Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31st

Today we went on a hike in Los Cocos to see a couple waterfalls--just your normal P Day here en la Republica. A couple notable things on the way up the mountain: 1) I could see my breath. YES. It was slightly chilly early in the morning and SO humid that you could indeed see your breath. b) we passed a man walking on the trail. And then I did a double take because he was dressed in an enormous black suede and fur coat, the kind that goes to your ankles. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNGLE. He probably was only wearing the coat too hahaha. iii) we also passed a split pig. When I say split, I truly mean that he was sliced down the middle and then split open. Guts facing up to the sky! They even let me hold the knife and take a couple photos. What fun! Anyway, the waterfalls were gorgeous, as was the surrounding nature. I love this country. It has been so well-preserved in so many areas. Lush and flourishing trees on every side. We picked fresh oranges from one and I cannot even describe how delicious they were. Ah, the island life.

I am loving the work as much as ever and am looking forward to 2015! What a special year it will be spending almost all 365 days completely dedicated to the work of the Lord. I pray that each of you will make some resolutions to help draw closer to Christ this year. That's what He desires most for each of us, and I promise that there is nothing more joyful than living the path that He has walked and following His perfect example.

Hermana Anderson

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24th

This week has been great! I will just tell you the highlight of the week though. So we live near a mall and Hermana Vera had the great idea about a week ago that we should sing Christmas hymns in the mall as a group of missionaries and pass out He is the Gift cards to all the people. We called up all the Santiago City missionaries to see if they were interested and they were! It turned out to be a bit more difficult than we had anticipated to get in contact with the boss of the mall though. We had told the other missionaries we{d like to do it at 12:30 on Tuesday and we didnt even get in contact with the boss until one hour before! At first the answer was no because there was something planned for the evening but we politely pleaded for them to let us sing for just 20 minutes in the afternoon and they conceded. We had about 45 minutes before it was time to start. Hermana Vera and I were rapidly calling every single missionary in the city limits! I was not hopeful that many would agree to hustle over to the mall during their lunch hour, but to my surprise, almost all of them said yes! As 12:20 rolled around and no one was showing up, I was feeling discouraged and nervous almost to the popint of nausea. Where were all the missionaries that had said they would come!? 12:30 rolled past and Hermana Vera and I were still the only missionaries to be seen in the mall. The boss lady came out and I thought for sure that she was going to tell us to forget it since we hadn{t started it yet and she had made it seemed like we were pressed for time. But she was so kind and smiled widely and told us to start whenever we were ready! At about 12:50 a couple elders showed up and within 10 minutes we had 20 more missionaries with us! Another miracle was that Elder Flores was able ot bring his guitar and accompany us on all the hymns even though one of his strings was broken! We had almost 30 missionaries in the last minute choir and I directed the group right in front of the HUGE tree in the middle of the mall. All the people on the escalators were ogling as we sang and people stopped to film and take pictures and listen and feel the spirit. I was beaming as I watched the group of missionaries sing songs of Christmas praise! It was an unforgettable experience and a great reminder to me that the Lord will always help things fall into place when our desires are righteous and we work by faith.

I wish you the merriest of Christmases and invite you to take the time to look for the Lords hand in your life this season. Take time to ponder the significance of His humble birth and incomparable life. May the blessings of Christmas shower you with joy!

Love Hermana Anderson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17th

This week has been great!
We had a really fun multi-sone conference for Christmas yesterday. Each zone prepared a fun skit or performance and our zone did a dance...but it was no ordinary dance! It was  a dance de los enanitos! A dance of the midgets! What you do is dress the bottom half of your body and then wear a plastic bag on top and you look like an enanito! We wiggled around the stage to Mariah Carey´s All I want for Christmas is You while one of the Elders who is waaaay funny was dressed as Santa Claus, lip syncing and dancing like a maniac. It was hilarious and clearly (and without any bias whatsoever) the funniest skit of all!
We had great lessons from both President and Hermana Douglas. Sister Douglas talked about having Christs image in our countenance. Do people truly recognize us as His disciples? Have we truly taken His name upon us? I would encourage all of you to read Alma 5 and ponder the questions therein. President Douglas talked about becoming like Peter. We analyzed scriptures about Peter pre- and post-resurrection of Christ. It seems that Peter was always one to follow the beckonings of the Savior without second thought, but that he had fear and doubt at times, specifically fear of man. But after the resurrection all of the stories with Peter feature him unabashedly and valiantly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ at whatever cost. President then related each of us to Peter. We have all heeded the call of the Savior to leave our boats and become fishers of men. We have all stpped out onto the stormy sea not really knowing exactly what will come. We all doubt at times. But how can we personally realize the change that Peter experienced? How can we become strong and converted and fearless as he was? I suspect that each of our answers is different. But I would challenge each of you to ponder about what you can do in your life to become more like Peter and make that your Christmas gift to the Savior this coming year. Write it down and keep it somewhere until next Christmas and then evaluate how you´ve done. I promise that the Lord will bless you and enable you in your efforts.
Guess what we did for P Day this week? We went paintballing! And it was suuuuper fun! Tell Brendan we´re totally going paintballing when I come home and that I will SHOOT HIM mwahahahahaha. Because I love him that much. 
Hermana Vera is teaching me to dance bachata and salsa. Im gonna have Latina hips when I come home, so be prepared!
Hey if you want to see a cute Christmas service video that took place in the DR, check this out!  This is basically what the country looks like everywhere, except the beach is an extra touch.
Have a great week! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Love Hermana Anderson

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10th

This week has been LONG! But overall good. I don´t usually look back on a week and think that it was hard, but this one was. I´m learning a lot about how different trials can blind us to our true potential and how important it is to trust in the Lord as much as possible. For all you people who think you can´t--you CAN. That´s a promise.

So I´m on my first DIET! And I am not doing so hot haha. It´s not a crazy insane diet. It´s about cutting back, not cutting out. Eating loads of fruits and veggies which is super easy here and a lot less carbs which is super impossible here because RICE haha. But our fridge is stocked with delicious fresh produce and I feel great! I´m still working on cutting back on ice cream though....
Good news: an investigator that I feared had died is alive! And not in the hospital anymore. HURRAY FOR LIFE. 
10 days until CHRISTMAS and I´m so excited. The package mom sent me is tempting me.
I was unvoluntarily volunteered to direct the ward choir.
Our zone is coordinating a ¨dance of the midgets¨for the  Christmas zone conference next week so hopefully I will have a video to share.
Funny story of the week. We were in the mission office with several other missionaries. My Mexican Zone leader had a question for one of the Senior missionaries who doesn´t speak Spanish and askeed me to translate for a sec. I was like, ¨sure I got this¨So the elder asked me the question in Spanish and then I turned and asked the same exact question to the senior missionary In SPANISH. They both looked at me and I was like "oh sorry!" and I tried again and got it. Then the senior missionary responded to me in English and I turned to the Elder and repeated exactly what he had said IN ENGLISH. They stared at me again and I was like "oh wait! let me try again!" hahaha. Any hopes and dreams I had of coming home and being a translator have been flushed down the toilet haha.
Love you all and hope you have a great week!
Hermana Anderson

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 3rd

What a great week!

