Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happiness is.....my new companion

Ok now for the update. Ready? Good.

My new missionary´s name is Elder Johnson. He is from Ogden Utah and I already love him. He has tons of energy like me and we are absolutely going to explode here in Bonao. He looks a little like me, not as tall but wears glasses. He was adopted and has a younger adopted sister. I already love the kid.

And so, Elder Medina is GONE. Yes, he is not here anymore. He was transfered to Puerto Plata where he is companions with Elder Burr, another missionary from my group, and now becomes his burden. His purpose here in Bonao literally had nothing to do with the people. It was simply to find a house. Nothing more.

So, my kid got here today. Nothing too exciting yet. He´s just as wide eyed and confused as I remember being, but his accent is actually better than mine when I started. He will pick up the language really fast, I just know it.

He´s actually.. Well he´s a longhorns fan. Yes, UT. I told him.. We may be comps, but I don´t know if we can be friends. Ha he laughed and I realized.. Being with an American is super different. SOOO different. Even if he is new, and even if I do have to be the example, it´s gonna be more fun than I´ve had in a long time. He even PLAYS GOLF!! You bet we´re gonna do that for my one year mark.

Oh, and yeah.. Considering I´ve gotten a package from mark and melinda, you guys and have one coming from Melisa (girl I¨m writing), I will need some more personal money. Please and thanks so much. Seriously that´s a life saver.

I also have a couple needs.. I need a black belt, cheap one if you want but one that will last a year. The other one has seen better days. Also, an alarm clock. Also cheap, it´s just that the other one fell when I inadvertently attacked it in my sleep and conbusted into flames.. Ok not the flames part, but you get the idea.

Also, a calender. I wanna see my last year at least. :) It´s something motivating. Another one like that family one would be awesome. I loved that a lot. Like a whole lot.

And... What else. Oh maybe you´ve noticed but my tone has completely changed in my letters. I´m soooo happy right now. It´s that inexpressable joy that alma felt when he saw the sons of mosiah. I am so pumped for a great 2 transfers with my greenie. He´s gonna be a friend for life, I can already tell.

Also, a lot of people have been asking about my blog. It would be cool if joy would update it every once in a while. I think it´s still from like.. Fantino days.

Well, I am about to hit my hour. I love the mission. I really did appreciate having such a lazy comp, it taught me the value of work. It´s an alleviation to work. Especially for these two years when it´s just completely selfless service.

And so it is. Amen.

Till next week, not a second wasted,

(really this time)

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

P.S.

Oh, and in all this new missionary stuff I´ve sort of forgotten about time. Wow that year really is coming fast. Like.. Unbelievably fast. I´ll be home before I know it.

I just saw Elder Kuhn, that zone leader that I lived with that saved me last transfer, go home today. He´s going to BYU so we´ll be hanging out up there. You really do make friends for life in the mission.. It´s honestly hard to see them go.

Ok, now really, time for me to get off. Gotta set the example for the ole youngin. You two be safe. Start looking at places to stay when you guys come again, it´s pretty soon. :)

Elder Sweeney gets a "Kid" (new missionary to train)

hey mom and pops,

So I've got some news.. Friday I got a call from president. I hadn't talked to him about my comp because remember the process I was going to take, first talk to the comp--then to president if need be.

Well I did talk to my comp. And he's better, much better. Like I would say he made a... 30 degree turn? I'm not gonna say he's a perfectly obedient missionary, but we do leave on time and we are working, he's just continuing with the phone/ipod/movie thing between working. I don't know how he doesn't think that affects the spirit, but apparently he says it doesn't. But, it's been good.

Anyway, about the call. My comp is talking to someone else on the phone and notices that he has an incoming call from president. I was just sitting there, and my comp hands me the phone. "Elder Sweeney," says a voice from the other line, "usted va a entrenar, asi que, usted va a estar en la capilla de villa olga a las 9:00 el martes para una reunion." Translation.. I am going to be a trainer. I went to the reunion yesterday and it was amazing! Such great missionaries there, and great people in general. I loved it.

Let me give you a few thoughts. First, it was the answer to my prayers. I have been praying (and maybe this is a little selfish) to get a son in the mission. It's something that has always fascinated me, because it's the first impression and the most important companion in the mission. At least, it was for me. Remember I always wrote home about how my trainer was such an example for me of what a missionary should be. It's honestly a pleasure to be picked for it, and I've been preparing mentally and spiritually for this since I got the call. I have written out a ton of ideas of what to study and what to teach him.

I'm thinking he's going to be americans, but we're not sure. I saw the list of people coming in and there's only 1 dominican and 2 mexicans, the rest are americans (the majority from utah, unfortunately). I am so pumped. I didn't really sleep the night of the call but those were nerves. Now the nervousness has turned into excitement. What will he be like? How will his spanish be? Will he be humble? Prideful? loving? Just what exactly am I getting myself into? Do I realize how hard this will be and how much spanish I'm going to have to use? Am I good enough for this? I hope so..

One interesting the that president is doing now with trainers is letting them decide if they want to do it or not. he's making everyone who was called to train call him friday at night when we get back to the house to make sure we accept it. It's something untypical, but sort of a foreshadowing of how heavy this responsibility is. I've asked for advice from some trainers, my dad included, and they've all told me that patience is the key. I still don't completely understand it, but I suppose I will.

I am wanting to be super obedient to show my son my example, so it will only be one hour of internet for me. I may not write you guys a whole ton, or I may take the route of printing out all the letters so I don't have to use my internet time on reading.

And.. Well that's the big news. I feel really good. I will not kill Elder Medina, but I'm pretty sure that he's going back to zone leader. Here's the thing.. When he was up there, he DIDN'T do the things he does with me. He knew what he had to do and he was changed because of it. He wanted the rest of his mission to be cruise control, more than cruise control.. a vacation. But I hope he does go up again. It will help him not to die completely. We are getting along pretty well, but I've had to give and so has he, or.. In other words, he had to give something to be more obedient and I had to sort of ignore the movies and crap.. That president apparently knows he's doing anyway (according to my comp).

I'm glad to see my sooners are on a role!!! Keep me posted. I've always disliked the FSU fans but I have a bitter hatred for that one.

Melinda wrote me and apparently sent me a package too about a week ago. We'll see if that package gets here this saturday, but I'm doubting it. Probably the next right after. Don't worry, I'll share with my kid.

I love you two. Be good and safe, and I'll be hee praying for Matt's job situation to improve. I do worry about you guys even though I'm pretty far away.

One year to go. These next two transfers are going to fly by with a kid, then I'll be at a year and three, with only a pregnancy left. Almost there..

Till next week, not a second wasted,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Now...a second wasted

Well, I don't know if you remember but we have P-day santiago once every 6 weeks (6 weeks in a transfer, every month and a half more or less). Ours was yesterday. So yes, I am fine, other than a little diarreah and a loooooong day yesterday, I feel really good. I went to pricemart in the morning to develop photos, eat a chicken roll (a calzone like thing with chicken, cheese, and ham, plus they give you ranch which is amazing because it really doesn't exist here). Then in the afternoon we went to the office, then to use internet for a bit, then back to the ole grind today. We planned and studied this morning, and now I'm here, writing you finally.

We didn't get back from santiago till 7 ish last night. It was a lot of walking.. and just a long day in general. Definitely not used to walking as much, my comp doesn't like to do much of it. I loved it in La Yaguita to be honest.. Maybe that was because of my comps or.. Actually I'm sure it was because of my comps, they were both pretty awesome. And worked.. Hard. I sometimes sort of break down in my prayers because I feel so guilty for wasting time. I have brought it up with my comp, told him I want to work harder, but he just... well he watches movies. It started out with church movies and now he's watching "the fast and the furious" and ninja assassin. And he has an Ipod with all kinds of great music.. like Jay-z and raggaeton. I want to help him. Any advice?

Anyway, my schedule as a real missionary is wake up at 6:30, exercise and eat breakfast, study from 7:30 - 8:30 personally, then at 8:30 start comp study till 10:30, leave, go proselyte till 12:00, eat, rest, then at 2:30 leave again until 9:30. Those 7 hours are pretty intense.. I always have to take a break at about 6:30 to eat something for dinner.. But that's when I was working hard. Now. Well. My day is wake up at 6:30, eat, study, then at 7:30 I check on my comp to see if he's awake, he never is, then I go study again, then at 8:30 my comp wakes up, so we study a little, then we stay in till 12, then eat something. At about 3:30 - 4:30 we leave (if it's a good day), go teach a couple people, then park ourselves in a member's house until about 9. Then we go home. And repeat. Hence why I spend some time just... thinking about the other days in my mission when my work made a difference in people. I feel terrible actually telling you about it.

I have a little less than 2 weeks left in the transfer. Pray for me. Maybe I can help him. I'll be damned (literally) if I don't try. So there it is.. The schedule of ole Elder Sweeney.

I'll be honest, I'm not completely unhappy. But Elder Kuhn, an elder who lives with us, is the reason why. I can talk to him about anything and just sort of.. vent. It's great. But, we're moving out tomorrow so I won't have that anymore, so again, pray for me. Please and thank you.

We had a conference tuesday with Elder Vinas from the first quorum of the 70. He's a really realistic man. I liked him, he didn't allow any nonsense from the ridiculous elders' questions. One asked him something just.. absolutely ridiculous that he answered in a way that made us all laugh. That's the way our leaders should be. Realists. Not in any way strange but at the same time very strange, because they are some of the only men in the world that are completely devoted to the work of the Lord. They are ensigns. And, I guess in a way in my selected area I should be too.

Also, we did an exchange yesterday to go to Santiago. It was with Elder Shapiro, who isn't getting along very well with his comp either... Like as in his comp punched him. Not good. Anyway he's got kind of a reputation for being super obedient, like law of moses obedient, which was actually like a breath of fresh air yesterday. I laughed more with him than I have in a long time.

Let's see.. I wish I had some cool stories to tell you about a miracle conversion but it's kinda hard to get those when you're not working. Time is moving pretty fast I guess.. Not near as fast as when I'm working but farely fast. Almost at a year. Just have 3 weeks left. And then I just do it all over again.

