Monday, 28 April 2014

April 28th 2014 letter and pictures

Hey everyone!
Wow everyone is really busy at home, probably busier than me! Have a nice trip in Germany Tasha! Eat lots of Saurkraut and Bratwurst but try not to get too fat! I am not really getting fatter anymore, thanks to all the exercise. We say in our house that everyone is looking for exaltation in it since everyone is always working out in the morning super hard haha. I hope everyone is still doing really well and that someday that kitchen looks like a kitchen again. Sounds like everyone is having fun, and doing good stuff at church. Say hi to Uncle Marty and Aunt Sheila and Holly and Scott and the baby. Sounds like everyone is really excited, how unfortunate however to be consigned to such a Sullivan fate. We have also been having super great food like you guys! Like this super spicy picante sauce someone made for us that is almost as bad as kimthcy spiceness and death! I hope the trip to Utah goes well (here, they call it ¨the factory¨or in spanish, ¨la fabrica¨. haha)
Our house is sprayed with permithirin, so we havent used the mosquito nets, and the area is kind of like a humid desert, so there isnt that many bugs other than large hornets. The malaria medication would kill me out in the sun here, so I havent been taking it. Dont worry, I´ve barely been bitten at all here.
So, in big news, President Rodriguez and his family are leaving this week! They received a visa to move to Toronto in Canada, and so they are finishing their term a couple of weeks early. So off they go to other adventures! We had a big conference with them before they left, and they shared some really interesting things. Its super sad they are leaving, I havent met such wonderfully loving people like them. President Rodriguez is just such a big man full of bigger love. He really cares about his missionaries so much, and really exemplified for me what is charity, christlike love. I am going to miss him and his family. Hermana Rodriguez was such a caring mother to us all. Didnt replace mom, but did her best. Like a dominican told me once ¨El amor de la madre nunca falla¨ Mother´s love never fails. I told them that I hope they got a good impression of Canadians from me and that they are welcomed warmly to the cold lands of canada, and that they bring lots of coats. I pray that my country welcomes them well. President was so grateful for my service, even if it wasnt that much. I remember interviews with him and speaking with him, he liked to always say nice things. He would always talk about his day and how the people I was teaching I better love them and he liked to hear about their lives. He liked to talk about his family, he is probably an awesome father. Anyway, I am going to really miss him he did such great work and did it always with love. My favourite thing he ever shared was when my companion had chosen to leave the mission, he shared in Alma 26 about how Ammon said that when their hearts were discouraged the Lord comforted and consoled them, but told them to return and suffer with patience their afflictions. But then later, those missionaries grew to love their people and their people grew to love them, and they suffered long and hard, but were granted great success. Not higher position, or numbers or something, but the deepest love of the people they served. Maybe Ammon had even suffered by the hands of the people who after held him up, but it was all worth it for him.
That has always stayed with me in the mission. The Lord hasnt asked me to suffer, luckily. Just to love His children and realize how wonderful they are. There is this wonderful family we are teaching, who are absolutely flying through marriage papers and craziness and the only thing lacking is teaching the husband and son a little more. Although the old lady from the banana orchard was not baptized this week, she will be in two. Her daughter had a baby and they came and picked her up to go and help, so it was not God´s will this week. But in two. Our baptism goal for next month is pretty ridicolously high. 7. But its going to happen with faith and effort. And even if we suffer, well thats what the Lord asks and these people need and every last scrap of effort is worth their love. The church is going to have to help the family with the money for the marriage, but we are hopefully soon going to be attending a Dominican marriage! Yeah! Those investigators just keep on trucking! They have a lot of faith. Some guy who thought he was a prophet scared one of our youth investigators when she was reading the book of mormon in front of our house and tried to tell her she had never felt the Holy Ghost because she wasnt having strange seizures and crying and dancing. We clarified that, but she will probably read the book indoors now. The zone leaders invited that guy to church hahahaha. So the other religions really do attack us pretty bad, but the church is strong enough in Azua, although the shame of friends and other people is an obstacle for lots of investigators. I guess too much trust in man and not enough in God.
Anyway, everything is going good. I saw some really awesome movies today, like 17 Miracles. Really cool, all the stories and stuff. The sun is still super hot, but I kind of like it better than the humidity in the night. Baptisms went a little funny... well we are a branch. Everyone had to be baptized in 3 tries haha. And a little kid bit me really hard! Great kid though. He has mental problems he was dropped out of a window once... but hes great and happy and it was really cool, after his dad got baptized the dad came and held him and talked with him (the kid cant talk) and he had him up to his face and the kid was sort of biting his face but way more affectionately than usual and his dad was so happy to be with him. YEAH MIRACLES. Anyway it was super cool.
So I hope everyone is doing super well! Keep the faith! I ate ceviche kind of thing yesterday and it was really good! We will have to eat it in Mexico!
Have a great week everyone!
Siempre con amor,
Elder Sullivan

Sunday, 27 April 2014

April 21st Letter and Pictures

Hey everyone!

