Monday, 22 September 2014

Sept 22nd 2014 - Leaving Azua

Hey everybody!

The countryside is pretty tame but you have to walk to all of it haha. I havent seen any dangerous bugs nor been told of any. All of whats going on at home sounds pretty good. Seminary looks busy and school and stuff, but it sounds like everyone is persevering well. I remember the food drive, always lots of fun. Lots of really neat stuff to do and see, yeah! Although, I dont think I would really think it very dangerous now after knocking on doors here haha. Well, I guess nothing overly bad has happened at the doors though. Sounds like temple work is really pushing hard, I hope so more here as well! At least familia minyetti is. Wow I miss the water haha. The storm hasnt affected us at all, but that sounds really bad over there in Mexico. Fuerzas, amigos! Hope seminary keeps on going well, and dont worry, the no answering questions thing is really common, people do it all the time out here. It means they´re not paying much attention or the message isnt quite reaching them on a high or spiritual level, so its good to force answers out of people haha, especially when it really matters. Questions are the best teachers for sure.

So, the big news is... I am leaving Azua! I will be heading off to the captial again, fairly close to where I was before. A little place called Herrera. Its got some fairly large supermarkets in it, and its big with lots of hills so should be fun! Ill be with a companion from Nicaragua, his name is Elder Suaso. Ive never met him out here on the mission, but I have been out here in the south for some time so, we´ll see haha. Sounds fun, part of a newly formed zone out of a bunch of areas from different zones. My house will be super latin apparently.

I spent the week teaching pretty normal until we had interviews on thursday, where President said I was leaving Azua. So then I had to do a lot of saying bye to everybody, getting photos and writings in my journal thing from them and lots of stuff like that. I will really miss the people here, and realize the most important thing I walk away with from them here now are the relationships and bonds I have formed out here. The love of God between all of us is the only thing that will keep binding us now. I get to keep contacting familia minyetti and im going to make concerted efforts to try and write letters back here lots to all the people. Each and every one is so important to me, and you´ve seen lots of them in the photos I´ve been sending. I hope that just like Alma I can return to them one day and find them still brothers in Christ, but even stronger, better and greater than before. My prayers shall stay with everyone. I left a photo of the family with familia minyetti, because I feel like they are part of the family now, so I carry a photo of them around everywhere and they shall now have one of us. I dont know how, but I hope that I see them all again. I invested a great deal of life and love into them, and them into me. 

But the new adventure will be good as well. Change will motivate me to do new things. Although we baptized a few and then retained and reactivated really well in Azua, Im a little sad I didnt leave much of an inheritance for the next guy. But I think they will be fine, and will have my people to take care of and keep active haha. It was really neat to see how far they have all come even up to now. Sora is a totally new person, so much more loving and awesome. She was the first person I´ve ever baptized, and used to be so sassy and blunt and sometimes lax, but she really picked it up at the end. Familia Minyetti has been a big work of love, meetings, running around, teaching and at last are full active members who even give a couple of references. Those three young men are active fully and even though they face a lot of challenges with reading, writing, attention, life, I really hope they become missionaries one day, and that I can read that on facebook and say congratulations. That finca lady is so sweet. Going to miss them all!

So I´ve finished my last parade in Azua, tonight we have one last night with Familia Calderon to share with them and Brian´s mom. Should be fun! Those cowboys haha. Last hurrah with the district is done. Those Hermanas sure are goofy, I wish I had done more for them but I suppose it was at least fun haha. That statue is a laugh.

Well, por adelante everybody! Keep the faith, keep the hope! Change is good, we just face it with another swing!

Ill let you know more about the new area next week!

Con todo mi amor,
Elder Sullivan

PS An interesting thing with the mission President. He talked with me about being the kind of missionary in which he can trust, and I read a thing by President Lorenzo Snow about being the kind of person in which the Lord can trust. He trusted so much in Moses that Moses´s opinion mattered greatly, because he had developed the kind of character in which the Lord could confide. I have felt the sudden need to be that kind of person, who the Lord can trust. Lorenzo Snow was willing to put his priesthood authority before the prophet and ask if he was worthy, and believes all LDS should be able to do the same with the Lord, ask Him to enter our hearts and guide us in His ways. I dunno, just an interesting thought. I hope all of us can always be like that, the kind of person that the Lord trusts. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sept 15th 2014

Hey everyone!

So I just sent a huge amount of photos from the last two weeks. Enjoy! Thats not even a small percentage of the photos taken. 