I love you two. I am so ready to move on from this transfer, but your words help me so much. I liked the part about "looking the lawyer part", I feel like you called preston old but I don't know if he'd deny it. Ha I am happy for your law firm. I didn't realize you had those other two in there. That's classy. My dad is classy. :)

And momma. I'm sorry work kinda sucks right now. I know that it will get better. It's just a matter of adjusting. You can't expect yourself to be amazing at something in the first month.. I thought I would have the language down in 6, but I'm still learning every day just how little I know. Really you've just begun, and after this year it'll be smooth sailin. Look for that summer to come fast.. Cuz it will.

I will be seein ya in a short 12 months... wow where did the last 6 go? Holy cow..

Till next week, now a second wasted,

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

P.S. I saw that vicky cowger had sent me a message on facebook so I told her through facebook to send me an email. Just so you don't have a heart attack momma. Ha I'm really not a bad missionary.

Hanging on....

Well, it seems like things are turning over here. It's not that my comp is working super hard, but I feel like we're getting there. I'm having to be the example, which isn't hard nor does it involve contention. When I get dressed by three he feels the pressure of getting ready and we're out the door by 3:30. Also, we did an exchange the other day with the missionaries in Constanza, and that was a great break from spanish and my comp. I was with an elder from Beliz, a country in central america that actually speaks English. He's a very humble elder who goes home at the end of this transfer, so he actually offered me some insights that helped me a ton. Also, we contacted a lot and now have a pretty solid foundation of investigators.

Constanza was literally a breath of fresh air. It's one of the only cities in the DR in the mountains, so the weather is much cooler and in the winter there is ever FROST on the ground. So at mid-day there it was a very manageable 78 degrees and even cooler in the shade. We had our district meeting and I actually wasn't sweating! You know how I sweat. I don't know why God called me to one of the hottest places on earth, but it's gotta mean he has a sense of humor. But, tomorrow we are doing another exchange, but this time I am going to Constanza to kick butt again with Elder Gillett. This time in his area. I felt so good at the end of the day with him Monday.. Like I was justified as a missionary for the first time in 3 weeks.

I gotta tell you guys about that ride up to Constanza.. It was a little nuts. So, the 2 ways that one gets to Constanza is

1) by truck

2) by a van

we elected to go by truck on the way there.. Bad choice. Very bad choice. So it was almost full already, with 2 people in the front, and older woman and a young man, and an old man and a middle aged woman in the back. But, we tried to pack in anyway. It didn't work.. My comp is a big man. So, we were situated with me, the middle aged woman with her 2 year old in her lap on my left, my comp on my right and the older man on his right. But, apparently I was sitting on the little girl's leg, which I wasn't because I didn't feel anything and the little girl wasn't saying anything. So, I was literally standing up, and I told the woman if she wanted to fix the situation she could open her door, but she stubbornly refused, yelling and acting like an idiot. Then the driver started driving as if nothing was happening. Finally the older lady in front, who I noticed had a different accent, stepped in and made a great executive decision. She gave her front row seat to my comp and took the back seat. It worked great, but the lady next to me would to stop yelling. Then the older lady told her to shutup, and the middle aged woman threw a fit and told her she was gonna hit her when they got out, so she took of her shoe to use as a weapon when she got out. I was trying to calm her down, and she more or less did. Then I started to talk with the older woman who had solved the problem, and she told me she was from venezuela working for the government. I asked her what she was doing here, and she told me she couldn't tell me, and that she was dressed as a citizen but had a higher purpose. She was gonna rendevous in Constanza and catch a plane in Santiago that same day. We talked for a bit, meanwhile the little girl of the middle-aged woman was hitting me with her giant sucker that her idiot mom had given her in a truck full of people. I asked the Venezuelan woman if she understood English, assuming so if she was in international relations, and she said yes. I told her "I would like to jump out the window right now.." sarcastically of course but half meaning it. This little girl was the devil, calling me racist names and getting my white shirt dirty. Then, when we got out of the truck, I noticed the Venezuelan secret agent (?) had a gun on her. If the idiot lady had hit her has promised it would have been the biggest mistake of her life...

So that's more or less the story. Yeah that takes a lot less time to describe in real life.. ha sorry it was so long. But I thought it was so bizarre I wanted to share.

Anyway, more news about the trip to Constanza. In a little store at a stop on the way there they sell, if you can believe this, DOVE CHOCOLATE! isn't that nuts? It was completely unexpected but such a pleasant surprise. So now I guess you don't have to send me that.

Some more of those Dips granola bars would be really nice though. :)

I missed home today a lot. I don't know why but every once in a while I get really trunky. Maybe it's the realization that I only have like 13 more potlucks left? I don't know. It also really scares me. I don't have very much of these wonderful 2 years left. Just a little bit more than half. I know I say it a lot, but I honestly can't imagine life after now. It's surreal.

I have a few ideas of what I want to happen when you guys come get me. I'd like to play golf in Sosua, maybe that was a given before, but I'd like mom to come with us. I'd also like to take a quick tour of all the areas and show you some good views, including constanza, just because I fell in love with that town.

I love you two. This mission thing is flying by.

till next week, not a second wasted,

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Rufus wants a "kid"????

Yes.. That would be Bonao, they call it the city of God. If you can believe it, it's one of the cleaner areas I've been in. That's why I say.. It's the most beautiful place I've ever been in but the people ruin the natural beauty with garbage.. And lots of it.

But where we live looks a lot different from that. It's much cleaner. That's the market where we but fruit and veggies and stuff. It's gross looking but it's the best place in town. It's kinda neat that you got to see it and get a taste of what I live in. It's just normal to me now, I've gotten used to all the garbage and such.

So, big news. Today we had interviews with president. Mine went well, I just told him straight up I wanted my comp to be more motivated, and he acted really well! My comp wasn't offended at all. In fact, he came out of the interview really happy. But.. that's not the big news. So, my comp has this transfer and the next, and the missionaries train for 2 transfers now. He pretty much knows he's not gonna get a kid. Anyway, in his interview president told him that he wanted him to find a house really fast because there are 16 new missionaries coming. He came with us to go look at the house and we are moving into our new, beautiful apartment, just us two, in less than a week.

But, that's not the big news. Pres told him that he wanted that new house because there were 16 new missionaries. So, what does this mean? Think about it. He wants me to train this next transfer, and wanted my kid and I to be in our own 2 man house. It makes sense, so much sense that I am actually super happy. But, just in case, I'm not getting too excited. BUT I WOULD LOVE A KID! that was my goal in the mission.

I am kinda stoked. Not only about the prospect of the kid but this new apartment is way nice. I'm talking like.. american high scale nice, for a relatively low price. It was sort of priceless when president saw it.. My comp and I had like 4 houses lined up, and my comp asked, "wanna see the other houses," and president said, "nope, I've seen all I need to see. We're getting this one." he's so direct and quick with all his movements. It would drive me nuts if I was with him too much, but it's a great attribute for a mission president to have I suppose.

Well.. Let's see. I wrote ally. I feel terrible. I honestly don't remember when she wrote me but I'm sure I was distracted with rachelle in that time or something so I was just... Idk, not paying attention. My bad. But I hope at least that resolves it. I feel like it will.

Hmmmm.. Well we're teaching an awesome investigator right now. He's pretty catholic but actually perfectly in line with our doctrine. He's great. Honestly I think he'll be baptized within the next 3 weeks. Maybe that's optimistic.. but I feel good about it.

My spanish is getting good I suppose. OOOOHHHH!!! speaking of good spanish. So, my very first zone leader, Elder Noltenmeyer, GREAT missionary with perfect spanish, is now CAMERON'S TEACHER in the MTC! Yes, I talked to him quite a bit and he always wanted to speak spanish but I didn't know it that well. Anyway, he was also my comp's comp before. I sort of want to give hermano noltenmeyer a call, but that would be breaking the rules... right? I don't really know.. But it doesn't feel right so I'm not gonna do it. So cool though. I want to send secret messages to cameron and have noltenmeyer sneak him things from the outside world. haha

Cameron is hilarious. He always has the weirdest things happen to him. Him and I both, so when we get together it's a little like a circus.

But yeah, bonao is interesting as far as missionary work goes. It's really grown a lot recently so it reminds me a lot of Norman. It's pretty chaotic as far as traffic goes. but it has a great little bakery called miguelinas with a tres leches cake that will rock your world. I wanna take you guys there in your visit. Anyway, the people are SUPER catholic and by far the most direct of any people I have met in the mission. Like.. Well for instance when you make a contact people say no.. which is something that sort of took me back at first. I feel like this is argentina or europe or.. Idk the states but definitely not the DR. But it's good, my comp and I get are working smart and not contacting much, we're getting references. That's the key to not going crazy. The great investigator that we have was not a reference though.. strangely enough.

Also, there's a young man here named Israel that is sort of like a third missionary. He is always leaving with us. He's a champion and will be a fantastic missionary. Many times we'll have an investigator teetering but his testimony will leave them convinced of our church. He really is good to have around.

And YES! My package did come. And oh how fantastic it was. Let's see.. I would love more dove chocolate and granola bars. NOT any more of those beef jerky sticks.. those were kind of a bust. They taste a lot like throw up. But everything else in the box was amazing, especially rechargeable batteries for the camera and CD player.

More CD's would be good. There's one that I want that's sufjan stevens christmas EP.. i think that's what it's called. It's him singing hymns. It's really good stuff. that's really all I can think of. And of course that t-shirt from the family reunion.. Man I missed that this year. :/

It's gonna be september tomorrow. It's crazy that in a month I'll have a year. I can do anything for a year, but especially something I love doing anyway. I may have a kid too, so that'll be 2 quick transfers. I am looking forward to the prospect of it all. I'm entering the best part of my mission. I'm seasoned, practiced and comfortable. It's a good feeling. General Conference will be sweet too!

I'll be praying for cooler days for you all if you'll do the same for me. You do have AC. I really don't have the least bit of pity for you. Ok.. maybe a little.. but only because you're my parents.