One of the really fun things that happened was a Stake Fashion Show. At first I thought it was just going to be an activity about Modesty (mostly because I didn’t know what the Spanish word for fashion show meant…haha) and then it was like a full-blown SHOW. They started with a dance number and had a fancy runway with women of all ages, shapes, and sizes modeling modest clothes for any occasion to fun, up-beat music. Everyone was cheering and applauding the whole time. They had commentators talking about the styles and the clothes and it was awesome. You guys should definitely copy this idea!

Another awesome thing is that we have started sharing pass along cards with people to show the church’s video about how Christ is the real gift of Christmas. Have you seen the video yet? If not, here it is watch it and then share it all over facebook and twitter and instagram and whatever new social networking things have surfaced in the past 6 months. He is the Gift!

So I killed another companion today! And I’ve got a new one. Hermana Vera. She’s basically Jamila. I love herrrrrrr. She only has one transfer in the mission so I’m sort of her trainer but not really but sort of. I’m super pumped for our time together!!! How does President Douglas know exactly who is so perfect for me???? REVELATION IS REAL.

I ate my first street food and survived. They said it was chicken and it tasted like chicken, but it was unidentifiable haha. But I’m alive and well!

I love you all! Happy December!

Friday, November 28, 2014

November 28th

Wow, so I´ve had so little time these past few p days because I´ve been SO busy because WONDERFUL THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING. 

1) I went back to Bonao for a baptism. Ahhhhh the joy! I saw SO many people who I love SO much. And it was only for a few minutes because the baptism started late and there was a mishap with transportation so we had to leave early. I didn´t even get to witness the baptism! But I´m not disappointed in the slightest because that wasn´t the part that mattered to me. There was such strong love when I got to see Paola and all the other ward members. Ah the gospel unifies us in ways we don´t even comprehend.

b) We had the most adorable primary program here in Tierra Alta. My favorite part was definitely when Perla (who reminds me a bit of a slightly younger Hannah Kaloi) got up to give a short talk. She had worked and practiced and you could tell because of her flawless execution. At the end she was going to conclude with an unscripted testimony. She got about 7 words about before bursting into tears. I mean that as literally as possible. She kind of shouted a little sob in the middle of her testimony, covered her face, and ran away from the microphone. Strangely, this made me incredibly happy. It was kind of cool how she felt the spriti so strongly and immediately was overcome--it totally took her by suprise and I loved it.

iii) I WENT TO THE BEACH. That´s right! The Carribbean beach. Be jealous. But not too much because Thou Shalt Not Covet. And also I was only there for like 20 minutes and I didn´t go swimming or read a book on a chair or build a sandcastle, so it wasn´t thaaaaaat awesome. But it was thaaaaat gorgeous. We got to go because we were visitng Hermana Allen´s old area. It´s super far away. Look up Samana´. We had to drive like 3.5 hours to get there. But I didn´t mind because AIR CONDITIONED CAR and also it was 3.5 hours driving through the most beautiful country on earth. Ah la republica, she sings the song of my soul. Prettiest beach I´ve ever been to. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19th

Sorry I have no time to write this week. Just know that I love you all and will have a super great email for next week to make up for it all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Letter to the Vint Hill Ward, dated October 15, 2014

Dear Vint Hill Ward,

     First things first: I love you all! And miss you! And am giving all of you hugs in my mind -- handshakes for the men:)  To jog your memory, I'm currently serving a full-time mission in the Santiago Dominican Republic Mission.  For those who don't know, the DR is a country on the second largest island in the Caribbean. Yes, I am living in a tropical paradise and loving it! I didn't know the world had so many delicious fruits to offer!  But more awesome than the fruit is being a missionary.  Sometimes in the morning when I put my tag on, I pause for a moment and think, "Wow! I'm a missionary!"
     One of the best things about being a missionary (and there are lots of great things!) is witnessing the gospel change people's lives. You teach them one day, ask them to read from the Book of Mormon before you return, and when they do, there is a perceptible difference.  They're beginning to experience the "mighty change of heart" spoken of in the Book of Mormon and it is such a privilege to witness.
     Something I've been learning as a missionary is the importance of families keeping their covenants.  Most of them pertain to families that have been sealed in the temple -- and how blessed you are! Please don't forget how significant that is! And please remember your covenants and cherish them.  For those of you who have not been sealed to your families in the temple, I want you to know that it IS possible and that in the meantime Heavenly Father still wants to pour out blessings if you'll let him.
      Primary kids, you have such a huge influence on your friends when you act as an example of Jesus.  Never be afraid to choose the right.  And don't forget to remind Mom and Dad about family prayer and scripture study!
     Youth, let your faith show?  Try to listen to the voice of the Spirit -- that may mean you have to unplug for a moment but I promise it's worth it.  As you prepare to serve missions my advice would be to stay awake in seminary, LISTEN, and read your scriptures like your teachers ask. Be a facilitator of the Spirit at home.
     Brothers and Sisters of the Vint Hill Ward, support the Elders! They have been called and ordained with authority to do the work of the LORD here in your ward and they need your help to do it! Offer your time and talents to them and offer your love and fellowship to those they are teaching.
     The Lord loves you and is watching out for you always.  Remember your covenants with Him.  Put your families first.  Participate in missionary work.  I promise you will receive heaps of blessings as you do these things.
     The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness on the earth by the prophet Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel.  Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and He lives!

In His holy name, Amen.

Con todo mi amor,

Hermana Anderson

November 12th

So yesterday we had a really great zone conference. Hermana Douglas asked us what our life plans were. After listing several items she then asked if any of us have planned for the loss of a child or the development of cancer? Have we planned to have depression or to get divorced? Have we planned for our personal Gethsemanes? Of course no one actually plans for those things, but we encounter problems when we look at life and say "That wasn't part of my plan and that's not fair and now I'm angry/giving up/blaming God." We have to learn how to live through our Gethsemanes and receive the trials we face with full knowledge that God is providing us an opportunity to become perfected. He tells us "behold the marks of the nails in my hands and feet" because that was partof his perfection. I read a while ago in The Continuous Atonement that we are like marble. We are beautiful not in spite of the dark veins that run through us, but because of them. Without those veins, marble would like plastic-y and artificial. But when we let the atonement enable us through our trials, we become beautifully polished and authentic. 
I think I might have given you guys a little too much to do with the family missionary plan, but if you guys can try to do something weekly, even if you don't finish all the assignments within the month, I know it will be a huge blessing.
I hope you guys have a great birthday celebration for daddy!
And a great week!
Enjoy the cold weather for me!
Much love

November 5th

Hola! So this week has been a really fun first week in my second area! It´s much more hilly here, so my legs are getting nice and toned (meanwhile, my waistline seems to have morphed to accommodate the rice and fried platanos of the island). And I´m in a stake! In a large chapel! WITH AIR CONDITIONING. Ah, the little pleasures of life :) My companion and I are doing a lot of work getting used to the area and finding investigators who seem to be quite scarce here. But I feel that we are rolling along! One really awesome thing right now is that we are in the city. In Bonao, I had to take a taxi to get to the store (there were colmados everywhere, but I´m talking a store with tile floor and aisles of food). Here, there are two “super target” stores within 10 minutes walking distance of my house! And one of them is in a MALL with a FOOD COURT that has GELATO. Oh boy oh boy oh boy am I a lucky little sister missionary.
I can´t think of anything too awesome to report. Except that we made the cake mom sent and shared it with the zone and it was a total hit. Thanks momma ;) I´ve broken into the oreos in the spirit of Halloween...although it´s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here. Seriously. Lights and wreaths and Santa Clauses pepper every house in this hilly labyrinth of a city.

