I am on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am serving from October 19, 2011 to October 2013 in the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission. This blog represents the viewpoints of one missionary, Trent Taylor, and in no way is endorsed by the Church. To view the Church's official website, go to mormon.org
And I´m writing on a Tuesday. I hope it doesn´t upset you too badly, but tomorrow we have a special meeting with the area president, Elder Andersen, and won´t be able to write. I´m also going to see Elder Nelson tomorrow, for which I´m super excited!
So, we´re working a ton with less actives and also some investigators that we´ve found. It´s an adventure. It´s fun to help people feel the Spirit and grow and commit to change. I just wish everyone would do their home teaching. I feel like it´s an essential part of being a member, and if you´re not doing it, you´re truly failing in your purpose in life. I know life´s not easy, and I have a very skewed perception of things in my simple mission life, but I just feel like it´s important. I think that if everyone would be a good home teacher, the full-time missionary program wouldn´t even be necessary. Seriously. Less actives would come back to church, people would preach the gospel for themselves... it would be so fantastic. Maybe I´ll implement some Jehovah´s Witness tactics to get people to leave their house more often. They´re excellent at that.
Montecristi´s a beautiful place which I love very much. Especially the beach.
I´m learning so much about pride. I guess that´s my biggest downfall. I don´t know how to stop being prideful. I´ve been getting really annoyed at my companion this week, but I realized yesterday that it´s my fault, not his. I thought that I had solved this pride issue at the beginning of my mission, but it´s still there, just in different ways. Christ is like a silversmith, I guess, just BURNING OUT those impurities.
We should have a baptism on September 28, maybe more, we´ll see how that goes.
I´m happy, healthy, exercising, trying to eat well, working hard, and avoiding thinking about home as much as possible. I love you all, and hope you have a great week! Sincerely, and with lots and lots of love, Elder Trent Taylor
So, I emailed Becca. Good for her! Are you excited to start working again?? That´s good that it´s a good environment. I sure hope to find a job quickly when I get home, I hope you´re looking a little, talking to the ward members, etc. You didn´t go to watch the tennis match? Well, good! I´m glad. I loved the picture. Yeah, living in different places is dumb. We have to be together, guys. It´s just a bad idea to try to be far away from the people you love. I don´t know how the married missionaries did it, I don´t know how I´ve done it for so long, but I can´t wait to be with you all again. California sounds like too much fun, I´m stoked. Really, that´s incredibly exciting. Thank you! Trying not to be trunky... okay, done. Tell that bishop that I want to work SO HARD in the church when I get home. I want to talk in firesides and I want to go on splits with the missionaries and I´ll do anything he needs done. Until January. Also, I need to confirm... what´s our bishop´s name? And our Stake president? And our ward? Bloomington Hills Stake, right? They´re buying my plane tickets, so they need that information. I would LOVE to clean trash at the parking lot at Tuacahn. They don´t realize how wonderful the TUACAHN is! I can´t wait to go back to that place! What shows are going on this season? Oh, man, I need a job. Cool cool about the patriarchal blessing and the military orders. I mean, maybe Kuwait won´t be that fun. But... he´s serving the country. So, that´s good. Important. I hope he doesn´t burn in the sun. I´m really glad it´s in January, I was hoping to be able to hang out in Vegas with him for a couple of weeks and play basketball with him and other stuff. We´ll leave St. George together. Good good. No, I don´t think life will ever settle down. My life´s about to get really crazy in 8 weeks. Courtney gets home tomorrow, she´ll be in Texas for two weeks, I think. Her parents are going to take her to New Orleans, which should be fun. Lots of weird, different food. They live really close to the border with Louisiana, so they´ve been taking excursions over there. Her dad´s in the YM presidency, and he´s loving that. Much less stressful than Stake Pres. She´s going to room with her little sister this year, Rachel, who´s two and a half years younger than her. Her other sister is in Montana on a mission, I´m emailing her a lot (Danielle). Her other sister, Valerie, is doing marching band, and loving it, and also is very excited to start school again. Seems like she really likes it. Courtney´s mom sends me lots of emails. Yes, she will be graduating in April, but she´ll be taking 18 credits this semester, which might actually kill her. So, if she doesn´t die, she´ll graduate. Her winter term will just be student teaching. Her blog is so cool, right! So, some things I wrote in other emails that I wanted you people to read: Great story. The first counselor in the district presidency took us to visit a family who has two less active members, two kids. When we showed up, they were super receptive. When we went back yesterday, they told us that they were in desperate need for some spiritual upliftment, and were just so blessed by our visit, and they all want to be baptized. It´s great! I love focusing on families and helping them become better. I´m having a fantastic week and am so grateful for the mission. I love the work we do. I love who I´m becoming. I love helping people. The Lord is the best. I learned this week about spiritual power. I´m trying to put more emotion in my prayers and exercise more hope and faith in my feelings when I give blessings and teach. I can feel the power that comes from Jesus Christ´s name. The mission´s great! I can´t wait to read my journal with you all, some really cool experiences that I´m recording! See you soon! Love, Elder Taylor
So, on Tuesday morning, we wanted to do service, so we went to the "Mother Teresa Foundation," a social health care business where we often help clean and organize and so forth. They had nothing for us to do there, so we decided to pick up trash in the street. Dominicans don´t have an organized garbage system, so they often throw garbage in the street, therefore there´s a lot of it. I thought people would just ignore us, laugh at us maybe. Our neighbor did. But, I found $100 pesos, and realized that God was happy with what I was doing. My companion got really excited. That´s like $2.50 in American. Then, some lady saw us, got really excited, and offered us more bags so we could clean more. A little kid started helping me pick up trash. One man bought us two liters of soda. I was so impressed by the response from the neighborhood, that it made me want to plan a bigger, better service project. Especially about cleaning the community. Maybe we´ll be able to make a difference in the Montecristi mentality about cleanliness. I sure hope so.