So I sent some photos earlier, they are of a zone activity we did. We played some games and had a water fight at the chapel it was really cool. I got hit in the face. We made water balloons out of fundas (bags that are super cheap and thin haha). They worked extremely well. Probably too well we got the whole zone wet. It was fun and stuff. Building unity or something (maybe it didnt really have a purpose, but hahahahahaahahaha). I dont have too many other photos kicking around as of yet, I keep forgetting to take one of everyone. Next week I will get one of at least our whole district.

Its really cool to hear about all the nice things happening! Wow, maybe Kyle will be getting married! To a scary scottish lady, but married at least! Haha, kidding. He has to be careful with those who play rugby. Especially ladies rugby. And she enjoyed quadding. Bad sign. But she said yes, so thats good hahaha. I am glad the family is doing well, I hope it justs keeps improving. Tasha will do well on exams, she is smart and intelligent as opposed to her brother, he is not so smart and is still learning how missionary work is really done (since its a little different after you move areas). Yes Elder Peña knows spanish, and he is super comfortable speaking it. Like, all the time. We mostly speak spanish in the house. And watch a lot of movies during lunch and at night. Cool stuff. We have piles of cds of music and movies. Its a fun house, a litle small maybe.

So Easter is super different here. We celebrated Semana Santa (the same as in Mexico) here with the zone activity today. All of everyone else´s weekend of celebration ended today with hangovers. So, the whole easter bunny thing doesnt exist here. Supposedly its a lot more religious here, the whole easter thing. People take the week to do about the same things as we do at home though. It was cool, but almost no one was home. They all went to the beach or something. Everyone was a little late to church, although we did fill the chapel with people! The branch isnt all that big, our chapel is kind of puny, but with it full I think there is a fairly large number of members. And investigators haha. 
With Brian in that picture is his mom and brother. His brother is an active member now, the mom not so much but its coming.

Our big news for the week is that we found this awesome family of 4 kids. Well, they were mostly a reference from a few family members who are members of the church, but we managed to follow up really well starting with the mom. She already has a testimony after just the First Vision, so she just needs to keep going! The dad is a stepdad but a super good one. They all came to church on sunday together and really liked it. We went that night with the movie ¨On the Way Home¨ and they really learned from it and loved it. Its the story of a family coping with the death of their youngest daughter, how they really fell apart, but then recover because of christ and a mormon friend and sister missionaries. Anyway, in all the family gets baptized and looks forward to being together forever. It realy stuck with the family, and so we extended the baptism invitation. They have all accepted for the end of may! We are superbly excited, we really love and care about this family, and they are doing a bunch of cool stuff. They read together and pray together and are arriving at a testimony together! We have been working a lot for them, and just hope that they keep on going and get through to the end. They are really close, but we still have weeks to go haha. Anyway, its really cool how the gospel sort of just enters people´s lives and they change. Their faces are already different. We are seeing some changes in their home life, and hopefully it just gets better! Its fun to be with a whole family like this. Reminds me of our family and that we are doing the same, all on the path to eternity. We shared with the family about losing family members, as the dad lost his dad recently, and it seemed to really strike him that nothing really ends. There are only mortal endings, and eternal begginings. Super neat our lives are. All it takes now is perseverance and prayer! We are really getting close to them, and Elder Peña doesnt want to leave next transfer so he can see their baptism. I hope that happens.
We also are having a baptism on saturday (triple baptism, the zone leaders and one of the hermanas are having baptisms as well). She is this really old looking lady who is actualy only 48 but smoking destroyed her. She has quit though, and given up all of that and is keeping all the commandments. She cant read, so thats a challenge, but we have assigned the Relief Society to go read with her. She lives out in this far off thing called Finka 6. Its sort of a banana orchard town thing. 30 minute walk from the house on a gravel road. Worth it to see this lady. She doesnt understand much, but has truly shown faith already. She walks to church every sunday for a little under an hour. She leaves early to get there an half hour early to be sitting in the chapel. She has diabetes and a bunch of other health problems, but still comes to church with her kids that her now gone and divorced husband left. So we call that real faith. She gets there before we do (although, we do take a guy in a wheelchair who was less active until now, so thats our excuse haha). So that faith and having the spirit is getting her baptized, but the Relief Society is going to have to work with the retention thing (visiting teaching and home teaching is always poorly executed, but we be getting there).
Anyway so yeah, we teach cool people. Another youth is getting baptized in a couple of weeks. She´s smart and has gained a testimony, so it will happen if we can finish teaching her (she is always sleeping at home....) We kind of need to find people now, or next transfer will be nothing but knocking on doors and bothering members haha. I do like bothering people though, and yelling ¨buenas!¨ into every single door.
So we do cool things. The work is nice here. The place is more relaxing and I think it looks pretty. People say its really hot, but everyone always says that about everywhere so.... ah well. The zone is fun, its kind of strange having hermanas but most of them are cool. Although every night my companion has to call them and thats kind of bothersome (it takes a while to talk with hermanas).Otherwise its a nice chill area There are stil all those non progressing investigators haning around, but at least they are not all the investigators this time!
So its nice here. Hot and sunny, another day in paradise or something like that. But awesome. I like the work here. Its been really fulfilling and it fills me everytime we see people now. I feel a deep love for the people we have been working with now. The members are cool here, one young man bothers me haha but everyone else is cool. People still think Im japanese sometimes. Or something. But they all love to hear about canada.
I am so glad to have my eternal family with all of you. Always in my prayers and heart. Thank you for everything, it has blessed me and every one of these people out here that have had the priviledge of getting to know the eternal family of God, or at least my part of it.
With all my love,
Elder Sullivan