I´ve really been enjoying my personal studies lately. I just want to share a quick testimony of the power of studying the scriptures and the peace that accompanies it. I thrive on my scripture study. I love reading church articles. I can´t get enough Conference talks. I´m lucky to have hours blocked out of my day to study these things, but I promise each one of you that if you make time for your own sincere and heartfelt personal study, even if it´s a matter of minutes, that you will see immediate blessings in your life. The church is true, the book is blue, and Moroni is always on the ball :)

Love Hermana Anderson
PS I have published part 3 of the Family Missionary Plan. Hop to it and good luck!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 29th

So this week has been a really fun first week in my second area! It´s much more hilly here, so my legs are getting nice and toned (meanwhile, my waistline seems to have morphed to accommodate the rice and fried platanos of the island). And I´m in a stake! In a large chapel! WITH AIR CONDITIONING. Ah, the little pleasures of life :) My companion and I are doing a lot of work getting used to the area and finding investigators who seem to be quite scarce here. But I feel that we are rolling along! One really awesome thing right now is that we are in the city. In Bonao, I had to take a taxi to get to the store (there were colmados everywhere, but I´m talking a store with tile floor and aisles of food). Here, there are two “super target” stores within 10 minutes walking distance of my house! And one of them is in a MALL with a FOOD COURT that has GELATO. Oh boy oh boy oh boy am I a lucky little sister missionary.

I can´t think of anything too awesome to report. Except that we made the cake mom sent and shared it with the zone and it was a total hit. Thanks momma ;) I´ve broken into the oreos in the spirit of Halloween...although it´s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here. Seriously. Lights and wreaths and Santa Clauses pepper every house in this hilly labyrinth of a city.

I´ve really been enjoying my personal studies lately. I just want to share a quick testimony of the power of studying the scriptures and the peace that accompanies it. I thrive on my scripture study. I love reading church articles. I can´t get enough Conference talks. I´m lucky to have hours blocked out of my day to study these things, but I promise each one of you that if you make time for your own sincere and heartfelt personal study, even if it´s a matter of minutes, that you will see immediate blessings in your life. The church is true, the book is blue, and Moroni is always on the ball :)

Love Hermana Anderson
PS I have published part 3 of the Family Missionary Plan. Hop to it and good luck!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22nd

First things first. There's power in the house again! We got our electricity back after about 2.5 weeks without light. I learned to live the rugged life and it was great. I also learned to really appreciate water. And when we got the power back, I may or may not have had a selfie photoshoot with my fan….

Other important thing: I left my first area today! I have been transferred to Santiago Norte in a place called Tierra Alta. So far I love it. and it’s a ward, not a branch! So excited to be here and to have a new companion to love. I’m just excited for something new. It was super hard for me to say goodbye to Bonao, because I truly feel like the people there are my family. And I am really sad that I won't get to see Alvaro or Paola get baptized. But maybe I can go back for that! One thing that was awesome this week was how Alvaro is just my miracle muchacho. He is honestly too good to be true. Hermana Castillo and I were visting a member who lived nearby him one evening. He was our next appointment but we had to have a woman present to teach him, so we were going to swing by his house and bring him to the member, and he was unaware of these plans. We walked out of her house to go get him and he had just pulled up on his moped! He even had his Book of Mormon and pamphlets all under the seat and ready to go! Seriously, that guy is the miracle muchacho.

One interesting thing is that here in la republica, ya Christmas viene. Christmas is here. Seriously. Last weekend everyone started decorating. The decorations are meager in comparison to the US, but you cannot deny the red and green ribbons nad blinking lights everywhere. I think that without Halloween and Thanksgiving it must be totally normal to have Chrsitmas so early. We are already singing Christmas hymns too! but I am definitely not complaining because I absolutely love Christmas. Just one of the many reasons that la republica and I are meant to be J
So this week I had an interesting experience on the guagua. That’s the public transportation here. It's like a nice minivan. So I was trying to sleep on this long guagua ride. My head was lolling back and forth as I drifted deeper and deeper into sleep. My head slipped toward my companion and I could feel, in my half-sleep state, some fingers touch my head, gently moving back into an upright position. I thought it was a little weird that she did that, but whatever. A few minutes later, my head slips her way again. I feel the fingers once more and it kind of frustrates me because it's waking me up and I just want to sleep! So the third time it happens, I feel the fingers and leave my head there. The fingers are still for a moment, and then they begin to move around in my hair, playing with it lightly. I’m thinking “what in the world is my companion doing?” when I open my eyes a crack to see that she is sound asleep. The moment I opened my eyes, the fingers retreated quickly from my hair. I tried to pretend that I was delirious and tired and imagining it. I put my head in the upright position and tried to sleep once more. At the end of the ride, I sat forward in my seat, finished resting. I heard behind me “psssst! blondie!” and turned to see an eager-eyed Dominican man behind me. “did you sleep well?” he asked. I quickly said “yeah thanks” and turned around with my eyes bulging out of my head. I’m pretty sure that playing with a strangers hair while she sleeps on public transportation crosses quite a few lines. personal bubble = popped. bleghhhh.

love you all, have a great week!

Hermana Anderson


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15th

This week I received the golden investigator. I think most people in the course of their mission have one, maybe two of these people who are just so prepared to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. Alvaro came to church at the invitation of a friend a few weeks ago. He also attended General Conference. Due to scheduling conflicts, there was a delay in teaching him, but when we did, it wasthe best ever. We show up and he´s reading the Book of Mormon. We ask who he´d like to offer the prayer, and he says he wants to. We ask about how he came to know the church and he tells us how he´s been looking for the true church for over a year and how he has found it. For a moment I gota little disappointed, thinking that he was referring to another church. Then he tells us that watching General Conference, he KNEW, by the power of the Holy Ghost (yes, he even knew it was the Holy Ghost--this guy who´s never read the Bible until now) that this wasthe Church he was meant to find. I was ecstatic! In my mind I was thinking "we should invite him to be baptized right now" and about 5 seconds later he said "and I´m going to get baptized" WOW. What a privilege to be teaching him! WE´ve had one otherlesson so far and he has great questions and a genuine testimony and it is just amazing! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!

