Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving was a real surprise because we actually got Grandma's package with the beef steak tips in it that day, Thanksgiving Day! So we got to have a treat for Thanksgiving Dinner! It rocked! How was Fort Thomas? Did you make it on in to Pima and Safford?

We have a stove and oven, but it's all gas. (We asked about his kitchen facilities.) We actually haven't opened anything from Elder Blake's Mom because it is the 25 days of Christmas, haha. (We knew Jeff's companion's mom had sent a package which we thought was food for Thanksgiving, but it turns out it is for Christmas!) But I've already opened one of my packages that was a 12 Days of Christmas package, woops! JK, I opened it and have had the 12 days of November. Adi, Aubree and Lauren sent it to me! Don't worry Mom, I found your two Christmas Packages in the office this morning and I left them there because you told me not to open them until Christmas!

The Baptism this past Saturday went good! We had Obenson get baptized, and the other Elders that work in the other half of the ward (areas here have the same boundaries as wards, and zones are the same as stakes) had a baptism too, so we had two that night, and then they had another one in the morning at 8 before Church started at 9! So it was sweet! We have another baptismal date for the 11th of December. It is a lady with two kids named Iraida. If it's in the Lord's Plan, then it will happen. She really doesn't like it when we say that she has a date for the 11th, because she wants to say when she's ready. But if it's in the Lord's Plan, she will be baptized that day.

Celio is amazing! Our last two Baptisms (And our only two this transfer) have been references from Celio. He has such a kind desire for the welfare of his friends, he is a huge reason for their baptisms. And because of him they will stay active, what a great example of Christlike love and friendship.

I had an interesting thing happen at church yesterday. A member came down before church started and asked two of the other missionaries that serve in the ward here to give talks in Sacrament Meeting and they both said no. I was surprised because they have both been out longer than I have. I thought they would say yes, of course but they both told him no. So he didn't ask me, but I volunteered and said that I would go up and talk. And so I did. I knew that the Lord would help me. I knew that He would help me know what to say. So, without knowing what I would talk about and in a language that's not my own and that I am still learning I went up and tried to serve the Lord by giving a talk without knowing what I was going to do beforehand and the Lord helped me to do it! And He didn't just help me, He did give the talk! There is no way I could have given that talk without Him! What a blessing it is to be a part of that! What an opportunity from the Lord! It's still a little hard when you (Dad and Mom) aren't there afterwards to tell me good job! But I'm learning that I shouldn't be concerned with the praise of the world. I think that's what I need to learn. I think it's pleasing Heavenly Father that I should be focused on. I know that I did my best to take that chance to serve Him. I guess that's what it's really about!

We went back to the Conde again today and ate at Pizza Hut! The chichiguas (homemade kites) went sooo good! We got it probably about two football fields away in the air, it was way out there! Ya, Dad will probably like to make a chichigua, they're sweet! We usually get more wind here than in AZ, and it is really needed because it helps keep the house cooler, haha. I think we got more wind because of the ocean.

Ya, transfers will be not tomorrow, but the following Tuesday, so we will know either Sunday night or Monday morning what will be happening. Sorry, I've already had one transfer, and we both just stayed here.

Wow, I do know Elder Wixom! (See below) He is in my group! I have talked to him! Wow, that is so awesome that his brother is ok!

Thank you so much for all that you do and I love you! Thanks for praying for me!

Elder Jeff DeSpain

I read something that one of the missionary moms wrote in the missionary moms email group that I belong to. The mother told about her son (Dallas Wixom) that is serving in Tennessee right now. He was involved in a freak accident on his bike. The back tire of a truck ran over his chest. Incredibly, he had no broken bones, not even a cracked rib. He had some damage to muscles in his shoulder but he has had some physical therapy and is doing great. His shirt was ripped, but his garment top was untouched. Truly divine intervention there! Anyway, this mom has two sons serving missions right now and the other son she mentioned (Doug Wixom) is not only in Jeff's mission, but entered the Provo MTC on the same day as Jeff so we were pretty sure Jeff would know him and would have been in the same group with him so we told him the story and asked if he knew Doug Wixom, the brother serving in the DR.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Walked Down The Oldest Street In The New World

Hey everyone!

