Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas From The DR!

Bon Tradi di Santo Domingo,

It was great to be able to talk to you yesterday!  It has been so long since we had talked in person.  It was really nice that I could use the office phone too so that we could hear better and it was more comfortable.  It sounds like you are all really doing great back home!

The office is sweet, this week was probably by far the busiest week of my mission.  On Monday, we had a Christmas activity and then the finishing missionaries (the ones going home) stayed behind and we took them to their hotel eventually that evening.  That was a busy day, the entire mission was here for the activity, and we did a talent show, and the 6 office elders did a dance to "Let it Snow" and then a little thing to one of the songs on the Nashville Tribute Band CD, and it was great!  (This is the new CD we sent Jeff a few months back that he had been waiting for for over a year.  Sounds like they are putting it to good use!)  It was really funny.  I'm going to have to bring a copy of it home so that you all can see it.  (Jeff in a skit - we can hardly believe that happened and look forward to seeing the video!)  Then we went with the Assistants on Monday night to pick up a language advanced elder at the airport and didn't get back and in bed until 12 or 12:30 AM.  Then we had to wake up at about 2 AM and go and get the missionaries at their hotel, and then we took them to the airport and then went straight to the CCM (MTC in the DR) to pick up the new missionaries.  We had to go back again to pick up the rest, and then we had to go back to the hotel and pick up the other missionaries at the hotel.  We spent the whole day doing things, errands, presentations, all kinds of things, and then we went home.  Then Wednesday we were in the office until about 8 PM.  Then Thursday and Friday we were in the office from 8 or 9 in the morning until 9 PM at night, doing all kinds of different things trying to get different projects done and get some end of the year things done.  Then on Saturday we were out moving houses and doing things for the whole day, and then we got to eat at the Bishop's house for dinner, it was fantastic!  President let us eat with members on the 24th and 25th, we loved it!  Way busy week, but it was all good!  Lot's of blessings from the Lord.

I'm doing good here, loving my new assignment and seeing blessings from the Lord every day.  I have been blessed more than I ever could have imagined.  Thank you all for all that you do, and thank you for being such good examples to me!

I love you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wonderful, Hectic P-Day!

Hey family and friends,

I'm doing great, but there's almost no spare time today, so I don't know if I'm going to be able to write much.

Jonathan didn't come to Church, so we will have to keep working with him trying to help him be re-baptized, and then get confirmed.  He got a job, and that is what has made things so hard.  But, we've tried to explain everything to him, so he will just have to show his faith.

I think that should be everything.  I talked with Dad about the time for the Christmas call.  You call me at 12:00 PM your time, 3:00 PM my time if that's alright.  I love you bunches and am so sorry that I can't write more.  Today we had a Christmas Party and transfers, so it has been crazy!

Elder DeSpain
(Later, we received a little bit more.  It's below.)
Hey, I finally got the chance to sit down for a little while longer.  So there will also be a new AP coming in to be trained this transfer.  His name is Elder Jensen.  He is way cool, he is from my group that I came out with, so we were in the CCM together.  Kind of a random fact, his little brother played the boy Joseph Smith in a clip on the Porter Rockwell movie that we have at home when Joseph and Porter are walking together.  

Thanks Dad for the football update.  I cannot believe that my Cardinals won again!!! That is so awesome!!  Wow, what a season!  What about ASU?  How are the Suns looking this year?  Tell Grandma Weech thanks so much for me for sending me the sports section of the AZ Republic, that was such a treat to me and kind of a tender mercy to me!  I've been soaking that up because we don't get much of that at all!
(Henry asked what Jeff's responsibilities are with transfers.)  They have asked me a lot of different things that they needed to know about the islands.  We have had major problems with legal permission for missionaries to be in the islands, especially in Curacao, so I have been working with them and with the Church Lawyer and Curacao and Aruban Immigration personnel for the last six weeks on that issue.  For now, the permission in Curacao got taken down to 90 days, not sure why, and not even sure when, but that means that we will have to be sending a new missionary in and one out every single transfer.  My companion, Elder Ellis, is actually getting transferred there.    

For transfers, part of my responsibility is that I drive leaving elders (elders who have finished their mission) to the hotel where they stay the night and then in the morning at 2 AM we wake up and go and get them and then we take them to the airport to catch their flight home, and then we go to the MTC here and get the new missionaries!  It is sweet.  
Things are going great here in the office.  It is busy, but that is a good thing.  Things are great, I'm loving the jobs and responsibilities that I have, and I'm getting training while I'm at it.  I am so grateful to the Lord for the opportunities that He has given me in my mission.  It has been amazing!

Keep up the great work, I love you so much and can't wait to talk to you!

Elder DeSpain

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Temple Week!

Bon Tardi kerido Famia i amigonan,
Really sorry.  I forgot to tell you that it was Temple week this week so our P-Day was moved to Wednesday. 

So today I got to go the Temple.  Wow, it has been almost a year since the last time that I went because I was in the islands, but that was a huge blessing from the Lord, so I had to give up some other blessings in order to receive that one.  The Temple was great, there is always such a special Spirit there.  I am so grateful for that, and for that place where I can always go to escape the world.  It was awesome to be back!  I never recognized before my mission what a blessing it was to be able to go to the Temple whenever I wanted to.  I attached three pictures of us at the Temple. The people are all of the office elders, and then President is in some of them with his wife.  They are such good people, I love President and Sister Hernandez.  My companion is Elder Ellis who is to my side, and then the Dominican Elder on my other side is Elder De La Rosa, he will be my next companion, and then there is Elder Linares, the other office elder who was the companion of Elder Ellis and who is training Elder DelaRosa.  Then there is Sister Hernandez and President Hernandez, and then there are the Assistants.  The taller one is Elder Green (Way cool, from England, Kade's mission, the Bristol Stake) and the American one is Elder Mecham, who was actually trained by Elder Blake, just like me.  Great Temple day.

I have been speaking Papiamento a lot more than I ever thought that I would not being in the islands.  Every week it seems like I've been having to call down there and talk with somebody for something, and I talk to them in Papiamento.  It's been a bigger blessing from the Lord than I thought learning Papiamento, I'm still able to use it even in the office in Santo Domingo!

Jonathan got baptized on Saturday, but then he never came to Church on Sunday.  We called him twice and twice he told us that he would be there in fifteen minutes, but then he never came, so we are still trying to work with him to help him get confirmed this Sunday, otherwise he will have to get baptized again from what I understand.  But we'll just try our best and then the Lord will help us out with the rest. 

Things have been great in the office.  I am loving it so much.  This is such a blessing from the Lord.  This calling is something that I love to do and at the same time is preparing me for the future.  It's way busy, but that's a good thing.  I just hope that everything goes OK next week when I go solo and start having to do everything by myself.  But, I know that the Lord will help me out as long as I try my best.
Other than that everything is going good here.  I am so grateful for the blessings that the Lord has given me.  It is truly amazing to look back and see times of trial in my life, and how hard it was and sometimes how hopeless I felt, and then to see that it was followed by great blessings, and great times in my life.  Sometimes I wish that the younger, struggling me could have seen me during the times of blessing that came after my trials.  I know that we all have our times of trials and difficulties in our lives, and I know that sometimes we might even feel hopeless, and like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I have learned that the Lord knows what He is doing, and that He knows us perfectly, and that He always knows where we are, and perhaps most importantly, He always knows how we feel-personally.  And in my life, I have seen that if I'm going through trials, then that means that blessings are on the way, but sometimes I have to wait to receive them.  How grateful I am for my Heavenly Father's love, for His Wisdom, and for His perfect plan for each one of us, and for His Son who descended below all things and conquered all things.

I love you all and can't wait to talk to you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, December 5, 2011

P-Day Lunch With Other AZ Elders!

Bon Tardi pa boso ku ta einan den Arizona!

It has been another great week here in the office.  Today we got to go to the central offices of the Church in the Caribbean in the morning, then we went to get some pants and a shirt made, and then we went to eat at a sweet restaurant called AdrianTropical!  It was sweet, it was right on the shore, and the food was awesome!I got to hang out with a bunch of the other Arizona Elders too.  Elder McGlothin was there, Elder Sunderhaus, and Elder Williams were all there, it was great!

I got to start driving the truck this week too, it is awesome, the truck is a stick shift!  It's the first time that I've driven stick, but it's been way fun.  Driving here is a way different experience.  Mom probably wouldn't like it very much.  It's literally like riding go-karts.  You have to honk at people all the time to let them know that you are there, and people drive all over the place and there are a lot of man hole covers missing in the street, so it is always interesting.  But the Lord is protecting us Mom, so don't worry.

