Sunday, March 27, 2011

A week late, sorry Blog Readers....from March 21

Blog Readers:  We have had sickness in our home and life has been crazy.  I am just now posting Chad's letter from last week.  Sorry!  The Mom. 
Hola Padres!                   21 March 2011  

It was really good to get an email from both of you this week, but I am afraid that my email time is going to be a little different here in this area. We have to email at a library and it actually gives you a time limit to email, so it’s like the MTC all over again, but I will make it work.
This week was by far the craziest week of my mission! I will make sure to answer all you questions about my new area and new companion. This week was so full of stuff, that I really didn’t even have time to do much thinking, I just went and did what was needed to be done. The area is basically the whole downtown area of St. George, the older part of town. My apartment is like two blocks away from the Temple. But our area just got made even bigger this week. Before it was just two stakes that were separated by one in the middle, and some Sisters covered the one in the middle. l President took out the Sisters and gave that stake to us as well. So we cover three stakes all in the downtown area of St. George. The area is so full of work, we barely have enough time in the days to get it all down. We are also so busy teaching lessons, that is hard to find new people to teach. (If all Missionaries could have this problem!!)
The one thing that makes this area extremely hard, is that it is all either on foot or bike. The area is so big, that we are constantly riding our bikes back and forth across St. George. By week three of being here, I am either going to be in extremely good shape, or I am going to die. I guess we will see what happens. I definitely took a car for granted before, but now that I am humble, maybe we will get one again. I guess I can always pray for that miracle! So because of all the work and bike riding, I am just physically and spiritually gassed by the end of the night. When we get home all I want to do is just go to sleep. And then I do and then the loud beeping of an alarm clock makes me wish I was dead, instead of dragging my already exhausted body off of the top bunk.
On to the new companion. His name is Elder Juan Bravo. He is from the little tiny town of Chicago, Illinois. He was actually born in Mexico, but grew up in Chicago. He is my third native Spanish speaking companion, so that has been helping a ton. He has been out for a really long time, so long in fact, that he is going home in 5 weeks! He is a really good teacher and a really funny guy. Our personalities blend really well, and a lot of people are already starting to pick up on that.
Probably my favorite part about this area, is that I speak Spanish for almost the whole day. We are always talking to someone, and my mind is really starting to think in Spanish a lot better. That is what happens when you are surrounded by it as well. Elder Bravo also helps me speak Spanish a lot more then any other companion I have had too. There is also a lot more Spanish speaking missionaries around here that I get to associate with as well. Because I have been in with all this Spanish lately, my mind is having trouble switching back and forth from Spanish to English. That is a good thing; I am finally starting to get more comfortable and confident with my Spanish skills.
The members here are great, I have been told that the Branch that I serve in is the best Spanish Branch is St. George. I definitely figured that out yesterday. Everyone made me feel like that they were happy that I was there and that they were ready to help us out. I have a funny little story: since I am new here everyone always asks the question, "Where are you from?" So just to spice it up and not say Washington every time, I started to tell a bunch of people that I was from Chihuahua, Mexico. The crazy thing is that a lot of people believe me! (Especially since there are all the "Mormon Colonies" down there!) It is easier to keep it going with younger people, and people on the street, but when it comes to older people that I will be seeing a bunch, it gets a whole lot harder. When people actually find out that I was just messing around they just laugh and have a good time with it. J I think I am truly becoming a "Mexican". People are telling me that I will be by the time I get done living in that culture for 2 whole years.
Yesterday I met someone that lived in the city of Pasco. I knew it was bound to happen, but I didn’t know when it would happen, but it did. He said that he worked in the orchards up there, but moved down to California to get a different job. We were able to talk about the Tri-Cities and everything up there.
I am completely engaged is this work now, I am finding the true meaning of service. This is what I am supposed to be doing, and that my attitude is the thing that is going to make my mission what I want it to be. I just need to set my mind to this work and all the rest will flow.
Now to answer something from your emails. So Chay Chay got sick? I am really sorry to hear that! I am glad to hear that she is doing better and seems to recovering. (Two year old Chaylyn was taken to the hospital twice in 5 days because of flu and throwing up.  She is better now!)  I also want to tell Dad that the kids are right, Momo is the BOSS! I don’t know how you could have thought otherwise. They may be only 4 and 2 but they aren’t dumb, they know what’s going on. (At the dinner table one evening, Darin said he was the boss, the dad.  Grandson Bryson said he was the boss and Chay joined in that she was the boss.  Darin asked who really was the boss, and Bryson and Chay said Momo – The Mom!) 
Well this is going to be a good area for me, and I am going to grow a lot. I am hoping that all is well for everyone there at home, all the family and friends there. Make each day better then the last!Live it, Love it, Preach it!       Con amor de tu hijo amado,       ELDER D

