Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Next 15 Months Behind Bars

Hola Hola!!!

On every corner, there's a little colmodo. ok, not every corner, but they are like these little stores people just open up and they have pretty much almost anything. I wouldn't suggest buying your meat from here though ... but everything is, ya! And it's owned by dominicans. But there are quite a few stores owned by Chinese, like pica pollo (fried chicken) and other random shops. But everyone knows the "chinos" as they are called. I got called a china once ... idk how that kid knew, but yeah. He's good! Haha

Did that answer your questions? If not, let me know! And dad, I would love to take pics of everything but I'm just worried to pull out my camera in certain areas. Plus, I don't think anyone would appreciate if I took a picture of their weirdly shaved legs ...

Anywho, Yeah, this week is general conference! We do get to watch it live! Woo Hoo! I'm excited! I'm hoping that they have an english room, but I doubt it. Normally, I hear that there’s a french, spanish, and english room in the stake center, but I think our ward is broadcasting it too. So we'll see how it goes. Plus, we need to bring an investigator if we want to go. And it will be live! From 12-2pm and 4-6pm with the priesthood session for men from 8-10pm. Late, but welcome to the DR where everyone stays up late! 

This past week, we had transfers and guess what? Not a greenie anymore! There are a few new people here and in the same spot that I was in a couple weeks ago with no spanish ... but, esta bien. Oh, and the title of my email. So in our house, we have a ton of windows. In all houses, in front of the windows are like these fancy bars. You can probably look up a picture, but they are on everyone’s windows. No screens, which I think would help a LOT of the problems here (like insects) but yeah, so I'll be living a year and a half behind bars hahaha.

Anyway, this week was a rollercoaster, as always. In church, hardly any of our investigators came, but we did call one guy and he woke up and came! He's from my family, the Adon family. His name is Frankeli and he's 24 and sooo funny! hahaha and he's got a baptismal date for the 11 of October! He chose it himself! And we believe he's ready. He just needs to have a strong testimony and Hermana Fletcher and I keep praying for him. He's so nervous for his baptism too! He's like "I have to get baptized in front of people? How many? 30!! And dunked in water?" he just covers his face and I try not to laugh at his reaction hahaha!!! I love the guy! 

Alex is doing great I think ... we haven't seen him for a while, it feels like, cause he's been out of town. Apparently he's got a job now, which is great, but which could also conflict with attending church. We have a visit tonight with him, so we'll see what's going on with him.  But he's great and his family is awesome too! He's got a 14year old sister, Rosio, who is just hilarious! She always says hi to us and hugs us. Then there is Brian, who's my age and one point just busted out singing Akon to us and "I believe I can fly" and I could only bust out laughing cause it was so unexpected! But that's about the extent of most of his english...the songs hahahahaha!! 

We have another investigator with a lot of potential too. Her name is Rosanna and she's in her early 20s. She comes to english class every Saturday (we teach the intermediate level, there's also beginning and advanced. and I love teaching these guys! It's only for an hour, an hour of service, but I love love love talking to these people and helping them learning english!) Also, she is diligently reading the BOM in English and Spanish, so we are trying to help her gain a testimony about it. But she loves to talk to us about so many things and I love listening and talking to her too!

Oh, and about your invitation to invite the family! Yay! I'm stoked for you guys! I think that would be a great idea! Missionaries can only do so much to try and retain new converts or investigators until they are transferred or something. But if those people have friends in the church, that makes attending easier! Fellowship them! You guys can so do it! I wish I could be there to help! keep me posted!

