Nov 28, 2012

Trent's email 11/21/12 #2

So, for Preparation Day, Elder Taylor decided to have Thanksgiving.  His zone wanted to participate.  Even though it was transfer week.
I had to thaw the turkey using a hose in the bathtub and a bucket, with the water running overnight.
But, it turned out delicious.
I did Sweet potato casserole (delicious!) and some stuffing (also fantastic) and my companion did gravy and we peeled 12 pounds of potatoes to make mashed potatoes, and of course, a whole turkey.  The zone leaders made pumpkin and banana cream pies.  We might be eating white rice the rest of this apoyo period, but it was SO WORTH IT.
Also, Elder Nelson (Barbados), Elder Taai (Christmas Islands), and Elder Dowell (Monroe, UT) are featured in these pictures.

Dear family, Cody, and Courtney, I love you all.

Yours, Trent

Sorry, the pictures didn't come through.  We will all have to see them when he gets back.

Trent's email 11/21/12

Dear Mom, Dad, and anyone else who wants to read this email,
Thanks!  Happy Thanksgiving to you all, as well!  I´m thankful for the mission, I´m thankful for my mom and dad and sister, I´m thankful for my awesome companion, I´m thankful for a knowledge of Jesus Christ, I´m thankful for my ability to work, I´m thankful for all the people who send me letters and packages (Christmas is coming up, people.  Let´s not waste time), I´m thankful for my healthy body, I´m thankful for my bed, I´m thankful for Alexis, Belkys, Senso, Moreno, Morena, Juan, Oswaldo, and all our investigators, I´m thankful for President Rossó, Wascar, Chiquito, and all the other cool members in our ward, I´m thankful for love, I´m thankful for peace, I´m thankful for families, I´m thankful for respect, I´m thankful for the scriptures, I´m thankful for the ability to eat until my eyes pop out...
Well, when you read my other email, your first question will be answered.
Courtney told me you had invited her, thanks for thinking about her!  I appreciate it.
I don´t know how you guys plan Thanksgiving.  It takes sooo much coordination, and so much money!  I was so surprised that it turned out well for us, there were a couple moments when I thought everything was ruined.  And not to mention that it´s EXHAUSTING.  But, it was worth it.  Everyone contributed to the price (even though my comp and I took most of the financial burden) and helped clean up afterwards, and they were all satisfied.  The sister missionaries are gonna come over tomorrow and we´ll have another mini party with the zone leaders and Elder Grover and his new missionary (Elder Castro from Mexico).  I´m excited.
And that will be Thanksgiving.
We had some interesting experiences this week. I realized that we´re quite lucky, that very few people close the door on our faces, but this week there was an angry catholic lady that told us that she didn´t want anything to do with us.  Also, we´re working on finding less actives that might´ve moved, and seeing where they live now (the branch president wants us to help clean up the ward member list, so he put us to it) and we´ve talked to some people with interesting stories.  I´ve thought a lot about the Atonement and the purpose of life, and I just wish I could help everyone feel what I´ve felt about the Gospel.  It´s so frustrating to run into someone whose heart is closed, or whose ears are stuffed with pride.  One evangelical likes to tell us that we´re stupid for believing in a Prophet every time we walk by.  It would be such a blessing in people´s lives if they would JUST LISTEN.
