Monday, April 25, 2011

Great Week Full Of Baptisms!

Hello fam and friends!

Yes, Junior and Juana got married on Tuesday, and then they and four of their children got baptized on Saturday! How awesome! Then they all got confirmed on Sunday and Junior got the Priesthood! Wow, it was awesome, so awesome to finally get to be a part of the baptism of an entire family! They are so great! And in a year, I will finally get to see someone be sealed for time and all eternity, someone who will become and Eternal Family! What a blessing from the Lord! I am sooooo glad and grateful for the opportunity to be part of someone becoming an Eternal Family, that was what I wanted to see most when I came out here, and The Lord is blessing me with it!

We did have another baptism on Sunday too! What a great Easter weekend! We had the baptism of Lidia. She is a lady that just got up one Sunday and told one of her member friends that she was going to go to Church with him! It was so awesome, we were so blessed this weekend! And the Lord had blessed us even more because we have two more baptismal dates for this Saturday, a lady named Maria De Los Angeles (the one you were asking me about mom). She is a single lady that stopped us on the street, how awesome, I guess we need a wake up call to talk to people sometimes, and the other is a guy named Fran, the Grandfather of Rubi, a baptism I had two transfers ago (with Carlos Manuel and Wellington). They are doing good and looking ready to go!

Kartel and Kenya we are still working with. Kenya is probably the most solid investigator that we have, but Kartel struggles a little bit more, in fact this week Kenya told us that she doesn't want to get married to Kartel, but we talked to them, and we're working with them, and I know that the Lord can help them overcome their struggles, they just have to trust Him.

Miguel and Rubia are doing very well, really the only thing that we're waiting on with them now is the money for them to get married. We are hoping that this week Miguel can pull out what he needs to to get married.

Yes, you probably wouldn't do extremely well overall here mom, haha, because there is trash everywhere. It's piled up many times just like what you saw in Brother Richardson's picture. They don't have trash cans here, it's more just like you throw your trash in a grocery bag and one day a week you set it on the curb and a dump truck comes by and picks it up. And yes, the driving here is crazy. They have little volkswagon like vans and they cram about twenty people into them, not comfortable at all, and sometimes you have to ride facing backwards, and it's not a smooth traffic flow here. I'm pretty sure Mom would get car sick, haha, but the Lord is helping me out and I'm doing great! (Brother Richardson explained to us a little about the driving in Santo Domingo. Apparently when you come to an intersection, whoever has the loudest horn gets to go on through and the other vehicles take their chances after that! He told us that the drivers get big blow horns off boats and things like that so that they will have the loudest horn! Guess it's good that Jeff walks most of the time!)

Ya, that's the same Conde I visit (oldest street in the New World) that you saw on the Channel 8 video, haha, but I don't know if they still have the gift shop you saw Mom, haha. And I have a panorama picture of those three statues you saw on the video also, but the computer is having problems, so I can't attach the picture this week, but I will soon.

Thanks Dad. Wow, I can't wait to go hiking again when I get back. (Henry told Jeff about a hike he took after he finished some business meetings he had in Flagstaff this past week.) Yes, they do have Holy Week here, so the whole week is just a zoo! Everyone buys plastic pools and fills them up and chills, but way too many drunk guys as usual. Sometimes I think the way they run this country is kind of a mess. The whole thing shows a major lack of planning from what I have seen.

Thanks Mom, I really appreciate what you said, and I'm sure you're ahead of me in the Kingdom, because I wouldn't be half of who I am without a Mom who taught me to be who I am, truly I have a mother like those from the Armies of Helaman, that taught them that if they put their trust in the Lord and didn't doubt, they would be delivered. Thanks Mom and Dad for being those parents for me. (As a qualifier here, both Henry and I sooooo know that we don't begin to compare with the parents of the stripling warriors. I'm sure Jeff is responding to the fact that I told him in my letter this week how over and over the Lord has helped me in my life and that I was certain the Lord will always help him as well with whatever he needs - probably way more than me - because Jeff is head and shoulders ahead of me in obedience and service in the kingdom! We sure love that guy and appreciate his example!)