I have no time to write, but please pray that we get our electricity back soon! I love you all! I´ll send pictures next week.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 8th

Have you ever seen one of those TV shows or movies where a person gets stuck on a deserted island or they´re in prison or something and they start out counting the days of their confinement but after a period of time, they just loose count? That´s how it´s been in apartment A-9 here in Bonao. They days have started to blur together…I don´t know exactly when it all began…has it been 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? I don´t remember how long it´s been…since we´ve had…electricity. I´m like Jack Sparrow on that forsaken island asking “where´s all the rum? Why is all the rum gone?” Only, instead of saying “rum” I´m saying “light”. Truly, we´re never in the house so it´s not a huge issue. The only really bad thing is that we have no fridge. I never realized how essential a fridge was until now. Also I don´t know why we don´t have electricity. So don´t ask. But I trust that I´m learning something really important from this small trial haha. Also, I thank Heavenly Father every day that it´s the light and not the water. I can take a shower in the dark, but I certainly can´t turn on the lights and shower without water!
HOW WAS GENERAL CONFERENCE?!?! I loved it! One miracle was that our investigators came to the session in which Elder Bednar directed his talk at investigators!!! What good fortune!
A really fun thing we did this week was make empanadas! If you guys get the chance to try a real Dominican empanada, I would highly recommend it J
Another fun thing was this P Day we all went to the campamento where they do EFY here and played around as a Zone. We got to watch Frozen and I have never had so much fun watching a Disney movie. And you guys know how I love my Disney movies! First of all, it was super fun watching it with Latinos because they are simply hilarious people. Second of all, the voice of Anna in Spanish is so sassy and I love it. And last of all, we had a BLAST shouting along to Libre Soy, which is Let it Go in Spanish. We were all clapping and singing and even dancing a bit! We all agreed we had to rewind the movie and watch it again. Everyone cheered and hollered for Elsa as she let her true colors show! It was super fun!
I hope you guys are having a great October!
Here are pictures

Lots of love

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 1st

This week was great! Lots and lots of rain. One of the best rain days was definitely Sunday after our District Conference (like Stake Conference, but for branches). It started raining RIGHT as we left the other branch´s building and started the 35 minute walk back. We. Were. SOAKED. We had a fun lunch with a member though. Dominicans don´t feed missionaries dinner, they feed missionaries lunch because that´s the big meal here. Anyway the lunch was very fun! A special treat here is called concon. Do you know what it is? The burned rice at the bottom of the pot that´s stuck together with oil. Ohhhh yesssss. I don´t like it because it´s too crunchy and too tasteless. But people here almost fight over it! Elder Alarcon loves concon, so we kept calling him Elder Alarconcon during lunch because he ate so much of it hahaha.
So we´re walking down the street and I see a green sign with a big evergreen tree on the sign. I think to myself “what does a tree road sign mean?” We continue walking and we arrive at the LARGEST TREE smack in the middle of the road! Now you know if you ever see  a tree sign, that you are about to encounter a mammoth tree in the middle of the street. Consider yourself warned!
Did you guys watch the General Women´s Broadcast? Go watch it!
Also it´s October, so that means that you should be on Month 2 of The Family Missionary Plan!!! Don´t forget to meet with the Elders and to keep opening your mouth and extending invitations to people.
Also, I really loved your talk. How did you not know that it was going to take up more than the allotted time?! it was basically a novel! anyway, I really enjoyed it!
In other news, I think we´ll be doing a Christmas flashmob here in the DR in a big mall in Santiago, and if so I get to sing and dance! I´ll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24th

Some Dominican culture for ya: Dominicans are always like, “sit yourself.” I guess the English wording would be “sit down” but in Spanish it is literally “sit yourself” and so that´s how I hear it in my head and it makes perfect sense to me. But anyway, people here are super receptive and friendly and always invite you in to their patio—everyone here has a small, covered patio area in front of their house because it gets too hot to sit inside with walls all day. So they invite you in and immediately say “sit yourselves” and then you´re like

“oh that´s okay we´re just passing to ask about your son,”

And they say, “okay, okay but sit yourselves”

“I´m okay. So is your son home?”

“Let me go check, but sit yourselves” they retreat into their house for a minute and come back to see we´re still standing up and say “but sit yourselves”

And we´re like “thanks, is your son home?”

“no, but sit yourselves”

It´s all very friendly and kind, but it just makes me laugh in my mind that they can´t imagine that we´re actually okay with standing up for a few minutes ,ha ha.

 Miracle of the week. We had to teach a class super last minute. It´s a class we´ll be holding regularly in the branch to encourage member missionary work and teach tactics and whatnot. We were underprepared and it made me feel very uncomfortable and I was feeling really stressed when we showed up, but long story short, the Spirit guided my companion and me through THE ENTIRE lesson. I felt prompted to say and do so many things and they made an impact with the people who were in the class. I felt overwhelmingly that these people each had something to contribute to missionary work here in Bonao and that this class was essential for them to realize their potential. It was such a powerful experience. Member missionary work is so important guys!!!

Also we made Pastelon which is basically mashed potatoes layered with ground beef layered with mashed potatoes layered with cheese and then baked. Pretty durn yummy!
Here´s the links for pictures and month two of The Family Missionary Plan

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17th

Let me start off with the best news: this week we had a family baptized! That is like GOLD for the mission, if you don´t know. Alberto, Felicia, Jeffrey, and Joel Pena were all baptized on Saturday and all received the Holy Ghost Sunday. This is my first baptism where I began teaching them and was with them through the entire process and it is such a privilege to be a part of that change in their lives! I love them all very much! 

So I just got back from the craziest p day ever. Not really but here´s the story. So. There´s a guy in our branch who has a ton of land and invited us to do a hike up the mountain of his property. The elders made it sound like we´d hang out by a creek and do a short little hike and then have a nice lunch. Relaxing right? So we wake up SUPER early to get there and we show up and before we set out the guy tells us that we´re going to see things we´ve never seen before on this hike, like it´s going to be totally unbelievable and totally dangerous too. And we´re like ooookay. So we set out, and it is GORGEOUS. We´re plucking delicious fruit from trees as a walk and there´s a lovely river that we cross and it´s all fine and dandy. And then we start climbing uphill. This is normally what you would expect from a hike, only it was super different because it was pretty much straight mud that we were climbing up. If there were rocks, they just fell downhill when you touched them so it was like a booby trap or something. And THEN there was the grass of death. It was super thick, reedy grass about four feet tall that twined itself around your legs as you walked and did all in its power to trip you, or at least rub the skin off your ankles. Through all of this tribulation,we were led by Prophet Yonelvi, who the ENTIRE TIME was shouting scriptures at us as if he were Moses and we were the Jews. He was like "God has commanded that we press forward! God has commanded that we walk onward and not faint!" you get the picture. Super funny! An awesome thing was that I drank water from a little waterfall and it was THE MOST DELICIOUS WATER IN THE WORLD. We stopped somewhere nice to sit and had lunch and then it was time to go back through the grass of death and slide ourselves down the mud mountain. My legs were beyond destroyed with mud and dirt. So when we got to the river that we crossed at the start, I took the opportunity to try to scrub the filth off myself. After a few minutes, someone is like,"hey don´t stay in that water too long, it´s contaminated from the mine upstream." So yeah, the relaxing hike turned into a jungle trek of treacherousness and the little stream was actually poisonous, but it was still a really fun day!
Random awesome fact: there´s a dominican elder in my zone who had the opportunity to sign for the orioles´baseball team and make MILLIONS, but turned them down to serve a mission.
Also yesterday was Mexican Independence Day and Hermana Castillo, my Mexican compa, says hello!
Here are pictures:
I´m eagerly anticipating your letter and I look forward to reading your talk. Send Amber a happy birthday message from me if you can! 

