Monday, January 30, 2012

Transfer Time Again!

Bon tardi/nochi,

This was another busy but successful week here in Santo Domingo.  We were busy all week in preparations for transfers which are tonight and tomorrow.  That means that I will probably not be sleeping much tonight, but it's all good, transfers are really fun.  The support payments from The Church didn't come on time so there are a lot of people calling me about that plus this transfer is a little bit interesting, because all of the American missionaries had to  stay back at the MTC in Provo for their whole nine weeks of training. They never got to come down the CCM (MTC) in the Dominican Republic, the CCM was too full!  So now all of those missionaries, which are about 15 or so I think, are flying straight from Salt Lake to Santo Domingo today, and then they are going to go straight into the mission, without ever being in the CCM.  Haha, pretty crazy.  I think that there must overall be more missionaries coming into the Caribbean area, because I think that the CCM is probably designed to accommodate anywhere from 60-80 missionaries, but there were so many missionaries coming that they couldn't all fit in the CCM, so that means that there was a large group of missionaries coming into the area.  We are going to have a fairly large number of missionaries coming into the mission this transfer, I think that there are like 23!  There aren't many missionaries who are leaving, so that means that the overall number of missionaries in the mission is going up, which means that new areas are being opened.  But really that just means that they are splitting some areas into two separate areas now, or are taking some areas which contained two areas before and making them into two separate areas again, and that is where we come in.  Elder Delarosa, my companion, is the one who has to do most of the setting up and talking with the landlords, but I help with the moves and when we have to go out and buy the things for the new houses.  So it was a fun week.

We got to go to two different campos this week!  One was Monte Plata (look it up on Googlemaps).  That was a pretty sweet trip.  We went directly north through a place called Villa Mella, then we went up through the countryside for a ways and the road turned east and eventually got to Monte Plata.  It's way up on the border of the mission.  That was pretty cool.  We got to go there to pay the branch president there because he paid for the hospital bills of an elder who is serving there.  Then we helped the Elders get the medicine that the sick Elder needed, and then we headed back a different way towards Santo Domingo.  We went down a brand new road called the Carratera Nueva, which I think basically means new freeway.  It was awesome, a super nice road, and we were just flying until we came up to a toll.  All we had was 2 American Dollars, we had spent all of our other physical cash getting the elder the medicine that he needed.  I still had those two dollars from the last time I flew, but the toll cost more than the two dollars, so all I could do was offer up a silent prayer to Heavenly Father and ask Him please to help everything work out, and overall, I felt that everything would work out.  We went up to the window, and they said that we couldn't go through with 2 American Dollars, so they told us to back up and park in a parking lot close by.  Then, a guard there came over and talked to us, and he said that he was going to work something out.  So, then we talked with one of the head guys that works there, and he pretty much said that we weren't going to be able to make it through with that little money. So, the guard went back and talked with the man at the toll window, but while he did, the head guy pulled out 200 pesos (which is about 5 bucks more or less, and the toll was 161 pesos) and said, here take this.  He paid the toll for us!  I felt really bad, and it was a little embarrassing, but the Lord provided us with a way to get through the toll, and He answered my prayer.  We were ready to turn around and go back to Monte Plata and go all the way back around to Santo Domingo the other way, but the Lord provided us with a way to get through, and we got to Santo Domingo in about 15 minutes.  I truly think that it was the Lord's Image that helped us get through.  We had told the guard that we were missionaries, and that we had spent all of the money on the medicine and hospital bills for the other missionaries, and later the guard told that to the boss, and later that boss gave us the toll money.  Truly the missionary badge and missionary attire helped us get through that toll.  It is a simple experience, but nonetheless true and proof that Heavenly Father does answer our prayers.

We got to go to Los Llanos again too to move the things into the house and get the contract from the lawyer there, and I think that we will get to go back one more time too.  I love it out there!  We also got to eat at Paco's Tacos again in San Pedro, a Mexican food place, and what a blessing it was for me!  I attached a picture of me and Elder Delarosa outside of it.  It was good!

Oh, before I forget, you are also going to see a charge on my debit card for like 70 bucks or something, more than 50 bucks, I pulled out money to have a Bishop in the Santiago Mission make me some sweet new scripture covers for my English scriptures.  They are going to have the Aruban Flag on one, and the Dominican Republic flag on the other one.  They should be sweet!