Thank you to everyone, my brothers, sisters, and friends, you all have had such a big effect on me! I love you! Sorry, i would write more, but I'm out of time!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Week of Miracles!


This has been a week of miracles! First off to answer your questions, people from Santiago come here if they have the money. The thing is that they really don’t have a reason to come our area, La Cienaga, haha! There’s not a whole lot that Los Guandules and La Cienaga have to offer, so we haven’t run into anyone that Elder Clase knows from home! (Jeff’s companion is from a place called Santiago in the DR so we asked how close Santiago and Santo Domingo are and if Elder Clase ever sees anyone he knows from home.)

Ya, Brother Richardson is right. Megacentro where they have Taco Bell is just one taxi ride away from here, and it is a good distance on the other side of the Ozama River, or Río Ozama like they say here.

So the miracle that happened this week was with the family of Junior and Juana. The branch here in La Cienaga got their money together, and they had enough so that they could help to the point that Junior and Juana could get married! So, we went to the place to put the appointment for their wedding, but they told us that the ID that Junior had wouldn’t work because it was temporary and they needed a new plastic one. So, we went to District Meeting that day and then we called President to see if the money that the mission has could help us out, because the problem was that the new ID would cost another 1000 pesos. President said yes! So we went and got a new ID with Junior, and then we put the appointment for them to get married that day! So they are getting married tomorrow morning! Then they are going to get baptized on Saturday! We are also going to have a baptism on Sunday of a lady who works Monday through Saturday named Lidia. She’s way cool! She chose to come to church one day, and so she went with one of her friends who is a member, a decision that will now change her life. We also may have another baptism of an older lady that lives in Los Guandules, but we have to see. Her name is Maria De Los Angeles. She surprised us by showing up at church this week! Truly a week of miracles, what a gigantic miracle the Lord did for us helping Junior and Juana get married!

(Jeff said that last week he was able to eat at a place in Elder McBride’s area where they could actually get a bacon cheeseburger. We asked him if it was a chain or anything we would recognize.) Don Tatos is a Dominican place, but they serve burgers, and they’re pretty good, but today we had the big get together at Parque Del Este, and then we went, and Elder McBride was there too, to the Mexican food place they have there. What a treat!

Trent’s doing great, we shoot emails back and forth, and he finally just got to Brazil!!! He’s not understanding a whole lot, but coming along, and he already had four baptisms a couple of weeks ago! (Trent is one of Jeff’s friends that was called to Brazil. He left the end of September but was delayed with Visa problems so he served a few months in Oregon before his Visa finally came through and we were happy to hear from Jeff that he made it to Brazil!)

Travis came over to visit you! Tell him hi for me! That’s so awesome, wow, I cannot believe that he’s home now! I never thought that we would be at that point, wow!

Tell TJ and Braden congratulations too! Wow, lots of mission calls stateside Spanish speaking. I’m sure that means that the Lord will be able to use them their whole life! That’s awesome!

Well, all is well here in La Cienaga. We’re working with some amazing people who want to come unto the Lord through baptism. Elder Clase hasn’t trunked out yet either, he is doing great! It’s so amazing to see how the Lord works a miracle in your life little by little. Without recognizing it usually, the Lord brings about a huge miracle a little at a time, a little bit every day, every week, and every month. I am so grateful for the miracle that He is working in my life. What an amazing promise we have to know that Jesus Christ has conquered the world, and that we have nothing to fear. Even though Satan tells us all the time that we’re not good enough, that our trials will never end, that there’s no hope, I testify that if we keep walking, just keep on marching, and don’t quit, then we will see that The Lord will work everything out and He will conquer our trials and tribulations, and we will come off conqueror and see the lies of Satan for what they are. So just keep on going, don’t stop moving your feet, and I know that the Lord will help you and deliver you. I forgot who gave this talk, but a few years ago someone gave a talk called “Sunday will come”. I love the message of that talk, that when we have the Fridays of our lives, the hard times, the trials, the dark tunnels of our lives, we need not despair, for Sunday will come. I testify that that is true, so just keep marching, and don’t forget who’s walking beside you with every step, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer!

