Monday, 23 February 2015

Feb 23rd 2015

Hey yo!
Well, another week gone, this one pretty well. We had a conference with President and a couple other zones. It was pretty cool, President is still going strong with the pulse motto, and the mission really is responding well. Some people are going crazy with the amount of members they get into their lessons, and the goals in the mission are being achieved to great new heights. He talked about how he ride his bike and stuff, and how his new fancy dancy chronometer has helped him push much harder since now he knows how hard he is really exercising. He then said something about how that is his workout not things like P90X, so I flexed my overly large biceps when he mentioned P90X and now everyone including President knows I do P90X haha. Anyway, President is super right about needing a way to measure our performance, because we need to ¨break paradigms¨. We all think we have certain levels of achievement, boundaries, limits everything. Those levels really only exist on a mental level, and the Lord has provided us this wonderful life to see that really, we can break any paradigms and reach higher than ever. Thats the purpose of the Gospel. Repentance is really breaking our limits, not restricting ourselves. Rather than saying ¨I cant¨we can always say ¨I will¨. Because the nice thing about the Gospel is that when we reach our limits, just liike the body releases hormones to keep the body moving in times of need and adapts itself quickly to keep going, the Lord gives us the strength to keep going, to still be ¨decent men in an indecent time¨.
President also talked a lot about keeping covenants, so it must be important. I finally managed to ask him about surfing, he rides a 9 foot 3 board, cant quite hang ten but he really loves surfing and is probably like those guys out on the San Juanico shore, without the hanging ten haha.

I wrote last week about a little satellite neighbourhood where we went with a member, taught some stuff and it was great. Well, an entire family of 6 came with that member in his truck to church this sunday! It was awesome! They really liked it and arrived early basically I see nothing but opportunity with them other than they are probably not legally married but Ive seen people get married before so... Anyway, it was nice to see that working with the members pays off, and nice to meet such a cool family who like was willing to just come to church and received us, I hope we can meet with them more, although we are a little restricted by the distance. In that sunday we had like 10 investigators come. It was crazy. Two of our unmarried couples came, just becase theyre cool, and a couple young women (still no young men) one of which we have been teaching and she has some great potential, wants to be baptized and has a good member friend. And this one lady came who has been an investigator since forever ago. It was funny, we were teaching her a couple days ago, and we had decided to try and get her to keep going to church. So, in my classic zero tact manner I asked ¨Hermana, why dont we see you in church anymore?¨ Yeah, so she explained that with her family not going and seeing all the other families there it made her a little depressed. We convinced her it would make her feel better and that her family would follow, and after knocking on the door that morning to wake her up, she came and felt great! The blessing of follow your dreams and passions haha and missionaries being probably a little too direct.
Taught lots of new people, its always fun to run up against the whole ¨every church is right¨ and other classic Dominican statements about why they dont live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Good times, and seeing new people is always exciting as you never know what theyre going to say, and I think first visits are the best time to really have people feel the spirit of the message.We are lately seeing lots of the devestation of not keepoing the law of chastity in the lives of people. ITS REALLY IMPORTANT!
Anyway, it was a good week. Ive been getting more direct and tougher in teaching people, maybe its a reflection of my personality but who knows. All the leaders have been telling us to be more direct about commitments, so its happening haha.
Well, thats kind of it. Our house is super clean right now. So bleached and scrubbed. AND I FOUND MY DEODORANT SPRAY YESSSSSS. So I smell like manly roses.
Gracias por todo, sigan adelante!
Elder Sullivan

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Feb 16th 2015

Hey everybody!

So I hope everything is great off in the cold lands of the North! Its still pretty cold here, but that might just be me.

Well, it was a good week, I dont remember much of it but it was good. Oh, Happy Valentines day world! Turns out its a real big celebration here in the DR, with everybody wearing red, couples going out and our colmado had a big dance party with balloons and stuff (see the photo). Some larger older lady almost danced into me, but luckily I was skinny enough to get away. Other than that we didnt have much trouble, and the day was fairly productive even. The Villa is still as beautiful as ever, the mountain views looking good. 

