Thursday, 27 February 2014

Feb 25th Letter 2014

Hey family,

I am glad that everything is alright and that you are all always protected and happy. We are doing pretty well here as well, we appear to have found some solutions for the health problems and in order to find those solutions did some fairly neat exploring of the city in gua gua (bus kind of thing). It was cool to drive around and stuff.

So thats cool to hear about the Olympics. I forgot all about that they were happening. Oops. Thats cool they will be held in Korea next. Yeaaah! I am glad everyone got to ski around and see cool things and meet people out in the snow. Sometimes I think I feel cold but I realize that really it is about 25 degrees or more and it is all just in my head and I am turning Dominican. Ya tu sabes. I am glad the sisteries are doing cool things and that they are enjoying the weather and cool things. Sounds awesome!

Elder Herrmann and I shall be staying together another transfer in Ivan Guzman! I am really excited to still be with Elder Herrmann, about staying in the area, well it is still pretty cool and all the Mercado family is superbly happy about it as their choir shall still be beautiful until their son leaves and no one can play the piano. Ah well. Elder Diaz is staying as well with his companion. He has been here forever now, a third of his mission will be spent in Ivan Guzman. Its strange that we barely even know what the rest of the Domincan is even like whatsoever. I mean, I have seen some nice parts where the office and temple are, but thats about it, and its doesnt feel Dominican there, the Dominican to me is still Ivan Guzman. Some nice houses. No high buildings, a bunch of strangeness and such, water and light problems and the humble poor against the proudful rich. Interesting.

Well last week was pretty cool. We have actually progressed so much farther than I thought we had and are having success in helping the area and people much more than I thought before. I suppose its because we started from so little again. I really hope to see some sort of rise and success in this area before I leave it. But I suppose that doesnt really matter as just growing and having the Spirit so much has been worth all my time and life, and sharing it with other people has been especially edifying and cool. 

Last week we met this atheist (like, the rarest thing ever in the Dominican only the second I´ve ever seen) who was really adamant and contentious with us. Really wanted to defend his position and such and not accept even just our pamphlet thingy. We respected him greatly, but he didnt believe us when we said we understood him. Made me realize a few things about what life really means, when I asked him why he continues living, obeying the law and doing normal things. He answered to do things he likes to do. To do things that please him. Didnt care about leaving an impression on the world or anything. He was raised in a church, but never believed in it and never recieved answers to the few prayers he said. I wondered to myself, and even said to him, if that all the purpose was just to obtain nothing and please ourselves, well thats kind of just sad, and if I didnt truly have purpose, a Father in Heaven who truly understands and a grand potential to be something great and be part of the Family of God for eternity, well I would probably just do a bunch of crazy things to enter the supposed ¨endless sleep¨ instead of wasting other people´s time or something. There is truly a reason that as humans we reason with thought greater than just survival, and I have really realized through before and after the mission that it is because we are children of God. We have divine potential. We have purpose. And our message to the world is that all people are of the Family of God and all of us can be reunited, if we are but willing to do His work here on earth so that we can continue the work for always. I hope people can see that, and come to know that like we have.

We have been having a new abundance of the Spirit in lessons with a new devotion to loving the people and truly consegrating ourselves to God, just as He has consecrated Himself to us. Lessons have a new flow and meaning, people are understanding better and better and new investigators of higher quality have been appearing. We still need to work really hard, and of course everyone has their struggles and pitfalls, but we have been working differently to truly have the Spirit always. Its really something special to see people open up and truly come to know their purpose and understand who they really are. My convert has been struggling with some weight he says he feels, and by sharing with him to truly let go of such trouble and leave it behind and give up such things to God and entregarse..... um... deliver himself into God´s hands and love. Our few investigators have actually been reading and praying, a few of them are really there in terms of recieving the Spirit. Hopefully its not just what I think because I dont fully understand what they truly mean. But really, I am terrible at reading people its just out here that the gift of discernment is granted. 

