Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas From The DR!

Bon Tradi di Santo Domingo,

It was great to be able to talk to you yesterday!  It has been so long since we had talked in person.  It was really nice that I could use the office phone too so that we could hear better and it was more comfortable.  It sounds like you are all really doing great back home!

The office is sweet, this week was probably by far the busiest week of my mission.  On Monday, we had a Christmas activity and then the finishing missionaries (the ones going home) stayed behind and we took them to their hotel eventually that evening.  That was a busy day, the entire mission was here for the activity, and we did a talent show, and the 6 office elders did a dance to "Let it Snow" and then a little thing to one of the songs on the Nashville Tribute Band CD, and it was great!  (This is the new CD we sent Jeff a few months back that he had been waiting for for over a year.  Sounds like they are putting it to good use!)  It was really funny.  I'm going to have to bring a copy of it home so that you all can see it.  (Jeff in a skit - we can hardly believe that happened and look forward to seeing the video!)  Then we went with the Assistants on Monday night to pick up a language advanced elder at the airport and didn't get back and in bed until 12 or 12:30 AM.  Then we had to wake up at about 2 AM and go and get the missionaries at their hotel, and then we took them to the airport and then went straight to the CCM (MTC in the DR) to pick up the new missionaries.  We had to go back again to pick up the rest, and then we had to go back to the hotel and pick up the other missionaries at the hotel.  We spent the whole day doing things, errands, presentations, all kinds of things, and then we went home.  Then Wednesday we were in the office until about 8 PM.  Then Thursday and Friday we were in the office from 8 or 9 in the morning until 9 PM at night, doing all kinds of different things trying to get different projects done and get some end of the year things done.  Then on Saturday we were out moving houses and doing things for the whole day, and then we got to eat at the Bishop's house for dinner, it was fantastic!  President let us eat with members on the 24th and 25th, we loved it!  Way busy week, but it was all good!  Lot's of blessings from the Lord.

I'm doing good here, loving my new assignment and seeing blessings from the Lord every day.  I have been blessed more than I ever could have imagined.  Thank you all for all that you do, and thank you for being such good examples to me!

I love you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wonderful, Hectic P-Day!

Hey family and friends,

I'm doing great, but there's almost no spare time today, so I don't know if I'm going to be able to write much.

Jonathan didn't come to Church, so we will have to keep working with him trying to help him be re-baptized, and then get confirmed.  He got a job, and that is what has made things so hard.  But, we've tried to explain everything to him, so he will just have to show his faith.

I think that should be everything.  I talked with Dad about the time for the Christmas call.  You call me at 12:00 PM your time, 3:00 PM my time if that's alright.  I love you bunches and am so sorry that I can't write more.  Today we had a Christmas Party and transfers, so it has been crazy!

Elder DeSpain
(Later, we received a little bit more.  It's below.)
Hey, I finally got the chance to sit down for a little while longer.  So there will also be a new AP coming in to be trained this transfer.  His name is Elder Jensen.  He is way cool, he is from my group that I came out with, so we were in the CCM together.  Kind of a random fact, his little brother played the boy Joseph Smith in a clip on the Porter Rockwell movie that we have at home when Joseph and Porter are walking together.  

Thanks Dad for the football update.  I cannot believe that my Cardinals won again!!! That is so awesome!!  Wow, what a season!  What about ASU?  How are the Suns looking this year?  Tell Grandma Weech thanks so much for me for sending me the sports section of the AZ Republic, that was such a treat to me and kind of a tender mercy to me!  I've been soaking that up because we don't get much of that at all!
(Henry asked what Jeff's responsibilities are with transfers.)  They have asked me a lot of different things that they needed to know about the islands.  We have had major problems with legal permission for missionaries to be in the islands, especially in Curacao, so I have been working with them and with the Church Lawyer and Curacao and Aruban Immigration personnel for the last six weeks on that issue.  For now, the permission in Curacao got taken down to 90 days, not sure why, and not even sure when, but that means that we will have to be sending a new missionary in and one out every single transfer.  My companion, Elder Ellis, is actually getting transferred there.    

For transfers, part of my responsibility is that I drive leaving elders (elders who have finished their mission) to the hotel where they stay the night and then in the morning at 2 AM we wake up and go and get them and then we take them to the airport to catch their flight home, and then we go to the MTC here and get the new missionaries!  It is sweet.  
Things are going great here in the office.  It is busy, but that is a good thing.  Things are great, I'm loving the jobs and responsibilities that I have, and I'm getting training while I'm at it.  I am so grateful to the Lord for the opportunities that He has given me in my mission.  It has been amazing!

Keep up the great work, I love you so much and can't wait to talk to you!

Elder DeSpain

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Temple Week!

Bon Tardi kerido Famia i amigonan,
Really sorry.  I forgot to tell you that it was Temple week this week so our P-Day was moved to Wednesday. 

