Monday, February 27, 2012

Zone Conferences!

Bon Tardi!

This week was another good one, busy as well!

This week we got to do all of the zone conferences, one each day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  The ones on Wednesday and Thursday were here in Gazcue at the stake center right next to the mission office.  We are actually on the same property, so we just walk right out our door and upstairs into the chapel and we do the meetings there.  It's really convenient!  So me and Elder Delarosa each got to talk for about 10 minutes each on each day.  Then, the zone conference on Friday was in La Romana, and we were going to go originally and then move the stuff into the house in Quisqueya after the conference, but we ended up not being able to move the stuff because that would mean that we were coming back too late in the evening on Friday night.  But, we still got to go to the zone conference in La Romana (1.5-2 hours away), and we gave our little part of the program there too, and then afterwards we took some elders home with a washer that we brought out for them.  They live in a small town out in the countryside called Hato Mayor, which is actually about 1/2 or 3/4 of the way to Sabanah de la Mar where we went one time.  We got there, and their sink was broke in the bathroom.

Elder Delarosa took a look at their sink, and then it started squirting water out of the pipes beneath the sink, and then it got worse and worse until it started to shoot water out of the pipes and then we had to get the landlord and go with him to the store to buy a couple of pieces that he needed in order to be able to fix it.  Then, by the time we got out, it was already dark, haha, so we ended up coming back a little bit late anyway, haha.  Then, we went to Plaza Lama, a big supermarket in the West Mission, when we got back to Santo Domingo, and there we bought all of the things that we needed to take to the house in Quisqueya.  Then, on Saturday, we woke up and headed out to La Romana again, haha, this time to get the things that we needed to take to the house in Quisqueya.  So, we stopped by two areas there and then we headed back to Quisqueya, which is in a campo north of San Pedro, a town between Santo Domingo and La Romana.  We got there and unloaded the stuff and then headed into San Pedro to eat at Paco's Tacos!!!  I am always grateful when we get that opportunity.  This time I got a plate that came with steak, enchiladas, and refried beans.  It was fantastic!  The Lord has blessed me so much in the office, I have gotten to see the country as I had always wanted to, and eat some awesome Mexican food!  Then later, we headed back to Santo Domingo.

I should tell you that I have met Elder McKernan here in the mission.  He is in San Pedro right now.  He is from Steven Matthews' ward back in Phoenix!!!  Small world.  (Steve Matthews is one of the partners at MGKS.  He's been so good to our family over the years.  He took Jeff and Henry on his boat several times to water ski.)  I got to see Elder McKernan again on Friday and talk with him a little bit about Phoenix and the people that he knows from there.  What a small world!  

Things are going great for James, his baptismal date is set for this Saturday!  He is doing great, he got interviewed last week, and he is excited for his baptism this Saturday!  The other person with the baptismal date is named Noelia.  She is doing good, but I think that we are going to have to scoot her baptismal date back a couple of weeks because we are now only able to meet with her once a week.  But that is alright, it will just mean that we will switch our schedule around a little bit. 

Before I forget, I actually emailed Roger last week, my boss at ASU Stores, and he said to be sure to come in when I get home!!!  That will be sweet!  I am soooo grateful that the Lord helped me get that job again! That will be such a wonderful blessing!  The one thing that I need you to do is make sure to find out when the registration opening day is at ASU for the coming fall semester.  It should all be online, so I will be able to do it from here, I just need to know when it the opening date is.  Hopefully I can get a good class schedule.

I can't believe that Leah did a modeling show.  That is sweet!  Wow, haha.  So she is going to ASU?  Right on, I will always someone to go with finally, haha.
How are my teams doing?  I heard that All-Star weekend was last weekend, how are the Suns doing?  How about Highland, how are they doing?