So this week, we had a zone meeting, which we were late to since we got lost and left a tiny bit too late. Of course, President was there. He didnt seem to mind though.  We have been teaching some really interesting lessons, and we finally set a baptism date. I went on a split with a member and we headed on down to this lady we are teaching who is super interested and reads and everything, but her husband is super evangelical and kind of hates us. So shes kind of afraid about that. But she totally committed to baptism because we talked about the Book of Mormon and she thinks its good and she thinks what we teach is true and it brings her great peace.  Either way, she accepted the date and is on her way. Other cool investigators doing their reading and overall finding things out, but its still been difficult to get them to commit more and get married. Marriage is probably going to be both an eternal blessing and an eternal problem around here. The members though have been super good and we have done some great work with them. Just yesterday we made banana bread for this one guy with a truck and his family, it was super cool, we taught a lesson there with an investigator who is a friend of his daughter and they go to church and stuff yeah. He then left with us out to a further part of the area to teach some references and some friends of his. It was super cool, we now have two new families all references with an easy ride to church and great potential, they really liked the message and we had two members with us so it was even cooler. The members out here really like to work and are excited for their friends in the town to hear the gospel, and they really like to share their thoughts and feelings in teh lessons we have, its really a great blessing and makes for cool experiencse. 
Other cool stuff, I had a battle with a lady on a bus. She started handing out Jehovah Witness pamphlets, and I contacted the whole bus with a classic big announcement thing where I stood up and said who we were and that people could talk with us about Christ and stuff or find our church and yeah basic stuff. After I sat down, that lady starting handing out pamphlets like crazy and gave me like 5, I guess for my apostasy or something. It made for funny reading for Elder Jones at least, apparently all governments are evil and religion should be the government and yeah a lot of strange stuff but its fairly common out here.
Met a maybe golden investigator this week, a cool guy with previous contact with the church and a really good friend who is a member. He is super interested, and let us in the door first time, nice! Hes humble and stuff and is a DJ (not sure if that is good or bad?) but at least he is nice and is willing to follow our stuff. I guess we will find out more as it goes on. 
We played some bitilla today as a district (baseball but on a smaller scale). I think we lost, but it was close. Our district is only 6 guys and stuff but its cool they came out here and we made pizza (Elder Jones makes this really cool pizza recipe). 
Well, Im sure we had other adventures, but mostly its been teaching people slowly, hearing lots of rants about stuff from all the older men we teach haha and being asked why are there so many churches. Every time we explain though, everyone just passes it off that all churches are true. More Restoration teaching! A missionary here just got back from his mission in the east, hes pretty cool and knows my MTC companion. Cool stuff.
Well, I think thats kind of it for now.
Have a great week and remember, never give up! The mountain isnt going to move, but you sure can move up it!

Elder Sullivan

Feb 9th 2015

Hey everybody!

Just chilling here in the jungle heat (although its still pretty cold at night). I just fixed some pants today all by myself so I feel pretty boss right now haha. Yeah thats a random story and they will probably break again next washing but at least that hem will stay in one place for a week!

So there were requests for information about Elder Jones. Hes from California, hes 18, he is an amateur filmaker, he cooks well, hes really into improv comedy acting, he knows a lot of spanish for a not yet 6 monther and hes single and a looker (self proclaimed). He has only been here in the villa so far, and we have lots of fun. Hes into a lot of the things I like, so, its cool, like we talk about legend of zelda a lot and filming and acting and he likes to ask deep questions about stuff like doctrine, overall its interesting. Fun times.

Dad said something about being in top shape. Dont worry, I am in top (ish) shape. Working out, preaching good and everything is functioning really well, havent been sick for a while so thats good. I think it has to do with the nice air out here, nice and clear. I even feel less tired. The only thing lacking are the big supermarkets to buy my unhealthy fast foods (my motto is, just work out harder and you can eat whatever!).

Anyway, had my first sunday actually in the ward here. They have sacrament meeting last, although theyre changing that since theyve realized its not very effective and we are the only ward still doing it. We actually have a lot of priesthood holders for an outskirt town, I think thats why we are a ward and not a branch, although only a few of them are really involved in the work. Most are pretty young, like in their 20s and some in their 30s. The rest are super old. Lots of crying babies and kids running around in the ward haha. Lots of the kids are pretty funny, some of them are always sassing me especially when I wouldnt give them popcorn (other people were hungry too haha). The bishop is super cool, it would just help if all the leaders didnt work so much. We talked a lot about home teaching, so we may be going out and helping them with that this week, doing some splits and stuff. Ill probably get lost. Its a busy ward.