Monday, 14 April 2014

April 14th Letter and pictures

Hi Everyone.  Michael was transferred last Tuesday and we found out today that he is serving in a more rural setting.  We managed to be on the computer at the same time as Michael so we had some quick exchange of information, as follows:
Family: Hi Son,  are you online?
Michael: Yes, but only for a few minutes, but how is everyone?
Family: Doing really well.  Nice pictures.  Is your new area by the ocean
Michael: Yeah its called Azua Pueblo Abajo! More info in the big email but its really nice and we went to the ocean today
Family:Wow now we are jealous.  Is your companion from the DR?
Michael: No, he is from Belize!  So he speaks english and english Creole
Family: We are very happy for you.  We will stop diverting your attention and let you get to the main letter.
Michael: Haha, its okay. what is everyone doing right now?
Family: Natasha is studying, I am working super hard and Momma is cleaning and cooking.  Christina is at school.  It looks like you got to see some of the country travelling to your new area.  Did you catch a bus to the water for the pictures today?
Michael: No we had a ride from a member and walked back. It was long. But fun. Nice to see and all. I dont have the full group shots, those are supposed to be sent to me sometime and then you can see the district.  Oh quick note! Stay in contact with the Herrmanns! And dont work too much (but when you work, work really hard huh . And eat a banana today for me everybody!

