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.

Monday, 9 September 2013

September 5th Letter - Last Week in Training Centre

Hey family!
I hope all is well! And everything is good and such! Sounds like you guys are having a great time and such! I'm glad Dad is fine with the surgery and all and you better let it "heel". HAHA. Sorry you can't walk for a bit Dad but I hope it is for the best.
So I guess I can say a little about the CCM. The study has begun to pay off! I don't know if I told you a new group of missionaries came in and the place is packed! It is funny to see people at the point we once were at in Spanish. I guess a lot of things have happened, but I really don't remember everything since the days kind of blend together. I guess there is a lot of ping pong. The father of an Elder here also went to Korea on his mission to Seoul and he also holds the ping pong raquet like a Korean. Ha. I cannot play with the other Elders though they are way too good. Our teachers are all returned missionaries and have some very unique experiences. They were amazing missionaries, full of vision and hard work. Its amazing to learn from them. I'm glad I came to this CCM, the small size has reminded me of my school and the way it was easy to develop relationships with everyone especially the teachers. I like knowing everyone in the building. Although they are all still Americans or Latinos. No other nations haha.
I guess my biggest news was my trip on Friday into the field. WOW. It was amazing! To actually do some real missionary things! (which I guess happens on Tuesday anyway but still). The DR is really different from anywhere I've ever been. If we thought Mexico was dirty.... wow. Here the sewage is basically open and the dump is the street. People here kind of do whatever it is they want to do haha. Like pee and poo in the street. Clothing is kind of an optional thing here, and I'm told the Law of Chastity is the hardest lesson here especially since marriage is kind of a tough and passive thing. But the people are all superbly nice and friendly and receptive. I blend in here since I look asian and apparently that's normal here. The white people have more intererest to people here for sure. And apparently its different for Hermanas here. And what we used to think was poor or ghetto in the world is nothing compared to here. We usually taught people in the street since their house is just a bed in a room. Floors don't exist its either dirt or concrete. Its dirty everywhere. I guess my area was particularly dirty according to other people. They kind of just throw their stuff in the street haha. But it was really fun! Other than crossing the street! My split companion was Elder Nunez from the West mission, zone Independencia, area Cristo Rey. He was from Guatemala and super funny. He really liked Japanese anime like me and we spoke at length in Spanish in the streets. We taught recent converts (lessons that we don't practice in the CCM) and I explained some things, asked some questions, prayed/bore testimony and talked about myself mostly haha. Everyone thinks Canadians speak French, and they really find it amusing that I am a Chinese/British Canadian. The converts were really nice and sweet but definitely mostly the poorest of people. It is really easy to get lost in DR. And the street is the loudest thing ever. Music booms all day (techno bop or merengue), cars are super loud and people are always talking haha. They're pretty religious though. Shoes get super dirty here in the dirt and trash haha. It isn't overly sketchy in terms of crime either. AND I LOVE THIS PLACE. The weather! People! Stuff! Interesting foods! And their strange slang in spanish! I always get to say to them "Yo hablo un chin chino." (I speak a teeny bit of chinese). They love it! And I love talking with them! It is so different to be in a place where people talk! :). Anyway, thats about it. The street is meant for shorter people than me. The missionaries in the West are super awesome! Lots of them are really excited about the work, and it seems pretty good here. I want to get out in the "jungla" though, since I would be out of the city and apparently its way better out there in terms of people, living, etc. The storms are worse though in the jungla. But my companion said his favourite place was San Juan province.
I guess I should say that the gift of tonges is a very real thing. I actually spoke out in the field and have learned Spanish definitely not on my own. No chance that any of us would have advanced this much. It is crazy how the words come. It is crazy how what to do next just happens, whether in planning or right in the moment. One teacher said a succesful missionary doesn't walk much here. He says they move from door to door, person to person and teach all day without moving much at all. I can see it here for sure. So excited for these people to become my friends and hopefully bretheren and sisters forever. In the temple I listened to the session mostly in Spanish today, and it was cool to understand it and realize that language doesn't mean anything in the kingdom of God, and it is no barrier for His will. Heavenly Father knows all our languages, and has asked us to become like Him, so I guess I better master this language and then find another! I'm glad that I have been raised by great parents, and the most recent lesson I taught in the CCM was the 2000 stripling warriors (dos mil jovenes), and it is a great power for me to be able to share the greatness of my family, for I know my family is the same as those 2000. Never fear anything my family, for God walks with you.
Stay safe as always and keep on enjoying yourselves! I have yet to see the ocean again since my first day! ARGGH. As always you have my prayers, love, soul and all. For the people I do not yet know, I will give my time. For my friends, I will give my life. But for you, my family, I would give even that which I do not yet have, no matter price.
Con amor siempre,
Elder Sullivan