Agency.  So important.  People really are stupid sometimes.
Mom, I don´t think it´s a sin to be proud of me... it´s a sin to think that I´m the best, or to look past my faults, but I think you can be proud of me.  President Uchtdorf talked about that.  So, thanks =) 
Do you think we´ll come back to the DR?  I´ve thought that we would, but maybe not.  I´d love to take you guys back here to meet the Vasquez family and to see the cheap avacado and delicious pineapple, and go to the temple. 
Yeah, transfers were today, Elder Nelson and I are staying here.  President Douglas doesn´t like things to change much.  I´m okay with that, yesterday I realized that I still have a lot to learn from Elder Nelson, so I´m excited.  I´m comfortable and happy, I didn´t think I´d have this much fun on the mission.  We´re gonna work super hard this transfer, I´ve already set some specific goals.  It´ll be good.  I do like transfers, it´s always exciting to see what´s going to happen.  I predict that I´ll train again next transfer.  I´m glad to know that everything´s up to God and I don´t have to worry about it.
Aah, politics frustrate me so much.  I don´t understand economics, but I feel like giving people jobs just to give them jobs doesn´t really help out the society, or giving out food to people who aren´t willing to look for jobs doesn´t really help out anyone.
Why can´t people be responsible, and cool, like the pioneers?  They worked for EVERYTHING they did!
I´ve been thinking alot about how I want to help the world become a better place, by way of profession.  I´ve always wanted to be a well-established doctor to be able to travel around the world and help people in countries like this one, where they just can´t get help.  But, I´m starting to think that that might not be the best career choice for my personality.  I think I still want to be a doctor, but maybe in administration of a hospital or something.  Haven´t figured it out yet.  More on that later.  People always told me I´d change my mind on the mission, and I never believed them.
I´m glad you´re helping out in the Church, Mom!  The Church is weird in Utah, but it really is the Lord´s kingdom on earth, so work there, and you´ll help out lots of people who need you!
I don´t get why Becca doesn´t like school.  I like school.  A lot.  I miss school.  But, I´m glad she´s got exercises for her knee.  Is she playing soccer, or is her knee super bad?
I´m glad I have a Dad who works so hard to take care of us.  I still can´t imagine the burden he feels as a father.  I think it will be very stressful.  Take it as it comes, right?
Aww, I thought about you a lot on Saturday, Mom.  I´m glad they treated you well.  Are there good movies that I have to see when I get back?  Becca only better pick the really really good ones!  I don´t want to watch anything kind of good, and I don´t want to watch anything with anything dirty in it.  Fair warning.
Hmm.  Excited to see our new house.  I hit 13 months on Monday, can you believe it?  This last year is going to go by much quicker than the first one.  Anyway, that´s all for this week.  Love you all!  Take care!
Elder Taylor