Sounds like everyone has been really busy back at home but those activites sound really cool, and Im glad that the story about the missionaries in Russia ended up being happy and that they didnt kill the Russian guy and that they didnt die. It really is a blessing to be a missionary, and the Lord really does watch over his own. I dont know the scripture exactly in English but its something like ¨And those who wait for me shall not be ashamed.¨ There is no promise the Lord makes that is not fulfilled. I better work harder to honour the calling, if those guys were so willing to do so with their lives. The activity sounds like it was a success though and that everything went super well.

So the week went really well. Unfortunately, Tony did not get baptized. Through the whole week he was doing really well. Just so excited and ready and prepared. But a few probing questions and overall disapproval from his family got him a little scared. The day before the baptism, he was really doubtful. We asked him though what God had told him and what did he want to do. He said get baptized and was thoroughly ready and convinced that it came from God and he needed to comply. But, the day of the baptism, we saw him in the street before sitting in a chair in some sunglasses and even though he told us he was coming, we had some doubts. So we went back just before the baptism and he told us he couldnt carry through that day. The doubts of his family had overcome him and he looked back on his trust and faith to doubt. Unfortunately thats how it played out. But we think that he will still get baptized. We met with him after on Sunday with a member and he has a new goal for baptism in October. I will not see the day with my own eyes I guess, but I truly hope he can once again feel all that joy he had and get rid of the shame that haunts him now. Its not easy to have come so close and turn back on one´s faith, but it looks like with lots of help and support he will. I guess that is the hardest part, to only trust in the Lord. It looks like he will need other hands to hold him up. But I believe he will be baptized still and join the church of Jesuschrist. 

The other baptism for the other missionaries went really well though, finally after attending church for so long, all it took was one fast and she did it! Proved that she had more strength than her stomach and so it gave her soul powers to get baptized hahaha.

Other than that, our week was good. We found some new investigators from references. They are new but very willing to attend church and listen attentively and show some strong desire  Hopefully we bring those desires to fruit, especially with the more adult of our investigators, since youth baptisms are great but do not build a branch very well. Our converts are getting stronger and are starting to give references and really be integrated in the branch. I hope it keeps up, I dont want to lose anyone. The joy of having brothers still in the gospel has really been a great blessing. This may be my last week in Azua, but we will see what transfers bring. I truly will be missing it, but I will be able to call familia minyetti each month and write lots of letters back here haha. Either way Im glad to see them so different and blessed now. 

Other than that, had a milkshake today that was super good. We walked a lot. I had to tolerate the youth´s taunting about various things, like my hair or my pictures or whatever they could think of. Teaching old people has as always been interesting and the hermanas are corrupting one of our older investigators to say funny jokes to us, mostly making fun of how we have boats back at home (an apparently hilarious topic). Also one of the hermanas made these EXTREMELY NASTY TASTING COOKIES. I ate them all though, and won 50 pesos as the bet from Elder Forsyth. Not sure if it was worth it. All the other food was super good, but those cookies were death. Mostly we laugh a lot. Im going to miss the humour of Elder Nelson around haha. We have laughed a lot. Im still laughing.

Mom asked for an experience with the First Vision. Well, when we first taught Martha, the mom of familia minyetti, we kind of had just thought about a little simple thing since we were just teaching her daughter and wanted to at least give it a go. But instead, we ended up teaching about the restoration. Elder Peña and I presented it very simply. I explained that once a young boy had a question. He wanted to know what church was true. Nobody seemed able to explain it to him, so after reading in santiago (um.... James in English?), he discovered that he needed to ask God. Ask and ye shall recieve. His desire to know led him to the truth, and he decided to act upon it. I then recited the first vision, and wow was Martha so rapt and caught up in every word. There was a strange peace so rarely found in this country in that room, and for some reason there was great power in sharing the story of a boy who just wanted to know, and because he believed so strongly, God appeared and told him the truth. And now look where we are today. Just because a boy had the desire and compied with it and asked the only one who knows everything, our Heavenly Father. That must have taken great trust in him. Then we invited Martha to pray too, just like Joseph Smith to know what was true. And to be baptized. If we had asked her to jump off a cliff at that point, she probably would have, because no one could deny that the Lord had testified of His own works in that room on that day. I know for sure that Joseph Smith really saw God, that he speaks with us and will never abandon us, because He loves us, and answers every single prayer. We just have to see the answer. 

Well I hope everything goes really well back at home. You are always in my prayers.

Con amor,

Elder Sullivan

Monday, 8 September 2014

September 8th, 2014

Hey everybody!