(Jeff mentioned last week that in his new area they would be able to do exchanges with the missionaries in the DR MTC so we asked several questions about how that all works and he is answering them here.)  We haven't gotten to do any exchanges with the missionaries in the MTC yet, but I think they will happen this week and next week.  That should be way fun.  You are right, I never got to do splits with the missionaries in the field while I was in the MTC here, we only got to go the University, so it should be cool.  I believe that the missionaries we will be doing exchanges with are going to all of the missions that the DR MTC serves, not just this mission.

Jonathan didn't show up to his baptism.  It was kind of a bummer, but we went afterwards and found him at his house and he told us that his mom didn't want him to get baptized.  So, we talked with him, and he wanted more time, but we are hoping that he will still decide to get baptized this Saturday.  The sister missionaries in this area will be having a baptism this Saturday as well I believe, so we are hoping that that will help him to make the decision to do it this Saturday as well.

We moved our house.  Now we live directly down the street of the church, running east.  We live about a block and a half from there, right before the Parque de Independencia and another large building.  We live on the north side of the road, which is called the Bolivar, which is the same street that runs in front of the Church.  (Henry can hardly wait to get on Google Earth and see if he can find the new place!)  The house has a couple of things wrong with it, but really is an amazing house.  There is AC in the room where we sleep and we have hot water now!!  It is amazing.  Still can't drink it though.  That is annoying sometimes.  You can't drink water out of the tap here.

With the call for Christmas, it will probably be about the same thing as we did before.  I'm not exactly sure where we will do it though, so I might have to beep you from the phone that we are going to use and then you call me back.  It should be great!  (I'm trying not to be too anxious about getting the details for the Christmas call, but it's December now, so I figured that should be close enough that I could start asking about the details for that.  We are soooo looking forward to that call!) 
Thank you so much for everything!  I got a couple more letters, so I'm going to have to try to start working on writing back to those people.  I love you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bon tardi, Buenas tardes, Good Afternoon,
It was another fantastic week.  I am truly loving it here in the office.  It's just like you said Mom, it has been right up my alley.  It's amazing to see how the Lord shapes us in our life so that we can fit into the mold of what He needs us to do in His vineyard.  This has been a wonderful calling for me.

Thanksgiving was great!  I can't wait to be back on Thanksgiving next year and ride the bikes with you guys again.  I was thinking about that while I was here.  Here we had District meeting and then went to Outback and then it was a pretty normal day.  But get this, one of the sisters here is from Fort Thomas, and she is actually sharing our area with us right now!  She said that she had been to the Thanksgiving dinner in Fort Thomas too!  So it was cool to know that there was one other person missing out on the very same thing that I was, but I did great, it really helps being in the office.  Her name is Sister Ward.  Darleen actually knows her, haha.
Things are still good with Jonathan.  We got him interviewed on Thanksgiving, and he is good to go for baptism this week on Saturday.  That is a huge blessing from the Lord, because alot of times because of office things we are unable to work in the area as much, but He has blessed us to be able to help Jonathan come unto Christ through it all.  Jonathan is actually a really cool story.  I guess that the missionaries found him while my companion Elder Ellis was on an exchange with the missionaries from the MTC here in Santo Domingo.  I guess in Gazcue, my new area, we get to do exchanges with them twice a transfer.  That will be sweet!
Wow, you saw Sister Payne?  That is so awesome!!  You have to tell her hi for me.  That is awesome.  (We ran into Sister Darlene Payne this past weekend at a wedding reception.  She was Jeff's Primary teacher in our old ward when he was about seven or eight years old . . . so a long time ago.  The first thing she asked us about was how Jeff was doing.  She asked us to tell him hi for her and let him know that she will pray for him.  Wow!  That's an awesome Primary teacher!  She was so good to him way back then and continues to show love and concern for him even now, after all these years!  I want to be that kind of Primary teacher!)
I'm really sorry but I pulled out more money today from my personal debit card.  It got me some really cool stuff at the Haitian market and some money to buy fabric to make a shirt and make pants.  I'm going to make two pairs of pants and one shirt, so if you haven't been able to get those yet for my package, don't worry about it, but if you did, even better, and I'm really sorry I made you pay for four pairs instead of just two.  Also, I would love all of the Church movies that you can send me.  It doesn't matter what it's about as long as the Church's symbol is on the back, that just means that it was made by the church.  Especially the Doctrine and Covenant's and Church History DVD Pack (it's big, like three or four DVDs), it has the Joseph Smith movie from the Visitor's Center on it, but we can't get it in English here, so it would be awesome if you could send it to me, but if you can't find it, don't worry about it.
Other than that I think that everything is good, I've got everything I need.  I am so grateful for the blessings I have received from the Lord, He truly has blessed me more than I ever could have imagined.
I also have received a couple of letters, some of which got sent to Aruba before I got transferred, and they have to try to send them back to me in the DR now, so I am very sorry for people who have written me and I haven't gotten back to.  With our office responsibilities and trying to cover our area, I have hardly any time to hand write letters to mail out like I did before, so I'm going to email those people back instead of writing out the letter, so I apologize!
Other than that, I think that everything is good here.  Every week, it is amazing to look back and see how far I have come since I left a year and some months ago and headed out on the next adventure of my life.  Now I'm a little bit older, a little bit bigger, a little bit balder, but most importantly now I can tell you without a doubt that I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, I know that He lives, I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father with a perfect plan for us.  I know that Joseph Smith was and is a true Prophet, and I know that we have a living Prophet today named Thomas S. Monson.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and that a man will get closer to Him by living its precepts than by those of any other book.  I know that the Savior walks with us each step of our day, even if we don't feel like it sometimes, and I know that He can heal us from whatever trial life may send our way.  How grateful I am for this Gospel.
I love you all and hope that you have a great week, I'll have to try to attach some pictures another day when I have my camera, sorry I left it at home.  And tell Dad that we live on the street directly adjacent to the Church, about 200 feet down the road.  (Henry likes to use Google Earth to try to figure out where Jeff is in each area he serves in.  He's very good at it!  It's our version of "Where's Waldo" except our version would be called "Where in the world is Elder DeSpain?")
Elder DeSpain

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Full Week In The Office

Bon Tardi famianan i amigonan!

We had a great P-Day today!  The BYU baseball team is here in the DR for a week, and today they played the Yankees minor league team here in the DR.  We got to go!!  It was sweet!!  And, I guess by NCAA rule, it counts for BYU's overall record, and it was their first game of the year, what an opportunity!  I finally got to see a game here!  It was sweet, BYU ended up coming back and winning 6-3.  I met a lot of people there from Arizona.  No one that I had met before, but it was way neat!!  And, the starting shortstop for BYU served his mission in Aruba, so it was really cool to talk to him and talk about the people that we both knew from Aruba.  It was awesome!  And, the whole BYU team took a picture with the missionaries, it was sweet!  One of the coaches wives is going to send the picture to you in an email.  Luckily I got one of the kids to give me a ball after the game too, so that was legit too!

Days can be kind of hard to predict here, haha.  We do alot of different things.  We are in charge of most of the financial aspects of the mission, everything from plane tickets for Curacao to go to Aruba, to paying for the food for zone conference.  I was surprised by how much we actually have responsibility for.  So, after this transfer, I will be in charge of the financial things, and then my companion will be in charge of the houses and the cell phones, and then that will be for the most part it.  There is a senior couple here named the Eickbush's, and they do a lot of work here as well, and then there are 2 APs, and that's it, haha.  Right now we're being trained, so there are more missionaries here than normal, but after this transfer there will be a few less.

Jonathan is a single young Haitian guy.  He is way cool, he brought a friend to church this week!  (Jeff mentioned last week the name of Jonathan, a man who is planning to be baptized in early December.  We asked how things were going for him and wanted to learn more about him.) 

I did finally get to meet the Lees in person this week.  They are wonderful people.  They just flew out for Bonaire again today.
There are quite a few elders in my zone right now from Arizona.  Both of the zone leaders are from AZ. They're both really good guys.  One of them is named Elder Sunderhaus, and he is from about Mckellips and Greenfield, something like that, and the other one is named Elder Williams, and he is from Show low.

Man, it hurts to hear that my boys lost again!  Man, I hope that they can win this week and make a bowl game and I hope that they keep Dennis Erickson!  (Henry keeps Jeff updated on the ASU teams and the Cardinals.  He would update him on the Suns . . . but oh yeah . . . THERE AREN'T ANY GAMES TO WATCH!  Sorry, we're a little bitter over here about not having any NBA basketball to watch!  Jeff was sad when Henry told him that ASU lost to UofA this past weekend.  It was a painful game to watch.  Bummer!)

As for the Christmas package, I really would just need money to be able to make up for all of the money that I spent over the last little while, haha.  It would be nice to have some cereal, and some more of the exact same pants that you just sent me.  I love them!! If you could send me one more pair of those, that would be awesome!  Other than that, not much, I don't need new shoes right now too bad.  Actually, one pair of missionary shoes like you sent me last time would be good, the back of one my shoes in one pair is wearing out.  But that is not a big problem. I could easily go the rest of my mission on the shoes that I have, just a little annoying sometimes.

