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!