Monday, January 31, 2011

Running Water Might Be On The Way . . . Maybe


Yes, both debit cards are now working, thanks Mom! I think there must just have been a problem that day with international cards or something. (Hooray! He has access to money again!)

So to answer your question about the water, we have to go downstairs and fill up buckets from a faucet that is in another guy's house beneath ours. But as we speak there is a man that is helping us out and hooking up some piping for us right now so that we can get water and won't have to get it out of buckets, haha! That will really be a blessing!

(We had asked Jeff how the stuff in the fridge stays cold if the electricity is off a lot.) Ya, the electricity is off like half of the day, so we just kind of keep the door closed, but we open it from time to time and a lot of times the stuff just gets kind of warm, but luckily most of the stuff here is made to be able to sit without being refrigerated, even the milk!!! Can you believe that? They pasteurize it really specially here.

Yes, Guachupita is in between Las Guandules and La Cienaga. It's part of the same area I served in before this one, Maria Auxiliadora B. Mostly it's La Cienaga and Las Guandules down here, then up some more is Guachupita, and then above that is Maria Auxiliadora, and I know it all like the back of my hand now, haha!

We think that we didn't heat the oil up hot enough when we cooked, and we think that that's what made us sick. So, now we know, haha, but luckily The Lord is watching out for us and we just got a good night's sleep and we were all good! What a blessing!

So we are cooking for ourselves right now, but there's a lady that we buy breakfast from that is going to try to open up a cafeteria thing, so I think that we are hoping to go there once it is open and be able to by lunch there. We can get some soup packets here for cheap if we want, so don't worry about sending that. It's just the cereal that we need! Wow, what a luxury that is, haha! That way, as long as we have milk, we are good to go and we can have some cereal whenever we want. Thank you so much for sending that package with everything and the shoes too. And tell Grandma thank you for me too, I'm really sorry, I have been horrible at writing the Grandmas!

Well, this week was good. We had 12 investigators in Church and Heavenly Father blessed us with the great privilege of finding another family, and they went to church also!!!! What a great privilege that is. They liked it, and they really seem like a great family. I only know them as Wellington and family, because Wellington is their son and he is the first one that we met. I just feel good around them, and that is so awesome. They are going to be a great family in the Church. Wellington already has a fecha (must be a baptismal date) for the 12th of February, and we are going to have to wait for the Mom, because she has to get married I think. But wow, what a blessing!

Well, once again I am so grateful for the Love, the Power, the Mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our Life, our Light, our Redeemer. He is the One that always knows, that is always with us, that will wait with us, stay with us, weep with us, and comfort us, even when no one else will. He is always there, and He is always listening, and I testify that He always knows. Even when no one else knows how we feel, when we feel alone, forgotten, lonely, cast out, afraid, or miserable, I testify that He is there, and He knows exactly how we feel, and He has felt worse than whatever we're going through. When no one else could, He knows, and He is beside us always. I am so grateful for a Savior who loved me so much that He walked every second of my life, every trial that I'll ever have to pass through, and He is always there with the answer to my problem, to my struggle, to my trial. He is the one who can conquer and overcome, heal and give peace. Again, I testify that He knows you, whoever you may be, by your name, that He knows your fears, your shortcomings, and most importantly, He knows your potential. We all have so much potential to bring about good, and through Jesus Christ, we can!! Through Him we can bring about so much good, and I am so grateful for Him and for His Infinite, selfless, grand sacrifice, for His everlasting love, and for His forever outstretched hand, there to lift us up and make us more, better, all that we can be. I am so grateful to My Savior for giving me hope!

I love you all very much and thank you so much for all that you do and have done for me and for the examples that you have set for me and that you continue to set for me. I am blessed beyond measure to know each and every one of you, and thank you so much for your influence in my life!

(We asked if he was getting any relief from the dizziness that has plagued him for the last several weeks.) P.S. My dizziness is getting better! What a blessing from The Lord! And I can't attach any pics because I don't have my camera, sorry! And that pic from last week is from our balcony, looking out across Las Guandules and the Ozama River (very dirty). There's also a big tower on the other side of the river, I'm not sure if you can see it because I'm not sure if I got the panorama picture sent or not, but that is actually like a Dominican version of something like a Walmart. It's called La Sirena. Thank so much and I love you!!!!


