Monday, May 30, 2011

First Week In Aruba . . .

The plane ride down was good, I was with another missionary, and we flew down to an island called Saint Martin first, but they wouldn't let us off the plane there, so we just had to stay on the plane until it was ready to go again and fly on to the next island. Then we flew to Curacao, and the other missionary was staying there, that is his new area, so I flew to Aruba by myself!!!! It was on a tiny plane too!!! It only held like 12ish passengers!!! I could see the pilot of the plane the whole time, it was an open cockpit!!! I got here about 8 30 pm, and then I had to go through customs (they almost stopped me for bringing in some church folletos - we don't know what this word means yet, maybe pamphlets or books . . .), and I met up with the two other missionaries, Elder Hall, and Elder Lecheminant. Elder Lecheminant is my companion. He was an AP, and I'm going to send him home too, I'm getting good at that. Oh, by the way, this is really random, but you asked me a long time ago if I knew Elder Shattuck and Elder Garity, both good guys, I know them both. So, Elder Hall left on Wednesday morning, and now me and Elder Lecheminant are the only two elders on the whole island of Aruba!!!!! It's so sweet! We went on a bike ride this morning on the coast on the north shore, it was unreal!!!! But, I forgot my camera, so I will have to take pics next week. And I forgot to bring my camera cord with me to email. So now I can't send any pics this week, but next week I will.

Kartel and Kenya and their son got baptized on me and Elder Clase's last Saturday together!!! It was awesome, President Antivilo came too!!! Alex didn't show up, so he didn't get baptized, but that's alright, we were still very blessed! I think I was able to get a picture of that baptism. I'll have to send it next week. Not for sure why La Cienaga got whitewashed, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to come out here!

We live on a part of the island called Tanki Leender. There are actually two branches of the Church here, one in the north part, and it's a Spanish branch (even though they have their own language in the islands, it's called Papiamento), and they have an English branch down in San Nicolas. It's way cool, from there you can see Venezuela some times. In fact, if Kyle served in the right mission in Venezuela, these islands were part of his mission. It looks like there are two missions in Venezuela, so I'm not sure which one Kyle served in.

We have District meeting with the two elders on Curacao There are only two missionaries there too. We have to have the meeting through a web cam. We may be the only missionaries in the world that get to have district meeting on a web cam! Funny enough, we actually have to leave the country every 90 days, so usually when President comes down he rotates which island he goes to and then we take turns flying into each other’s islands. Like one time we go to Curacao, and then next time the Curacao elders come here to Aruba. That way we leave the island and then we fly back again and we get 90 new days, its sweet!

Just so that you know too, the island Bonaire is also part of this mission, but there is only a senior couple on that island. They're actually from Phoenix!!! So there are only four missionaries (elders) total in the islands, two here, and two in Curacao. It is such a privilege to get the opportunity to serve here!

We do actually have air conditioning and an amazing house! We have so much stuff here! We usually only use the air conditioning at night, but it still rocks! (We heard through Elder McBride that Jeff might actually have air conditioning, and possibly a vehicle to get around in. So we asked him about all of that.)

It really is like Arizona with a beach here, there is cactus and prairie grass here. It is sweet!

Elder Lecheminant is really cool. He is way chill, and he will actually be finishing his mission next transfer, so I will send him home too just like Elder Clase. (I'm getting really good at being the companion of a missionary who is about to go home!). When I got here, there was still the other missionary before me here too, so we had a trio for a day, but he left on Wednesday morning. His name is Elder Hall. Elder Lecheminant only came here one transfer before me, so we're both trying to learn Papiamento, but he knows way more than I do.

This is crazy but we actually have two cars! Haha, go figure. What happened is that there was another set of missionaries on the island in the past, and they got pulled out, so now it's just us and we have their stuff, so there's an extra car. We usually only drive a certain one though, but it's sweet!

There's no Walmart here, but there is Pricemart, and it's like Costco, and there's supermarkets and everything, I'm loving it! So we can get most of what we need here.