I forgot to tell you, but now zone conferences are once every three transfers I believe.  And yes, I was with Elder Clayton for one transfer, and it was great!  (We asked Jeff about how the zone conferences work plus he told us last week that he met the other Elder DeSpain who serves in the West Mission and he happens to be the cousin of Jeff's second companion in the field, Elder Clayton!  Fun!)

I cannot believe that Jeremy is home!!  That is so crazy!  Wow.  Scott will be home before I know it, haha.  Crazy to think about.  (Jeff's good friend Jeremy Gardner returned home from his mission this past week and another good friend Scott Halbert will be returning next month.  Love to see those guys we love come home after serving the Lord so well for two years!)  

Oh, I am so so so so sorry, but when we were getting ready to go on Saturday, I dropped my camera on accident, and the clip on the flap on the bottom where the batteries go broke, and right now it is taped shut, but I will have to get a new one at some point I think.  I don't know if it's better for me to try to use it taped all the time.  I don't think it's going to work like that, because I think it turns off alot like that.  If you could send me a new one, that would be good, or I can try to pick one up here too, that will probably be the easiest.  I am so sorry, I have been horrible with my cameras on the mission, but at least this one lasted for a long time.

I love you all, and I thank you so much for all that you do for me and the wonderful examples that you set for me!


Elder DeSpain

P.S.  Please tell Grandma Joy that I got the CD she sent.  It's a good one.  Tell her thanks!

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Met The Other Elder DeSpain!

Bon nochi!

This was great week, another busy one.  We are starting the process of looking for new houses for the new missionaries that will be coming in in the next transfer, and we got to go out to a place called Quisqueya on Saturday, and then we got to go out to La Romana from there because we needed to look for some things that were in the house of the zone leaders there.  I love getting to be able to see all of the place that are here in the mission, that is a big blessing from the Lord.  We will also be getting to go back out to La Romana on Friday, and I think that we will be moving all of the things for the house in Quisqueya that day as well.  We are going out there in the first  place for Zone Conference.  I think that that will be in La Romana.  In this round of Zone Conferences, me and Elder De La Rosa get to talk a little bit.  We are going to give a little presentation or "refresher" so that we can be sure that everyone knows about the different procedures and rules that there are in the finances and housing department.  I'm excited, it should be fun!

The meeting with Bishop McMullin was great.  He gave a great talk on how we can find true happiness through reading the Book of Mormon.  I think that three of the zones from the West Mission were invited, so I got to see a lot of different elders that were in my same group in the MTC here in the DR who I spent six weeks with at the beginning of my mission.  That was awesome.  And, get this, I met the other Elder Despain (they spell theirs without capitalizing the S), who serves in the West Mission, and this is the crazy part, he is Elder Clayton's cousin!  His dad is Rob DeSpain, who I asked Dad to do the genealogy on.  I could not believe it.  I thought it was way cool that we are related!  I think that he must have like 6 months or so in the mission, and one of the elders who was in my group here in the MTC actually trained him, and he is from Arizona.  His name is Elder Jordan Holt.  He is a great guy, and he is a great missionary.  I also got to see the other elder from Arizona that was in my group in the MTC in the DR, his name is Elder Klein.  He went to Mountain View and Elder Holt went to Red Mountain. We were actually at some of the same ballgames and stuff before the mission without knowing it.  Small world!  

Everything here is going great.  We were able to set a baptismal date with James for the the 3rd of March.  He is a great guy, and he will be a great Priesthood holder.  We have several other people who we are teaching as well who are progressing, but the only other one who has a baptismal date right now is a girl that has been attending church with a friend who I believe is her cousin.  The girl with the baptismal date's name is Noelia.  She has been coming to church for like 4 months already, and she is doing well.  She has a baptismal date for the 10th of March.

