Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dec 9/10 Letters

We panicked as parents when we did not receive a letter from Elder Sullivan on Monday, Dec 9th.  So we called the mission home and sent an email.  Here is the response we received from the Assistant to the Mission President, Elder Arana:

Brother and Sister Sullivan,

My name is Elder Arana and I am writing you to let you know that your son, Elder Sullivan is having a great time here on his mission. We would like to explain the reason as to why he was not able to email you guys yesterday. Yesterday we had our Christmas activity and we finished the activity at around 5 o'clock in the afternoon, so I am guessing that by the time he got to his area, it was time for him to end his P-Day and go out and work. We applaud his desire to keep the mission rules and dedicate himself to the Lord but we also understand your concern which is why we would like you to know that everything is fine and we assure you that next Monday you will receive pictures and a long email from Elder Sullivan about what has happened on his mission in these past two weeks. If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to write us at this email or call us at the numbers below. Thank you for everything and have a nice day.

Elder Arana y Elder Rincón 
Asistentes de la Misión Santo Domingo Oeste

Perhaps a few parents had sent messages because, the next day...  we received a letter.


So we had our christmas devotional for all missionaries in the capital yesterday, so we were given half an hour today to write. I hope you are all doing alright in spite of the cold of Canada.The weather is still hot here, however the nights have cooled down considerably I think. Or maybe I just cant stand the cold anymore haha. 

I am glad everyone is doing better and you all are having good times at home. Thank you for still partying and everything. By the way, that package you sent came last week on friday. I guess at christmas they go to the post office a lot and the timing happened good so it didnt take a ridiculous amount of time to arrive. Thank you so much for everything! The house is rejoicing now that we have a rugby ball, and I am too (especially with the japanese candies)

The book of mormon I dropped was my spanish hard cover that we have to take in our hand while we walk around preaching, dont worry. It is still alive. I may need a new picture of the family soon though haha since I taped one to the cover and if the cover happens to die I will need another photo. Sorry I cant send pictures this week.

My new companion is Elder Jarvis from Riverdale Utah. He is great. His spanish is progressing and all. We are hoping that a lot happens with our investigators and all.

I actually had the chance to go through the temple today and I saw the new video in it and everything. It is really cool. I did the whole thing and spanish and that was really special, to actually do the session in the language of the deceased person and everything. I felt really good this time, especially with the video, and hope sometime all my dear friends here can become converts and go through the temple as well, maybe even with me.

So training is kind of cool and really fun. I found it very natural to just suddenly take lead talking with everyone and wondered why I never did it. I still dont teach all that well and the whole having to plan everything is a little strange and difficult still. I got lost during the trip to the temple and the trip to the office, clearly I only get revelation about our own proselyting area. I got like, REALLY lost. But its fine. I like doing more now with the lessons and trying to make decisions more for the investigators. I hope I havent messed up too badly. Anyway, training is actually really fun and I like preaching as a senior companion for sure. Lots of fun for everyone! I hope we get people rolling here soon and comitted to the faith and everything. 

So I am running out of time. Love you all and everything. I will send something to tasha when I can.

Thanks and all my loveeee
Elder Sullivan

So it looks like packages from Canada can get there in less than a month.  He may get a birthday package after all.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Dec 2nd Letter - With photos


So today is last day before transfers! Andddddd.... I am training someone in this area and Elder Peterson is going off somewhere. So yeah! I actually have to do stuff now and figure out what is going on. I may be somewhat super worried, but I hope it goes fine. Elder Peterson says it will be fine. President sent this little email saying ¨usted sera un gran entrenador¨ (you will be a fat trainer. Kidding, great trainer.) So I guess I am getting thrown into the deep water right away. Going to be really interesting, since someone who only has one transfer more than me is going to be district leader. We are probably the youngest district around. But it will be some kind of adventure or something I guess. Next week you will get to know his name and hopefully a picture or something!

Too bad you guys are having blizzards and such. I cant even really imagine a blizzard here. I dont remember much about snow in fact haha. Sending the USB cord would be great for the camera, as I have been piggybacking off of Elder Peterson´s camera for now (I sent a bunch of pictures today, I didnt really label them all though as I couldnt remember without previewing them). I am glad everyone´s health is improving and everything is going well (haha father, you have to use those elastic thingys. Prepare to feel pain while everyone laughs at how silly you look with your little ribbon things). Thank you also for describing your poop. I will say about mine that it is fine, even if more frequent than all the other Elders and I spend more time pooping than most. I also have the mejor (best) poop stories around. The toilet´s flushing mechanism has blown up in my face a few times now. I know I look skinny, but I definitly have some fat on my belly now. Comes from eating things with oil and fat all the time since that is how we cook and we cook a lot and i kind of slacked exercising for a bit (but not now!). My clothes are still fine but I fell on some slick tiles on the street and dropped my book of mormon in the gutter. It is now a fat book of mormon with bloated pages. I look stylish as always. Thank you for eating cake with out me! (as Elder Peterson would sing, ¨sinners!¨) We did get a really awesome thanksgiving lunch though with our neighbours! Super good turkey and other stuff! Apparently the Mercado family wants to meet you guys someday haha. They are basically the family of our house here right now. 

Well what is new. We worked really hard to get where we are now, and it has paid off quite a bit with our one baptism and the hopes for the coming month. Unfortunate or not, almost everyone progressing is a young one without their families for the most part but we are working with that (well, soon it will be me and a greenie). I hope we can really get these people going, and the ward really needs to be involved for retention with young people and helping us get to teach their families. Our ward still has a bit of lack of ¨the ward family¨touch sort of thing to an extent. But everything is going really well and people are really starting to work a lot harder in the ward. Cool changes are happening.

As I always say, it is some sort of divine pleasure and priviledge to see people change. We have a young man we are teaching who used to be almost unable to read, was a troublemaker and we didint really see anything in him. He is still a bit of a troublemaker (I mean, I was too), but wow he has changed. He really is trying to follow the commandments, he takes great care of his little brother and his family and is trying harder and harder to be better and do his part with exactness. Other than behave in church with his not so great friend. But with help from the young men´s leader and someone who can adopt him as a father (he has no father figure as of now other than the missionaries), he will really be great. And wow his reading improved. I used to fall asleep during his reading haha. (ok, not so funny, I once fell asleep so badly I dropped my book on the floor so loud and everyone couldnt be serious for the rest of the lesson). 

One of my favourite things is the chance to still visit with Javier and see him around. What a cooooolll guuuyyyyy. Love his sheer excitement and faith and I really dont want to see it fall ever. Want to see him reach that temple. He really is our friend and the ward´s friend. He hugs a lot of people though haha.

Everybody is still progressing to some extent. I hope they can more and more everyday. We shall see how everything goes with the new companion and everything. People still have problems coming to church haha. But they get better as it goes, and I really hope a lot out of them, especially the people who keep all the commandments except for the sabbath day. 

I like getting to learn so much out here, and its probably going to get a little NUTS. We were already bad enough (our jokes got a lot better though in English and Spanish!), now I am the leader. HAHAHAHA. Crossing the street is going to be interesting. Hopefully my companion doesnt have too many problems with the sanitation and overall sketchiness around him. Haha. At least nothing bad ever happens! Other than our trip to the clinic!

I am glad all is going well and such. Please continue being good and all. Thank you for the thanksgiving letters they are funny (thanks for the picture Tasha! And thank Thomas for the sports update haha and thank you parentses! and aunts y uncles and everybody that I havent read yet). Never give up as always, and remember that faith is everything. I mean, all those people with moses once just had to look at him and be saved, and just like that one pioneer guy said ¨the price to get to know God was a priviledge to pay¨. I definitely feel the same way. It is a priviledge to serve here. So new adventures coming up, have a good timmmeeeee. KEEP EVERYBODY SAFE!

 Here was a realtime Q and A session we had with Michael.
[Family] - Are you online right now?
[Michael] - Yeah, Hi
[Family] - Hola.  It feels like we are speaking somehow.  We spent the whole day cleaning.  Thanks for the fotos, they look cool.  Did you get transferred?
[Michael] - Haha. We also cleaned and did chores. I will try sending more photos as of now. Well, transfers are tomorrow and I am training someone! So we are going to the chapel tomorrow and we will find out what is going on then. Then I have to stay there for a while and such.
[Family] - Is that picture of a house yours or someone else's?  
[Michael] - It is the house that is mine
[Family] - The whole family is standing watching you respond to these questions.  By the way, Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Webber and Mr. Peterson say hi, also.
[Michael] - I say hi also. Y siento que yo fuera un charlatan en escuela ( And I feel that I was a charlatan in school)
[Family] - Are you staying in the same area or are you moving onto another place?
[Michael] - Staying. For another two transfers probably
[Family] - Well that is cool that you get to know J..... a little better (and his Posse).
[Michael] - Haha for sure. Hopefully you guys have converts to take care of too!
[Family] - How has your health been lately?  How is Elder Peterson feeling and where is he going?
[Michael] - I feel GREAT! Like really good other than I feel fatter. Elder Peterson is doing amazingly and we don't know where he is going and won't until too late. I have to go preach now SORRY but have a good day and take care and all. Love you all!
Sigue caminando! 
y mi amor.
As they call me here,

 Local Fort

Skyline view from house

Monday, 25 November 2013

Nov 25th Letter

Querida Familia,

Hey so it is your son! And stuffff.