Monday, March 14, 2011

Goodbye Hurricane, Hello St. George (Morningside)

Hola Padres!!                                              March 13, 2011 

          Well this week has been quite crazy, and has been packed full of events from start to finish. It has been crazy here in Hurricane, but I guess around the world too. Well to start off, this week I hit my 6 month mark. Just in case you didn’t already know that, but I am sure you are keeping track of my mission on something. (Yes, I am.  -the Mom) Well in accordance with the traditions of missionaries worldwide, I followed those who went before me and I burnt a tie to commemorate this special date! It was a pretty cool experience, but it was hard for me to give up a tie to this occasion. I think it will all be okay and I can just replace it, what do you think?
I want to tell you about this experience I had with a 16 year old kid named Jorge. It is one of those experiences that I always heard about from other missionaries, but never thought actually existed. Well now I know that they really do happen. So we found this kid through a referral for his sister, but didn’t really ever look to teach him. We just kept going back to try and find his sister at home. Eventually we did find them both and taught a wonderful lesson on the Restoration. So we tried to set up an appointment to where they both could be there, but that didn’t work out. So we split them into two different anppointments. It came time for Jorge's appointment, we went over there and were about five minutes early. We knocked and rang the doorbell and nothing happened at all. No one was there, so we were a little confused by the whole thing. We were trying to find something to leave him a note, but we didn’t have anything. So we were just going to cut our losses and go somewhere else. We got in the car, and something weird happened, I usually leave the same way that I got there, but for some reason I decided to go a different way. So about 200 feet down the road, we see Jorge walking on the side of the road, so we flip around and start talking to him. He was apologizing saying that he was trying to come home as fast as he could and that soccer practice went a little longer then he expected. Well we gave him a ride to his house and we went in to teach him a lesson. And what happened next was so so unexpected. We had met with him the Sunday before and had invited him to pray about the Church. We asked how it went and he said that it was good and he felt good about it. He said that he felt that the "Mormon" church was the one that he needed to go to and be apart of. So of course Elder Lora and I were just completely mesmerized and shocked that he actually said these things. So we jumped on the opportunity and extended the baptismal commitment and asked him about April 2nd. He then told us, "well that was the date that I was actually thinking about too, so yeah, that is something I want to do." So that was just one of those experiences that shapes a mission and shows to me that the Lord's hand really is in everything! He provided us countless opportunities to teach Jorge before, but we just were too focused on finding his sister there, that we overlooked that he might need the Gospel as well. And the Lord then just happened to provide other little events to take place so that this event could take place. It just really shows me that obedience pays off and it was one of those experiences that I have been praying for.
This reminds me of a quote that I really like, it is from President James E. Faust. It says, "Faith is the power, obedience is the price, love is the motive, and Christ is the reason." I just really like this quote because I think it describes the purpose of a mission and what missionaries feel like as they serve and why they serve.  I have definitely changed my attitude about missionary work. Before I just did it to do it and wasn’t fully involved in it. But now I wake up in the morning looking forward to the experiences that I will have and can’t wait to help someone else improve their life. I am really starting to grasp what it means to give your whole might, mind, and strength to the Lord.