This morning we were walking out the door to go play baseball when we got a call from the Mission President's Wife.  She needed us to go and help one of the sisters who was sick and in the hospital for the night last night.  It was actually Sister Ward from Ft. Thomas.  We share our area with her and her companion.  We went to the hospital and finished up paying for everything there and then we took them to get her medicine.  The first pharmacy didn't have the medicine she needed so we went to another one and they had it.  Then we took them back home.  She is doing great now.  By the time we were able to get them to their apartment it was already noon, but lucky for us there were still some elders playing basketball at the church.  We played some 4 on 4 basketball with them.  That was a way fun and a tender mercy of the Lord!  We also got to go to Pizza Hut for lunch and it was awesome, a great P-Day!  
Wow, I can't believe that Scott's team won the championship!  That is awesome, man, he sounds like he is tearing it up!  He is going to end up playing ball in high school.  It sounds like he's the player out of all of us.  That is awesome.  Is he still interested in playing basketball and baseball too?  I would tell him to play all of them that he can in Junior High, he sounds like he will tear it up.  (We told Jeff in our email this week that Scott's flag football team won the championship for his division this past Saturday!  Out of 22 teams his team came out on top!  Fun!  We knew Jeff would enjoy that!) 
Dad asked me what I think is one of the biggest lessons/personality changes that I have had in my life while I have been on my mission.  I think it is probably that of learning to be patient, diligent, and persistent in the Gospel.  I think that I have learned to really be patient and rely on the Lord and have faith in His Plan and trust Him when the times are hard and I just don't know why, or when my trials will end.  I have learned that if we just keep on pressing forward, whatever our trial may be, and however hopeless we may feel, that just as one of the Apostle's said in the past, "Sunday will come".  Everything will turn out for our good if we just trust in the Lord and keep on walking.  I know that He will keep His promises, He knows where we are, what we are going through, and how we feel, but sometimes I have learned that He helps us grow by not giving us what we want or are waiting for in the moment that we want it.  Sometimes He helps us even more by making us go a little farther or endure a little bit longer before we get our relief.  I am so grateful for His perfect Plan, Love, and direction in my life.  
I love you all, keep being good examples for everyone!

Elder DeSpain

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Scott!

Bon tardi!

E siman aki tabata hopi bon!  Haha, I have to try to keep practicing my papiamento.

This week was a good one, just another busy one!  Sorry that I couldn't write until Tuesday, we were pretty busy on Monday because we had Parque del Este.  But then too at the end of it Elder Green, one of the Assistants, got into a collision with one of the other elders at the end of the soccer game and hurt his shoulder a little bit.  So we were trying to take care of that for a little while on P-Day, and then we had to go and eat, and then it was already time to head out, so we had to email on Tuesday.  But Elder Green is fine now.  In fact, if you can ever find his mom or Elder Jensen's mom on the missionary moms website/list, it would be cool to be in contact with them.  Elder Green is sweet, and so is Elder Jenson, and we are with them a lot. It's a really good time and a great blessing from the Lord to be able to work together and live together.

Man, Scott's birthday is tomorrow!  Happy Birthday Bob!  Wow, for the next one, I'll actually be there!  That will be sweet.  Be sure to tell me where you went to eat buddy!  I hope you have a great day, and I love you!
Wow, I cannot believe that we have that many missionaries out from our ward now!  How many is it now?  I think I count 14, and with three more, that would make 17, wow!  (Henry sent Jeff a picture of the board on the wall by the Bishop's Office that has a plaque for each missionary that we have out serving from our ward.  We have 14 missionaries out right now and three more preparing to leave before Jeff gets home so right before he finishes his mission we should have 17 missionaries out from our ward at one time!  Crazy!)