Yeah we are all fine! Elder Peterson´s stitches got removed by a nurse and everything and we are doing great and so far it looks fine (according to my great medical experience at least). This is our last week together (Im not going to be fresh in the field anymore, que triste) but it was a really good one and we have all these good investigators and stuff now (too bad the rumour is we will soon be whitewashed to have sisters put in this area). We actually just today got the email from Sister Gardner about meeting you guys and thank you for your opinion about her, it was noted in the record and we laughed. Lucky for you, I am sending pictures of the baptism, which we had by the way! Um also, what I think I will do about the pictures, is buy an SD card here and a USB stick and send you the SD card when it is full. Also sending the cord for the camera would be ok (I actually dont have it, just the charger). So you will recieve a bunch of my pictures eventually when the card fills up! And then you can send it back blank! I also finally recieved that Thanksgiving package on friday from the office. It is super neat thank you and send all my wishes and love and awesomeness (I know you are all lacking it) to everyone! So yes, packages from Canada appear slow. From the States they arent actually very slow. It might also be timing issues with the office as well. Not sure. Anyway, it came. The pictures are cool (although I still dont understand the picture of Dad´s face... I didnt forget how you look! It looks good though haha). The hand control is super neat! I sure hope I dont have to drive here though! 
I am glad everything is going great and you guys are seeing the temple and everything and that life is great in the cold white north! I do hope that everyone´s health improves though! Know that I pray for it! Carry on! A vencer! All it really takes is faith and our work and the rest is taken care of!
So I suppose I will talk about our most exciting news so far, THE BAPTISM!

You already know the story of how he came to church just because we left a card, but I would like to relate a bit of what he said after the interview (in spanish? haha kidding). He said that he just had liked listening to us but really didnt know why or what it meant, just that it was pretty cool. After we had stopped visiting him, he really missed whatever it was that we brought with us ¨Donde estan Elderes Peterson y Sullivan?¨Eventually, we left ¨la tarjeta¨ at his house to say he should come to church. What a coincidence (I THINK NOT!) that the same week a member happened to move in the same apartment complex and was looking for the church, and happened to ask our investigator as he knew him a little. And they went together. The investigator felt the great peace of the church, and from then on found his testimony (which he frequently bears and it is so great!). The baptism was great, Elder Peterson did it (because he was the biggest, and could help our investigator the most hahahaha). It was such a great joy to see in everyone´s eyes, especially Javier´s the great joy of having entered the kingdom of God. I think the best way to actually find testimony and the joy of Christ is not in our own, but in the eyes of others. It was truly a great joy to embrace together as hermanos. I really cannot wait to be in heaven with that guy!!! And all his friends he referred! WOW! I suppose you guys felt the same on the same day. I really remembered so much of what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and I hope you have also felt the same. After all our work here, finally the fruits are blooming. I suppose the grace of God makes up after we put in all that we have. We really saw nothing, but all of a sudden someone just found what they truly wanted. And now he is our greatest of amigos here. I hope he serves a mission. And yeah, es asi. 
Our other investigators are pretty cool. Lots of them are keeping with everything but coming to church and having a testimony, but the friends of Javier and his member friend dude have made like a little posse at church, and they are all really excited to keep coming to church and find out more about the gospel (and they want to be baptized, and their parents are cool with it!) One of our kid investigators who will eventually be baptized showed us this maquina thingy. He put a match head in it and hit it on the wall and it made this huge gunshot sound. Made my ears ring! Right after that, some little kid was playing with poop right beside us and his mom called out ¨hey, carlitos, why do you want to play with poop? STOP IT!¨and after that the investigator and his friend couldnt stop laughing or saying ¨Carlitos wants to play with poopooo!¨It was still a good lesson, somehow. 
Que mas? We are doing cool stuff pretty soon in the Christmas conference. Some sort of skit where I play the wife of an agitated and angry couple. FUN. I yell at my kid a lot. hehe. It is a really good skit though, and amongst all the chistes there is a message of some sort. I guess. 
Our new agreement for our ward is instead of fixing it, we are going to rebuild it with all the jovenes we are finding! Huzzah!
Thank you for the fried rice idea, we will actually have a use for old rice now! We actually cook really well now and eat almost like kings! Sort of. Maybe poor kings or something like that.
All is well and we keep working and the work is growing! Keep it going where you are as well, as we have really seen the members make the difference. Someone needs to be in church for the investigator to sit with them, visit with them and be another testigo (witness) of the truth. It doesnt happen without friends. I hope everyone keeps getting better in health and spirit! I have learned a lot about loving the people, that I am Christ´s representative and to be like him, I better love everyone here. I have come to wake up every morning for the people I am going to see that day, not because this mission is my duty, but because the people need something that I have. I hope you all find this same feeling as well. You always have my love. Never forget that we are together forever. 
Con amor,
Elder Sullivan
PS Ants taste bad. In beans especially.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Nov 18th Letter

Hola familia,

Well it sounds like you are all even busier than I am. I must be slacking. Or something haha. It sounds like the winter has arrived. I cant really picture that right now but Im sure it exists. Our weather is still pretty hot, although I believe it has cooled down a little because the wind has picked up. Like, a lot. Doesnt mean we do not sweat a ridiculous amount still.
I am glad Dad is getting better and all. You will probably be skiing even if you arent ready. Haha. You will also baptize Susannah notwithstanding whatever happens. Salvation is a unique thing that doesnt really care about worldly passings.  Im sorry that you guys have had some unfortunate passings (is that proper english?) with the snow and that Nana got hurt I hope everybody heals nicely and rapidly and that the weather isnt too brutal. Sorry your activities got cancelled I know how that feels. For sure. Lots of cancelling in the mission. And that means a lot of walking.
Speaking of injuries, my companion had one this week. So we were walking down la calle Mexico, the main street of our area, and it was dark. There was this bar of iron (that was super spanish grammar sorry) in our path and it was at the perfect height to hit just the top of his head. He fell to the ground and like bled a bit but didnt get concussed or head injury or anything. But we had to go back to the house and clean it and check it. So we called the district leader and then the zone leaders and then a bunch of different leaders like assistants and the office hasta Hermana Rodriguez. The cut was big, but not bleeding too much, so we were sent to the clinic. We rode in the truck of a member. Got to the clinic and found out only one person can accompany anyone into the medical area or so the guard said. So... I was left alone in the waiting room. Super awkward time. But my companion got three stitches and some strange shots and some antibiotic pills and yeah it was okay! Absolutely every leader in the mission called me. I talked with Hermana Rodriguez 5 times, which is like a lot of contact for one missionary with Hermana, and the assistants a whole lot more. Overall, it was kind of a huge fiasco but nothing bad happened at all. My companion got the stuff and is good and I talked on the phone a lot. So all is well! (The doctor cut a lot of Elder Peterson´s hair to do the stitches... he has like an empty spot now... it looks funny hahahaha). Luckily Hermana Rodriguez is super nice and so are the assistants and everyone and everyone cares about Elder Peterson a lot so it is super cool! Bit of excitement for everyone to shake up the day a bit, and I am just super glad my companion is okay and that nothing bad happened. So for anyone going on a mission, try not to get hurt AT ALL. Especially in the Dominican. It will be a big deal. For sure. Anyway, dont worry, all is well! Elder Peterson feels just great! We just had the leaders freak out a bit (especially Hermana Rodriguez when I called her and I was totally alone in a waiting room full of women. She accepted it in the end, but it was super uncomfortable in there. At least I wasnt getting the weird medical treatment at least haha). So good times!
Interesting thing about the washing here, its not actually my white shirts that dont get very clean (most peoples turn yellow over time just from wear and tear), they just never smell very good, especially my pants. It has something to do with the drying method I think. At least everywhere else smells bad as well so it really doesnt matter haha. And I buy the cheap detergent of course. Missionaries are so POOR! Haha.
So, my news about the area is that we are superbly close to having a baptism! This week its going to happen. Our awesome investigator who I told you about who came to church just because we left a card and all is definitely set on being baptized saturday. He is so cool and awesome I cant even get over it stil haha. He just chills with us. He testified with some new people in the church just like a member and fits in the ward perfectly (other than his clothes). So strong and awesome and cool. The small amount of guilt I heard him speak with one time during lessons about the commandments is totally gone and he is just excited. Unfortunately, he is so busy that we probably will only see him for the interview and the baptism. Ah well. Always something. But he also gave us this awesome reference of a friend of his. The member who is helping us here has been super good about inviting his ¨posse¨ to church and everything and we now have another super cool young guy who wants to learn! And they signed up on the missionary salir list thing (like, when they can come with us to preach list thing) even when basically all the other members didnt even sign up. Huzzah! Ice cream all round (that is happening tonight YEAAAH!) It is like having this awesome little group of guys our age who are our friends, but we all can share the most important and special thing any of us could possibly have in this life, so it makes our friendship deeper and so much more meaningful in so short a time. YEAAAAH. It was super cool to actually do in our weekly planning a session on people getting baptized haha. We finally got to teach tithing to someone.
Our other investigators are really progressing too. Their church attendance has really improved and their commitment to reading and other things has really improved. Super cool people. We have this great pool of investigators now, and it was really cool to see them from square one up to here. When I came, we had almost no one, and now we have a bunch of people progressing. They all have friends in the church (at least one super good one) and it is such a pleasure to teach them all. The only thing everyone lacks (other than the guy getting baptized) is the faith to just go and sacrifice it all. This one mom we teach is really doing a lot better with church attendance now and it is such a huge sacrifice of her work because Sunday is such an important day for a hair salon, but she is at least coming to sacrament meeting. Her other commitments are solid too, but she needs to find faith now to really be sure of it all. Her son too is super cool. He fell behind a bit because of heavy exams in the last month, but he is still interested and seems set on entering the church. He has some good recent convert friends too. I hope he can testify of the church really soon. Such a smart person and receptive person deserves something for their work.
Anyway, I suppose that is about all the interesting things. I am glad all is well with you guys and you are having your own amazing experiences (even if they are in the civilized world haha). Please always remain my wonderful faithful family. Take care of yourselves. Take care of my friends. Get those slackers of my friends on their missions ready to preach like beasts! BE GOOD! Carry on. 
Anything else in a package? Um... I dunno. Candy maybe??? Snow??
Con todo mi amor siempre. I am always praying for all of you and hope everything goes well. 
Amor para siempre,
Elder Sullivan
PS How do you make fried rice?

