Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bon tardi, Buenas tardes, Good Afternoon,
It was another fantastic week.  I am truly loving it here in the office.  It's just like you said Mom, it has been right up my alley.  It's amazing to see how the Lord shapes us in our life so that we can fit into the mold of what He needs us to do in His vineyard.  This has been a wonderful calling for me.

Thanksgiving was great!  I can't wait to be back on Thanksgiving next year and ride the bikes with you guys again.  I was thinking about that while I was here.  Here we had District meeting and then went to Outback and then it was a pretty normal day.  But get this, one of the sisters here is from Fort Thomas, and she is actually sharing our area with us right now!  She said that she had been to the Thanksgiving dinner in Fort Thomas too!  So it was cool to know that there was one other person missing out on the very same thing that I was, but I did great, it really helps being in the office.  Her name is Sister Ward.  Darleen actually knows her, haha.
Things are still good with Jonathan.  We got him interviewed on Thanksgiving, and he is good to go for baptism this week on Saturday.  That is a huge blessing from the Lord, because alot of times because of office things we are unable to work in the area as much, but He has blessed us to be able to help Jonathan come unto Christ through it all.  Jonathan is actually a really cool story.  I guess that the missionaries found him while my companion Elder Ellis was on an exchange with the missionaries from the MTC here in Santo Domingo.  I guess in Gazcue, my new area, we get to do exchanges with them twice a transfer.  That will be sweet!
Wow, you saw Sister Payne?  That is so awesome!!  You have to tell her hi for me.  That is awesome.  (We ran into Sister Darlene Payne this past weekend at a wedding reception.  She was Jeff's Primary teacher in our old ward when he was about seven or eight years old . . . so a long time ago.  The first thing she asked us about was how Jeff was doing.  She asked us to tell him hi for her and let him know that she will pray for him.  Wow!  That's an awesome Primary teacher!  She was so good to him way back then and continues to show love and concern for him even now, after all these years!  I want to be that kind of Primary teacher!)
I'm really sorry but I pulled out more money today from my personal debit card.  It got me some really cool stuff at the Haitian market and some money to buy fabric to make a shirt and make pants.  I'm going to make two pairs of pants and one shirt, so if you haven't been able to get those yet for my package, don't worry about it, but if you did, even better, and I'm really sorry I made you pay for four pairs instead of just two.  Also, I would love all of the Church movies that you can send me.  It doesn't matter what it's about as long as the Church's symbol is on the back, that just means that it was made by the church.  Especially the Doctrine and Covenant's and Church History DVD Pack (it's big, like three or four DVDs), it has the Joseph Smith movie from the Visitor's Center on it, but we can't get it in English here, so it would be awesome if you could send it to me, but if you can't find it, don't worry about it.
Other than that I think that everything is good, I've got everything I need.  I am so grateful for the blessings I have received from the Lord, He truly has blessed me more than I ever could have imagined.
I also have received a couple of letters, some of which got sent to Aruba before I got transferred, and they have to try to send them back to me in the DR now, so I am very sorry for people who have written me and I haven't gotten back to.  With our office responsibilities and trying to cover our area, I have hardly any time to hand write letters to mail out like I did before, so I'm going to email those people back instead of writing out the letter, so I apologize!
Other than that, I think that everything is good here.  Every week, it is amazing to look back and see how far I have come since I left a year and some months ago and headed out on the next adventure of my life.  Now I'm a little bit older, a little bit bigger, a little bit balder, but most importantly now I can tell you without a doubt that I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, I know that He lives, I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father with a perfect plan for us.  I know that Joseph Smith was and is a true Prophet, and I know that we have a living Prophet today named Thomas S. Monson.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and that a man will get closer to Him by living its precepts than by those of any other book.  I know that the Savior walks with us each step of our day, even if we don't feel like it sometimes, and I know that He can heal us from whatever trial life may send our way.  How grateful I am for this Gospel.
I love you all and hope that you have a great week, I'll have to try to attach some pictures another day when I have my camera, sorry I left it at home.  And tell Dad that we live on the street directly adjacent to the Church, about 200 feet down the road.  (Henry likes to use Google Earth to try to figure out where Jeff is in each area he serves in.  He's very good at it!  It's our version of "Where's Waldo" except our version would be called "Where in the world is Elder DeSpain?")
Elder DeSpain

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Full Week In The Office

Bon Tardi famianan i amigonan!