If you want to write me a letter, it will probably work better just to ship it directly to here. Here is my address:

Tanki Leendert 277 B #10
Aruba, The Dutch Caribbean

It's still fine to send me a letter the old way, the only thing is that there's a chance I might not get it for six weeks or more, because I'm pretty sure that I will only get those letters when President brings them down with him once each transfer.

Wow, thanks so much Mom, I really appreciate that. (We emailed the mission home to ask about the best way to get packages to Jeff while he is serving in the islands. The Mission President’s wife emailed some info. to us and she included some sweet comments about Jeff so I passed those on to him.) I am so grateful for the unbelievable privilege that I have to serve here on Aruba. That little blond haired kid that heard the Beach Boys Song about Aruba never even dreamed of being a missionary here. I am unbelievably blessed here.

I got to give a talk yesterday in the English Branch down in San Nicolas, and there was a returned missionary there, with his wife, and there was a couple from San Antonio who is going to move here to work at the oil refinery. The company Valero has a refinery here. It is sweet! BTW, before I go, I just wanted to tell you that I saw a picture of Tennery Martineau here from when she came with her dad as the Mission President! (Tennery Martineau is a friend of Jeff’s from High School. She missed her Senior year at Highland because her dad was called as a Mission President and she went with her parents to the mission field. We admire her for doing that!)

I love you so much! I would love to write more, but my time's up, I love you!!!!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, May 23, 2011

Transferred To Aruba!


I'm getting transferred to the island of Aruba! I'm going to be companions with one of the old assistants, named Elder LeCheminant!!! He's from Alaska! I'm so sorry, I'm not going to have time to write much, I'm going to be flying all day. We are going to be the only two missionaries on the island there! I'm flying out this afternoon sometime. I love you all so much and I am sooooo excited to be heading out to Aruba!!!!! Wow, I haven't been able to stop singing that beach boys song about Aruba since President called me yesterday!!! Thanks so much and I love you! I'm really sorry but I don't think that I'm going to have more time on the computer today because I'm not flying in down there until like 8:30 their time. Thanks so much and if I don't get the chance to write you until next week I love you! I'll try to answer all of your questions next week!


Elder DeSpain

Monday, May 16, 2011

Almost Missed The Letter Today . . .


I´m sorry about this morning, we logged off at a half hour and now we’re using the other half hour so that I can write to you! I hope that’s alright, but I think it is. (When I went to the computer to send our email to Jeff this morning, he had just sent a very short email to us saying that he was at the Internet place early today. I hurried and sent our letter hoping he would still be on the computer and be able to read it. We didn’t hear anything more from him for six hours so I felt sick because I was afraid we had missed getting our letter to him today – but – tender mercy for me– he only used half of his internet time this morning and got to use the other half to read our letter and reply to us this afternoon! I was so, so grateful to see his email this afternoon!)

It was a huge blessing for me to be able to talk to you too! It was so nice and such a blessing!

Elder Clase is almost done, he only has one week left! He’s still working hard, but I can tell he’s ready to go home, haha. So by the time that I talk to you next week, I think that I should know who my new companion will be!

We had zone conference on Thursday, and Elder Clase talked to President, and the mission helped out with Kartel and Kenya, because they got a little bit of money themselves, and then the mission helped out with some and the branch too! They are going to get married on Wednesday and then baptized on Saturday! What a miracle! I cannot believe how blessed we have been this transfer! If everything goes good we will have been a part of the baptism of two families, and I can’t wait for in a year when they both get sealed in the Temple! That will truly be a dream come true! We have been unbelievably blessed this transfer! Elder McBride and Elder Miller came over yesterday and did the interview for Alex, so he is good to go too! He will be baptized this Saturday as well with Kartel and Kenya and two of their children. Maris actually went to the river instead of going to church yesterday, so we’re going to have to keep working with her and try to work with her little brother who isn’t a member either. It would be sweet to complete their family so they can all be baptized members of the Church!