I truly do love the opportunities that we get to do errands to get to go out to different areas and see different parts of the country here in the Dominican Republic, it really is a sweet deal and a great blessing from the Lord.  I love getting to see all of the different places!  This weekend, we will actually be going out to another campo place called Quisqueya.  It's actually kind of like the neighbor of Los Llanos out in the campo.  One companionship had been covering Los Llanos, Quisqueya, and Consuelo, another campo town that is out there.  Now they put missionaries in Los Llanos, and so now there is a companionship that covers Quisqeya and Consuelo.  One of the missionaries there is actually Elder LeSueur, who is from Arizona, he went to Westwood if I remember right.  
The Lord is really helping to get things organized and more efficient here in the finances part of the mission.  We are now going to start the process of getting gas credit cards for the mission vehicles and make it easier on everyone (especially the islands) to get gas.  Now the islands won't have to call me to put gas money on their cards, and the assistants here won't need me to fill up their car all the time so that I can pay for it with the mission credit card.  Also, I am now going to start the process of setting up automatic payments called "area adjustments" so that I can assign an amount of money to specific areas of the mission and be able to give missionaries their "pasaje" which is basically like a bus fare (although I wouldn't really call those things buses as we think of them, haha) automatically by giving money to any missionary assigned to an area in a set amount that will be used for their bus fares.  Things are going well in the finance area and I am really being blessed by the Lord and loving the work that I am able to get done here in the office.

Jessica kind of told us that she doesn't really think that she's going to be interested in learning a lot more about the gospel, but that's fine, we found some new people this week, and they came to church.  James came again, and he is doing great!  He comes to church faithfully, and reads the Book of Mormon faithfully as well from what I have seen.  We hopefully could have some baptismal dates by the end of the week.

We had a visit from President Gonzalez of the Quorum of the Seventy on Saturday for all of the missionaries, it was sweet.  I actually offered the opening prayer, so I got to sit on the stand for the whole meeting because of that, haha.  There is another meeting on Saturday evening with Bishop McMullin, who is the Presiding Bishop if I remember right.  So that should be sweet too!

(Since Jeff gets to pick up the new missionaries as they come in to the DR we asked him how they look and how they seem when they arrive.)  The new missionaries that are coming in look great.  They really seem excited and pumped up and ready to go!  They all seem well prepared.

I attached a couple more pictures from our last campo trip when we went out to Higuey.  One is of either a country club or of the La Romana Airport, can't really remember, haha.  Sorry, none of them are very good.  I'm starting with my new memory card, so I'm going to try to send my old one home.

I am doing great here and being blessed by the Lord every day and every week.  I am so grateful for His perfect plan and His perfect love.  I will forever be indebted to Him for all the blessings that I have and have received.  I truly am blessed beyond measure.  I know that the Lord loves us and knows each one of us by our names, and that He sees divine potential in us, that we all have great worth to Him, and that He can work miracles through each one of us as we try our best to keep the commandments and to follow the example of His Son.

I love you all!

Elder DeSpain

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Parque del Este Time!

Bon Dia!

Wow, sorry, we were so busy yesterday that we didn´t get the chance to email!  We had the big get together yesterday called Parque del Este.  When we have that, we all go to a big park that's call the Parque del Este where they have all kinds of stadiums and fields from when the Dominican hosted the Pan American games in 2003.  We always go to the soccer stadium that they have there and all the missionaries serving in the capitol city come in and play a soccer and football game.  It was a huge treat for me to be able to play football again!  I hadn't played in so long.  In fact, I think that it's been about 10 months since I played in a football game, other than me and Elder Jensen throwing the ball around like we used to do in Aruba.  It was sweet, I had two touchdown catches, but other than that, I dropped most of the ones that I should have caught.

Transfers were busy, but a fun experience.  I love that experience of picking up new missionaries.  We got a couple of 45 minute naps that night, but other than that, we didn't get any sleep that night.  Haha, pretty crazy, but a good experience.  So, in this transfer, since the missionaries came in at night, we just stayed at the office until it was time to go and get them at the airport, and it's about a 30 minute drive, so we got there, and then we had to wait a little while for them to get through customs and security and everything, and they came down the red carpet, at least that's what it feels like, because here the arrivals terminal is set up so that you kind of feel like you're on exhibit at the zoo if you are arriving, haha.  There is a door after the security checkpoints and the customs desks that is the final door into the arrivals terminal, and when you walk out the door, there's just a make shift guard rail set up on each side and what seems like a million people on each side just staring at you when you walk out, and then you have to walk all the way down that "lane" until you get to the exit door of the airport, so it kind of feels like everybody is watching your every move, but luckily by the time that the Elders got there, there weren't many people left, so they didn't have to walk down the red carpet, haha.