September 10th

Thereis no time for writing thisweek! But here´s what´s new: my companion! Hermana Colton finished her mission today!!!! I am so sad to see her go because we truly became best friends, but Iknow we´ll be hanging out a ton forthe rest of our lives! My new comp isHErmana Castillo from Mexico and I just met her today but she seemssweet and driven and on the ball! It will be interesteing to see how it goes since both of us have just finished our own training and are basically as fresh asit gets in the mission field.

This week we had another wonderful encounter with....THE MYSTERY MURK. Only thistimeinstead of being a standstill lagoon, there was an additional riverrapid part since we were walking uphill through the murk. we were dodging diapersand bottles and all sorts of stuff as it came whizzing down the river of murk....I think I even saw a pig snout float past me! 

I also enjoyed a special dinner in the mission home as a result of Hermana Colton leaving this transfer. Itwas quite the treatto eat with Presidentand Hermana Douglas--they´re incredible!

Major events of this week mainly involved getting drenched.Forsome reason, it just POURED. I also rodeway too many guaguas this week. Lots of back and forth between Santiago and Bonao. 

Sorry that I don´t really have any cool storiesfor thisweek, but I hope you enjoy all the pictures!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 3rd

This week has been a tad crazy!

First story: I've been learning how to talk to strangers a lot more and I had a crazy funny experience. So I'm on a bus and after arguing with myself for 15 minutes I finally started a converstation with the man next to me. We proceeded to chat for the rest of the ride! He was showing me pictures of his family on his phjone and then even food. He showed me a picture of a delicious stuffed potato and I said I wanted the recipe. He said "Why don't you just come over for lunch on Sunday!"and I didn't really think he'd remember, so I said yes. Sure enough on Saturday he calls to tell us what time to come. We showed up the next day and his family was SO happy to see us! They were snapping photos sand everything! So random! Apparently he's actually from Bethlehem so that was cool to talk about. And then all of a sudden his wife shuts the blinds and tells us to hide and that when this lady walks in we need to sing happy birthday because it's a surprise....and so as a lady walks in we're all singing and the lady is so happy and runs up to hug me and there's a huge festivity about how it's her birthday.,...we had no idea! Anyway, they had DELICIOUS food and they were INCREDIBLY nice. Hopefully they will take the lessons and be batpized because if not I'm not technically supposed to keep hanging out with them and that would be incredibly tragic.

Other story: We got to take care of adorable kittens for a little while and it was super fun! We fed them milk through a eye dropper. haha

Not much time today but I love you all and hope all is well. Miss you!

Hey just so you know the family mission plan starts NOW. The page is already uploaded in google drive, here is the link 
start it now and let me know how it's going! 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 27th

Okay so this week.
Miracle story: Our investigator told us about a dream she once had and it was almost exactly Lehi´s visión of the Tree of Life. We left her that chapter to read, and so I really hope she realizes the truth of the Book of Mormon!
Delicious story:Hermana Colton and I had a lot of fun making crepes and filling them with that delicious chocolate spread mom sent. To. Die. For.
Dominican things: So the electricity has been incredibly unreliable this week. I don´t know if you guys ever imagine what it looks like when I´m teaching a lesson, but i doubt that you imagine it by candlelight. That´s been pretty typical most evenings here. But it´s nice because it makes things more reverent I think! This makes it very difficult to cook. Sometimes when I´m cooking, I actually feel like I´m camping. Like, all we have is a stove and a few utensils and plates and pots that we clean with dirty wáter and sometimes there´s no light. Sounds exactly like camp cooking to me! I´ve always loved camping :)
Embarassing story: I saw cows running this week. Have you ever seen a cow run? Just picture it. Funny, right?
Other funny story: during our branch activity this week we played a game and I ended up indicating that one of the elders was my eternal companion and it was really embarrassing haha.
Thing I learned: Member missionary work is super under-estimated and under-utilized. Basically every talk or book or ANYTHING I´ve read or Heard this week has been about member missionary work. I just realized how important it was. So. I´m developing a super awesome plan for all yáll to learn how to be member missionaries. And then you guys get to be part of the Lord´s work and His glory! You get to help bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man! Hopefully I´ll have the plan ready by next week. Be ready because I am SO serious about this. It´s going to be incredible!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20th

This week went by so fast! Let me explain some of the pictures. So a lot are from a river trip we went on last p day. And by river trip, I mean we loaded people into a guagua (we have a new record! 21 people in one guagua! That would be like 21 people in a Honda Odyssey) and then walked to a river and put our toes in and ate guacamole and chips. Twas a great day. I´m getting a really silly tan on my feet from wearing my kenes a lot haha. Oh and the watch tan is coming niiiiiice.

I made my first ever fresh juice! Cereza! Which is the Word for cherry, but Dominican cherries are not at all like American cherries. Oh and I ate my first avocado. Twas quite good. Although a lot less flavorful tan I imagined haha. But I think it´s prime avocado and mango season right now because at all the colmados, the mangos and avocados are just HUGE and the mangos are SO DELICIOUS.

The other photos are from this week´s p day at los quemados. That´s where they have efy here! it´s super awesome. they have grass-roofed cabins to sleep in and it´s just completely gorgeous there. we had a super fun day with all the missionaries and some local kids playing soccer and baseball and having an epic water balloon-capture-the-flag battle in the pouring rain. I´ve never been so soaked! it was super fun. We also made the largest batch of spaghetti that the world has ever known. Mom, I put in the picture of the chicken foot just for you. yes we cook that with spaghetti and yes people like to eat that part. The video is of this super awesome twirly thing that is like a Little roller coaster for your backyard! I think Americans should start getting these for playgrounds because they´re so fun!

A funny story from the week would be when I woke up with an eye infection (don´t flip out, I´m totally healed now and it was only bad for like 12 hours). Anyway, I couldn´t even open my eye it hurt so bad, but I kept tyring and they were so red and Hermana Colton, referring to how obvious my pain was, said. "oh it hurts my eyes just looking at you" and I said "that´s not very nice" hahaha.

We´re teaching a really wonderful family--the Familia Peña. They have 16 and 11 year old sons. And all of them are so ready for the góspel. We´re planning on their baptism for sept 13th, and we are so excited! It´s just amazing to see how God leads you to the people who are prepared. Another really important thing for all you people out there Reading this blog is that this family was referred to us by a member and that member has been present at every single lesson and stops by other times during the week. I think that the support of this member has been monumentally influential in the teaching of the family. Put this into practice with your own Ward!

