Jun 24, 2013

Trent's e-mail 6/19/13

Thanks Mom.  I always look forward to your emails, because I know you're just full of support and love :D  I'm glad I have time to talk to you all every week.  I'm so jealous!  I want to see Virginia!  Everyone's going places!  Wish I could be there.  Zoe just graduated, they sent me photos, Courtney's walking around in the garden of Gethsemane, Becca's in San Francisco and Virginia, Saya's in Japan... But I'm happy here in Montecristi.   Too many things to do, I can't be everywhere!  Although I would've liked to.  But, I know I'm supposed to be here.  I know it.  We had a really cool experience the other day with a new investigator, "Auri." She read the Intro to the book of Mormon, and I saw she highlighted the part where Joseph Smith said, "This book will bring a man closer to God than any other." This country believes highly in the bible, so lots of people really don't like that sentence, and I was expecting her to say something similar.  But, when she asked about it, she just said, "When I read that... I just knew it was true.  I don't know how I knew it... But I did." Our neighbor, who is a member, is a really good friend of hers, and so it was HER that brought us to visit her in the first place, and now she's really progressing.  It's incredible.  She came to church on Sunday, and I think this is really going to change her life.
I haven't gone back to the beach, unfortunately, but I'm sure enjoying the breeze that she gives me! The Haitian market has been closed because of a strike, so I wasn't able to buy a hammock still...  But that will happen.  The house is good.  We need to fix the plumbing, but it's alright.  Spacy. 
So on monday, I had to navigate my area alone, and it wasn't too hard.  I learned that if I really pay attention, it's not impossible, but I have to really focus.  And, luckily, Dominicans are really nice people so they tell you where to go as long as you know the name.  
I think one of the biggest temptations in this life is distraction.  Satan doesn't need us to be bad, he just needs us to be mediocre.  There are so many horrid things happening in this world, so much poverty, so much hopelessness, so much abuse, and sometimes we just let it pass by.  It's a shame.  A crying shame.  Living in a third world country helps you figure out what really matters, and I see so much of that in Elder Chalas.  People are so important.  
Becca sent me a picture of Ayvah, I'm glad you have a little bundle of smiles in ýour house :D  
Soon we're going to have a meeting with a woman from a program here called Outreach 360.  They focus on literacy, primarily in children, in Spanish and English.  We're hoping we can help serve them.  Montecristi is a fish harbor.  So many people are just fishermen, never really cared about school.  There's not much employment here.  Oh, they also make lots of salt.  There's no tourism, because it's so far from any interesting sights, even though the beach is beautiful.  I LOVE the members, though.  And there's just a positive, happy attitude about mission work.  Probably thanks to Elder Chalas.
I love you all!  Take care, take lots of pictures of Virginia, especially if you get the chance to visit the universities there...
You're the best!
Elder Trent Taylor