We brought them back and stopped by and got some burgers from a place called Don Tato's, and then we brought them back to the office and we ate it there, and then we took them to a hotel to stay for the night.  It's not as nice as a hotel in the U.S., but it's pretty nice still.  Then, we had to go back to the office and then we finally got to go to the house, but by the time that we finally got to the house, it was about 2 AM and we had to be up at 3.  So we got a 45 minute nap, and then we got up and went and got the elders who were leaving and took them to the airport.  Then we came back and got another 45 minute nap, then it was time to go and pick up the new missionaries and bring them back to the office and they had their introduction meetings.  I got to do part of that introduction meeting and talk about the basic financial rules for the credit cards in the mission.  It's a pretty fun process.  Then, we went and picked up the food for the lunch for the meeting, and then after the meeting finished we helped missionaries in the office, and then we helped people start getting to their areas.  First, we called several taxis to for the missionaries who were going to be serving in the capitol, and then we took the elders who needed to go to the bus stops so that they could catch a bus to go out to the countryside, and then we took some other missionaries to houses that were newly being opened.  Then, we came back to the office and finished up some other work, and we didn't get in bed again until about 9 PM or so, haha, quite the experience, but definitely an enjoyable one.

Jessica wasn't able to make it to church yesterday, but we are still being blessed, we actually have switched areas with the sister missionaries and now we have an area that goes from the church (the road called the calle Delgado) to the border of the mission, the Maximo Gomez.  But we have also been given a couple of investigators from the sisters.  One is an awesome guy name James.  He is a Haitian guy I think, and he is doing great!  He is reading the Book of Mormon and he is attending church as well.  He is praying about being baptized, and we were able to teach him today, and I'm hoping that that helped him to see that he is more ready to be baptized than he thinks.  He wants to feel ready and moved upon to be baptized, which is great, I think that he will be able to show his faith and take the step.

We had our best "campo" trip yet this week.  We went out to Higuey, a town in the middle of the island way out by Bavaro almost, where Elder McBride served for a while.  It was sweet, we got to go through two major towns, called San Pedro and La Romana, which are both zones in the mission.  It was really cool, there was a lot of countryside, and in La Romana, we passed a couple resorts and even an airport!  Pretty sweet.  We got out to Higuey and brought the missionaries serving there a new fridge and worked on a stove that they had that needed to be fixed.  We also passed by a place in Higuey call the Basicala.  It is a gigantic Catholic building that is famous in the country for being a cathedral or something like that.  I will try to attach the best picture that I can in the email.  (New pictures are on the blog!)

Things in the office are going great, I really love the office and it is a great privilege to get to work here.  I get to do something that I love every day.  Things are getting better and better here too, it seems like the Lord is showing me more and more ways to streamline the financial system here and get things done even more efficiently.  

I feel like one of the most important lessons that I have learned on my mission is that the Lord will pull us through our trials, if we will just trust in Him, then He will carry us, even though it may not feel like it.  He will make us strong enough to meet our trials.  Many times in my mission I know that I have been carried through trials by the Savior, but I haven't been able to feel it - until later.  When I look back on some of the hard times in my mission, I can really now see the help and aid of the Lord, and how He molded me to be who He needs and wants me to be. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and I know that Jesus Christ made an eternal sacrifice in the which He truly descended below all things, so that He always knows where we are, and He can conquer whatever may come our way.  I am eternally grateful for His support, aid , and love.  

I love you all!

Elder DeSpain