Hey family!
I hope this email finds everyone doing well and being happy. So by the other photos you may have seen I have been sent to Azua, Pueblo Abajo Branch! You should find Azua pretty easy on a map. It is outside the capital in the south of the country, right by the ocean in a desertish kind of mountain surrounded valley thing and the sun here is REALLY HOT. I have an awesome new companion, his name is Elder Peña! He is from Belize and is part of my CCM group. He is a super hard working funny and awesome guy and we live in the zone leaders house here in Azua. Azua is a sort of town thing amongst the guineos (bananas) out here and is actually a nicer area then where I lived before with more receptive people, and very humble. Its more chill and relaxed here and I very much like the people here, although they definitely speak a little different. They put ¨s¨ wherever they want in words. It was really strange to leave Ivan Guzman, and I am sad to leave the people there, but I know they will be fine and now we will work hard here. I live in an awesome house, even though there is just one bathroom, we do lots of cool stuff and I havent seen so many church movies before now. A movie called Charly I think was really really neat and mostly its just nice to be with really cool missionaries.
Azua right now is a district and our branch happens to have a lot of youth and not quite so much melquisedec priesthood (I think I spelt that in spanish sorry). But its super cool and lots of members work with the missionaries really well. We walk quite a bit especially on gravelly dirt roads that will probably wreck my feet ith all the heat, but well worth it for the awesoem progressing invsetigators that live here. We had a baptism on saturday of an awesome youth of 16 named brian. He is really cool, and if we hadnt visited him before I would haev thought he was a super involved member of the youth program. He has lots of friends in the church and hangs out a lot there. Its nice to see. His baptism went well, people attended the little tiny room we have for it, and we sang some stuff. The spirit comes to every baptism the same, such a pleasing feeling. Brian gave a cool testimony about how he wanted everyone to join the church with him haha.
The zone is cool, we teach a lot! We schedule a lot of lessons and have a lot of lessons. Except for the past few days, where we helped the Hermanas in the district move houses and cleaned their other house and had to do a bunch of stuff like that. There are 12 Hermanas and 12 elders in the zone. Elder Peña is a district leader for 4 Hermanas. We do a lot of phone calling. Its bothersome, but cool. You may have seen in the photos we went to the beach close to here and saw the ocean in its beautiful carribean blue glory! Really cool to go and see it and see the mountains right by the sea and do stuff together as a district. I got a little to much sun haha. It was fun to go and see though and eat food on the beach! And ride the truck! So the bus ride from the capital to here was well worth it. So far I am loving Azua and the relaxed people who actually attend church and the opportunities we have to see cooler things in what we call ¨el campo¨or the field. I am glad everyone is doing great coming back from vacations and everything and doing cool things and having fun at church. I have learned a lot already out here in just a few days of how a mission is supposed to be run haha. We keep joking about the sort of Kreyol english thing in Belize its fun. I speak like a jamaican as much as possible in the house and so does Elder Peña and they dont understand us but thats okay they just havent accepted the free world yet. Stuff is cheaper to buy out here, food wise. I have been drinking a lot of hot chocolate lately and working out a lot because there are weights and stuff in the house. Not all the people here are educated, but they are all really nice even if they cant read or nothing. We are preparing thsi lady who lievs out on teh banana plantation for baptism. She cant read, so we just teach her haha. I like going to the banana plantation, even if it takes half an hour. Its nice to teach people with a companion who knows what is going on and can take more lead. We made a lady cry a few days ago with the restauration lesson given from the heart, and committed another to baptism as a family with the restauration kind of thing about prayer, and that lady came to church with her daughter who is already on the way to being baptized next month. Crazy things happening. Really glad to have the new experience and be out in the hot sun helping awesome people find the gospel and have faith and stuff. Elder Peña´s teaching is really cool and is helping me reach better levels in waht I do. I am so glad to haev been sent here even though I really miss what I left. We have one baptism, but are waiting for so many more. Its cool to see real progressing inevstigators, and it appears teh secret is church attendance. I guess that was our problem before. Anyway, it was really cool to do awesome things hre. Living in the zone leaders house is nice, although we take care of a lot of officy things haha. But thats okay, it helps us learn responsibility. Anyway, everythign is going super well, and I really like being here in Azua, and hope I dont mess up the goodness that is being done here rather help it or something. Well, I hope everything continues on greatly, it was nice to see the ocean today and remember surfing a bit. I splashed some water on my face and let the salt burn in a bit and that was cool. Its strange to have an area with Hermanas, they come to our meetings now and stuff and arent just a fable haha. Anyway, we are having fun here I hope everything goes well there and I am so glad to be out here in Azua.
Siempre con amor!
Elder Sullivan
PS For the Poon Boys, thanks for all the sport updates. People dont really get hockey here but oh well. we are having fun in the sun here, and I dont know how to talk to girls anymore its fairly evident inteh way I speak with Hermanas here. Anyway, everything goes super cool thanks for all the dear elder letter things I hope everything slides on smoothly without loud music every night from the store under you. Ya ustedes saben. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

April 7th Letter and photos

Hey! So hopefully everything is going super well and everbody is having a wonderful time still! That was really neat to hear about Christina´s awesome trip out to Russia! Sounds pretty exciting. I can see Mr Uzick raving already. Ah well. By the way those baggy pants are super awesome and everyone needs to wear them. It makes you look like a real man when you do the squats. Music IB will be fun. It was probably my favourite class. And I think I got decent grades (I still dont know what my IB scores are). Anyway, thats really cool to be exposed to awesome culture and see cool new people and things that make the world so wonderful. Especially with a music theme and the chance to experience musical culture (in my opinion the best culture). Super cool. Hopefully you didnt shame the family too bad Christina. I bet the ballet was really neat. The music for ballets is so well written and so cool to see it adapted into movement as well. Pokemon is cool, but not as cool as awesome jazz and other music in Russia. Now you must apply the wonderful music of Russia in daily life. And suffer North American ways. HAHAHAHAHA.

Also exciting to hear about the baby! YEAH! The Sullivan clan grows! I am sure the whole family is really happy and that there were many excuses to throw excessive parties. Thank you also for the pictures of all your adventures, especially on the water. The call of the sea is always there sometimes, but the thrill of surfing does not compare with the work of the Lord. Oops I suppose I should have sent you guys with a spanish note to say to all the people in Loreto. haha. Everyone in the pictures is looking a little different than before. Maybe just longer hair. But different. Anyway, everyone looks good. It makes me glad that everything has been going well and that everyone is found well despite everything and that the parties continue on. We still party here!