Elder DeSpain

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hello From La Cienaga!

Hello family and friends!

Just FYI, we actually live and mostly work in a place called Las Guandules. It's north of La Cienaga, but the branch here is called La Cienaga so we use that name a lot.

First to answer a few of your questions:

1. Yes! The debit card is working! Thank you so much for checking into that for me.

2. The shoes have flattened out some and are doing much better. Elder Jackson says that for the most part, if I just make sure to take my shoes off while I'm in the house, I'll be fine.

3. We are cooking for ourselves here and I didn't bring any food from the last area so cereal would be the best thing to send. I can always, always, always use cereal. We can pick up some milk, but it would be awesome to have cereal again! Oh ya, and we've already made ourselves sick, ha ha! We had to come in early a couple of night ago. I think we have to make our oil hotter when we cook. But it's all good!

4. The inflamed nerves did go away, but unfortunately, the dizziness didn't. It's getting better, or at least Heavenly Father has made me strong enough to get through it. I know that everything is part of His Plan, but it would be great if this part could end pretty soon! The Lord knows what's going on and He will help me out.

I figured out what was up with the camera. The batteries are not rechargeable. It's not that kind of camera, ha ha, wow! So it would be awesome if you could send me some rechargeable AA batteries with a recharger. Thanks!

We are doing good here in La Cienaga. I had to get an investigator to get one of his friends to take me from my old area to my new area. It cost way too much but it's all good! This is my first transfer. I'm sure every area is a little different so I am still getting used to the place. We are working with a lot of families and I love that! That is the best way to build the Lord's Kingdom. We are going to have a great week this week!

We have a house that I bet Mom would be interested in. There's almost no running water, so we have to use bucket water for everything and we have electricity some of the time, but those two things are common all over the country!

Well, this week I took another look at that picture that I have of Christ smiling. I love that picture. I thought of something this week. I thought that Jesus Christ conquered the world, and He did it with a smile on His face. He has climbed every mountain, walked every valley, felt every pain, felt every doubt and fear that we will ever face and more, and I testify that He has conquered every single one. He is our Savior. He has the power to conquer anything in our lives, and I testify that He knows you by your name, knows your struggles and knows how to heal you and make you happy. He is always with us, always with you, right by your side, and He will always be there with a smile and outstretched hand. What a privilege it is to be able to help Him in this great work! I testify that each one of us have things to help Him with!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, January 17, 2011

Transfer Time!

Saludos Familia y amigos (hi family and friends)!

Things are going great here in Maria Auxiliadora! We were able to get Henri and Karmen married this week, but Henri I think still needs to get a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that this is the only true Church of Jesus Christ. Jose Luis and Claribel were able to get Chello's new ID (Chello is his nickname). Then that very same day Chello's mom called from the United States and said that she might be able to get him a visa to go to the United States, but it says that he is single, so he would have to get a divorce to go there if he wanted to go there because his mom listed him as single. He has waited for that opportunity for like 30 years! Wow, what a trial! I think that he would work in the United States for a few months or something and then come back to the DR. But he's got so much faith. It sounds like he's going to get baptized and then let The Lord's Will be done. So I think he will wait to go to the states until he is baptized and is reclassified as married. He is such a good example to me of faith.

Christopher Columbus's House was actually closed! But I did manage to get a picture of the outside, and we went to some other pretty cool places too, a big cathedral and an old fort. It was awesome, and I took what pictures I could, but now my camera is acting up. No matter how long I leave it plugged in, it keeps turning off and telling me that there's no battery. Wow, I have bad luck with cameras, haha. We got to go with Elder McBride again today. We played basketball and ate lunch. It was way fun! It is really hot here, really hot! Wow! And it's way humid!

Two questions. Do you know who Rob DeSpain is? He lives in Utah, and he is Elder Clayton's Great Uncle! So, we might be related! And also, I've already met a cousin, someone who's grandpa is the DeSpain that lives down DeSpain Ranch Road that we see when we go to Holbrook! So how are we related to them? Also, one more thing. I met Elder Elders from the Gila Valley. He's actually from Thatcher. (I think Elder Elders might be the son of one of the girls I went to EAC with! We will have to check that out!)