Hey, we haven't received instruction yet on how the call home will work on Christmas Day. I've actually heard that it's different depending on where you are, but I will let you know once I know!

The baptism that we still had scheduled actually didn't end up working out. The girl would like to wait for her family to get baptized, but we're not sure what's going to happen with them for sure because they didn't come to church again, so they're kind of struggling to progress. But The Lord did bless us with another baptismal date for this Saturday! We had been praying to Heavenly Father to let us have more success if it was His will, and we ended up teaching a Haitian 21 year old named Obinson. He is a stud! He was actually referred to us from the Haitian convert named Celio. He is way ready! He wants to be a missionary! He is so ready! We had only taught him probably two or three times, and he is already ready for baptism! Talk about the Elect of God! Wow, so he has a baptismal date this week for Saturday, and then the missionaries in the other half of our area actually have a baptism scheduled for this Sunday at 8 AM before Church!

So I don't think that they know that Thanksgiving exists down here, haha, but it will just be a normal day for us I'm pretty sure for that day. We don't eat with the members, but sometimes that can be a blessing, haha!

Oh, so I thought I would let you know what we did today so far. We went into the office and then we went to a place called the Conde. It is the oldest street in the new world! That means it's the oldest street in the Americas! It's like a street that you walk down with shops. There is a Pizza Hut and a KFC there, and we ate at the KFC, it was so good! Then we went to a supermarket, and then we came here, and then we're going to fly chichiguas. They are home made kites! You take a reed and break it into three pieces, then you take a grocery bag and tie it over the top, and then you just use some string and put a tail on it and it flies! Some people here put Gillette razors in the tail, and then they try to cut down other kites! It is sweet!

Ok, I'm glad I'm not there to here Mom scream, but I think all the pictures I have taken so far on my camera are gone. I actually think that I must have left the camera at the Internet place two weeks ago when I was emailing, and someone must have stolen it from the Internet Center where it was at. I've checked everywhere and we went back to the Internet Center and they didn't have it. I have checked everything in the apartment and it's not there, so I'm going to need you to send me another one, maybe in the Christmas package. I did get the new SD card, so I have one of those, but I guess I'm going to need a new camera. The good news is, you have all of the pictures of my baptisms and the cool pictures from the MTC, and I have two hard copies of the pictures at the MTC here. We were only allowed to take pictures on two days at the MTC, so there's not a whole lot to miss there, haha. I'm really sorry, and please tell Grandma D I'm really sorry too because she bought me that camera. I'm so sorry, that is totally my fault. (We are not worried about the camera. It can be easily replaced. But we are sad about the pictures being gone. We aren't sure how many pictures he had on his camera, but we have only received three hard copies of pictures from the Provo MTC and 8 pictures from him in the DR through email. Oh well . . . he is safe and happy and serving the Lord . . . they're only pictures!)

Thank you so much to everyone for all that you do for me and the examples that you are to me in my life! I'm so grateful for all the blessings in my life! The Lord truly sent me to live in the best place in the world!

Elder Jeff DeSpain

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Release in the House . . .

Saludos Mom!

Congratulations Mom! Wow, thanks for being such a great example of faith to me Mom. You didn't know how you were going to get all of that stuff done with Dad being the Bishop and you being the Stake YW President, but you showed your faith because you did it anyway without knowing. It's like in the Bible when the men carrying the Ark of the Covenant had to cross a river. Heavenly Father promised them that they would make it across safely, but they had to get their feet wet first. They acted on their faith, and then the Lord blessed them. Just like in Ether 12:27. Thanks so much Mom and Dad for always being such an unbelievable example to me of faith! (I was released from my calling as Stake YW President yesterday and we told Jeff about it in our letters.)