Thanks for the photos of your adventures on the coast, it looks great! The boat looks really nice and so does Tofino, although quite a bit busier and it looks like Dad got himself some hippy bling to wear around haha (he´s a crusty hippie surfer with his weird burlap hippie sweater now.). The family looks good out there! Sailing is really great for preaching analogies and stuff haha, wish I could be sailing with you guys. The Heningers are looking really good too! Nice to hear the school year has started well, they changed seminary here to be in the morning as well, so I see the kids arrive at 6 to the church to begin from the windows. Sorry about no pictures this week, the adaptor thing decided to act up today so Im going to have to bring the cord next time and send the huge amount of photos I will have next week.

Yeah, the bank account was fine and everything, just that particular atm was being weird with my card. Thanks for checking! Haha, I just spent a lot at the temple was all and didnt want to be short. No, Elder Nelson still has no itinerary. He leaves the next transfer, so he only has like, 8 weeks left or something like that. I dont think I will be staying for his last transfer though, since then I would have to stay in Azua for a very long time. So I probably only have two weeks left here. Um, the storms have abated a bit, its a lot cooler now though and the sun is covered by clouds fairly often. Yeah!

So this week was good. We went to the temple, which was nice, but we went without President because he had to be here in Azua while were wer were in the temple. But its always great to be rejuvinated spiritually, and always nice to be close to the family (the whole family) in the celestial room. Its a blessing granted dearly from Heavenly Father that the family is always close in the temple. We always ate at Johnny Rockets, that classic american burger diner place. So good, the milkshakes are killer. Our week was a little busy lots of walking since the temple trip put us behind one day. But we are having pretty good success lately with certain things and setbacks in others. The strengthening of members and less actives and recent converts is going really well, our converts and members on our half are amongst the strongest, and we are slowly getting the work rolling forward with investigators, although its been hard to find them at times or they can only be seen very infrequently, which is difficult. But its good, the references are all really interesting and interested and good people, the members have been good examples to them. 

Tony is going to be baptized this saturday! we are really super excited and have been preparing him well and stuff. Hes super cool, but sure asks hard questions about like, the spirit world and stuff and if we are actually all like the matrix right now and just living in the spirit world and just dont know and we are preaching to him in the spirit world. We told him no, since we will know if we have bodies or not later, but wow it threw us for a loop. Hes crazy about reading stuff like the bible and the book of mormon, hes going to be really interesting in the sunday school classes. Get those teachers thinking and stuff. We are super happy to have him finally become our brother in the church. He really has changed a lot to become the man of faith he is today. Tells the whole world hes getting baptized and is inviting them all to come. Hes left so much behind for this, and it has been a priviledge to be a part of it. 

The other people we teach are a really old dude that Elder Nelson gave a baptism date to. He will get baptized if we can get someone to take him to church, since he knows its all true from reading the book of mormon and stuff. Hes just really old is all. This new couple we have is way more interested than we even originally thought, but its going to be hard to see them and the husband was super sick that day, so it was kind of a short and poor lesson. Otherwise its all reactivation of some but they are coming back most of the time and the converts finally all have positions and callings and are great except for one youth who needs to remember why he needs the sacrament and the church, he appears to have forgotten about God a bit. But hey, thats what we are here for is to remind people! If they dont accept us, well that is really too bad. Other cool thing, I found at the temple a member from my first ward here, and she had become a missionary! After waiting forever and having papers rejected, she is serving in the east now! And my convert, Javier, fromt here is still active and writes her! Anyway, that was super cool to see, it feels fulfilling to know no effort with anyone is ever wasted or forgotten.

Other cool stuff, we went to the beach again today but this time with the whole zone! The sea is very rejuvinating to see and stand in the salt water feels really good. It was super awesome! We made sand castles and stuff too, I hope I can send the pictures soon. I feel closest to home when I am there on the beach, since the ocean reminds me a lot of home and family. Its a wonderful thing.

Well, I hope everything continues onwards perfectly for everyone. I am always praying! Keep the faith, and remember no effort is wasted, and every part of us given to someone is never forgotten or in vain, rather it will change them forever.

Con todo mi amor,

Elder Sullivan

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sept 1st, 2014

Hey family!

I´m glad the trip went well and that the Linteris are doing better! Sounds really cool all the things you were able to do! The islands sound good and everything, and Im sure the shirt and tie in the dinghy was better than us walking around in the rain in shirt and tie haha. I miss being on boats a bit but at least I can talk to people about it sometimes and relate it to gospel principles (all the things my parents taught me through boats, hahaha).

