Jan 30, 2013

Trent's email 1/23/13

Hey Mom!
Hermano Gomez went home.  It´s a long story, but the short version is that his parents wanted him to finish filling out his Mission Papers so he can really get out there.  They were going to send me another mini, but that fell through, so I´m sleeping on Elder Grover´s floor for now, and trying to get members in our branch to go to appointments with me so all our investigators can keep progressing.  It´s hard and fun at the same time, but we´ll get it worked out.  I´m glad Brady´s back in Mexico, it would be hard to go home. 
I want to hang out in Vegas with you guys, and play tennis!  That sounds great.  On Monday we had a car wash to raise funds for a family who wants to get married.  The funds tanked, but the activity was very fun, and I realized the importance of good planning and trust in your branch.  Also, I´m fried again, working all day in a t-shirt and shorts.  Also, this morning, we went and played volleyball in the chapel in Jarabacoa, a really pretty area up the mountain where the Sisters are preaching. 
I´m so glad Dad´s gonna show Becca what´s up. I hope he gives those boys a good talking to.  "So you like my daughter, do ya? Yeah, we think she´s something else.  She deserves respect that´s what she´ll get, ain´t it son?  Now if you need anything, I´ll be right here all night just cleaning this gun."  Good old country song that we were remembering today.
As far as teaching goes, we´ve been teaching lots of people, and I realized that I´ve not been explaining our purpose as missionaries from the very beginning, so I lose control of the lesson.  I´m going to get better at that.  we have lots of good families, and I want them all to see how great the gospel is, but I´m doing it very slowly.  It´s really hard to balance out "teach to their needs" and "help them make commitments to progress towards baptism."  Sometimes, people don´t want to repent and be baptized even though it´s what they need...
I´m hoping that my Spanish will help me find a good job at BYU.  I can´t wait to go visit the temple a lot =)  I miss it there. 
I´m excited for my package!  Thanks for all your hard work and love.  I love you guys!  I gotta go, we´re gonna go teach a Jehovah´s Witness.  Well, I asked him to show us why he´s against our church, even though his daughter and his dad are members.  We´ll see what happens.  The bible is a fickle thing sometimes...
You´re the best!
Elder Taylor

Jan 23, 2013

Trent's email 1/16/13

Mom!  Dad!  Others!
I´m great.  It was a relaxing morning.  I have a keyboard and a guitar in my house now (president Douglas let us have a piano, and my comp brought his guitar for Pdays) and we´ve been playing around and rocking out, and I also slept a whole lot this morning, and it´s my Zone leader´s birthday so we´re going to eat frozen yogurt nearby.  Such a good day.  Also, we´ve found a lot of good new investigators, and I´m feeling confident about my ability as a missionary... not because I think I´m as good as I should be, but because I´m progressing.  It´s relieving, and exciting.  I love Preach My Gospel, the mission manual.  Incredibly helpful.
So, fun investigator story.  He´s not my investigator, but he´s Elder Grover´s and I see him all the time.  His name´s Robert, he´s from Germany (he came to get married to a Dominican and stayed here for some reason) and he´s super intelligent.  He´s read the Koran, he thought the 10 commandments are the only important parts of Christianity and everything else is just "as interpreted by man."  He was looking for a congregation with whom he could worship, but wasn´t looking for the truth.  He thought that we were good, and he started coming to Church, and thought we just talked about prophets too much... until we got the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow book.  He loves reading, so he took one and read it in two weeks, and said, "I get why prophets are so important.  I want to be baptized."  He wants to be a leader in the Church.  He´s always felt like he´s had a purpose in this country, and he thinks it´s this church.  He´s now reading the Teachings of Joseph Smith (really big book, by the way).  The sincere seekers of truth will find a way to it, even if it´s a little unorthodox.  Miracles happen when we work.
And I´m working too, even though I don´t have any super awesome miracle to talk about.  Just fyi.

