Monday, 31 March 2014

March 31st Letter

Buenas tardes todos!

So glad that all the holidays went very well in Russia and Mexico! Nice to hear the ocean was kind this year and shared of her wonders with everyone. I havent seen oceany things in a while but Im sure I will sometime. Sorry that you all still have a language barrier going on but oh well it just means you have to study spanish haha. I miss doing things on the water but live vicarously through all your experiences. Thank you as always for the great words of comfort and guidance. Although I havent seen great success in numbers, I suppose at least all the people I have met here have been changed in some way or another. Changed for the better.

Well I am glad all our friends think I am doing a great job. Of course they think so, its a great part of latin culture, the preaching of the word. People here recognize so easily that we are here to preach, but of course when we state our real purpose of changing their lives, they back down a little haha. I suppose it testifies to me of the truth of this gospel. Im not just going around trying to get people to join the church just to pay some money, but really inviting them to follow Christ. It has been so special to share with people what will really touch and change their hearts forever. I may be facing my last week here in Ivan Guzman (we will find out sunday), so it might be time to finally see the Dominican Republic outside of my little bubble here. I have really got to know a lot of people here really well, but its kind of strange to kind of go through cycles of investigators like I have. As always its worth it or in spanish, ¨vale la pena¨. I am going to really miss Elder Herrmann and Elder Diaz and the Mercado family.

Otherwise things are going well. The sun is shining brighter and brighter and burning us alive but thats ok because there were once another three missionaries in the bible who did the same Shadrac Mishac and Abednego and they didnt burn at all. So hopefully we dont as well.

This week was really interesting to see the desire of some of our investigators. They have this burning desires to know and to be better and have blessings or something for their lives, but are always turned back by something worldly. Work, money, slight sicknesses and whatever else people can conjure up tends to get in the way of their desires though. So, they do not yet have the faith. But that comes.

We went to the temple with some other zones last week. I am very glad we did. The Lord seems to know when we need things from, and He knew in that moment that I needed to be in His presence again. I felt granted the priviledge of being with all of our eternal family. Elder Herrmann and I stayed in the temple a long time, and it made me sad again to leave. It was really special to feel that we really are going to be together again, everyone. I hope we will all be there together with even more people, all our dear Dominican friends too. I am grateful the Lord has His plan for us. So we should never fear, just press on. I have really found out a lot of what happens is all in our minds, and we just need to have open hearts so that we can forget problems and take up our cross in this life and walk. Other people need me every day, and if I am bogged down with little things that happen to bug me, I am missing the point of life here. 

Its been great to share with such great people. We brought a cake to celebrate Christina´s birthday with a family and really got the kids involved. Hopefully they can become an eternal family. So special and great. They all say happy birthday to Christina, in chinese as well! 

Some investigators have been going really cool, accepting baptism dates and stuff. We blessed a bunch of people this week for assorted different things. Priesthood exercising. And body exercising, I have been doing a lot of that lately in the mornings. So far its working to help keep me awake and doing well and everything. 

We also have been really feeling the guidance of the Spirit. Sometimes we miss impressions, but for the most part have been exactly where we needed to be in the exact necessary moment. To share with a family about faith. To help some people understand their lives could be so much better if they live the commandments and press forward in the path. To comfort a family distressed with sickness. To invite a man to hear more about the Gospel. Finding someone we lost randomly in the streets one day. So priviledged to be here. 

So dont worry about me Im figuring out lots of cool things and everything. I love being out here and would not trade it for anything. We saw the baptisms of Elder Diaz´s investigators, all the ones I had the priviledge of working with. They are so amazing now, the Spirit glows within them and sheds light wherever they go, and Im so happy to be a part of that. That we picked them up out of darkness and now they are here in something beyond comprehension. Wow Im getting poetic.

Family, I love you dearly and hope only the best. Never give up. I know you are in God´s hands. Do not look back on what is past, only at what exists now. Because life is so wonderful and we have so many chances to live it.

Gracias por todo siempre. Que el Senor les cuide en sus manos.
Siempre mi amor,
Elder Sullivan

PS Hopefully this all made sense!