I heard about what has happened in Japan. That is a crazy thing. We didn’t even know until almost a whole day later when someone told us at a dinner appointment. They asked us if we knew, and then turned on the news to let us see the carnage and damage that had happened. My heart goes out to them and all those people in this tragedy.
On a brighter note, I was able to be part of another baptism. This time it was the baptism of Antonio. You may be asking who is Antonio, well Antonio is Ricardo. He just decided to start going by Antonio to help bridge the gap from his old life to his new life after baptism. I personally think that is a remarkable decision on his part and support it fully. The baptism was super super amazing. The Spirit was there so strong and definitely filled the room. The crazy thing was that President Leonard even came to see the baptism. So that is a pretty special thing to have the Mission President at a baptism. The one funny thing is Antonio was super nervous before the baptism and he offered me a couple hundred bucks to go get the car and take him home so that he didn’t have to get baptized! I could have probably kept pushing him to 1000 bucks, but a baptism is priceless!
Now to the question on your mind about transfers. I am actually leaving the town of Hurricane and heading to St. George to serve in the Morningside Spanish Area. I am kind of sad to leave Hurricane, but I will be okay. I will go and do as the Lord hath commanded! I will be with another native companion. His name is Elder Bravo. He will be going home after the transfer I am with him, so I will most likely stay in that area for 3 months, if not more.
Well Mom, just to share a little something else with you. I met a guy who served his mission in Australia, but in Sydney. He was asking an Elder in my district (who is from Australia) if he knew these towns and then asked if he knew the "Sheriff’s". I then paid a little more attention and he said Richard Sheriff, so I asked him if he served in Perth and he said yes. So I let him know that you served in Perth and you knew him (Richard Sherriff) as well and that he called our house. Come to find out that when you had your mission reunion, the house where the Sheriff’s stayed was here in Hurricane and I had been playing basketball in the morning with this guy! Just a fun little connection. So you can tell Bro. (Bishop!) Sheriff that I met someone that he knows. (Last October we were able to attend a special mission reunion 25 years later since serving in Perth, Western Australia.  Richard Sheriff is an elder I served with and admired his strength.  It was through his efforts that we had this great reunion with 120 people!  Good On Ya, Mate!)
I am sending a package home today since I am being transferred. There is a letter in there that will have instructions and a description of what is in there. (Chad wants to make sure I do not read his letters.  Don’t worry, his letters are safe and I will respect his privacy!!) 
Hey, you never said whether or not the baseball team won the game, so did they? (We attended a home baseball game in Burbank last week.  No, they didn’t win.  We spoke with several folks who asked how Chad was doing sent good wishes.)  I am glad that people are missing me; I didn’t think that I would be missed by anyone.  L  But I am glad that people still think about me and some even take the time to read my blog. Oh and just for the blog, since Nicole (Roberts) reads this: HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICOLE!  Her birthday is March 17th so I had to make sure I said it before I forgot or missed it. :)
I am glad to hear about Emma getting a job and that they are progressing in that factor.  I am glad to hear from you and I enjoy all the support and everyone that reads my blog! I miss you and love you!! Make this week wonderful!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!!     Con muchismo amor de tu hijo,  ELDER D