I´m sorry it´s soo cold.  I laughed a little yesterday, because I was cold with maybe 65 degrees, and then I thought of you guys in the snow.  I hope Kenji doesn´t die.
Elder Grover is 100% now, no worries.  It was Denge, the fever you get from mosquitoes.  I don´t have that many missionaries to be responsible for, so it´s not that stressful, and I love them, so it´s good.  We´re like a family here, because ours are so far away.  It was nice to just chill in the hospital with him for a day.  Becca´s way too cool to not be asked out a million times a week, so just keep a tight leash on her, eh?  I hope you´re super careful with the serious dating thing, that´s the BIGGEST problem.  I know her brother didn´t give her the best example, either.  I´ve made some promises to myself about the way I´m going to start dating when I get back, and it will be much better than what I did before.  I´m excited to be able to threaten her dates.  I vote she can´t go on dates until I interview the boys that are taking her out.  October.
I actually read that same section, Mom.  We´ve been talking to EVERYONE and asking for lots of referrals.  It´s really productive, and quite exciting.  The first missionary didn´t baptize anyone, but gave a BoM to Brigham Young.  I think his name was Samuel Smith.  Gordon B. Hinckley had a really hard mission too.

I´m happy you´re using facebook to post links!  It´s so cool to see how easy it is to share the gospel--like a really delicious cake you want to share with your friends.  Thanks for helping in the work!
I love President Uchtdorf´s talk "finding joy in the journey."  I think I´ve thought about that talk every day this week, trying to focus on the most important things--here and now.  We´re planning activities and teaching lots of lessons... It´s exciting.
I´m glad Becca wants to go to BYU-H.  She has to go wanting to STUDY, not just wanting to party.  It´s hard to get a real education there, I´ve heard, because everyone goes to the beach all the time.
Tell Grandpa happy birthday, I love him!
You´re the best, family.  Wouldn´t trade you for anything!
Elder Taylor!

Jan 16, 2013

A Few Pictures

Trent's email 1/9/13

Hey Mom, Dad, Cody, and everyone else!  Happy 9th of January!
I´m doing wonderfully.  Last night we ate pizza, and this afternoon we had DELICIOUS fried chicken.  Aww, man, it´s good.  We´ve had a local elder in the hospital, so Hermano Gomez and I have been taking lots of care of him and eating out alot.  I stayed with him all day yesterday, it was actually a nice break from stress.  He should get out of the hospital today, so we´re doing alright.
Other than that, we´re still really focusing in on setting effective goals.  It´s really difficult, because a lot of what we do depends on other people (if they read, if they want to change their lives, if the members leave with us, if they don´t get called into work on Sunday...) and we´re living in a very poor city, I´m starting to realize, so everyone´s slave to their work.  I want to hope for the best, but I don´t know what to expect-some weeks go wonderfully with lots of participation and support from the members, some weeks go terribly, and we end up contacting all week. It´s almost a joke.  Plus, they don´t give us enough minutes to call all our investigators every day, as I would like, and to do all the other chores that we need to do as missionaries.  But, we´re living, and the work is progressing, despite the challenges.  I love being here and making plans and doing my best.  It really makes me focus well on the MOST IMPORTANT THING.
Which is, I´ve also learned, that life means nothing without this gospel.  It makes me super sad that people take the Church and adapt it to their lifestyle as they see fit.  A lot of times, its hard for us to understand that God´s laws are there to protect us and to help us live more fully-when we disobey, we ultimately lose. I wish I could help everyone understand that, but it´s hard, because the world screams an entirely different message.  I think each culture has their problem.  Here, it´s often family life and the law of chastity more than anything.  Also, people are super lazy, and they don´t like telling anyone "no," so they say they´ll do something with the best intentions, but rarely comply.  In our culture, we really don´t appreciate the sabbath day, and chastity´s also a huge issue.  I just wish people would study the scriptures and understand what God wants us to be and achieve.  This world could be the beautiful place it was created to be.
I loved psychology.  I hope she enjoys it =)  who´s her seminary teacher?  Change is good sometimes.  Elder Grover and I were talking about the importance of really good people, it makes your heart warm up.  Just doing things out of love and service makes a person feel so much happier.  Dad likes hanging out with dentists?  Cool.  I miss steak.