I love you. The nanny and sister of the sister missionary, is supposed to send me a package. oh, and if you can prevent it, don't send the package to miami. That was a 1200 peso charge.. that's hard to recover from without personal funds. thanks. :)

Be safe, and for crying out loud, don't gash your head and hand open at the same time and pass out in the street and almost bleed to death. There's not that many good samaritans in Oklahoma.

Till next week, with a freshly motivated comp, not a second wasted,

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Trials and tribulations

This week has been a little tough. I can feel my comp getting more and more relaxed and the more love and care I try and show him the more relaxed he gets. I know, I need to be firm, but I hate contention in the companionship so much. And, president of the mission is so bad about confidential things... he always let's the other companion know, and my comp hates tattle tales.. It's ridiculous. I have thought and prayed a lot about what to do, and I've just decided to endure it. You should never have to endure a comp.. The mission is hard enough as it is. Comps should love and support one another but.. I guess I'm just not so lucky to get another Elder Fleurima. He was amazing. Seriously, I miss that guy. He called me the other day, and today elder Kimball called. I've got some great friends in the mission, and I'm gonna need them this transfer.

It's not that my comp is naturally a bad guy, he treats me fine actually. But he's not very obedient.. Like he has no problem with wasting time in a member's house watching a movie about tai kwan do... It's unfortunate, but I talked to him about it for the first time last night. It actually went well. I learned how to handle situations that I'm not comfortable with.. You just have to treat the comp with love and respect. I do love him, but he's just a little harder to love than some of my other comps. I wanna work, he wants to finish taking it easy, so we'll have to find a balance.

Anyway.. That's what we're looking at on my end right now. Thanks for the motivation. I needed to hear the reasons why president would throw me with a dying comp again..... I figure you're probably right. It's another test. A big one. Ha that's the mission.

As far as the area.. We arrived with 2 investigators. 2! I don't even know how that's possible. And in 5 transfers there hasn't been a baptism. President threw me another tough area. Ha I guess I'll have to do what I did in La Yaguita and change things. Elder Fuller, the elder that took my place there in La Yaguita, called me the other night and thanked me for leaving a good area. That was just more motivation to work like a maniac.

I have to admit, I am not obedient 100% of the time, but I do work hard. I do. So I will continue.

We met a man named Frank the other day in our tracting. He is amazing. I predict in 3 weeks he's gonna be ready for baptism.

I love the work. I love you two. I'll see you guys soon. about a year.. wow time flies. :)

Till next week, not a second wasted,

Starting Over

I LOOOOOOVE your letters, let me just say. that article by stephen colbert was absolutely hilarious! I forgot how funny english can be.

Welp.. Your report on transfers. I did not go up. I am junior comp to Elder Medina, a dominican who was zone leader just this last transfer with none other than my dad. Ha. But I feel good. I'm in Bonao, yes, the same zone in which I started the mission. I live with the zone leaders of the Bonao zone, which is awesome because Elder Kuhn, an american who was mail guy in the office for a while, may just save me.

But yeah, so we got white washed and we white washed an area. I am starting from scratch more or less. It's really intense.. This area is apparently pretty dead. I feel like there is a reason I'm here.. But Idk. I guess I was exhaggerating a bit when I said I was feeling good.. I'm not feeling great. First of all my luggage got lost on the way here, so that's gonna get to me friday. Meanwhile I have one set of clothes and my scriptures.. And that's it. So, that kinda sucks. BUT, my package DID come and I got to see it, but I knew I was being transfered so I am having them send it to me wednesday with my luggage.

So, even though I didn't move up my best friend in the mission DID! Elder Pinkston moved up AND is district leader. He's a stud, he deserved it. I am here in Bonao, with a kind of lazy comp, but he's a good guy I guess. Doesn't talk much.. It may be a long transfer. I know my dad Elder Walker had problems with him last transfer, as well as elder fuller.. But I honestly don't see us having too many problems. I'm just gonna love him and correct him with respect.. because he's finishing in 2 transfers...

I'm afraid I'm gonna kill another comp. It would be hard.. I don't want to do it. Especially with one that's not going to work.. but I may just be doing it. I want to resurrect this area.. but I don´t know if it´s gonna be possible. Some advice for difficult comps would be awesome.. cuz I have lucked out with comps so far. They´ve all worked well, but I may have problems with this one.

But, after these two transfers I think It´s a sure thing I´ll move up. I don´t know why I wouldn´t. Heck maybe even after this transfer. But, I really would like to, I feel ready and I work. But moving up isn´t everything on the mission. I´ll wait patiently my turn.. ha

momma.. I feel like my spanish is good.. And you´ll definitely find out at christmas when I can´t speak english. I´ll try and speak some with matt and mike, if they can remember well I can speak well with them. Ha it´ll be way fun skyping.

As far as this last transfer goes.. I gotta say, I had the most peace in my whole mission with fleurima. He was such a good kid. Gosh, I will miss him. We saw a lot of miracles. Like, just this last week we were in a lesson with Jorge, and he asked us what the golden plates looked like. We thought it was a weird question, because it was WAY out of the theme of the lesson. We answered him anyway, and he seemed please and smiled and sort of nodded. Then he told us that he has cataracts in his eyes, and normally when he reads he gets teared up and can´t do it. But, when he reads the book of mormon the letters transform big and gold, like the golden plates. I don´t know if it´s a vision or what.. but he understands and was able to tell us everything that happened in 1 nephi. It was such an incredible experience.. something that I´m not going to tell a lot of people because it´s sacred. If he wouldn´t have told me himself I wouldn´t have believed it. That whole experience with Jorge was a miracle. He called us over when he was drunk in the street. I told my comp after, sort of joking, that he would be branch president.... Maybe I´m not wrong. ha

Anyway, that was a really neat experience. I will miss my hatian comp. I have kind of a prideful dominican now.. But I´ll make it. I have to have something to look forward to, and for now it´s a year.. it comes right after this transfer. Oh, and general conference! :)

But, as far as the letter this next week, some advice for how to get along well would be appreciated. Maybe this is my test in the mission. It's gonna be a lot of fasting and prayer.

Oh, and as far as cameron, I can tell you that he is not loving the MTC. It's a little bit rigid for him. But he has a great comp and district, and he can't wait for the field. JUST like me. No worries, he'll make it. If I have to drag him through his MTC experience with fancy wordery I'll do it, he'll be fine, he just needs to make it to the field. It's there where the REAL mission begins.

I love you two. I am a little down this transfer, but the package did help. I just feel a little.. alone. I'll be good. I just need to forget myself again and go to work.

Till next week, not a second wasted,

-elder c. rufus sweeney

Changes....

What a great letter. Welp, first I'll answer your questions and such. Then I'll tell you about the madness of this week.

Ok, first off, the package has NOT come yet. I have no idea what broke down or who's not doing their job in Miami, but it still hasn't arrived. And, about the new office people, Elder and Hermana Fuller are great, but she's from guatemala and doesn't know english perfectly. Yes, the box IS sick. Aparently they had to ship it to the nearest hospital in Miami so that it could rest for a few months.

Nah, but I called and talked to her for the first time ever the other day, and she's super stressed right now about her responsibilities. It's intense all that she has to do.

Anyway, I know about transfers already. Well.. at least one part of transfers. There's a story to go along with it, and I'll tell you about that. We had an intercambio with a zone leader.. I mean exchange, sorry. Elder Fuller, the zone leader, had been called to train and I knew that, so he'll die as such. But, as a zone leader, when you are called to train you inevitably white wash an area.. you probably already know where I'm going with this. They're white washing La yaguita..

It's good in some ways. For instance, and I have to be honest, after 3 transfers of climbing little mountains (i'll show you guys in a year), my legs and body in general need a break. I hurt sometimes when I get back to the house in unnatural ways. We worked so hard this transfer and my comp and I sleep so well at night, but a lot of times sleep just isn't enough. It's spiritual and physical fatigue, not just mental. Also, we get like a week to wash, pack and say goodbye. But, those are really the only good parts..

The negative part is that the couple that was going to be married this week will have the money in this next coming week.. the week of transfers.. I will not be baptising Juan Carlos nor his wife, but the work I put into that will be the Elder Fuller's kid's little treat.

Also, jorge, the drunk man that called us in the street, has a baptismal date.

And another guy called us in the street. That was with Elder Fuller. Ha absolutely crazy how much this area has changed.

Anyway, that's the news of the week. Also, I taught in english for the first time on my mission. There's a young man from boston here who's Dominican by blood but doesn't know much spanish. He's a good kid. What was interesting was.. I felt the spirit stronger than I ever have in my mission in english. There is a big difference in the languages. You can say things a lot more concisely and more meaningfully in English. I think that's why the restoration was through Joseph Smith in English. The scriptures are so much more powerful... And I'm not saying that because it's my first language, but as someone who has had to use spanish and only spanish for 4 1/2 months, so knows the 2 pretty well. English is better..

Well I actually love hearing about what you guys eat. All the fruit. A lot of it doesn't exist here. But they do have decent stuff in La Sirena, and some stuff doesn't exist in the states. Have you had Zapote? or Limoncillo? we'll have both when you get here. They're both pretty good.

I have been emailing cameron, but not a whole lot because of that stupid MTC timer. It's so ridiculous how little time they give you. Honestly, even for absolutely obedient elders, 30 minutes is just so few.

Hmmmm... what else. Well right now I'm just contemplating where I'll be, who I'll be with, my new responsibilities, and all that.. I wonder if I'll stay in the city of Santiago, have a ward instead of a branch (that would be SO welcome), be near the beach, have a good comp.. etc. I have gotten truly lucky with my comps so far. Elder Fleurima is a really good kid. He is just that sometimes though.. sort of like a little kid. Ha easily distracted and when he gets tired he gets cranky and obstinate, a little stubborn and complains a lot. But, he seriously is my favorite comp up till now. He really gets it. I'm sad about having to leave him to be completely honest.

I think that's it. I love you two. And I'm a little jealous of Matt, seems like he lives in the most interesting parts of the earth. Next he'll live in the Vatican? lord knows. ha I didn't intend that to be so literal.