We had a great P-Day today!  The BYU baseball team is here in the DR for a week, and today they played the Yankees minor league team here in the DR.  We got to go!!  It was sweet!!  And, I guess by NCAA rule, it counts for BYU's overall record, and it was their first game of the year, what an opportunity!  I finally got to see a game here!  It was sweet, BYU ended up coming back and winning 6-3.  I met a lot of people there from Arizona.  No one that I had met before, but it was way neat!!  And, the starting shortstop for BYU served his mission in Aruba, so it was really cool to talk to him and talk about the people that we both knew from Aruba.  It was awesome!  And, the whole BYU team took a picture with the missionaries, it was sweet!  One of the coaches wives is going to send the picture to you in an email.  Luckily I got one of the kids to give me a ball after the game too, so that was legit too!

Days can be kind of hard to predict here, haha.  We do alot of different things.  We are in charge of most of the financial aspects of the mission, everything from plane tickets for Curacao to go to Aruba, to paying for the food for zone conference.  I was surprised by how much we actually have responsibility for.  So, after this transfer, I will be in charge of the financial things, and then my companion will be in charge of the houses and the cell phones, and then that will be for the most part it.  There is a senior couple here named the Eickbush's, and they do a lot of work here as well, and then there are 2 APs, and that's it, haha.  Right now we're being trained, so there are more missionaries here than normal, but after this transfer there will be a few less.

Jonathan is a single young Haitian guy.  He is way cool, he brought a friend to church this week!  (Jeff mentioned last week the name of Jonathan, a man who is planning to be baptized in early December.  We asked how things were going for him and wanted to learn more about him.) 

I did finally get to meet the Lees in person this week.  They are wonderful people.  They just flew out for Bonaire again today.
There are quite a few elders in my zone right now from Arizona.  Both of the zone leaders are from AZ. They're both really good guys.  One of them is named Elder Sunderhaus, and he is from about Mckellips and Greenfield, something like that, and the other one is named Elder Williams, and he is from Show low.

Man, it hurts to hear that my boys lost again!  Man, I hope that they can win this week and make a bowl game and I hope that they keep Dennis Erickson!  (Henry keeps Jeff updated on the ASU teams and the Cardinals.  He would update him on the Suns . . . but oh yeah . . . THERE AREN'T ANY GAMES TO WATCH!  Sorry, we're a little bitter over here about not having any NBA basketball to watch!  Jeff was sad when Henry told him that ASU lost to UofA this past weekend.  It was a painful game to watch.  Bummer!)

As for the Christmas package, I really would just need money to be able to make up for all of the money that I spent over the last little while, haha.  It would be nice to have some cereal, and some more of the exact same pants that you just sent me.  I love them!! If you could send me one more pair of those, that would be awesome!  Other than that, not much, I don't need new shoes right now too bad.  Actually, one pair of missionary shoes like you sent me last time would be good, the back of one my shoes in one pair is wearing out.  But that is not a big problem. I could easily go the rest of my mission on the shoes that I have, just a little annoying sometimes.

Sorry, I'm really short on time, but other that that's about it.  I think that that is everything that I needed to say.  Our errands are usually pretty sweet, like going to banks and to Western Union, which are mostly in the West Mission, so it's a big privilege for us to get to go over there.  

I am more and more grateful for how far the Lord has helped me to come in my mission.  He has helped me through some really hard times, and He has really strengthened my testimony through it.  It's amazing to see the blessings that will come if I will just hang on and keep walking when trials come my way.  I truly have seen that blessings far greater than we can imagine come through sacrifices, and trails.  How grateful I am for the Lord's perfect plan, and for His love and care for me.

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

Elder DeSpain

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back In The Dominican Republic!

Bon Tardi di Santo Domingo!!  Buenas tardes de Santo Domingo!