I´m doing great. I´m learning a lot, trying really hard. I feel like I´m ready to live a better life than what I lived before. I´m trying really hard to apply the things I´m learning here in a normal life aspect, think about how I´ll apply it when I´m home. I love my mission. I can´t believe it´s almost over, 9 short weeks, but I´m happy.
We´re teaching Carmen, Yamivi, Auri, and Felix José, all of whom came to church two weeks ago, none of whom came to church this Sunday. It´s very difficult. The open house was well organized, but hardly anyone showed up. We´re planning on having another, better-announced open house in a month or so.
Umm, there´s not much more going on! Leadership skills, life. I´m happy. I think I´m happier than ever. I love you all.
Don´t worry, I knew that something weird must´ve happened. I know you´ll always write me. I was just fine. Surprised, but no big deal. I´m a big boy now.
Not sure how you lived without phones and internet, huh? I know how.
Oh, how little importance those things have! How much I´ve forgotten about them!
Did you know that my general happiness is higher than ever before in life? I love the mission. I´ve grown up, learned so much, and love being in the service of people in the Dominican Republic.
Mosiah 3:19-- when you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.
I feel so free.
Here, I do a whole lot of what´s really important, and a whole lot of what´s not very important. Facebook and internet and texting and movies and stuff... it just doesn´t mean that much anymore. I´d rather talk to my friends (these members quickly become your friends) eat with them, ask them if they´re reading their scriptures, argue about scriptural ideas with them, and pray with them. SO IMPORTANT!
The environment here is so beautiful! The air, the trees, the beach, everything. And now my house feels more like a home, after cleaning ALL DAY. I´m just happy. I am starting to realize how a person can always be happy no matter what they do.
Sometimes, I think life involves becoming an important person in the world, and that´s how I´ll have success. I wonder if I could be successful and happy living in Montecristi for the rest of my life, serving in the Church, working in who knows what, and just trying to love and help the people around me? Heaven knows this town needs help.
If you guys wanted to live here, I think we should move down here. If not, I´ll stay in America.
I´ve learned so much about how the Spirit works, and how most members want to be in Church, but they just have difficulties for one reason or another. Teaching is really fun. I haven´t exactly figured out how to get people back to Church, but I´m getting there. You´re right, Mom, every person is different. The worst part is that so few people do their visits... If they´d do them, lots of people would come back to Church.
Much chocolate. oh so much chocolate. My whole zone has greatly benefitted from my chocolate reception. I don´t eat as much junk as I used to. I´m out of the habit.
You´ll alll love the souvenirs. I have some great ideas. You´ll see =) I wish I could´ve been in the mountains with you all! How cool. The beach here makes up for it, but I just miss being with you all. I hope they can sell the cabin.
Oh, I hope your surgery went well!
