Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jovelys



We had a baptism this week! Jovelys is a darling 14 year old, who was baptized Saturday. There was a little bit of miscommunication about the clothes she was supposed to wear so she came in her own white dress and shorts and was baptized in them. She looked so beautiful. Her mom owns a store where she sells used clothes. We have been meeting at her mom´s store after it closes for the night to teach her Jovelys. She is so intelligent and always had the desire to get baptized. Her boyfriend is a member and she knew a little bit before we met with her. We are starting to meet with her mom and little sister now. It’s a very cute family. 

Not everyone is so easy. To say that every single person on this island believes in God would only be a slight exaggeration. Religion is very important to Dominicans. The grafiti on the street is commonly Cristo Viene, many stores and restaurants are named something to do with God, and there is a church on every corner. One thing that always makes me laugh is after every lesson we invite the people to pray to know for themselves that the message is true. More often than not, the people jump into a speech about how they pray all day every day. I usually say “that´s perfect, will you say the closing prayer.” They usually get embarrassed and don’t want to say the prayer. But religion is very important to Dominicans. There is also a very prevalent mindset that there is only one God so it doesn’t matter what religion you are. It makes our job a little tricky trying to explain why it does matter. Even after explaining the restoration many people think it’s a beautiful message but that they already have their church.  

At times I do wonder in what way our message can add to the lives of our investigators? Many of them are very spiritual and dedicated to God. But I would have to say that I know our message can add to their lives. The evidence of the blessings of the gospel is the lives of the members. I am so impressed with the members here. In Mattew 7:20 "By their fruits you shall know them". We are in so many houses every day. And in each house you can get a pretty good sense of the lives of these people. Many of them are outstanding people. But something I did not realize before my mission is the extent the gospel blesses families. There is peace, harmony, and love in the families. Of course none of us come from perfect families, but the families in the church have been a huge testimony to me while I have been here. In Stephen Mansfield’s article The Mormonizing of America  he says:

“Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. . . . It will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling.”

It is so interesting to see that the foundation of the gospel can give its members distinct characteristics, anywhere in the world, independent of nationality. Of course, there are so many wonderful people out there who live incredible lives; I just think the emphasis of the family is something special. 

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchen prove to be more controlling than what happened in congress? When the surf of centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside a telestial time." -Neal A Maxwell 

Almost every day we pass by a man who sits on the corner of a street. Every time we pass he sings an American song. There has been a great selection so far from Killing Me Softly to Stand by Me, to a great Backstreet Boys song which I sadly cannot remember the name of. I secretly love seeing him – it’s a little piece of home. 

I miss you family! I love hearing about your lives and everything back home. But life is very good. I love my companion like a sister and I am learning lots. 

con amor, 

Hermana Meg

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On A Scale of 1 - 10



Meg has had a stomach bug these past few days - so no new post this week.
 
I emailed Meg back and asked how sick she was on a scale of 1 - 10.  She said to watch the Brian Regan bit on rating pain.
 
In the picture below, Meg is with Elder Matt Cowley (Joe Jr.'s Son).
 


Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day


 
 
I think everyday should be Mother's Day! What a treat to talk to the people I love most. There are few things that can make me happier than seeing the familiar faces of family members after months of being away. And a birthday shout-out to the woman who I am convinced is the best mom in the whole world.

 

I had the best week yet since leaving three months ago. It is fun to be able to connect more with members and investigators as the language barrier is slowly lessening. And I love my companion. Hermana Thomas has made it her job to shake the white girl out of me and turn me into a Sista. I think I’ve made some serious progress but she says ive got a lot of work to do before I’m an honorary Sista.

 


My favorite thing to teach is Lehi's vision. It is my favorite story in the Book of Mormon and I love to share it with investigators progressing. At the beginning of the vision Lehi sees a man in white (the Savior) and follows him. The man leads him to a dark and dreary waste. It’s not exactly the place you would expect the Savior to lead you. But after hours pressing forward in the darkness he encounters the tree and the most sweet and delicious fruit. I would say those first few weeks in the field felt like a dark and dreary waste. But I know that if we trust the Savior and press forward we will be led out of darkness into light. I love seeing our investigators connect with this vision. The imagery and symbolism is rich. There are mist of darkness, great and spacious buildings and strange roads in all of their lives; but there is also a tree with fruit most desirable. And there is nothing more sweet than partaking of the fruit with your family.

 

I am so grateful to be here and love the people here.

 


"We have been created for greater things. Not just to be a number in the world. Not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and be loved." Mother Teresa

 

 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Blind Leading the Blind



 
It’s official, the blind are leading the blind. Transfers are tomorrow and they are shipping my trainer back to the capital and I am now companions with Hermana Thomas from Washington DC. Both of us only have six weeks under our belt in the field and technically the training program is twelve weeks - but they need our trainers for a massive group entering the field. All the other other Hermanas are in tripanionships to finish the training program; muchas Hermanas. I’m glad the president trusts us to be on our own... hope we don't destroy the church out here. The problem is that both of us are still trying to figure everything out. I have learned that having a sense of humor is the best way to deal with stress and being out of your comfort zone. I have learned from my experience here that my life is easy and my struggles are nothing compared to the struggles that many people have. We will still be living with Hermana Espinoza and the two Hermanas she is training.

This week we contacted a house with two deaf ladies. Either they knew a little American Sign Language or Spanish sign language is similar; but we were able to communicate. It was so fun to talk (or sign rather) with them and share a little bit of our message. They were so kind and patient trying to understand me.

There is a woman we have been teaching and she lives in a pretty house. My companion complimented her on her rug, telling her how beautiful it was. When we were finished and leaving, we heard the woman call after us. She had the rug all folded up and gave it to my companion. She insisted she take the rug with her. The rest of the night my companion carried the rug with her to all our other citas.

I often get asked if I am Italian - way more often than if I am Americana. And everyone asks if Hermana Arce and I are really sisters.

Those are all the updates for now. I’m so grateful for all the prayers and support. It’s not easy but it’s an experience like none other.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in" Greek Proverb

Hermana Christensen