We are doing fantastic here in Santo Domingo!  Things are better than I ever could have hoped for back here!  The flight out of Aruba went great, I flew to Curacao, and then I flew direct from there to Santo Domingo.  It was awesome landing in Santo Domingo, we had to descend through the clouds, it was absolutely amazing.  I flew in on Wednesday afternoon, and I showed the elders the Nashville Tribute Band CD, and we all haven't been able to stop listening to it since then.

So we come into the office everyday, Monday through Friday.  On Monday we do P-Day stuff when we want to though.  On Saturdays we have planning in the mornings, and then we just have a normal afternoon.  Every day we try to be out of the office by 3:30 in the afternoon and we go out and do normal missionary things until 9 like normal.  I have been loving it!!  It's such a blessing, because this will be great preparation for after my mission and give me great experience.  During the morning we get to run a lot of errands, those are pretty fun, we have to go all over to do them. 

So my new companion Elder Ellis was born in California, but he lives in Highland, UT now.  Besides the two of us there are two other elders who are in charge of the houses in the mission, they are Elder Linares, and he is training Elder DeLarosa to take his place.  So, after this transfer, I will be companions with Elder DeLarosa.  The assistants are Elder Mecham (also trained by Elder Blake, my trainer), and Elder Green, he is from England, the London South Mission actually, he is from the Bristol Stake if Kade ever served there.  It is awesome, I am loving it so far.

All of the office elders live together in the same apartment right by the office.  If you look up the mission office on Googlemaps, it's in Gazuce, and it's on the Bolivar almost where it crosses the Delgado.  We live on the street that goes directly south of the mission office, and it is the first apartment building on that road.

Wow, Sister Graham called you?  That is awesome!!  Wow, they were such good people.  It's amazing to see what a small world it is! (We received a call from a sweet sister named Sister Graham.  She and her husband live in CA.  They vacationed in Aruba last week and visited with Jeff and his companion at church that Sunday.  They asked Jeff where he was from and when he told them Gilbert AZ they told him their son was engaged to marry a girl from Gilbert AZ.  Jeff asked for the name of the girl and it is Rebecca Sellers, one of our dear friends!  I just attended her bridal shower last Saturday.  We love the Sellers family!  We were in the same ward with them for a couple of years a few years ago.  I was serving in YW at that time so I know Rebecca and her sister Elizabeth very well.  It was wonderful to talk with Sister Graham!  She has had two sons serve missions so she knew how much it would mean to us to get a call from someone who has been with our son!  She told me that he and his companion look great!  She said they look happy and healthy and that they are GREAT missionaries!  What a wonderful blessing to talk with her!)

Oh, I forgot to tell Dad, haha, the golf ball I sent in the package is special because it's from the Tierra Del Sol Golf course, the nicest one in Aruba, a good souvenir.  And I bought the flag a long time ago to put in my room and at my house some day, haha.

We were able to set a baptismal date with a man named Jonathan here in Gazcue for the first week of December, already receiving blessings from the Lord!  He actually lives in the Conde, you remember me telling you about that mom, the oldest road in this hemisphere?  That's part of my area now, haha, it's awesome!

I tried to attach a few pictures, a couple from the Aruba, and then a picture from the office, but I think it's of Elder Ellis, haha, and then also a picture of the Temple, we got to go by there on an errand.  (Henry will put the pictures on the blog later tonight.)

Things really are great here.  Elder Ellis and I are doing great together, and I'm grateful that he is so willing to help me learn the ropes here.  I got to meet the Lee's from Bonaire today!!!  They are the senior couple that were serving on Bonaire when I was in Aruba.  They said that Brother Lee's brother, Larry, lived there in their house in Gilbert before they did, so it might be that we lived in his brother's ward for a while, and then after we moved, this set of Lee's that are here in my mission moved in, we'll have to figure it out sometime.  (We do know Larry Lee and his wife Judy!  Jeff is correct, we were in their ward for a about 18 months when Jeff was a baby.)

I am so grateful for the Plan that the Lord has for me and for the knowledge that I have that the Lord is always with me and that I never have to be alone.  I truly know that He lives and that He knows every one of us, and that He is always walking beside us.

I love you!

Elder DeSpain

P.S.-Sorry about all of the transactions on the debit card, I'm getting settled into the DR again, so it will hopefully get better this week.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back To Santo Domingo!