Things are great here in Guachupita! We are doing good, and no rain! It stopped raining, but apparently there was an earthquake here this week one morning at like 1:00 in the morning! There are some elders that live on the fifth floor of a building in the other side of our area, and I guess they woke up because the building was shaking! We didn't get woken up. Our apartment is on the third floor, haha.

It is pretty humid here but the Lord has blessed me so much so that it doesn't bother me anymore. I'm so blessed that I came from a hot area! It helps me deal with the heat out here. But now the temperature gets really nice at night. It gets cool!

(We asked Jeff how his clothes were holding up and also asked him to send some more ideas for Christmas because we need to mail his package out this week.) My clothes are doing great! I could use some more toiletries because those are really expensive here. Also, if there is anyway that you could send cereal in my Christmas package, that would be so awesome! I can get milk here, but to have cereal would be awesome! It costs a lot here, and it would be an amazing treat! But no sweat if it's too hard to send. Here are some other ideas I thought of for the Christmas package, thanks so much for asking! It would be sweet to have a family history book or more than one of them. I'm talking about like the journals that we have from David Henry Weech or the History of the Gila Valley or Mount Graham or something like that.

I actually write you from an Internet center. I'm right down the street from our house right now actually! I just got your letter with the other Priesthood talks and the memory card. Thanks so much! If you sent the other letter with the two memory cards in it to the DR MTC then ya, it might still be coming, ha ha! Oh, and we went in to the office today and I got another package from Grandma Joy! It has so much good stuff in it, the stuff to make green chili burros and candy! Tell her thanks so much for me! And the frosting on the cookies that she sent me earlier made it here fine!

Things are going great here! The Lord has blessed us beyond measure! I think that we may need to start focusing a little bit more on helping people keep their commitments. I think that many of them may still lack a strong testimony and conviction of the truthfulness of the Gospel. We really struggle with getting people to come to Church. As well, the investigators that are progressing need to get married, haha. But, we keep doing everything that we can and then we leave the rest up to the Lord! I know that He knows how hard we are working.

We had one great experience this week. We actually were trying to find a lady that was running away trying to hide from us and we came across a couple of guys sitting in lawn chairs out in the street. We stopped and asked them if they had seen the lady. They said no, but we contacted them and invited them to church. One of them asked us why we were called by the name "Mormon." We actually started to teach the first lesson to him, and he was so ready for the Gospel! A couple of times I wondered if he was already a member and playing a joke on us. He understood the Gospel so well! What a privilege it was to teach one of the elect of God! I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for that opportunity.

We had three baptismal dates for this week and about two more for the following week, but none of them came to Church, so we only have one for this week now because the other ones haven't been to Church enough times yet. All is well though, we just do the best we can, and I know that The Lord will work everything out!

Like you said in your last letter Dad, sometimes it may seem that you are doing everything right and nothing's working out. We really are blessed and I should be counting my many blessings and they are many! It will be a payday when a family's life is changed for eternity! I just got to keep trying!

I thank Heavenly Father more and more for the unbelievable family that I was sent to. I truly was blessed with the best family in the world. You know, we were visiting a member family a couple of days ago and they have an inactive daughter who just had a baby. I just thought wow, that kid got just got sent to a mom that doesn't go to church and is inactive. How blessed beyond measure I am to have a mom and dad who always took me to church and taught me what was right. I truly was born of goodly parents.

I am so grateful for the love of our Savior and Heavenly Father. I am so grateful that Jesus Christ walks with me every step of every day, and I testify that He walks with each one of you who read this letter. He is walking beside you right now, and He knows you by name. He loves us so much, and I am so grateful for Him!

Thank you so much for all that you do and I love you so much! I'll talk to you later!

-Elder DeSpain

Monday, November 8, 2010

No Big Hurricaine Damage in Santo Domingo, Thankfully!

Hey everyone!