Emotionally, I'm doing ok. It's really rough some days. Sometimes I forget to turn out and serve others, including my companion. Sometimes I get so frustrated, especially when I can't understand the people that I love. Sometimes I get homesick. But then I have those moments when I'm sitting in a cita (appointment) with an investigator and the spirit is so strong and I remember why I'm here. Like with Alex or Frankeli, when they said they'd be baptized. It's those moments that I live for. And will missionary work ever be easy. no. and why? why why why? Because (according to Elder Holland), it was never, ever easy for the Lord. There's those days that I walk with Him in the streets and I feel like people just don't want anything to do with the gospel. Theres other times I feel (but it's not literal, just feel) like I've been spit on, ridiculed, rejected for doing the right thing. That's what happened to the Savior. As a missionary, we walk the road to Calvary like the Savior. We labor with all our might and I'm sure that Christ was happy and felt joy a lot. But the scriptures talk about Christ weeping. And it's ok to cry. But missionary work, for any person, is never, ever easy, because it was never, ever easy for the Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Dad, you can probably testify to this. This is all in reference to a devotional given to missionaries by Elder Holland. But then, let us remember how many souls He brought unto Him and His father, before His time and after, and during. The road of a missionary is hard. For me, for you, for every member and missionary there is. But after all we can do, in this life, imagine how great our joy will be when we can, in the life after, see the fruits of our labor! and even be worthy enough to stand before the Lord and say "Father, thy work is done." The work is so hard. So hard. But is it worth it? Yes. Is it worth seeing the smile on someone’s face when you share the Restoration? Yes. Or when they accept an invitation to be baptized? yes. or when you hear them get excited about having a referral for us? yes! 

So, I'm sorry this is so ... missionary talk hahaha, but I invite you guys to accept that invitation to fellowship that family! And whoever else! Perhaps they may not join the church now. Or their daughter. But maybe one of their kids will serve a mission later and have a family and his kids will have families, all in the church cause you helped out their grandpa. Who knows?

I love you guys so much! I pray for you all every day! Keep being amazing examples in all you do! I hope this week isn't too crazy for you and you all can breath and relax a little! Thank you for fulfilling your callings too, in church and in our family. I am so proud of all of you. Love you all so much!!

Hermana Ho

Monday, September 22, 2014

Buchata Buchata Buchata!!

Oh my gosh it's so hard to not dance here in the streets! On almost every corner, there is a colmodo (a store that a person just starts up. It's super convenient for us to buy things at!) that plays really good music throughout the day! Buchata, salsa, merengue, and sometimes you get the English tunes and if you're lucky, some country :) hahaha but yeah it's so fun! 

Anyway, I love you guys! Man, i love telling everyone about you guys and what you all are doing. Honestly, you guys are conversation starters or examples in my lessons for me :) Thank you for your examples! And ward conference! Awesome! We had ours this past saturday and sunday. Saturday, we had an open house where the ward and us invited people to come to the chapel. The members were so excited! Each auxilarary would be explaining like for 5 minutes what they do to the people and all of them had all these presentations set. Including us. And people invited others and we invited a ton of people too! And the night came ... and no one showed up expect the members. I felt soooo bad for them because they invited people and no one showed up. For us missionaries, it's disappointing, but it's a disappointment we are used to. But for the ward, ohmygosh I feel sooo bad. And we have such a great and strong ward! But the thing is, I don't know if it's the culture or if the people have short term memory here, but the culture is so relaxed and so nice that people aren't going to say no to coming to a church. But then they won't come or will forget. So ... yeah, I felt really bad for the members. So bad. But, like you guys, our Sunday was great! We had a few musical numbers (which was interesting ... only because Dominicans love singing .... but aren't necessarily the best). But everyone was so excited to have a new piano in our chapel and one of the missionaries, she played her violin with our numbers that we sang in the choir (oh yeah, I was in it. My companion played the piano). It was a great conference!

Okay, so we have 2 baptism dates! Alex, of course, is Oct 11. Please pray for him! I don't understand him half the time, but my companion says that he said that he knows this church is true and that he wants to be baptized. He has a testimony. And so much potential. And he just cracks us up all the time! hahaha We also have Enercy, who is 13 years old. But I have never seen someone her age with such faith or diligence. She attends church with some other members in the ward, but she wants to be baptized so bad! Because of a few complications, her date was pushed to the end of November, but my comp and I believe she is ready to be baptized so we're going to go with her and have her talk to the bishop about moving her date back to the middle of October (the original day it was set to). So we'll see how that goes! 