Wow, Scott, you had a great game buddy!  I never had a game like that in any of the sports that I have played.  Four interceptions buddy, I can't believe that I didn't get to see it!  Man, but you are doing great man, two touchdowns as well!  You got a pick-six bud!  That's so fantastic!  I can't wait to get to see you play again!  (Scott had his best football game yet - four interceptions and two touchdowns, so we shared that with Jeff!)

Things are going good in the area.  We are teaching some new people, and one lady, named Jessica came to church for the first time yesterday.  She is doing great and we will hopefully be able to help her progress pretty fast.  Jeremias actually moved out of town for a while because he got work in a different town, but that's alright, things like that happen.

Sorry, I've got to go!  I love you all so much and am so grateful for your example in my life.  Love you!

Elder DeSpain

P.S.- Pictures of the campo and of Paco’s Tacos (He sent four new pictures.  They will be on the blog tonight!  There is a fun one of Jeff and his companion outside of Paco's Taco's!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Very Busy Week!

Bon Tardi!

Sorry, today has been super busy, so there´s a chance that I might have to be kind of short with my email.  (We asked if his health was still good this week and if his "guide wire injuries" had healed up from the early morning jog a couple of weeks back.)  I am still feeling great, doing awesome!  I think what I had was just a little bug. Haha, I had forgotten about when I ran into the guide wire while I was jogging, I´m all better from that too!  In fact, now we are playing basketball in the mornings, so I am doing just great. 

This week was great, just another busy one.  We are in the process of getting all of the houses set up for the next transfer, and that is kind of an adventure.  We actually got to go out to another part of the campo (from what we understand this is the area outside the city which they call the countryside) on Saturday to a place called Los Llanos.  It was sweet.  We were looking for a house to rent there for missionaries to live in, and we had to look for about 8 hours before we finally found one and talked with the landlord in order to get it set up so that we can pay her and get the house set up there.  It was pretty sweet.  Interesting too, the Church there actually shares the property with another church, don't know that I've ever seen that before.  But all went well there, and then we got to eat some Mexican food at a place called Paco's Tacos.  It was great.  We are being blessed by the Lord greatly.  It has been a wonderful experience to get to see more of the Dominican Republic!  Unfortunately my camera batteries died, so we couldn't take any pictures, but we will have to go back out there later this week, so I'm hoping to be able to send you some after that trip.

Jeremias and Juan Carlos are doing good, the only thing now will be helping them to keep following through.  They are doing good, in fact Jeremias told us that he felt like he has received the answer that the church is true, it's just now a matter of helping them get to church every week and help them understand the importance of the Gospel.

I can officially tell you this now.  I had to wait for the call to be official first.  There is a couple that will be coming to the mission to serve as Temple workers named Diana and Dennis DeSpain.  I don't know for sure who they are or how we are related, but President asked me if we were related.  I figure that we are, it will just be a matter of figuring out what the relationship is, haha.  Wow, I can't believe that the Hawkins are coming down here!  That is crazy!  I have everything I need for right now, but thanks though!

Wow, that's sweet that Matt finally got his call!  Wow, tell him congratulations for me.  Man, I'm just going to miss him, that's too bad!  But that's how the Lord wants it then.  What about Zack, when does he leave?  Will I get a chance to see him?  That is crazy that everybody is going on missions, I can't believe how fast time is flying.  (Two of Jeff's friends Zack Smith and Matt Olsen got their calls recently.  Zack is going to Australia and Matt is going to Tennessee.  The crazy thing is that they submitted their papers on the same day, but if we understand correctly Zack received his call in two to three weeks but poor Matt waited five weeks!  We admire his patience!)

Other than that everything is good.  We are doing great and being blessed by the Lord.  I think that one of the biggest lessons that I have learned on my mission is that blessings come after trials.  If I can trust in the Lord and have enough faith to keep on pressing through when trials come my way, then the Lord will pull me through, and He will bless me when I'm on the other side of my trials.  I know that that is true for all of us.  I know that the Lord has a perfect plan for us and that He knows the trials that we are going through and the reason that we must go through them.  I am so grateful for His love, and for His perfect plan.

I love you all!

P.S.-  I attached several more pictures from when we went out to Sabanah de la Mar.  Also one of me driving, sorry if I repeated any of them.  (There will be a couple of new pictures on the blog later tonight!)

Elder DeSpain

Monday, January 16, 2012

Feeling Better!