We are teaching lots of people right now, our days are pretty full, and yet we always seem to end up with less lessons taught than I did in Herrera, lots of the times people arent home or we take too long somewhere. Its a little tight. The recent convert of Elder Jones, Stacy, is super funny but she lives on the edge of the area up a hill. She always makes fun of us for something new, although she is happy since we gave her her baptism photos and some tacos we made at home. At least she is super excited about stuff and is sharp of wit and intelligence. Also, teaching all those unmarried couples. One are these two older people who arent overly well educated but wow the husband is always in church hes come for like 3 months now, hes basically part of the priesthood and actually has really cool comments and rants ahah. Hes a little upset he cant get married since his wifes papers are bad and she is pretty sick and she is recently quitting smoking so a whole host of problems all in one. Hopefully that goes better. Also taught this guy named Francisco. Hes not married to his wife either, and she doesnt really want to get taught by us, although we did talk with them this week about love and stuff and being married. I shared with Francisco about the Familia Minyetti from Azua, hoping to inspire him to achieve greater goals, but hes still convinced about his slow approach to things. Hes been attending church for months, so I think we will be making progress soon if he will just talk to his wife even just once about marriage so they can make it official.Theyve been together for 30 years anyway, so they just need  that Fiddler on the Roof scene with Tevye and Golde where they decide they love each other and get happily married and baptized and it will be great. Our teaching and stories seem to touch him, at least it has him living a more interesting and peaceful life. He watches hockey, little side thing. Other people we teach, a lot of new people with different stories. We ended up teaching this one lady in a dark wooden house. After we sang and prayed and started talking, she just started crying. She said her dad had died recently and the song made her think of him. So we talked a lot about Gods plan and a little about what she thought about it, hopefully it helped her and next week she can find some peace on that. Oh also a 14 year old girl we are teaching read the assigned chapter we gave and prayed and felt peace and believes the BOM is true. So thats a step, and she seems a lot more confident about it and seems determined to read the book more now. Hopefully we can start setting goals for baptism, we are at a big lack there right now. So good things all around, other than some family dropped us over the phone, not cool.

Well, thats a lot of stuff. Im getting through the New Testament in spanish, interesting that after Jesus paved the way, really the greatest success of the church was with the apostles. I guess the Lord had a plan in doing that, and that it turns out it doesnt really help everyone believe even if they see Him. Turns out missionaries in all times face challenges, and we are no different today, breaking false traditions and such. The week was good, this week we hope even better!

Thats all for now, keep the faith bretheren! Fear no man!

Que el SeƱor les bendiga,

Elder Sullivan

Monday, 2 February 2015

Feb 2nd 2015

Hey peoples!

So here I am in Villa Altagracia, a kind of border town right on the edge of the mission. Its a jungle! With a bunch of nice mountains, a dirty river and a ward! The air is clearer, the weather a whole lot cooler and it rains A LOT. We got destroyed the last few days by the rain, we ended up having to walk out in it. I was sitting in a puddle in a few peoples houses that day haha, and my hair was extra spiky. Somehow our shoes are ok, they required some work to dry though with the fans haha. The prices are cheaper here (YES) so I of course bought more stuff to compensate for the extra money haha. I find myself really cold at night here, and I kind of shiver until I start working out. P90X is a great thing (props to Tony Horton). Other cool things about Villa, we are in a ward without young men, and a few young couples basically consist of the whole ward. Lots of less actives, there was a problem with retention earlier, but it seems to have been resolved. People are nice out here, and are a mixture of rich and poor. An american retiree lives out here in a little outskirt village who is a member, his house is super nice with a pool table and everything. He retired out here to get out of the city life. Life is pretty peaceful out here, although we have our work cut out.

So in terms of teaching people, we have some less actives who recently went less active. It seems that they kind of just fell off for either coffee drinking, or fellowshipping or theyre just goofy. Otherwise, lots of cool investigators who read the book of mormon, go to church and are fun to talk to. All of them are unmarried with the person they live with. Some of them have problems with papers, complicating the process. Mostly we went around and gave some law of chastity talks, and mostly got resistance in response. Although there is this one cool guy who has come to church a lot who is willing, but we dont teach his wife.... so that could be difficult. He said it was super interesting that I am a mixed culture baby, he thought it was weird to see a chinese guy, and even weirder that I was actually half british too. I tried to explain that not everyone is racist, I think he understood. Everyone always tells me wow those chinese genes are a lot stronger, eh? Yes, yes they are. Yeah, so the people are great, we are teaching a few. So, with all the good book of mormon reading and church attendance, I guess they just have to get baptized but it seems that this part is the most difficult. Everybody is still praying for an answer, when they really havent taken that final step, commit. We will see, a 14 year old girl has some potential, but shes still waiting for something.