One other thing is that we got haircuts at the salón! Dominican women go to the salón all the time because they have super curly hair which they hate, and so they always get it straightened. So yeah, we got our hair washed, then put in ginormous curlers in a big mound on our heads, then sat in the super hot furnace of devilish fire for your head machine, and then they even took the hottest blow dryer of my life to dry it even more! also it was like 90 degrees outside. so yeah, just super hot. but my hair was like a beautiful river of silk afterwards so I felt like a princess and it was worth it.

love you all! enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 13th

This week has been good. This computer shift button is handicapped though, so forgive the poor punctuation. Okay so I don´t have a ton of cool stuff to report as far as teaching goes. One cool story though, so we´re teaching a mother and her daughter in law, who are both catholic but interested in learning more about the gospel. Hermana Colton asked if they would like to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God and the daughter in law paused for a moment and said yes. Then we turned to the mother and she paused too, and I was thinking she was going to give a hestitant yes just like the first woman, but then she said, "I know that it is true." Whoaaaa like where did that come from!? She had watched the restoration video with us before and she says she knows that there's no way Joseph Smith could've done all that stuff without God. Amazing!

Funny story of the week: so we´re having a lesson with Marcos. He has a little sister named Hilary who is four or five and she´s really cute but also pretty crazy. She likes to sit with us during the lessons but sometimes she is a tad mischievous. Soooo a few days ago during the lesson she ran upstairs and then returned, cupping her hands and sat next to me on the couch. She secretly showed me the small white slivers in her hands, which to me looked like pieces of a bar of soap. Hermana Colton is teaching something to Marcos all this time. and so I put my attention back on the lesson and then suddenly Hilary´s hands are DOWN MY SHIRT and then her hands are IN MY ARMPITS and I was trying to free myself without disrupting the lesson too much and without shrieking in surprise. For some reason, she looked stunned that I didn´t want her little hands in my armpit. Imagine that! And she said "what? we can share!" and proceeded to rub the white stuff (deodorant, not soap) on her own armpits. So now you know the story of how a little Dominican tried to apply deodorant to my armpits during a lesson.

To respond to all the chikanguya questions: yes, I got it. yes, it was really lame. no, I don´t still have it. Basically a lot of people here have gotten it because they don´t believe in science (nacho libre quote anyone, anyone???) but anyway, they´re superstitious rather than factual. As in, they would rather believe that air is contaminated with the disease than that a mosquito transfers the virus from one person´s bloodstream to another´s as it bites you. I´m pretty sure all Americans would see reason in the second one, but Dominicans just don´t. They think the air is contaminated somehow. Scientifically, that just doesn´t make sense!  It´s so frustrating because if they would believe you about the mosquitos, then they would put on repellent and then they wouldn´t get sick and less sick people means less mosquitos transferring the illness which means it would go away! But anyway, a lot of the adults here get it really bad for some reason. Like, it lasts longer and then for weeks their joints ache. I am fortunate in that I had the fever and stuff for about 2 and half days and then I was basically as good as new, but every now and then the joints of my fingers and wrists feel sore, but it´s nothing. 

Let´s play a game. Try to think of something that you couldn´t fit or transport on a moped. Did you think of one? Okay good. Now I´m going to tell you that you are probably right. You couldn´t drive a moped with a propane tank (or three) or with a queen sized mattress flapping off the back, or with 20 feet worth of bamboo stalk trailing behind or with 5 people squished on the seat. But Dominicans can and they DO. Nobody has cars here, so they´ve learned how to transport EVERYTHING via moped. It´s quite impressive really.

Here are pictures from this week

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 7th

This week has been great!

There was, however, one rather unfortunate part. It all started Friday morning. Nicaurys and her two children were to be baptized the next day and we were there with the elders doing interviews. I´m sitting on the couch and feeling pretty lousy and I said, "I don´t know why, but my body hurts." Hermana Colton immediately groaned and said, "oh nooooo." I said, "It´s mostly just my back....but that´s probably from carrying my backpack. And I mean, my arms hurt too, but that could be from carrying groceries home a couple days ago. And my right ankle is sore, but maybe I slept on it
JPEG Imagewrong." Elder Walker had started laughing a little and Hermana Colton had put a hand over her eyes. "Do you have the rash?" she asked. "No," I said reflexively, then looking down I amended, "well, I´m pretty sure those are ant bites. And that one there is probably from a mosquito." More laughing from Elder Walker. "Do you have the fever?" As I started to say I didn´t, Hermana Colton stood up and felt my head and groaned again. "It´s just because it´s hot!" I told her. Elder Walker was STILL laughing. "What´s so funny!?" I finally asked him. "You are in denial!" he told me. "You have chikangunya!" And in the moment he said it, I realized that it was true. So here´s the progression of the dread plague chikangunya ( 1) you feel sore 2) you deny that you feel sore 3) you feel more sore 4) your fever rages for a while 5) your joints take turns aching so that you feel as if you´re 19 going on 90 6) a rash will crop up at some point and yeah basically you just feel OLD. I was walking like a cripple for a bit this week. The sad thing was that I had it during the baptisms and the relief society activity so it was hard to feel so happy when all I felt like was sleeping haha. But I was still able to go, thanks to the blessing of the Lord, and what a wonderful experience it was!
JPEG ImageMarcos was baptized and his parents came and they were so happy and supportive! I did not expect that from them, and I have never been so happy to be wrong. His has even asked for his own copy of the Book of Mormon! 

Other funny thing. That night our district leaders called for some business and they asked how I was doing and I asked Elder Hardy to bring some medicine for me the next morning and I was going to say "because I have a really hot head" but "hot head" sounded like someone who brags a lot, so I quickly amended and said instead, "because I have a hot body" which was definitely not any better to say, hahaha. It was super embarrassing and he made sure to tell everybody during the zone meeting yesterday haha. 

Other funny thing. We play "never have I ever" for a game a lot and one evening Hermana Colton and I were playing it with some members. One girl who was 12 said "never have I ever danced on a table" and the relief society president, a very sweet and mild woman, put down one finger, indicating that she had danced on a table before! She told us she used to be pretty crazy when she was younger, haha. Who would´ve known!?

JPEG ImageOn P Day we went to a waterfall and it was awesome! The entire hike felt like we were really in a rain forest because we were surrounded by green. Green leaves and moss everywhere. Green canopy of leaves above and brown carpet of leaves below. And it was raining, so it truly was a rainforest! It was beautiful. And there were all sorts of dubious bridge-stairs to cross so it was like a jungle adventure. And we got to wade in the waterfall water which was clear and blue and gorgeous and it was SO refreshing. It was just lovely.

Enjoy the pictures here:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 30th

Funny Story:  I wore my nightgown all day. Yepppp. Check out the pictures for evidence. It was genius because all I had to do was put a skirt on over it, and it looked almost like a normal outfit! The very best part was that when I got home, I was already ready for bed! I highly recommend this technique to all.

JPEG ImageMiracle: For those who don´t know, it was a bit hectic to arrange my MTC experience. A lot of
changes occurred and finally my mission president intervened and had the last word about me arriving mid-transfer. Not only was this compatible with my strong sentiments that June 18th  was the perfect date for me to leave on my mission and that the 2 week Spanish training at the MTC was the right choice, but it has also proven to be a divine intervention in the mission-field. 4 of the 6 other people in my district (who I work with almost every single day) were transferred this week, 3 of them are transferring OUT of the mission, as in they´re going home. I feel that the hand of God was definitely present in getting me here to Bonao those 4 weeks early so that I could get to know those 4 missionaries and learn from them. I also wouldn´t have had the trainer that I have now and I know that the Lord has put us together for a reason. It has been a long-term miracle that the Lord worked out my arrival here in Bonao. 