Oh and as far as girls.. I'm doing ok with writing. I'm actually writing the niece of Jorge Solorzano, she's pretty. I've been writing her in Spanish. And I'm still writing Melisa, the sister of the sister missionary. It's going really well actually. Both of them. I feel like I've got a few options, but it would be nice to get some referrals. Haha I have to quote you because it made me laugh so hard. "We could probably get some "referrals" from Amanda Jackson and from Elena if you want. " Yes PLEASE. :)

No, but really.. if you could that would be great.

Well, this week I say good bye to La Yaguita. I'll let you know where I go, send you a few pictures of this area and the people and my comp, and give you all the details next week of what happened. But, till that time, not a second wasted,

-Elder Sweeney

Progress!

Family! I'm writing a little bit earlier today because aparently the hurricane/tropical storm is on its way.

So aparently the hurricanes here can cause the power to go out.. can cause us to lose water.. and all the stuff that happened to me in fantino but for a LOOOOOOOONG time. How awesome is that? Haha I'm just gonna hope it doesn't happen. Pray for me.

That said, it's been a really good week. Like the opposite of the last week. FINALLY Rosanna, the girlfriend of Juan Carlos, came to church, gave up coffee, and they are going to get married, all in this week. Today he is going to make a date, so I'm hoping to get them baptised by the time I leave. If they get married by next friday, it's all good. But, either way I am just thrilled. We have poured so much time and energy into them, and to see our labors paying off is truly fulfilling. It's a feeling that can't be expressed. Marrying a family is so hard, so incredibly hard. If this was the only one in my mission it wouldn't be too surprising to me, but now that I understand the process maybe I can unite more and more families.

You know where my testimony comes from about the families? Yup, you guessed it, you two. And, of course the brothers and sisters. I was raised in a family so good, and took that for granted until the mission. I want these families to be just like my family from back home, and that's what I'm working for. Right now we are working with 3 families, and that is where I put the majority of my focus. It's where I draw my energy from. It's what keeps me going. The thought of building eternal families. I love it.

Also, we had an experience with an investigator. Aparently her sister is possessed by demons, and for that no attended church. Yup, that is a valid excuse here. But, it's pretty intense what she says. Aparently, she has a huge headache all the time that won't go away even by intense pain meds. It's not like one of those demons that makes her scream or whatever, but aparently is kind of like.. on vacation? I don't know. But aparently really comfortable.

Today was a good day. I played some basket ball for 3 hours.. ha I'm beat. But, I feel good and relieved.

So, another story. We left the house of Juan Carlos the other night and a drunk man, absolutely plastered, called us over and said he wanted to know more about us. He seemed sincere enough, but we were apprehensive, this man obviously wasn't himself. Regardless, we left him a pamphlet. Then, tuesday, we came back to his house, and he had read THE WHOLE THING! That may not sound like a big deal, but reading the stuff we leave is a HUGE deal here. Like, in the mission of me and my comp that has never happened. We taught him a fantastic lesson yesterday, felt the spirit, and left thinking that maybe we had been the lucky elders that this man happened to call, but I know that the Lord answers prayers, and we've been praying and fasting for miracles with our investigators.

Those prayers were answered in big ways this week. We both feel really good, get along great, and are ready for this "hurricane".. We'll just send it away with our priesthood.. haha ok that may have been blasphemy.

I love you two. I am going to take a nap. I love naps too. But not as much as you guys. Be safe, happy, and tell momma to rest, she needs it. She didn't even write me this week.

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

P.S. Don't think I forgot.. Till next week, not a second wasted.

P.P.S. and to answer your question, yeah, there are quite a few that have moved up in the group ahead of me. :)

Memorable experiences

What an incredibly fast week it's been. Is it really P-day again. But, a ton has happened. Let me break it down for you by story in chronological order.

First, last friday I met a young man from scotland. Yes, here in middle of no where DR, a man from Scotland and I had a conversation in English. We are actually planning on sharing with him, which I love because I can actually speak my beloved English. My comp and I are dominican and speak spanish all the time. His english is good but his spanish is better, and my spanish is good enough to express everything I wanna say, so we just sort of forgot about that he knows english and speak spanish. But, I'm learning french now (It's a bit of a complicated language), so i'm gonna be trying to speak that more.

Second, a miracle of sorts happened to us the other day. A member told us that he had a friend that he wanted to give a blessing, and we went to their house. Turns out he had a stroke and lost all movement in his tongue, and he can't talk. It was really sad, and on more than one occasion in the visit he starting crying. Seeing a grown man cry is heartbreaking. I saw a once proud man humbled by his inability to speak. Adding to the sadness was the fact he doesn't know how to read or write...

But, we gave him a blessing, and the responsibility to seal the blessing fell up me. I was moved to tears myself, the spirit was so strong it was practically kicking me in the face. I don't remember much, but I remember promising that his ability to speak would come back soon. We left, with that same feeling deeply impressed upon each of us that a mighty miracle was to happen with him, if he would just allow it.

We returned to the house the next day, and began to share a message. We felt the spirit equally strong, and at the end of the lesson we invited his wife to say the closing prayer. At the end of the prayer we all said amen. WE ALL SAID AMEN. Him included. We asked his wife if he could talk yet, and she said no, and that he had said mamama, or in other words, sounds that don't require the tongue. But, again he repeated amen, and my comp and I just looked at each other. But, the wife REFUSED to hear it. Refused to accept that someone from another faith could perform a miracle like what we had performed.

It is that sort of incredulity that persists here in La Yaguita, even in the midst of miracles the people don't want to believe.

Ok, and I bet you are asking about the baptism? Well, thursday night we were preparing him for his final interview, and we received a phone call from the president of the branch. I mean branch president (spanish is killing me..). He informed us that, a few hours earlier, he had seen Eliseo, the candidate for baptism, smoking. Distraught, but eager to verify, we returned to the house of Eliseo. He told us it had been a month since his last cigarrette, but we could tell he was lying. He still clings to that story. He isn't going to be baptised any time soon..

So, we have our hope of the couple that we are marrying. We talked to them too, they are having a little problem in the couple and are working it out. Still hoping they get married on their date...

If I were to say the mission has been a roller coaster this week it would be an understatement. I can't believe the miracles we've seen mixed with lies and incredulity. It is uplifting but depressing at the same time. We work like dogs here. We are always soaked, if it's with our sweat or with rain, it's constant. But we keep working, and effectively it is making time pass super quickly.

Well, already my time has expired in email. Jeezz.. this rule is tough. I love you two. Tell cate and matt congrats on the job. I know matt won't have too much trouble finding a job in Denver, it's a good city.

Let's see.. I think that's it. I love you two. The package still hasn't come. Still hopefull. It really isn't the package that's too important, it's the love that it's sent with and the thought that I am cared for.

My comp got a package the other day. He has a family from the states that seems to be well off and super sweet. They're members that are involved in a program of sending packages to less wealthy missionaries.

I will see you in a little more than 1 year. That's not too much, really!

Till next week, not a second wasted,

-elder c. rufus sweeney

Still, not a second wasted

Wow, that is so cool. Today, as I got up, got dressed as usual on P-day, putting on the mission clothes to go shop at la sirena, and realized that cameron was reporting today. I got chills. I know how much he is going to learn and grow, simply because of what I have learned and how much I have grown on the mission. He his a great young man, honestly I expect him to supercede me as a missionary. At least I hope so.

I have actually regressed a bit in my spanish.. actually by that I mean it has stayed about the same since last week. I have officially dove into Jesus the Christ, a slightly long undertaking but OH so worth it. I feel the need to read the new testament now, which I will read after I get done with the last half of Jesus the Christ.

Something unusual that I have picked up from reading spanish all the time is my ability to read english really quickly. I don't know if it has to do with the vocabulary or the fact that I interpret more, easier, but I read our search for happiness in an afternoon and half of Jesus the Christ in less that a week. Now it sounds like I'm bragging.. Nah, no brag, just fact. ;)

It's been a good week, we have a baptism saturday, and a marriage the 6 of august followed by 3 baptisms in the last week of the transfer, and a whole lot of other success that we're seeing. I don't know what happened, but after valdez left, this area rejuvinated.. Actually I know what happened, we are working like we should. Not that Valdez and I didn't work hard, it's just that fleurima and I are like animals, and you know what? Time is passing SUPER fast.

This last week was literally a blur. This week is filled with activities so it, too, will feel super short. And this next week is hump day of the transfer.

Let's see.. all is well. Today at la sirena all the produce was 35% off so I just went crazy. I even got peaches, which I had no idea even existed here! I got 4 giant mangos, avacado, peppers, a pinapple, and peaches.. that ought to last me. And yes, I AM washing everything really well.

Congrats momma! That's way exciting, now you can take all the vacations you want without me. :) Nah, nah I'm not jealous... Oh who am I kidding of course I'm jealous. Europe, the beach, atlanta.. I can't even go to the beach.. ha it's a new rule, we can't go to the beach even just to put our feet in the sand..

Not too much more to say, I am going to look for some good recipes to cook this week. I have tons of fresh stuff. Oh, and creole food is interesting. it's almost just like here but it has more flavor, and they make tons of smoothies, which is definitely awesome. I'm taking full advantage of my comp.. haha including learning creol and french, which he is also fluent in.

I love you too. Thank you for taking care of cameron while I'm gone, he needed that, and I know he appreciated it too.

Yes, my english is really horrible... but speaking 3 languages isn't easy! ha.

Oh, and the package STILL hasn't gotten here. I'm not worried, it just means someone isn't doing their job, my guess is it's the dominicans.

Till next week, packageless, tireless, and not a second wasted,

-elder c. rufus sweeney

Huelga, Huelga....everybody huelga

Ok, first things first, the rule about internet hasn't changed or anything, but they are beginning to crack down on it. They say if you use it more than an hour then you have to give up your privileges for a transfer. It's really intense.. and it takes me 20 minutes to read your letter sometimes (I like to read every detail), so writing you a good detailed letter may be a little harder now. I'm not sure why it's such a huge deal.. Actually yes I do. Its the missionaries that are using more time for visiting other websites.. but I'm not doing that. I'm using the one that's unrestricted.. Anyway my letters may or may not be a little shorted. I need to write you two and cameron, and that's it this week.