Friday, 15 November 2013

November 11th Letter - Lest We Forget

I hope everything is still going superbly well! It is here! yeah! I take the vitamins by the way everyday and too many vitamin c! I am glad Dad is driving (although the people on the dirt road should probably fear). I am sorry you are in winter, our weather is still pretty much hot, although some cloudy days and rain have really helped with that (well, other than the rain soaking us anyway. I feel super japanese with my sombrilla (umbrella) walking around with everyone telling us the rain will make us sick. haha). Well I am glad the ward is still doing well and everything and the talks are good and not full of false doctrine and all. We get a lot of authorities in our meetings, like the area presidency or the temple president or the mission president or the stake president speaking a lot. Mostly to fix problems. Apparently it is our job this month to teach tithing to all the members we visit because they dont have home teachers doing anything haha. I am glad you are all worthy of having the Spirit with you and his guidance, it really is something special.

To answer Mama´s questions, church approved music is permitted (so, any churchy kind of music from like I dunno the bookstore or something is fine. I really like having instrumental arrangements of hymns or other instrumental music. Some people have like that strange ¨christian rock¨thing but I dont really like that.) Um so far I cannot email other people, other than to maybe tell them I cant email them if they did haha. President makes some exceptions, like, my companion has some. I will probably find out sometime what I can do, since it is so difficult to contact people. No, I havent received the letter package yet sorry, mail is pretty bad. Like, really bad. The only thing I have received are dearelder notes. 

So cool things this week. Today, we didnt have power or water for a bit! So we stank for a long time because we went out and played frisbee, not knowing that the water was gone! Later when the landlord came home we got into the cisterna and had bucket showers! It was actually pretty good and felt a lot better than smelling bad (although my clothes still smell and it doesnt take long to sweat back into stinkiness). 
We had a really cool special experience this week that everyone needs to hear about!!!!!! We have this one investigator who is 20 years old. We were teaching him because Elder Peterson and his past companion found him at a colmado when teaching someone else. When I joined teaching him, he wouldnt commit to anything. Not to read. Not to go to church. Not to be baptized (I believe his response was ¨well maybe in a year or something¨). So we kept teaching for a bit, until it became impossible to find him at home to teach. This went on for a bit, then we decided to officially drop him as an investigator, and went to his house to do so. He wasnt there. So we left him card to say that we could only continue sharing together if he would come to church. We left and thought that would be it. But, in spite of a bunch of our progressing investigators not coming, this guy did. He showed up on the exact same day that an amazing member just moved into the area and they were friends right away! We didnt teach him again that week, thinking that maybe he just kind of liked church, until he came again and said for real he wanted us to come and see him. So we did. AND WOW! We were all ready to have a restart lesson with next to nothing, and instead he testified to us about how he had felt the church was true and really prayed and read about it with a book of mormon that his friend lent him and that he had seen this sort of scene in his head where he was in heaven or something in a concourse of angels or something like that and everyone was singing the hymns of our church in the presence of God. Woah. We were really not ready for all of that to just happen. He then told us he wants to be a missionary, and be baptized as soon as possible so he can prepare to be one. He knows the church is true and testified and prayed like a member of 20 years. WOW! He really will get baptized, because he has a friend, likes the church, knows it is true, has a goal and everything. All that has to happen is this sunday he will become eligible with 4 church attendances. And we have to teach him everything in only a few lessons since his life just got super busy with work. But it is going to happen, because he wants it to! It was such a pleasure and a joy to see him find this realization of todo and I cant really explain how it feels to be with him in church and lessons. It is really just super special. He asks questions about our feelings about baptism. He talks about baptism with this huge excitement. He loveeessss church and fits right in. He changes his life all the time without us doing anything. He even had a spiritual prompting one time to not go to an area where there was a shooting. We didnt teach anything about promptings or counsel. We had given up on him earlier, but something had us try to pass by his house one last time and just leave that card. It sure wasnt my idea. So yeah. That is how it is right now and all.
Our other investigators are doing cool things too. We are teaching the mother of a member who reads SO MUCH. She reads the footnotes cross references in the book of mormon with the bible. wow. She really is interested in the church and wants to enter it to find the same peace and change she has seen in her son in law (who is an amazing dude, even though he used to drink and smoke and like all that, now he is something spectacular!). So she is pretty cool too. Although she talks a lot about strange things and tells us so many stories about her life. It is a little crazy, but something got through to her.
Everyone else is still super great, but really having trouble coming to church. This one mother and son we are teaching are so perfect with everything we have taught other than reading the book of mormon more than just one chapter between our visits and coming to church. Everyone is still having problems coming to church. Unfortunately, with really good excuses too. But I still think they need to find more faith, instead of just their obligation to the missionaries. But it is going good still.
So sorry I still dont have pictures. I was charging the camera, until we had no power. I actually have taken a bunch. Just cant show them too you. Everything is gooooooodddd. The house is still nuts with six people. The concept of time is getting harder and harder to figure out here. I dont feel over halfway through my second transfer. But I am. I totally forgot remembrance day, since it doesnt exist here. But thank you for all you say to me and all your strength and prayers. Remember that while the missionaries are the fishers of men, you are the hunters. There are specific people you can help that you know. You dont have to cast nets like we do, but you can still change lots of lives. All my prayers and love are with you, and I try to represent the family and the Lord. Please do not worry about me, I will always be just fine! Keep up all you do! Send my thanks and love to all the other people who have helped me reach this point as well. Take care of my friends (like Mr Uzick and the Lows and Amanda and everybody around) I am glad I have you as my family!
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Sullivan
PS The diarrea was just because of eating a whole tub of ice cream. HAHAHAHAHA. It was really dumb. But we are super bien! Yeeeeaaaa.