I love you all!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, April 11, 2011

Staying in LaCienaga!


Things are going great here in La Cienaga! We are working now with three families, (all who are related to each other) that are ready to get married and baptized, but we are still waiting on money. Junior got paid this week, but he couldn't´t give the 1000 pesos because the people at his work are still charging him for something that got stolen from his work. He works as a guard of a rich house, and some lamps got stolen from the house, so now they are charging his paychecks for them. The thing is, he wasn´t even working the day that they got stolen. But they really want to get married, and he was talking about working 36 straight hours in a row to earn more money, but he hasn´t done it yet, and I hope that he doesn´t, that´s not good for his health!

Kenya and Kartel are still doing great, but we´re still waiting for money for them too. The Aunt and Uncle of Kenya and Juana are named Miguel and Rubia, and they have told us too that they are ready to get married and baptized. We are going to get the birth certificate of Miguel tomorrow, then we will have all of their papers and just be waiting on money from them too. We are blessed beyond measure here in La Cienaga!

Today we played basketball with Elder McBride and a couple of the other elders here and then we ate at a place in Elder McBride’s area that had bacon cheese burgers! It was sweet, and it´s actually on the edge of the mission!

So, the Suns aren´t going to make it into the playoffs? Ah, man, they´re not going to fire the coach, are they? Go D backs, that´s what I´m talking about! Is ASU Baseball still doing good? (Henry gave Jeff an update on the AZ teams.)

We had transfer calls last night, and me and Elder Clase are staying together, and Elder McBride is staying here too, so we will be in the same district for one more transfer, how sweet!

Things are going great with money, the only thing is that many times, I don´t have mission money on my mission card because it is all taken with package charges, so I have to pull out my own money alot, and that´s why I have all of those charges on my card. (We saw several charges in a row on Jeff's personal debit card over the last few weeks so we checked with him to make sure he recognized them and to be sure that someone was not fraudulently charging on his account. Sounds like he recognizes them - that's a blessing!)

I am so grateful to have had so many righteous ancestors. In a journal from Grandma Brown I read the story that you told me about Mom. One day Grandma Brown got up and only had some flour to feed the kids, and they were very poor after Grandpa had died, so she didn´t have money to get the family more food. So, she sent the boys out to milk the cows and then she made some oatmeal for the kids and sent them to school. They didn´t have any more money. So, Grandma prayed. Grandma told Heavenly Father that she had tried to pay her tithing and keep the commandments the best that she could. Then, in faith, she got up and went on with the day, with nothing to feed the kids when they came home from school. Then, a man came knocking at the door and wanted to buy one of her cows! Wow, what faith she had, and how many people she never thought of in the Dominican Republic that have been affected by her faith. I am so grateful for her and hope that I can leave a legacy behind like that!

Love, Elder DeSpain

Monday, April 4, 2011

Conference was fantastic!

Hello! Conference was fantastic! We could go the Saturday Sessions if we had investigators going. The way that President said it to us during a conference, it sounded like we really had the choice to go, but luckily we had investigators in both sessions anyway, and we went to both. But nobody was allowed to go the Priesthood Session because it didn't get over until ten o'clock, so could you send me those talks please? That would be fantastic!

We had I think 13 investigators that had the opportunity to attend the conference, and the parents of the two families, Junior and Juana, and Kartel and Kenya were blessed to be able to attend the session where President Monson talked about the Temple and Eternal Marriage! What a blessing! They don't broadcast conference in our building.