Sorry, I'm really short on time, but other that that's about it.  I think that that is everything that I needed to say.  Our errands are usually pretty sweet, like going to banks and to Western Union, which are mostly in the West Mission, so it's a big privilege for us to get to go over there.  

I am more and more grateful for how far the Lord has helped me to come in my mission.  He has helped me through some really hard times, and He has really strengthened my testimony through it.  It's amazing to see the blessings that will come if I will just hang on and keep walking when trials come my way.  I truly have seen that blessings far greater than we can imagine come through sacrifices, and trails.  How grateful I am for the Lord's perfect plan, and for His love and care for me.

I love you all, thanks so much for all that you do!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back In The Dominican Republic!

Bon Tardi di Santo Domingo!!  Buenas tardes de Santo Domingo!

We are doing fantastic here in Santo Domingo!  Things are better than I ever could have hoped for back here!  The flight out of Aruba went great, I flew to Curacao, and then I flew direct from there to Santo Domingo.  It was awesome landing in Santo Domingo, we had to descend through the clouds, it was absolutely amazing.  I flew in on Wednesday afternoon, and I showed the elders the Nashville Tribute Band CD, and we all haven't been able to stop listening to it since then.

So we come into the office everyday, Monday through Friday.  On Monday we do P-Day stuff when we want to though.  On Saturdays we have planning in the mornings, and then we just have a normal afternoon.  Every day we try to be out of the office by 3:30 in the afternoon and we go out and do normal missionary things until 9 like normal.  I have been loving it!!  It's such a blessing, because this will be great preparation for after my mission and give me great experience.  During the morning we get to run a lot of errands, those are pretty fun, we have to go all over to do them. 

So my new companion Elder Ellis was born in California, but he lives in Highland, UT now.  Besides the two of us there are two other elders who are in charge of the houses in the mission, they are Elder Linares, and he is training Elder DeLarosa to take his place.  So, after this transfer, I will be companions with Elder DeLarosa.  The assistants are Elder Mecham (also trained by Elder Blake, my trainer), and Elder Green, he is from England, the London South Mission actually, he is from the Bristol Stake if Kade ever served there.  It is awesome, I am loving it so far.

All of the office elders live together in the same apartment right by the office.  If you look up the mission office on Googlemaps, it's in Gazuce, and it's on the Bolivar almost where it crosses the Delgado.  We live on the street that goes directly south of the mission office, and it is the first apartment building on that road.

Wow, Sister Graham called you?  That is awesome!!  Wow, they were such good people.  It's amazing to see what a small world it is! (We received a call from a sweet sister named Sister Graham.  She and her husband live in CA.  They vacationed in Aruba last week and visited with Jeff and his companion at church that Sunday.  They asked Jeff where he was from and when he told them Gilbert AZ they told him their son was engaged to marry a girl from Gilbert AZ.  Jeff asked for the name of the girl and it is Rebecca Sellers, one of our dear friends!  I just attended her bridal shower last Saturday.  We love the Sellers family!  We were in the same ward with them for a couple of years a few years ago.  I was serving in YW at that time so I know Rebecca and her sister Elizabeth very well.  It was wonderful to talk with Sister Graham!  She has had two sons serve missions so she knew how much it would mean to us to get a call from someone who has been with our son!  She told me that he and his companion look great!  She said they look happy and healthy and that they are GREAT missionaries!  What a wonderful blessing to talk with her!)

Oh, I forgot to tell Dad, haha, the golf ball I sent in the package is special because it's from the Tierra Del Sol Golf course, the nicest one in Aruba, a good souvenir.  And I bought the flag a long time ago to put in my room and at my house some day, haha.

We were able to set a baptismal date with a man named Jonathan here in Gazcue for the first week of December, already receiving blessings from the Lord!  He actually lives in the Conde, you remember me telling you about that mom, the oldest road in this hemisphere?  That's part of my area now, haha, it's awesome!

I tried to attach a few pictures, a couple from the Aruba, and then a picture from the office, but I think it's of Elder Ellis, haha, and then also a picture of the Temple, we got to go by there on an errand.  (Henry will put the pictures on the blog later tonight.)

Things really are great here.  Elder Ellis and I are doing great together, and I'm grateful that he is so willing to help me learn the ropes here.  I got to meet the Lee's from Bonaire today!!!  They are the senior couple that were serving on Bonaire when I was in Aruba.  They said that Brother Lee's brother, Larry, lived there in their house in Gilbert before they did, so it might be that we lived in his brother's ward for a while, and then after we moved, this set of Lee's that are here in my mission moved in, we'll have to figure it out sometime.  (We do know Larry Lee and his wife Judy!  Jeff is correct, we were in their ward for a about 18 months when Jeff was a baby.)

I am so grateful for the Plan that the Lord has for me and for the knowledge that I have that the Lord is always with me and that I never have to be alone.  I truly know that He lives and that He knows every one of us, and that He is always walking beside us.

I love you!

Elder DeSpain

P.S.-Sorry about all of the transactions on the debit card, I'm getting settled into the DR again, so it will hopefully get better this week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back To Santo Domingo!

Ami ta bai na e oficina pa sirbi manera e proximo financero!

First off mom, thanks, those are lessons that I will need for the rest of my life.

Well, I got a call last night from President Hernandez during night church here in Aruba, and he told me that I will be going back to Santo Domingo this transfer to serve in the mission office as the next financial office elder!!!  That actually means that I will be in charge of a lot of the finances for the mission, and most of the finances for the missionaries!!  What an opportunity, I am going to love that!!!  That was another huge blessing from the Lord!

Aruba really is a place that I loved, and I didn't want to leave it, but this will be a fantastic opportunity!  I will love to come back here throughout my life.  I am really excited now to go into the office, and that really helps me leave Aruba behind, and I think that that is just how the Lord plans it.  You do your time and do the best that you can, but then when your time comes, it's time to move on and look forward to other things.  I will never be able to thank the Lord for the unbelievable blessing and privilege, and the once in a lifetime opportunity that it was to be a missionary in Aruba.  I will forever have to show Him my gratitude for that.

So, I'm going into the office, and the area that I will serve in there is called Gazcue.  It's actually in the Santo Domingo Zone, the exact same zone I worked in for the first 6 transfers of mission before coming out here.  So get this, there are 16 transfers in a mission,  I spent my first 6 in Santo Domingo, then I spent my next 4 in Aruba, and that leaves me with exactly 6 transfers left, and it's possible that I spend them all in Santo Domingo.  That would mean that I spent 75% of my mission in the same zone, haha.  That will really be awesome to have been a part of that zone for so long and see so many miracles done in the same stake!  (Here zones are aligned with the stakes, so Santo Domingo is a stake too.)  My new companion will be Elder Ellis, he is great!  We will probably be in a triplet with Elder Leonares, the other office elder.  He is Dominican.

Victor was baptized on Saturday, it was sweet!!! I was privileged enough to be able to perform it, and then he was confirmed on Sunday.  What a great blessing from the Lord.  I am so grateful for all of the lives that I was able to be a part of here.  I will forever think of Aruba as paradise.  It truly was for me!
I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the baptism, so I had to attach one that I took of the beach earlier before the baptism.  It was pretty much dark by the time we did the baptism and got out of the water, so I'll have to get some of the other pictures from Elder Jensen.

So I am going to fly out on Wednesday in the morning.  Elder Holt (Jeff's first companion in the Provo MTC)will be the new district leader down here, he will do great, he is such a great missionary!  Elder Miller is coming down here, he is an awesome missionary also!  I served with him when he was companions with Elder McBride in Santo Domingo when I was there.  Great guy, and he and Elder Jensen will tear it up out here!

Another quick thing.  I would love it if you could add a couple more email addresses to the list of people that you forward my emails to weekly.  They are President Buckley, and the Chilton's, a young American couple who moved here recently.  I would love to keep in contact with them and have my emails go to them.   Thanks so much for the help!

I think that's about it, I sent off all of the Christmas items to you guys this morning, sorry, you'll have to figure out who's is who's when they get there.  Mom and Dad's are the two shirts in Papiamento, and then there should be a Dushi Yui shirt and a Del Sol shirt for each one of the brothers and sister.  Leah's is the V-neck one, haha.

We played golf today with President Buckley, it was awesome!!  So I attached a picture of that too.