Amazing thing: Marcos is getting baptized THIS Saturday! Huzzah! I am so proud of him and I know he will be such a strong influence for the church here in Bonao.
JPEG Image
Massive plate of food and a nightgown

Sometimes in the DR people offer you refreshments. Some days you get no food. Some days people provide you with FEASTS ALL DAY AND THEN YOU WANT TO EXPLODE. Such was the case earlier this week. 
JPEG ImageJPEG Image A member surprised us with lunch by ordering us huge empanadas (fried dough stuffed with cheese and occasionally other delicious and fattening things) and strawberry milkshakes and an ENTIRE cheesecake.
 After the empanadas we couldn´t even take one bite of cheesecake, it was THAT filling. Like do you understand how badly I wanted to eat the cheesecake? And I couldn´t because I was soooo full. Then we went to a wedding and they fed us spaghetti and plantains and rice and chicken and as we´re eating the elders are like, "we gotta go" so everyone shoveled as much food as possible into their mouths. Then we went to the branch president´s house and he had the table set for dinner! And I had to eat ANOTHER meal of chicken and rice and fritos and delicious fresh juice and ohmygoodness it was just so much food that day. Delicious, but overwhelming haha.
JPEG ImageIn other news, the moquitos here don´t like me very much, but the Maya do. And they are the WORST. They look like gnats, so it doesn´t seem so bad and then OHMYGOODNESS DO THEY IT
CH OR WHAT!? They get HUGE and my legs are constantly begging and pleading with me to scratch them and  I have to keep saying "no Little leggies, nooooo because then I won´t be able to stop" and it´s just not very fun at all.

Highlight of the week (carnal): definitely drinking freshly made cherry juice. Oh my heavens I cannot even describe.

Highlight of the week (spiritual): during our zone meeting we had an awesome testimony meeting because a lot of the elders were going home and it was just lovely.
Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23rd

JPEG Image
This week I saw how Satan tries really hard to stop the work of the Lord. He almost stopped Marcos from being baptized! Marcos' dad has been super cool with Marcos taking the missionary lessons and being baptized. All of a sudden, he told Marcos on Sunday that he couldn´t be baptized in the Mormon church. We were mad and frustrated and defeated. He was sooooo close! We prayed and prayed and continued to teach and visit Marcos this week. As of now, Marcos is still Scheduled to be baptized this Saturday. But please pray that everything will work out!

JPEG Image
Sisters Colton, Anderson & Parker
Another thing that is slowing down the work is that darn Chikangunya! That cursed plague! It really is an awful illness. When you get it you get a rash that makes your skin look like pinkish reddish cottage cheese, a fever, chills, and worst of all this TERRIBLE ache in all of your bones. You´re bed-ridden for sure. Some people don´t get all of the symptoms and some people have it for a few days and others for a few weeks. But so many of our appointments are falling through because people are so ill. The worst part is that they´re all uninformed. We know that it comes from mosquitos because we have fliers from doctors and from the mission president and everything. But the Word on the street in Bonao is that it is really a contamination in the air (wrong wrong wrong) and they don´t believe us when we say it´s mosquitos. So they don´t wear repellent. So of course they´re getting sick! So far, the three of us have been spared from the wretched disease, and hopefully we will continue to be blessed with this unlikely immunity.

Funny story: We have been teaching a Jehovah's witness which is odd because usually they hate Mormons. But he seemed to really like us and our message. Well…we have now discovered that really he only likes us…or more specifically Hermana Colton. He calls often to see when we´re visiting next occasionally says sort of weird things. But we tried to look past it because we were hoping that he was really interested in our message. Well one evening he called and it was Hermana Parker´s day to answer the phone. She talked to him and he was asking about us and our weekend and chatting and so she was polite, but shortly ended the call. A few minutes later he calls and she answers again and he asks who he´s speaking to and she´s like "it's still Hermana Parker...." and he asks for Hermana Colton and so she passes the phone over and next thing we hear is Hermana Colton saying "What!? Sorry! It´s too loud in here! I can´t hear you! Bye!" Apparently he was telling her how nice it was to hear her voice and how that was all he needed....ha! So yeah, we will no longer be teaching him.
Other funny thing. Before I got to the DR, people in the MTC told me how in the DR they have a different word for bus: guagua. I figured it was just one of those things that happens with languages in different areas. So when I heard we were taking a guagua somewhere, I was imagining like a school bus kind of thing. Guess what pulls up? A small tiny VAN. Oh but don´t worry, they still cram in enough people to fill a small bus. hahaha. They don´t call it a bus because ITS NOT A BUS haha. 

Miracle story: so we met a guy in the street named Lucas a few weeks ago. We stopped at his colmado several times the last two weeks to try to make an appointment to teach him but he was NEVER there. I was getting pretty mad at Satan for always making things so hard for us. I´d felt really good about Lucas and had basically given up the hope of teaching him. So last night something strange happened, we actually finished all of our scheduled stuff BEFORE 9 pm! that has never happened the whole time I´ve been here! So we´re walking around like "hmmmm what can we do????" and we are rattling off ideas and Hermana Colton suggests a woman we can visit and immediately I was like "that sounds great! lets go!" and so we walk toward her house. Right in front of her house is Lucas!!!! We didn´t even see him at first but he called out to us and WOW! Miracle! So then we start talking to him and he read the pamphlet we left him and said he had lots of questions and we made an appointment. And then he starts telling us a little bit about himself. He lived in New York for 20 years. 18 and a half of those years were spent in prison. Yep. He told us that before, he was all about trying to get money, money, money. But do you  know what he did in prison? He read the Bible. 8 hours a day. Yep! For 18 years and 7 months! He said that when he left a lot of people were like "how are you so different and how can you be so happy and positive about life?" and he told them that it was because he read the Bible. Now he doesn´t drink or do drugs like he used to and he said "I just follow Jesus Christ". Wow. He is really interested in hearing about Joseph Smith and I just have a great feeling about him! He is such a great example of how God really does change your life. And what a miracle it was that we found him again! God looks out for all of us and you never know when he is going to put you in the path of someone who needs you!

This week's pictures:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16th

Great things are happening in Bonao!

First a funny story: Sometimes when it rains here, it is like a flash flood. The have a terrible drainage system (and by terrible, I really mean that it doesn´t exist) and so the streets fill up with rainwater really fast. But it´s not really rainwater. I will refer to it as the mystery murk. The streets are full of garbage and refuse all the time, so when it rains and the street fills up with this murky brown liquid, it´s a mystery what you´ll find as you wade through. Hence, mystery murk. Well a few days ago it started to pour as we walked. We were drenched, despite our umbrellas and jackets. I had my raincoat on over my backpack to keep the contents dry and I had my hood up. It would be pretty safe to say that I looked like a homeless, dripping oaf. We came to a small lagoon of mystery murk and I paused for a second, looked around for an escape route (it was kind of like that story where they say “we can´t go over it, we can´t go under it, we can´t go around it…we´ll have to go through it”) and seeing no other option, I did a little hunched squat to grab my skirt, hiked it up to my knees, and plunged into the mystery murk. My companions cracked up because apparently it was quite comical to see a little hunchbacked woman do a little squat and wobble her way into that filthiness. The worst part aside from mystery objects touching you is that the murk is WARM haha. The pavement is so hot that it heats the mystery murk right up!