We had a special conference broadcast for the caribean on sunday. Super awesome, Elder Packer and Elder Holland and Elder Andersen and Hermana Oscarson all spoke. Elder Holland and Packer impressed us with some spanish, and everyone knew that Elder Andersen already spoke it. Elder Andersen gave a super cool talk about faith, and explained how it really works. It should be based in Christ, it should be the focus of all our desires and it must have works. He explained that one should always move forward and never turn back. It was really cool and I hope that the unmarried couple who came to the conference really took that to heart and never turn back, even if their steps dont get there right away. Elder Holland talked about a bunch of things we can do to stay in holy places (good for the less actives especially) but I really liked the part where in his imperfectly spoken spanish bore powerful testimony. I found it endearing for the spanish speakers, hopefully they got over his accent and really felt his words. The whole center went dead silent when he started speaking spanish, so I hope Gods love for ALL people got to them there. There were other things, but I cant remember them all I have them written down somewhere. Oh, Elder Packer gave a cool testimony in which he stated about the saviour that he knows him, and that Elder Packer wishes he could give everyone his testimony of the truth, but all must come to their own faith in this great work. Anyway, it was super uplifting, lots of good advice on faith, holy places and especially the family, a struggle here in the Dominican. I hope we can do great things here in the villa.

Well thanks for all your love and support, keep the faith!

Elder Sullivan

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Jan 26 2015


So I hope all is well in the north! By the way those photos of the olympic place is not where the olympics were held I think its just their big center haha. 

The big news this week, Elder Reed and I are both getting transferred! Entirely unexpectedly! Our area is getting downsized to just two Elders so the other two guys have to take over all of our stuff. That is a little worrisome, but Im sure they will be just fine. We had a nice send off kind of thing in church yesterday when a bunch of investigators and less actives finally came to church, we filled that place up with I think 12 people more than usual, I hope those investigators can keep up the progression, even with the more limited labour force. It is sad to leave all these people and very suddenly. Elder Reed took it pretty hard, it is a little sudden in just the second transfer. It will all be good though  I am heading out to an area called Villa Altagracia, its north of the city and kind of a small jungle town kind of thing. My companions name will be Elder Jones, a younger guy in the mission so that will be interesting!

It was a little sad to go around and say bye, especially to this one old lady. Im not sure if I talked about her but she used to be a temple worker but got really crippled in her foot and she has quite a few problems with her family.  We used to go by and comfort her and sing hymns and such. Saying bye kind of crushed her a little and she cried and stuff and maybe singing God be with you till we meet again wasnt the greatest idea to cheer her up, but at least it was nice to know we made a difference for her and that our love and care for her has helped her, hopefully she will be alright. 
Time was shorter in this area so the emotions are not as strong as Azua or Ivan Guzman, but we have yet to have our last visit with Cruz Maria, which will probably be a little tough. She was expecting at least Elder Reed to stay, so I dont know how that will be and now her contact with the missionaries will be much more limited. Im not worried though about her, the Lord takes care of everyone.
We finally convinced one of our investigators, Janet, to go to church now that we are leaving haha. She will be missed, had lots of strange jokes and if she didnt remember your name in a prayer she would look for it on the plaque haha. Her house always smelled like pee though. She was a really good reader, would always try and say that she didnt understand but then we asked her about it and she really did understand its just sandbagging haha. Also our strange kind of high looking haitain guy came, his name is Levitique. He always has strange questions and is trying to test us or something. He asked once about preachers using psalms to curse people or smiting people who mocked them and he asked if that was from God. I talked about what Christ had to say about that, and he said later he didnt even agree with the practice of cursing with psalms anyway. He then asked in church if Satan can enter heaven since thats what people think about the story of Job, which I explained they just met somewhere haha. He then had another question about something anyway it sent the teachers for the hoops. I think some people were a little racist against him at church, since hes haitian and kind of loooks like hes on drugs, but I hope they can love him since hes awesome. Also that guy who was having lots of problems that we contacted in the apartments came to church, seeking the peace in his life. It looks like he really wants it. He had some good comments in the classes and everything, Im sure the Elders will have a good time with him sicne hes super open and has nice questions and really is a golden guy haha. Anyway, I hope they can continue with all the people her, all those reactivating people especially. Turns out all they need to become more active is some listening, home teachers, some scriptures and phone calls in the morning for the younger ones haha. Anyway, Herrera has been great and I´ll miss it, the members may not have been united but they sure were nice. All the craziness here behind for now.

Well change is strange, but its a lot less strange this time than the last two. I feel fairly comfortable with leaving and really loook forward to the great outdoors of the villa out there in the jungle. Maybe my photos will be prettier haha. I kind of like the idea of a new adventure. I feel like Bilbo a little bit ¨I think Im ready for another adventure¨ and this could very well be my last one. But the road goes on, and Im sure where it leads will be where I am supposed to go. Im excited to work out there, and I would like to see the Lord´s will done precisely and with great excellence this last area. And who knows maybe Ill get one more after haha.

Thanks for all, I hope this week is great next week I will have more about the great north of the DR!

Ya lo saben,

Elder Sullivan