Monday, September 30, 2013

Temple Trip



Another week! Time generally goes by quite fast. Actually, Monday thru Friday goes fast and then Saturday and Sunday are the more stressfull days and it feels like they move in slow motion. But we had a good week! Last night there was a crazy thunder and lightning storm; every strike of lightning lit up the whole room. Looks like you guys had a great time in Lake Powell!!!! Heaven on earth. And Cate is miss Homecoming queen! I’m not surprised one bit; she´s a babe. 

 
We got to go to the temple this week! It was so wonderful. As I mentioned, we are only able to go every six months so we definitely have to savor the time we get there. There is a tradition after the Temple session where all the missionaries go to a Wendy´s that is nearby. I ordered a frosty and they gave me something that resembled vanilla ice cream with a spoonful of Nesquick. But it was such a fun day and I love hanging out with other missionaries!


 
I have included a picture with the Gimmeniz family. It’s in their little one room apartment. The woman is the grandma and she is an incredibly strong member and has raised her three grandkids. They walk so far to go to church every Sunday. We have been working with the one on the right because he is preparing for baptism and would technically be a convert because his parents aren’t members. He is autistic and it has been so fun to see his progress and he loves us to quiz him on the different commandments and topics. I´ve gotten really close to them but yesterday they told us the sad news that they are moving today. The grandma gave me her bracelet and she gave Hermana Thomas the cover for her temple recommend. It was what she had with her and they really wanted to give us something to remember them. I thought it was so sweet! We surprised them early this morning with a going-away cake and some presents. You would have thought it was Christmas. They are so darling. 


You Can't Take D.C. out of the Girl! 

I have been thinking a lot lately about the sacrifices our investigators are willing to make. Of course the grand majority do not. Most don’t read the things we leave them, Many don’t want to walk to church because it is far, and changing habits and lifestyle is difficult. But then there are the few that are willing to make the sacrifices. They are willing to change their life. There is one man I think I’ve mentioned before. He had heard of the church about twenty years ago and said he could never forget the things he heard regarding Joseph smith and gold plates. Well, this man has continued to progress. The problem is that he does not want to become a member until he finds a new job. He owns a mini bar next to his house. It’s a pretty comfortable set-up. He only has to work in the night time and he makes pretty good money. However he is willing give it up. He has been searching for a new job and it looks like there is a pretty promising opportunity for him in November. It’s far away and the hours will be more demanding. It would be in Casa de Campo. I am so impressed with his willingness to change. 

 
Have I mentioned Casa de Campo before? It’s a town right next to us that is pretty much a city of gold. It is full of mansions and we are told the most expensive resorts in the Caribbean are there. Supposedly, many different celebrities, politicians, and actors have homes there. It is technically in our area but we aren´t allowed to enter. I guess we won’t be converting any celebrities. It does provide a lot of work for people here in La Romana so that´s good. 

 
Also, I learned a very interesting history lesson this week. Columbus first came to the D.R. and the Spaniards killed all the natives that lived here. They then brought in African slaves to work the land that is why most of the people here are from African rather than Latin; a sad history.

 
Love you all so so much! 


Hermana Christensen

 Sugar Cane

Monday, September 23, 2013

Light



 A Typical D.R. Street
Hello familia! I´ve missed everyone lots this week. Hannah´s wedding looks like it was so beautiful! 

My companion has been really sick for the past few days. We´ve tried going out but she feels so weak and has a lot of body aches so we spent about three days in the house this past week. My body was exhausted and needed a break but I was quite bored. I read and studied. I organized all my stuff and wrote in my journal including important events before the mission. I was able to finally record a detailed account of our adventures in Italy. Haha much of it consisted of “And then we wandered in big circles and people tried to point us in the right direction. Then we received bad directions.” I didn´t realize at the time what good mission prep that trip was. 


My Friend, Hermana Romero
 
One thing that was really fun was that I went back and read all the letters and emails I´ve received. I love reading about home. One thing that has stuck with me is something Gram and mom both wrote about light. They both wrote that we are here to collect light. I love this concept and visualizing it. As we do good things we collect light. As we work to accumulate wisdom, truth, and knowledge, we gain or collect more light. But we can also lose light. 

We had good teaching sessions for the days we were able to go out. Quite a few investigators’ went to church yesterday. Church is the moment of truth to tell us who is really progressing. 

There is a Haitian family that we´ve been teaching for a while now. They are quite poor and the mom hardly speaks any Spanish. They go to church every Sunday. Every Sunday! But last week they weren´t there so we stopped by there house after church to ask what happened. The son explained for his mom that she had found a job cleaning a house but she had to work on Sundays. So she quit her job that day to be able to go to church. Sure enough, she was at church yesterday. I don´t know how much she understands, but she loves being there. 

A common problem we encounter is that you have to be married in order to join the church.  Marriage here is a really big challenge. Hardly anyone is married. It´s a little expensive and all the documents and paperwork are a pain. Because hardly anyone is married, there is an attitude that it’s too big of a commitment. Dominicans are hard enough to get married. Haitains are ten times harder. Most of them don’t have legitimate passports and often have even less money. But hopefully with time this family will be able to overcome these challenges.  