August 29th Letter

Hola familia!
I am glad you are safe despite all the storms! Wow, that's pretty crazy weather and all. I can see Dad having fun driving however hehehehe. On the rocks. No storm here yet, but it sure rains a lot. Casi everyday. Very neat all the things you guys are doing especially on the ocean! I have yet to see the ocean since the day I landed here haha. I'm glad you guys are having such a great time and all and also being in a Spanish country even! I like hearing the stories of the sea!
So the DR. The CCM just received a batch of new missionaries. IT IS PACKED. Americans and latinos alike. It's funny to see the americans at the initial stage like we were earlier, understanding nothing. The spanish is really improving (although I guess I'll avoid typing in it since it is probably a bother to translate. My letter to the president and journal entries are in a gross english with spanish scattered throughout. Sometimes I forget my english words...) and Elder Joseph and I can talk pretty freely and such. Spanish is such a wonderful language that flows in and out of words and phrases in a manner so much more beautiful than english. However, the Dominicans don't just flow, they fly. Same with Chileans. I talked with one of the teachers here about different spanish accents and she said Cubans talk as if something is always in their mouth (wide mouthed frog haha) but not ridiculously fast, Peruvians speak very clearly and precisely and beautifully while Chileans are rapid and strange and attack their words. Dominicans are fast like Chileans but more tranquil with their accent. It was funny hearing the teacher simulate all the accents and to actually hear the difference between all the latino missionaries. Can't wait to learn the Dominican style and be a Dominican hombre, hanging out in the calle!
A little bit about the calle (street) here in DR. Power lines are strung through trees or really poorly built poles. Most buildings throw an alligator clip up on the power line for their building, making powerlines this weird tangled mess of chewed up lines extremely low to the ground. If I walked under them, I would touch them with my head. Power is super unreliable here. It goes out here in the CCM at least twice on a good day and sometimes for quite a while. It has even gone off in the temple before. Its interesting. Streets are busy with cars, walkers and strange piles of dirt, debris or other stuff. It reminds me of Mexico with less rules, more people and somewhat questionable clothing. But it is so much fun! We contacted at the university last week and met a bunch of people! They are so friendly here! Everybody is fine with talking and some of them even stop walking and sit down with you. In fact there was this one lady who we gave a Book of Mormon and talked with for 15 minutes or something. She is really interested in Elder Joseph. I think also the gospel. But mostly Elder Joseph. We saw her again at the supermarket yesterday and she really wants to meet with us in her house hahahahaha. But we are CCMers. So no. Pretty sure she will never call the missionaries because she wants to meet with mi companero haha. Oh well. September 10 or something. We proselyte tomorrow! Doing splits with missionaries here in SD!
Que mas? um... The weather rocks. Humid, rains, but always a beautiful heat and sun. I don't know the exact temperature, but it is hot. My whole face goes red if I run around outside even for just 40 minutes. Not from burn, just heat. I love the heat though. It is brilliant. I would live here. Well, I am living here. Although missionaries in the field say its bucket showers, no air conditioning and a spinner is your washer. Some missionaries in the mountains cross streams and other strange terrain tracting haha.
With our mock investigators we baptized one. Our teacher is now portraying a devout catholic lady and its probably one of the funniest things we have ever done to teach her. I think our teacher has too much fun portraying her.
Still the only Canadian. But not the only asian. There are Tagalog hermanas for some reason. The rest are latino or American (mostly Utah). It is fun. We do cool things like sports, teach, read, discuss stuff and various other pasttimes like making fun of our district leader for smelling his not-girlfriend's letters that are sprayed with perfume.
Anyway, its interesting how much I have learned here just through spirit, separation from distractions and the routine. I quite like it. I can't wait to teach real people. But we had some interesting videos of devotionals by apostles played for us, and they said the most important convert is the missionary. That as one teaches, they find themselves in the eyes of others. So I hope I'm doing well enough for that to happen. Elder Bednar gave an amazing devotional a couple years ago about the character of Christ is to turn outwards when the natural man would turn inwards. Amazing the stories and doctrine of love and compassion he taught. Elder Holland sure is passionate about missionary work, and told all those missionaries in his devotional straight that he would not be happy or permiting of any missionary to return home and go inactive. The more I learn and serve here the more its apparent that this will be a lifelong endeavor. I will make the most of my life. I would like to share a lesson the mission president shared on Sunday. He talked of the law. The law of justice and mercy. According to the law of God, we are punished for sin and blessed for righteousness. But we run parallel to God's ways. Even if we spend our whole life in good works, we can never make up for any sin comitted. We are on divergent paths with the presence of God, and it gets wider with each sin. The Savior has made up for this. Through his sacrifice for sin he seeks to guide us back to the presence of God. Only repentance can bridge that divergent path and bring us back and make up for the sins in our lives. The doctrine of Christ is so simple. Faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. That is it. Never let anyone else convince you of any strange doctrinal points. The doctrine of Christ is simple, and through it lies salvation. The reason the church is true is because we follow the doctrine of Christ, and God answers prayers. That is it. :). Anyway, I loved that lesson so.... yeah.
Have a great trip in Mexico and make it back alright. Thank you for being such a great family. It really has made a difference all the things you have taught me. Truly.
For Baboon: I eat the vitamin C tablets... um... IM NOT AN OLD MAN YET! I don't need all the pills! Oh and speaking my little asian phrases is quite a hit. HAHAHAHA. Soon asian shall rule the world!
Con amor mi familia,
Hasta ver
Elder Sullivan