Nov 21, 2012

Trent's email 11/14/12

Hi Mom!
It´s cooling down here a little bit.  I´m happy.  I don´t think it ever gets below 80, but I don´t have any way of verifying that information.  Dominicans freak out though, they think they´re freezing cold.  Aah, Thanksgiving.  Aah.
The visit from Elder Cornish was FANTASTIC.
Wow, I really feel like I´ve been elevated as my ability to teach, significantly.  They always tell us that we´re supposed to invite people to be baptized in the first lesson, and set a date for baptism by the second lesson, which feels REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE if you don´t do it the right way.  Well, Elder Cornish helped us find the way--just teach them what GOD wants them to do, and offer your help.  Often, we try to help them get baptized because WE want them to get baptized.  I learned how to get myself out of the picture and help the investigator strengthen his or her relationship with God.  It´s fantastic, and I really feel like a better teacher.  That´s definitely the highlight of the week.
Today we went to Jarabacoa, a town up a little higher in the mountains.  We went to a BEAUTIFUL waterfall (I didn´t bring my camera, but I´m hoping my friends will send me lots of pictures soon) and a nice hike, and we played some sports and relaxed at the Church.  Another good day.  I love this country, it´s really beautiful.  We made lots of sandwiches, and took them up with us, and played some frisbee.  We used our Taz hats that we bought together last week, it´s really fun to wear something exciting with your comp.  You miss having a really good friend.
There are domincan girls here, watching me type, amazed that I can do it without looking.  Now, they´re asking me if I know their friend who also lives in the United States, who is named Isabel.  Next time, I´ll lock the door of the internet center.
Yeah, the church runs way smoother in the States.  Man, the stories... if I hadn´t seen these things with my own eyes, I don´t think I´d believe it if I hadn´t seen it.  It´ll take a while for me to get used to normal American life again, surely.
Senso´s not baptized yet, but we´re still working with him.  His daughter got pregnant and had a miscarriage, and it´s been a rough week.  We´re working on it.  He´s excited.  We have a lot of people that are excited about baptism now that we know how to really teach people about baptism.  I think it´ll be really successful next transfer, hopefully I get to stay.  I could be writing you from a different place next Wednesday, we have transfers.
I´m sorry the cat´s annoying.  If it´s any consolation, our neighbor has a little chihuahua that tries to enter our house, and we had to put up chicken wire to keep him out (the door is just metal bars, it´s not actually a door) and he poops ALL OVER the back patio that we share with our neighbor.  It´s not very fun.  I can´t decide if it´s worth complaining to our neighbor or if I should just suck it up and deal with it.
Organization is SO ESSENTIAL!  Man, I just never realized how much basic things help in organization, and how much easier life is when you are organized.  I had forgotten for a little while with all this insanity of this country.
By the way, I´m not going to be a very punctual person, I don´t think, when I get home.  To people here, 3:00 and 3:30 both mean that you were on time, even if you were supposed to be there at three.  You´re not actually "late" til 4, and it´s not that embarrassing to be late cuz it happens all the time.  The whole Caribbean is very laid back, I expect.  I´ll have to work hard to get accustomed to punctuality again. 
Yeah, Zoe told me "suck it" with love.  I don´t know that many things would change if we put in President Romney anyway... I´m losing my faith in politics.  They have to spend so much time worrying about their popularity, they can hardly worry about actually helping the people who need it most, so things just don´t get done.  Sometimes I´ve noticed that people are super critical, and when, as a leader, you do your best to solve the biggest problems, people don´t want help or think you´re dong it wrong.  I definitely plan on being more supportive when I get home, especially when I´m uneducated about decisions.
I´ve seen a couple quinceñeras around here, and always wondered what happens.  I wonder if that tradition has a little bit to do with why there are lots of pregnant 15 year old girls... they think they´re women?  I don´t know.  Either way, it´s disgusting.
Aww... I miss buffets so much.  I would love to eat various foods until I´m stuffed.  Here, I get stuffed quite a bit, but only on rice.  And I miss dinner.  I´m gonna make my comp pork chops and rice this week.  YEAH!  I would´ve loved to be at the party, just to mix with the Spanish-American culture a little bit.  I´m excited to see what it´s like, to keep practicing spanish and stuff.
I love you Mom, Dad, and Becca, and Cody!
Yeah, Jessica sent me a letter, telling me that he´s 26 and Jimmy´s not happy about that, but that Brittany´s happy and it sounded positive.  Weird, weird, weird.  She´ll be married before me.  She´ll have kids before I´m married.  Weird, weird, weird.
Love you all!
Elder Taylor