Monday, 4 November 2013

November 4th Letter

Well I´m glad all is super well, even if everyone is swimming in snow! At least the skiing or something should be good! I suppose our weather has cooled down a bit to a more bearable level, but the humidity kind of makes up for that and keeps us itchy and such. It has rained a lot the past few days. The Dominican myth here is that the ¨lluvia le da la gripe¨ o sea en ingles, the rain gives you a cough and cold kind of thing. Sounds crazy no? Well it is so strongly believed here that they really do get a cough when the stay out in the rain for a little while. Kind of interesting. Everyone kept telling us when we were contacting that we shouldnt be out in the rain. Haha. We definitely did not heed their advice.
I´m glad Amanda has her mission call and all! Hopefully I can congratulate her somehow with our stinky mail system! (I still dont have anything but the dearelder stuff from you guys). Australia will probably be super cool and awesome, and maybe her clothes will actually get clean in the washing machines! (That is kind of a problem here. Appliances are cheaply built to say the least.) If Australia is like New Zealand, it is probably an awesome place.
Good to see Brent is still a goof and loving the mission already. And Dallin still loves the mission and still does goofy things. Sorry I dont send pictures much, but it really is pretty difficult. I havent charged the camera in a while sorry. There hasnt been all that much to take pictures of but I will get you some pictures someday here!
About Brother Linteris, I will probably get Elder Diaz back someday. I dont know how as of yet. For now his companion keeps putting weird halloween stuff in my room and like stuffs this inflatable skeleton into my sheets and pillow o lo que sea, apparently all old relics from other missionaries.
So I guess I am a week into the second transfer. So far so good. I´ve had diarhea a couple of times (like today) but still no dengue, so Im no veteran yet. I´m liking learning spanish, but I still have habits to break, which is difficult because there are a lot of north americans in the mission who all speak english together haha. I feel though like Ive been living here forever or something and everything is pretty normal now. People are usually easier to understand now, and Ive realized more and more how slang and improper the spanish is here. Sometimes everyone doesnt even speak in the right tense or anything haha. We just kind of... speak. How we want. Welcome to the Dominican. 
The people we teach have been super cool as of late, and also disappointing at times. We had this one lesson with a 14 year old kid, who before couldnt read very well, but in just 3 weeks is reading amazing and got through 3 Nefi 11. (sorry about the spanish spelling there). We asked him in the lesson a bunch of questions, and somehow he gave us the answer that he knew the church was true and that joseph smith was a prophet and that he was truly in the camino of God. Wow. Super cool the faith of jovenes (young people). Unfortunately he didnt come to church this week. All our most promising of investigators still have this problem. We really need more member help, and more dedication and faith on the part of the investigators. I dont think they see the need for the sacrifice of coming to church, and that they have commited to God to do so. We are still working on that. But we are trying with every last scrap of effort for baptisms in this month, as this will be it for the transfer. Two of our best investigators, who we always have amazing lessons with who accept all the commandments and read and understand and do so many cool things, and yet they have problems coming to church. We passed by their house to take them to church and they were all sleeping and didnt even come late or anything. The lessons are probably going to be about commitment. Our members need to pass by their friends and neighbours and bring them to church. We are really stressing the point of church with everyone and that it is a commitment but somehow I dont know if everyone thinks they have their sure answers yet. We have to help them with that too. But we still continue, and lessons really are enjoyable with everyone, when I dont fall asleep in the first one of the day haha. We have started teaching these super short lessons with contacts now, to see if anyone actually has real potential or interest, and this has proved a lot more effective and yielded more new investigators. We even had this one guy who called us down in the street because he wanted to be taught haha. He tells us just by visiting him twice we have changed his life and he doesnt have the desire to drink anymore or do anything bad and just follow Christ. We think what he says is true. I hope he really does change and that next transfer he can enter the church through baptism and all We found this one lady with tens of thousands of questions who said she would be baptized if our church was true. She could be a really great investigator. Just have to get her to go to church so she can figure it out. The only baptism in this area from the other elders was a man who constantly attended church and asked questions, so we really need people who can do that. We are really close. If we can move from the seed of faith into real commitment.
Well thank you for everything my family and continue strong, as I have learned in Alma that we really must do everything possible today. Today is the day to change. If we say tomorrow, it will never happen. If we say little by little, it will never happen. I have started always saying it will happen today. Because even if we fall a few times, every time we fall we say it again. Today. Always remember that today is the day given to men to perform their labours. Do not take less as an answer.
You always have my love family and my prayers. I always hope the best for you. I carry our family name with me always. And as always get made fun of for being chino. Every day. Without fail. But such is life and it is a lot of fun (everyone does a funky dance for me and tries to talk behind my back haha). 
Sigue adelante,
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Sullivan

Monday, 28 October 2013

Oct 28th Letter

Our investigators really are progressing and it is something fascinating to see them change. I hope they really figure out what it means to sacrifice and find their way. Glad to hear Todd is engaged! Thank you for the lesson on faith as it is probably something I should work on and work alongside our investigators in gaining. Things other than vitamin c... music CDs maybe? anything produced by the church is fine. Maybe some snow? Haha kidding. and maybe.... I dunno. Maybe something I can use to speak some basic french phrases haha but that is not really necessary it would just be funny and nice to use with haitian people.

I am glad everything is going well and everyone is close to perfect health! Please remain as such and be gooooooood! Glad to hear you always help out with other people and dont worry too much about my karma here it will probably be just fine. Very nice picture of the snow and sunrise at the house, very beautiful! Im sorry the winter is upon you and that I still live in paradise haha. About me sending pictures, our closest internet center is kind of stinky and doesnt have any ports on the machines at all. Um, as much time as I always think I have it runs out really quickly and I havent really done any experimenting with the camera to do much with it yet. I will try really hard the next time to do something about sending pictures with formatting or something like that. The pictures arent overly interesting haha. There isnt any fancy buildings to see here. But I will send something eventually. The Dear Elder letters came pretty quickly I think. I think one week is all it takes for them to be sent but sometimes the trouble is on this end of things where I dont always see leaders to give me my mail and such. But really the DearElder things come pretty fast. Hardcopy not so much. 

So this week. Well, we taught stuff. Obviously. And now our house is REALLY FULL OF PEOPLE. The Elders from the adjoining area had to move to our house since theirs was not secure and had thieves in it four times previously. 6 Elders in a 4 man house. Wow. We lost a day of proselyting to move them and a lot of stuff. But we did see all our friends the office elders and had a good time anyway. Our house is very new right now full of greenies and such. So there is a lot of English speaking. haha. One new Elder has a wonderful Utah accent in spanish it sounds super funny. Apparently a Canadian from Quebec or Toronto is in the mission now too. 
We had an intercambio (splits) with the zone leaders and it was interesting to learn a lot of things about teaching, and to hear good things from the zone leaders about some of our investigators. One reference we have been teaching for a little while, a 16 year old girl, is progressing amazingly and will DEFINITELY be baptized in november here unless she suddenly decides she doesnt want to follow her faith anymore. We have a pool of 5 people who are progressing rapidly and only need to come to church and comply with their commitments to obey the commandments. We are so close yet so far haha. The zone leader commented on them very nicely, but said I definitely need to take control of lessons with our older people who TALK so MUCH. Cant let them say anything about their life story. Or you sit for another half hour. Oh well. Our progressing investigators make me really happy each day, other than when they dont come to church. Everyone must go through the trial of the faith, and I am seeing that right now with everyone. But in truth, many of our investigators are bakanisimo and super cool and I really want to see them grow in this gospel. It is amazing to see the change it makes in them, how nothing but a few prayers, some scriptures, a hymn and a couple of good friends in the church makes a person go from just living their life into something entirely new. Its something I really want them to understand. That I used to coast around like they had been, but now is the time to do something different. They really see that now. We really commit them differently, especially after learning from the zone leaders. We are really super direct that they need to commit to God to follow Him. I hope they really find the faith to do so.
Teaching is more comfortable now. I make more jokes and such with the investigators about things. Like sitting in church and how the air conditioning rocks but maybe they should bring a jacket since its kind of like Canada. Or somebody said once Im like a child because I always look out the window when the loud music car things drive by even if Im talking and I say that I am a child in the mission still. I joke a lot about being ¨chino¨. Apparently it is a super funny thing. Ive had some kids do this weird spinning motion when they call me chino and try some sort of kung fu and karate haha. I also can talk with members and others and chat about things. Talked with this one Dominican elder about surfing and how there are surfing beaches here and cheap equipment too haha. So we are having a surfing activity for the church sometime (kidding). We watched the restoration movie about joseph smith in the church with a bunch of our investigators with popcorn and juice (awesome). Super good movie. Despite the fairly annoying children running around and screaming. I still cried in the movie (gets me every time).
We had this strange surprise in church. We left a note with an investigator we were preparing to drop since we could never find him for some time and he never came to church. So we left a note telling him to come to church. And... he did. No one does that. But he did. He also sat with this guy who lives across from him in his apartment complex who happens to be a member who just moved in and now they are friends and this guy could be a progressing investigator soon. WOW. 
Really shared a lot about the book of mormon in recent lessons and the power of the book. That all people need to do is find that spirit in its pages and then all of a sudden things are going to be different. Its amazing how our younger people are just so willing to do so. Amazing things are starting to happen. Albeit slowly and not perfectly. But it is happening. I am super glad that we have members around when we teach the law of chastity. Or it could just be super awkward. And since we have a ton of returned missionaries in the ward, they know how to help us really well.