It has been such an amazing experience to be out here serving a mission.  It has truly been an adventure, and now I get to go down the next path that this adventure takes me on.  It has been unbelievable the lessons that I have learned.  I truly have learned that we are going to have trials in our lives.  That's part of this life.  We all will have trials.  But if we will hang on for a little while and endure them well, then the Lord will bless us beyond anything that we could ever imagine and beyond anything we ever deserved.  I am living proof of that.  How grateful I am for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the guidance it is to me.  I know that Jesus Christ lives and that this is His church, and I know that He knows how we feel in times of trial, and I know that He personally will walk beside us during them.  How eternally grateful I am for His infinite love.
I love you all and can't wait to hear from you again!


Elder DeSpain

P.S.- Start sending everything to Santo Domingo like normal like you used to!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Last Week In Aruba . . .

Bon tardi di aruba, m'a conoce e suegronan di Rebecca Sellars ayera,

The future father and mother in law of Rebecca Sellars were at church yesterday!!! Haha, small world!!! They are the Grahams from Orange County, CA.  That was way neat, I told them that my mom was Rebecca's YW President, and now they are going to ask her!  Way cool!  (We love the Sellars family!  We have known them for years and were able to be in the same ward with them for a while a few years ago.  I was a YW leader for their two youngest girls Elizabeth and Rebecca.  What wonderful girls!  I love them both!  Just got an invitation to Rebecca's bridal shower a few days ago.  Fun!)
(We asked if Halloween is celebrated in Aruba.)  Haha, this whole weekend is like a party here, but just normal for us.  But today was awesome, we ate some gigantic crepes at a restaurant this morning, then we went with President Buckley and played golf for P-day!!! It was awesome!!

The Queen of Holland visited Aruba this week, and we got a picture of her, she is the lady in the green in the picture that I attached.  (Pictures will be on the blog tonight.)  She had two appearances so we went to both of those and tried to hand out Books of Mormon and pamphlets, but everyone was pretty focused on her visit so we only got to hand out a few pamphlets.
Thanks Mom, haha, I try my best, but I've got a lot of imperfections too.  I hope that I actually did something of worth for the Lee's, but we're going to try to keep in contact with them now.  (The Lees are the senior couple serving on the island of Bonaire right now.  They send letters home to their grown children, one of which is the sister of a good friend of ours.  Our friend forwarded this weeks letter from the Lees to us because they mentioned in their letter to their family how much they appreciate Elder DeSpain and him being concerned about them and checking on them.  We shared their kind words with Jeff and he is responding to that here.)
Victor was interviewed, and he is all good to go for this weekend for his baptism.  What blessing that will be for me from the Lord, a baptism in my last week! 

We finally had the week that I feel like we have been working for this whole transfer.  We've been trying our hardest this transfer, but we just hadn't been seeing the success in the numbers.   But, we finally had a good week numbers wise, and now it's just a matter of continuing to help people come to church and trying to set baptismal dates with people.  This will be my last week in Aruba, and it's going to be hard to leave.  I have loved every day of this wonderful blessing the Lord has given me to be able to serve here in Aruba.  I am so grateful for the once in a lifetime opportunity that I was given to be able to wake up every day for six months in paradise!

It has been such a learning experience for me on my mission to see that the Lord will help us through our trials, but that doesn't mean that we won't have trials.  That doesn't mean that our trials will necessarily be easy either.  It's been such a marvelous experience for me to see that as long as I trust in the Lord, everything will work together for my own good.  The Lord will walk beside me and share my burden, but He has helped me so much by not removing my burdens completely off of my back.  I read an interesting Liahona article that said the same thing.  Sometimes the Lord doesn't take the burden off our backs, but instead He makes our backs stronger to carry the burden.  But one thing that I know is that He always carries the burden with us.  We cannot descend to a low enough point in our lives to be beyond the reach of His infinite love.  I testify that He always knows exactly how we feel, and that He will always share our burden with us, and help us walk to relief.  How grateful I am for His infinite Atonement.

I love you all and am so grateful for all of your support.  Keep up the fantastic work!  And keep me updated on my teams!  I tell you what, I wouldn't be surprised if I never miss another ASU game in my life after I get home!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lots of Rain!

Con bai?  Tur cos ta bon akinan den Aruba!

Bon dia from Aruba!  We are enjoying another P Day in paradise!  It is so awesome here.  We had a lot of rain this week, and we were driving through some of the heaviest rain I've driven through yesterday when we went to church and we got a video of it, so we will try to send it to you sometime. 

Ya, Aruba's government is very stiff on immigration, in fact I don't think it's possible to get an Aruban Visa, I don't think they exist, you either have to be a citizen or not I think, otherwise I think you can get some form of permission to study or to work.

No way, so Whitney Prince is Andrew's sister?  Wow, small world!!

Glad to hear that Dad's back is still doing ok, I hope that it stays that way!  Wow, ya, I was thinking about how Greg (Montgomery) and Kyson (Lamb) and Andrew (Lebaron) and a lot of guys I know should be getting home from their missions now!!  That is so crazy!  Hey, the Brother Wold in your ward doesn't happen to be an institute teacher at ASU, does he?  There was a Brother Wold that was an institute teacher when I was there, that would be crazy!  (The Brother Wold in our ward that we wrote to Jeff about gave a wonderful talk in Sacrament Meeting this past week, but no, he is not the same Brother Wold that Jeff knew at ASU.)

I started working out with Elder Jensen here doing P-90X, so hopefully before I leave Aruba I'll be skinny!  It's pretty intense.  We're sore most days!

We were able to set a baptismal date this week with a boy named Victor.  Victor is the son of a member, and she is inactive, but we went over to their house with our branch president, and he talked with her, and it sounds like she is committed to start coming back to church and to talk about marriage with her boyfriend. He is not a member either, but hopefully he will be able to listen some more in the future and get baptized and they could all become an eternal family.  Victor should hopefully get baptized on the 5th of November, my last weekend in Aruba, that would be sweet!!

Everything else here is going great, we're just still trying to get people to come to church.  But I know that if we just keep going and trying, then the Lord will help us out. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak on the importance of serving a mission in the Oranjestad Branch.  It was a great opportunity and privilege, and it really helped me see how important it truly is that we as worthy, capable and able young men serve a mission.  As I thought about it, it was amazing to see how much I have grown on my mission.  It seems like 50 years of experience packed into two years.  I can see great blessings from serving a mission in my life already, and growth that I don't think I would have gotten for years if I had not served a mission.  A mission truly will shape you into the man that you will be, and the instrument that you can be in the Lord's hands for the rest of your life.  I don't want it to sound like I'm a great guy, I just want to say that I know that if you go on a mission, the Lord can help you come back a man and help you learn how to be a powerful instrument in the His hands. 

I love you all and I love Arizona!!  I can't wait to see Arizona again!!  Thank you so much for the great examples and support that you all are to me!

Elder DeSpain

P.S.- Two quick pics, having problems with the computer again.  One is from this way cool second story of an abandoned house we found on top of a hill in Curacao, and the other is from the San Nicolas church.  If you look real hard out there, you should be able to see the mountain in Venezuela on the horizon, about 50 miles away I think!  (Henry will put the pictures on the blog later tonight.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back In Aruba - We Did Get Our Extension This Time!

Bon Dia di Aruba, nos ta den e pais di nobo!

We had a great week this week.  We had some great experiences finding some people that were awesome, but they didn't make it to church yesterday, so we're going to have to check in with them this week and see what we can do to help them come this next week.  But we were blessed with two new people who came to church with friends for the first time, my favorite!!!!  So, we will hopefully be able to get into contact with them and I hope that we can help them receive the blessings of the gospel in their lives!  Sorry, I would try to be more specific if I could, but it's kind of hard to tell who is really progressing with not many investigators coming to church.

To answer your question, we get tourists a lot, probably like at least half or more of the weeks, but we haven't had any for the last couple of weeks unfortunately.

And no, even though we have tickets out of Aruba for transfers in November we still don't know where I'm going to serve next haha, because they bought fully refundable tickets to Curacao to get us back into the country this time.  So we can't tell from the tickets where I will go.  We had about the same problem getting back into Aruba this time, but we went straight to the government office and got the time that we needed for an extension, so we're good now!

That's awesome about Chandler!  Is Whitney the sister of Andrew Prince?  (Our good friend and old home teacher Chandler Weight got engaged this weekend!  We are excited for him and shared the news with Jeff.)

Haha, Leah was exactly right, those twins names are Austin and Aubree Randall We should see if we're related.  Their younger brother is in Leah's grade, his name is Lincoln, tell him I say hi for me, he's a friend of mine.  Austin is actually in Washington right now I think, it will be cool to see him when I get back.  (We went to Golf Land over fall break and reminisced about the last time we were there with Jeff.  That time we ran into a family there and raced gocarts with them.  Jeff knew some of their kids from school, twins his age.  We couldn't remember their names for sure but we knew Jeff would remember if we asked him!)

We are doing good here, just still trying to find those who are ready and help them to progress through the Gospel.  I know that if we keep trying, that the blessings will come.