March 25th Letter


I am so glad to hear of the great adventures everyone is having in Mexico (not so far from where I am haha). I have recently been thinking a little bit about surfing and how awesome it would be to live a life on the ocean surfing, but for now we are here in the city center haha. I thought for a little bit maybe I would need some other outlets or somethng around here but it turns out sharing the gospel and being with wonderful people is far more than sufficient and more gratifying than just a few moments doing something else. So here we are continuing the work. I am not sure I will ever see all that many baptisms, but at least somebody heard the truth!

I am sure you guys are eating better than I am, but we did up the quality of the food around here a bit. I actually cook meats and eggs with awesome vegetables and it tastes super good. Our rice dishes are getting really creative haha. Mostly we just throw everything we have into the pots and cook it with the stove thingy that seems to burn way too hot.

Its really cool that you guys are sailing! We received some photo a while ago of it and Elder Herrmann and I were adoring its beauty haha.

As always you are all in my care, at least in prayers. We had the great opportunity to attend the temple with our converts on thursday and we get to go as part of the mission tomorrow as well. It was truly amazing to be in the temple again, especially to be with the people that have been in my care as mandated by the Lord. I was reminded that this work is done in all places of the world and the heavens. Javier was baptized for his grandfather and his mom who had passed away also received baptism. I witness it happened, and hope that Javier truly feels that his mom has entered the path of salvation and greater joy, and he will be with her forever. I know it is the same with us, and that all of us will be together again. It is the plan of God. It was really special to see in the temple and continue sharing with all people. I like to show a picture of families (sometimes us haha) to investigators and everyone to remind them what is the goal. A life so full and wonderful, it cant even really be explained. Only felt. I hope everyone can always feel the presence of their family, espeically their heavenly family, their celestial family. I know you are always with me Mom, Dad, Tasha and Christina, and never forget that. It has been so wonderful, brilliant and marvelous to see the work done here, with very little of that even being attributed to something specific I have done. Instead, the Lord works in His mysterious way. I hope that everyone I have met can find such wonderful peace and what it can do in their lives. I know it is when we are most discouraged, depressed and let down when the Lord lifts us upon His shoulders and raises us to see the light of day out of the crushing waves that would beset us. I never feel that my work is sufficient, I know just like King Benjamin that I will always be an inutil and insufficient servant of the Lord. And yet He has called all of us to His great work, and for some reason in my weakness I am here still. The Lord has never forsaken me, even when I have felt He has. I know every person I have met has at least felt something, and maybe someday it will mean something in His great plan.

We are going to celebrate Christina´s birthday today at a family home evening with a family we have reactivated and hopefully someday the children get baptized. We bought a cake and everything haha. I will send the pictures of the event next week. I hope Russia is going really well for you Christina. Take a picture of the Kremlin and send it to me! We are teaching some really neat people. It is cool in this country that people just accept to hear us haha. Of course, its always a little strange when we dont just read the Bible but actually seek to change their lives. But wow does it change them. One guy finally came to church that I taught for months and then Elder Diaz somehow got him to come. Super cool. Some random people we found are suddenly progressing like crazy. Reading and everything. They have a bad family situation but ah well, thats what the Gospel and the whole changing thing is. They play a lot of dominoes! We teach this really couply couple as well. Its super cool, but kind of awkward being two guys with some couple haha. They are pretty cool and want the best for their family, we just need them to start upping their game, so we need to up ours haha. 

Anyway, I hope you are always doing well. Even in the face of whatever comes, always be strong. I have come to love the story of Ammon and his brothers preaching. They truly faced hardship, far more than I ever will, and yet ¨When our hearts were found discouraged, the Lord comforted us in our afflictions and commanded us to suffer with patience our afflictions, and I will give you success.¨ Have a wonderful time in Mexico. Dad, make sure you have some sort of picture of surfing for me, and make them good pictures haha! Know that I am alright and continue praying for all of you. I just hope I never forget and always stay diligent. Thank you for your constant reminders. I know that God is with you, never push him away, for He never abandons us. While all other things in this world do, He does not. I love you all!

