Friday, December 31, 2010
Dear Brother and Sister Sweeney,
Just a note to let you know that your son arrived safely in the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission. We are pleased to have him with us. His trainer is Elder Cade Walker from Deweyville, Utah. He is an excellent missionary and will take good care of your son.
We appreciate so much the enthusiasm and desire your son has to serve his fellow man. Likely never again will he have the opportunity to serve with the vitality and energy of youth, donating 100% of his time to the Lord. We ask you to help him cherish his mission – to work hard, to fight discouragement, and to love his companion and the people he is serving.
Please do not worry about him. He is in the Lord's hands, but he will need your encouragement and support for he will experience many trials that will strengthen and profit him eternally. Weekly letters are very important in maintaining a missionary’s enthusiasm. We would request that your letters to him be uplifting, spiritually edifying, and mission-centered. Please keep him free of unnecessary worry about home and family. Details of every little problem or challenge at home are an unneeded burden for a missionary trying to devote himself fully to his Lord and Savior.
We know that you can help him give himself fully to the work through your inspiring letters and words of encouragement. We will do everything we can to help ensure that your son serves a successful mission. We thank you for having the faith to entrust him to us and, more especially, to the Lord. May the Lord bless you.
Miguel A. Lee
Ok it's been a crazy week. First to answer your questions. First of all, about the power... or lack thereof. It's not a matter of when you don't have power here as much as when you actually do. I would say about 80% of the time we don't have power. It's tricky but we get by.. We can't wash our clothes when we don't have power so we just do that when we can. Also, the fridge doesn't work when there isn't power. so.. idk we survive. being here in the DR has made me so patriotic. I love america and i appreciate it like I never have..
Ok so about the extra money, apparently it's there because i used some today. I had to because.. well christmas is a little expensive. we have something called angelitos in the ward which is a gift every week and then a big gift the last week, and I got a 1000 peso bible (about 30 dollars equivalent) so that took it out of me. Anyway all is good with the account.
I am eating well, every day i eat at a comedor which is rice, beans and chicken for 50 pesos. It's a sweet deal. then at night we eat at enriche's picalonga, which is a street restaurant kind of thing. It's 50 pesos too. Enrique is a member so we trust his food. His cooking is SOOO good, fried plantain, weird meat, you know the drill I've told you. For breakfast it's just whatever we have around the house, peanut butter and bread and recently cereal and crappy dominican milk called listamilk. It's got a shelf life of like 80 years and it tastes like it.. but it's worth it because cereal reminds me of america. aaaaahhhh america.
Anyway i'll give you a little weekly update now. last saturday I had my first baptism. I was a little surprised when my companion called me (we were on an exchange with the district leader) and said one of our baptismal candidates chose me to baptize him. His name is Carlos Manuel Leocadeo Fernandez. He is an amazing kid. He has a heart condition that he has to take medicine for. He's just... different than the kids his age. Here we say "tranquilo" and i think the right english word would be pensive, or quiet or.. idk. really in tune with the spirit. He's a great young man. After his baptism I felt so good. I felt like I had been baptized.
But yeah, so i had a baptism on my first transfer, which is pretty uncommon so i consider myself really lucky. don't worry, i'll send pics..
let's see.. oh the next day. Ok so one of the sweetest days in my life (saturday) was followed by one of the most bitter (sunday).. I woke up at about 4 in the morning and felt awful and threw up. Then every hour on the hour or so i threw up again and again.. i also had diarrheah and a fever. So i tried to eat some cereal so I wouldn't dry heave anymore.. bad idea. That cereal is now repulsive to me. But i went to church anyway, and after I threw up there I got sent home by the bishop.. so I got a blessing from my comp and drank gatorade and slept the whole afternoon. Good therapy. I was aching in my whole body when I slept all day but when I woke up the next day I felt normal. I say I felt normal.. After your sick and you feel normal again normal feels about 10000000 times better than normal.
So that's basically been my week thus far. Im in santiago right now for p-day. it's kind of a special p-day.. this barely ever happens. We took a giant mission group picture, then we went to pricemart.. We got a pizza. haha a pizza. yup. between just me and my comp. it was a good choice. Now i'm gonna go sweat off what i just ate. ha it's hot here... really hot.
spanish is coming along.. I was a little discouraged until today when I was having a pretty decent conversation with my dominican friends i met in the MTC. I couldn't speak that well to them but I understood them really well. I still have my struggles but it's better.