I got a letter from grandma and grandpa, it was the HHS newsletter! I loved it! haha i had almost forgotten about that.

And about the trip.. I haven't given it a whole lot of thought, just because of the risk of taking my mind.. veeeery far from the work.. haha VERY far, but I'll give it a bit of thought tonight. Every time I think about my time, I never feel like I have a lot. There are a bunch of americans coming in at the end of this transfer, so at LAST I won't feel like the youngest. Who knows, maybe I'll even train..?? :)

Seriously though, that is one of my goals in the mission, to be able to train. They call it being a dad here, and I think it's a universal term, but it's usually reserved for the best of missionaries. Am I up to that level yet? I don't know. But I am working really hard here. I am, as you say, kicking butt.

We have a baptism for the 23rd assured, and another one the 30th (that's not so sure), and another that should happen this transfer. I'm not entirely sure. But, I feel good. Like really good. I feel a bit like senior comp already, my comp is super humble and sort of just lets me take control because that's just more comfortable for me. He told me he hopes to be my comp for 2 transfers, and I'd love to be, he's really awesome. I am learning creol, mwen ap aprenn creol. haha it's a surprisingly simple language, only 3 tenses, past present and future. My comp says I should be speaking it in 6 weeks. I hope to bear at least part of my testimony in creol when I get back.

We are working like mad men here. But, monday we had to take the day off. There was what was called a huelga here, on in other words a strike.. but more violent. Like a protest. Anyway the people burn tires and attack the police. They do so because they're unhappy with what they're paid.. or the prices of things are rising.. what have you, but usually that are confined to a city. This was a huelga nacional, the whole country participated. Nothing really happened in our city of la yaguita, but a few areas here in the mission had people being shot right and left, and these huelgas can happen without notice. So, we had to stay in monday..

But, that said, we have been really pushing ourselves here. It's been a while since my legs have really hurt me in the mission, and they were yelling at me friday.. But the time went super fast this week. SUPER fast.

I bought a pricemart card today. today was our day to go. It was a good choice, now I can buy whatever there. It costed a little bit, but it was my birthday present to myself. I bought it with a missionary friend so it costed less, about 13 dollars, totally worth it. Anyway, I bought myself a giant bag of chocolate corn flakes (its like america in my mouth), and I realized just how much I miss dry cereal. It tastes amazing.

I am going to wrap this up, I want to write cameron a really good letter before he goes on his mission. He needs to know what to expect, and hear it from someone who is actually on the mission.

I love you too. I still haven't gotten that package, but I'm not worried. the mail in this country is terrible. And yeah, I got to see the videos and everything.. man I miss you guys a whole lot. :.) ha ok I didn't cry but I really am looking forward to seeing you in just over a year. THAT'S NOT TOO MUCH TIME AT ALL!

I'll be sure and wear may sunscreen, I've been good about putting it on most days but I'll be extra diligent now.

till next week, you already know,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

New Companion

Hey there!

Finally I am here. After a really late start to the day (transfers are always really intense) I am here writing you guys. It's been a really hectic day, but we got all our shopping done and my new comp came, his name is elder Fleurima and he's haitian. He's so humble, nice and speaks english, spanish, creole and french. He's gonna teach me the last two. I plan to be able to share my testimony in creole at least by the time I get back to the house, and be able to hold a conversation. Trilinguality is a real possibility, because my comp says creole is super simple. There are only 3 tenses, past, present and future. It's so simple, and a dying language, but yet really handy in the mission because some investigators only know creole.

Anyway, he's really really nice my new comp. He has a year and 6 in the mission, so isn't dying yet (thank heavens), and has a true desire to share the gospel. I keep getting lucky with my comps.

So no one from my group moved up, but a lot from groups that aren't too much older than us did. Oh, I am still in La Yaguita, I forgot to mention that. It's rough here, but the members treat us well. They feed us, but admittedly they don't give us references. This could be a wake up call for you two (cough cough momma cough).. GIVE REFERENCES to the missionaries. Especially if they're as good as what you say. If they work, get to it!

We had a little get together with members here last night with my comp. It was nice.. some fried chicken, fried plantains and.. well very little flavor. But it was fine, the food isn't what's important here anymore to me. I honestly don't like the food from here very much (unless it's seafood, but we can't eat that), so it's the company of the good people here that I enjoy. I am teaching a member a little bit of guitar. I am good friends with a woman named gladis why always takes care of us. It's a really tight knit branch, kind of like in ada, but as far as the missionary work goes.. there really is only one ray of hope.

Ubaldo, the recent convert that we had, has a plan for the branch to work with the less actives and help with the missionaries. It's amazing how strong he is. And independent of the missionaries now. Wow. His wife is accepting everything now, so we're really pumped that we have something.

Well I don't know too much more I can say. I hit 9 months today. I am going to stop saying that I have more time than I have, for example when I have 8 months working on 9 months I just say I have 9. I am going to say I have these 9 months until I hit 10. That's easier on the mind. Ha but NOW my comp, who was making me unbearably trunky, is GONE! I'm so happy. I loved him, like a brother, but I was so ready for him to go home. He ended up being extremely nervous.. haha god bless him. He is strong and I hope the life on the street doesn't bring him down.

I am tired.. transfers wear me out, even when they don't involve me moving.

I will tell you more about my comp when I get to know him better, but for now I'm going to wrap this up.

I love you two. So much. And no momma, I'm not using my mosquito net, I haven't needed it, but I promise you that I will in the mission. You just wait till I go to an area like monte cristi or something, where you can ride the mosquitos.

Tell grandpa rufus i love him, if he remembers me.

Till next week, completely focused on the work and not a second wasted,

-elder c. rufus sweeney

Birthday time in the DR

Now THAT sounds like a sweet reunion. I don't know if I ever told you, but the missionaries used to be able to visit the beaches and stuff, but that was banned about a month ago. They went to play frisbee, football and other stuff but it turned out to be "a big distraction," so my first time at the beach in the DR will be with you guys.. nice.

Time is going SOOOOOO SLOOOOOOW this week. My comp still works.. a little. But it's really hard. He's turned really prideful about his time and holds it over my head all the time, and loves to rub in the fact that he will be home and in a week and tells me all the things he's gonna do. That was good to know like.. the first time he told me. The next 12532 times was a little frustrating, and made me super trunky. But I just have to endure ONE MORE WEEK. That's it. Transfers are this coming week. We'll see what happens.

One interesting thing from my comp was me going up and moving over to the neighboring city with the comp of the other missionary in my district who's going home. That would close this area.. Which wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.. we have so little here. Actually next to nothing. It's tough. But if I do stay I am resolving to just absolutely take this city over. Knock on EVERY door. Ask EVERY member for a reference. Just go absolutely nuts. That's the plan if I stay. If not I'll need to learn a new area. Which.. Would be pretty welcome as well. So I'm not too upset really.

The baptism we had is still really strong. We're teaching his wife now. She's accepting everything and should be baptised soon enough.

No need to worry, I am taking care of my health. I got a letter from grandma and grandpa scott which was awesome. it was a birthday card. It's great to know that people really do care about me.

Actually I can say that a lot of elders do, my district got me cake. My district leader elder nelson is a good man (sort of a gossiper, but he's from utah so that's sort of excusable, right?). I had a good birthday. A member cooked me spaghetti and made me cake. I'm getting pretty close with the members here. They're really cool. It's hard to understand a few, but they're all sort of like family in a way. I've started teaching a member the guitar, 10 minutes a day, then we teach his neighbor.

The mission really does go faster when one is working. I can testify of that. But, I must say, these 2 years do feel a bit endless right now. But, the less I think about the time after, the less I think about the time I have up until then, so that makes it seem much more bearable.

I have thought a little about my talk when I get home. I am going to steal a theme from an elder who's going home that I've talked to a lot. Don't ask me what it is, you'll have to find out in a year and a little, but it's a very important lesson.

I have grown up a ton on the mission. I don't know if I myself have realized it, but occasionally I reflect and review, and it really occurs to me just how different I am. Of course, I am the same me, Christopher Rufus Sweeney, the one whom you left at the terminal in Oklahoma City Airport, but in a way I'm very very different. It's as if the things that weighed me down before the mission, the things that always bothered me, the doubts, the worries, the questions, have sort of resolved themselves and I feel sort of liberated, or in better terms I've found me equilibrium.

I can't wait to share the gospel with those who I feared to share it with before.

That's my philosophy for the week.

I am way excited for that next family reunion. It'll seriously be really awesome. And right after.. cameron gets home.

I'm so pumped for him and his mission. And for Rachel too. And tell Talley I say hi. I miss those three a lot.

But, especially you two.

Till next week, not a second wasted,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

AC is the best thing in the world?

I love when the letters are so long. Every week I get the FULL update. Complete. Total. It's nice, and makes me feel obligated to send a long letter too, so you're psychology is working.

So I must say, I have a district where 2 of the four missionaries are going home, and a zone where 7 of the 20 missionaries are also going home, so it's REALLY hard to avoid the "home" conversation. It's everywhere. And it's fascinating. But, it also makes me REALLY trunky. I have never been this trunky in the whole mission. I keep telling myself I just need to get past these next 2 weeks and I'll be golden, but there's not much hope for my comp. There is no potential for him to get a baptism so he feels like his time as a missionary is already expiring. We have to wait at least 3 weeks for someone to attend church 3 times, so his last 2 weeks he feels are almost pointless. I've told him he can at least plant seeds, but he doesn't want to do much. I can't say I blame him a whole lot, it's hard to focus with home on the mind and working with people that just do not want to listen, but I feel bad because we just aren't working as hard..

I have talked to president Lee about it and all, and he just said to get through 2 weeks and it'll all be ok.