Ustedes siempre tienen mi amor, no obstante lo que pase. Son mis mas queridos y amados. Nunca se sientan solos.
With all my love,
Elder Michael Sullivan

PS I am so buffffssss. I works out sooo much.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

March 18th Letter

(editorial note) Elder Sullivan received the disturbing news of the sudden passing of his cousin, Nicole Halat (age 29 years), youngest daughter of his Auntie Julie.  

Hi everyone, sorry we didnt get to writing yesterday (again) but we got time for today. I hope everyone is doing alright.

I am truly and deeply sorry that there are such trials at home. I hope that everyone is supporting themselves well. I may have trouble imagining what it is really like at home for everyone, but I know that you are all kept in the Lord´s hands, and although it may not appear so, Nicole is as well. I am sitting slightly amazed and confused right now, but I know that all will be well. I dont think that these typed letters will really express how I feel, so try to imagine me there with you giving everyone a hug. Know that my love still travels with you all, and that everything will be fine. I dont have very much time, but I will try sending something to Auntie Julie and Uncle Mark today, maybe something more as well next week. Dont worry about me, I will be fine as long as I keep obeying and keep a clear mindset on everything. Thankfully the Lord does not let his servants fall when they look for Him. I know we can all rely on his arm, and that only the love of an entire Heavenly Family is what fills the heart. I have seen it here. Last night we had a family home evening with a single mother who was less active and her not baptized children. We came extremely late due to another lesson and other business with shirts and the grocery store (I have no problems, dont worry) so the mother had already given the lesson to her kids and a few members she invited. It was really nice to arrive there and just see such joy. We had just dropped an investigator who wasnt ready to receive the message, and being a little down, we arrived at the family´s house discussing the man we had dropped. It was amazing to just enter their house and feel a joy and spirit. To be welcomed and sat down where the Spirit had entered without us even being there whatsoever. The mother, we cant even recognize her as being inactive or anything. She has refilled with the wonderful light that comes from Christ. So excited to see and move and continue onwards in life. Their family has such great faith and hope, and they all look forward to the day they are an eternal family and I just hope we can help them. The son in their family has autism, and cannot express himself or ever be normal. But his spirit is marvelous and shines through, and the hope of that family to one day be with him in Heaven speaking normally is so great. The mother knows that one day he will be with them in the presence of God as her perfect child one day and that he has been saved for such a priviledge. I pray that as missionaries we do all that is sufficient for them to be an eternal family. There is such joy there, and I hope it never fades as they remain faithful in the church together. We may even see the baptism of the children soon and be a part of their learning and instruction and testimony building. It was really gratifying after so many disappointments to finally have some degree of success. I have realized that yes we make many mistakes, we are never as diligent or faithful as we should be, but everything is resolved with our effort and the grace of God, and I am just so happy to be here with my greatest friends helping them reach out to God and enjoy the great joy of being concious of their part in His eternal family. I am so glad to be part of an eternal family that extends beyond anything we even imagine. Thank you for being my family and always being there for me, and I am sorry I cant always be there for you but my prayers go with you, and never fear.

We are eating really healthy now. My companion makes sushi sometimes (see the picture). And eating next to no carbs but with lots of vegetables and protein (MEAT). Supposedly we are losing our fat and gaining muscle, which I sort of believe? Our best investigators (the crazy awesome progressing couple) just moved back out of our area. SO THE OTHER MISSIONARIES BETTER PICK UP THE SLACK! Yeah, we were a little upset but its alright, its just kind of sad that we may never see them again and can only keep hoping and praying for their conversion. At least we were part of it. Otherwise lots of great things are going on with other investigators, sickness and other excuses are battering church attendance but thats just because they dont realize how important it is yet haha. We found these greatly prepared people who came to church first week!!! They have been looking for the true church after being rejected by their original churches and they are so open and ready to hear the message. I cant wait to keep on teaching them and helping grow their faith until the end. Its our part now to keep on going. I really love being in this area that has been my home for probably too long and having Elder Herrmann as a companion. We may not have great success in numbers, but I feel like our love for the people will help them more than just the numbers of their baptisms. There is such wonderful joy in working for the Lord, and even better with all these great people, missionaries and this wonderful mission.