Speaking of good times, our house is a total party with 6 people in it. We eat together all the time and do lots of strange things. Like Elder Diaz fed me an oreo with shaving cream in the middle. Charlatan. And the amount of BYU stories just rocketed in the house with the new people. The bathroom gets really dirty now. Basically disgusting. Also lots of running around. And dirty dishes. It takes forever to wash the dishes now.
Anyway, I hope everything is going well still. Always remember I love you all. Something I have learned about teaching and helping people in the gospel is this. That people need to understand something that even I didnt understand before the mission. That no sacrifice is too great for the Lord. Because he already has all the things we could possibly give. But he is still missing one thing. He is missin our hearts. We have to give him our heart if we want to have given him anything. There will always be excuses. Every day a new one. But in the end, shall we not go on in so great a cause? What could possibly matter more than salvation for all? What are we not willing to give, and why could that possibly even be important?
Well, enough of my musings.
Have a wonderful week,
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Sullivan

Monday, 21 October 2013

October 21st, 2013 Letter

Nice to hear everyone is adventuring and doing cool things! Dont worry about the food, we went one day to the cajero.... um.... I think ATM in english, and we tested for money. All four of us crowded the machine and when it deposited money we went a little crazy with happiness. The people outside probably thought strange things about the Mormons. But it was a joyful experience. I still am using the personal money from the American money for the airport since I havent really bought anything with it and things are fairly cheap. Not so much if you are on a missionary budget haha. We will probably celebrate thanksgiving in american fashion on whatever day that is since our neighbours who are also the landlords of our house and members are american and will probably help us out. They used to live in Seattle, pretty neat eh? They were married extremely close to the time you (mom and dad) were and have eaten in that Ivars acre of clams place too! Thank you for the info about everything (thank you mom for my IB score in music if you could tell Mr Uzick that clearly Georgia and I were just amazingly smart people and awesome and I expect laud and fame haha kidding it is nice to know I wasnt totally wrong, especially with the weird music on that test)

So, this week was good. We taught our people and such. Some are really progressing now. There is this one family (well, the mom and the son since dads are kind of hard to get in lessons here) we are teaching who just accept everything and read all the assignments and understand everything they read and amazingly awesome and cooooool! I had heard of people just accepting the word of wisdom straight away, but these two actually did! They are well on their way to entering the fold, we still have to work out the mother´s work schedule on sundays and see if she is married (this is kind of a problem in the DR) but her son actually came to church on his own without anyone passing by his house! So he is our best progressing right now. We have a couple of people stuck in the rut of not being married. It is a little frustrating that one. Another man we told he had to come to church because it is a commandment and he did. He is reading all the way in 1 Nefi 12 in less than two weeks. Other than he doesnt let us visit him much and his wife is kind of strange and doesnt want to attend our church until he is baptized he is progressing. We are taking a much more direct approach with everything and really try to get people to understand the importance now of what they are doing. That a commitment with God is serious, and that is what they do when we invite them and they accept. Hopefully this incurs action so we dont have a bunch of people with dead faith. It is happening.

Had a strange call for all the missionaries to attend an adult session of stake conference so we could stand in in the meeting and be recognized or something. Talks as of late have really been on trying to get members to work with missionaries and missionaries with members. We hope this happens, and to an extent it already is.

It is interesting here that the mission president attends stake conference of almost every stake. He was at ours along with the temple president. Presidente and Hermana Rodriguez are amazing people. They hold such a power. Hermana Rodriguez spoke about how the members need to pick up their socks and work hard because there are lots of missionaries now but not nearly enough references. President addressed our investigatores and had them stand in the meeting and spoke with them directly about the book of mormon and how important everything is and I hope those investigators there will be baptized. I would after hearing our president speak. I cannot deny the power of that man. Truly a priviledge to serve with him. He is so nice and kind and caring and yet powerful and really takes time to adress points like investigators in the meeting that day.

Our ward finally had a baptism as well. The other Elders baptized a man who had been investigating for quite a while. The water in the font was kind of low on saturday but they proceeded. Unfortunately, the man was quite tall and so the baptism was quite an ordeal for a little while, especially since he had trouble laying flat. Eventually, they found this technique of kind of sliding him into the water to fully submerge him and when it finally happened, everyone new. The Spirit really entered the room and the man being baptized felt it as well. Truly special to witness, how when the ordinance is performed properly that the Lord confirms it as such.

We had this cool lesson with the family of a returned missionary who refered us to his uncle. Despite some strange happenings with his family, it was really amazing to see how much that man wanted his family to be eternal. He wanted them all reactivated and his uncle baptized. He cried openly during the lesson bearing testimony, and is the only returned missionary here that doesnt always correct us in lessons but rather really helps. It was a really cool lesson, and I feel so touched that he would trust us with the salvation of his family. We felt so insufficient after his testimony. But we continued and it went pretty well. So glad the Spirit is with us. Really special blessing.

Que mas... spanish goes well. I understand better all the time and speak better. I still tend to meld words together a little if I dont concentrate and people still dont understand my questions perfectly haha. I still have to focus to understand spanish but I can continue the lesson even if the other people talk or ask questions. I am learning the lessons still and figuring out ways to teach better all the time. Really neat experience, and after only two months and a bit it is hard to believe I have lived somewhere other than here. Glad you still live vicarously for me at home. Someone is going to have to remind me when I come back of what it means to live differently than I am now.

I am glad all goes well at home and hope I am representing the family well here. I would like to share of my experiences with the book of mormon here. Although some investigators struggle to read it or havent yet found their answer about it yet, it is really a life changing book, if for no one else it has been for me especially out here. I can always imagine the stories being told in the book, and I love sharing testimony and explanation of the wonderful gift we have of the book of mormon. I like to tell people of my testimony of the reality of Moroni. I have really felt how he felt, how he was lonely and lost yet strong with the Lord. I love how he ends with how he shall sit with his God in the ultimate day. And I truly love his words of how he speaks as though we are present, and yet we were not, but that Jesus Christ had shown him our day. Share the book of mormon with everyone, family. There is nothing written that compares to it. Invite everyone to read it and pray. I still take Moroni´s promise here in the mission and confirm it. It is important to know that like Alma, we need to always grow in the faith through prayer and fasting and study even after witnessing all we have witnessed. Alma saw angels, and yet he still prayed and fasted and studied until his surety could not be broken. Always read the book of mormon. Always be ready to share it.

Anyway, all is well with me. We really hope for baptisms of our wonderful investigators this november. I truly want them to feel more deeply of our Savior and God´s love.

Con amor siempre,
Elder Sullivan
PS Home teaching father.... I guess you better do it. Take good care of Andy for me and get him ready to be a missionary! Take care of all the people you teach. Take care of Amanda for me, I heard she sent mission papers in, so help her and such and send my salutations and suchhhhhhh. BE GOOD.

Monday, 14 October 2013

October 14th - Thanksgiving Letter

Well, happy Thanksgiving! Um nobody knew about it here. And it looks like I won´t be having a large meal today since our apoyo money didnt come today. I still have food dont worry it is just my pasta though... yeaaaaa. Otherwise all is well and great and thank you for everything.

I am glad all of you are enjoying yourselves with this crazy party every week thing and constant celebration. I like mama´s cake in the photo! I actually got to eat a cake (which we call bizcocho here) yesterday and it was super cool awesome, alas it is the only cake I eat other than little things I buy in the colmado (store) here. It has been pretty good and all. I heard from Mom that Dad is still a goof riding scooters in the mall. Haha. You´re pretty funny father. But that is also super cool. I hope you drew the attention of the whole mall with your coolness and showed them who was boss. I hope you get better Dad and take care of the leg and I pray all the time for it so you can dance and surf again. I am glad everyone is learning the virtues of jazz music and playing it. Music here is a little rough. They call their one type of music typical or something like that, things like merengue and stuff and those songs are reallly cool and awesome, but the popular music here is definitely lacking. Apparently it is good I do not understand some of the words they say haha.