Bon nochi di Santo Domingo,

I am feeling much better, in fact, completely normal, so no need to worry!  I am eating and functioning normally again.  In fact today I had a toasted sandwich and cheese fries, so I´m officially good!

Wow, I can´t believe that Alex is back already!   (Jeff's friend Alex Helvig just returned from his mission in Salt Lake City and was the companion speaker for our High Council speaker this past Sunday in our ward.)  That is crazy, and Emily is on her mission now, wow!  (Another friend Emily Williams just left on her mission last week!)  Zach is for sure going to Australia?  That is so awesome!  When does he leave.  (This is another friend of Jeff's, Zack Smith.)  I can´t believe that Matt still hasn´t received his call!  Man, I remember having to wait for mine too, it seemed like took forever!  (Another friend, Matt Olsen submitted his papers the same day as Zack.  Zack got his call at least 10 days ago and poor Matt is still waiting for his to come.  Jeff had to wait an extra long time also.  It's hard to be patient when you are ready to go!)

Jonathan actually came to church again yesterday, which is great!  He came with his friends too.  We actually were able to set a baptismal date with a couple new people that went to church already.  Their names are Jeremías and Juan Carlos.  They are good guys that really want to come unto Christ.  

This week was pretty good, just busy.  It seems like I can´t even remember all of the things that we have done every day by the time that I get back to the house.  We got to go to a place called Sabanah de la Mar.  It was amazing.  There were some gorgeous views there, and it was the countryside, we call it the campo here.  It was awesome.  And, when we were in Sabanah de la Mar, after we finished up, we went up to the coast that is right there in Sabanah de la Mar, and you could actually see all the way across the bay to the other peninsula that is in the northern part of the island where a lot of the tourist things are, and I took some pictures of it, so I will try to send them to you.  (They are on the blog.)  The peninsula is called Samana.  It was quite the view, spectacular.  It was about a 3 hour drive too, so it was sweet, I´ve never got to do anything like that before.

I´m sorry, we don't really get a normal p-day here in the office so I´m out of time, but I love you, and thanks for all that you do for me.

Elder DeSpain

Monday, January 9, 2012

Two Birthdays This Week!

Bon tardi!

First off, Happy Birthday Mom (tomorrow) and also to Todd!  Sorry, I have been so bad about that since I've been on my mission.  I hope that you both have great days and enjoy your birthdays.

I've been doing well here, just a little sick this last week.  I think it was just a virus combined with some things that I ate that might have made me sick.  But I'm doing good and I hope on the mend!

We were able to get the problem fixed with the water at our house.  What happened actually was that we had to have a "check" (at least that's what it's called in Spanish) valve replaced on the front and main waterline in the house, so a man came over and did it for us, but he had actually put it on backwards, and what a check valve does is let water go through in one direction, but keeps it from flowing back in the other direction.  So, ours was put on wrong so that we weren't getting any water let in from the main line to the house and it was only letter water out which meant that it was letting the water from our tinaco flow out of the pipes of the house and back into the main street lines, haha.  So, luckily a new man that the landlord hired came and fixed that for us, and now we're doing great, loving having water all of the time!  That's a great blessing from the Lord.

Yes, President lives in the West Mission, right next to the Temple.

We had to hand over the teaching of Jonathan to the sister missionaries who are serving here in Gazcue, and they are teaching him now because he is only available in the mornings, and we are never able to come in the mornings because we work in the office during the morning.  He came to church yesterday!  And he brought a couple of friends too, so hopefully he will be able to have a new baptismal date at some point.

We've been blessed with more success in the area, and a new man came to church yesterday with an investigator.  His name is Jeremiah, and he seems like a great guy with a great heart, so we are hoping to be able to set a baptismal date with him soon.

Man, I'm so glad that the Cardinals won, that means that had a .500 season.  That is fantastic for how they started.  I hope that next year that means that they will be ready to have a great season!  That's too bad about Brock Oswieler, did they say who would probably be the next quarterback?

Wow, Collin Montgomery is going to Africa?  That is so sweet!  I was going to ask you about Zack Smith and Matt Olsen, I heard that they put their papers in too.  

Wow, it sounds like Scott is tearing it up at football!  That is so sweet buddy, I can't wait to be at home again and watch you play!  And Todd, it sounds like you're quite the golfer buddy, that is sweet!  We'll have to go when I get back.  Leah, I'm so proud of you on getting your patriarchal blessing.  I know that you are a really special girl and daughter of your Heavenly Father.