August 22nd Letter #2 - For Derek Mostly

I already sent a message, but una mas!
Diga a Derek el es mi amigo! Se amo! Y los dominicanos hablan muy rapido! Mas rapido que cualqier personas yo he oirido. No entiendo nada. Gracias por sus testimonios y por favor guarden todos en seguridad. Quisas bautizare solo en espanol por todo mi vida! JAJAJA. Entonces, ustedes necesitan aprender espanol, o entendran nada cuando yo regreso. hehehehehe. Buen dia.
Amor siempre,
Elder Sullivan (Suyiban)

August 22nd Letter #1

Mi querido familia,
Tengo feliz que ustedes estan en el mar y teniendo un buen tiempo. Diga a los Heningers se amo y me lo da gozo a escuchar sus historias de su mision. Gracias por sus oraciones y por su amor. Muchisimas gracias! Se amo todo! Me falta el mar, pero tengo mucho mas.
Entonces, el templo me da mucho gozo. Hoy fue mi primer vez para bautizar por los muertos. The first time I've baptized anyone in fact. We do baptisms in Spanish, but sessions in English. It felt so cool to take one of the Elders and baptize him for those on the other side in the presence of the hosts of Heaven. Woah that's a lot of pressure. Pero, it really felt amazing to baptize and I cannot wait to baptize for the living and bring people into the fold of God for this life and the life beyond. I REALLY LIKE BAPTIZING. Otra vez, otra vez es por que yo tengo gozo. Anyway I love the temple here and going every week is awesome. You guys should probably attend too!
We found this cool thing we can do with the ladders in our room where they balance on an angle if you stand on it perfectly. It has been the cause of much joy and pain. The record for time is 23 minutes. My record is 4 minutes.
All the Elders get along super well and such other than Elder Joseph no le gusta frio. Pero los americanos les gusta frio. Entonces el cuarto es FRIO. Everyone sets all the rooms here to 10 degrees celsius. No one understands room temperature. Haha.
So I leave for the mission field on Sept 10, and the CCM/Temple are in my mission. I feel great, better than most. My companion is still a little sick, but he is getting better. Not many of the Elders are adapted to the schedule of the CCM and often fall asleep. I sometimes have drowsiness during computer language study. The chair is too comfy. Um me gusta la comida. Sort of. We have an instruction for the mission field to actually not eat in other people's houses because of sanitation. Sanitation is definitely a problem in DR. Not ridiculous, but a little.
We sing and play piano lots in the CCM and its great! The piano isnt great but its close. I sing Brightly Beams a lot, in Spanish its called "Brillan Rayos de Clemencia".
For some reason the people here think I'm a Korean. Cada dia, everybody is like "Hey, usted es de Korea no?"... So in Europe and New Zealand I am a Latino, and in latino I am a Korean. Everywhere else I am Chinese. I don't even understand. People liked seeing me do the Haka for them though.
Sports are good here, the spanish improves every day and I chat with my companion more and more. We have fun and such. Here we are "ladrones". Thieves. Hehe. I'm not sure what we steal. But it must be something.
Anyway all is well and it is going awesome and I really like teaching lessons and trying to use spanish even if it stinks at times. The only thing that bothers me IS PEOPLE STANDING UP TO PEE IN THE TOILET. Living with sisters has corrupted my life, but really the bathroom is super gross. Otherwise all is well and tengo una surprisa! If anything I will convert those people with an excessive amount of smiling.
Con todo mi corazon,
Elder Sullivan
P.S Americans are really weird. Haha.