It would actually be really nice if you could send me a watch. (We asked if we should send another one to replace the one that was taken.) Right now we're just going off of the cell phone time, and it works great. I'm not wearing anything for them to steal that way. What I actually may need is new shoes. A guy in our ward put new soles on these ones, and they're really tight. I think it's actually cracking my toenail, haha. He still has my other pair, so I've got to go and get them too, but if I can get them to break in, these are going to be good shoes! The other soles had holes in them. (Wow! He's been out six months and already been through two pairs of shoes! That's a lot of walking!)

Ok, the news for this week, I'm getting transferred! But right across the street! Right now, I'm in Maria Auxiliadora B, and that area is bordered by La Cienaga, and that's where I'm heading! It's directly east of here. I've already been to the area over there a couple of times and been in their house over there a couple of times for baptismal interviews and house checks and things. My companion will be Elder Jackson, and I've already been on an exchange with him! He is awesome, a way cool, funny elder. He is in the same group as Elder Blake, my first companion in the field. Elder Jackson is from Utah and spent a year in the army before his mission! The way it goes is Maria Auxiliadora is a nicer, city part, and then a hill begins that heads down to the river Osama. Where the hill starts is Guachupita (a good part of our half of the area of Maria Auxiliadora, there is a Maria Auxiliadora A and a B), and then across the street from the street to the bank of the river is La Cienaga. It is a sweet view from their house! I'm going to have to try to get my camera to work and send you a picture from their balcony!

Hey, one problem, both my Church card and my bank card are not letting me get money out. Don't worry, I'll be fine. I just need you to call Wells Fargo if you can and make sure that there's not a block on my card, because I have to get money off of that card. (Jeff and I made a special effort to make sure I was on his accounts and everything before he left so that I could take care of things like this for him while he is gone. I called the bank today to ask if there were any problems with his card because he is not able to draw money out. The nice lady at the bank told me she can't talk with me about his card. I explained that my name is on both his savings and checking accounts and the card I am asking about is linked to the checking account. She kindly explained to me that she can talk to me about the savings account and the checking account, just not the debit card! So apparently I have the power to draw out every cent in both accounts, but I'm not allowed to know anything about the debit card! How crazy is that!)

Well, Elder Clayton will stay here in our area and train. He is going to be a great trainer, and he will still be my District Leader! Haha, wow!

I'm sorry, I can't get my camera to work, so I can't send any pictures this week.

We got to go to a regional conference yesterday for the Caribbean Region of the Church. I love how simple the message was: keep the commandments, and be blessed and have peace. I love the peace that the Atonement can bring into our lives. It is amazing to see in reality that there really never is an end to the power of the Atonement. Every single moment of our lives, every doubt and fear, pain and sorrow, difficulty and trial, has been felt by Jesus Christ. He knows exactly how we feel, at every single second of our lives. He loves us so much that not only did He take upon Him these pains, He conquered every single one of them. I testify that He lives and that He knows you by name, yes, you, whoever you may be, member or nonmember, old or young, healthy or afflicted, He knows you by your name and I testify that He knows how you feel in this very instant. He always knows, and He always can overcome whatever may be in our lives. I think someday we will look back after this life and see that in our lonely or sad moments, we were never alone, Jesus Christ was already right beside us! He is there, and He has conquered our struggles!

I love you all very much! Thanks so much for all that you do!

Elder Jeff DeSpain

Monday, January 10, 2011

Elder McBride, Elder DeSpain . . . and Christopher Columbus!

Saludos to all!

Things are going so great here in Maria Auxiliadora! We got an appointment put (He keeps saying "put" in his emails which must be the Spanish word for "set"???) to get Henry and Karmen married, and that's on Thursday. But we're going with Chello and Claribel tomorrow too to see if we can get them married also! It would be so sweet if that all works out! Wow, what a privilege to be a part in helping a them become an Eternal Family!

Roberto and Jose Luis are doing so great! They are both coming to Church still, at least for the first hour, so we are going to continue working with them. They are both studs! Roberto is divorced and lives with a daughter and grand kids, but I think that they are going to move out and he is going to end up living solo. Jose Luis lives with his mom and brothers and sisters, and his mom is handicapped and one of his sisters is mentally disabled, so he does a lot around the house!

Wow, this is so awesome, I'm actually sitting two computers away from Elder McBride right now, and we're going to go and see Christopher Columbus' house after this! I'm going to try to attach a pic of me and him in the mission office a little while back.