Thank you all for all that you do and the great examples that you are to me.  I was blessed more than I ever could have deserved with the family and friends that I have, and with the wonderful place I was blessed to be able to grow up in.  I have been blessed to be able to see and learn from amazing examples in my life of people who are men and women of God.  I hope that while I am out here I am representing well those who have come before me.

I love you all!

Elder DeSpain

I attached a few pictures this time.  (Henry will put them on the blog tonight.) A couple are of a road that we travel on a lot that leads down the ocean, another one is of the three assistants.  There is Elder Green, Elder Jensen, and Elder Mecham, the only one that you haven't seen before is Elder Jensen (see if you can figure out who he is).  And the other is picture of when I ran into the guide wire last week when we went out on an early morning run, haha.  Don't worry Mom, I am completely fine and completely healed, just thought it would be funny to send home.  I love you!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Felis aña nobo!

Happy New Year!  I cannot believe that it is 2012!   Wow, time is really flying.  New Years went great for us here, I mean, we didn't get robbed, so what more could you ask for?  Haha, just kidding it was great!  We were supposed to be in the house at 8:30, so we came in a half our early and then the bishop's wife made us a chicken and all 5 of us who were in the house got to share it.  It was awesome!   I felt kind of bad because we went to the Bishop's house on New Year's Eve to give them a letter that one of the missionaries who was previously serving here left for them, and then his wife invited us in and talked to us about their plans for New Years Eve, but then she asked us how many Elders lived in our house and then she started crying, and she said that she was going to give us the chicken that would normally be for her son, Eddy, but he is on a mission.  So she had a friend bring it to our house after we were home and we got to have chicken, it was a great blessing from the Lord, and it was very nice of her to do that! 

This week was for the most part normal work in the office and in the area, just with New Year's thrown in.  Everything was normal except that we came in a half hour early on New Year's Eve.  When we first got there, we didn't have any water or any electricity, haha, but then luckily we got the electricity back so that we could see.  But, we were all in bed before the clock struck midnight.  I was pretty tired this week.  We've been having some problems in our house with the water, we've trying to get a tinaco (that's like a big tank) put up on top of the roof so that it will hold water and we will have water even when there is no water coming in from the main lines, but we've been having problems with it, every time we open it, it loses the water, haha.  We can't tell where it is getting out, but every time that we leave it open when we leave the house, we come back and it is empty, so we're still trying to find out what's happening there.  But President and his wife have been wonderful, they let us go over to their house and use their shower and wash our clothes there, and now we are getting pretty normal water from the main lines of the house, so we are doing well, just trying to finish up with the tinaco, and then we should be good with everything.

We are kind of starting over with the area.  There haven't been a whole lot of investigators, so we are mostly just doing contacts and asking for references to try to find new people.  We are progressing and doing well, now the next step will just be helping the new people get to church.  But the Lord will help us out as long as we do our best.

I didn't end up having to do a whole lot with end of the year stuff this week in the office, it was for the most part done, I just had to make one deposit to finish out the year.  I've also been working a lot with the senior couples because the Church is trying to get a new payment program set up for their housing.  I have got that for the most part taken care of though, just a couple things and then we should be all set up and switched over.

I am so jealous that you are in Pima today!!  Man, I really miss that place.  I can't wait to visit again.  Dad sent me a picture of the mountain, wow, it looks fantastic, and it looks like the boys took my bed at Grandma's house :).  (Henry sent a picture of Mt. Graham and also a picture of Todd and Scott sleeping on Grandma Joy's couch last night.)

Today we got to go bowling, and it was sweet!  I wasn't very good, the best I got was 100 in one game, not very good, haha, but a way fun experience.  More blessings from the Lord.

Did the Cardinals win and go 8-8? 

Everything is under control here.  I see more and more blessings from the Lord every week.  He has blessed me far more than I ever deserved.  I am so grateful for His infinite love and understanding.  He truly does know every one of us personally and loves us, and He sees something in us, He knows our potential.

Just FYI, we went out on a run today and we didn't get twenty feet before I ran face first into a support line off of a light pole, haha, probably shouldn't tell Mom, because I'm fine, just got a very minor headache, but nothing to keep me from going bowling today for P-Day.  It was dark and I couldn't see it, haha.  But I'm fine.  I'll try to send you a pic of my face, you can see the print of the wire across my face.
I love you all!  Keep up the great work and thanks for being who you are.

Elder DeSpain