I love the work still. Love it. I love the dominican, I just love american better. Of course I do, it's home. But what motivates me is experiences I have every day with investigators. The work is soooo good in fantino. The new chapel is beautiful. Don't worry about me, everything is fine.
Alright, till next week, not a second wasted in the DR. I love you all. especially you mom and dad.
elder c rufus sweeney
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
GUESS WHAT DAD!?? I was walking in from gym yesterday when I saw a kid
with a jew fro, 5 oclock shadow and a friend he was talking to,
thought to myself "that looks a lot like the kid I've been best
friends with for 17 years," and then realized shortly after that it
was exactly that. Yup, cameron is staying in literally the same
building as us. The MTC is also a hospitality center for those that
are visiting the temple since it's the temple for the entire
carribean. So I got to talk to him for a few minutes. Today during gym
he's going to play basketball with us, but I think what it's going to
turn into is a nice hour conversation and a good opportunity to relay
hugs to people I care about. That was infinitely better than a letter.
It turns out he isn't going to go through the temple while he's here
because he doesn't have his mission call, but the fact that I get to
see him is pretty mind blowing, in a
not-at-all-distracting-from-the-work kind of way. ;)
But yeah, so I'm still kind of in shock over that. I was suddenly, for
a few seconds, back at home just Rufus again. But then I remembered I
was on a mission. You could say it was a little bit of a let down
right at first, and you'd be right, but then again I'm on a mission.
How awesome is that? That was rhetorical, of coures it's awesome. The
only thing that could make it better right now is if I was in the
field. Yup. But I'm not, and I am trying to take advantage of every
day here, and I am learning espanol, but it's really hard to focus at
times. I'm getting antsy, as would anyone trapped in this place for 5
weeks. I'm glad you get to hang out with the family today. Oh, that
HAPPY DIA DE ACCION DE GRACIAS
they are having a turkey dinner for us tonight. My MTC mission pres is
so awesome. He and his wife have our backs, even when we have diarrea.
As far as Spanish goes, I am learning to put more complex sentences
together. I am slowly forgetting my english grammar, which is ideal.
Words is hard. Spanish are hard. But I'm trying to focus on the
language a lot these last few weeks because that's what I'm going to
discouraged with in the field right at first.
Again, I am taking it one day at a time. There isn't really a day that
feels any different that any others, even though in America today
would feel like a GOOD day. Since it's thanksgiving, i'm going to give
a list of things I'm grateful for:
I'm grateful for my family. I'm convinced their prayers and support
get me through the week
I'm grateful for my mission call. It's really hard sometimes, but it's
only as hard as I make it. It's actually a really joyful and rewarding
I'm grateful for the Gospel. I can never deny it, I know it's true.
I'm grateful for air conditioning.
I'm grateful for a patient companion.
I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father.
I'm grateful for letters
I'm grateful for surprise visits
I'm grateful for my life
I could go on and on. I want to tell a story though. For the first
time at the university this monday we made a contact that I believe is
sincerely interested. He was, it looked like to me, in his mid 40's.
He was sitting on a park bench and staring at us when we walked by,
which we took as an opportunity to start conversation. We told him why
we were there, who we were, asked him a few questions and he asked us
a few of his own. One of them was why we had another book other than
the bible, or a substitute. We told him it went hand in hand with the
bible, it's another testament of Jesus christ, not a substitute, and
that together with the bible it was the fulness of the gospel. He also
asked, since he lived so close to the temple, why he couldn't visit.
The question seemed sincere, so I told him it was a very sacred
building, and that we invite all to go inside, but that there were
pasos, or steps, which he had to take to prepare himself to enter. He
took us very seriously and when we walked by him again we noticed that
he was almost all the way through the pamphlet and had a look of
sincere desire to know more on his face.
I KNOW there are people in my mission who are the same as him, looking
for answers to sincere questions. I've been called here for just that
purpose. I have to answer those questions of the soul. I hope and pray
that that man's heart will be opened and receive our message.