I am so grateful for the hope that the Gospel brings into my life.  Truly, it is the source of the greatest hope on earth, the hope of peace and happiness in this life, and the promise of Eternal Life in the life to come.  How grateful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which makes that hope possible.  Because He conquered the world, we can move forward, everyday, without fear.  Truly, there is hope in the future for all of us, no matter what our trials may be, no matter what we are going through, I testify that there is always hope, that through Jesus Christ and His Gospel we can find the love and hope that we need to press forward.

I love you all, sorry to be so short, but I'm running out of time!  Keep me updated on my teams!  I'm so glad Highland finally won!

Elder Jeff DeSpain

P.S.- A couple pics from Curacao are attached.  (Henry will add them to the blog this week.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

We're In Curacao Again!

Bon dia di Cursow!

We are in Curacao again with Elder Holt and Elder Annis! Not a big deal, but because they gave us problems coming back into Aruba a couple of weeks back they never did give us our extension so we had to leave again.  We just couldn't get the extension worked out so we had to leave the country and come over here to Curacao to renew our time.  Then we will enter Aruba again tomorrow morning with a prepurchased ticket to be able to leave Aruba on the day that my permission expires.

Wow, I was so hoping that the memory card would get to you safe and sound!! That's awesome, you got it!! I've got a couple more videos on my new card of when we were flying the kites, so hopefully you'll get to see those soon!  (On Saturday we received in the mail a memory card from Jeff's camera!  He accidentally left his first camera at an Internet place and it was never "found".  This is the first time he as sent home a memory card with pictures on it.  We have had fun this weekend looking at many of his pictures and the few videos that he has taken so far.  Hopefully Henry will put some of the pictures on the link on the blog soon.)

That is so awesome about Uncle Daryl, Aunt Eileen and Amanda! That would be such a neat experience!! Hopefully I'll get to do something like that in Aruba!  (My brother Daryl and his wife and daughter leave tomorrow for a week in Chile where Daryl served his mission about 30 years ago.  The Church is having a big celebration in honor of the Church being in Chile for 50 years!)

Wow, Highland Band is tearing it up! Great work Todd and Leah, you are doing awesome! It's awesome to see your hard work pay off.

Ahh, I'm sorry Mom that you've got a migraine, those are never fun.

To answer Dad's questions, we haven't been able to see the Priesthood Session of Conference yet.  The Oranjestad Branch Building is still under construction and the Internet is horrible in the San Nicolas Branch.  It just kept freezing up, but we will see it I think.  We should get the Liahona and Ensign down here through the branch too, so we will be fine, but thanks!  As for district meetings, we get on to Skype with the Elders in Curacao, then someone talks about what they have learned in study, then someone talks about something from the Doctrine of Christ, and then someone does a Preach My Gospel topic, and then I usually do something from the eight points of emphasis.  We don't get to play basketball after District Meeting like Dad did, haha!

Well, here in paradise, everything is good. We have finally got some investigators in San Nicolas, but still nobody that seems like they are quite ready for a baptismal date. We passed by Miriam and Victor this week a couple of times. And they seem like they are doing great! It's so awesome to be able to be a part of building up the Lord's Kingdom, and to be able to see the blessings that these people receive through following the Lord. We would love it if you could keep it in your prayers to ask for us to be able to find those who are ready. It's been kind of a struggle to help people come to church the last couple of weeks. Yesterday we didn't have any investigators in the Oranjestad Branch, but we did luckily have some that went to San Nicolas. That's a big blessing from the Lord!

I forgot my camera in the house in Curacao!!! I'm sorry I won't be able to send any pictures today, but it's ok, because we will hopefully be doing the fun stuff after this, and then maybe we can get some pics. We flew a 16 minute flight last night. Haha, how is that for the shortest flight of your life? It's just a hop from Aruba to Curacao, we only get up to 7000 feet, not even high enough to go over the top of Mount Graham.

It's amazing to see truly how blessed I am, and truly how blessed we all are to have the Gospel. It's amazing to think about, but truly, it seems to me that everybody in this world is looking for the same thing - happiness. In the end, I think that that is the desire of people deep down in their hearts, they all want to be happy. But, when you think about it, the only way to be truly happy, and I mean with a real happiness, not just a happiness that comes for a little while and then leaves, but a happiness that lasts, a feeling that truly is a peace of eternal nature, the only way to get that kind of happiness is through living the Gospel. The adversary will tell us a million and a half other ways that he tries to get us to believe will bring us happiness, but truly, the only way to have real happiness, a happiness that never will end, is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How grateful I am that it has been restored in its fullness in these days through a living prophet. It appears to me many times that truly, when you look at it that way, you can see that everybody is looking for the Gospel, whether they know it or not, but we have been blessed with the Gospel, the way to be happy. I am so grateful for it and I know that this is the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I know that He lives, that Heavenly Father lives, and that they know and love each one of us, and that as President Uchtdorf said, we are important to them.

I love you all and can't wait to hear from you again! Tell everyone that's been writing me that I'm really sorry, it's harder to get letters back to them from here because the Mission President hasn't come down for us to send our letters back with him. We will have to try to send some with tourists at church, haha. I love you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Another P-Day In Paradise!

E ta un bon dia aki den e isla di Aruba, pero ta mihor pa yame paraiso!

It's a great day here in Aruba, just another P-Day in paradise! I love this place!  Today we are hopefully going to fly the kite again.  We have a 750 foot line of string this time which is so awesome!  Last time we got to fly it we got it 450 feet away!  We are also hoping to go to the national park here on the island.

Yes, I got the package, and here the post office guys ride scooters, so they don't bring your packages to you, they just bring a slip to your house and then you have to take the slip to the post office to get the package yourself, but I got it and we love it!

Wow, that's so awesome that you talked with the Elder Jensen's parents! Thanks for telling me that.  I love that guy!  It's such a blessing to be working with him.  Did the Jensen's tell you that Brother Jensen is the stake president? Crazy, huh? I guess that he was the Bishop when Elder Jensen left, and then they called him to be the Stake President since he has been out here on a mission. Watch out dad, haha, just kidding.

The baptism of Luz Marina went great. What a privilege to be a part of that. It was such a miracle to see a woman who has wanted to do the right thing for so long finally be able to jump the hurdle and be baptized, and it will be so amazing to see her go to the Temple some day. What a privilege to be a part of it all. Elder Jensen got to do the baptism, and I got to be a witness, it was awesome! Right at sunset, it was wonderful.

Wow, great job Todd and Leah, and the marching band, that is fantastic! Sounds like you guys are going to tear it up this year!  (Leah and Todd are both members of the marching band at Highland High School and they earned great scores at a competition this past week!)

We did get to see conference, all four sessions, but they are renovating the church building in Oranjestad, so we didn't have a satellite to watch the priesthood session, but we will hopefully be able to see it on Thursday before District Meeting.  The Branch President in San Nicolas needed us to set up the computer so that they could show conference down there.  So, we set up conference for him and then we got a Spanish translation set up for him that they were able to use on Sunday.  I got to see it all in English though. They have enough English speaking people here that they always have some form to watch it in English. It was very edifying, I loved it. I am so grateful that we have a living prophet and apostles on the earth today, so that we never have to walk in darkness. 

I especially liked President Uchtdorf's talk in the Saturday Morning Session. That talk impacted me so much, and really helped me. I loved his story about how when he was in training for the airforce, he was in what seemed to many to be a small, and insignificant town, and that at sometimes he felt the same way, small and insignificant. I know that truly I have had times in my life where I have definitely felt a little small and insignificant, but what power came in the words of his testimony when he testified that we are significant to the Lord. That gave me a lot of hope, because I think many times it's easy to feel small, and insignificant, but he said that he knew that what mattered to the Lord was that he was trying his best. I loved that, as long as we're trying our best, then that is what is important to the Lord, regardless of our shortcomings, imperfections, or even failures. How grateful I am for the love of a Heavenly Father that can see through my imperfections, shortcomings, and failures, and still loves me and sees potential in me, and like President Uchtdorf, I know that He loves each one of us like that. How grateful I am for a living prophet and apostles to show us the way to happiness in this life, and eternal life in the world to come.

I love you all and am so grateful for your love and examples to me! Keep up the good work, and keep me informed on my teams! I love you!

Elder DeSpain

P.S.-I'm gonna try to send some pics in a different email.  (Henry will put them on the blog later today.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Staying In Aruba for one last transfer!

Bon Tardi di Aruba, e tera di paraiso!
We are doing so great out here in Aruba!  I got the call last night, and I am going to get to stay my full four transfers here!!!  I am so grateful for that opportunity!  What a blessing from the Lord it is!  Yes, I would love to be here for the 25 year celebration, but the government wouldn't let me even if I tried.  I would get deported, haha!  You only get 180 days in a temporary visa situation like ours and my 180 days are up in November.  (Last week Jeff mentioned that the renovation on the church building on the island would hopefully be complete by December.  They are hoping to have the it done by then so that they can have a celebration there with the General Authorities that are coming down to celebrate the Church's 25 years in Aruba.  Henry asked Jeff if he thought he would still be in Aruba when that celebration happened.)