Thanks so much Mom, and a big thanks to Sister Dodge, I really appreciate what she said to you! That means so much to me! (Jeff spent a lot of time at the Dodge home before he left on his mission. Brother and Sister Dodge are so good to open their home to youth in our area. I saw Sister Dodge on Sunday and she asked about Jeff and shared with me some kind comments about him. I thought that was so sweet and I shared her comments with Jeff.)

This week I have really been blessed to feel such a good spirit. It is amazing to feel that peace and that hope that comes through the Spirit. The Spirit fills you with such a perfect hope that, for a moment, that's all you can see. All you can see is the good that Heavenly Father has planned for you in your life. For a moment, all you can feel is His Presence, His hope, and His truth. I testify that that is truly what this life is about, is that Spirit. How grateful I am for it!

Thanks so much Dad for all of your notes, and I'm so sorry that I couldn't respond to your email. Thanks so much for all that you do! Please keep me in your prayers as I'm still trying to fight through my dizziness, but The Lord will help me. Thanks so much!

Elder DeSpain

(Not sure what is causing the dizziness yet, but I'm sure the Lord will take care of him!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year to you in snowy Gilbert! (It's not really snowy Gilbert, but Henry did tell Jeff that he saw some snow fall while he was at work this past Thursday which is definitely out of the ordinary for the Phoenix area!)

We are doing good here. Chello and Claribel still aren't married. What happened was that Chello had to get a new ID, and that was going to cost him some money, so we were trying to avoid that, but every other option that we tried didn't end up working out. So now, he just has to pick up a new ID and pay for it, and they will hopefully be married this week!

The new baptisms are doing great! Roberto is so awesome, he said that his baptism really made him feel refreshed! And Jose Luis, hopefully he will be a missionary! As well as bring the rest of his family into the Gospel.

Henri and Carmen are doing good too, we were a little worried about them because they hadn't been to Church in a while, but they showed up first this week, even before us! Henri drank some this week which is a bummer, but that's in the past, and now we're in a new year, and it's going to be a great one for him! They will hopefully be getting baptized soon! We're still just waiting on the birth certificates for their children to get them married.

Wow, so Darleen, I haven't heard from her since I left. So you got to meet her "friend", that's great! Keep me posted. (We told Jeff that we went to Pima overnight this past weekend and were able to visit with everyone, including our niece Darleen's friend from UofA Jonathan Frost!)

That's exciting about Kevin and Harmony, I just got the letter from Aunt Roxie telling me that they are engaged and it was in your email also! Wow, I hadn't heard yet, so congratulations! I did get the chance to meet Harmony a couple of times before I left! That´s so awesome!

Well, this week was good, the work is going great! I almost forgot. We did run into a little problem again. Someone needed my watch and the church cell phone we had more than we did. Oh well, we bought a cheap watch on purpose so I guess that worked out well! I know the Lord was really looking out for us again, because we escaped without harm again, it's amazing! Each time this has happened we have always escaped unscathed, and I know it's because The Lord has been looking out for us!

We had some really good revelation this morning while we were studying, it's probably more interesting to us as missionaries, but we were reading D&C 89 and reading the blessings of the Word of Wisdom. It states a lot of blessings that I have always considered to be physical blessings, for example it says that we will run without being weary, and I always thought of that as a physical blessing, but then Elder Clayton talked about all of the people that have kept the Word of Wisdom yet still had handicaps physically, like being in a wheelchair, but then I thought about those that were handicapped physically, but not mentally. That sometimes, there are those who may be handicapped physically that can run through life without being weary in terms of their spiritual well being or they are gifted with an awesome attitude or an awesome personality. Really, it opened my eyes that the Promises of the Lord aren't always fulfilled in the ways that we think. Sometimes we're receiving the blessings we are promised without even knowing it. I know that I have been blessed beyond measure and have been very ungrateful about acknowledging the Lord's Blessings in my life. Just a little thought that we received during our companion study that I thought I'd share.

Keep up the good work and I love you all so much! Thank each and every one of you for the example and great help that you are for me in my life! Thank you so much for all that you have done for me!

Elder DeSpain

I attached a picture of the Park of Independence here. That wall I'm standing in
front of is probably like 500 years old. The Conde, the oldest street in the new world, is right behind it, through the arch in the wall!
(The picture is on the blog!)