I love you all. Give all the nieces and nephews a hug for me, and of
course the bro's and sisters too. And the uncles and aunts. OH AND
grandmas and grampas.
Till next week, not a second wasted in the dominican
Elder C. Rufus Sweeney
Hey dad. First off, I have gotten every single letter from Dear elder
that you've sent, so keep that up. It's the only mail i've gotten..
It's actually really depressing. But this week has been really really
good. We got to go to the supermarket, it was kind of like a mixture
of a mall and a super target. The first floor was a giant grocery
store and the second was clothes and sporting goods. It was actually
really nice. Like you said on google earth, we are in the nicer part
of town, which is not to say we are in a nice part of town by any
means. Even this part of town is a little sketchy, like the other day
we got heckled in broken English by some racists outside a restaurant.
The little english they spoke was cuss words and money, and it was
enough. That was interesting.
But, as far as the food, I'm not quite sick of it...yet. For dinner
they give us "american food" which is dominican food in a costume.
Their definition of American food is pretty different, like they feed
us pork chops with sauteed onion, and pasta with a tomato-ish sauce.
It's not mom's cooking for sure. If you could send me some good
recipes for the field that would be great.
Anyway, about my district. I lost one of my companion to district 3 so
now I only have one companion, Elder Zelasko, the one that reminds me
of Nathan Keesling. He's really cool, so I've gotten lucky on 2/2 of
my companions. As a district we have tried to go on english fasts, but
they usually end in failure. The concept is good but the practice is
dang near impossible. But it helps.
Oh, and to answer your question, we are on east coast time. I'll get
you a number as soon as I can and give you the details and everything.
Try and hold it together momma and I will definitely be able to.
We lost the Haitians Tuesday and the Latins arrived today. I still
haven't met them because they arrived as we were in the temple. I am
excited to practice my spanish.. or my dominican rather. It's not the
same thing, as I've learned. But hopefully I can master 2 or three
different languages here, Spanish, Dominican and a little French if I
go near Haiti.
So, now that i've caught you up on just about everything, I will
FINALLY tell you about my schedule.
go to breakfast
go to class
go to lunch
go to class
go to gym
go to dinner
go to class
plan for the next day when you do the same thing
maybe that schedule sounded bitter, and maybe I am bitter and craving
variety, but it's so small here. My class is ten steps away from my
room, the lunch room is downstairs from class, gym is right outside,
and the only thing we do outside of here is the university, which I am
SOOOOO grateful for.
que mas.. que mas... Not too much else here. I wish I could tell you
about some cool investigator or something but alas, I'm still in the
MTC. And will be... for 3 more weeks. I love you so much momma and
dad. I can't wait to talk to you on the phone, have some good
questions for me because I'll probably be confused as all get out.
I'll still be in the "holy crap I'm hearing nothing but Dominican
Spanish" mode and I'll have to switch back into English.
Tell the family I love them and I can't wait to talk to them too if
they're at the house when I call. I'll be praying for you, and I
expect the same for me. Keep sending letters, those are so
appreciated. And so is junk food, because the closest thing we have to
that is cocoa pebbles (yeah we get those for breakfast, jealous
Again, I love you. Give the neices and nephews hugs for me and show
them my picture so they remember.
Till next week, not a second wasted in the Dominican
Elder C. Rufus Sweeney
Sunday, November 14, 2010
LEMME KNOW! I want to know if republicans take control of the senate.
(not that they're any better than the democrats, but you know.. it's a
step up right now). I'm sorry to hear about your taxes this year.
Obama is just ripping everybody above a certain, and that line is
getting less and less every year, so a tax break would be really nice.
Well, here in the Dominican it's still super balmy. Like.. well I'd
say oppressive but that doesn't quite do it justice. The weird thing
is, I actually really love it. There's a reason I was called here.
I got to go to the university again Monday, this time not to teach an
English class. The people here are SO willing to just talk to anyone,
they love friends, especially american friends, so to share a message
with them is really easy. But, to get them to accept your
message--that's an entirely different matter. I did contact a guy
named Mitchell, who was really nice (as the rest of the people are)
but had a couple mormon friends so didn't think we were too peculiar.