Daniel's baptism went great, haha, the water is actually typically pretty warm, and it's most windy on the other side of the island, so it's not too bad when we get out of the water.  Daniel is a part of Oranjestad, the Spanish Branch.  (I wanted to know if the water is cold.  Also, the Freemans from Mesa that saw Jeff a couple of weeks ago mentioned to us on the phone that it was very windy in Aruba so I wanted to know if it is cold for them when they get out of the water and the wind is blowing.  I know no one else cares about stuff like that . . . only the missionary's mother!  :)

We are going to be blessed with another baptism this Friday, her name is Luz Marina.  She is awesome, she has been investigating the church for two years more or less, and she time after time told the missionaries that she wasn't ready to be baptized.  So, we went in and met with her, and I think it was the first time with Elder Jensen, and we just started trying to ask her why she didn't feel ready.  She said a lot of different things, and basically we got down to doubt.  Doubt was destroying her confidence.  We were able to help her see that she really was doing great, and that she was struggling with the same things that we all struggle with, and that there was no reason that she shouldn't go forward and follow Christ and be baptized, and she eventually was able to commit to baptism on the 30th.  It was amazing to see that The Lord truly had prepared me for her.  She struggles with some of the very same things that I do.  It's amazing to see that I have some of the very same struggles as her, and through what the Lord taught me through my own personal experiences, I was able to help Luz Marina conquer the very things that were keeping her from progressing in her life.  It truly is a privilege to be a part of the Lord's work.  What an amazing experience.  She gets interviewed today, and then she is ready to go!  So excited for that one, it will be awesome!

(We asked Jeff about his "immigration problems" last week.  He has been in and out of Aruba a few times so we didn't understand why there was a problem getting back into the country this time.)  I'm telling you, it's all about which line you get in at the airport immigration counters.  We could have passed through a different one, and I don't think that they would have given us any problems.  It all depends on which guy you talk to, but we're in the process of getting all of that fixed up, but it will be fine.

Elder Jensen has met President Hernandez, and he is a great guy!  Haha, last week he and Elder Cornish were never able to make it out of Santo Domingo, the first plane never showed up, so Elder Holt still hasn't met the new President either, haha!  (If we have this figured out correctly, we think Jeff and Elder Holt who is on Curacao are the only two elders left that have not met the new mission president yet.  President Antivilo was released and President Hernandez took over at the beginning of July, so he's been serving almost three months now but every time he is scheduled to come to the islands something happens and he doesn't make it there.  Kind of funny actually!)

I got the package!! Thanks so much!  We haven't stopped listening to the Nashville Tribute Band CD since we got it!  And the clothes are perfect, I love the pants and they fit perfect!

Thanks mom, I really appreciate that.  Tell Bro. Copple hi for me!! 

I am so grateful for the once in a lifetime opportunity that I have had to be a missionary in Aruba.  It has been unreal, and I feel like I have learned and progressed so much.  I have come so far, and every week I seem to see the Lord help me progress a little bit more.  How grateful I am for His watchful eye, and His perfect plan.  I know that Heavenly Father lives and that He knows me and He knows you.  He knows everything that happens in your life, and it all happens with a reason.  I know that we can make it through whatever He needs us to as long as we are trying our best to follow Him and keep the commandments.  I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He truly did descend below all things and overcame the world.  I know that He can help us overcome any obstacle that may come our way.  I know that if we stick with it, if just keep putting one foot in front of the other, He will carry us, help will come, and I testify that He will walk beside us, and that He always is beside us.

I love you all so much!  Thank you so much!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, September 19, 2011

We Got Back Into Aruba . . . But Just Barely!

Bon Dia! 
We are doing good here in Aruba, just kind of glad to be in the country, haha!  When we were coming through immigration on the way back from Curacao into Aruba, they wouldn't let us through without a return ticket out of the country, so they made us sit on some benches for about an hour or more until the Branch President came to the airport and bought us each a return ticket.  Pretty crazy, but we are doing good!
Things are going good here, just a little bit of a whacky week.  We had the funeral of President Buckley's mom.  He is the branch president of the San Nicolas Branch.  He asked us to help at the viewing and attend the funeral so we did that this week.  One of the reasons he wanted to have us there was as a public presence for the Church.  We actually even shook the hand of the Prime Minister of Aruba!
We were able to have the baptism for Daniel, and I had the privilege of doing it!  It was pretty crazy, we went out into the water, and there were a lot of rocks in the sand the deeper that we went into the water, and so Daniel didn't want to go that deep because I guess there are little animals that sting you in the rocks.  So, we had to stay shallow, and then, there wasn't enough water, so we had to do it kneeling down!!  That's a first, and I learned that I guess you are supposed to kneel down after you say the prayer, but everything went great, and Daniel is going to be a great member of the church!  We did it in the same place as the last three baptisms, it's a little spot of beach called Bushiri.  It's a wonderful place.  You asked when the renovation of the church building is supposed to be complete.  They are hoping to have the it done by December so that they can have a celebration there with the General Authorities that are coming down to celebrate the Church's 25 years in Aruba.
To answer some of your questions, Elder Holt is doing great, and I hope to be his companion soon!  District leader has a couple more responsibilities, but out here, mostly all it is is reporting numbers and doing district meeting.  I'm doing good, it's just been a little tough with all of the errands that we've been having to run down here the last few weeks, so I'm hoping that they don't think I'm a slacker back in Santo Domingo.
Well, President Hernandez (new Mission President) and Elder Cornish's (of the Seventy) flight actually never showed up this weekend.  I've never heard of that, but the plane just never showed up, haha, pretty crazy, so they couldn' make it, and now Elder Cornish has to go to Salt Lake for General Conference, so they will have to come sometime after that.  But we're just glad that the Lord let's us wake up in paradise everyday, so we'll try to focus more on the blessing it is to be serving in Aruba than on the problem with flights down here, haha. 
We went to the post office this morning, and the package still hasn't come, but it hopefully will this week, thanks so much for helping me out with that!
One interesting part of truth that I learned this week involves doubt.  Doubt is not something that comes from Heavenly Father, and it is one of Satan's last and largest instruments that he uses.  When he can't get us in any other way, then he throws doubt at us.  But I came across a scripture that I remembered from the past in D and C 6:23, where the Lord tells someone to think back on the peace that He had given Him in the past, to think back on the moment that built up his testimony.  It just shows me the importance of remembering our spiritual, testimony building experiences so that when Satan throws the doubt at us, we can go to those experiences, and remember that everything will be alright, that we are ok, and that we don't need to worry.  It's something that I definitely need to work on.  When doubt comes in whatever way that it may, feelings of inadequacy, second guessing our testimonies, whatever it may be, then we have to think back and remember that we really know, we really are ok, we just have to listen to Heavenly Father, and remember what He has already told us.  Sorry, that didn't make as much sense as I would have liked, but I hope that I got my message across.
I love you all so much!  I'm so grateful for all that you do for me and the examples you set for me!
Love, Elder DeSpain

Monday, September 12, 2011

We're In Curacao Today!

Bon dia di Kursou!

We are in Curacao with Elder Holt and Elder Welch, and it is awesome! We flew in last night, it was pretty crazy, the first time that I've flown on September 11th. I don't know if that's ok to say, sorry, haha.

One quick thing, there were some tourists at church yesterday, and guess where they're from, MESA!!!! They are named the Freeman's, and they live at Gilbert and McKellips. Oh, what a tender mercy of the Lord it was, because Brother Freeman is a big Arizona State fan!! He had just flown in the day after ASU played Missouri, and he told me that ASU took down Missouri in overtime!! Go Sun Devils! 2-0 baby!! And hopefully now they're ranked in the top 25, because Missouri was, right? I am so excited to hear more updates, please, please, please keep me updated on my teams every week if you can. Are the D-backs going to make it to the playoffs? I cannot wait to hear more about that, haha.

Well, this week was good, we were just finishing up with some things with our cars. The mission bought new cars, so we traded one of the old ones in and then had to sell the other one to President Gozalez (Branch President of the Spanish Branch in Aruba). That poor man inherited a car with a lot of problems, but he is going to try to fix it up and then it will probably be a pretty good car for him. I don't know if I told you this, but last week we got a brand new 2011 Toyota Corolla with a 1.8, and the lady was really nice to us, so she put in a new aftermarket stereo with Bluetooth in it, so we have been making phone calls to people through bluetooth in the car, and they talk to us through the speakers of the car, haha, pretty sweet. 

