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