So, as we talked to him in super broken spanish and tried to
understand is ridiculous Dominican accent, we taught him about the
Book of Mormon. And he actually wants to meet with us again next
Monday. His only hang up was cafe, of coffee. So this entire week I've
been planning on how to teach him about the Word of Wisdom. I just
thought I'd tell you that because I have a continuing investigator in
the MTC.. I'm lucky. But it's really nice because, unlike in the
field, I am planning an entire week for this one person. I didn't
realize just how much time and thought went into each investigator,
but it makes sense because it's the only reason we're out here,
invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo, invite others to come unto
Spanish is definitely harder than what I thought it would be. It's
like learning any language, only luckily a lot like english in some
ways. But in other ways its SOOOO different. Anyway, I'm still
plugging away, learning more every day, and understanding and speaking
better every day. I think by 5 months it would be realistic to have it
down, but it'll be rough till then.
I don't even know if I told you in my last later, but I'm DL. It's not
that much different than being a regular missionary in the MTC, just
more meetings. But I can see how it's blessed my ability to learn the
language. I can hold a conversation for at least a little while, it
falls apart pretty quickly when I have to use subjunctive (which we
don't have in english). I honestly think I'm going to love spanish
though, it's so smooth, como chocolate y caramelo. (if matt or mike
reads these they'd make fun of me not using accent marks, but I don't
know how to use them on the computer...)
Anyway, not too much is different here other than that. Your letter
was super encouraging. I love getting letters from you and momma. I
love you two, and the family, just because I know despite the fact
that they don't email or write : / .... they still love me. :)
So I'm already more than a month out. It's hard to believe, but
there's only 23 more of those left, and I'm not even in the field yet.
I'm almost ready (and I should hope so, it's only 3 or so weeks away).
I can't wait for a change in diet. Rice, beans, and meat (of some
kind) is getting... well frankly really tiring. It's kind of a joke
around here because I always get the weird stuff in my food, like last
week I had a hair in my papaya, and the other day I had what looked
like a toe nail IN my chicken breast. I just don't ask questions
So this week was a great success. I'm going to keep plugging away,
letting you know how the spanish is going, and I will be expecting
some great letters like you've been sending. Thanks again. :)
I love you mom and dad. Since I've been away I've realized that,
despite the fact that you've done so stinking much for me, I still
took you for granted. I can't wait till I get to call you, all
discouraged because I can't speak the language and so happy to be
Till next week,
Elder C. Rufus Sweeney
Saturday, November 6, 2010
YES! that's awesome. I'm so glad to hear that. Good ole Glenn Beck's
influence I think, well that and common sense. I'm in a different
country now you'll have to tell me how the economy is there.
SO much to say. wow. Ok i'll tell you more about my arrival. I came
into the airport at about 9:00 last thursday (which feels like an
eternity ago now) and there were like 600 people held off by a
guardrail right outside security. It was then when I realized... I am
NOT in Kansas anymore. It was a madhouse, and I could pick out in the
middle of the sloppy spanish "missioneros" and "Mormonis". It just
made me smile. I love it here. It's really different, and the MTC is
really small, but the temple is RIGHT THERE and it's beautiful. I need
to take advantage of my time at the temple because we don't get to go
there once I'm on the mission. Santo Domingo east and west do
though... Oh well. I'm happy to make the adjustment to foreign food
ok. Every day, EVERY DAY we have the same thing for lunch. They call
it la bandera, or the flag, because it's the staple here. It consists
of arroz (rice), habicheulas (local term for beans) and some sort of
carne (meat). It's really delicious (fortunately, if it wasn't I
All the teachers here in the Dominican are native, so they know how
people think here. I'm glad, because they explain cultural things
here, and some things are NOT ok. For instance, "calla se la boca"
(close your mouth) is usually ok, but here thems is fightin' words.
It's nice to know what NOT to say. But they also tell us what to say
to be able to share the gospel.
I have new companions, Elder Zelasko and Elder Lowe. They're really
cool, especially zelasko who reminds me of Nathan Keesling, so you
know he's cool.
