named elder Beitia from Panama and Elder Romney from Lindon) and the day before that, we helped a guy clean the front of an under construction Evangelical church.  It was fun, and a nice break from teaching.  It´s amazing how difficult things are if no one takes charge and helps direct the project and has a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished.  Leadership is crucial.  I´m learning a lot about how to be a loving leader and help people find the easiest solutions to problems.  I like that.
I made chocolate chip cookies today... I spent a bit of money from my personal account to be able to buy the ingredients, but it was so worth it.  Definitely needed a break.  unfortunately, baking soda in this country doesn´t work, so all the cookies are flat.  I´m gonna have to buy some Arm and Hammer in a special store... it´s expensive, relatively, but I guess you pay for what you get.  or, in this country, sometimes you pay a little, and get nothing. 
We had a guy in our mission, Elder Rose, who hurt his knee.  The doctors in this country told him he needed some crazy complex surgery that you can only get in the states, so they sent him home.  The doctors in the States looked at it, said that DR doctors are nuts, gave him a knee brace, and now he´s finishing his mission in New York City.  Less walking.
Becca´s starting high school.  Wow.  I don´t remember tenth grade very well.  Was that really 5 years ago?  I remember some moments... mostly in the hall with Tiffany... sneaking into movies on Senior Sluff Day with Cody Eckman and Jacob Beckstrand.  I hung out with Jacob a lot, huh?  I remember that.  Choir trips, where no one liked talking to me (because I was super awkward and starved for attention).  I didn´t really do much with my life.  I took Biology from an easy teacher and I was bored, I swam!  I forgot that I was on swim team.  Wow.  That was hard.  Good times.  Yeah, those were good times.  Every day going home with JoLee.  Wow, JoLee.  I wonder what she´s up to?  And I had a huge crush on Rachel Hendrickson.  She was cool.  Long time ago.
Hope they get internet in the house soon, and I´m really glad to hear that they´re keeping Dad busy. 
Sometimes, being companions with a latin is a lot like what it must feel like to raise a child. "Okay, now look at this mess you´re making.  How can you prevent making that mess?  And what do you need to do to clean it up?"  I woke up this morning to the smoke alarm, and my companion frying something that, without my glasses on, looked like pieces of chicken.  He was trying to cook pancakes in a small frying pan full of oil.  I don´t know what he did to the batter, but there were large clumps of mix all up in the bowl.  I tried to teach him how to do it correctly. I don´t know if he learned at all.
Wow, Sabrina really is awesome.  I like that drive she has.  I decided, one day, while reflecting on the music from "Les Miserables" that the coolest thing in the world is to see a man who´s got a lofty goal, large obstacles, and a whole lot of faith in himself and God, determined to accomplish whatever it is that he wants to accomplish.  Very inspiring.  Thank you, Victor Hugo.  Also, I read a quote in Miracle of Forgiveness that said, "the path of least resistance makes men and rivers crooked."  He talks about how "I will try" will never be good enough.  We have to press forward with faith in God, knowing we can accomplish whatever we need to.  Like Sabrina and Jean Valjean.
Well, I´ve rambled quite a bit.  Love you all!  Take care!  Good luck, and have a good week!  I´ll see y´all soon!
Elder Taylor.