St. George is a good city.  I love it there!  It´ll be good to go back.  Much better than Draper =)
I hope Bob is doing well.  He´s a good guy.  Kyzer will be cheering for him "on the other side."
I´m keeping track of places to show you three when we come back one day, don´t worry.  It´ll be a blast.
Did you enjoy the pictures and videos?  I´m excited to review them, it seems like it´s been a really long time since I´ve seen them.
My mini missionary is... interesting.  It´s nice to have an outside perspective of mission work, seeing as he didn´t pass through the MTC.  It´s a good perspective, helps me think about things that I don´t often consider.  He reminds me a lot of who I was right after I got out of high school, pretty know-it-allish.  I mean, I guess I still am like that, but I feel like I´m better than before.
Couple of in-laws?  What kind of in-laws are you planning for?
There´s a little bit of diversity here, but you´re right, it´s not too different.  I just like being out of the city, really =)

Haha, I´m glad you have 9:00 church.  Yeah, six years of 1:00 was a little unjust. 
AAh, I´m so excited to make a difference in the world.  To get out there and TRY.  I know there are a ton of obstacles, just like in mission work, but it´s so worth it.  It´ll be so much fun. There are so many things to see and do and live.  I´m grateful to be here.  I´m grateful to be a part of this great family.  Love you guys!
Elder Taylor
P.S. Cody´s going into the Air Force when he gets done in May, so our roommate plans are ruined.  Blake´s finishing his mission next month.  If you see him, tell me to save me a bed in January.

Jan 9, 2013

Trent's email 1/2/13

Family, Cody,
Wow, I was so surprised when I looked at my watch and it said "13" instead of "12."  It´s a new year!  Strange, strange, strange. Even weirder, I´ll be home before the next new year.  Does Dad like his new job?  Apparently it´s good.  I´m glad.  I´m grateful to have such awesome parents who care so much about me to work so hard all the time, and I wish I would´ve listened better when they told me to play piano.  I could be much more useful as a hymn accompanist... right now I just have to do my best.
Orson Taylor... So why don´t we know any Taylors in St. George to whom we are related?  That´s interesting.  Keep me updated, this is really fun to find out about.
So gram´s half Irish?  What was Gram´s mom´s name again?  Wow, I never cared about this stuff before, but now that I´m seeing the importance of family and observing the influence that families have on people every day, its so much more interesting.  What was the name of our ancestor who gave Joseph Smith a horse?  Elder Grover told me that his great great grandfather (or something like that) was in the Doctrine and Covenants, something about being an assistant to the twelve.  Thomas Grover.  I thought that was cool. 
Cool!! I can´t wait to meet Russell.  I´m sorry, maybe you told me already, but where did he serve his mission?  Tell Kara that I love her, and she should probably write me, if she can.  Please.
I so want to leave Utah.  Maybe it´s just a mission thing, but I´ve gotten so excited to live all over the world!  I can´t wait to see new things, meet different people.  Utah´s just too... too much of the same.  The Church dominates the culture, and I don´t like that at all.  It´s not meant to dominate culture.  So, let´s go to Oregon, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, New York, Italy... There are lots of Europeans here in this country, it´s really fun to talk to them.
It´s just really sad to see some people that don´t realize what life is like outside of La Vega.  Like, they really don´t understand how big the world is, how different they are from other people, what really makes the world work.  I want to see things.
Alright, alright, we´ll negociate.  Remember, Mom, I will be an adult when I get back... But if you don´t want me to leave on Christmas Day, maybe I won´t.  Or you all could go visit people with me.
Zoe Rocks.  Shout out.  She´ll never read this, but Tiffany will tell her.
What is SIDS?  I´m so sorry for Bob.  Please give him a big hug for me.  I hope the bishop helps.  Aw, I feel so sorry for him.  Tell him I love him.
Ah, thanks so much for the hi from the smiths!  I love those guys.  Good for the missionary, I hope all goes well.  It´d be so hard to be sent home before the two years is over, I think.
Pause.  I sent another memory card without telling you guys. Was it inside a duck, or inside an envelope?  Cuz there was one I sent inside a duck, that was the most recent, and had mostly video diary recordings.  And I thought it was stolen, too, because you guys hadn´t said anything, but I´m so glad at least ONE of them made it there.  Hope you enjoy watching or looking.
I wish I could be Dad´s companion.  He´d help me know what to do at the right time, and he´d work his tail off. I just got a "mini missionary," which means he´s a member from the area of the mission (Santiago, specifically) and he´s only serving for this transfer because we´re short a missionary.  He´s smart, and he´s willing, and we´re both learning a lot about pride =)  It´s interesting, basically having to call all the shots alone (he didn´t go to the MTC so I have to teach him basically how things go... it´s a good thing I know how to do mission work well), I kind of like it and it kind of stresses me out.  It means I´ll probably be here another three months.  I´m thinking I might finish my mission with only 3 areas, but that´s okay.  I figure if it´s what the Lord wants, there´s no problem.  Also, like you said, I get lost less often.
Mom, I´m doing my very best.  I really am.  Sometimes, I´m weak, sometimes, I´m a little lazy, and sometimes, I focus on things that aren´t mission work for a little too long, but I´m trying really hard to give everything I´ve got.  I don´t like doing things part way, half way, or even 99% of the way.  I´m here to get it done the best I know how.  Thanks for the encouragement, it really does help!
I love you all. You´re the best!  Keep up the gratitude, the love, and most of all, the sending of letters.
Elder Taylor