Jun 19, 2013

Trent's email 6/12/13

Dear family,
I'm glad I didn't know that you all were in Florida this week, I would've been very jealous all week thinking about all the fun you're having.  I had a great week as well!  I'm starting to keep a good journal (motivated by my companion) so you'll read more when I get home, but basically, the ward is really catching fire.  They just dedicated a really beautiful new chapel that on Sunday was really full, 99 people!  Our focus on less active members really helps the branch.  Our YW president is a recently reactivated member, and she's given us a reference as well.  Furthermore, on Saturday we knocked on a less active's door, and on Sunday they came to Church! They're highly enthused.  It's great!  We're planning on having an open house on the new chapel soon.  I'm learning the area as fast as I can, this'll be the first time that I learn an area in six weeks, so I'm really working hard.  I realized that maps and google have crippled me a little bit-I never got used to using landmarks and locating myself, not really.  It's good for me, this pressure.  Also this week, I went to the beach to check it out.  We just got back from Santiago, it was my companion's last opportunity to go before he goes to his house.  We have a house.  It's big, kind of dusty, but the back yard is WONDERFUL.  Two coconut trees (between which I will be hanging a hammock shortly) and a mango tree, in a very laid back neighborhood (even though we're in the center of the city) with really fun member neighbors.  I love the house.
My companion is one of the best people I've ever met in my life.  He's always happy and always friendly.  I've decided that loving people is probably the most important thing a person can do.  He really cares about the members and the missionaries and listens to them and serves them happily.  I really admire him.  I think his happy, loving attitude is a huge reason why this branch is growing so much.  It's what Christ would do.  I'm learning so much about people, social life, and Christ.
We're looking for service projects.  There's an organization called Outreach360 that's a big group of Americans here doing community service.  I'm still not sure what they do, but I've seen them playing games with kids in an evangelical church and my comp says that they teach english.  I'm going to get in touch with the coordinator, she's from Arizona.  We're also working in a place called Fundacion Madre Teresa, it focuses on medical assistance, technical courses, and parental education (there's lots of information about the importance of breast feeding, and pregnancy, and other stuff.  Service+learning=fun!)  We go there many mornings.
It's really a small town.  Smaller than Cotui, especially in walking distance, and much less developed.  The main sources of work here are the salt plants from the ocean and the farms of bananas, which are sent to Germany, apparently.  I like the feeling.  I've never really considered living in this country, but... who knows.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
The humidity doesn't affect me too much.  I don't know if I'm used to it, or maybe we have less than there is in Florida.  Bread rots quickly, so we don't buy too much, and we always leave it covered.  We sweat a lot.  But I don't feel suffocated by it.  And the fruit that can grow because of the humidity is SO worth the sweating.
AAAH!  Acapella music.  I love music.  I love making music.  i'm teaching elder Chalas the piano.  He's really fast.  I've done a couple songs with other missionaries around the mission, but I wish I could do it a little more.  Later.  
Yeah, it's definitely a desert.  When I was in Cotui, someone said, "Montecristi?  You're going to Montecristi? They have Cactus there!  It's like... it's like, the DESERT!  Like the desert in Arizona!  You know the Desert in Arizona?"  "I'm FROM the desert in Arizona!"  "oh."  So, yeah.  It is pretty deserty.  Hardly EVER rains.  It rains two miles in every direction from here, but the rain just skips over this city.  There's almost always lots of breeze, too, so that makes the heat hardly noticable.
Virginia?  You guys are going?  Cool!  Take lots of pictures!  I'm highly considering east coast for medical school, so learn as much as you can about lifestyle and such.  
I was in the mission office, looking at pictures of 18 year old boys and 19 year old girls that are coming on the mission, and it really changed my whole perspective of the mission.  I remember thinking that returned missionaries were so mature and so... spiritual.  Now I realize... we're really just kids, and the mission is really a great service we offer that helps us grow greatly, but we're not... that grown up. And when we get here, we really are just kids with nametags on and a great call to fulfill, and stars in our eyes.  I haven't gotten too much contact with the young missionaries, but I interviewed a very shy new missionary on Monday and tried to help him gain a little more confidence.
I've learned a lot about how important it is that we do our part.  Often I think about how "Things would only change if the government would..."  or "the world would be a better place if everyone else would...." but it's so important that I do my part, or I'll never be able to make a difference.
Anyway, family, I love you all!
You're the best!  Can't wait to see you in October!  Meanwhile, I'll be working til I can't stand anymore.
Elder Taylor