August 15th Letter #1

Hola familia,

How is my companionship? Awesomeness. Extreme awesomeness. We are funny and the coolest cats around we just don't talk to everyone or each other as much as some. Ah well. Today we actually went out on the street to go to the store and get some supplies. The street IS CRAZY here. It is much crazier, dirtier, louder, stranger and probably dangerous than Mexico. But I can't wait to walk it. The humidity is killer though. People here speak spanish unlike anyone I've ever heard. Its rapid and irregular and sounds like lalalalalalala. Woah. The teachers are easy to understand but the people... oh my. The dentist who comes to do my companion's dental work (his salud is not so good) is crazy fast even in English. She gave me this figurine from Monsters University of Sully because my name is Sullivan and such and now it smiles and waves at me from the counter. Maybe a little creepy but awesome. At least I know one person from Santo Domingo West already! Everyone's Spanish is improving and we can all teach to an extent. My companion and I are actually pretty good with people because he understands their rapid speaking and has good responses and I can give responses to an extent also. Just our planning is strange haha, so the lessons are fairly impromptu. I definitely miss sailing and the ocean and have extreme jealousy of you guys, but not really since I have mucho sol and you do not HAHAHAHA. Tomorrow we get to do some contacting at the university and hand out pamphlets and books and do some contact stuff. Yeaaaa. Fun. I like getting to go to the temple every week though and be so much closer to heaven everyday than ever before. I keep on realizing each trip the lasting joy waiting for us all as eternal families in the kingdom of heaven and hate leaving the celestial room and the presence of God to once again wander the dreary world. My companion fell asleep today in the endowment HAHAHAHAHAA. I had to wake him up. HEHE. Otherwise it was awesome as always. There are lots of sports to play everyday and lots of stuff to do and I like being busy on such a set schedule. Being idle is boring. I still get to play the piano here. The shower is... uh... stinky. It drips out of the faucet right over top of the handle so you have to lean over to get any water on you and its usually cold. But every so often it decides to work super well and feels sooo goooood. We have two investigators (fake investigators) right now and one is committed and getting baptized and all and one reads a newspaper at the start of the lesson until you tell him not to or say something interesting. :). By the way, I do know who Hermana Haromoto is and she said she knew cousin Lonnie and all and I taught her some Japanese and she is cool. I do not know Creole or french yet though other than a few phrases. It sure rains a lot in DR. Because of my companion's health we see the doctor Elder Walker sometimes and he is interesting. Tells me so many things about medicine (which are really cool) and he actually talks about China all the time. He travels a lot. Makes me want to go to China and see Hong Kong and Beijing. But not right now. As much as DR is like Mexico, there are lots of differences in the society. Dad's stories about Korean driving make so much more sense now that I'm here. Always horns honking, people shouting and collisions being narrowly avoided. I mean, who needs signal lights or lanes of traffic or rules at all? Life is pretty cool here. Well, not the weather its smoking hot. This place reminds me a lot of Dad's stories about Korea back in the day, not just the driving, but also the stores and people and streets and buildings. This is not a clean place. But that's okay Im not an overly clean person and everyone is nice and friendly when you speak spanish (not english though). Life rolls along here. Everything is pretty cheap and not always great quality. SUPER CHEAP. Anyway, I'm rambling and such. Keep up all that you do and do it super well. Thanks for the stories from the Heningers. Thanks for getting me out here so well prepared (like, actually. I have enough first aid gear that Elder Joseph calls me the farmacia). I'm still the lone Canadian and all but I'm having fun and getting to know people especially my companion and learning language/doctrine and doing awesome things. I hope all the best at home and on the sea. The Haitian missionaries just left a few days ago (only Haitian nationals are allowed to be missionaries in their country I discovered) and the French MTC counselor and his wife sang "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" in French and it was so beautiful and awesome and the Hermanas cried. Such great voices. I love the hymns about the ocean, and it really feels special to be a light along the shore. I know how the lost sailors feel in the tempest but also the joy of reaching harbour and the gratitude for those who carried the light. I'm excited to carry the lights for the seafarers and each time I enter the temple I realize that that is where the people I teach must go and must feel. They must reach the lighthouse and safe haven, because darkness is only the absence of light, and cannot exist where any light shines. Remember to battle darkness but be joyful always and know I pray every day in Spanish for you especially. I also pray for the others at home, but know I do not worry about what is happening or what will happen in the future.
Siempre y Siempre mi querida familia,
Elder Sullivan