Wow, I can’t believe that picture got back to me! (Elder McBride’s mom put a picture on his blog that had Jeff and Elder McBride and some other elders in it using this make-shift grill on a concrete floor to grill hamburgers. I attached it to my email this week and asked Jeff to tell us what all was going on in that picture. I got permission from Elder McBride’s mom to post it on Jeff’s blog also.) That’s from a couple of P-days ago We were playing basketball, and then it started to rain, so we started playing volleyball in the rain, we have to use the time we have, haha! Then, this is underneath some chairs at the church in my old area, we were having a barbecue, but here we were cooking over hot coals and we were trying to dry out too. The elder sitting next to me is actually a football player at Snow College in Utah. The elder sitting right in front of the camera who you can only see the back of his head is named Elder Carrol, and he went to Mesa High and is also the only other elder in the mission that I know of that went to ASU! He knows Trent Lewis too!

Well, we are doing great here in La Cienaga, this has been one the best transfers of my mission. I still can’t believe that we have been part of helping two families be baptized in one transfer. It is such a blessing, and it will be a dream come true when I get to go to the temple with them. I seem to grow a little bit every week. I think that many times spiritual growth comes without us noticing it. In my studies this week I’ve found that the Book of Mormon really highlights three traits, faith, hope, and charity. That was something that I had never recognized before, but those seem to be huge characteristics in our Eternal journey. It really has been amazing to me to see how the Plan of Heavenly Father works, how really, the real happiness in this life comes from making someone else happy, from having charity. That has been a very interesting yet simple Gospel truth for me. It’s like the Lord’s medicine for us it seems, when we are struggling, it seems like what can help us is thinking about someone else, putting their needs before our own. I am so grateful for the Gospel and it’s blessing and guidance in my life. It truly is the only way to be happy in this life, and there is no other way to find happiness!

I love you all and thanks for all that you do for me!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wonderful, Wonderful Mothers Day Call!

Saludos querido familia y amigos!

It was so awesome to be able to talk to you yesterday! It was such a blessing to be able to talk to you and get to hear how things are going there! It sounds like you are doing great. That is such a blessing from the Lord that we could talk on the phone!

Things here are good! Kartel and Kenya actually told us that they were going to get some money today! He said that he was going to borrow some from a friend, which makes me a little nervous, especially when the Church teaches us not to go into debt, but I think that everything will be alright. Also, Miguel and Brijida are selling a big speaker that they have (those are super popular here because they listen to their music waaaay too loud here) to get some money also, so we’re hoping that they’re going to use some of that at least to put toward their marriage! That would be a true miracle! That would mean, in a perfect world, that Miguel and Brijida and Kartel and Kenya would both get married this week and they could both get baptized before Elder Clase leaves! We’re going to see, but we’re hoping that at least Kartel and Kenya can get baptized and confirmed the last Sunday in Elder Clase’s mission! That would be sweet!

We set two more fechas this week! There is a 19 year old guy named Alex who is living with a member in our branch, and we set a fecha with him this week, and there is a part member family that has a 19 year old girl named Maris that now has a fecha. Alex is only like 9 days younger than me actually, his birthday is the 14th of July I think!

We are receiving so many blessings from the Lord! The members have been bringing friends to church, and that helps us find new people so much faster! It’s awesome how this branch works!

Elder Clase is getting really close to going home, but he’s doing good! He’s still working great, and he is finishing pretty strong! When he goes back home, I think that he’s going to go to school, but he doesn’t really know what he’s going to do work wise. He really wants to buy a house as soon as possible though, haha, he has told me that several times.

Thanks Mom, I’m really grateful to have come from a family and parents and friends who made me what I am. I truly came from the best place in the world. I have been blessed with countless blessings, and I wish I would take some more time to count them every day.