So this week was pretty good. We are accomplishing most of our goals and progressing pretty well. We have a pool of investigators who are attending church now and our hopes for them are very high. It is interesting that absolutely none of our investigators come alone. They always need someone to actually go to their house and pick them up to come to church. We are trying to work harder with the ward now and get members out to everything to get our progressing investigators in the church. Our ward mission leader is great with all of that and really works hard making lists and visiting people and coordinating with us. Of course he talks super fast and weird with a strange subdued accent that makes him super difficult to understand especially on the phone but he is still great! Phones really arent very good here. We cant really hear much at all and people also have trouble understanding us. Oh well. Phone bills are also a rip off. Buying these cards to get minutes. It is superbly expensive.

We found this investigator who has a husband who is a member who lives in America I think in New York or something like that. She is super prepared and all already reading the book of mormon and such. Elder Peterson originally had her reference but never found her until this one day we were walking in a park looking for someone else and this boy found us, who just happened to be the son of this lady with the husband in New York. He told us to come that day, and we did and they were there. Pretty cool. We are super happy to have found one of the few well behaved children around here haha. A super helpful and friendly 9 year old. Wow. Such a contrast with the other children we find. Most children rip our books, do strange things, yell and scream for something or other and are overall poorly behaved even rude. Ah well. At least we are still alive with our ears intact. Anyway, our hope for this investigator is pretty big, we do have to get her baptized before she ¨gives the light¨ (which means to give birth apparently).

Our other investigators are super cool too. This one guy who originally didnt do much at all is now reading all the pamphlets all the way through and has attended church two consecutive weeks (which is a big deal) and his baptism date is november, and we really hope it doesnt fall. He really enjoys church, but he only comes for the first hour right now. He has definitely changed though since seeing conference and a baptism of a different person. Really affected him. It is really cool to see how people change as they learn about the gospel and try to come closer to christ. Because we really dont do anything other than invite them and say whatever it is the Spirit tells us to say at the time. Even though we plan things and uisually teach the lessons, so many things that happen are very unplanned and are just thoughts and impression we act on without knowing all the reasons why. Whether the impression is in the lesson or during planning or something. It is extremely cool. I feel as though things are really changing with our investigators. They really are building faith. But the hard part is about to come with most. The trial is kind of coming up with everyone. We have this one man who we really wish would come to church and he definitely has a testimony of some kind. But he wont go without his wife, and his wife is comfortable in her religion, despite believing ours is true and wanting him to join it. Our next lesson with him is going to be very direct. We are taking a member who had his kind of situation and is going to explain what he did along with a scripture in Ruth 1. Super cool. We hope he becomes the example in his family and instead of lagging with his wife, really pushes forward.

We have this one set of recent converts whose parents are not members, the En........... They are bakanismos (super cool people), and we always have funny conversations with them, especially when they try using the English they learn in school and such. Everyone always says ¨Im good how are you?¨ regardless if they already asked how we are. Of course they learned how to call each other ugly and crazy since things like that are super important. I hope to send a picture of their rabbits we hung out with one time. We also play sports with one son, who is like the only tall Dominican in existence. We are trying to teach their parents too haha. One time they showed us this really stupid video on the internet of this guy singing this song while walking around the streets with a plate of something covered in chocolate. The song is a huge hit here, kind of like Gangnam Style, which is also here. One time when I was busy getting called a Korean guy, somebody asked if I knew Gangnam Style haha. I dont think I did the whole dance, but maybe just the one thing he does.

The weather is definitely still definitely hot. Super hot and humid. Kind of like always. I guess we only get two months of cooler weather in december and january. ah well. It cools down when it is raining buckets. But then we are soaking wet and it gets superbly humid when the sun comes back. I hope your winter goes okay HAHAHAHA. Another day in paradise for me!

We had our interviews on saturday this week. It was really cool to be with the president and his wife. They hold some kind of special power with them for sure. They are also familiar with Canada through family and their missionary service. Pretty cool. I told them they could visit. haha. They are really harping on the latinos to learn English. Kind of funny.

I still get called a chino at least a few times a week. Or a korean. Or japonese. But it is definitely a source of entertainment I exploit frequently. We have lots of fun in our district of only four elders all in the same house. We like to talk with each other lots in the house and do things and sometimes cook together and otherwise hang out. Someone had the brilliant idea of bringing an old mattress into the main room with a fan and we can kneel on the mattress sometimes for really long prayers now! Yaaahh. Happiness.

Thank you for all that you guys do, and please keep it up! Know that I love you all very much and hope that you will always perseverar hasta al fin. As I tell investigators and menos activos, there are a lot of things in this world we can do and can have. But none of it compares or matters if we dont have the gospel or salvation. It wont be important if we accomplish anything else other than reach heaven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that my family has this joy and blessing.

Con todo mi amor,
Elder Michael Sullivan

PS My spanish (dominican) word for today for you guys is bakano, which means a cool person. Have a nice day! Love you lots! Dont sell my room yet!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

October 7th Letter

Michael (2nd from left) is shown here with other missionaries in his zone.

Querida Familia,
Well, happy birthday mama! Feliz cumpleanos! I hope to send a nice looking card sometime soon when we meet with some leaders or something. But for now, happy birthday! I am glad everyone is doing well and hope that it continues in that manner.  I hope everything is going very well still and that Dad is recovering and everyone is happy! Im glad you all had a great party, fiesta forever! I hope mama is doing excellent being a 50 year old. I hope your weather isnt terrible yet. I hope Dad can do that weight program, Im sure it will be a pretty good challenge. I still eat far too much, but still havent really gained weight. Im glad you are all doing well and seeing lots of friends, I didnt even know we had any! And now Im gone they all decide to show up! haha.  Hopefully the coming of winter treats you guys alright. It is still hot as ever here.
We were able to watch all of conference, save the priesthood session as it was past our time to be en casa. But we watched all of the other four sessions, with investigators even! We need four options for church every week, especially in the afternoon so someone is awake to go! Haha. As much as I love all the people and they are so funny and great, the work ethic is... interesting. I love when people say they work all the time, and yet we seem to be able to find them at the strangest times. Such as the times they say they wont be home. But Sunday night when we arrange to come they are not home. It is a little strange, especially because everyone is still super happy to speak with us. But they work "a lot". Which is true to an extent. They work about normal. But that is a lot apparently. Oh well. We are having far more success now than before, and our obedience to the rules is almost precise.
Everyday people comment on how hot the weather is. They all have lived here their whole lives. But everyday, "oh, hace tanto calor", which means it is really hot in spanish. Im kind of confused. I mean, I sometimes say it is really hot when we are out in the street walking under the hot sun for hours on end. But when I sit in a chair, it feels ok. Sweaty, but ok. My clothes are going to be extremely gross over time. But that is ok!
Our investigators are doing pretty good. We have a family, without the dad, who learns superbly well. They clearly have the Spirit particularly of understanding, and read everything perfectly. So many of our investigators learn pretty well and read our assignments and love hearing from us. We just really need their church attendance to continue. The rule for here is that a person must attend church four times before baptism. So our hopes are really riding on next month.
Anyway, my spanish is progressing. Although we had this one lesson where I was supposed to lead in teaching, and my spanish kind of just ceased to work or something. It was basically awful haha. Apparently they understood. Even though all I think I said was things like, ``so the plan of salvation. There was like Adam and Eve and they fell and we have agency to choose between good and bad and we are here on earth to become like our Heavenly Father and I know that is true in fact I know the church is true and that is great isnt it. Are you okay with being baptized in november? Yeah? Great! Um, any questions about the plan of salvation? I sure have questions about everything I just tried to teach. But if you feel good so do I!`So not the greatest lesson Ive ever taught. 
Our teaching of older people sure is interesting. Haha. When we ask a question there is just some long pause and then an unrelated statement.  But they are super cool when they say my name. Elder sugyban. Are you Japanese? Chinese? Korean? Every little child in the street to `HEY CHINO!` I have taken to anwering them with my jokes now. Like if they want chinese food, and that I will get them some next time.
For some reason here it is just fine to interrupt people when they are talking by saying permiso. It happens quite a bit to us, probably since we are gringos and people LOVE talking. But it is so funny and great and we really do find out a lot about people since they are so open. Like, they share with us quite a bit how they really feel, and for some reason trust and confide in us. I dunno why. I doubt I look very trustworthy. Especially with my strange haircut I got for free from a convert. There is a reason it was free.
I really learned interesting things from conference this week. Especially from Pres. Uchtdorf about how the people are imperfect but the church is still perfect and every one should come and join with us once more and enjoy the fullness of the Gospel. And how members need to help the missionaries, and the missionaries the members. It is something really lacking in our ward, coordination, despite our brilliant ward mission leader who does so much work in retaining and reactivation, always visiting people and meeting with us. Great guy. Walks to everybodys house. Just like we do. Also enjoyed talks on the Atonement, and how everyone can enjoy it. Also that our doctrine does not change. I really want people to understand here that there is so much available for them. That yes there are so many things in the world that we can enjoy or have that are great, but nothing is as important as God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ and if they really want a lasting joy, they can truly have it. More than just when the missionaries visit. More than just one blessing a week. They could have blessing forever. But they have to change. We try to change everyday. Interviews with president this week. YEAH. Means we get to cook with Hermana Rodriguez I think!
Well I hope all is well and everyone keeps learning and getting better and doing super duper. I hope to have better news to share in November about how our investigators became converts. They still need an answer to their prayers. Maybe some more faith. But all is COOOOOOOL.
Anyway, have a great week. I pray always for you. In Spanish. But the Spirit and The Lord only speak spanish in this mission haha. 
Con todo mi amor,
Elder Michael Sullivan
PS  Anyway hope all is really gooooooodd. And be jealous of my great 35 to 40 or whatever temperature it is here. hehe. BYE