Jun 12, 2013

Trent's email 6/5/13

Hey Mom! and Dad!
I DID get transferred!  I'm in Montecristi.  Buh bye, rain, hello beach!  I'm stoked.  It's on a side of the mission that I've never been before, clear up in the corner of the map.  Literally, the corner.  Half an hour from the Haitian border and ten minutes from the beach.  My companion is Elder Chalas, he'll be done with the mission this transfer, and he's one of the most energetic missionaries I've ever met.  From the DR.  We'll be quite a dynamic duo.  I'll definitely finish the mission here.  Also, Elder Barrus came up to this Zone with me, so we'll be doing companionship exchanges, for which we are extremely excited.  He was my companion in Provo, and we always dreamed about ending the mission together.  Furthermore, we're close to the beach (which I've yet to see my whole time in the mission), and the really cheap Haitian market.  I'm stoked!  It will be extremely hot with lots of large mosquitoes, but God gave us sunscreen and bug spray for a reason :)  Elder Matos is a great friend of mine, now, and I have lots of good friends in the mission.  I'm so grateful for technology so I can keep in touch with people all over the globe.
I bet that celtic concert was really fun!  I hope you guys enjoyed yourselves.  It's good for Dad to suffer a little, give him a little culture.  =)
Dad's resilience is incredible.  I sure hope to be able to work as hard as he does.  Great man.
Will you do me two favors, Mom?  first, I need more of that under the retainer floss, that's good for threading.  Also, I want you to start doing a little bit of research about medical schools, especially with good neurology programs, so I can get in contact with them my first day home.  I really need your help, because I want to take off as soon as I get home, but I don't want to take time worrying about it right now, and I know I can trust you to do some thorough research (especially in your free time).  Thank you!
Do you all need anything?  in the Dajabon market, we find everything from footballs to waffle irons to tennis shoes, and VERY VERY cheap.
Furthermore, what kind of souveneir can I get for you all?  A dominican girlfriend?  Or.... bags?  Scripture cases?  There's a cool guy here who does stitched leather scripture cases where you can put whatever design or picture or temple or scripture on the case.  They're really cool, and I have some with the DR and the St. George Temple.  I love them!  Lots of different colors.  And TAYLOR on the side.
Anyway, I love you all!  Let me know what kind of things I can find you!
Elder Taylor

Jun 5, 2013

Trent's email 5/29/13

Aww, mom, you´re the best.
I´m glad your summer is happy for now, even though the heat maybe won´t be too happy.  I want you all to see the flowers and trees and sunrises and beaches in this country (well, I still haven´t seen any beaches with my own eyes, but the pictures are INCREDIBLE...).  Its such beautiful countryside!  Two weeks ago I was in a very tranquil forest by a river with the most INTERESTING leaves and plants and things.  Wow.  You all need to come see it. Even though we´ll probably never get to that forest, because Cotuí´s pretty far from civilization.  I´m not looking forward to the summer.  Sounds like President´s gonna transfer me next week, so I could end up by the beach, or in some REALLY HOT area.  Cotuí is average.
Have you ever tried eating cactus?  I think I´m gonna try it when I get home.  There´s a little cactus here. Therés lots of Aloe Vera.  LOTS.  
I can´t wait to get home and practice music again.  I miss it.  Tonight we have a ward talent night, but I don´t think hardly anyone is participating... I prepared a Come Thou Fount arrangement... we´ll see how it goes.  I´m also accompanying the primary president.  I think lots of investigators will be there, so I´m sure hoping we´ll make a good impression.  Please pray for us.
Hahaha, easy going people... I feel like I would ruin that whole atmosphere.  I have developed self control on the mission, but I´m still hyperactive sometimes.
Becca sent me pictures of the tube, looks like it was really fun!
Our new place is much better.  We´re very happy.  We spent today cleaning the old place.  We finally got electricity on Monday, for a total of 22 days without light, but it´s really not that hard on the mission.  The most difficult part was washing everything by hand, and then getting home at night to a dark house.  Other than that, we hardly ever use the fridge or the blender, and there´s no such thing as TV, air conditioning, or hot water heaters, so we just charged our phone in the church.  We have keys to the chapel, which I find weird.  It was wonderful to have cereal with cold milk on Tuesday morning, though (I´m finally used to the milk).
We found a japanese family in our area, and I emailed Meg and Saya to give me some Japanese tips, and they did!  I love those girls!  So great.
You guys have to meet Sister Douglas.  She´s SO COOL!  Even if Pilates is laughable, my back feels way better.
Yeah, so here´s the thing with the weather.  No day is rainy, no day is sunny, no day is cloudy.  Weather changes by the hour.  Two hours ago, it was storming.  Right now, it´s cloudy.  An hour ago, it was sunny.  It´s just crazy. You never know when you´re going to get soaked.  The worst part is that life shuts down when it´s raining because Dominicans are rainaphobic (yes, that is a made up word).  They think that if their heads get wet, they´ll get the flu or they´ll get a headeache, without fail.  I don´t know what the temperature´s like here, but I´m not excited for summer.  Thanks for your prayers!
Best family ever.
Elder Taylor