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
Sunday, November 28, 2010
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
Here are the instructions my dad sent me on how to write Chris a letter. It gets kind of confusing, so if you have questions then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll ask him. :)
First....the best way to write him is still his email address. email@example.com
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.
Anyway, last night was the last devotional here in Provo, and man am I glad I was there for it. It was Richard G. Scott. He gave us, bullet point by bullet point, the most important lessons he's learned in this life. I am so grateful for his words. He gave all who was there, with the power of an apostle of the Lord, the gift of tongues. Not that we would instantly know the language, but that when diligently worked for the ability to speak the language would become easier.
I'm a little worried about the MTC in the Dominican. It's not that I am scared of a new country, but I'm just really scared... of a new country. Especially one with a Cholera outbreak. Honestly though, I trust that I'll be ok. The church is really good about pulling elders out of an unsafe area.
Spanish is coming little by little, line upon line as they say. I would say I'm about normal right now in my ability to understand and communicate. I am always humbled when I try and listen to conference talks en espanol. It makes my head hurt trying to keep up.
I'm gonna address momma now. I am NOT, and I repeat NOT homesick. I don't want her to think that based on the fact maybe in her mind I haven't gotten enough letters. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE getting letters, but that's not what's going to get me through the mission, nor through life. I need to trust in the Lord. That's all. Thanks for your concern though momma.
When I read about Oklahoma losing and Cholera in Haiti in the same letter I thought you were honestly trying to talk me into coming home.... ok not really, but two bombs in one letter. Not ok. Try and evenly space the good news and bad news next time. haha you're killing me dad.
Well, the MTC here in Provo was a good experience, but I'm ready to move on. I am ready to go to the dominican and soak up the rays... and humidity... and mosquitos.
No, honestly though I am so excited to be in a different place. It kinda sucks to be a block away from where you went to school, from where all your friends are, and not ever be able to see them.
BTW, I AM flying through dallas tomorrow. But, I don't want you to trouble yourself with coming to see me because I get to call you! Isn't that awesome? expect a call sometime tomorrow from yours truly.
also, tell rachelle and cameron I'm going to Email them when I get to the field, but right now in the MTC it's too hard to Email with the limited time. Tell Cameron to send me hard letters. They are always appreciated. And emphasize detail, I wanna know what's going on!
I can't wait to be out in the field. Not that I don't like this place. Actually, quite the contrary. I am way too comfortable here. I want my mission to be hard. The harder my mission is the more I grow. I am so glad I'm going to a third world country where the electricity is undependable and there is a disease outbreak. Ok, that sounds weird when I type it out but honestly, the more difficult the mission the better. I love it. Bring it on.
Last night I got my first taste of dominican hardships. The light in our bedroom here at the MTC blew up and was letting out some toxic gases. My companion and took our mattresses and slept in the hallway. It was... well actually not so bad. But I felt like I was already out in the field in a weird way.
Ok, 12 minutes to say everything I have to say. I love all of you. Seriously, your letters are exactly what I need in the day. Their words always seem to be exactly what I need to hear (except the OU loss). Being totally isolated from friends and family is the best way to find out just what they mean to you. I have found out that you mean everything to me.
3 weeks down, half a transfer, and still I'm doing well. Pray for me. Always. I'll pray for you.
Till next week from another part of the world, not a second wasted.
A little while later...
oh, and BOOOOOOOOOOMERRRRRRRR!
(I still say it with pride)
And still later...
ok, bye bye.
And still later...
two more minutes, i don't want to waste it. I love all of those who are thinking of me. Pray for my safety as I travel. ok, seriously, now, I'll talk to you guys tomorrow so it's not super important I say this but...
Thank you. You raised a good man. with patience, he's actually turned out pretty decent. :)