Jan 2, 2013

Trent's email 12/26/12

Hey Mom, Dad, and everyone else!
Wow, it was fantastic to talk to you all yesterday.  It´s just so
true, happiness in family life.  It´s a very big sacrifice to be away
from our families for so long.  Elder Nelson almost didn´t get
through, and he was very frustrated.  We need our families.  It´ll be
good to be back home next year.  We spent our day cleaning a little,
then walking around the neighborhood and wishing everyone a Merry
Christmas.  There was one family that invited us in and gave us apples
and candy and we talked about the birth of Christ for awhile.  I
enjoyed it.  I was SO tired last night.  Slept like a rock. Got a
little extra sleep today.  There was one lady who gave us some tea
from some plant called "gengibre."  It´s tasty.
It´s good that you saw all those family members!  And that´s soo cool
that Dad´s into family search.  I liked it, it was fun.  I liked
indexing a lot, it was a fun challenge.  They were really focusing on
that in the college wards.  I didn´t know grandpa´s grandpa grew up in
St. George, wasn´t that Pleasant Green?  or was that Grandpa´s dad?
We probably have family there, then!  How cool.  Umm, didn´t Grandpa
grow up in San Fran?  How did we end up in the Church, anyway?  I was
talking to Elder Grover, who´s solid pioneer stock, and I really don´t
know when we got introduced into the church.  Gram´s from
California...  I don´t know!
I love cooking for lots of people.  It´s stressful, but it´s so
rewarding.  Besides, when I´m at home, I´ll get other people involved
when we do parties, so it´ll just be one or two dishes for everyone,
and then life will be happy and easy.  I´m excited to have parties and
things.  And real American food again.  Yeah.
What´s Russell like?  Do we like him?  I´m excited to see the new
house with the new kitchen table.  I realized that I always took new
things for granted, because everything in this country is hand me
down.  I can´t tell you how many high school t-shirts I´ve seen
Dominicans wearing, just normal.  I figure places like the DI just
ship boxes of clothes down here.
Where do Spencer´s parents live?  And where´s Russell from?  How´s
Kara´s career?
I MISS SNOW!  Aww, you guys are so lucky.  I want to have snowball
fights with you guys.  Mom, I´m gonna pull you in, too.  You´ve gotta
appreciate the snowball time!  We´ve gotta go tubing again.
I´m so happy to hear about the changes in the youth manuals.  I love
knowing WHY we live the gospel, it makes it so much easier to live and
makes me so much happier.  Elder Bednar really focused on that when he
came down here... sometime this year.  My perspective of EVERYTHING
has changed.  I hope you guys are willing to leave Utah, cause I feel
like I need to live and raise my kids outside of Utah, and I want you
guys to be there, too.  There´s SO MUCH to be done outside of Utah.  I
can´t wait to make a real difference.
I hope it goes well with the lady that you visit teach.  Don´t lose
hope!  Even if SHE doesn´t understand that she needs the gospel, YOU
do.  Let her feel your love, and she´ll start realizing how much the
Lord loves her, too.  That´s been one of the best lessons I´ve learned
here on the mission.  Lots of work done for people that don´t
progress, but it´s never in vain.
Ahh, I hope the unpacking and laundry go well.  I feel like I have no
energy to do anything anymore, especially not cleaning the house.  I
don´t know why... I´ve been a little sick.  I´m always so exhausted.
Send me some fudge, PLEASE!!
Zoe asked if I´d be home for next year, and if we could spend Christmas together.  She went with Tiffany to go see Les Miserables, the new movie.
Zoe thinks she´s going to stay up at Utah for a year, so that´ll be
fun because she´ll be there when I get home.  I´m excited.
Anyway, life´s good!  Back to the mission life, and I´m excited.
hopefully we´ll get some good progress in our area now that the
alcohol fest is over.
Love you all!
Elder Taylor