Aug 15, 2012

Trent's email 8/8/12

Hey ma, pa.
Life's... good.  I just relaxed today.  I didn't clean very much.  I am not stressing out today.
I hate stress.  Sometimes, you just don't know what to do.  Like, we have a meeting and we have a really cool appointment with a cool family at the same time, and we need to find a member so we can go on splits and cover both commitments.  But, there are no members.  So, we miss our appointment.  Then, the cool family doesn't want to set another appointment because we failed them.  It's really frustrating.  Also, sometimes you just don't know where to go - so many houses, so many people, and it's so hard to tell who's REALLY interested or really going to progress because people in this country LIE before they say, "no, not interested," so it just seems like everyone's going to get baptized, when very few people care.  And with a new missionary, it's frustrating because he wants to visit EVERY PERSON that we've EVER CONTACTED, when I know lots of them AREN'T going to progress.  But, patience.  I'm learning, and I'm not letting myself stress about it anymore.  Do my best, and let the Lord take care of the rest.
I'm sorry life's so hectic.  I don't know how you guys handle all this moving, I know you all hate it.
Selling stuff, huh?  Probably means that my golf clubs are gone.  Darn.  I should've used those when I had the chance.  Three years until Becca graduates.  Of course, you guys told me you'd last two in Draper, and you didn't even make two months, so I'm not gonna count any chickens until next September, when they hatch.
I'm glad Becca's going to Iceburg.  That's the place to be, man.  I LOVE it there.  Good memories.  That'll be cool to have those memories in common with her.  And I'm excited to go back and see her junior and senior year, hopefully playing tennis!  Well, I'll get to see a little, at least, whatever's available when I'm not in school.  Tennis should be cool for her.  
And I'm glad she has good friends.  I find it ironic that Becca's finishing her Fitness for Life class in a McDonald's... probably eating french fries.  I envy the thought of you two sitting in an air conditioned restaurant with ice cream and laptops.
I want to know what other classes Becca is taking!  I sent her a letter today.
Hopefully they keep Dad busy.  I know he's not happy unless he's busy.  Glad to know he's still a "whirling dervish."  Oh, how my English vocabulary has diminished in the past 10 months.
So, I was talking with some Elders today about the plan of salvation, specifically the three kingdoms of glory.  I read a quote in the Book of Mormon Institute manual that talks about sin and the price of salvation.  The GA asked, "Christ suffered for our sins so we could be saved.  Does this mean that we can, instead, suffer for our own sins and then receive Celestial Glory?"  He answered his own question: "No. Salvation is more than just paying for sins.  There's something unexplainable that happens when you combine Faith in God with the Atonement of Jesus Christ, allowing Him to pay for your sins--you change.  You become a better person.  Celestial Glory isn't just about justice, it's about becoming what Christ wants us to be.  If we pay for our own sins, that doesn't happen.  We need the Atonement of Jesus Christ."  Okay, so I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point.  Another Elder told me today that suffering in the other Kingdoms (Telestial and Terrestrial) don't come from punishment, but instead come from being unable to satisfy the physical demands of our untrained bodies.  I don't know if that's true, but the concept is fascinating, and makes me want to work so much harder to become what I'm supposed to be.
Also, I want to testify to the power of Love and faith.  In the beginning of this transfer, I had a really hard time getting Elder Robertson to do certain parts of mission work-mostly, speaking when he needed to speak.  Sister Douglas taught me that "success breeds success."  Every time something he did was bad, I complimented the parts that were good, and let him correct himself, so he'd feel appreciated and successful.  Every once in awhile, I'd exert him to do something he didn't want to do, and when I'd try to guilt-trip him or express impatience, everything became more uncomfortable.  But, when I was supportive, encouraging, and loving, he does what I ask (as long as I'm sincere).  He's changed.  He's opened up.  He's becoming a much better missionary.  And we have fun together now.  I'm really glad for this opportunity I've had to train him, and I know that i've learned a lot.
I think it's fascinating and disgusting how warped our perception of "love" has become in this world. Mainstream pop culture expresses love as something that just comes and goes, and we have no control over it, but we need to satisfy it or we can't keep living.  I love how the covenants of God help us realize what love truly is and how we truly use it for our benefit, instead of being something that controls us.  Marriage is a fantastic institution.
Nope, I'm not a teenager anymore.  I realized how cool it is that people call me "Taylor" now, and that I don't really have Dad by my side to protect me as much.  I have to be my own man.  I have to rely on the Lord for my strength.  I've grown up into the name "Taylor," even though it's a tough name to fill.  I don't know if I'm ready to go back to the real world yet, but thankfully I still have another year and two months to prepare myself.  Missions rock.
I got a package this week!  Craisins and peanut M&Ms and crystal light.  Thank you!  I'm really excited to eat the M&Ms.  You guys are the best, and I love you!
How did things go with my glasses?  Am I getting another pair soon?
Love you all. Miss you.  See you soon.
Elder Taylor