So today I got to go the Temple.  Wow, it has been almost a year since the last time that I went because I was in the islands, but that was a huge blessing from the Lord, so I had to give up some other blessings in order to receive that one.  The Temple was great, there is always such a special Spirit there.  I am so grateful for that, and for that place where I can always go to escape the world.  It was awesome to be back!  I never recognized before my mission what a blessing it was to be able to go to the Temple whenever I wanted to.  I attached three pictures of us at the Temple. The people are all of the office elders, and then President is in some of them with his wife.  They are such good people, I love President and Sister Hernandez.  My companion is Elder Ellis who is to my side, and then the Dominican Elder on my other side is Elder De La Rosa, he will be my next companion, and then there is Elder Linares, the other office elder who was the companion of Elder Ellis and who is training Elder DelaRosa.  Then there is Sister Hernandez and President Hernandez, and then there are the Assistants.  The taller one is Elder Green (Way cool, from England, Kade's mission, the Bristol Stake) and the American one is Elder Mecham, who was actually trained by Elder Blake, just like me.  Great Temple day.

I have been speaking Papiamento a lot more than I ever thought that I would not being in the islands.  Every week it seems like I've been having to call down there and talk with somebody for something, and I talk to them in Papiamento.  It's been a bigger blessing from the Lord than I thought learning Papiamento, I'm still able to use it even in the office in Santo Domingo!

Jonathan got baptized on Saturday, but then he never came to Church on Sunday.  We called him twice and twice he told us that he would be there in fifteen minutes, but then he never came, so we are still trying to work with him to help him get confirmed this Sunday, otherwise he will have to get baptized again from what I understand.  But we'll just try our best and then the Lord will help us out with the rest. 

Things have been great in the office.  I am loving it so much.  This is such a blessing from the Lord.  This calling is something that I love to do and at the same time is preparing me for the future.  It's way busy, but that's a good thing.  I just hope that everything goes OK next week when I go solo and start having to do everything by myself.  But, I know that the Lord will help me out as long as I try my best.
Other than that everything is going good here.  I am so grateful for the blessings that the Lord has given me.  It is truly amazing to look back and see times of trial in my life, and how hard it was and sometimes how hopeless I felt, and then to see that it was followed by great blessings, and great times in my life.  Sometimes I wish that the younger, struggling me could have seen me during the times of blessing that came after my trials.  I know that we all have our times of trials and difficulties in our lives, and I know that sometimes we might even feel hopeless, and like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I have learned that the Lord knows what He is doing, and that He knows us perfectly, and that He always knows where we are, and perhaps most importantly, He always knows how we feel-personally.  And in my life, I have seen that if I'm going through trials, then that means that blessings are on the way, but sometimes I have to wait to receive them.  How grateful I am for my Heavenly Father's love, for His Wisdom, and for His perfect plan for each one of us, and for His Son who descended below all things and conquered all things.

I love you all and can't wait to talk to you!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, December 5, 2011

P-Day Lunch With Other AZ Elders!

Bon Tardi pa boso ku ta einan den Arizona!

It has been another great week here in the office.  Today we got to go to the central offices of the Church in the Caribbean in the morning, then we went to get some pants and a shirt made, and then we went to eat at a sweet restaurant called AdrianTropical!  It was sweet, it was right on the shore, and the food was awesome!I got to hang out with a bunch of the other Arizona Elders too.  Elder McGlothin was there, Elder Sunderhaus, and Elder Williams were all there, it was great!

I got to start driving the truck this week too, it is awesome, the truck is a stick shift!  It's the first time that I've driven stick, but it's been way fun.  Driving here is a way different experience.  Mom probably wouldn't like it very much.  It's literally like riding go-karts.  You have to honk at people all the time to let them know that you are there, and people drive all over the place and there are a lot of man hole covers missing in the street, so it is always interesting.  But the Lord is protecting us Mom, so don't worry.

(Jeff mentioned last week that in his new area they would be able to do exchanges with the missionaries in the DR MTC so we asked several questions about how that all works and he is answering them here.)  We haven't gotten to do any exchanges with the missionaries in the MTC yet, but I think they will happen this week and next week.  That should be way fun.  You are right, I never got to do splits with the missionaries in the field while I was in the MTC here, we only got to go the University, so it should be cool.  I believe that the missionaries we will be doing exchanges with are going to all of the missions that the DR MTC serves, not just this mission.

Jonathan didn't show up to his baptism.  It was kind of a bummer, but we went afterwards and found him at his house and he told us that his mom didn't want him to get baptized.  So, we talked with him, and he wanted more time, but we are hoping that he will still decide to get baptized this Saturday.  The sister missionaries in this area will be having a baptism this Saturday as well I believe, so we are hoping that that will help him to make the decision to do it this Saturday as well.

We moved our house.  Now we live directly down the street of the church, running east.  We live about a block and a half from there, right before the Parque de Independencia and another large building.  We live on the north side of the road, which is called the Bolivar, which is the same street that runs in front of the Church.  (Henry can hardly wait to get on Google Earth and see if he can find the new place!)  The house has a couple of things wrong with it, but really is an amazing house.  There is AC in the room where we sleep and we have hot water now!!  It is amazing.  Still can't drink it though.  That is annoying sometimes.  You can't drink water out of the tap here.

With the call for Christmas, it will probably be about the same thing as we did before.  I'm not exactly sure where we will do it though, so I might have to beep you from the phone that we are going to use and then you call me back.  It should be great!  (I'm trying not to be too anxious about getting the details for the Christmas call, but it's December now, so I figured that should be close enough that I could start asking about the details for that.  We are soooo looking forward to that call!) 
Thank you so much for everything!  I got a couple more letters, so I'm going to have to try to start working on writing back to those people.  I love you!

Elder DeSpain