We are also trying to reactivate this one family. They're like half active ... and the one mostly active guy is preparing to go on a mission. He's working on his papers. But oh, this is my second family here! They are the Adon family, and they live 3 houses down. I love them! The mom is so sweet and kind, but she doesn't want a calling in the church and she only comes for like the 3rd hour (which is sacrement meeting, here in the DR). Her son, Frankeli, is 24 and our investigator and we had a hawaiian lesson with him. So now everytime I pass their house, i'll hear a random "Aloha!!" from him! Francisco is the one preparing for a mission, and he's so cool! He's kinda a mommy's boy, it's so cute haha but he's super cool! Me and him have a challenge going on so he reads his BOM every day:I told him I'll read the BOm with him, a chapter a day. It's my first time reading it in Spanish, so I don't understand everything (which I told him, I don't like, but for him I'd read it), and for him, he needs to be reading every day. So, a chapter a day in Spanish. Oh, and did you guys know that reading your BOM every day is a commandment? The 3 we always tell investigators are 1) read the BOM every day, 2) pray every day, twice a day, and 3) attend church. They need to be doing that in order to be baptized and they are commandments... just saying ;).  But yeah, anyway, then there is Wander, their 8 year old brother who just got baptized and is kinda going inactive cause he doesn't have the greatest examples in his life. There are also two other kids who are inactive. One of them is dating our downstairs neighbor, Gary (love the guy. He has a  beautiful singing voice and he sings to us every morning ... without really knowing it haha). But this family is my family here in Los Frailes cause I feel like I can just talk to them, even though I can't understand them or express myself well. But I love them so much! 

As for your scripture, D&C 33:7, I love! And the verse after it, verse 8. And it's important to remember that the Lord qualifes whom he calls. I like to apply that to callings too, in families and in the church. It's hard to apply that to me cause ... I don't feel very qualified sometimes, but I have to have faith. Faith that I'm here because the Lord, through his prophet, told me I need to be here. I think of home a lot. Tomorrow is transfers, but I'm staying in my area (yay!!) with my companion, but we sent home one of the sisters. She finishes her mission tomorrow! She's awesome and did NOT want to leave haha.  Her name is Hermana Hansen. But I thought  "you get to see your family though! And speak english!" It's bad to think of home, I know, but it was hard when she kept talking about it.  lol But I love her so much! She was so awesome! But then again, I have moments that I live for. Like teaching Alex and Enercy and other progressing investigators. Then there's also the swag walk men here or the guy that shaved his legs like with strips ... like on a candy cane... or my neighbors. The hot momma in her towel doing laundry outside, or her 6 year old daughter shamelessly walking in her pink panties outside, or her teenage brother walking around in his boxers. Or the women who walk around with hair curlers that are about 3-4 inches in diameter in their hair on the streets. And when I see these things, all I can say is "Oh, the DR" and just laugh cause it 's these moments and more that I live for! So if you're worried about me, don't worry! I have a LOT of entertainment here! Haha and also, great members and great investigators who are all generally concerned about me and my companion and making sure we are doing okay. 

I love the DR so much! One day, I have to take you guys around here and show you my friends and family and also the quirks here. Don't worry, the Lord is watching over me. I know it. I wish you all the best! Siblings, keep up the awesome work with school and sports! You're doing awesome! And enjoy the water for me :) well, maybe not the Ala Wai water ... but the beach and stuff. Mom and dad, keep being amazing parents. Thanks for staying strong in the gospel and for raising us kids the way you did. I see a lot of broken families here and am reminded of how blessed I am to have great parents and great siblings who love each other, who support each other, who help each other, who are strong together. Grandma and grandpa, thanks for serving your missions. I didn't realize how much that means until now. Thank you for your service and for reaching out to those who needed you. 

Love you all and have a great week!

Hermana Ho

P.S. please dance for me ... cause I can't. hula, jazz, swing, hip hop whatevs. Buchata if you want too! Cause I can't. And swim for me. And sing with the radio for me. Just have fun with life! I am here, without those things, I just miss them a lot cause they are fun too.  But live in the moments and just go for it! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Change My Ways til I Shall Be in Perfect Harmony With Thee

Hey everyone! 