Thank you family for always being so great and wonderful and loving. I wish that I could be good enough to make up for all you do. I am sorry so much has happened, I continue hoping and praying for the best. I hope Tasha keeps having success and Christina is safe on her trip and dont worry, eventually you will be able to go to Japan Christina. Sorry for writing today. I really hope you are all okay and anything that you need from me it is already given if you ask. My love goes wherever you go. Please always see the joy in life. As our mission President asked to a Hermana a few days ago ¨Why do you serve your investigator? What would you do for her?¨ And the Hermana responded ¨I love her, and I would do anything for her¨. Know that my answer is the same for all of you and every brother and sister everywhere. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Con amor siempre mis amados y queridos,

Elder Sullivan

Monday, 10 March 2014

March 10th Letter

Hola famililililiia

So I am glad everyone is doing really well and that the weather has improved. I think ours has gotten hotter as well, but I cant really know for certain anymore. Well for me 7 months has not really seemed all that long. I guess each day is pretty long, but I look back and the week is already gone and it seemed like just yesterday I was on the computer writing, and just two days ago I was getting off the plane alone at the CCM. But you know, whatever.

Dont worry about me not sleeping, I like bought some sort of tea with chamomile for it and really its just all mind over matter. I can do whatever I choose to do, and if I choose to get up and be happy every day, then I am!

I am happy to hear that everyone was safe on all their trips and everything and I knew the ski trip would be fine, the teachers know whats up with the mountains. I know Dad probably did something awesome and cool for the youth (Dad is a party animal and such) and hopefully the youth had the constitution to keep up. I suppose our ward is about to do things as well this week. Something on Thursday. A conference for missionaries Friday. And Hermano Mercado made a cool awesome tradition of karaoke every one or two months haha and it is this Wednesday. We go and stuff with our investigators and converts and hope someone brings references, and so far it has turned out really cool if nothing else. Everyone is pretty goofy especially Hermano Mercado. I think he and Dad would get along really well.

What else is new... We actually teach and help families now! I may have mentioned a bunch the awesome couple we are trying to help out right now. They basically just have to get married and read the book of mormon and they will be super awesome! Its really nice to be with them and recieve their questions, thoughts, trust and learn about them. Hopefully at some activity someday we can try his professional cooking (heheheeheh, he works in a restaurant). Its really nice to be able to get to know people better than we would have just being here like tourists or just knowing them as friends. They have all become really close friends who look to us for God, and I hope everyday we hold the answer and the key especially for them, as each and every one of them are really dear to me. The less actives we work with are starting to show a little bit of progress, although set backs are also coming, as Satan´s last effort is always the strongest. We were super priviledged though to hear talks from two recent converts of Elder Diaz that I got to have the priviledge of teaching for a small amount of time, but an important time. And now they are super awesome converts who can stand up on the stand and give the most powerful and doctrinally backed talks that I have heard in a while. Really powerful testimonies, as they have passed the trial and found the happiness and their testimony of the scriptures is a beautiful thing to behold. It was super nice to see that. Our investigators are having their baby blessed in our church next week, so I guess that means we better work even harder to get them progressing in everything so they can fully be a part of the Kingdom of God. They really want to be, they just dont know fully how yet. I suppose not many people are always questioning things like, why they are here really and if they have a purpose. I suppose it is a powerful device of Satan, to use society as a shield, make people think in just social norms instead of their grand potential as children of God. Few ever realize that great potential. I have to remind myself frequently that really true happiness comes from God. Since we are his children, He wants us to return to Him. And we can. Sometimes we think he doesnt face trials. I see the trials that God faces every day. People in pain. People in suffering. People with problems that He wishes He could simply take away from them. But we have to grow. And God is never discouraged by what we do, He is only ever pleased and happy with us and hopes we can come to Him and learn His ways. I keep remembering that my ¨trials¨ are nothing. A slight discomfort here and there never should ever bother me. Sometimes it does, but I try to knock it down again. Discouragement is what destroys faith and leads to contention, which takes away the Spirit. I really know that is how it is. But I have realized that God keeps on having faith and hope in us, and we just need to continue. I have seen people with real struggles out here, and I cant help but realize that things I think are hard for me mean nothing. So never worry about me, family. It is a choice whether we are happy or not. Choice is the purpose of life. Javier, my convert, has been doing well but is a little overly stressed and having some problems with the death of his mom a few years ago and other assorted loads he carries. We ensure him always that everything is okay, and he seems to be doing a lot better, smiling again and running around the church. I told him to kind of just let go of all the weight and instead take upon himself the Lord Jesus Christ. ¨For my yoke is easy¨ or however it translates. Anyway, cool times and everything with everyone, although a plethora of hardened hearts the last few weeks. Ah well, some other day. They just havent made their choice yet to take upon themselves the yoke of Jesus, instead of their worldly loads.I suppose I need to remember that and not keep on carrying too much (like my bag).