So we did know about the hurricane. We had heard that it hit Haiti. We did get a lot of rain and wind, but nothing that kept the work from progressing. The Lord really helped us and it didn't even rain that much during the times when we were out tracting! Wow, but I feel bad for the people in Haiti. They've had a rough series of events!

Just one random little thing that I remember someone asking me that I never answered. I talk to Elder Blake in English. I've had a few people ask me if we speak Spanish all the time or what, but we speak English to each other and Spanish to the people. Sorry, that was a totally random note that I thought of.

Fermin actually has not been at his house when we pass by for quite some time. We have run into him a couple of times, but he is really struggling. He needs some more time, so we're going to wait until this weekend to talk to him. He's got a good heart though.

Hey, no worries about the letters! I just got like fifteen of them this week. We picked some up today at the office and I got a bunch last week too, including the one from Dad that had the Priesthood talks in it, but not the one with the memory cards in it. But that's fine, no worries! It will all work out. The Dearelder letters are coming through just fine, and I think the SDQ address is correct for the regular letters! I'm really sorry to the Karges family because I just got a dearelder letter from them that they wrote probably two months ago! I think it got to the MTC after I left there! Sorry Karges family, I'll write you back! I'm going to write everyone back, it's just a matter of the letters getting here first, haha!

So things are going great! We haven't seen a whole lot of baptisms, but the Lord has blessed us with the privilege of teaching so many families! The thing with the families here is that almost none are married that we teach, so we need to go through the process first of getting them married before they can be baptized. The Lord has blessed us beyond measure though! Wow, we have about 50 investigators right now! It is amazing to see the Hand of the Lord in our lives and in this work! It's amazing to see the people that He puts in our path. It really is true that there is no such thing as a coincidence. The Lord is in charge and everything happens for a reason!

Ok, so I promised Dad that I would tell you what happened last week when we got robbed. So we were entering a street and Elder Blake was in front of me, two guys came up behind me and one grabbed my arm. This was all in plain sight of people at like one o'clock in the afternoon. They showed me a gun and told me to be quiet and call Elder Blake, so I decided real quick that I would do that, haha. I called Elder Blake and he came back and they checked our pockets and let us go. They went down a street to the left and we went down a street to the right to get our lunch. Then, when we got to the house where our lunch was, they passed us again, and there were people around again, so Elder Blake gave them a high five and then one of them tried to take his CTR ring! How ironic. So Elder Blake took his hand back, but this time they pulled the gun out on us, so Elder Blake let them try to take it and they figured it was plastic and took off. The same two guys robbed us twice in a matter of like five minutes! The Lord was watching out for us, I am so grateful for His protection, because I know that it was only because of His protection that we got out ok. He is always protecting us, so don't worry Mom!

(Last week we got a nice, long, wonderful email from Jeff telling us about several great things that were going on with the missionary work in the area where he is serving. He attached a picture which he rarely does. I have the email address of his companion's mother so I forwarded a copy of the picture to her. In her email back to me, she thanked me for the picture and said how good they both look and how well they must be doing there together. Then she asked if Jeff had mentioned that they had been held up with a gun. [No . . . he hadn't mentioned that little experience to us at all!] She shared some details. I was scared at first and then I got pretty miffed that someone would even think about bothering missionaries on the Lord's errand! Every time I hear about something like this it makes me crazy. What kind of person robs a servant of the Lord??? Anyway, by lunch time that day I came to the conclusion that the Lord can protect his missionaries anywhere in the world better than I can protect one right here in Gilbert so I just try not to think about it. I decided not to ask Jeff about it, but I knew Henry would probably question him about the experience and he did so the paragraph above is in response to Henry trying to figure out what all really happened!)