Thats cool that someone is there from Guatemala. I suppose my spanish is fine. I understand people unless they use some word I have never heard ever that is super complex and I cant talk about medicines or strange things like that very well, but I communicate with everyone and they communicate back and I understand and know basically every word they say. I dont think in English when speaking Spanish. The words in Spanish just mean what they mean, not some English word. So its pretty good. Haha. I dunno. Lessons are way different from normal conversation in terms of understanding. And I definitely express spiritually and my deeper thoughts better in Spanish than in English. Weird, the whole being called thing. 

I hope you are all doing very well. I know that the Lonsdale family has gone through some tough times and that you are affected as well, but that you always continue onwards, and it is truly a part of what we must pass through. Job lost everything he had, Alma and Amulek faced great horror, but none of that mattered in terms of their God. They truly realized what consegration means. That because God gives all for us, we must give all to him. The people of Ammon gave up their lives before taking another. I have lost every investigator with the exception of Javier, all our investigators are new as of now. No one gets anything easy, and it shouldnt be so. Rather, it has been a priviledge to pay the price to come to know God. I hope to see fruits of the work, but at least I must return home a convert after having given all, even if Javier should be the only one. I suppose that is what we learn here, how to consecrate ourselves. And I have another month and a half in Ivan Guzman to figure it out.

Thank you so much for being my great family. Dont worry about us, we eat fairly healthy, probably just a little too much. We drink lots of fancy teas and look at sunsets sometimes which may or may not be extremely weird. Please always be alright. Que siempre sigan adelante y nunca desmayen. Porque Dios nos sostendrĂ¡.

Con amor siempre,

Elder Sullivan

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Feb 17th Post

Hello famillllyyyy!
I hope everything is going really well. It is nice to hear that you are all enjoying the winter skiing rather than freezing and doing nothing. haha. We are all doing fairly well, getting fat and lazy but otherwise doing very well. So keep exercising or it happens. Try not to kill the other people you guys are skiing with and I hope you guys are safe on the roads and everything. Dont break your back father, it is a fairly delicate thing. 

I am glad that the funeral service was nice and that the Lonsdales are doing alright and that they have so much support on earth and from Heaven. I will try to send the Lonsdales something soon and hopefully it will reach them before I come home. 

I am glad you are receiving pictures from Elder Herrmann, I am actually sending a few today even (yeah!). Found a working USB port finally somewhere in the DR. Thanks for the cool pictures from you guys, sorry my half is somewhat poor. I am thinking of sending the SD card whenever I leave this area (so, maybe next week, or in two more months) to have a fresh card for a fresh area so you can have a library of my last area and be sent some cool ones whenever I get a new one (as if that will ever happen). Elder Diaz thinks we will leave this transfer, but he has said that for months now and it has yet to happen. Ah well. Ivan Guzman is basically the DR, right?

So everything is still pretty normal. We are finally mobile again, although it is difficult to adjust back into normal schedule having been off of it for so long. Hopefully we adjust, because we shall be walking LOTS. We have decided with much prayer and thought, that we need to get out into different parts of the area and really kind of stop visitng people who are not progressing so we can find people who are truly prepared. Good revelation and advice for sure, the area smells of stagnation haha. Elder Diaz has had two baptisms though this month, and two more on the way and the ward is really changing we are managing to get people more excited, interested and involved in missionary work. Elder Diaz described it really well. He said ¨The Lord has called a bunch of new missionaries and a new ward mission leader in order to humble this area. Being new, we dont know what to do, so we will look to the Lord, and this is his plan. That we do the work in his manner.¨ Not an exact quote but something like that. And it really is true. I still barely know anything about how to do this work or how it all really works but really its the Lord´s work, so we need not fear! If we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will have us do it in his manner, in his great and glorious ways. 