Anyway, this week has been pretty good aside from that. I have gotten to eat at mcdonald's twice, once for lunch and once for breakfast. My district leader, Elder Nelson and I (he's going home too), have gotten pretty close. The guys from my entering group are still strong, I would say I have the best spanish for now but they are all learning really well. I'm so proud of my group, they are all really good Elders.

Elder Kimball, my comp from the MTC, aparently lives in a house that's just infested with cockroaches. The poor guy says it's almost insufferable. ha I feel bad but it's just a reminder that someone always has it worse than you, so you can never complain.

I am still happy, healthy (I'm cooking every meal now and have developed a recipe for some really good spaghetti), and strong. Aparently uvaldo, that baptism from a couple saturdays ago, has a friend with a barbecue so that's the plan on the fourth of july now. :) I will celebrate my american pride one way or another.

The D.R. is treating me well. I have to say, I have had pretty good luck in La Yaguita up till now. They say that before missionaries always got mugged here.. ha that's terrible but a sad reality of my mission. It happens. You give them 100 pesos, and they're happy. But, so far so good for me.

Oh, a strange connection that I made a while back. Remember my roommate, taylor johnson from BYU fall semester? His best friend that used to always hang out in his apartment is in the mission. He's a transfer ahead of me, so we'll be in the mission just about the whole time together. Anyway, he's in the office now in charge of mail and stuff so I'll be asking him if my package is here or not :)

Oh, and remind me please when I get back to tell you about fram, the brother of the woman for whom we built the house. I'm fine, but it's one of those things that I have to tell in person.

I don't want you to ever doubt for a second my testimony of this gospel. I know it's true, and even though there are things I don't understand, I know that it's true because I have VERIFIED with GOD that it's true. The one and only true church on the Earth would ask that of it's members, nothing more, nothing less.

I miss you two. Especially as my birthday and the fourth of july gets closer, I want to spend it with my family, but I know after this I am on my last one.

Funny how it works. Everyone takes their 2 years. Their turn in the mission. Then, just like that, it's over. This week one of the best missionaries and men that I know was sent home 2 weeks early for medical reasons. It was like losing a brother. He was assistant when I came in the mission. The mission, just like life itself, can end before you know it, so I have to capitalize on the opportunity I have RIGHT NOW.

Also, thanks for the package in advance. I know it hasn't come yet, but I am grateful for you guys every day. It will be an incredible day when we see each other again.

Till then-- not a second wasted,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

P.S. AC IS the best thing in the world.

It's Ameoba time



HOLY COW! THE MAVS WON??!!! Ok that's completely incredible and shouldn't have happened. Awesome! I am so happy. I am in disbelief right now.

Ok.. Wow I've gotta put that in the back of the mind.. Now, for my update.

I didn't work too much this week because I was sick with what you had the majority of it. I had diarreah until Friday, and thursday I went to the hospital to see a doctor recommended by hermana Lee (pres's wife). I waited for about 1 1/2 without seeing anyone, and finally when I saw the doctor he felt my stomach and wrote a few pills on a piece of paper, told me to go get tests done, then charged me 1000 pesos. I pooped in a cup and swabbed my rectum (it was a fun day...), then we went to the mission home to rest, took a nap in an air conditioned room (that makes ALL the difference), then went home. I am taking an antibiotic still, and monday we went back to the doctor for results. It turns out I have an amoeba, which I'm still not sure what that means. But, after the diarreah I was waiting and waiting until I passed anything, solid, liquid, whatever to see if I could go work again. We waited about a day and a half, and in that time I developed a nasty cold. One of those where every time you turn over you feel your sinuses drain to that side of your head. Anyway, so we went back to the mission home, got medicine for that, and I am FINALLY, after about a week, feeling normal again. I played softball today and everything. Also, had mcdonalds :)

They told me NOT to eat in the street, so we cancelled our usual comedor that we eat at for lunch every day, which was fine because I'm getting REALLY tired of rice every day. My stomach shrunk a ton too. But no worries, I feel good and now I'm going to stop being stupid and eating food from people other than MY OWN HANDS. I wasn't too cautious before, but I've been sick enough in this country.

Anyway, it's WAY hot here. It turns out there are 2 season in the DR, caliente and infierno (you can google translate that). It's like an oven here. I get so drained so fast as far as energy here. But, the good news is they're saying that the rainy season is just about done. So, hopefully the humidity will pass. Oh, more good news, our inverter (batteries) stopped working again, so needless to say sunday night I did not sleep. I slept a good 4 hours, but that was it.

But, we'll get that fixed. I knew I had to have a bad week in there somewhere, I had been on an amazing streak of luck, and the mission isn't supposed to be that easy. My companion did an awesome job taking care of me. He really did cater to me, cooked for me, prepared my medicine, looked out for me, asked me how I was feeling every 30 minutes or so. He says he wanted to "practice for his wife", I told him that's fine but after I'm well I won't be giving him the same benefits his wife will give him..

I am happy and I can actually say healthy this week too. I look forward to next week when I can actually tell you two stories, but I didn't do much so that's tricky. I have a picture though :) it's the baptism of Uvaldo. The miarriage should still work out, but I'm going to make it very clear that we are the LAST resort, they have to put forth the sacrifice themselves, then if they're lacking a few hundred pesos we can step in and help.

Welp, I am almost 20, and almost 9 months out, and those are both significant. I feel good. Time is really moving now, it's really hard to believe. I have to really put the pedal to the metal this next week to make up for the time I lost this week.

Till next week, not a SECOND wasted,

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Rain.....and more rain

Wow! what an insane letter. I feel so terrible for those who are in joplin. Looks like that town will become a stroud type of city, with nothing there except for the skeleton of what used to be a growing town. So sad.

But I loved the update. It makes me happy that Mike still gets a sick thrill like I do from bad weather. It's been pretty treacherous here too. We've been battling the heat in the early afternoon and rain in the later afternoon.. day, after day, after day. It's been a little discouraging but we plug away. I don't use an umbrella because my comp doesn't use one and it makes us look like testigos.. Maybe it means more blessings? I don't know if the lord likes stupidity..

We had a flood here the other day. It rained cats and dogs for about 45 minutes, and this after a few days of constant, steady light rain. I am constantly soaked to the bone, and at night it feels like I'm sleeping underwater because it's just so stinking humid. My bed is damp, my clothes are a little damp, and there's nothing I can do about it because the windows are just flaps that open and shut.. not effective for repeling humidity. They say it's just that time of year (may), but my goodness.. Get here sooner june. I'll take heat over humidity. (I have to be careful what I wish for)

Transfers just happened. Nothing changed here. That's bad.. My comp wanted to be transfered to a ward so bad. And he's dying this transfer.. I'm gonna kill him. I just have to make sure he doesn't die before he goes home. He's really not happy.. He called president to try and change transfers, pres. of course dropped him a few heavy words and kept his here. I love the guy, but he's gotta learn to be happy wherever he is.

I feel like sometimes my mouth just does not want to speak any languages. Even english is uncomfortable. Today is one of those days. Luckily it's a P-day, and we're not teaching near as many people as we would on a regular day.

As far as that baptismal candidate goes, he's so strong still. He's just ideal, and because my comp sent that story into the mission newspaper now president Lee wants to meet him. He's awesome, seriously a future stake president. He just doesn't know it yet. We're making him go to church one more time this Sunday before he get's baptized because he missed last week due to being sick. It's all good. We'll get him in the water this next saturday.

I was thinking about it the other day.. Depending on where in the world I am, I would like to skype with you this christmas. It's allowed and encouraged because it doesn't cost anything. I want to talk to you guys that way. Especially if the family is there. What do you think?

And momma, I'm healthy, strong and happy still. I am eating well, I got a package from melinda and mark the other day which was AWESOME! It had beef jerky and dried fruit. Wow. Neither of those exist here. How did they know? Pure inspiration.. haha or maybe I told them. Still amazing.

I have watched just a teeny bit of the playoffs, but that was memphis and OKC, so that's old news, but I LOVED it. I had forgotten what watching sports was like. My gosh that's something I miss.

So I must say, the weirdest things happen in the mission. Mom, I know that as a nurse nothing grosses you out, so here goes a good story. We were in la sirena (their version of walmart more or less), and we ate at the food area there. There wasn't a single open table so we had to sit at a table with an old man. He asked who we were, what we did, normal stuff, and we noticed he had a catheter or tube like thing that extended from a bag to under the table where it disappeared. I thought it was to his leg.. maybe stomach, I didn't know, but after talking for a bit he stood up and we discovered where it led. It led into his open zipper. He pointed to hit shirt which had a few wet spots on it, shrugged, and walked away. We can safely assume that that wasn't water on his shirt. I couldn't control my laughter when he walked away even though it was a little sad.. It was so casual the way he just pointed at his "problem area" and just walked away.

Elder Carpenter is in my zone again! ha that should be fun. Also, Elder Jenson from my entering group. This will be a really fun transfer.

I love you two. I think about you and worry about you too. Especially because of those tornadoes, that was internation news. People here were telling me about it, but you can't trust everything that's said. I heard one person say there were 500 people dead.. not quite, but that's still really devastating.

Be good, safe and keep up the good work dad. I can't wait to see the sweet new office.. which will not be new at all when I get there but it'll feel that way. Hope you're taking advantage of that deck view up top. I'll see you shortly, in just over a year,

'-Elder Sweeney

Feeling a bit homesick

Wow that was a rightfully long letter. I enjoyed it. Haha reading english is strange but it's a great change. I realized today just how much I've forgotten the regular communication skills of english over these last few weeks. I haven't used english at all with my comp unless I talk to other elders in English, which isn't too often because my whole district is native. I love it, but I like my english too.

I say I love it.. That's because I've learned a ton and almost mastered spanish. But don't get me wrong, it's been rough. It was really uncomfortable for me at first having to explain and express myself when my comp and I weren't getting along perfectly. I remember praying.. "please make all the hard work that I've put into spanish translate into success." The other night I prayed in that way, and I got a very specific, very powerful feeling of peace. Since then I've realized that I have not been nervous to speak nor had troubles expressing myself. Amazing what a comfort the Lord's spirit is.

