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.