Well I guess thats my preachy part for the week. In other news I eat too much and I am getting a little fat. But I also work out a lot, so it mostly gets counteracted and I end up being about the same. We have had a lot of street racing and stuff going on lately in the area and things have been a little busy on the streets. We are fairly busy too, and trying to keep everyone progressing still. We have a new fondness for ice cream. Found a little Yogen Fruz place here and I really like it so its probably being bought frequently. My stomach shall pay the price. Met some cool people this week who were hanging around. There are a lot of people from my CCM group in the zone right now. Like 5 of us. We had a super cool zone meeting with everyone. The house is really clean. Laughs all around every day. Sun shines brighter every day! (which also means I sweat a lot harder). But its alllll greaaaaattttt.

I am glad all is doing well. That Andy is going to serve a mission and all. Brotherhood is a great thing, and all the brothers being on missions is a great thing. The Lord´s work is uniting. MI GENTE.

Anyway all is cool I hope the ward is cool and that everything is cool except the weather. I feeeel so faaat right now I just ate too much at that food court oooouuuuccchhhh. But it was worth it!

Que el Senor les bendiga siempre!

As always with my love, hopes and prayers dearest family,
Elder Sullivan, coolest guy wearing a tie
PS Apparently other churches only send their missionaries out for a week. I thought of that cool line from Batman from that character Bane in the last one. ¨You think the darkness is your ally? I was born in the darkness. Molded by it. I didnt see light until I was a grown man.¨ So, yeah I guess only our church sends out the americans to live like Dominicans. HAHAAH.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

March 3rd Letter

Hola familia!
I hope everyone is supporting the weather alright and everyone is still alive and such! I suppose I am on the opposite side of the weather scale probably in 30 or more all the time haha sorry. Im sorry my english is kind of sliding but its hard to express what I want to say in English anymore, and I am using lots of spanish phrases now. I can still speak english and I am fairly sure I think mostly in English unless I switch out into Spanish. It happens a lot in the street. Somebody starts speaking English and I dont even know what to say to them. They want to like practice or something. But it confuses me too much.

So this was a really good week. Our numbers are once again somewhat normal, but thats not really the important part. We are really actually seeing legitimate progress in lots of the area! One reactivation, family getting prepped for baptism, lots of other people being potentials and finding all over the place! The ward has come so far from what it used to be, and its really nice to sit in church with all the converts and the members talking with investigators and being friendly and truly acting like saints. Its kind of like a miracle or something, and I am so glad I saw this moment come to pass finally after so much down time. Dont worry about me getting tired of anything, it never happens. I am out on the Lord´s errand and I have no reason to tire. So dont worry! I suppose I may not be such a talented teacher still, but at least someone will join the church even if just for sheer diligence!

Elder Herrmann and I are still chilling super well and having a great time here on the mission. Its so nice to be amongst a friendly and open people. Sure, they dont really commit but I have yet to meet a people who do, and at least we are in their houses teaching them the truth and eventually someone will accept it! YEAH!