We are also teaching this one family that was a referral from the Stake President (eek lots of pressure). The Stake President is always there as well so I get nervous for these appointments. But the family is progressing and they go to church. I really like them. 

In other exciting news we get to go to the Temple on Wednesday - yay so excited! We can only go twice a year. So, it’s been six months since I was there last. Happy Birthday to the lovely MEISHionary! I sure miss her. 

Until next week, 

Meg 


Sister T - Sick in Bed


Monday, September 16, 2013

Man At The Market


We Pass This Guy Every Day

This letter is going to be short. I wrote President a nice long letter and then when I was getting ready to send it - the computer shut off on me. I had to rewrite it. Other than that - it was a good week! 

 
We are teaching a man who has been smoking for the past 64 years and he has smoked a little more than half a pack a day. He has now almost quit smoking completely. I read from Spencer and Meish's blogs that they gave their investigators gum. We tried doing the same thing and he loves it and says it helps so much. He says his life has improved in every aspect since we've been meeting with him. I'll have to send a picture of him. He's wonderful. 
 

I taught my first lesson in English this week! Last p-day we were at the supermarket and a man came up to me and said, "You are a Latter-Day Saint, right?” His dad said "They are Mormons." This man told his dad, "no, they don’t like to be called that!" The father apologized and we laughed and said it was ok and invited him to church. And he actually did come to church. He grew up in New York and went to school in Canada but his parents are Dominicans. It was so different teaching in English. I phrased some things really strangely but I loved being able to expresses myself a little more. He is very intelligent and analytical and loved our doctrine. We'll see what happens. 

 
We're still waiting for autumn to kick in and for the temperature to dip a little. But all is well! I loved reading Adelide's letter from last week. There really are moments that are so discouraging and exhausting. But we grow and there are moments that are so awesome and make it all ok. Thank you Chari for the treats! I am so excited to hear about Will's experience. Have a good week in SLC.

 

Peace, 

Meg 

Monday, September 9, 2013

D's Baptism




Para siempre juntas con la Hermana Thomas en La Romana. So Hermana Thomas and I are still companions and still in Benjamin. Since first meeting her in the airport in Miami, I have seen Hermana Thomas's beautiful face every day. By the end of this transfer it will be almost half of our missions living together or being together as companions. I was positive that we would be transferred this round – not to be. All the other missionaries think it's so funny that we are still together. I got a call from President on Saturday to say that Hermana Thomas and I are the Sister Training Leaders for the La Romana area. 

Saturday we had a baptism service for D. I have written about him before. He has had previous encounters with the church. His sister doesn’t have a leg but a wheelchair was donated and on the back it has La Iglesia De Jesucristo De Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias. I assume it was donated by the church. He loves to read and write and will often write us notes that are difficult to decipher. We studied one of the notes carefully and noticed that he referred to us as Mormona Thomas Obama and Mormona Christina Clinton. He was baptized on Saturday. The font didn’t fill up very well; there was about a 1.5 feet of water. So it took three solid attempts until he was baptized, but he was a good sport about it and laughed as everyone tried to give him advice on how to bend his knees. But it was such a wonderful baptismal service. However, his baptism was a little bitter sweet. When we passed by his house the next morning to walk to church together, it was apparent he had a few more things to work on - so he wasn’t confirmed in church but we are going to work with him and help him. 


 

I told Hermana Thomas that my dad went to a Bronco's game and before she let me finish she said, "Was it on Thursday? It had to be on Thursday because the Redskins play tonight and The Giants played Sunday. Did he see Peyton?" I was shocked she was all up to date with the current NFL schedule thousands of miles away. She always keeps me updated on the latest happenings with sneakers, cars, and sports. She is the best.

The church released a new manual to help missionaries adjust to mission life. Hermana Thomas and I were laughing reading through it because it really is spot on with the challenges you face in the mission field. The mission is so unique and so completely different than any other experience. But it is so terrific. And this new manual is really awesome.

Hannah's engagement pictures look gorgeous! So happy for her! And Will is going to be SO wonderful in Chile!! Go Will!!!

Con mucho amor, 

Meg




Monday, September 2, 2013

Capital of New York

 



Buenas! 

We had stake conference this past week. It was SO fun to see all the Villa Verde members. The conference was top notch and the congregation was huge. I looked back at all the members and just wondered how many missionaries it took over the past few decades to fill all those seats. The church is relatively new here; about forty years now. Most of the members are first or second generation members. It will just continue to grow. It’s true that sometimes you don’t see the fruits of your labor but the fruits come.

We have now hit the rainy season. But, the weather definitely has not started to cool down yet and it’s more humid and raining quite a bit. The vegetables here are pretty cheap so i've started making lots of soup. It’s been fun to experiment. 



There are about one million Dominicans that live in New York. Hermana Thomas and I always laugh because Dominicans consider The United States and New York to be the same thing. We often get asked, "when are you going back to New York, What part of New York are you from? Do you miss New York?" This week a man asked where we are from and when Hermana Thomas said Washington D.C he said, "Wow the capital of New York".

We haven't had water for the past few days so we are starting to smell. But life is good!

I am so happy for Hillary and her engagment... but someone please sabatoge this wedding and get her to postpone it until next summer.

Happy 25 years of marriage mami y papi!!! Love your emails and pictures. 

CuĂ­dense!!!! 

Meg