So, I want to tell you all about my day. After cleaning, we went to the museum in Monetcristi, it´s very small. I learned some cool things, like the declaration of independence of Cuba was signed in this city, by a man named José Martí. I guess this town helped with that. Pretty cool. Also, Christopher Colon named this city when he saw the little mountain by the beach (called the "Morro" nowdays), he said it looked like the hill where Christ got crucified. He was Spanish. "Monte" is mountain, and "Cristy" comes from Christ. Cool, right? Anyway, then we got our hair cut, and I look bad, but it doesn´t matter, because I don´t have to impress any women yet. The next haircut will be very important. Then, we went to a meeting with the District President to help him organize his work here in the district. He´s a great guy with a strong testimony, but he doesn´t know how things work very well, he´s kind of impulsive and not a very good planner, so President asked us to help him work through some solid plans to make the district grow (District=stake as Branch=ward). I´m learning how to run the Church here, and speak to experienced leaders and help them work better. Then, we went to visit Eva, a less active member whose husband was branch president many years ago, and I guess there was some scandal and she got offended and hasn´t been back for a long time. The spirit was STRONG. All we did was try to help her get excited to read the scriptures. We succeeded. It´s going to bless her life, I know it will. She also gave us juice. Nice lady.
That´s my life! i lvove you all. Can´t wait to read you stories from my journal.
Good afternoon! How are you all doing? Becca says you're in Idaho. ...first week in my whole mission without an email.
I guess I've been taking it for granted! This is so weird.
So, this weeks been good. My companion... is... growing up. He's a LOT like me when I started the mission... self righteous, intelligent, responsible, strict... just needs a little humility and love. He's a good guy. I like being with him. Sometimes it really tests my patience, which is something I didn't realize that I was lacking until this week. We cleaned the house, went to the beach, and ate. And studied.
We're working on an open house in the chapel. Leaders here don't do much. I've been taking control of the situation, really, trying to get them ot take the iniciative. It should be a great chance to help people to meet the Church in a non-threating, friendly way. I'm super excited. We're working on finding more investigators, but I've decided to stop contacting. Too much of that in my mission has never gotten anywhere hardly at all, so we're mostly doing what Dad suggested a long time ago: reactivating families and baptizing the children. I like to focus on the fathers. They're usually the weak spot of a family, especially in Church attendance. I'm trying really hard to think about WHAT will motivate a person to go back to Church when they KNOW they should go, but just don't take the time to do it. It's a very difficult puzzle to solve.
Darlene sent me a WONDERFUL package, lots of chocolate. She's great! I'm working on some souvenirs for Becca and Courtney and Valerie, too. It's good stuff.
What else? It's flying, my last few weeks. I'm so sad to leave this work, this country, but so happy to be with you again, family.
Elder Chalas left this morning. I'm finally receiving a MEXICAN companion, Elder Burelo, to finish me off! We're waiting for him to get here on the bus. I'm with Elder Barrus today, my MTC companion. We've been sent to this tiny zone together to finish our missions. He's going to be training to finish his mission, so Elder Burelo should arrive with a new missionary from Las Vegas who doesn't speak any English. It'll be great to have a greenie in the zone. I sure hope Elder Burelo can cook! I would love some spicy tacos and stuff.
On Monday, Elder Chalas left me here to navigate the area (He had a meeting in Santiago so I was with Elder Barrus) and I totally rocked it. God answers prayers. I've been praying htat he would help me learn the area so hard, because I'm so scared to get lost or lose the confidence of my companion or not be able to do my job, but I really have it under control now. God answers prayers. Everyone loved Elder Chalas and I learned a ton from him, but I'm glad I'll be able to do lead out in this area now instead of follow. I really like focusing on lots of lessons, and that's something I missed in this last transfer. It's so nice to be with Elder Barrus, we have so many experiences to share. He thinks a lot like me, and he's american, so we understand each other very well. I've been missing that. He's a great missionary, he'll be a great trainer (again)
The baptism was fantastic, beautiful, spiritual. I learned, however, the importance of starting on time... it's so obnoxious to start an hour and a half late, just because of the Dominican culture. Furthermore, I was conducting, so it was a little embarrassing. However, one of our best investigators, Auri, was there, and she loved it, and also one of the moms of the kids decided she wanted to get baptized when she saw her son get baptized. That should help a lot. I'd send pictures, but my camera broke this morning :( Sadly, I'm a clutz, and I dropped it on cement. My memory card's fine, but the camera's broke.
I REALIZED LAST WEEK THAT IT WAS DAD'S BIRTHDAY, BUT I FORGOT TO SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'M SO SORRY, DAD! I hope it was marvelous, and that you were very happy. Can't wait to be there for the next one.
Wow, go Becca. a Junior! i hope it goes well. That sounds like such a cool experience, a good italian restaurant! You'll have to take me back there :) hint hint.
Anyway, that's all for the week. I love you all, I love this work, and I love Jesus Christ! And, I'm anxious for October 11, just like all of you, although I highly dread the responsibility and cold weather and finishing being a missionary, but I can't wait to see you all again. Love,