Nov 14, 2012

Trent's email 11/7/12

It has been a fantastic day.  Very eventful.
We went to Santiago (we get to do that once every transfer) and I went and visited the Vasquez family, who made lunch for us.  I cleaned my bathroom this morning (an area seventy is coming this week, and he might inspect the house, so we´re getting it DEEP cleaned.  Remember how I was really excited to have a big house?  I´m regretting it now), and we took off, went shopping in the city, bought some Taz hats (yeah, Tazmanian Devil) that are epic, found some sweet ties for nice and cheap, ran into some American kids doing a foreign study from some evangelical college in Omaha (one of whom was blonde with a nose ring and studying nursing, reminded me of Zoe quite a bit) which was quite fun, got in the wrong car and rode around Santiago for quite a while, getting a breezy tour of the city, ate with the family, and came home.  It was quite fun.  I am happy.
For the rest of the week, we´ve been doing SO MUCH cleaning.  SO MUCH.  You never realize how important little basic things are when you´re in America--like, the little metal cover about 10 feet above almost every stove in the states.  Here, they don´t have them, and so oil gets hot and evaporates and then recondenses ALL OVER THE HOUSE, especially on wood cabinets, and it just takes FOREVER to clean off, unless you have some good degreaser.  I´ve scrubbed so many windows and floors and cupboards this week... ugh.  I´ve decided that a big part of being an effective missionary is the efficient use of your Pday so that you have time to focus on investigators during the rest of the week.  A lot of times I let myself play too much on Pday so nothing gets done, and I make up for it during the week.  Unfortunately, this week I´ll be eating my own words because there´s been no electricity in the house all day, so I can´t wash or iron.  I´ve decided for the future to break up the house in tasks, and do a couple tasks every week in a rotated schedule for the rest of my misison.
Leadership in this country is... developing.  It´s very hard to coordinate programs and activities and efforts in the ward without the solid communication (everyone has cell phones, but hardly anyone has minutes) and understanding of leadership principles that there are in the states.  We´re trying to work closely with the branch president to help other members of the ward develop leadership skills, but it´s difficult sometimes.  I´m learning lots of humility and patience, two things of which I definitely lack.  It´s been frustrating in some aspects, but I´m becoming a better person.
We might get Senso baptized THIS week, if we can just help him get his answer.  I don´t know if he´s really willing to stop working on Sundays, so that might be impeding his spiritual sensitivity.  We´ll have to focus on that. 
Ma, thanks for always reminding me that you love me =)  Sometimes, it´s easy to think that the whole world is abandoning you while you´re on your mission.  It´s good to have some solid family support.  I´m really lucky-there are lots of missionaries who don´t come from the best family ever.  So, thanks.  Dad, you always express your love in your emails, too.  Thanks!
Yeah, missionaries can choose whatever Preparation day is best for their mission, usually whenever things are slowest.  Do you talk to the missionaries when you see them in Wal-mart?
Dad´s running errands?  That reminds me, our District President, Presidente Diaz, is one of the best leaders we have here in La Vega, and he´s flying out to Utah today.  I gave him Dad´s name and number and told him that Dad speaks Spanish.  He says he wants to go to St. George, and that he´s going to Utah and Arizona, but he didn´t tell me where specifically.  I told him that I expect him to call my dad and at least say hola. I think he might be with his wife.  They´re great people and made me some DELICIOUS banana bread when I first got to La Vega, so if you guys have time and he calls you, it´d be awesome if you´d take them out to lunch or something!  It´s kind of a long shot, but if they eat lunch with you, and then tell me about it, it´s almost like me being home for a couple hours!
I´m glad Kenji keeps you company =)  I never really cared much for animals.  I´d rather have people that can talk to me.  Did you put the cat down or something?  I haven´t heard about her in a couple weeks. 
It was GRAMMY!  I was wondering why I got a gray tshirt from LLBEAN.  Yeah, I got it right before my birthday =)  Thanks grammy! 
The carmel corn was FANTASTIC, and it was not a giant blob, although the flavor just wasn´t the same...  did you change it this year?  I wonder if it kind of got ruined in the sun or something.  But, fantastic.  Thank you!  Umm, I really would like some instant chocolate pudding mix, that stuff is great... but I think Courtney just sent me Chocolate covered Cinnamon bears.  The only candy that I kinda miss are skittles... those don´t really exist here.  Oh, and I got the pictures.  They made me so happy!  I can´t wait to go back to fish lake and just relax. I have one of Dad and one of Becca taped up above my desk.  Becca´s getting old!  Dad, next time, make sure Mom puts some pictures of HER in the package, eh? 
I´m sorry Halloween was so lame.
Dude, I´m going to be nervous all day tomorrow until the winner is announced.  Do they announce it on Wednesday or what?  Man, I SO hope Romney wins.  I would be able to walk just a little taller in this immigration desperate country... I can´t imagine being a missionary up there in New York right now.  I bet the work has completely stopped for a while, just like everything else up in that part of the world.  That´d be fun to be able to help with something so important.  But, I´m not complaining for not having passed through a deadly storm.  I thought there were only 40 dead!  100!  Wow.  That´s harsh.  I mean, 40´s still bad... but you get what I mean.  I hope it gets cleaned up soon, and that people get gas and light.  I need to remember to pray for that.
My eye´s all nice and neat now.  No one can tell that I ever cut it open.  I am so excited to be a doctor!  It´ll be fun.  It´s a bummer to hear about Becca´s knee.  I hope it gets better, or the doctor can magically fix it.  Elder Grover wants to be a physical therapist! 
AAHH!! THat´s what I miss.  Home made jam.  Any chance of me getting some of THAT in a package?  That would be awesome.
Well, I love you family.  Wouldn´t trade you for anything.  Keep up the good work this week, and don´t forget that I love you!
Elder Taylor