And momma.. I never got a hold of cameron. I felt impressed to talk to him. He needs that boost for is mission. I never got a hold of talley either.. But it's good that she's getting around to writing me. I didn't lose the spirit because I made those calls either, it's still been in our lessons and we've had some fantastic ones since then too.

I am happy still. I feel comfortable with where I am, people recognize me finally, and I have really grown to love this place equally to fantino.

The other day there was a TON of rain. It was really intense, and in the city next to ours (part of our district) there were some members' houses that flooded. We went and helped them out. Some of the houses had flooding 3 feet up the walls. Really sad. It made me think a lot. I imagined myself living it that all the time. All my life. We really are blessed to be from the U.S.A. Don't get me wrong, there are many that live well here, but even the best of lives here are not equal to that of the states. I couldn't live as a rich man here with all the poverty.. It would make me sick. It already makes me sick.

I am making chicken tacos tonight. I thought about how much I missed mexican food the other day so I'm gonna take a show in making it. I bought all the stuff at the grocery store and now I'm gonna blow my comp's mind with flavor. Really it's not too hard to impress a dominican with food. The food here is really not good.. they've been raised with Yuca, beans and rice so that is the best of the best for them, but it's really not great... Their idea of seasoning is MSG. Really bad.. So mexican food is amazing to them if they can stand the heat.

For the 4th of july, which isn't too far away, i've already decided I'm buying a tiny grill, briquettes and grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. I hope I get an american next transfer.. Oh, transfers are next week. It's mind blowing how fast it's gone. Wow. I love my comp, so I'll be happy either way if we stay together or not. He's leaving the mission in 7 weeks, the transfer after this. He's reeeeeaaallly old and likes to remind me of it.

I still love the work. We still have a couple of baptisms coming up this next week. We'll see how many go through, but we should have 2-3. That's amazingly good for this area, all this considered. We're hoping and praying (very much literally).

I hope this letter isn't way too short, but I'm short of things to say. I'm happy you are glad to be home. I will be SOOOOOO happy to be home as well. I miss the U.S. of A. I've said it a lot, but only because it's true, we are so blessed. So blessed.

Till next week, not a second wasted in la yaguita... i mean paradise,

-elder sweeney

Mother's Day Call Home letter

hey family,

It's another day here in the DR and another oportunity to write my family. I am always happy to talk to you, especially during mother's day. It felt like any other day except I got to talk to my mommy. Mommaa (that's in my baby voice). You'll understand that mom. :)

I am still happy, healthy and hot. I am drinking plenty and working hard. And believe me.. I work. It's not easy being a missionary here. Tonight we're giving a capacitation to the members here about working with me missionaries. I don't remember the missionaries doing anything like that in the states. Here we're super missionaries. I think that's any foreign missionary. Sure, the states elders have they're fair share of problems, but it's very different here. VERY different. I can't wait to go out with the elders from Ada.. in their air conditioned car.. getting fed every other day.. cake. haha

No I love it here. I honestly can feel the difference in myself. I'm almost done with the book of mormon in spanish. I have a goal to finish it by the end of the transfer.. in 2 weeks. I can't believe it's already p-day again. I can't believe how fast time is going. In the mission it's as if I'm frozen in time while the rest of the world moves, and when I get back it will all be totally different and I will have to fast forward 2 years. I think about the neices and nephews a lot. Are they getting bigger. Jeez evie will be baptized and Ivy will be 4. That blows my mind.

I feel good. I don't think this letter will be as long because not a whole ton has happened since calling you guys. I am tired.. really tired. But that is normal. I will try and get to sleep earlier tonight.

I love the mission. I have great friends here. I didn't see too many people from my entering group today but I had a blast talking to other elders. Everyone has their little bit to say, they're little bit of news, they're little discoveries they've made in the mission, they're stories about people, investigators, members, they're relations with other people (especially BYU students).

I love you guys. Another week down, another week closer to my vacation in paradise.. but for now, I work. I work.. and I work some more. I look forward to seeing you guys and the whole family gathered in one place again. It will have been a long time.

Till next week, not a second wasted.

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney



The Last Door

I officially feel like a missionary. Well.. that's to say that every day I feel older and older in the mission, but just this week everything has been clicking again. I have been mastering the finer parts of the language. I have learned the finer parts of planning lessons close together, really getting to know investigators and teaching according to their needs, and being able to express myself clearly. I'm beginning to prefer spanish sometimes, it's quicker and straight to the point. There's a lot of politically correct fluff in English that I don't like anymore.. But just so you know if I talk a little more direct.. almost to the level of being tacky and offensive, you'll know why. I have no problem describing someone as gordita, flaquita, blanco or negro, all are kind of offensive. But I like it. You can just say things as they are.

This week has been really remarkable. I wanted to start out with the story of a man we found a couple weeks ago. I know this happens on the mission, but it had always happened to other missionaries and not to me. Anyway, I was out with my companion and we were contacting an apartment in a wealthier part of town. We had had no success. The entire neighborhood is Catholic. It's right next to the giant catholic church here. Anyway, we had doors slammed in our face, rejection to the point we were about to give up on it, but we didn't.. We contacted till the last apartment, the LAST ONE, when we found a man named Uvaldo. He let us in and we talked, and he told us he was one of the first ones in this country to let in the missionaries, was very interested in their message but moved to where he lives now and lost touch with the church. The topic of church had weighed a lot on his mind of late.. That's when we knocked on his door. We were literally an answer to his prayers. He has a 3 week date to be baptized.

Amazing what kinds of things happen when you are a missionary. But, even more amazing is the types of things that happen when you are an obedient, hard working missionary. The Lord prepares people for you. I have an absolute testimony of that.

So, in other news, I DID get the packages. Both. And they couldn't have come at a better time as the money that we usually get on wednesdays isn't coming until friday. I have food.. and the rest of the mission is suffering for 2 days I think. Don't worry, I'm sharing with my comp. I loved EVERYTHING that was in there. I only have one request of one last thing for my next package, if it's not too much.. I need rechargable batteries. I can't listen to music right now. Rayovak is the ONLY brand that works here, so if that's possible than definitely do it.

I'm glad you guys are having a blast in Europe. I am sweating it out here. It's so hot.. all the time. I sweat more and more every day. I do love that gatorade, that'll be a nice boost. Anyway, the hills are getting easier by the day, I'm starting to get used to them.

I went on an intercambio with a zone leader the other day. He has 1 year and 10 months, SOO much time, but actually my spanish wasn't too far behind his. I'm gonna keep learning more and more but I am pretty happy with where my spanish is right now. I love having a native comp. But on the intercambio I learned so much. I really enjoy going out with different missionaries to learn from what they have learned in the mission. It's really neat to see.

I am jealous that you got to see matt and cate..

but, life goes on, the mission goes on, and time as well.. Time is so strange in general, but especially on the mission. Some days it feels like I've been out forever, some days it feels like I just got here. I am happy to be where I am right now.

Honestly, I really am happy. Like.. The happiest I've been in my life. Maybe I'm crazy, but I have found the real key to my personal happiness is to completely forget myself.

I love the work. As my comp says, "Cada segundo de la mision se goza," Or every second of the mission is enjoyed. EVERY SECOND.

Call me about 3 oclock my time and I will be a happy man. I cannot wait to hear from you. I love you two, excited for you dad that you get to see your old ward, and am grateful for you momma and your patience.

One more thing.. I have noticed that I have become a little more spiritually aware on the mission. I thought about buford the other day.. I couldn't get it off the mind. Tell him to go to the doctor and get a heart checkup. IDK why, i just felt like that was something that needed to be done.

I love you two. Be safe in Europe! I understand since they've killed Bin Laden it's been crazy high terrorist threat. I'll keep you in my prayers. I'm glad he's dead though, our military is so bad-a.

Till next week, not a second wasted,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Crazy Car Crash

WHOOOOOAAAA Ada high golf finally living up to the hipe. That's really good to see. Looking at the scores it's really neat to see. After Wyatt, there isn't really one person who is considerably better than anyone else. When one player is down that day, the other one helps out. THAT is the way a golf team is supposed to be. I love to see it, that's really neat.

Well your Easter sounded great! Mine was.. exactly like any other day. I must say, I think we worked harder those days just to forget about what was happening back at home. It was a tough week though. It's called Semana Santa, or the holy week, where the people celebrate the virgin mary by losing theirs. Seriously, it's crazy how the holy week has completely and totally lost it's meaning. Everyone drinks that week. Even some of the members have troubles with it. But, it's all over now. It's all over. And the weeks was actually relatively successful.

We now have a young man with a baptismal date, we had an investigator attend church for the first time EVER, and we have a really promising couple that's finally preparing for marriage. While we could have lolligagged, lounged around and done little, we chose to work. And, the lord blessed us for our efforts.

It's crazy how efficient my companion is. He kicks butt. We have had out ups and downs, but seriously it's been so good with him. He's been teaching me to cook some dominican specialties, like chocolate and rice. It's not too bad, but I still enjoy my good ole american spaghetti and hamburgers..

I am picking up lots of spanish from my comp, which is helping my confidence in general. I got a couple compliments yesterday after a great talk with my comp on monday. Really I wasn't talking as much as I needed to. My reasoning was it was just.. well easier. I figured I could listen my way into fluency in spanish.. nope. That is important, but you have to SPEAK as well. A lot. He told me, listen, if you talk the people will open up to you, and both you AND them will be more comfortable, which opens the door for the Spirit to be able to work. It's true. Just a simple casual conversation with someone is so important before starting a lesson.

I love my companion. I think in the mission there is always something you can learn from your comps, and once you've learned that you are transferred. So, if you don't get along with your comp, you need to learn something from him FAST or you're stuck with him for another transfer.

Let's see.. I need to answer some questions from momma. I haven't gotten the packages. However, I did get the letter from madison byers. That was really unexpected but a pleasant surprise. I've already written her back as well as a lot of people that I've been meaning to write for a while.

I still need to know exactly what's going to happen for Mother's day. I figure you can call the cell phone we have and then I can go to the chapel and you can call me there so that we can talk on a land line. That works out SO much better. I don't want my comp to be bored, he's gonna be calling on a different day than us, so I'll buy him a coloring book or something. ;) Our number for our cell phone is 809-723-7067. We'll talk way more about that next week though.