Thank you so much for all that you do! I am so grateful for my family and friends. We taught two families last night and I testified both times about how I had parents who were good examples to me and taught me to do what was right and that my life is by far different today because of them and the things that they have done for me in my life. That goes for everyone in my life, my family, cousins who have set a good example for me and Grandma's and Grandpa's that have taught me how to live by their examples and have left behind a legacy that I hope to live up to! I have had friends that have been such a good influence in my life and been so good to me. I come from a ward full of fantastic examples that I wish to become like. Thank you so much to everyone for all that you do. You mean more to people than you know! Thanks so much, and I will talk to you next week!

Elder Jeff DeSpain

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yeah! Word from the DR!

(We wondered what happened last week because we only got a few sentences from Jeff as a reply to an email that Henry had sent - not the normal email. We thought there might have been computer problems and it looks like that was what happened.)

Hey! So here's the deal. Really sorry, but all of the computers crashed last week right when I was just about to send the email, sorry! But it's all good! Here's what's left of last weeks email:

Hey family! Thanks so much for getting the plaque set up, I really appreciate it! Digno and Dulce are doing good, they just didn't come to church this week. They really seem happier, and what a privilege to experience that in someone's life! Now Dulce will actually have to go back to the town where she was born and take care of some paperwork. I don't know if they can afford a bus ticket right now, but I know that The Lord will provide if they want to get baptized! He is always in charge! Pedro actually is a contact that we made, but he hasn't come to church yet. He had a baptismal date, but since he hasn't come to church yet, we will have to continue to work with him and help him gain a testimony about attending church! No way, haha, I didn't know that you knew a Dulce too, haha! (I grew up with a girl who had a little sister named Dulce so when I saw the name I told Jeff about her.)

Ok, now for this week! We had two with baptismal dates for this last Saturday. One of them did get baptized! His name is Sano. He is actually Haitian, and it was awesome because there is another Haitian that is in our ward here that got baptized about three months ago and he baptized Sano! His name is Celio and he is a super stud! He has the faith of Nephi of old, wow, he is doing great! I sent a picture of me and Elder Blake standing with them before their baptism. (New picture on the blog.) You've got to tell me what you think, because I've had two people now tell me that I'm getting fatter! haha, I was flattered! Never have I been so honored as to have someone call me fat, haha, JK!

As for the other man that had a baptismal date, his name is Fermin. He is doing great! He's trying to stop smoking, the only thing was that we couldn't find him all the last part of last week! We would pass by his house like two or three times a day but couldn't find him. Then he actually showed up to the baptism in a white shirt! We asked him if he had smoked and he said that he had the day before. So we are postponing his baptismal date until this week, but that will be great! He is a great guy with a great heart!

Thank you so much mom for sending me that story about the Grovers in that last email. I am sooooo grateful for that! And Grovers, thank you so much! You are a great family full of people that will be working miracles for the Lord your whole lives! Thank you for the example that you are to me!

Thank you to everybody back home! You are all such great examples to me and have been such a big impact on my life! Now that I have been in a ward where the activity rate isn't as high, it has made me recognize how blessed I am to live in such a great place with so many great people! Keep up the great work and thanks so much for the example that you set for me! I love you all very much and am so grateful for all that you do for me! Oh, one more thing! I am very sorry, but I haven't received mail in almost three weeks, so I apologize and I promise I will write back to any of the letters, I just haven't received them yet. But thank you so much to all those of you who write me, I really appreciate it!

Love, Elder DeSpain

P.S. It's que lo que not kay oh kay - ha ha! It means "what's up" here. As for the language, I feel like the Lord has blessed me more than I ever could have asked for with my Spanish. He has blessed me so much that I have been able to understand these people and I have been speaking to them and making good progress. But it's all thanks to Him! I truly am nothing without Him. I'm so grateful that He lets me help in His work! (This paragraph was in response to Henry telling Jeff about a friend from our ward who just returned from a mission in Puerto Rico, Jared Hardy. Jared asked Henry to tell Jeff "que lo que" which apparently we slaughtered quite badly in our attempt to spell it! Henry also asked Jeff how the Spanish was coming for him.)