Well, I was going to send a lot of really cool photos but I only have the camera cord with me right now and the camera just ran out of battery. Sorry! Next time. We went on a pretty big hike today to see three waterfalls, the biggest one being the last. It was really cool, but a rather long adventure of climbing lots of streams and stuff and lots of really tough hiking unexpectedly, kind of like our west coast adventures. In the end the hermanas were tougher than they looked and went out and conquered! So it was fun, I got really wet but got to stand almost underneath some waterfalls. I will send the pictures when possible. The district president took us. He got to go swimming, all we could do was wade around in the water and get our clothes super wet. But it was totally awesome and nice to at least go for a hike in the actually really beautiful countryside and mountains of Azua. Really beautiful!

So we go to the temple tomorrow, Yeah! Although, maybe without President, since he has to go to like a hearing of some sorts. He was in a car accident where this motorcycle hit his car. He and his wife are completely fine and the car really took no damage but the guys on the motorcycle broke a lot of bones and President was like detained in the police station for a while and didnt even get to the meeting he was going to. It was a really bad intersection. I like, thought of Ammon and his brothers at that time getting thrown into prison when they went to preach at first haha. But it looks like he will be alright, the two guys will live and recover to an extent and President wont go to prison for life. Not that the chrurch would let it happen. But the family isnt looking to press charges much. So I think it will be okay. Pray!

Other than all that excitement, things are normal. We are building up in excitement for Tony´s baptism and are finding a lot of new people lately. A crazy old guy who reads and knows the Book of Mormon is true, so thats nice, but its weird to teach him haha. A new family with a guy who legitimately admitted he doesnt have religious tendencies but he would like to (so rare in the DR). And yeah, a few other references that sort of havent progressed too much. Our little area is kind of strange to work in still. Elder Nelson is doing really well, although the office still doesnt have his flight itinerary which has him a little on edge haha. I am doing good, I feel pretty healthy and all. Its going super well here, I hope we keep it up! Things are looking good! Please keep praying your prayers and faith really make a difference out here!

I love you all! I´m a little out of time,  but have a great week until I can send photos!

Que el Señor les cuide,
Elder Sullivan

August 25th, 2014

Hey family!

I´m glad to hear that everything went well for the Tofino trip and that everyone is off surfing and doing cool things already! Red bull is probably really bad for your health, Dad. But good job on the record fast trip! Nice that you guys found the Wileys! The pictures look really good, Tofino is in good shape, although the waves looked a little small. Nice surfing though! I really wish I could surf sometimes, sometimes I look out the window and imagine being on oceanfront, judging if the waves that day are ready to ride. I do miss seafood a lot, especially Tofino fine fresh seafood like those clams in white wine sauce. Haha, I talk quite a bit about sailing with the people here, and use it for my little analogies (like, the anchor of faith thing or navigating and stuff like that). So have a good sailing trip! I really do hope the Linteris are ok, I will keep praying. Tell them I love them and all and want the to know it will always be alright! Well, my mission decision was really easy thanks to you guys and a host of experiences from God. The Lord sort of just calls, and we have to answer when He does. Catch the wind for me on the coast!

So here, a huge storm rolled through yesterday and the day before so we got really soaked. On saturday we got hit by the rain on the way back from Finca 6, and that open little dirt road gave no shelter so we kind of just walked in the rain all the way back and got changed at the house and hit the road again. Fun times! And then it rained on Sunday, but we managed to be inside houses most of the time. The rain was so harsh though, that the sound of it hitting on the tin roofs prevented us from talking much in people´s houses sometimes. But it was fun, and the temperature has really cooled down for that. It was kind of like being on the West Coast (or at least felt like it for me, although it was probably way warmer but I felt super cold). Anyway, even though it rained we still got a bunch of less actives into church, lots of which are reactivated now and Tony came too! We are working with him right now to be baptized in a couple of weeks, he is really far progressed, we just have to confirm a few things and teach things like the Word of Wisdom and tithing (the word of wisdom could be interesting). But we love the man, and he loves the church and God a lot so hopefully his faith is enough. He is super comfortable in church now and participates in the classes with his little tidbits of wisdom. The gospel principles teacher still bothers us, and once again made fun of Elder Nelson. I really wish that Martha had been called to do it instead of in primary. But thats okay, we will work with him (or something). Tony kind of challenged him on one point, but it ended up working out. Its best not to talk too much about the rich and the poor in this country, its kind of a heated topic. Mostly, classes are these strange mixes of audience participation equivalent to peanut gallery comments. Its like getting hit with spitballs in Elder´s quorom (poor teacher).