Anyway, I am glad Dad got something to start working and that everyone is somehow enjoying the winter. I still cant imagine it all very well. I get cold all the time here, and its not even under room temperature I guess Ive become a wimp. Its funny that we comment about things being really incomplete, building wise, and its the same spiritually here. People are all kind of lacking something. I mean, basically everyone believes in God. But they do not know Him. They want to follow him, but dont know how and havent recieved of why. Why they all live here and such. I used to think the pattern of missionary lessons was kind of strange, but really its perfect. We teach the Plan of God for everyone that has been restored on Earth, and teach everyone how to come to find it! I have never realized as much as I do now the real purpose of things. People always seem to think too much about condemnation and not wanting to be punished, and wanting to be saved from that. I have found the real purpose is to develop the desire to follow God and have His love with us. If His love is truly with us, we reach out instead of in, and experience so much more than before. He supports us and keeps us always in His arms of mercy, if we but reach for them. Keeping the commandments is not to avoid condemnation, rather it is to find a new plane of living. A new paradigm for our lives. Becase really we are all children of God, and can become like him. We must take advantage of that opportunity to grow and learn.

Oops sorry got preachy. It kind of happens as a missionary. Anyway, learning lots about charity and love. Once told some investigators and converts that we were going to go back to basics. They were having disputes and whatever it was they had as problems, and I told them we were going to read about charity. I dont know why exactly. Anyway, I learned and they learned that it all starts with charity, hope and faith. We are just here to develop those. And the commandments help us, the church helps us everything helps us and eternally God helps us to be charitable, hopeful and faithful and nothing else is as important as these three features. I havent been able yet in the mission to fully comprehend nor develop these features, but it is coming slowly. I suppose I will search my whole life.

Anyway, spanish is cool. Preaching is cool. I really hope it keeps going like this. Not for me, for this area of the kingdom. They really deserve something here, better than they have been recieving. Eh, I guess thats why we are here or something.

Well I am glad everything is great. Haha, thats funny about super bowl with Elder Low. We dont have that problem here. we just show up on holidays anyway and people have to let us in unless they went out or something. We barged in a few parties and taught the people present haha. Not like, party parties but parties.

Our biggest hope right now is with families. We have some crazy prepared people kicking around, and they need some follow up pronto. It would be super nice to finally have a full family enter or be completed in the gospel.

Other cool stuff, we drink awesome herbal tea things. I have serious bad insomnia, but I dont requiere a large amount of sleep so its been fine and I am drinking chamomile sometiems to try and fix it. Ah well. It tastes good at least. Played soccer a bunch with the other latin missionaries. They keep on saying Canada is good at soccer, but I think they lie. I hopefully sent a bunch of cool pictures with the Mercado family and Javier and a family we are teaching. So fulfilling when people sit in church and it all looks perfect and such. Lots of people from my CCM group are in the zone now, like 5 of us in total. Wow. Kind of neat.

Thanks for the picture of cake. Now I am jealous. Oh well I ate ice cream today. And I am getting superbly fat, even though I work out everyday. Ah well. Such it is. So... dont get fat everyone! It doesnt feel nice!

Anyway, cool experiences, we sat with this less active (the one who just came back to church) and she like, just upon hearing us speak a little, told us her whole problem. And somehow, we resolved it with nothing but a few words about Jesus Christ, His Atonement and faith being like a seed that grows into a tree of life. Pretty neat to see the Spirit work with that lady, whose family could possibly become all baptized members and an eternal family other than perhaps the divorce. But we work. Other people are really reading the Book of Mormon and it truly is such a powerful book. I have found revelation in it. So has every investigator that is progressing towards more. Hopefully they continue reading forever. Sometimes I worry what will happen when Elder Diaz and I leave, if our converts will fall, but we shall leave them in the hands of hIm who knows all, so I dont have to worry. We have also really enjoyed a heightened sense of the Spirit, one lesson with this lady who would just not accept the idea of one modern day prophet, we were severly prompted to give her the book of mormon, we were not permitted to leave that house until we did so. And so hopefully she read. I have some feeling she is reading.

So always have hope family and always be happy. No point in being sad. I hope everything goes absolutely great. As always you have my love.

Que el Senor siempre les cuide en sus manos de misericordia, y que ustedes siempre puedan tener exito, felicidad, esperanza y proteccion. Mis oraciones les siguen. Nunca pierden la fe. Sigan adelante, y nunca vean atras! Vengan, al monte del Senor!

Con amor,
Elder Sullivan