I am getting way more comfortable with Spanish some days, then others
it feels like I'm trying to talk with rocks in my mouth. It's
frustrating because I know the words it just takes me SO LONG to say
them. But, I understand my teachers when they speak about 3/4 speed
completely. It's when they start talking... well Dominican that I get
lost. I asked my teacher why I couldn't understand her all of the
sudden when another teacher walked in and they were talking, and she
said "because that was slang". Sounds like that's what I'm gonna be
learning here. A TON of slang. So I'll know 2 forms of Spanish, formal
missionary spanish and Dominican Spanish.
Also, Monday we had the opportunity to go to the University to make
contacts. Right before we left the teacher that was our guide told us
about an alternate plan, instead of making contacts with random
strangers we would be talking to people from an English class. My
companions and I were assigned to Juan and Jessica, who spoke super
broken english that was slightly better than my spanish. So, it was
fun trying to communicate for sure. But he was so nice, had a wife and
a kid, and wanted to meet with me again. Next time I'll let him know
exactly why I'm here. Awwwww yeeeeah converted. :) broma (joke)
I think each week I'm going to try and speak a little spanish near the
end of my letters to see how my espanol is progressing.
Entonces, yo se que El Senor ha bendecido my vida con muchas cosas,
includamente me familia, mis companeros, mi mision, etc. Todas las
cosas son diferente en La Republica Dominicana, pero con la ayuda del
Senor puedo aprender el Evangelio y la idioma, y puedo compartir el
mensaje de Jesucristo con esta pais.
Hasta la proxima semana,
I love you guys so much, momma and dad. I can't wait to talk to you
again at christmas in slightly better spirits than in the airport.
Tell the family I love them, and rachelle I love her,and cameron too,
and let them know I think of them often.
Monday, November 1, 2010
First....the best way to write him is still his email address. firstname.lastname@example.org
Other options....for next 6 weeks (until about December 10,...he will
be at the Dominican Republic MTC next to the temple at Santo Domingo.
Best way to send actual mail is to use the pouch system. Every week a
courier takes letters from Salt Lake City to the Dominican. There is
one huge catch: You can ONLY send postcards or letters that are
folded up and taped shut. NO ENVELOPES! That is not a missprint. No
envelopes. You have to fold your letter and tape it shut. Leave a
blank panel for the address. Because pouch mail goes to his mission
and not necessarily to the MTC....best advice is to use dearelder.com.
They deliver to pouch and it will get to Chris.
Select pouch on home page then select Dominican MTC from drop down
menu. Pouch mail is sent every Monday and deadline is noon Monday.
Actual mailing address for Dominican MTC is Dominican Republic MTC, Av
Bolivar #825, Los Robles, Dominican Republic.
Once he gets to his actual mission on December 10th, best way to send
letters is to use one of the following addresses:
Elder Christopher Rufus Sweeney
Dominican Republic Santiago Mission
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT. 84130
Elder Christopher Rufus Sweeney
PO Box 025725
Miami, FL. 33102
If you use the Miami address, you CAN send photos but no money,
For packages, for now, use called2serve.com. Later, after December
10th, send packages to:
Elder Christopher Rufus Sweeney
2250 NW 114th Ave, Unit 1A
Miami, FL. 33172
Another good option for packages after Dec 10th is mail direct to
mission home which is:
Elder Christopher Rufus Sweeney
Plaza Alejo 2-B
Av. Estrella Sadhala'
Santiago, Dominican Republic
That last number is a phone number fir the mission office. Believe it
or not, the Dominican post office does not deliver to offices or
homes. They call the mission office to come and pick up the mail from
them. So phone number is essential.
Packages cost Chris $3.90 per pound is you send through Miami address.
It takes 2 weeks. It is less expensive to Chris if you send direct to
mission address (though somewhat less reliable). Use DHL, Fed Ex, or
US postal service global priority mail for direct package shipments.
Packages sent via USPS are taxed $2.85 for up to 11 pounds. If it's
above 22 pounds, tax jumps to $14.25 and tax is deducted from Chris
monthly allotment so not the best idea.
A little while later...
And still later...
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Good news dad! I am staying in the district. I figured out that last
wednesday and I figured you wanted to know since you mentioned like 3
times you were sad I was leaving the district. They gave me a choice
since I'm leaving in a week anyway, but I'm so glad I got to spend the
extra 2 weeks with hermana Perez. She's really special dad. She's
gonna bring a lot of people to the church. Oh, and MOMMA. I don't
forget about you.