The title of this email is from a song... a song that's been in my head the past couple of days that I love! Look it up! :D

Okay, so mom, we usually just say "que bien" (that's good!) or "muy bien" (very good)... idk if they say good job here ... I'm still learning the lingo, big time haha. Dad, thanks for your advice. Don't worry, the most people do in this area is call out to us, they don't get crazy; and if they did, the other people would help us out. This country is pretty great about helping others, including strangers. And the area I'm in is one of the humblest and supposedly the best in the mission! I'm so glad to hear from you guys and how the family and ward is doing! And alana! Good job! Girl, that takes guts! It's so hard for me to invite people to church at first, but with time and practice, it gets easier. The first time is the hardest :) and as for her not coming to church, don't worry. You planted the seed and now it's here job to use her agency. I've been learning that bit a lot right now. It's the same with our investigators. Every Sunday, we see and count who has come to church that's our investigators. The past couple weeks have been sour cause hardly any come. BUT yesterday, ALEX CAME TO CHURCH!!!! And a couple who's been investigating for a while! And one of our young women we've been teaching! So it wasn't nearly half our investigators, but "how great will be your joy if you bring but one soul unto me." Yups, it was a WONDERFUL!!! sunday!!! Me and Hermana Fletcher were sooooo happy!! so happy! It set off our day right :)

As for the temple, that was amazing! We got inside and we were all prepared to do a session, but then we were led into this room before the session ... all of us were confused and didn't know that room existed. I thought it was a thing they did every time the missionaries came to the temple. I didn't understand everything that was said, but someone explained to me that that room is called the Room of Silent Assembly. Only a few of the temples in the world have that room and you need special permission from the 1st Presidency of the church to use it. So we were the lucky ones that got to go in there! It was amazing!! After, we did a session and it was my first time in Spanish. Yeah, didn't understand a lot, and toward the end it was a little difficult, but I realized sooooo many more things that I hadn't noticed before! It was amazing!! oh, and I may have accidently hugged a guy ... it was an accident!! I swear! But he and his wife helped us do sealings another time when I was in the mtc and I couldn't help it when he hugged me! I think i'll be forgiven ... haha

The work here is progressing ... slowly but surely. The whitewashing part is over (thank goodness!) and I'm understanding more people and more words. I still can't communicate with some people cause they tend to cut off their words or slur them together ... Domincian style of course hahaha. But it's great! Alex is one of the best investigators so far! We had one member, Diego, come with us to an appointment and it went soo well! Alex is hilarious! and he's got a baptism date!!!! YAYAYA!!! I'm so happy! And so hopeful! We gave him Oct 11 and he said "Well, if you want to baptize me, don't you want to do it sooner? like tomorrow?" hahahaha I love the guy! Also, yesterday, we took another member, Samuel, with us to an investigators house ( a couple) and he was amazing! He brought the spirit like no other. He's been a member for 20 years, but inactive for 19, just coming back. He's trying to convert his wife too and he wishes he could've gone on a mission. But I can tell you right now, that guy has a mission and he's an amazing missionary! The way he listened to our investigators, taught and testified was amazing! If he can do it, why not the members who have been active for longer? It's so awesome here!

I read an article the other day in the liahona from this past month. I don't have the title or author, but I encourage you guys to read it. It's awesome. It has a picture of an asian officer on one of the pages. At the end of the chapter, there was a quote that stuck out to me. I don't have time to quote it, but basically it said we need to have faith to walk into the dark and know that with a few steps into the dark, the light will shine again and guide us. Basically, have faith and take that risk, take that chance. You never know who might want to hear the gospel or who needs it or has been looking for it. 

I love you guys so much! know that I pray for you guys every day! Missionary work is hard, with the tag or not, but it's possible. My companion just quoted this for me"if the church weren't true, missionaries would've destroyed it a long time ago." ... which is kinda true, no offence to anyone. haha But I love the mission. Love the peole. Love the Lord! Keep being amazing! I love you guys!


Hermana Ho

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's the start of something new!