Sunday, 6 October 2013

September 30th, 2013 Letter

Well it is already the third Pday. Time is going far too quickly, although each day feels pretty long. Gracias for all! Thank you for the picture of you guys, and I would print the others, but printing costs money and I´m not sure how well it all works. The internet centres are a little strange... But I can probably do something with them sometime when we go to a different center or something. 
Haha, I guess it is about time for winter to be in Canada. Here it is still hotter than ever. We basically just sweat all day. It is a little uncomfortable, but better than walking out in the cold or something like that! I´m glad you are all still enjoying the water and that Dad is getting better with his foot and all. Try and heal father! I will eventually receive the Dearelder things, and Elder Peterson gave me this idea that his mom does, where she copies and pastes the blog posts from other missionaries who are his friends and sends them as Dearelders because it is free for everybody! I was thinking you could do that with my letters and maybe Dallin´s if Sister Low would like. Just a thought I had. For the blog, I didn´t think I had that many friends but okay! Especially friends in France and Germany! I guess my amazing french skills paid off!
Speaking of french, we sure run into a lot of Haitians. Some speak Spanish and we teach them and its great. Others don´t, so I try to invite them to the church and then we move on because L´Eglise du Jesus-Christ et don la ri Mexico is definitely not sufficient to teach a lesson. But we try or something. Merci bouqueax or something....
Anyway I have a few new friends here. The members are pretty neat but never give us references, but they sure have funny stories. I still get called a chino in the street by all the children. Hey chino chino! I either say hi or something or say some chinese if they want or sometimes I ask them if they want pica pollo. Pica pollo is their chinese food here. It is fried chicken. Like, KFC style. But it is made by Chinese people so its chino. They also eat rice called chofan, and make some kind of chop suey they call chosuy or something strange like that. It is interesting to say the least.
I have taken a liking to plantane here, especially fried. It is super good. We eat a lot of pasta, rice, pancakes and cereal since it is easy to get and cheap and easy to make haha. We eat pretty well, and get a lot of fruit. I especially like making these milkshake things with mango or banana. It is super good!
Our investigators are pretty cool. We have better success with young people or old people, but still not much for families. We really would like to get a family. The closest we have is Yonlaiki e Yaijara, who live pretty close to the church. The family is great and studies all our pamphlets and can recite our lessons exactly. They just haven´t come to church yet. But it will eventually happen. Everyone here loves to talk. I don´t know if I mentioned our good friend Sirilio, who has taken 3 hours of our time or more in only two lessons with his lovely stories of life and the bible. Given his knowledge of the bible is spectacular, we are not entirely sure if we will go back unless he reads the pamphlet. It really is something to see, the way the Dominicans can talk about stories or the bible or whatever cosa they happen to start talking about. Sirilio was running around the room one time, grabbing things to demonstrate something about the sun falling in the last days, or started clapping his hands and talking super fast about how Pablo did all these amazing things and how Pablo is his favourite apostole and how he wants to live like him and how great life is with faith and how people really need to find faith. Yeah. Eventually we were almost even rude to try and leave the house haha. We said we wanted to teach something new other than the bible but for some reason that didn´t really compute and he continued talking about the bible. Haha, he has me monologing now too. Anyway, there is a gift of tongues in the Dominican, not just for missionaries but for everyone. It just never stops moving here. 
We played baseball today. I´m not terrible. I hit the ball. The poor latinos who have to come here, the only latino nation that doesn´t play soccer. Just baseball and basketball. It is strange here, how american customs and all really have strong roots. Like, a T-shirt in Dominican speak is T-chirt. Or tape is tapi. And people really have that kind of swagger look or whatever it is called here. When they play baseball they use terms like pitcher and out the same in english. Pretty cool stuff. The cars still drive crazy as ever, and we cross the street crazy as ever. 
My teaching is improving. I fall asleep in less lessons where the person starts monologing, and can usually follow what is going on if the spirit is with me and I pay good attention. It is amazing what a difference it makes if I am really in tune or very much out of it. I teach a lot better now, and although I am not speaking in Spanish the same as English, I am improving and can speak very simply, which might be better right now. Apparently my accent is pretty good. Although I pronounce some words very strange, thanks to my english and chinese influences. Everything goes really well, our lesson count is going up and up. All we need is people to come to church. We pray for it all the time, and I hope someone really decides not to be lazy or busy with whatever it is they are busy with and come to church. Although we are super friendly with all our investigators and great friends, we need to establish something about being missionaries I think, and that people need to commit to God. That really all of this is for God. I have been reading really interesting things about how to change one´s will to the will of God, and I really hope I can do that. Instead of seeing the mission as a duty, I want to see it as a pleasure, because I am the will of God here trying to bring my brothers and sisters home. I really appreciate what President Rodriguez says in his letters about what I can do to be better. I hope it always improves and that you guys also find success with your work. Remember I always love you all! Know that we are working hard here as always, and I already feel as if I have been doing this my whole life! Especially since I can´t ever preach in English, I guess that call letter means something! Whenever people want to talk in English, I have serious trouble because I can´t pray in English anymore or preach in English. I can still speak it though haha. I guess I will have to sit in this limbo of not knowing spanish and not knowing english. I better improve my baseball skills to fit in here more! 
All my love as always, and I hope everything is going well with everyone! Send my wishes for the best to everyone we know! Always be faithful, and I hope soon we have a baptism here! It may take a while longer, but we always work! It is a little difficult to get tranquil relaxed people moving, but we will somehow get it done, since apparently get it done is some sort of Canadian phrase or something.
Con amor como siempre,
Elder Sullivan
PS It is super entertaining when I say Eh here, but I really don´t say it much and apparently that is a disappointment. I am sorry you guys are experiencing winter now. We sure are not. Dad, get better and stay healthy and learn to surf like a pro. Mom, I am going to try and cook fried rice here soon or something haha. Please take care of everyone and remember to relax like a Dominican. Tasha, don´t fail school and have fun and feel free to date boys or something. Christina don´t fail and take care of your stuff and always be crazy and watch good anime and tell my friends they smell bad!
PSPS I will send pictures next week, there was no SD card slot today!
PSPSPS I hope that letter eventually reaches you! I´ve only sent two letters from here, each a week apart. One for you guys and one for someone else. I´m sure the post really isnt very good. Take carrreeee!

Oh I forgot to say my health is great. My metabolism still runs like a machine. Never worry. And you know how supposedly people were to be really musical and good singers? Not true. Without pianos in the home, not many people sing well. They like dancing and such, but the singing suffers here haha. And the pop music... well, I have yet to die. It just plays too often in the street. Haha. Their traditional merengue and things like that are great though! If we used to think Loreto was strange and poor and loud, not at all like here. Welllll have a good time and all!

Oh I also forgot. Something strange about spanish. The word charlatan in english is almost never used. in spanish charlatán is super popular! People always say it about a jokester. So I say it a lot about our latino companions haha. I dunno something for the peeps.

Monday, 23 September 2013

September 23rd Letter

I am glad all is well! I´m sorry your weather is about to get worse, ours doesn´t change! It is ALWAYS hot, and we always sweat like crazy and my clothes are going to look super ugly I think in about two more months of this heat. Supposedly it is cooler in December....

I will be sending pictures next week since I know now there are SD ports on the computers. I have some really neat pictures of some old ruins here that we were able to see on Pday. Supposedly they were from the time before Christopher Columubs, but I don´t really know. Anyway they were super nice brick buildings which you will get to see next week! We also played this game called bitilla.It is baseball with these weird cap kind of things and a broomstick. It is sort of fun, as far as baseball goes. I think maybe it is a little bit more fun than baseball. I kind of stink at it haha. Eventually I hit the cap a couple of times, and they ended up being really good hits. I´m definitely not a baseball kind of person though.