I´ve tried lots of fruits this week! I had guanabana, carambola, guava, and chinola juice! And of course mangos and bananas. Fruit is just so tasty here!

Mom asked about washing clothes, so here goes: We have a washing machine. It is one big plastic box with two compartments—one for washing and one for “drying”. We fill up about 6 buckets of water and pour them into the washing compartment, add some detergent, throw in the clothes, and then set it to “swirl” mode for a good 15 minutes. After the clothes are sufficiently swirled in the soapy water, we put them into a homemade solution of fabric softener and water so that they smell reeeeeal nice. Then we wring them out and put a portion of them in the drying section (too small to do all the clothes at once). We close the lid and set the dryer to the “shake” cycle. You have to be prepared though! All the water that´s being shaken? Shooked? Shakooked? Whatever. All the water comes out of a  hose on the side, so you have to have a bucket ready to catch the water. Then you hang those clothes up ti actually get all the way dry and put some more clothes for the shake cycle. Then you mop, because invariably you´ve gotten a large quantity of water on the tile floor. And that´s laundry!

Miracle story: We had another person approach us and ask US to learn about the church. God is always preparing people to receive the gospel—we just have to be willing to testify! Nuther one miracle: we had 14 investigators and 16 less active people come to church this Sunday. That´s almost double the active members of the church. The room was FULL. It was incredible! We see lots of miracles every day, but one really cool thing was during an intercambio. I wasn´t there, but Hermana Colton went with a member to visit a different member´s wife. She has a reputation for being really mean and rude and just having the worst attitude ever. She often gets mad when missionaries or members try to visit her. But Hermana Colton and the member approached her very kindly and she let them in AND just completely opened up to them. It was totally unexpected! We hope that she will continue to be receptive and that we can help her start coming to church.

Dominican thing: They are very generous people and they love it when you visit them! This is great! EXCEPT every time when we are closing a lesson and indicating that we need to get to our next appointment they´re always like WAIT I HAVE REFRESHMENTS FOR YOU which is awesome. But then we´re twenty minutes late to the next thing haha. This doesn´t happen every time because not everyone gives you juice or soda or whatever, so you can´t even plan in advance to avoid it. I have determined that it is the secret Dominican way of extending the visit because they love company so much. Like in the states, someone shows up and we offer them water. But here someone shows up and you try to keep them as loooong as possible by luring them in with some delicious fruit nectar and galletas.

This Sunday we went to a branch in Los Quemados which is really close to the mountains. It. Is. Gorgeous. Check out the pictures! They have a campsite sort of thing there and that´s where they host EFY all summer. It´s super cool! Like wilderness EFY . Definitely beats out Provo EFY for sure!

I love you all, and hope you have a great week.

ALSO:  I have homework for you all. 1) read The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton M. Christensen and then 2) apply it to your lives!!!! It is seriously the most powerful book members can read to help spread the gospel! READ IT NOW!

Okay bye!

This week´s pictures:

Last week´s pictures:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9th

I have so little time! also this keyboard is the worst and the shift button refuses to cooperate so sorry for the bad grammar.
This week has been long and crazy and great. Ester got baptized and it was amazing. She has the cutest baby boy! What a great way to start my mission though. Baptism! The day that Ester was baptized, our 12 year old investigator Marcos came and told me he was ready to be baptized this month! I almost cried! He is seriously incredible. He loves to learn about the gospel and could teach you any gospel principle you wanted to learn. He walks to church every Sunday by himself and comes to every activity. I am so excited for him to be baptized. Did I mention that he´s TWELVE? What a kid! 

Cool Story: For fast Sunday I prayed that people would have their hearts softened and that we would be led to those who were being prepared to receive the gospel. That day TWO people stopped US to ask about our church. One of them had done Skype lessons with the missionaries three  years ago and decided that he wanted to meet with us. He even came to the baptism we had that evening! Then the other one was  a Jehovah's witness and he accepted the pamphlet we offered him which is crazy because apparently they usually spit at you or something. While we were walking down the street, Hermana Colton was like,"that was crazy how those people were prepared and put in our path" and I shrugged and said "that's what I fasted for" and then a second later, I stopped, turned to her with my eyes as big as golf balls and with happy incredulity exclaimed "that's what I fasted for!" ha ha ha. It was probably one of the most immediate and visible answers to prayer that I have ever seen. What a blessing.
Nuther One Cool Story: We´ve been teaching a girl named Derlin. She is 19 and is a super great investigator because she reads whatever we ask her to. I've been here 7 days and met with her 4 times. We decided in our companionship planning that she´s ready for baptism but she needs to come to church a lot before she can be baptized, so we wanted to set her up with a baptismal date. Hermana Colton asked if I would invite her to commit to a date and I said I thought I could try when we met with her the next day. So we were in the lesson and had a great discussion about how to recognize the spirit. The lesson was winding down and Hermana Colton gave me "the look" and I knew that it was the time to ask. So I mustered up all my courage and started to ask. My Spanish was poor and my nerves made it worse, but as I asked her if she would continue to follow the spirit and prepare to be baptized September 13th, she began nodding and as soon as finished my nearly incoherent mumble she said, "claro" which is like "of course". Can you believe it!? Initially I was just relieved because I had gotten the scary thing over with and I hadn´t been rejected. And then I just felt the spirit sooooooo strongly. Right now 18 months sounds like a long time. But that feeling I had in that room is worth the 18 months. Derlin is worth 18 months. Of course! Of course she is! It was just a wonderful experience.

Funny Story: In our branch, we have 7 missionaries. 4 of them are elders. 1 from Puerto Rico, 1 from Honduras, 1 from Utah but he´s Mexican, and 1 gringo from California. When I first met them the two from the states were talking to me in English and it was cool. The other two spoke to me in Spanish and I found out that they don´t speak English. Elder Morales, the Puerto Rican one, seemed really contrite about how he couldn´t speak English and kept bringing it up. Whenever we started talking in English he´d be like "say it in Spanish!!" Later we were in  room in the church and someone wrote on the board "he speak English" and he jumped up and erased it. I felt bad because it seemed like he felt super excluded when we all tried to speak English and he couldn't read it or understand it. Later in the meeting they asked me to speak for a few minutes on missionary work  in Spanish of course (talk about hazing, right?) and as I sat down Elder Morales said, "I like to pray too". I just stared at him in confusion and then turned to my companion and innocently asked "does he even know what he´s saying?" and EVERYONE busted up laughing. He was just trying to trick me the whole time! He speaks great English! He´s a total prankster and has been proving to everyone how gullible I am all week. tsk tsk tsk.

I hope everyone is having a great week!
tell Everett I hope he enjoyed the world cup as much as everyone here
tell Brendan to get highlights
tell Parker to enjoy his job and keep up his Spanish in college
tell Dad I didn´t have time to read or respond to his email (or yours) but that I printed them off and will write you later!!!!

thanks for the pictures
Con Amor
Hermana Anderson