Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Monday, April 27, 2015

I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus

Hey guys! It's really good to hear from you all :) Thanks for your emails and for keeping me updated. And nice, we have a lot of Returned missionaries! I'm glad to hear that they are all doing good and thriving. They are probably leaving with the Missionaries a lot too haha and in that picture, I thought that was Kawika!!! Is the guy growing his hair out?! 

So can't say that this week has been the easiest I've had. As you can see by the title of this email, I'm trying hard to be like Jesus. And in the process, more trials come up haha I'm trying to develop the Christ-like attributes that are found in Preach My gospel, but it's super hard. But the group I am in is super helpful! The members have been super nice and loving and so willing to help. Our group leader/future branch president (hopefully) is amazing. There is also a member that took us around to visit all of our investigators and all the members who live in our area. It was sweet! And we've found a TON of new investigators! There's been a lot of little miracles that the Lord has blessed me with, despite everything else. I realize that this is probably the most difficult week I've gone through since my first couple transfers, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But, so is the life. As we try to become my Christ-like, Satan works harder. There's a saying that I like that one of my professors said: "Satan works hard to bring us down. So we need to work like the devil to stay ahead of him!" And it's true :) But I can testify that the harder that we try to stay ahead, the more the Lord helps us too. We do our part, and He does His (DyC 82:10).

So I'll just tell you all a little about my area: it's not as big as Hato Mayor. In fact, it all fits on a map! It's a fairly new area and one of the fastest growing communities in all the DR. We have tons of apartment buildings and tons of super nice and priveleged homes. I haven't been anywhere like this area and it's a little out of my comfort zone. Plus, a lot of people speak english here! It's like really nice homes in the middle of these fields. It's like someone took these huge homes and just plopped them in the middle of fields and cows. So it's throwing me off a bit, but it's nice :) We actually live in a house too! All my other homes have been on the second story or apartments, but this is actually a  house! The only problem is that we don't have water and some people aren't very happy about that. I'm totally fine without water, there's a lot of easy solutions of what we can do, but it's bringing a hard toll on some of the other sisters in the house. 

Anyway, that's it for now. I'm sorry this one is a short one, but there will be plenty more to write the next time I believe :) Thank you all for your love and support, your emails, your prayers. Each one is felt and each one plays a role in the missionary work. I love you all and have a great week!

Love, aloha, y amor,
Hermana Ho

P.S. Miss you mom! I know mother's day is in a couple of weeks, so we need to figure out a time and day to skype. Our group leader said he could hook up his computer to the tv in the chapel so we can have a nice big screen! But we'll see what happens. But I figured it wasn't too early to say that I love you and really missed you this past week ... or more like these past couple of days. You're one of the only people on this earth that actually understands me and knows how to help me. You too dad. I miss your hugs. And to be honest, I'm the one that's proud to have you as a dad. My friends are really looking forward to meeting you ... they might've heard a few stories about your craziness ... hahaha love you guys! Please give everyone a hug for me! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed

Okay, so I got time to write today yes!! So much has gone down that I'm excited and scared for, but first things first: 
Thank you for the package! I haven't recieved it yet, but rumor has it that it's in the office. So I'll probably get it on Thursday. As for the stamps, don't worry about it, it's not an emergency. And I'm using the ipod and the speakers. Well, and so are my housemates. Speaking of which, you get to meet all of them soon! Oh shoot, I'm jumping ahead. Yes, that is next transfer. Aka, tomorrow. :D And no worries, my area is not sketchy. Or maybe things are less sketchy as a missionary. sometimes I forget it's not the norm in the US. haha now it's just the norm here in the DR.  And mom, you're going to do great with the lesson! Don't even worry :) and what a cool story! It shows how the Lord makes us all instruments in His hands, even when we don't even know it. We can see the importance of needing to be good examples to all and to fulfill our callings, because that's when the miracles come, when we least expect it. 