Had a few high school musical moments this week ... such as wanting to dance (can I have this dance?) and the start of something new! Things are finally looking up in our area. 

Things are going great! Thank you so much for your love and support and for letting me go on a mission! I love it! I love the people! And also, my companian and I have grown really close. We wander the streets a lot when our appointments fall through, looking for people, but we are okay cause we entertain each other ... and so do the creepers (we call the frecos, or flirts). Yeah, I've been asked if I could marry someone a few times now ... it's a no shame country. BUT don't worry dad! you are still the only man in my life! besides Ammon ... and grandpa ... etc. Anyway, yeah, she's awesome! And things are getting easier. The ward here is very supportive of missionary work and we've been getting more references. Not much, but more. We aren't supposed to contact here in this area because we are supposed to work through the members to get references. But, esta bien. 

This week I've realized how important each member is in missionary work, whether they realize it or not. Just having a member, any member, whether YM, YW, or adult, come with us to an appointment makes a HUGE difference! No joke! Just having them share their testimony makes a world of a difference in lessons! And ward callings! holy cow, it's SUCH a blessing when members fulfill their callings and work with us! The members here want to be involved and we have received a lot of support from them. So, I challenge each person that reads this to fulfill your calling as a member and as whatever calling you have! work with the missionaries! We are always so grateful to have people volunteer to come with us to meetings, even if our schedules don't complement each other. yeah, me and my companion are getting to know the ward together a lot better, especially since the whitewashing part is wearing off in this area. We got this! We have a great ward mission leader and bishop. But the members are extraordinary too in helping the ward progress. We seriously can't do it without them! Our stake president is in our ward and he spoke to all the leaders this past Sunday about working with us to get investigators to church. I love him! He's awesome! 

Oh, and remember how I was chosen to speak last week? Well, This past Sunday was fast Sunday (btws, I was a little worried how it would go ... we fasted from lunch on saturday to lunch on Sunday, and our afternoons are proselyting hours. ... so I hydrated a TON on friday, but honestly, I was not at all hungry or thirsty until lunch on Sunday, nor was I dehydrated. Miracle!) So I felt as though I should bear my testimony ... and of course, had to follow the prompting, so I did. ai mi madre ... it was sooooo nerve racking! Me and my comp did it and it was honestly worse than giving a talk in stake conference. Everyone knew I was new in this country, so i felt like everyone paid attention ... all eyes on me! Scary, but I did it in my broken spanish. Hopefully they understood ... haha but it was good!

Tomorrow, we go to the temple!! as a zone. we have to leave the house at 6:45 to get to the temple, dressed and ready, by 8:15am. I'm stoked! Don't worry too much about the name, cause it's too late for this trip (my bad! I kept forgetting to ask!), but we are just doing a session. And we only go through every 6 months or so :( But I'm stoked! 

To answer some questions, no, we aren't allowed to eat at the member's homes. Honestly, (no offense to this country, cause I love it!!) I really wouldn't want to chance it. The food smells so good and the people are more than willing to feed us (we get offered food all the time), but sanitary wise, it's not good for us. We have to bleach water our fruits and veggies we buy and stuff. On the bright side though mom, there's always food in the house. So no worries :) 

So many mini miracles are happening here it's awesome. I absolutely love everyone here!! Except for the creepers who call me "mi amor" ... well, I guess I have to love everyone though, don't I? ok, so I love them less than everyone else. But I love everyone! We have some great investigators. One is named Alex. He's 21 and has an ADORABLE 1 year old baby girl. She gives us kisses all the time :) but he has so much potential and asks about everything about the church (except he asks so many questions that we don't have time to actually teach a lesson). But he's awesome! We're hoping to get him baptized. He asked if he was allowed to serve a mission! But because of the obvious circumstance, (and because we haven't taught him lesson 1 all the way through yet), he can't ... yet! Another guy we have is Victor, who is always so happy and smiling and makes me and my comp happy every time we talk to him. He's like 23 and he's awesome! He was a reference by a member. Alex found us on the street and started talking to us. 