August 8th Letter

Buenas tardes mis padres y mis hermanas
I hope life is still going well and thank you for writing! As I thought, only my parents wrote to me haha. I hope this message finds you well.
Thanks for sharing all your experiences about Trek and testimony meeting. It makes me very happy to know my family is being looked after and is looking after other people. Please keep up all the work (Dios ha veendo). Let me know how it goes, and keep those Chestermerians and Calgarians on track!
Lo siento about the whole airport fiasco! The agent was really not happy about all the unlucky odds I faced haha. Pero it worked out fine in the end and nobody died or anything.
Entonces, el CCM. Es bien. Pero, I can´t wait to leave it haha. Today I met some Elders from my mission in the bookstore. WOAH. I´ll be serving con ellos en 5 semanas! La comida en el CCM es ok. Arroz cada dia. La carne is not done very well haha. Pero, me gusta poco. haha. I was sick for a couple of days so staying awake at times was tough but I get WAY more sleep than during the school year. I play a lot of volleyball during gym time and actually eat three square meals a day and its bonita. I am in a great district, and this may or may not be surprising but there is actually almost NO native elders in the CCM. They are all americans! From Utah. About as white as you get and I am the only Canadian. Pero, mi companero Elder Joseph is a Haitian who has lived in Santo Domingo for 8 months. He has a really large family, and one of his sisters is serving a mission in Santo Domingo East, the same mission he will be going to on September 10! He is super funny, loves joking and running around and speaking a bunch of different languages (some hermanas here speak Tagalog by the way) and doesn´t speak more than a couple words of English. So how do we do anything? Yo no se. He speaks a lot of Spanish very well but it is not his first language, Creole\French is. Entonceeesss... its pretty hard. Daily life is fine because I can speak the basic things but as soon as complex things need to happen like teaching a lesson to an investigator.... IT GETS REALLY TOUGH. Because all I speak is the basics. To communicate in complex terms I need a lot of time to think it out or write Spanish down and I take too long. But usually it works out much better than I thought and all is well and its good that I´m a follower because mostly wherever Elder Joseph goes I go unless I really need something haha. It´s hard for him because this place is meant for, designed for and caters to English speakers for learning Spanish. Only the Haitian missionaries speak French (most of them are old friends of Elder Joseph´s). But he is a great companion and its going to be great. The other elders\hermanas en mi distrito are from the U.S. There are far more elders in this CCM than hermanas. Its cool to see the different levels of progress in the different missionaries concerning the language. Everyone knows the doctrine. But only certain people are really progressing in spanish. Our district leader Elder Pedersen is really learning a lot of spanish (he basically speaks more or less the same as me) and is a great guy who follows the rules but still does fun stuff and is a classic Utah kind of person. His companion Elder Little is SO FUNNY. OH MY. COMICO. Sin Elder little, there would be so much less fun in the district. Elder Le Fevre, Elder Ernst, Hermana Scholes and Hermana Hamblin are all awesome too and the hermanas get along with Elder Joseph well (despite the severe lack of Spanish knowledge in most of the missionaries. except for one hermana who took it in college. She used the past tense in a regular conversation. I died a little inside.). Its a priviledge to be here and a great honour and blessing and my one desire is that I can learn enough here to be an effective tool in the Lord´s hands. I really like that the CCM is on the temple grounds and today we had the blessing of going inside! After an endowment session we got to do sealings! It was amazing to do work for families and to do sealings for children to their parents! I really understood and felt the importance and power of eternal families and I am so glad that my family is eterno and that we are under the covenant and can´t wait for mama to be sealed as well!. I am grateful for everything you guys do and will strive to become the man you hope and expect from me. I am having a good time at the CCM, but really want to get out. The language is progressing. To an extent. I have good grammar and structure, but I lack complex vocabulary. Thankfully I spent all that time trying to understand Chinese when I didn´t speak it because it truly is helping me comprehend people here. I hope I can do more than just ¨"figure things out" and actually be useful. I really need to. Its a truly spiritual experience to be here and I hope that spirit carries on into your lives. I pray for you all the time. I hope all things for you. There is great power in faith. And I would like to express the importance of pondering and deep thought, as it was alone without any distraction as I sat and thought about what to say in a lesson where it all became so much clearer in prayer and deep thought. True inspiration. I hope I´m helping my companion, but I really have no idea. It is awesome to be here and to be doing the Lord´s work. I feel so much better than I did in school. I guess my favourite scripture right now is Moroni 10: 3-5. The Book of Mormon challenge. The family should read it and understand the true power of prayer and quiet thought. Remember always I love you and if nothing else I hope my love of you and the Lord is enough to prevail against evil. Always have joy, my family and thank you for getting me out on this mission especially prepared.
Fight the good fight.
All of my love, se amo se amo con todo mi corazon.
Elder Michael Sullivan (El Canadian solamente)