I love the words that I had the privilege of hearing one time from Jeffrey R. Holland. I once saw a clip from a powerful talk that he gave about trials. He told a story about how when he was a young father with a wife and a couple little kids, their little family had to move to the midwest or back east somewhere for a few years, so they loaded up the family and started out on their journey across America. I don’t think they got very far before their car broke down, and they were stranded in the middle of nowhere. So, Elder Holland got out of the car and started walking back towards the nearest town. He had to walk for a few miles before he ran into an old farmer or someone who had a car and could help him get his car back into town so that they could get it fixed. So, they got back to town and got the car fixed and headed out again. Then, Elder Holland said that when they got to the same part of the road where they had broken down before, again the car broke down! So, a worried young Elder Holland again left his worried wife and two little kids and started walking back down that same road until I believe he ran into the same man, who again then had to give him a ride back to help bring the car into town again to get it fixed. Elder Holland told the story of how recently he had passed by that very same spot on the road while driving with his wife, thirty years later. He said something to the effect of how for a moment on that road, he thought about that day in his life, that trial, that difficulty, and how discouraged he felt then, and for a moment, he saw himself as that young man, walking alone down the side of that road. And then he said something that affected me greatly. He said, Don’t you stop walking boy. There is happiness ahead of you and thirty years of it! He finally could see the other end of that trial. He finally could see the prize that had been awaiting that worried young father walking alone down that old highway. It struck me that we’re all like that. If we will just stick with it, then someday we will look back and see the reward that we received for pressing on. I testify that the day will come when we will rest from our trials, the prize will come, the happiness, the peace, whatever it may be that we’re waiting for, it will come. But when the trials come, we have to tell ourselves, don’t stop walking boy. Those years of happiness are awaiting all of us too, we just have to keep walking. Just like the running back that hits the pile, we have to keep moving our feet. I always have loved that quote of Elder Holland’s ever since I heard it and I pray that it can be a strength to us all as we go through our own trials.

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

Elder DeSpain

P.S. I don’t know if I’ve sent these to you, but I attached a couple pics from when Junior and Juana got married. I got to be a witness and sign their papers! (Picture is on the blog!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Mother's Day Call Is Just Around The Corner!


Before I forget, I didn`t even know that Mother`s Day was this week, but luckily the other missionaries told me, and so we’re pretty much going to do the same thing as last time. I need you to figure out the time difference and then call me at 9 PM my time. We are using the cell phone again. I volunteered to go first, and then Elder Clase will go after me, but his call is easier because he’s calling in the country. What I told him was that I would go from 9:00 until 9:45, so we’ll go with that. President didn’t say anything about the Mother’s Day phone calls in his email this week, but that’s what we’ve got for right now. Should be pretty much the same as the Christmas call.

We did get to have two more baptisms and confirmations this last week, Maria De Los Angeles and Fran got baptized and confirmed (picture on the blog). But unfortunately Lidia didn’t come this Sunday to get confirmed after being baptized last Sunday, so we went by there to see what was up and it looks like she was sick with a headache. But we taught her some more, and are hoping that she makes it this Sunday.

Kartel and Kenya are doing much better now, the only thing holding them up at this point and also Miguel and Brijida is money. They got their checks, but they just didn’t have anything. Kartel had to pay for some medicine for his mom and Miguel just doesn’t have anything, I think they don’t eat sometimes because they just don’t have any money. So, we’re still waiting and praying with them, but The Lord has a plan for them just as He does for everyone else.

We are doing good. We had a lot of people in Church yesterday, and some who can have a baptismal date, so we will hopefully be putting some baptismal dates this week.

Ya, the Holy Week was pretty crazy down here, but things are always a little out of order in our area. The whole area that I’ve worked in here my whole mission is just really poor, some of the poorest area in the country, so it’s always interesting.

I attached several photos this time around because the computer will let me now. The first one is of the three statues that Brother Richardson was talking to you about Mom. I went there when I was with Elder Clayton around the first of the year. The next one is of the Baptism of Junior and Juana, followed by the baptism of Lidia, followed by the baptism of Maria De Los Angeles and Fran. Elder Clase and I have been unbelievably blessed in our time together here.

Things are going good here in La Cienaga. It seems that every week I see a tender mercy of the Lord in my life, a miracle. But the thing is, I never recognize it usually. It’s amazing how the Lord works in our lives, He works miracles, but sometimes we don’t quite recognize them until we look back. I love you all and keep up the good work and take a look back in your lives and I’ll bet you’ll see the Lord’s hand!

Elder DeSpain