Our investigators... well most are stagnating or need something or just need time. Most just need to read the book of mormon and pray and truly receive the Spirit so they want to do the things God asks of them. I really am worried for them and hope they can continue sometime when they have the desire to know. It has been especially sad to see people who cant get baptized because of not being married. Sometimes one of them wants to receive the church, but is held back by their not really spouse person who doesnt want marriage and doesnt want the gospel either. We are working with that, but its going to be really tough. We have some eternal dry members in the ward, and it kind of discourages them that their family wont agree. Ah well, we try. We are getting some sucess in certain areas. Found the cousin of our ward mission leader and her husband. They are super cool. I mean, the wife just wants to get married and baptized, the husband is a little more reluctant but still super cool. WE MAY HAVE PROGRESS THEY LIKE CHURCH A LOT!! Well we shall see. They sort of read and stuff and are pretty cool and live with our ward mission leader until they can move into their house here in our area. COOOOL We are also exploring the area more and finding new neighbourhoods that are promising some sucess. Humble people. Members in need of visits. Partial families. Lots of people to help. And it looks kind of pretty. Even though it is as poor as poor kind of gets. But those are the people! Lots of evangelical church types though. But according to Presidentl, they make good members after they are converted so we have to teach them. 

Otherwise the weather is good. I cant complain. Some weird bugs are eating us. We receive more money than we used to. I eat fancy ramen with veggies and eggs in it. I cook like a beast and make awesome food. I hope all your adventures are going really well. That Christina takes care doing the most awesome thing ever in OE! That Tasha does well and gets married and has a good time (those pictures I sent are her birthday gift because nothing is better than my beautiful face with a beautiful sunset. Am I right?

As you all know, I always pray for you and always hope the best and hope that someday all these great people I have met here can join us to be together as the family of God forever. I gave a super last minute talk in church before having to sing with the choir. The choir piece was really cool a person from the CCM came to play the violin. And my talk was super thrown together but apparently people really liked it or something. Im sure they just say that and I probably said something really weird in spanish. Oh well. It was about the Atonement, and what it means to us and what we are here to do in life. I would like to let you all know that I know if we do the work of the Lord, it will just continue forever. If not, well then it doesnt. I hope we all learn how to love, appreciate, understand, serve and really become children of God with his grand divine potential. That you all keep safe. I hope you can feel of the Spirit the way I have here in the mission. How he just arrives in that precise moment. I have seen it either change people entirely, just for a moment or seen them harden their hearts against him. I hope that you may always have the Spirit as a companion, as he will never falter or fail us, even when we are apt to do so. I hope I learn to understand all this more and more.

I love you all
Les quiero, les amo y que le Senor siempre les cuide en sus manos de misericordia y gracia.
Elder Sullivan

PS What is snow like? I kind of forgot.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Feb 10th Letter

Queridisima familia,

Thank you for everything and your great understanding. I am sorry about last week and writing on the tuesday again. I am truly blessed to have the family I do. 

I am truly sorry about the passing of Jocelyn and the great sadness that has come upon the Lonsdale family. If you could send me their mailing address (we found out we are allowed to write people other than family as of a few weeks ago), just to write a little note or something. Siento con todo mi corazon que esto haya pasado. Espero que todos puedan tener el consuelo del Senor, y su gran misericordia. I have studied with depth in prayer and in my reading of the great mercy of the Lord. While in this life we may believe that nothing is certain, that we are not significant and that for some reason the most faithful receive the hardest and most arduous of trials, all is truly made whole through Jesus Christ and his great love. I believe the most faithful are the ones who face the hardest trials, as they are being prepared for even greater, while it may not seem so, and that there is purpose to what we do. Please comfort those in need of comfort. There is no greater work than to bless the lives of others. Do not feel as though prayers have not been answered, rather remember that ¨all thine afflictions are but a passing moment¨. I know that you will all be fine, and all else that passes will pass. Thank you for all your words and thoughts and prayers. Remember I am with you. I shared about our family in a meeting with my convert about Gon gon, and that he continues watching me, and for once in my life I understand him pefectly.

Sorry I cant send photos again. This computer doesnt work perfectly, like most machines I usually operate. Sorry about saying sorry, I suppose it sort of annoys my american compadres a little. The oregano oil works wonders like making my mouth burn for 15 seconds until I can drink something and also burns my acne if I put it on it (ten minutes of a knife in my face). We are having a good time out here and have had some great experiences with la gente. I hope it is the same with you.