Monday, March 7, 2011

Things are Looking Up, Weather is GREAT!

Hola Mis Padres!!                                March 7, 2011

Well the weeks keep getting a little better each week. I guess there is really light at the end of the tunnel as we keep persevering. I kind of feel that I have been in the midst of a huge storm on the sea, and the clouds are starting to break and the sun is starting to come back into my life! We are continuing to try and accomplish the will of the Lord each day. We have been doing better and better each day.
This week was kind of crazy. We had to do a lot of commuting to and from St. George. It is about a 20 minute drive each way, not to mention that it eats up the miles that we are allowed for the month. We have gone there about 3 or 4 times this week. We have been there once for P-Day to buy some stuff and also to play some sports with the other Elders in St. George. The other times we have gone there for some appointments that Elder Lora had. We had to go once to get his knee checked out. He has been having some pain in his knee, but the doctor said that it was fine and said that he could just go to the Physical Therapist and strengthen it. I wasn't very sympathetic about it, I have just grown to deal with the pain that comes and goes in my knees and I just deal with it. It is what it is.
The craziest thing about going to St. Geezy I get nervous with all the driving. I am just so used to the traffic of Hurricane, a town of about 15,000, compared to St. George, a town of about 85,000. So I am like wow what is going on here?! Just the little things that happen when you are in one place for so long! Another cool thing about going to St. George, is that I got to see Elder Hernandez a few times. (Elder Hernandez was Chad’s companion just prior to Elder Lora.) It was good to see him and be able to catch up with what was going on in Hurricane since he left.
I am pretty happy; I have been losing some weight that I gained since being on the mish.  Playing basketball three times a week with a bunch of middle aged guys for an hour has actually been paying off.
This week was filled with a bunch more walking/tracting. We probably tracted about 2 hours or so everyday this week. Tracting always makes for an interesting experience. You always can meet such random people. This week I met a guy that I suspect is a brother to Warren Jeffs. There are a ton of ex-FLDS that live all throughout Washington County, just because it is so close to Colorado City.
One really cool experience that I found out was that Ricardo is getting baptized finally! He said that he really needed to talk to us, and he had been missing some appointments lately, so we were thinking that it might be bad news. So he came in and said you need to set me up with a date, and I just thought he was kidding. But he said that he had gotten cleared off probation and could be baptized. He is going to be baptized this Saturday, right before transfers.
Oh! Speaking of baptisms, we had another one this week. We baptized a girl of some recent converts. (See Picture) It was a weird situation. We basically were playing a waiting game since I got here. The parents were waiting to have her baptized until their son was going to be baptized as well. So we just waited until the time was right, and I happened to still be in the same place when the time came for her to be baptized. The family is super strong and they come to church every Sunday. The dad, Pablo, even was called to be the Executive Secretary for the Branch three weeks after he was baptized. So they are a super solid family.
Well the weather here has been absolutely amazing! All of last week it was in the 70s during the day and didn’t get below 40 at night! Man this is one benefit of being here, but I don’t know how the summer months are going to play out with it being 115 to 120 for two months. But I guess I will adjust.
The Spanish is still coming along everyday. It is beginning to be able to where I can have conversations with people on my own and actually understand what they are saying and what is really going on instead of having my companion kind of translate for me. I am also starting to be able to translate some things and be able to go back and forth from English to Spanish.
Well tell Pops that it is the thought that counts about his email. And Bryson is still learning. (Darin wrote an email to Chad and Bryson came along and deleted it before it could be saved.  Four year olds are quick!  Dad was mad!!) So I guess that means that Em and all them are still living at the house? Are they having any luck with finding a place?  (Chad’s sister and family have been living with us since Chad left in September.)
So with the conversion stories I asked you to write, you can send them however you want, and I want specifics, not just a general story, filled with names and big events that happened. But it just has to be handwritten. I need one from Pops too!
I am glad to hear about Steb looking into reading my blog and I am glad that he got a kick out of seeing the picture with my moustache! (Coach Steberl was Chad’s high school baseball coach for four years.) The mail that you have been sending I have definitely gotten and I enjoy it. Any and all mail is a good thing to receive!  (Because Chad had been a little down, I have been sending him jokes and stories.  No real letter from me, the mom, but just the stories and jokes.  It was a simple way to uplift him, but I didn’t want it to be a distraction. If it did, I would stop sending them.)  I am thankful that you filled out my Tax Return and that you put it in my account. I am going to be more careful with my money from now on. I have definitely discovered that I don’t have any income anymore, so I need to watch what I am buying.  I also haven’t got my sheets yet, I am going to do that today. One more thing, where did you get this book? (We have been sending him excerpts from “100 Character Traits of the Whole Hearted Missionary” by George D. Durrant – the father of one of Tonja’s good friends, Devin Durrant.)  I would like a copy of it if I could, but it’s up to you guys if you just want to keep sending me pages at a time or the whole thing. The one thing that I could really use is stamps, so in your next letter could you send your son some stamps??? J  (Yes, sonny boy, we’ll send you some stamps!)  Thank you!
Well I am just ranting on a bunch of stuff in this letter, but it is the only time I get to write home and see how all that stuff is going.  I am glad for the continual support that you give me, and I appreciate you for giving me life. I hope that you make everyday a little better then the last!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!      Con muchismo amor de tu hijo!  ELDER D