Anyway, that's just some of the people. I'm sorry i can't share pics cause my camera doesn't work on this computer :( but when I get the chance, I will! 

Thank you for you faith family! Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not to thine own understanding ... in all thy ways, acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths. In school, in work, stay strong! I love you guys so much! I appreciate a lot your emails and hearing about life back home. Keep up the good work! Love you all! And remember, every member a missionary! Work with the missionaries! Don't be afraid to step out of your bubble! or expand it, whichever works for you. Share share share! You never know who the Lord has prepared for you and for the gospel. Love you all!!


Hermana Ho

Monday, September 1, 2014

Follow the spiders? Why couldn't it be 'Follow the Butterflies'?

Can anyone guess the movie? Hahaha yups, it's harry potter! You have no idea how much I hate spiders, mosquitos, ants, and flies ... but esta bien. All is well here in the DR!  

Thank you for everything! I love hearing about life back home! I'm so glad for Ioane! Tell him I said congrats!! And that he's awesome! haha and wow, i've got some amazing siblings! So talented! This past sunday, in sunday school, (I think) we were talking about developing our talents. It was hard to understand the most part, but i've been trying to look for the talents in the peole that surround me. I'm so grateful to have such a talented family! You guys are amazing!

Dad, thanks for your advice. I'll be sure to use my filter then ... and the exercises I'll do. Mom, that's so awesome that you are talking to the other moms! Yes, I live with my companion, Hermana Fletcher, and Hermana Cox and Hermana Hansen, who are both sister training leaders. Hermana Hansen is on her last 3 weeks in the mission and Hermana cox will most likely be transfered next time. But they are both awesome! As for how I am ... I can't really say. It's really, really REALLY hard. but it's fun and amazing at the same time. The people in the ward are super helpful, which makes work here in Los Frailes a little more easier.  My companion is a great example and teaches me so much and is very patient with me. This week, something in my attitude changed and we've become really good friends within this past week. Idk why, but it just happened and even in the rough times, we are there for each other. It's cool how the Lord works. 

Anyway, nothing too exciting happened this week. But we had a guy from the 70 come down and speak to our mission. So we did it 3 districts at a time, and there were about ... maybe 100 missionaries there in the building when my district went. We were asked to prepare 2 talks before that day: one on our purpose and one on our focus as missionaries. I prepared for the first one, wrote the whole thing out, but I was banking on not being chosen. We wouldn't know until that hour when they picked whoever. So it was really nice! We all got to shake him and his wife's hand (Oh, their names were Elder y Hermana Hernandez). Super sweet and nice! Then the meeting started and they called up four people. ... and my name was the fourth. Okay, giving a talk is already nerve racking. BUT IN SPANISH?!?!?!?! AND IN FRONT OF A MEMBER OF THE 70?!?!?!?! and in front of all these missionaries?!?! It was a good thing they asked me to talk on the one talk I did prepare! So... it was a very simple talk ... but I did it! I hope everyone understood me! hahaha oh geez I'm banking on the fact that the spirit was there hahaha  But after the meeting, I met this one elder, poly, and he had family in Hawaii! His name was tongan ... and started with an Mon______. Yeah, but we took a pic and I tried to upload it here, but it's not working. anyway, so if you run across a mom that has the beginning of that name and she's got a poly son here ... I met him! Also, a lot of the elders kept asking me if I knew an Elder Shimamoto or something ... I don't think I do. But he's also from Hawaii. So yeah. it was a cool conference, overall! 

Anyway, thank you all for your love and support! I miss you guys a ton! Sometimes I get homesick, but then I remember why I'm here ... it's for the people. Always. And for the Lord, of course. My planner cover is a picture of the four young pioneer men who helped everyone cross the frozen river that one cold day. The significance of that story is that they forgot themselves and went to work. And that is my goal for this transfer: forget myself and go to work. Also, to just do it. Those men didn't hesitate or question or ask:They did. They just did it, no questions no hesitations, no doubts. So, they are my inspiration. Love you guys! Keep having fun and being safe! Put your all into everything you do! you only live that day once! Love you guys!!

Hermana Ho