So this week we faced disappointment with some again. But I really have learned that the reason they dont come to church or read or whatever it is that they do is only because they havent received the Spirit yet or are not willing to follow, and our job is to keep working with that. I dont suppose I will ever just walk into baptisms (as nice as that would be) like some people seem to do, and I wont be baptizing ¨minimum church attendance¨ either. I suppose I have really learned that a convert needs to be a convert and not just a ¨requirement meeter¨, that is not sufficient to truly be a part of God´s kingdom. We shall never meet his standard of perfection, but we better be progressing towards it everyday. I learned a great deal about the responsibility of having the gospel, and that if we do not magnify all that we do for the Lord, then we are accountable. I feel we should embrace such accountability, rather than shun it, and use that great responsiblity to effect great miracles. I suppose many times I have felt like Nefi in Helaman felt, discouraged as he returned to his house that the people still remained apart from the Lord and we as missionaries once again remained the only ones with the Lord. But always I receive something, some light that sparks. To be honest, many of those sparks have died at times, but that does not bother me. The sparks that have become flames are what I see. There is no point in looking into the darkness, you will see nothing and probably something will come out and eat you. So we should look at the light, where we can see. The Lord has granted us some success, a promising family, cousins of our ward mission leader, who are now living with him until they move (which we hope is never), but Im not sure I have ever seen such interest in a set of new investigators. I hope they truly progress, and that a family can enter the kingdom in this part for the first time in quite a while. Unfortunately, their work schedule is very unfavourable, so it might be difficult, but it will happen if the ward mission leader helps us out a lot. Our other investigators have stagnated in certain aspects, but we are going to work with them to progress, as the purpose of the gospel is progression! We hope to receive more references and are making efforts to receive them. Hopefully you guys are finding references or something. We have found the best work in partial families for sure. There is something about completing the family that brings people in.

Otherwise life has been pretty normal. Walking is still a little limited, but its fine. I sang a song in church for sacrament meeting (one in which Elder Diaz had a confirmation of two investigators). I sang ¨Homeward Bound¨ using the words from Joseph´s Smiths First Prayer. Apparently it was really good and people cried and it brought the Spirit. It was great to sing and have the Mercado family help out so much. The baptism of Elder Diaz´s investigator was REALLY special with the meeting, the actual baptism going so well and everything. The ward has really pulled together a lot more and has more zest for the work now. Hopefully this continues, and we can keep our zest for the work too.

Thank you for everything my great and wonderful family. That the Lord accompanies you in everything, and you never feel of great saddness, rather endless joy.

Con amor y mi corazon,
Elder Sullivan

PS I love you all!

Feb 4th Letter - a day late

Queridisima Familia

Oops sorry the computer lagged out there. Anyway, where was I? Oh right. So discouragement is a rough thing and can really destroy faith, hope, charity and basically your whole life (as president and the zone leaders say) so you have to just seguir adelante, continue onwards. Never be discouraged. I mean, it always looks pretty hard, but I am really glad that I learned not to be discouraged ever. I really learned even more of that from Elder Herrmann, being such a nice and friendly and happy guy just to like, do stuff. Really good. I am so glad to have a companion like him and to feel the strength of his testimony around in lessons. There is a reason we go two in two and not alone. Support is so important. And its a lot more fun that way too. We took a bunch of awesome sunset photos (does that sound gay? it really wasnt) that I will send when the USB ports function. Haha. But it is really good and all to be with such a cool companion doing cool things and he is really nice and stuff. We often discuss our similar ideals and stuff. Hopefully I dont talk to much and sound like an annoying guy who says eh all the time and pronounces bag wrong.

So I have definitely platanoized (dominicanized) because it was so cold this morning I thought I would die and the wind even right now bothers me so much! I even get goosebumps sometimes. The sun is still really hot, but I dont feel out of place anymore really. I am sure it will be different in the summer and we will all die or something. 