Ami ta bai na e oficina pa sirbi manera e proximo financero!

First off mom, thanks, those are lessons that I will need for the rest of my life.

Well, I got a call last night from President Hernandez during night church here in Aruba, and he told me that I will be going back to Santo Domingo this transfer to serve in the mission office as the next financial office elder!!!  That actually means that I will be in charge of a lot of the finances for the mission, and most of the finances for the missionaries!!  What an opportunity, I am going to love that!!!  That was another huge blessing from the Lord!

Aruba really is a place that I loved, and I didn't want to leave it, but this will be a fantastic opportunity!  I will love to come back here throughout my life.  I am really excited now to go into the office, and that really helps me leave Aruba behind, and I think that that is just how the Lord plans it.  You do your time and do the best that you can, but then when your time comes, it's time to move on and look forward to other things.  I will never be able to thank the Lord for the unbelievable blessing and privilege, and the once in a lifetime opportunity that it was to be a missionary in Aruba.  I will forever have to show Him my gratitude for that.

So, I'm going into the office, and the area that I will serve in there is called Gazcue.  It's actually in the Santo Domingo Zone, the exact same zone I worked in for the first 6 transfers of mission before coming out here.  So get this, there are 16 transfers in a mission,  I spent my first 6 in Santo Domingo, then I spent my next 4 in Aruba, and that leaves me with exactly 6 transfers left, and it's possible that I spend them all in Santo Domingo.  That would mean that I spent 75% of my mission in the same zone, haha.  That will really be awesome to have been a part of that zone for so long and see so many miracles done in the same stake!  (Here zones are aligned with the stakes, so Santo Domingo is a stake too.)  My new companion will be Elder Ellis, he is great!  We will probably be in a triplet with Elder Leonares, the other office elder.  He is Dominican.

Victor was baptized on Saturday, it was sweet!!! I was privileged enough to be able to perform it, and then he was confirmed on Sunday.  What a great blessing from the Lord.  I am so grateful for all of the lives that I was able to be a part of here.  I will forever think of Aruba as paradise.  It truly was for me!
I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the baptism, so I had to attach one that I took of the beach earlier before the baptism.  It was pretty much dark by the time we did the baptism and got out of the water, so I'll have to get some of the other pictures from Elder Jensen.

So I am going to fly out on Wednesday in the morning.  Elder Holt (Jeff's first companion in the Provo MTC)will be the new district leader down here, he will do great, he is such a great missionary!  Elder Miller is coming down here, he is an awesome missionary also!  I served with him when he was companions with Elder McBride in Santo Domingo when I was there.  Great guy, and he and Elder Jensen will tear it up out here!

Another quick thing.  I would love it if you could add a couple more email addresses to the list of people that you forward my emails to weekly.  They are President Buckley, and the Chilton's, a young American couple who moved here recently.  I would love to keep in contact with them and have my emails go to them.   Thanks so much for the help!

I think that's about it, I sent off all of the Christmas items to you guys this morning, sorry, you'll have to figure out who's is who's when they get there.  Mom and Dad's are the two shirts in Papiamento, and then there should be a Dushi Yui shirt and a Del Sol shirt for each one of the brothers and sister.  Leah's is the V-neck one, haha.

We played golf today with President Buckley, it was awesome!!  So I attached a picture of that too.

It has been such an amazing experience to be out here serving a mission.  It has truly been an adventure, and now I get to go down the next path that this adventure takes me on.  It has been unbelievable the lessons that I have learned.  I truly have learned that we are going to have trials in our lives.  That's part of this life.  We all will have trials.  But if we will hang on for a little while and endure them well, then the Lord will bless us beyond anything that we could ever imagine and beyond anything we ever deserved.  I am living proof of that.  How grateful I am for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the guidance it is to me.  I know that Jesus Christ lives and that this is His church, and I know that He knows how we feel in times of trial, and I know that He personally will walk beside us during them.  How eternally grateful I am for His infinite love.
I love you all and can't wait to hear from you again!


Elder DeSpain

P.S.- Start sending everything to Santo Domingo like normal like you used to!