Nov 5, 2012

Trent's email 10/31/12

Happy Halloween family!!! and Cody, and everyone else who might read this.
Side note--Please put mufflers on all motorcycles that you have.  I´m so tired of hearing REALLY LOUD motorcycles daily.  One just drove by.
A few people know what Halloween is, and apparently there´s one street downtown that is doing trick or treating, but where I´m at, no one´s celebrating, and most people are like, "oh, yeah, I´ve heard of that day."  Elder Grover knows, though.  So does Elder Fleurima.  Elder Nelson and I reminded them by mixing corn syrup and red juice powder and putting it all over their bathroom in the middle of the night (we stole their keys and snuck in at 5 in the morning), and wrote "Happy Halloween" on the mirror.  And stole some of Elder Grover´s ties.  It was great.  So worth the tiredness that I´m experiencing right now (if that sounded weird, it´s because I´m using Spanish grammar... habit).  And you guys reminded me by sending me a fantastic package!  I... ate... all the pumpkin candy corn... in two days.  It was SO GOOD, and I just couldn´t control myself!  I don´t know why.  We were just studying, and I kept popping them in.  The only thing left over now are the pumpkin seeds... and I got the package on Saturday morning.  I´m also wearing the glasses.  I realized that these are good for, like, normal vision, like computers, and the other ones are better for proselyting because of the transition lenses, and they´re a little TOO strong prescription, so I just use those proselyting and these on Pday.  THANK YOU!
Hahaha, glad to hear that Becca liked the package.  I almost didn´t send her another present, cuz she just got one for her birthday, but I figured she needed one more than any of the rest of you. 
I sent the card in an envelope, but I tried to wrap it up to make it look like it was a letter... I guess I DIDN´T do a very good packing job on that.  I bet someone stole it.  Hope they enjoy my videos and my pictures.  What a bummer =(  I´ll have to be more careful with the next one.
I read somewhere that GIFTS count as INCREASE in wealth, a statement with which I agree, and that increase from any source during the mission should be tithed in a home ward.  I haven´t done well in that up til this point, but would you be so kind to pay tithing on that money that Grammy gave me in my account, and for future reference as well?  I´m sorry if it´s a lot of trouble... but it´s worth it to me to be obedient to the law of tithing =)  Thank you Mom!  And thank you Grammy!
Becca is NOT too old to Trick or Treat!  Take it back!  Justin and I did it until I... wait.  I moved.  Didn´t I trick or treat in St. George?  Probably not.  Man, I don´t remember a single Halloween in St. George.  How lame.
I hope the root beer turns out well!  There´s lots of coke and cream soda here, but there´s very little root beer.  One of my to dos when I get done is go to Brick oven for some root beer.  Aw, MAN!  It´ll be great.
Wow, it´s already general election time!  I feel like it was just last month when Romney got chosen as the Republican candidate.  It´s really funny to hear news about the U.S. from Dominicans, because they think that "New York" consists of the entire country (I was told that the whole country lost light due to Sandy) and they take the polls and comments from CNN very literally.  Our branch president wants to immigrate, so he always tells me how bad Romney is doing.  Learning patience.
Glad to hear about SOCCER!  WOO!! I can´t wait to go watch her games.  Next year!  Hopefully her leg will get better. 
We didn´t get even a little bit of Hurricane Sandy.  I didn´t know about it until Dominicans started telling me about the destruction in Haiti, and then in New York.  So, I´m good.  Wooow.  That IS Bad.  How many people died?  I heard, like, 30.  Is that true?
Okay, sorry, I left you without details on the eye thing.
I went running with Elder Grover at 6:25 one morning, and there was a wire hanging low in between two trees (probably to hang up clothes) that Elder Grover barely dodged, but hit me right in the head.  I cut up my nose a little and got a nice gash on my lower left eyelid.  Went to the hospital, and they stitched me up.  My opthamalagist was AWESOME.  It made me think a lot about what I want to do as a doctor.  Maybe eyes.  Maybe, like, management?  I like making decisions.  We´ll have to see.  It was fascinating to watch the surgery =)  three stitches on my lower eyelid.  They´re all out, now.  The hospital was comfortable, unlike the one my trainer went to in Santiago.  Ugh.
But, yeah.  We´re working hard!  Trying to get lots of support from the members, it´s really interesting to see the difference in the conversion of every person, based on how well they do the LITTLE THINGs.  I know the Church, although often run by idiots, is very well organized, and if we do it according to the way it´s supposed to, it will wonderfully fulfill its purpose, which is help us become closer to the saints.  I´m really grateful for all those church leaders who sacrificed much so that I could have a strong testimony of this gospel.  This week, we saw the Primary program, and the President had to do almost EVERYTHING herself, but it was incredible to see the final result.  I know she had a lot of difficulties, and she had to do with a lot of stupid people, but it´s something that the adults who attended will remember for a long time, and hopefully will be a strong base for the testimony of their children.  I love reflecting on the times when I was able to participate in many of those sorts of activities, and I´m so grateful to the LEADERS who sacrificed, tolerated, and had LOTS of patience with me so that I could become the person I am today and become a missionary.  I wish more people would understand the purpose of the Church and make more personal sacrifices to help out the members, just like Sister Rosario.  Sure, sometimes we have meetings that maybe are unnecessary, but as long as we focus on people and families, we have success in what we do.  This church is incredible.  Furthermore, it is God´s church.  The principles and ordinances it teaches are essential for salvation.  I love what it says in my patriarchal blessing, "you will be a better man in every way for giving of your time and talents to the building up of the kingdom of God."  Now, I have strong testimony that THAT is true.  I know it is true for ALL who have faith in Jesus Christ.  This is His church.  No other organization on earth deserves more of our attention.  I hope you guys get callings soon =)
Have a fantastic week!  I love you all!
Elder Taylor