So we had interviews with the President last week and it was really awesome again to talk with such a wonderful, loving and powerful man. Wish I was with him all the time. I love feeling of the great spirit he carries with him and the way he just kind of resolves all your problems without even addressing them at all. It was really great!

Preaching was interesting this week, somewhat interrupted again but doing alright. It has been nice at least to talk with my companion lots and come closer and such so that we can preach more effectively and study some stuff. Some cool experiences, we have divided the area officially as of now, so we had to give up a bunch of investigators to Elder Diaz and Elder Ramos and they gave a few to us. So we are actually just staying in a few sectors now where we preach, which is really nice and is helping us to focus a lot more on the people instead of walking everywhere. We have realized the real need for us in certain parts of our area, such as places without priesthood amongst the members, where we gave a blessing and saludamos... um... greeted the people over there and reminded them we were there to help and all and we will probably have to do lots out there. I think a few people home teach (like, once every moon or something), so it appears the church is the same everywhere (HAHAHAHAHA). Anyway, it was nice to remember that the members need us to, and the new goal is to really start with the partial families, bring them all together in the gospel. They all really need our help, and hopefully we are up to helping them.

We had the priviledge of receiving some awesome contacts and references lately from one member who is going to help us teach his friend from Haiti (we will need some translation help from him apparently). Hopefully that works out. We also found this one guy who randomly just walked into the church building on Sunday after Ward Council and met with the members there and with us, a member helped him with some food because his family didnt have any and he needs work, so it is now fallen to us to feed them with the gospel as well. I really hope he is a chosen and that we can really bring his whole family around and teach him and he accepts it. It has been cool to see lots of spiritual experiences where what we should be doing with investigators seems to just be granted to us if we are paying attention. I hope the investigators can feel that too and accept it, because it is so wonderful to be a part of a thing like that. Elder Herrmann invited a guy to be baptized when I hadnt said anything about that, to a guy who could really go far (unfortunately, he does not live in our area but we gave the referral) as he had knowledge of the gospel through the bible, but had yet to find a church. He said he was desirous to have God answer him in prayer about what he should do, and we invited him to do so, and be baptized. It is good for me to have the reminder we are supposed to be baptizing people. I have forgotten this point a little, and have posted papers around my desk to remind me about baptizing people, as they cannot fully accept the gospel and receive the fullest of blessings without it. I wish sometimes people would just come up to us and say ¨baptize me¨. That would be nice. Just teach them stuff and have them accept it and be awesome. Hopefully we can get a little bit of that rolling with awesome referrals and such. And more of the Spirit with us. And less sugar making me fat.

I hope you all know I love you very much and are always in my prayers and be not confounded before men, trust in the Lord and let him fill you with what to say and do. I hope that you are all receiving the blessings of helping me to be here, and never be discouraged for anything! I am glad everyone is enjoying the winter and has had good times! Thank you for sending some pictures of what is happening! 

Con mi amor, corazon, alma, y todo mi ser,
Elder Sullivan, hijo suyo
PS That oregano oil stuff? It is really good, but WOW it clears the system, especially when you accidentally overdose a little bit.

Sorry about not writing yesterday, we have had some difficulties with leaving the house due to health (foot problems) but its all good we got permission to write today and I am not the one sick for once haha. Dont worry about us!

So thats awesome you all managed to get in touch with Elder Herrmann´s parents and get some photos from them and such. I just finally received the package last week and thank you! Thank the Poons especially for the LEGO set it was really cool! I have been busily devouring the HI CHEW and hopefully it lasts a little longer than it looks like it will right now. I got the camera gear as well, which I would use if this particular computer had operating USB ports (next week, sory). But the package was really nice thank you! I like the cards (even if my sisters are total gooooooffffss). 

I will remember to pray for Jocelyn, I am sorry that is happening right now but I am glad everyone is pulling together for it. Even though I havent really passed trials as tough as that, I do understand what it is to face discouragemernt