So, here's what's going down. I have so much to tell you, not even joking! But anyway, so, yes, transfers are tomorrow. And my whole entire house is moving. yes, that means all four of us have another transfer together. Woo hoo! And so you get to see Hermana Hernandez again :D and meet my companion, Hermana McFarland, and Hermana Gingell! I'm so excited! Anyway, we are all moving to this place in the same stake called Amalia. ... Nope, not a ward. ... again no, not a branch. Yes, guys, I'm moving into a group. A group of about 45 people that meet on sundays in a house. And this is the first time sisters are going to be here. I'm stoked! It's going to be rough, but I'm glad they are keeping the four of us together because we're going to help each other whitewash this place. No, we don't even have a baptismal font. Well, if you count an inflatable pool as one then i guess we do. It's so crazy! And for this reason, we are moving out today. I'm pretty sure we are moving into a house that is even smaller than the one we have right now ... But that's okay. It doesn't matter because the work in Amalia is going to be AMAZING! 

So that's what's going down here. Also, something amazing happened on Saturday. Idk if you remember the Familia Diaz from Hato Mayor, but the couple got baptized this past Saturday!! I was so happy for them. And another cool thing: I got permission to go!! :D Here's what happened: So the Wednesday before, the sisters who are there (Hermana Nazaire and her companion, Hermana Ortiz) called me and told me that Hermana Diaz asked if I could come to the baptism. But we had so much to do. Of course I wanted to go, it would've been a dream! But at the same time, we had to prepare our area for the elders we knew who would come and whitewash here, plus look for a house for them, plus do a ward activity on Saturday. On top of that, it's about 300 to 400 pesos to get to Hato Mayor from where I'm at, including a 3 to 4 hour guagua ride. It was a lot of time and a lot of money. So friday night, I called the sisters back and heartbrokenly told them I wouldn't be able to make it to the baptism, but to tell the family I said congrats and that I love them. I was really bummed. I woke of the next morning thinking of them. As I was studying in the morning, an elder working in the office called. I was so scared because this was the day they were calling everyone about transfers and who was going to be leaders or whitewashing and stuff. I was scared. Here's or conversation: 
"Hermana Ho, do you have any baptisms today?" 
"no ..."
"Do the other sisters have any baptisms today?" 
"Not that I know of."
"Well there's a baptism today in Hato Mayor."
"Yeah I know elder, it's the Familia Diaz." 
"Well, would you like to go?" 
I couldn't even think! "I would love to go elder! But the thing is does the Lord want me to go?"
"well, President Corbitt has given you and Hermana Hernandez permission to go because she was also in Hato Mayor with you. We would swing by at 4pm to pick you guys up."
"I'll talk to my companion"
Hermana Hernandez, when she heard, just screamed and the both of us were stoked! Plus, we wouldn't have to pay for a guagua and the elders were willing to drive us there! All in all, these plans worked out perfectly! And with the permission from our companions, we went. And it was wonderful :D I saw everyone again from Hato Mayor and the baptism was so amazing! I almost cried. ALMOST. but I didn't :D I'll send some pics when I can. But it was a surprise that the two of us were coming. Only the other sisters knew. It was such a blessing from the Lord that I could see this wonderful family, my family, be baptized. The Lord works in mysterious ways and His blessings are wonderful indeed :) 

There were so many things going on this past weekend and I haven't slept too much with everything going on. But I'm excited for this new adventure in my life. This past week has been crazy. Crazy, crazy crazy! preparing our area, transfers, packing, moving, the baptism, going to Hato Mayor, actually seeing the familia Diaz get baptized! I remember telling Hermana Nazaire that I KNOW that the family will get baptized, I just don't know if I'll be around to see it. haha and wow, does the Lord bless us. In our crazy lives that we live, sometimes we pass up the blessings that the Lord has for us. Or sometimes we forget to count them. And in this process, we don't see that the blessings outnumber and outshine the trials. It took me Saturday to realize that. I hope that it doesn't take you a long time to realize how merciful our Heavenly Father is to us and how much He wants to bless us. We just need to look for those blessings, to strive for them, and to share them. 

I'm grateful that I have this time to serve Him, and not only that, but also for you all who support and pray for us missionaries. Thank you all! I love you all so much and I'm really sorry if I don't email or write you all back. But thank you all for everything! Love you and take care!

Love, aloha, y amor,
Hermana Ho

Monday, April 13, 2015

Some pages turn, some bridges burn, but there were lessons learned

Wow, some pretty amazing stuff went down this week! Congrats on everything that you all are doing and for all of your success! I'm so happy to hear from all of you and to hear all is going ok. I was informed in an email today that my english is getting a little bad hahaha sorry, but I'll try to do better. I'm just used to speaking spanglish and people understanding me and also, the keyboards here are not the greatest ... But still, the grammar is off, I know, I know. 