We did another service, shoveled a lot of dirt and moved it in buckets. That was fun. I liked it, it was better than sitting around at least, and now all those shoulder lifts and bench presses have paid off, I can actually do service projects! The guy was all like ¨oh you cant lift those buckets so full like that¨ and then I lifted two of them and told him it was ok. Really I just wanted to finish so we could sit and study again. At least aguacate (avocado) is in season and we are enjoying that!

Other than that, we have been super unsucessful contacting lately (people are just never in their house for the appointment, I think they are just lazy. Or sleep a lot. Or tell us to come when they are working.), but have received a few references that we teach. They are pretty good, but we havent had the message really hit them yet. They sort of need to read and pray, which they dont really do at all. But thats all good, they´re just working with Satan, and we need to stop that.

We also have fun with the Calderons, we like harvested some peas and other stuff like yams and made a really cool dinner and stuff with it. The yams were a little too soon, but they needed to make the space to save their banana trees. Everything here is done with a machete, even digging! And it sure is a jungle back there! But its fun to farm (well, to eat from the farm). They always listen to american music in that house, tis kind of weird.

Im getting better at dominoes, and Im figuring out more and more how it really works. I also know how to play dominican and american versions, so I will be a pro with all the old people at home. Its fun to play it at night in the house, and I like to trash talk and taunt as we play. I can even do it in spanish now! Um, otherwise everything is good. Ive sure given a lot of blessings out here in my time, my oil bottle has been half expended!

Well I think thats all. I always pray for all of you, and hope that everything goes well!

Que el Señor les cuide hasta que nos volvamos a ver,
Elder Sullivan

August 18th 2014

Hey everybody!

Well the camp sounds like a bit of a bummer, and its too bad you werent able to stick it out and head up the mountain and that the rain was super heavy. Kind of a series of unfortunate events. I remember that trip, and that I was sort of a bum about it complaining and stuff (I really am sorry about that) but really it was a great trip and really nice and pretty, so everyone kind of missed out. How did all their stuff get wet though? Thats what garbage bags are for. Sorry Dad that it didnt go so well! Hopefully the next adventures and holidays will be better (especially in Tofino surfing)! I hope Uncle Ray gets better!

Sorry I dont have any pictures this week, I havent taken any new ones since the large amount from last week. Mostly its been pretty normal around here. Elder Haag from before is here and likes Azua, other than maybe the heat. The happenings of the branch are kind of cool. We have been middlemanning a lot lately to try and get things happening like converts to the temple and glasses for people who cant read nothing and money for the sweet old lady in finca 6 who has been without money for weeks without telling us. At least she had enough to make it to church on a motorcycle taxi. People here are sometimes really complacent with suffering, especially Mariela. No such thing as too humble, but she sure comes close. Other than that, we havent really been finding too many people to teach yet. Tony is still super awesome, love that man.  He really wants to be super perfect and is a little perplexed that when he most wants to become a man of God and join the church and be baptized, he gets tested harder. But thats how it works! He will back on soon, and is just so happy to have us, especially Elder Nelson, around to just be there for him. I hope we always can be, and really lift him up. Sometimes people just need real love, and not fakeness. So I think he is getting that. What I hope is that he can leave the world behind, just leave it and take the easy yoke.

Otherwise, I had to teach the investigator class in church. Church classes are like speaking to the deaf as a blind person, or speaking to a block of slowly melting ice. But I kind of like it actually. We visit some less actives with some super crazy children. They are like 2 and fight all the time, steal each others stuff and are totally crazy. One of them loves Elder Nelson though and sometimes runs to him at stuff hahaha. I ran into some people in a game we played at an activity, tried to knock them to the floor but the only one who succeeded in that was brian, him and his bud took each others legs out. I told a bunch of people they have to keep reading the scriptures and be good members, because people dont like to do stuff. We ate some really good food this week, so I feel full.

Oh and the big news, we made a fence around someones house! I dont have any pictures, which is sad, but wow its cool! We had to drive in a bunch of sticks, so we dug holes with this thing and then yeah and its a good thing a guy who actually builds fences came at first to show us how, or we would have been in so much trouble. I really like using the thing to dig and then compact the dirt around the stick. It was pretty hard work though, especially when there were lots of rocks. At least it keeps the kid in now. I can work on a ranch now I guess, HAHA. First successful service given!

Well family, never give up, always be faithful, because its always worth it.

Con amor,
Elder Sullivan