I didn't get the package that you sent yet, but I am expecting it this week, and me and Elder Jensen almost can't wait for the new Nashville Tribute CD!! We are pumped for that! Thanks so much for taking care of that!  It will be so great to have some new music to listen to!

This weekend, we should be having the visit of either President Hernandez (New Mission President), or Elder Cornish of the Seventy who is a new member of the Area Presidency of the Caribbean. It sounds like President Hernandez will try to make it over to Aruba, but he is not sure if he will be able to make it. He is going to Curacao, so he might be spending all of his time there, but Elder Cornish should be coming to Aruba, and that will be sweet!

I cannot believe you saw Mrs. Dawe!!! And I cannot believe her new born baby is now 13 years old! Wow, was that really that long ago? Time flies. I have always wanted to see her again at the mountains, and I can't believe that you finally did! You have to tell her hi for me! I am so used to calling her Mrs. Dawe, but her first name is Melanie, haha. That is so awesome!  (We saw Jeff's 2nd Grade Teacher at Columbine last weekend when we were at our cabin for Labor Day.  Her name is Melanie Dawe and she was a Cluff with ties to Pima.  She is Verle Cluff's granddaughter.  It was fun to see her again.  She asked about Jeff and when we told her he was serving a mission in the DR we were both excited when we realized that she was in the DR in April of this year on vacation at one of the resorts on the east end of the island.  In April Jeff was still serving in Santo Domingo which is where she flew into of course!  Fun!)

Wow, you ran into Miranda? No way!! I still feel bad that I made her go on that hike, it was so hot, I should not have done that that day. That was right before my mission. You'll have to tell her sorry again for me, haha.  (We were at our friend Brad McBride's 50th birthday celebration on Saturday night and while there we were talking with Taylor McBride who served in the same mission as Jeff!  He looks so GREAT!  It was fun to talk with him again.  We have a special place in our hearts for that guy!  A friend of his, Miranda Lee was with him and when she learned that we were Jeff's parents she said "I know Jeff!  He saved my life once!"  We asked what she meant by that and she told us that she and Jeff were in a group that hiked Flat Iron before his mission.  She only brought one small bottle of water and she told us that Jeff helped her make it all the way back down the mountain safely.  It was fun to visit with her!)

We are going to have a baptism this Saturday of Daniel! That is going to be an awesome experience. Daniel has made such great changes, and he is such a great man. It has been awesome to see the Hope of Jesus Christ's Atonement enter that man's life. Looking back now, I can see the light and the hope that are in that man's life now, and how he has changed since we met him. He seems to have a new outlook on life, and I can't wait to see him get baptized and be completely pure, with a fresh start. How grateful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that He did descend below all things, so that He could conquer all things. I am so grateful for His all-powerful, all-loving sacrifice that He made for us. I testify that He lives, that He loves, and that He knows - you, by your name. He knows your struggles from day to day, and when we think that no one else could understand what we go through, I know that He does. He always knows exactly how we feel, and He always knows exactly how to heal us. I testify that He will heal us, all of us, if we will just follow Him. But one thing that I've learned is that sometimes following Him means having patience. Sometimes, we wonder, well, at least I wonder, why He doesn't just solve my problems right away, why doesn't He take that burden off of my back right away, why do I still suffer, even though I'm trying my best to follow Him. I've learned that He also wants to help us grow and become more like Him, and in order to do that, we have to pass through trials, we have to experience some of the bitter so that the sweet tastes all the sweeter when we have it. But no matter where we are, how we feel, what we've done, whether He takes away our burdens right away, or whether He lets us grow, I testify that He is there, right beside us, feeling what we feel. He is always right there with us, and always will suffer with us. How grateful I am for His never-ending, all-powerful love, and it's power and effects in my life.

Looking back on my mission, I can see how far He has carried me, how far He has helped me come. As I look back, now I can see a little glimpse of how far I have come since that scared, 19 year old Jeff DeSpain got on a plane heading from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. He has helped me every step of the way, but sometimes so subtly that I didn't even recognize it. How grateful I am for His love, and for my Father in Heaven's love, and His perfect plan that He has for each one of us. I testify of their reality.

Thank you so much for all that you do, for the examples that you all have always been to me. I love you! I'm going to try to send some pics from last week, but I left my camera in Aruba I think, haha, so they're from last week, sorry!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Lord Worked A Miracle For Us This Week!

Bon Tardi famia i amigunan

Nos ta bon aki, nada a pasa desde e tempu di e terremoto.

See if you can figure out what that means Dad, haha! (That means we are good here, nothing has happened since the time of the earthquake.) To answer your question, we actually did really well when it happened. We just thought that it was like air coming in the house, and it only lasted like a fraction of a second almost, and so by the time we figured out what it was, it was gone, haha!

Well, the Lord worked a miracle for us this week! Because on Thursday, it didn't look like Miriam was going to be baptized. Her brother in law died, so she had to take her sister to the airport on Saturday, so she couldn't do the baptism on Saturday, and then on Thursday it looked like maybe she didn't want to be baptized, so we were worried, but then we called her on Thursday night to see if she wanted to get baptized and to see if we could bring the baptismal clothing over, and she said, bring the clothes. So, we showed up that night, and then on Friday, she was baptized by her husband Victor. It was awesome! We did it in the same place in the ocean as the last ones, and it was fantastic. (Pictures are on the blog.)  On Sunday, she got confirmed, and now I hope that I get to see them be sealed in a year in the temple. How awesome that would be! Victor's Mom is actually already endowed, and they all live at the same house, so it would be such a privilege to see Miriam become a part of that eternal family! What a blessing it is from the Lord when He blesses us to be able to work with families!

We still need to find those new families that we met a couple of weeks ago again and try to get them to come to church.  I think that we are going to try to watch The Testament with them.

Thanks for sending the package!! I think it will be great. Just one thing that may be of some help to us in the future (but I'm not for sure, we'll have to see if USPS works better), from what I understand, the national mail system here is where things get stolen. A member has told us that they steal things from the boxes here, so I think if you send it through a major shipping company, like FEDEX, UPS, or DHL, it might have better odds, but I'm not sure about that, because when the office sent our packages down here to us, DHL was a real mess and caused a lot of problems and charges, haha. But thanks so much and I'm sure that it will travel great!!  (We were bummed to hear this.  We have been waiting for a few months trying to see if our other packages ever made it to Jeff before we sent the clothes that he needs.  Henry checked with a friend who works for one of the major carriers who advised us to use the regular mail system rather than one of the three big carriers Jeff mentioned above for shipping outside the U.S.  Based on the friend's experience his opinion was that our chances of getting the clothes to Jeff were better through the post office than through any of the three major carriers.  So we decided to try that route and mailed the package this past week.  Hopefully it will get make it to him safe and sound . . .  I guess we're about to find out!)

Well, we are doing great here, we will actually have to fly off the island again this weekend to get our permission to be in Aruba renewed again. They only gave Elder Jensen 30 days when he came into the country instead of 90 because they said he didn't have a return ticket. The problem is that every one of the immigration people at the airport are different. So, we will probably fly out Sunday night and come back Tuesday morning. So, my next email will probably be sent to you from Curacao again!! Way cool!

Wow, the mountain trip, I miss that, and I miss my football!! That is starting up too! Please keep me updated on all of the sports, the D-Backs, and all of my football teams!

We truly are being blessed by the Lord here. It is such a blessing just to be here. More of a blessing than I can express. The blessings are countless, and I am so so so grateful that the Lord has permitted me to be able to serve a mission in Aruba, what a once in a life time experience. It is so true that if we keep our part of the promise, and keep the commandments, and try our best, then The Lord will always keep up His end of the agreement. His help will always come. Sometimes we don't feel it right away, sometimes He lets us struggle in order to grow, but He knows us so well, that He will never give us trials that we can't pass through. He will always make a way for us to make it through them. And if we will keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other, then He will always come before we have to give up. He will always be there, and always loves us, and always knows how we feel. Even when no one else could, I testify that The Lord knows how we feel, and He can always heal us. All we have to do is try our best.

I love you all and am so grateful for all of you. By the way, I read that they broke ground on the Phoenix Temple, could you send me some pics of the Gilbert and Phoenix Temples? Thanks so much. I love you so much! I would always love to get pictures of whatever you have, haha!


Elder DeSpain

P.S.  (Henry asked how Jeff's Papiamento (language of Aruba) was coming along.)  Mi Papiamento ta bon, ami por papia cu e hende aki pa siña, pero aínda no ta basta bon.  That says that my Papiamento is good, I can talk with the people here to teach, but it's still not good enough, haha.  I can't really say that I'm fluent in Papiamento yet, but I do want to start with Dutch now.  I haven't been able to get very far in Dutch yet because we haven't been able to find an English to Dutch learning book yet.  So I've done a little bit out of a Spanish to Dutch Book, but we are going to have to try to look for the English to Dutch book again today.  I might have to have you send me a book or even better Rosetta Stone or some form of CD where I can hear the words in order to learn, ha ha!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tornado And Earthquake This Week!