So the song I used I believe is sung by Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood ... idk which. But here's the story behind it. This week was rough one. Haha Lots of stuff is going down in the DR and of all of it, we had little success. So yes, they are changing our area from a sisters area to an elders area. We talked with our mission president this past week about our area and it gets a little dark at night. What you gotta know about the DR is that there isn't electricity or light, as we call it, 24/7. It comes and goes and we use inversedors ... I think in english that's a backup generator, for things like light in the house. Small stuff. But when there isn't light, we can't use the microwave, the washing machine, and the fridge light goes out. That also means there aren't street lights on. So at night, it gets really dark in my area and it's not a problem. What is a problem is that we have to walk 20-30 minutes without light in the street from our area to our house, and that's a little sketchy. So for our safety and the safety of future sister missionaries, our area is being changed to an elders area. So we've been working our butts off to prepare the area for them. We've dropped some people who haven't been progressing, we've been finding new people to teaching, we've been working hard to get members in every lesson so that they can help the elders out. Also, emotionally, it hasn't been easy either for me or my comp. It's been a rough road. Thus, some pages turn, some bridges burn. But the lessons learned? There were many :) 

1) Turn out. There have been so many times when members have dropped everything and come out with us on the lessons or done us a favor. It's been such a blessing and a miracle to see. And yeah, life happens and the natural man gets you down feeling like you're inadequate, or helpless, or tired, or like you just want to give up. But the example of the members help the missionary work thrive, despite the challenges that arise.

2) Have faith. the Lord sends things our way for a reason. In the moment we don't know why. I still don't understand why. but I know that He is here and that He will help me, if only I ask. 

3) Be patient. Like I said, the Lord sends things, but in His time. Sometimes we can't see why until later. And yeah, it's frustrating. sometimes you want to scream or cry or hit something hahaha but people have their agency to choose. And you have the Lord. So turn to Him and plead to Him. 

4) Endure to the End and live in the moment. Things pass and go. The book is still there to read, page after page, and the water still keeps running after the bridge is burned. So why stop and focus on the bad stuff? or why not appreciate the moments as they come? There is still good things that are waiting to come, but we need to keep moving forward. We need to keep turning the pages of the book and reading or, as my wonderful brother would say, "Build a bridge and get over it." the faster we can overcome our difficulties or bad spots in our lives and can keep enduring to the end, the faster the blessings can come or the faster we will be able to spot them. 

Haha the mission is so amazing and an awesome experience and it's amazing what you can learn from each and every moment.

One more thing that I want to share that my dad brought to my attention: How, after a day full of hard work, crammed with family stuff, social lives, and church callings, can we find time to share the gospel? When, at the end of the day, we realize that we didn't open our mouth or invite anyone, did we miss the opportunity to share with someone? there is a phrase one of my companions shared with me and it goes something like this: Everyone has the duty and responsibility to share the gospel, and we should be doing it all the time. And, if  necessary, use words. Sometimes we think that missionary work is about talking to people or going out with the missionaries. And those things are great and it is missionary work. But sometimes its the small and sincere things too. Our examples. Our service. Standing up to our beliefs. There really isn't enough time in the day to be able to survive the challenges of life, plus put on our church clothes and proselyte with the missionaries. We have families to support, bills to pay, meetings to attend. But I can promise you, that when our friends and family see our service, when they see our faith through our examples, when they see us read church material during lunch breaks, or ask to pray before doing an activity at work, or refuse to take a drink during happy hour, they will be drawn to the light that we have. They will somehow be drawn to ask or to wonder. And when the right moment comes and we take advantage of it to speak about our beliefs with them, they will be understand and be able to know. We should always be looking for opportunities to preach the gospel. But we should always be living and practicing everything we are to teach. Sometimes it doesn't take a baptism to get an entire family pumped to share the gospel with their friends. Sometimes it's having a friend ask about our beliefs, or giving a book of Mormon to a loved one or seeing that friend come to church, or seeing the gratefulness in their eyes after a service project. I can't really explain it too well, the experiences that I have seen. But I can say how rewarding it has been for me to see the light and excitement more in the Member's eyes when they go with us to the lessons and see their friends accept the gospel and missionaries. 