A couple interesting stories. It's true what Nathan Keesling, my friend from BYU said, the craziest stuff happens to you on the mission. For example, my comp and I were visiting a family. The house had a dirt floor, no sink, one of those VERY campesino houses. Anyway we were just talking casually when a CAR CRASHED THROUGH THE FREAKING HOUSE BEHIND ME! Yes, fortunately I'm fine, but it scared the living daylights out of me. The father of the house cussed and screamed and told the man he didn't know how to drive, and I looked at my companion, he looks at me, I ask him "is that normal?" He just sort of shrugged, nodded and put his head down.

Also, the other day we were visiting a member family. The little girl that lives there was sick with diarrheah, the poor thing, so my companion gave her a pill. It must have tasted terrible because so spit it out and started crying, kicking and wailing. But, it somehow went down. Not for long though. About 10 seconds later she throws up the pill and her lunch, and SIMULTANEOUSLY poops. The lady who was holding her was overpowered by the smell and took the girl inside (not sure if she threw up too?), but after they were gone their little chihuahua had a feast. It was disgusting but my comp and I laughed for a solid 10 minutes.

(don't worry momma, the little girl is fine)

I love the work still. I am still motivated every day and ready to serve. I have what's called the "greeney animo" still, that energy that you have when you start. Some lose it faster than others, I plan on keeping it for the whole mission.

I'll let you know when I get those packages. I love you guys. We'll see you in just over a year and 5 months!

Till next week, not a second wasted

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Labor of love

Lots and lots to write about this time..

First of all, I was right to be optimistic. I have learned so much spanish this last week it's ridiculous and this is only my first week. We work hard.. Really hard. My companion talks super fast and when the people talk with him they talk considerably faster too. So, hearing spanish up to speed all the time is helping me understand. They say when you serve in the DR it takes you longer to understand spanish than any other spanish speaking mission but after you get it you can understand spanish from anywhere. I'm starting to speak a lot faster too without thinking.

Elder Valdez and I work really hard here. Like considerably harder than me and Carpenter... At least it feels like it. This whole area sits on a giant hill. The city is the hill in Santiago. There are some roads that seriously have to be close to an 80 degree slope. It's ridiculous. So, although we may be doing just a little more work it feels like a ton more because of the exercise we're doing here. It wreaks havoc on the ole quads.

The area has tons of little streets that connect to bigger streets that lead to the main road here at the bottom of the road. It's so easy to get lost. My comp keeps saying that I need to learn the area in case there is an emergency transfer but it's hard learning by pure memorization. There are no street names (like you said), no indications of where you are, no order to how the streets are laid out, just a maze of bancas (places that sell lottery tickets), colmados and hair salons.

This area is really tough. When my comp said it was duro last week, it was an understatement. They haven't had a baptism here for a year. He and his last companion contacted this whole city just about in their time together and they said that had doors slammed in their face. That DOES NOT happen here in the DR. Even if people do not care one bit about your message they will have you in. This area is SUPER catholic. There is a giant cross on top of the hill that we can see from the front patio of our apartment. It's sometimes illuminated. It's glare seems to say "You WILL NOT HAVE BAPTISMS HERE."

My companion is finishing his mission at the same time as Carpenter. I may be with him in the end of his mission, and if so I hope he doesn't die. It happens to so many missionaries, american and dominican alike. They get to the end and they start realizing that there is life at the end of the mission. It's that realization that kills them. The whole mission is like a dream, and psychologically speaking it's impossible to actually die in a dream, and so it is with the mission. It's hard to see life outside of the mission when you've been doing it for so long. Honestly, I haven't reached that point, but by the time I start to feel like the mission will last forever it will be over.

We played softball today with the other 2 zones in santiago. It was awesome. Not as cool as golf but definitely a much needed change from the everyday missionary life.

And yeah, like you said the city life is so SO different than the campo life. It's loud, flashy, fast and overpopulated. I think ideally I would life relatively close to a city while still being in the country. the would be the ideal place to settle down I think.

I had mcdonalds today, it was just as greasy and good as I remember. I had a quarter pounder, fries and coke that was grossly overpriced but sooooo worth it. A little bit of america in my mouth.. That's what I told my comp and he enjoyed that.

Me and Elder Valdez get along really well. He's so proud of where he's from, the capital. He says people from here hate people from the capital. They talk different, they look different, they act different, everything. It's sort of ridiculous to me because it's the same country. But, then again that same thing happens in the states. Honestly, I haven't thought it was abnormal until coming here. I learn things all the time here, both the expected spiritual things, as well as things that I wouldn't have expected to learn.

Now for 2 good stories from this week. I'll tell you the serious one before the funny one. My companion is district leader so we went to interview a baptismal candidate in the city next to ours. The man who was being interviewed got a phone call and randomly handed me the phone. A really friendly voice started to talk to me on the line IN ENGLISH! she explained that her boyfriend was the one getting baptized and she lives in New York. She said she'd been waiting for that moment for a long time. For 8 years she said. It made me think.. How many prayers had she offered before that? How many times had he rejected receiving the missionaries before finally letting them in his home? It was really special his baptism. I am sending the girlfriend pictures as soon as I can.

Now for a funny story.. Ok it's a little sad.. Anyway so imagine.. It's my first sunday in this branch. We meet in a house where half of the congregation sits inside the house and half outside (yes, it's that small). It has a fan that reaches everyone except those sitting in the back row (aka us). So we listen to a few talks from the youth and then a girl who's maybe 14 gets up to talk. She starts out her talk just fine, then about halfway through the second sentence she just breaks down. At first it sounds like she's laughing but then it became really clear that she's was crying. It took her about 5 minutes to start talking again, her brother went up and comforted her, and she finished her talk courageously, wailing throughout the whole thing but still talking. The talk, ironically, was about Jesus Christ comforting you in trials.

I love you two. I hope momma and you are found in good health. Rest assured that your favorite son is. He's happy, healthy and misses his family a bit because he's in a foreign land. Matt is doing just fine...

No but seriously. It'll be a blast to see you all again. You realize what you wrote right? 1 year and 7 1/2 months. I only have 1 year and 5 1/2 months left. hahaha I'll make the most of it if you promise that my mission won't have to be extended another 2 months.

Till next week, from la yaguita, not a second wasted,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Transfer to Santiago

Wow what a week. So first of all our baptisms did not go through on Saturday. Carpenter and I spent last week convincing the mom and the dad that they're sons should be baptized because they know it's true and they accepted. Friday went on an exchange while the district leader Elder Kinney and Carpenter went and interviewed the twins for their baptism. Everything went great and they qualified. Then, right after it was done the dad comes on and says he doesn't want them baptized, saying they're catholic and they were already baptized. They argued for a good hour says elder Carpenter and finally, after making the dad just look stupid, the dad tried to back himself out of the hole he dug my saying he had a vision the night before and God told him they couldn't be baptized. He made that up on the spot. The twins knew it, the mom knew it, the brother knew it, Carpenter and Kinney knew it, but most of all God knew it. But, since we have to have the permission of the parents the twins weren't baptized and everything fell through at the last second.

In other news, transfers were today and I'm in a different city with a Dominican comp. I am in Yaguita de Pastor in the southern part of Santiago. It's in the city so it's pretty densely populated. There is a giant cross on top of a hill, and my entire area is one big hill. Thus far it looks like a pretty wealthy area for the DR, the houses are nicer and the roads are paved, but it's not ole familiar fantino.

I miss it a lot. If I had any amount of comfort built up in the DR it was all destroyed upon arriving here. Now I don't have english to drop back on after lessons, I don't have an all american house to go back to to talk about american things, and I know absolutely no one. It's a different vibe here in the big city, everything is faster and there just isn't that warm feeling of meeting someone for the first time and feeling that they really do care about you. I think we have, from what it sounded, about 4 progressing investigators in this city. We never had that few in Fantino. I know, it's not fair to compare one of the best areas in the mission with an average one, so I am going to stop.

I will work my hardest to build this area up to where Fantino was. It might be hard.. We have a house we're meeting in in this area right now. Half the fun of inviting people to church in Fantino was that our church is the nicest thing in that town. I am going to have to work my butt off here, but I look forward to it. I love this opportunity I see for growth, both in the mission work here and within myself. Maybe not talking to my comp in English will clear up time to study more and really dive into the scriptures. Maybe having a two man house (which does have an invertor and water) will have me on a better sleeping schedule. Maybe having a dominican comp will teach me how to cook better. Maybe, just maybe, I will see a different Elder Sweeney in this transfer. One who knows spanish better, at least.

It's never easy to change, but with change comes growth. I love that feeling in the stomach that comes from necessary changes in one's life. It's nervousness mixed with a desire to work harder to overcome any doubts or fears reserved from the change. It's a collage of memories from things left behind and a blank slate of things to come. I will capitalize on this new area and learn this language thoroughly this transfer.

It's therapeutic to be able to talk to you two. Today we went shopping at a REAL super market and walked by a mcdonalds! Yes, it's in my area. I'm so thrilled! I almost danced at the prospect of another mcflurry. Def one of those once in a while treats.. they're pretty expensive, but it'll happen this transfer. That's for sure.

I bought stuff for spaghetti and I''m gonna cook for my comp and I. He's also gonna teach me to cook Yuca (a potato like root plant) and sweet potato. Good dominican cuisine.

Love your letters. Thanks for telling me about the masters. I'm coming up on 6 1/2, I can't believe. it. That last transfer FLEW.

I'll describe my Dominican comp to you. He's about 5'9, has glasses and speaks fast. Really fast. Hard for me to understand sometimes. But it'll help me so much to have him around.

There's also a golf course in my area....... ayayayay what a temptation. I may have to cave just one more p-day if my comp will come with me.

Love you two. Tell mike I'll be praying for him to sell the house as long as he prays for my success here. Can't wait for that package, I'll let you know when I get it.

Till next week, you already know,

-Elder C. Rufus Sweeney