We have to go to the stake center in a place called Gazcue to watch conference. It's in Spanish, but the Church broadcasts it in English and other languages depending on what channel you turn to on the TV, so the English elders go downstairs and watch it in English with a few other people who speak English. It's a big blessing! We are hoping that we can have the privilege of baptizing the family of Junior and Juana the 16th of April with their family, but we need to wait and see. They are going to pull out some money this week I think, and then The Lord is going to help them out through some other people so they can be married. The only thing is that that would mean that one of their daughters would only have been to church one time. I sent President an email about it, so we may still be able to get them all baptized the 16th. They really want to get baptized this day because Juana is having surgery later that week and wants to be baptized before that.

I have been asking around about Elder Richardson when he was here, but I haven't been able to run into someone who has showed me a picture of him yet. There's one member who's got a bunch of pictures, but there weren't any of him I don't think. I'm going to keep asking though. (Elder Richardson is now Brother Richardson, a young husband/father in our ward who served in Jeff's mission a few years ago. He (Brother Richardson) is a tender mercy in our lives! He lets me ask any questions I have about the area and tells me things about what Jeff is probably doing and seeing. We love that guy and are so grateful for him and his sweet wife in our ward!)

Well, today we are going to play basketball with Elder McBride and and some other elders and then go to a huge mall called Megacentro where they have Tacobell! We're going to take a picture of me and Elder McBride together so that we can match our moms when you and Elder McBride's Mom went to lunch together! (Elder McBride's mom and I are great friends. We served in a RS Presidency together when the boys were little. She and I met for lunch last Monday so it's fun that our sons are having lunch together this Monday - in another country!) My ankle is doing great, I haven't had any problems with it (knock on wood, we're playing ball today). But don't worry Mom, I brought my brace to wear. A little bit of sports medicine knowledge for you that Mr Hayward the training coach (tell him hi for me and Go Hawks!) told us is that once you sprain something like an ankle like I did, it's never 100 percent again, so it will always be a little bit different, but I can hardly even notice it. It's only when I go hiking and stuff that I can feel it. (One year ago our family went on a trip to Nauvoo. Jeff sprained his ankle pretty badly the night before we flew out. We were reminiscing about that trip yesterday which made us think of his injury and trip to the hospital. We wondered how it is holding up with all the walking that Jeff does. Sounds like it is doing well!)

Dad's package hasn't gotten here yet, but Grandma´s sure did! Haha, thanks Grandma! We love the food! I'm sure that Dad's package está en camino, that means on the way. I love you all so much, thank you so much for your love, support, and patience with me in my life. You all have been a big influence on me in my life!

I loved the words yesterday in one of the talks, I can't remember who, but they talked about how the night is darkest just before the dawn. That sometimes some of our hardest trials are just before our biggest triumphs, the highest points of our lives. I loved that talk. It's just like the football analogy I used a few weeks ago of the running back that gets stood up. His highest moment of opposition can be right before his highest triumphs. When he's driving his feet, being stood up by a pile of defenders, it can sometimes feel like he's not making any progress, and sometimes he is even driven back. But I can promise you that it's all worth it when he gets into the endzone, when the team comes out victorious. Sometimes we have moments like that in our lives, where we just feel like we're giving it everything we've got, and that we're just not going anywhere, and we just don't know if we can go on. We just don't know when our trial will end, but in these times, if, like the runningback, we just keep moving our feet, I testify that the endzone is closer than you think. Remember who's pushing you and who's blocking for you, the very angels of Heaven. Jesus Christ can overcome that pile of defenders, and He is pushing you!

I love you all and thank you so much! The two pictures are from the bridge at the edge of our area. Our area is on the right hand side of the river. And that's some awesome food that we get to eat every day! (New pictures are on the blog!)

Love you! Elder DeSpain

P.S. We had interviews this week and President told me that you wrote him a letter asking if you could donate some money to the mission marriage fund. I guess I was wrong, haha, he said that there actually isn't a fund because it would be too hard for the president to do it, something about how sometimes there's a rich president, and sometimes there's a poor president. Haha, but he said thanks to you for offering.