Con bai di Aruba!?

Hello! Well, I'm not sure, but I think that the things that are happening here are from the hurricanes, haha. There has been some rain, but the craziest things were the tornado and earthquake. I don't know if word got out to you, but we had an earthquake here on Saturday, I think it was like a 4.6 from what someone told us. But it was not a big deal at all, so don't worry. We were teaching somebody and the couch and walls started to shake, but once we figured out what was happening, it was over. No damage or injury whatsoever, in fact I don't know if there were any damages on the whole island besides one car accident from someone who got scared. There was a tornado earlier in the week, but we didn't even know that it happened, haha. One morning we woke up and it was like raining really hard and we were just going about like normal, and then later that day we passed by a catholic church that is further north on the island and we noticed that all of the tiles were all over the place on the roof and two sections of the roof were completely missing, so we just said, wow, they're doing renovation on the catholic church, and then later, we found out that it had got ripped apart by a tornado!! But we are fine, like I said, we didn't even know that it had happened because it wasn't in our area, but some pretty crazy happenings this week haha!  (Henry found some information and a picture of the tornado damage at this link:  http://www.sxmislandtime.com/component/k2/item/15321-over-fifty-homes-damaged-during-early-morning-tornado-in-aruba.html )

We were able to set a baptismal date with Miriam, and we got her interviewed, so she will be baptized this Saturday, in the ocean!! It will be awesome, her husband is already a member, so in a year they will be able to go to the temple, and I so hope that they do and that I get the chance to see them there! It will be so awesome.

It was raining on Sunday morning, so it was a little bit harder to get some people to church, but we still had a very good day. We are still working with Daniel, and he seems to be progressing, so we are hoping for the best!

We also were able to find a couple of new families because of the reference of a member, and they are awesome, they had questions about Prophets in the Americas, so we were able to explain to them about the Book of Mormon, it was awesome!!

Awesome, I do not have that EFY CD you mentioned, so that will be perfect. With the pants, the waist works, so all I need is a size longer. That will be perfect because this type of pants has an adjustable waist, so that size works fine. It may be that they have just shrunk over time like you said, but I still think that I need a size longer, so that would be great if you could send pants one size longer. Thanks so much!

Well Bob, to be a head athletic trainer at a high school, you just need a bachelor's degree in Athletic Training and you need to pass a certifying exam if I remember right, but to be a trainer at a college or professional level, from what I understand you have to have a masters degree, and take the certifying exam. So I hope that that helps you out.  (Scott needed some information for a scout merit badge and we knew Jeff would know the answer so we asked him in our email this week.  "Big Bob" is Scott's nickname.  We called him "Big Bob" when he was young and actually pretty tiny and the name stuck for some reason.)

Wow, good for Leah, they are recommending that you do Barret? Well, it's a good program from what I understand, but it does sound like a lot more work. I met some people who were in it, and overall, it sounds like a lot of work. In fact, if it was me, I would probably just take normal classes instead of doing honors, but that's probably just because I wouldn't be interested in doing the extra work. I'm sure that it looks really good on a resume, but I would personally still go with the normal route and take normal classes I think. But don't let me pull you down if that's what you want to try to do. You have to do what makes you happy, and what you enjoy.  (He's answering an ASU question for Leah!)

Thanks so much for all that you do for me. I am so grateful for where I came from and the people that I know and the family that I am a part of. I'm so grateful for those who came before me and left a legacy behind for me. I have so many wonderful ancestors who were such wonderful people, and did such wonderful things for the Lord. I just pray that I can leave behind a portion of what they did.

It's amazing to see how simple the Gospel is. Really, when you look at it, the people who progress in life are those who keep the commandments, read their scriptures every day, pray every day, and go to church every week. Those are four simple things, and they probably sound like answers you hear every day in seminary or institute class, but those four things are part of the foundation of a Christ-like life. Those are four keys to our happiness here in this life, and in the next. I can see that with investigators as well as in my own life. Those things are like armor. We need the armor of God, and that is how we put it on every day; reading the scriptures, praying, keeping the commandments. I've learned to look at my scripture reading that way. If I read my scriptures today, then I'm showing to Heavenly Father that I want His protection, and once I have read them, I'm protected for that day. Now, I'm not saying that we should let our guard down or slack off, but I know that The Lord will help us if we make sure to include Him in our day. I am so grateful for His Love, His Mercy, His Guidance, His Peaceful whispers through the Holy Ghost, and for His Gospel. I love you all and thank you so much for the examples that you are to me of living the the Gospel and being disciples of Christ.

I love you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Adventures of Elder DeSpain and Elder Jensen Begin . . .

Bon Dia Famianan i amigunan stimá

We are doing so great here in Aruba, Elder Jensen got here safe and sound without any problems on Tuesday, and we have been working great!!! He is awesome!! He is from Layton Utah, and he has one older brother and one older sister, and he has two younger brothers, so their family is almost exactly like ours. He plays strong safety I think at Snow College in Utah (Dad probably played them when he played for EAC). We are doing fantastic. He actually knows a DeSpain girl that lives in Layton, we just can't remember her name, haha, maybe they're related to Rob DeSpain, Elder Clayton's Uncle, haha, one small world.

(We asked Jeff what his responsibilities are as a district leader.)  So as district leader out in the islands, it's a little bit different, but for the most part the same thing as in the DR, I conduct district meeting, and I take numbers from Curacao every week and pass them on to the Assistants, and then I do baptismal interviews as well, but through the phone, pretty crazy, huh? Haha, it's a great privilege the Lord has entrusted me with and I hope that I can live up to that calling and serve Him in a way that pleases Him.

(We asked how things worked getting Elder LeCheminant to the airport on Sunday and getting the Curacao Elders into Aruba and back out and getting Elder Jensen in to be his new companion.)  So when I had "mini" companions from the ward, for the most part I have to try to be with someone from the moment my companion leaves, but on Sunday, we just picked up the member and took him with us to the airport, and then he went with me to church and to Saint Nicholas (That's San Nicolas in English, but I've never seen Santa Clause there, haha).  President Buckley stayed with me until the Curacao Elders flew in and then on Tuesday, President Buckley showed up and walked over to the airport just right after I dropped off the Curacao Elders, so I went with him again, he is a way funny guy. Pretty interesting. He just went with me to pick up Elder Jensen too, and that was that, haha.

So, Miriam and Daniel are progressing well, and we should be able to set a baptismal date with Miriam this week hopefully. We did find a lot of new people, but we had trouble getting them to come to church, so we will work on that this week. We are doing more work down in Saint Nicholas now, so hopefully there will be some investigators down there soon. We didn't get anyone in church this week down there, but hopefully soon.

To answer your question, I have been able to talk to my new Mission President once on the phone after he did an interview, but other than that, just emails. I asked the assistants about him coming down, and they said that they were going to talk to him about it, so it should be soon.

Yes, go ahead and send the package with the clothes in it.  One thing, I'm really sorry, I don't know what happened, whether I'm getting fatter or what, but my pants are getting short, I swear that they're shorter than when I started, so if you could, it would be great to have pants just like a size longer, I'm really sorry. Thanks so much for getting the CD, and we would love any other CD's you could send us.  They can be anything like churchy I think. Thanks so much, and sorry for the inconvenience.

Oh, tell Grandma Joy not to worry, I'm pretty sure that I've received all of the money, haha, no worries.

I am so grateful for the watchful eye of the Lord in my life. I read a talk that Dad sent to me where the guy giving the talk explained how Heavenly Father knows what our limits are. He knows how far we can go, and He won't give us a trial that we cannot pass through. He said that if we are going through hard times and struggling through trials, and they haven't come to an end yet, then that means that we can go further, that means that we have more strength, that we can make it. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and I know that we can make it through whatever trail may come our way, because He will not give us a trial that we can't pass through, but most importantly, because the Savior will walk alongside us. He has already passed through our trials-alone. He knows personally how it feels to be in our shoes, to be going through what we're going through, to suffer as we are suffering. I know that He can conquer our Goliaths, but I have also learned that that doesn't mean that He will just take the burdens off of our backs. Just as I read in a recent Ensign, sometimes the Lord strengthens our backs without lightening our burdens. I love what I read in that article, it says that even though the Lord might not take the burden off of our backs, He is always willing to walk along side of us and share our load, to feel what we feel, and be there for us always. I know that He lives and that He knows us by name and knows our trials as well.

Thank you so much for all that you do. I love you so much! Sorry, I couldn't attach pictures this time because I'm transferring them onto a flash drive to send the card home, so hopefully next week!! Love you!

Elder DeSpain