Anyway, that's my long shpill for the week. Haha, sorry that it such missionary talk most of the time and not some cool stories. But some of the more sincere things are the ones that need attention. Thank you all for your love and support, letters, email, packages, and prayers. I'm so grateful for all of your examples for me and for those that surround you. Take care and have a great week!

Love, aloha, y amor,
Hermana Ho

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hola a todo!!  Juan and Wilber are doing good dad and are still progressing! It's kinda hard to believe that they are progressing this fast because I've never seen anyone progress this fast... I didn't believe they had interest at first but it's true! Oh, and btws, there is a young couple in our ward who I'm working with, Junior and Yiara (she served in the same mission as the oldest Valeriano girl! They were companions) and they say hi to all of you! 

Hahaha thank you for your emails. And before you all freak out about our phone situation, let me just tell you something ...

We found our phone. Yups, it was quite ... idk, in the moment I was too tired and numb of any feelings to really be happy, upset, or anything. Yeah, the entire time it was in the bag of my companion.  ... no, no it wasn't an aprils fools joke hahaha although it got you all good. But it's okay, everythings fine now :D So, no worries, our house is still 90 percent secure and no one robbed us. But we did learn some lessons ... maybe a good one about not blaming our neighbors ... 

Aaaaanyway, this week ... the highlight was general conference! Yeah it was super good. Our chapel is the stake center, and we live only 5 minutes walk away, so we went to watch it there. I watched 3 of the 4 sessions in Spanish. I understood a ton more than last time, but the translators from spain have a, uh ... different accent. So it was a little harder to understand. Plus, when I'm looking at the faces of these english speakers, knowing that they speak english, yet hearing it in spanish, its a little difficult. But the 2 spanish speakers were really good! I understood theirs perfectly! And I thought of you guys a lot too! I was like "wow, I'm still watching conference with my family, even though we are an ocean away!" It was a great conference and though I didn't understand word for word everything, I was able to recieve a lot of much needed personal revelation :) It was great!

A few other things that we did this week was 1) April fools. So me and hna McFarland decided to pull a trick on the other two sisters. We thought about making it look like our house got robbed, but after our whole phone situation, we thought it wouldn't be too nice to freak them out again haha. So we switched their desks around and their beds and dressers, nothing much. We were lucky enough to be home when they got home. hna Hernandez (from Mexico) didn't understand what was going on (we heard everything because we were hiding in our bathroom) but Hermana Gingell (from Utah) got it right away and immediately came into our room to do something saying "okay, that's what they want to do. So let's see what we can do here ..." No worries, we jumped out of the bathroom before she did any damage hahaha but it was good :D They were all sour after hahaha!! and 2) We dyed easter eggs! A wonderful family from my ward sent me an egg dying kit and we were able to dye eggs :) It was a first for Hermana Hernandez and another sister who came over yesterday. But it was super fun. I'll send pics as soon as I get the chance. 

And yes, I hit my 9 months this past week. It feels like just yesterday I was coming out of the MTC ... It's weird how slowly but quickly time flies. And no, I haven't done anything to celebrate it :) unless you count the ways the Lord's blessed me in these past 9 months, then I guess those are the gifts I've received! And they haven't been few. The mission, yes it's so hard, but I wouldn't trade these friendships and experiences for anything! I've realized that the mission isn't for the missionary. I mean, yes it is, but it really isn't. The entire time, the missionary should be focused on what the Lord wants done and what the people need. And in the process, they see the blessings the Lord has, in turn given them. I hope that all those who are of age really think and pray about if serving a full time mission is the right thing for them to do and their time to do it. There is nothing and never will be anything that can compare to your mission experiences, nor is there a better way to serve. Whether we wear the plack or not, we should all be that missionary, because we are in the mission. We still take upon ourselves the name of Christ and promise to always remember Him. And I can't think of any better way to do that than through missionary work :)

I love you all and thank you for all of your love and support for all the missionaries! Keep sharing the gospel and I know that the Lord will continue to bless you and your families. Love you all and take care! 

Love, aloha, y amor,
Hermana Ho