Speaking of momma thanks so much for your care package, and grandma
scott and Rachelle. I've got so much food it's ridiculous, and it's
all junk food. BUT, PLEASE send me more when I'm in the Dominican.
That's when I'm really gonna need it. Thanks :)
Two weeks has sort of flown by. Like everyone says, the days are long
but the weeks are short.
I still get really tired during the day but I find that if I can focus
my studying I can stay awake pretty well. Even then, I want a nap. SO,
i'm being smart about this P-day and reserving an hour and a half for
sleep. It's MUCH needed.
Also, yesterday at the devotional Elder Russel M. Nelson spoke. He was
just as honest and sincere as I remember him at stake conference, and
he's like a proud father to all the Elders. You can really feel his
love when he's speaking. Especially since I shook his hand.
I miss talking to you every day. Not that I did at byu, but now it's
off limits. I figured something out about myself and about people in
general: if it's off limits, they want it more. So, I'm trying to
focus on WORKING instead of focusing on what i CAN'T have. If I keep
worrying about what I can't have I'll be distracted for the entire
mission. No bueno.
Ok, now from the depressing to the uplifting part of the letter. The
mission really is incredible. I am growing so much in the MTC, which
seems weird since I do the same thing every day. My teachers, hermano
Nava and Orgill are becoming really good friends. They teach a really
good balance of gospel and spanish. It's good because I think my main
focus coming into the mission was learning spanish, but now I have
more of a balance. The gospel and spanish are sharing center stage
while my life back home is waiting in the wings. At the end of the
mission, I'll just tell the gospel to stay where it is and tell life
to enter stage left.
And, since you wanted to know, I DID get the lotion and net. I need a
pillow though, they don't sell those here. And a fan. Sorry for making
you get all those things but the MTC isn't exactly wal-mart..
I am a little nervous about the Dominican MTC. I think it's gonna be
rough, based on what that kid's letters say. But he sounds like a
complainer. I'm excited, going to the MTC in the Dominican is another
step closer to the mission field. Plus, being in the country where no
one speaks anything but Spanish (albeit sloppy and gangsta spanish) is
going to help me learn so much faster.
So, analysis of the week. My companion and I are really close. We
finish each other's sentences, which freaks me out but it's sort of
impressive. I think that's what you want to achieve as a
companionship. We are decent teacher already. It's easy to teach
simply when you can't make complex sentences though. haha
My zone is also really awesome. We got a new district last week and
they're just starting to come out of their shell like I did last week.
It's cool to see.
Also, OU IS #1? WHOOOOOA. I swear if they lose to O state. I will....
so help me.... well i'll preach the gospel. You have to DVR the game
for me if they make it to the championship so I can watch it when I
get back. I hate that I'm missing it but..... There's more important
things to be done.
Well, the Dominican calls. And last week in the devotional the
speaker, brother Edgely, made the point that we as missionaries have
been charged with the respective area we were called to. More
importantly, we have been charged with the people. I took that to
heart. As the baby of the family, I wasn't in charge very often, but I
know how it works. You take care of whatever you are put in charge of
as someone who owns it would. I have been charged with teaching the
people in the Dominican. So, when I put my name tag that says ELDER
SWEENEY-- la iglesia de JESUCRISTO de los santos de los ultimos dias,
I feel the gravity of being in charge of the people's salvation.
That's why I don't waste me time here. I get 2 years, which, as EVERY
SINGLE MISSIONARY will tell you is not very long. I won't waste the
That's my discourse for the week. I have about 5 minutes left. I'll
fill it with my testimony. I know that this gospel, this church, this
work is of God. If anyone want to know for themselves, they can ask
their heavenly father if it's true, and he will answer their prayers.
The Book of Mormon is the word of God. We have a prophet on the earth
today by the name of Thomas S. Monson.