Aug 6, 2012

Pictures 8/1/12

Trent's email 8/1/12

Well, I wasn't expecting that.  I'm impressed, you guys always find something new to blow me away.  First Harley's dead, next, the boys are back in town.  Are we living close to the Benhams now?  Hahaha, I'm excited.  I like St. George.  I was looking forward to a more frequent dinner date, but that's okay!  I'm glad Becca's back where she started.  I hope things work out well for Dad.
OH! Before I forget (again), happy birthday Dad, and happy Father's Day!  I'm sorry I don't have any gift, just love, and I'm sorry I forgot so many Wendesdays!  It's great to have my dad.  It's been a good life.
Mom, I know you like house hunting.  That's a bummer that the job wasn't what it was supposed to be.  She didn't want to go to Jordan?  Aaah, Tennis will be so good for her!  But I thought she was gonna do soccer?  And Mr. Christensen will be her coach, he's a good guy.  Fantastic coach, I think he wins in girls tennis regional EVERY YEAR.  He's great.  Work hard, Becca!  I wrote her a letter today, so expect that. 
I knew that the Church settled in Vegas, but I wasn't exactly sure what happened, or how it became such a terrible place...
What about the outskirts of Vegas, like that LDS community... Ah, I can't remember what it's called.  But there are some good places, just stay out of the ghetto areas. 
Hahaha, all moms here cook, like, rice and meat and beans.  It's so interesting to hear some people talk about how fantastic their food is... I don't understand some people.  That's one thing I'm learning a ton about on the mission... understanding different behaviors and problems...
Oh, I've had some great break throughs this week.  First of all, I realized that my comp isn't irritated by me, he's just super shy, and so I just need to be encouraging and fun and everything goes well.  Although it will be nice to have a companion who enjoys speaking to me.
I want to share this stuff I wrote down the other day during my personal study with you guys:
Personally, this is what I think God expects of me.  He wants me to be like Christ.  Perfectly compassionate, humble, patient, strong, charitable, spiritual, meek, and temperate.  The Spirit is our great teacher and protector-if we can develop ourselves spiritually, follow his guidance always.  We can be instruments in the Lord's hands.  Certain rules are given to help us develop spiritually (Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, keep the Sabbath Day holy).  They're made to protect us, like you said mom, from losing our spiritual focus.  A lot of times, the rules don't make sense til we try them out.
For reasons I still don't know, God has also required that we make covenants with Him (baptism, endowment, sealing) for our salvattion.  These covenants made through the Priesthood of God are designed to bring me fantastic blessings if I do my part.  I still don't completely understand the endowment, but it'll come.  The point is, if I keep working at it, I'll have eternal life.  Everyone needs these covenants.  The Spirit is how we learn, how we are guided, comforted, cleaned, notified of our forgiveness, strengthened, and corrected.  These powers of the Spirit are 100% dependent on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures.  I have personally felt, in at least a small way, each one of these powers of the Spirit.  Now, the Spirit works these things on the condition of our faith and obedience and repentance.  If we do not let the Spirit guide and clean us, it cannot.  If we do things grudgingly (walking outside in the sun, preaching the gospel, serving), we receive no personal benefit from the Spirit.  1 Cor 13.
That's where I'm at now.  Still working on it.  But, that's what I've been studying.
We've been doing lots of contacting, and lots of book of Mormon giving.  We're trying to find that next golden investigator, that next baptism.  It's hard, but it's worth it.  We found a really genial family this week, I'm super excited to go back and teach them.  They're smart, they want to read, and they live close to the Church.  Woo!
These pictures are my tigraje, my companion, and my sewing skills.  I'm definitely singing Stand By Me at a Ward Karaoke Night.  That's Elder Robertson.  I sewed the little loop on my tie, and it looks pretty good (it's not perfect, but hey, it's functional).
Yeah, I bought honey mustard today.  I think I'll make some good salads this week. And omlettes, Zoe suggested omlettes.
So, that's another day in the life in the DR.  Living it up, you know.  I'm lovin' it.  And I love you guys!  Take care, excited to hear from you again next week!
Oh, and thanks so much for the fourth of July package!  It was really fun.  You guys are the best!
Elder Taylor