So we had a conference with Elder Civic, one of the area presidency, last week and it was super neat! Our zone has kind of fallen out with baptisms... so I guess we need to work harder or something. Still trying to get one for Elder Peterson it is super sad he still hasn´t had one! We set some dates for baptism and are really working towards it with great fervor and we are trying to get everyone closer to a goal. Of course they need to come to church. 3 investigators came last time, which isn´t awful. We really want certain families to progress since they are super smart and receptive and great but... well everyone here has problems with attending the church for some reason.

One particular family, the mom´s name is Yaijara and the son we teach the most is Yonlaiki, we are really trying to work with since they are super smart and learn quickly and thoroughly everything! They basically teach us out of the folletos um pamphlets we give them and are very very receptive to hear about everything. Yonlaiki is 18 and can repeat anything we ever teach him exactly. Yaijara as well, and there is a certain sparkle in their eyes that we only have seen in a few people. Some sort of spirit is with them, and if they would just come to church they could progress so much better. It will be tough, since they work and the mom works in a hair salon, but I have really started to learn, especially being a missionary, that the gospel requires sacrifice. That sacrifice is a law that we have to follow, and if we are not willing to change from the natural man and follow Christ through our will, the spirit and prayer, we can´t expect anything different. I know that for these people keeping the Sabbath Holy will be super tough. But I really want someone to change. To see that if they change they could have so much and prove to themselves that they are above their natural state. Everyone here wants to talk about God and Christ and profess to follow him. We have had some lessons where the person recites thousands of scriptures to us and gives albeit strange opinions and insights, they sure have a lot to say. Dominicans have a gift for talking. They can talk and talk and talk and talk until wow two hours have passed and nothing was accomplished. But they have a passion for Christ and the gospel. But no passion for change. Everyone is very tranquil and relaxed. Humble in a way, but still very proud. Proud to profess they follow Christ, but unwilling to do anything about it. Very strange. I have yet to grasp the way of thinking here. The sort of do what you want. Nothing is serious. All churches are good and equal. Yeah, the tranquility. And the noise and poverty. I really like it here though. People always invite us in their house. They ALWAYS want to talk.

Anyway it is super cool. I sweat buckets everyday and my feet are adapting to the walking. Um, people still do weird stuff here. Like run around without clothes. Or answer the door without clothes. Food is pretty cheap, especially fruit. It is like 5 pesos for everything. For some reason we always run into the Haitian people who don´t speak English here. We can´t teach them, but I guess I invite them to the church in some sort of weird French I try to speak. L´Eglise du Jesus-Christ. Haha. We have lots of fun. Our foursome in the apartment is super funny. In spanish it is considered funny and cool to call people charlatan. It´s like a way of saying funny dude. And we use it to describe the spanish elders in our apartment. Wow. One night someone had a fiesta outside our house and gave us all headaches since they played music until like 4. Loud, crashing music that according to the Elders and my limited spanish was worse than most rap music and would have made their mothers cry.

What else... um... Elder Peterson lived a super cool life before. Skiing in Arizona and such. Our investigators are really neat too. In a different sort of way. Not many people here live lives of adventure or anything. A lot of people kind of just sit around in fact. And drink. We had a cool experience though with one recent convert who went inactive because of alcohol. We really wanted him to come back, and one day he did. We are trying now to keep him here. Elder Peterson and I both shared stories of talking with the Bishop and reading the scriptures and always doing things like that to cast the sin out of our minds and I think it got to him. I hope so a lot.

Life is good. Our house still rocks. Stuff still doesn´t work like the toilet and the oven and the sink leaks and the washer is kind of strange. But the shower is to die for!

I am starting to get to know everyone around here more and talk with them more as their friend now. We often visit a super funny family of youth who love hearing about my life as a half-chinese canadian. Everyone in the streets always calls out CHINO whenever they see me. Especially the ninos. It´s almost anoyinng, but not yet. Right now it is still funny.

I hope everything is still super well with you guys and all. Missionary work is really interesting, and I hope the people who we promised to work with if they will work with us will come closer to God and enter the church. I hope your missionary work goes just as well or even better than ours.
We tried to teach this one guy in English this one time, and I´m understanding now why my mission call says Spanish and not English. It was so difficult! Especially praying! Wow! I hope I get more native sometime here. If you want to send me something to ponder for a while, you can Dear Elder it. It takes a few days to get here, but its free and I can read it anytime. I don´t know if sending pictures in an email is very useful, since printing costs money.... but ah well. Se quiero! Estoy en la lucha tampoco! And good luck with all your callings and such! Keep it up!

In The Mission Field - Sept 16th Letter

So Elder Sullivan is now serving in the city of Santo Domingo as you will read in his latest letter below.  He was able to meet with the Mission President and his wife prior to heading into his area.  The pictures are attached below as well.
 Your mission is to find the difference between these 2 photos.  Here are both of Michael's letters from September 16th.

So I´m in the mission field and such! Yea! Um hopefully sometime you get the letter I sent... It has a map with my area and stuff. For such purposes I am in the capital Santo Domingo in zone Las Palmas, Area Ivan Guzman. It is really cool! I actually have a companion that speaks english wow. And all is going really really well. 6 days in and everything already smells bad since we sweat buckets. The heat is crazy it is definitely approaching 40 degrees everyday if not over with thick humidity. But otherwise its great. It feels so nice when a breeze comes through. I´m glad all is going well at home and your weather is perfect and such. I´m glad Dad is starting to feel better and hope that he heals well, I´m praying.
Anyway I quite like being a missionary and such! It is nice to feel busy all the time and teach real people! I am still trying to get to know them all, its rather difficult to get thrown in but I feel the spirit is helping me to know these people and I´m starting to lose my timidness. The life is really good. The only hard thing is the rule about food, as we are probably offending tons of people. Oh well, obedience. The people here are SO NICE and friendly and crazy and strange but overall excellent! Most people want to hear or talk about God and Christ and the Christian fervor is very strong here. It is such a pleasure to work here. I hope I keep getting better. I´m still not used to hearing people speak in Spanish and respond in Spanish, but it is coming. I practice mostly with the people here and also the other companions in our house. By the way our house is super nice compared to most! It is very new and clean! Some things in it don´t work or work very poorly but such it is everywhere. It is very cool though! The mosquitos are nasty here! It is hard to walk everyday in the hot sun, but it is well worth it to visit the nice people here, who all want to know what´s happening and learn something new. They also all think I´m korean. And 22. Or Chinese or something. And because I´m nervous I definitely don´t speak enough Spanish with them, even though most of the time I can say things. At times I really don´t understand them though. The accent is superbly thick here. But its really great! Houses and streets are kind of unique, I will have to send pictures! Which I don´t know how to do could you please enlighten me in the next email? Hope everything is well, since it is well here. Such a unique place. Full of crazy people. Teaching is going well, just our investigators an less actives never attend church. It seems to be a common problem here. People just don´t want to change their lives much. But we will get them! Somehow! I really want my companion to have a baptism, as he hasn´t yet. He is fresh out of training and is now traning me haha. He is from Mesa Arizona and his name is Elder Peterson. Super cool guy and very hard working and obedient and I hope we have success here.
So my cooking stinks by the way. But the bananas are really cool here. Oh and a couple other cool things. There are a lot of crazy people here. Like people who sit around or run around the streets all day doing nothing. Or are naked or something like that. Cars are crazy I hope I´m never an Asisstant and have to drive here I think I would die! Um, hope dad gets better I know how he feels with restriction and such. Everyone keep doing well at school!
One cool story. With a couple of investigators I have shared scriptures and testimonies with my companion, and its amazing how much spirit is with us. Even though the streets are loud and it is hard to hear, there is always the spirit. Whenever I testify I feel its power and hope the investigators do as well. I really hope they start coming to church, or they will not be able to enter the water. I hope good things are happening at home, especially the missionary work. Even though people are nice here, they have trouble with commitment, and so I hope we can be more firm and strong and help people realize the grand importance of what they are doing. I can see it in some of the recent converts, but it needs to be with all the people we teach. It is very humbling to sit in these people´s homes. It is humbling to often be with the spirit. I really need to improve spanish and teaching and everything. I know that I also bear our family name along with the name of Christ. That has become more important over the past 5 days. My things are going to wear out super fast, and I hope they do as a mark that we worked so hard to help people. Unfortunately, they have to cross that final gap. The way of God is parallel to the way of man, and each wrong act makes us diverge farther from God. We must repent, as even if we bring our lives in harmony with God, we are still parralel. We have to commit and change in order to once again converge, as no amount of good acts begrudngly completed makes up for it. I REALLY HOPE PEOPLE START COMMITING HERE. Anyway its only day 5.