Nice to hear about holidays. Water holidays, snow holidays, hanging out with people. Looks really cool, nice to hear that the Muirlaslos are doing well. They sent me a package I received a couple of days ago. Nice to hear from everyone, and that everyone is progressing on their walk of life onwards to victory! We shall have to ski and surf upon return together as family again sometime. As much as I cant imagine being anywhere but here haha. I do the hanging out with people part at least haha and maybe a little sightseeing on Pdays. This Pday was a little different though. Today I packed a lot. After 8 months in Ivan Guzman, a fairly large portion of my life I suppose, I am leaving and so is Elder Diaz. We wont know where until later tonight with the phone call, but its certain that we are heading out of this little box that has been the DR now for 8 and 9 months. Wow. I am still feeling a little strange, as is Elder Diaz. It´s as if we are leaving home again. I cannot comprehend yet not having these people be in my care, my responsibility and in my timetable. It will be strange to leave them behind. It has been an awesome experience to share time with people. Like the Prophet said in conference about love for others and God being so special, important and wonderful, I have actually experienced that with these my dearest brothers and sisters (hermanos y hermanas as we say here everyday). Each person here has been so special and it will be strange now to only leave them with memories and shared time. But I realize that is the purpose of life. Share time and grow with people. Find ourselves in the service of others. I feel such love for them, and I suppose I know a lot more now how God feels about each of them as well. They are so dear and important, and will stay in my prayers forever. I learned a lot here about love for people. That love is all that matters, as (well, I am requoting here but oh well) whoever is found with charity it shall go well with him in the last day. At least I had some farewell lessons with everyone to tell them to keep going. Javier plans to serve a mission after receiving inspiration in conference to do so. He has struggles sometimes, but is growing more and more, and I am so glad to have been with him and be a part of his life. He has this strange nickname for me, ¨Chino negro¨. So, I guess I look chinese but really I am black at heart haha. Even though he has been my only baptism here, his missionary service will continue and so many other people will receive joy through him now. People already do. It was strange as we walked through the streets I saw a bunch of people from my missionary past around. I guess I have impacted them for better or worse. I hope at the least they remember my love for them. The reason we do things in the mission, and really, the reason we do things in life is for love. If we dont, then we will be selfish, selfcentered and lost. I am glad that in our family there is great love, and that such great things are happening with all of you. It has been so great to serve these people here in Ivan Guzman. To be their friends. To have comforted them when they needed help. To pray with them. To sit in their houses, whether humble or grand. To bless them. To teach them things they never knew. Life changing things. To have seen them go from one point in life to another, just for our presence. I know how Ammon felt know, saying that if they had not ascended up unto the lamanites, then they would have lost all those precious bretheren they held so dear. I may not feel so much like a missionary of success or excellence, but I guess I did something here at the least. It has been so cool to find the prepared people and help them find Christ. See them read and read and read in the Book of Mormon and learn all about the book, especially what each particular prophet taught them. See them pray. At first to no one, and then they learned they could pray to their father. So did I. To try and learn french with these people while they were learning spanish and somehow finding some medium to speak with them. I was present for the baptisms of people that I had been with in their toughest moments, and shared the Love of God with them. It has been so great to help a family come back to the church just for our love and the love of God and the truth that is ours.

So that was a little reflective. It will be so different to not be here anymore. And not with Elder Herrmann. He has been such a cool companion I have never known anyone as well other than you my family. We will be in contact haha. Anyway, thank you so much for helping me get out here in this wonderful country with wonderful people to serve the Lord. It may feel super weird to be on to a new adventure, but like Pres. Uchtdorf said, there are only endings in mortality, and only new beginnings in eternity. So all these people here shall continue with something I left them, and I need not think it is the end. Just another beginning. Thanks for all the love you have shared with me family, and now it is being spread abundantly!

As always family, continue onwards! Tell the water I miss it! So glad I have been here I hope maybe you meet a few of this people, or have at least lived vicarously with them. They are so great! Their laughs and smiles (without braces ahahahaha) and strange jokes with my bad jokes (spanish humour is still taking its toll) And yeah lots of strange things but mostly great and awesome. Weirdnessssss.

Que el Senor siempre les cuide en sus manos de misericordia y amor. Les quiero y amo mas que todo. Tengan mi amor con ustedes en todo momento, y el amor del Salvador.

Con amor (with love),
Elder Michael Sullivan

PS Enjoy the billions of photos, I will try to send the SD card sometime soon and use the other one maybe!