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.)