I am so happy to have the opportunity to serve.
two weeks in, not a second wasted. I love you all back home and
elsewhere. Keep praying for me, keep me in your thoughts. Keep sending
Elder C. Rufus Sweeney
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Written for the Ada Evening News by Summer Day Hannah
Chris Sweeney, a 19 year old graduate of Ada High School and son of Attorney Kurt Brian Sweeney and Lori Jo Sweeney, R.N., has received a two-year mission call to the Dominican Republic, Santiago Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I don’t speak Spanish yet, but I am going to the Provo Utah Missionary Training Center (MTC) for 3 weeks, then to the Dominican Republic MTC for another 6 weeks. There I’ll have a crash course in Spanish and learn more about how to effectively teach the gospel. But it’s by working hard at my actual mission location that I’ll become fluent in the right dialect. The first few months are going to be a challenge, but I feel like once I’ve adjusted to the language and culture, I can comfortably preach.”
Sweeney attended college at Brigham Young University for the past year and eventually plans to go to medical school. Of his 4 siblings, 2 brothers have already served in Spanish speaking missions. His family, people from Ada and friends at college have all been an inspiration in Sweeney’s desire to serve a mission.
“Mike, my oldest brother served in Guadalajara, Mexico, and my older brother Matt served in Neuquén, Argentina. They had an influence on my going, but the truth is that I would never go on a mission unless I knew the gospel was true and the Lord wanted me to serve. I have a sincere desire to serve the Lord.”
“At school this past year, several young men that were my age got their calls to serve in missions throughout the world and their excitement was contagious. They were absolutely thrilled to be called to serve. I already knew that I wanted to serve the Lord with a mission, but now I see it as a necessity, a personal calling.”
“Another Ada resident recently served in the Chicago, Spanish speaking mission. He had come from a rough past. One day, a few years ago, his brother encouraged him to come to church. The difference in his spirituality between when he first attended church and a year later when he left on his mission was astounding. He suddenly had a desire to serve, he was smiling all the time, he was just so happy. That is something that I can emulate.”
Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ pay for their entire mission on their own, so Sweeney has done a lot to prepare for this journey. His preparation has been more than just financial. He says that there have been things throughout his entire life that have prepared him for this opportunity to serve.
“I played golf in junior high and at Ada High School. It was both the greatest and most frustrating part of my life to date. I would spend hours and hours on the golf course, only to never have won a tournament in high school. On the flip side, I got 11th at the state golf tournament my junior year. I have some very proud moments in golf, so to dwell on the more shameful moments would be foolish. That experience in high school had a huge influence on the man I am today. The hard work I put into improving my golf game was so worth the result. Similarly, I plan to work hard on my mission so that I can have the same success with the people I teach.”
“Spending some time with the missionaries in Ada was definitely a learning experience. What I pictured my mission being like and what actually happened when I went out with the missionaries were totally different. After getting a few doors slammed in our faces I realized it was not going to be success, success, success with an occasional failure, but the reverse. It would be failure the majority of the time. It’s something I’m glad I understand before leaving. I expect, based on my experience with the missionaries here, a lot of failure--to the point of frustration. But I also hope to have some success as well. Even with a tiny bit of success, all the work is worth it.”
Armed with his testimony, a picture of his family, a drawing from his 6 year old niece, and a sand dollar from California that his girlfriend gave him, Sweeney is ready to leave this week for the journey of his life.
“These few things are little reminders of home and just how much love and support I have from those around me. I know the benefits of my going are not just for the people I’ll be serving in the Dominican Republic for two years. In many ways, I will be the one who gains the most out of this experience.”
“Spiritually, I will come back a completely different person. I will learn more about people than I ever have in any life experience. Mentally, the two and a half hours I will spend a day in personal study will help me develop good study habits and self-discipline for when I continue on to medical school. Physically, I hope to put on a little weight with some Dominican style cookin’! “
“It is difficult. I am giving up my earthly belongings, my guitar, my phone, golf, my family, friends and a girlfriend. But the Lord always recognizes sacrifice and blesses those who give everything for His cause. I can’t wait to find those who are looking, honestly and sincerely looking, for something more. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. That, in the end, is the reason I am doing this.”
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I, Joy, will be posting on here and keeping his blog updated. There is a lot more for me to post, but it will have to wait until my husband gets home so he can help me figure out how to post it. Don't worry, I promise I will be a whiz at this stuff in a couple weeks! Enjoy!