Sunday, October 30, 2011

Frank and Fernando

Dear family:
It's been a great week. Challenging.. But great. It was the best of times and the worst of times. That man who we're teaching that is the most knowledgeable man in the world on the bible, remember him? Turns out he's read the bible 21 times. What??? I haven't done very many things 21 times in my life. Reading the bible 21 times is absolutely incredible, and also explains why he practically has it memorized. He just quotes us strings of scriptures like a poetry reciting competition. He says he does want to be a disciple of ours, but dag nab it we're gonna bring in back up, and we recruited the district president, president Vargas (who is a convert and apparently has a story similar to Frank, the investigator). And I'll be sure and let you know how it goes. I'm pumped to be honest for that lesson.

That wasn't all the fun with frank. But then there's Fernando. Wow. He's absolutely amazing. When we gave him the book of mormon he told us he was going to put it in a safe place, where he keeps all his precious things and he wanted to laminate the pages. The he asked if we had more. We told him yes, but we only give it to people that we know will take care of it and put it to use. He was almost in tears I think. And this is a 22 year old man that isn't short on worldly possesions. He just has a humble heart and a sincere desire to know the truth. With those two things the lord prepared him. We came back and he had read a lot of the book and marked his favorite scripture, which happened to be my favorite, Alma's discourse on faith. So beautiful.

I love the work. I am so pumped to talk to you two at Christmas, and I have to say.. I'll let you know if I want to talk to anyone else. I may very well just be happy with the family. I can't wait to speak spanish with Matt and Mike. We'll see if they can understand me. Hahaha I don't know if they'll be able to with my Dominican.

I love you two. I promise a better letter next week, but I'm almost out of time right now.

Till next week, seriously, not a second wasted,

Elder C. Rufus Sweeney

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Best of Times..the Worst of Times....

Well, it's been the best of times and the worst of times here in Bonao. It's no secret that for the last transfer and a half the people here in Bonao have been completely and utterly unreliable. They are in their house when they say they will be, I would say, about 20% of the time. That means even if we plan right we are still running around the entire city trying to find SOMEONE in their home that wants to share with us. Then, Friday it sort of boiled over. It was later, everyone had failed on us, and we were on one of our last appointments who I was just SURE was going to be there. We passed by and his sister said he had just left about 2 minutes before we arrived and that he didn't say where he went nor for how long. I don't show that I'm as upset as I am until I leave, I just was physically, mentally and spiritually beat. I didn't understand why we had so little success when we had so much desire. Even Daniel, who we thought was perfect, has to work every sunday...

So, I just went and sat down on the back of a metal grate of some kind. My comp gave me some words that helped me a ton, and then suggested prayer. I don't remember what he said but I remember just relief. Then we went back to work. We only had about an hour to work that night, so we started walking and got a call from two other missionaries in Bonao. They gave us two references, one that was a lady they met in the street and one that showed up to a baptismal service. We started with the lady. It turned out she had a baby of about 3 days, brand spankin' new and perfect to start that intense, straight to the heart conversation of eternal families. It hit home. We're going back tonight but we have a lot of hope for her and her boyfriend. We're gonna try and get them married.

Then we contacted the other reference the day after. It turns out he had gone to church that day, but in the other Bonao, so we had another investigator in church with that. We also put a baptismal date already. He's amazing. Then, that same day we got 2 references of cousins of the branch president. They're awesome. They need more priesthood here, they're gonna get it. They have dates as well. Then we met Jesus, his nephew Luis, and Fernando, all over 18 and all so awesome. So, right now we have 6 baptismal dates for the 5 of November (that's the goal at least). My comp and I are seriously flooring it right now. Putting it in 5th gear if you will. I've never been so incredibly tired until this afternoon when I got my hour and a half nap. Now I feel great. SOOOO needed.

Anyway, you were absolutely, positively right. The mission is just ZOOMING by now. I'm not really able to think about time now so I don't really know how much time I have. It's great to be honest. I don't know why I didn't spend my whole mission this way. Last night Elder Pinkston called me, that's the only reason I know how much time I have.

Ok.. OK let's see. As far as everything else goes. We have an invertor now in our apt. That was rough, because the schedule of power here in Bonao was 10-4 more or less, so we didn't have power those crucial hours between 12-3, when all you want is a fan. Seriously, that's all your thinking about. Ha it's still really hot here and it's the middle ofOctober. The good news is I don't have a single October more here in the DR. It's getting down to the lasts. Next, halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. It's strange. I can'
t wait to have another christmas with you guys. Is Christmas capitalized? Are all holidays capitalized? I need to brush up on the english grammar... Ha just one more reason not to rush into going back to BYU. I'd actually like to be at home for a bit. I wanna help out the missionary work in the branch, give my friends as references (BWAHAHAHA), and work a bit before heading out into the big, bad marriage scene of BYU. By the way, I have been talking to Elder Pinkston pretty seriously about rooming with him. He's from my group in the mission. Awesome kid, incredible missionary and all. He'd be a great roommate. He and nathan keesling. Yeahh.... Hand choosing roommates. Good stuff. Now, where to stay? I couldn't tell ya. I was thinking maybe alpine village... But that's a bit pricey. We'll see.

I am sipping on a Bon Malteada right now. Bon is the ice cream shop all over the DR. Malteada is their "milk shake". The beautiful thing is that it's one of the only things in this country with real milk. Yes, they use the genuine, unprocessed, straight from the cow stuff. The American stuff. Hence why I get it. It's delicious, but doesn't have anything on the braums hot fudge shake.. OOOOH I just made myself trunky.

So yesterday we met a man in the street. Remember my farewell talk? All about service? It's been like that my whole mission. I'm always looking for ways to help out. The other day we helped a lady move a giant rock in her front yard. Anyway, this guy's name is roberto, and he lived in England for a bit so knows a lot of English. My comp was talking to him and offered the service, and he actually took us up on it. We helped roberto cut an overgrown property with a machete, a hoe and a shovel. We finished a lot of it then shared with him. He told us he's trying to make some sincere changes in his life and shared with missionaries before but never really wanted to stop drinking. Now he does. Chalk another one up on the Bonao priesthood board. Oh, and he's got a car. :D

My comp, Elder Johnson, has gotten a lot of compliments on his spanish. We speak it a lot which helps him. Even president took note and said something to the effect of "wow, the new missionaries are already better at spanish than the trainers!" So cool. The generations of missionaries are better and better.

Thanks for answering the question about alcohol. Definitely something I've thought about but just totally slipped my mind. But it's excellent and so true. For different dispensations god has given his children different laws. This is the one for now. True and simple.

Welp, I'm about done I think. I love you too. It's hard for me to believe how fast it all goes. Sort of scary. I'm having too much fun. Legitimately, it's a whole different mission when you can express yourself and understand just about everything spoken. One becomes a servant of God, an instrument for good.

I love you two. I'm proud of my missionary parents. I'll write you on your missions just as you have on mine. hehehe and I'll get my wife to do the same.

Here's to a great next 11 months, with not a second wasted

-Elder Sweeney

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Bonao

ok ok to respond to the most important thing first (at least I assume so because it was all in caps), YES, I did get the package. And yes, I did almost cry when I saw the camel for hump day. And yes, I did get super trunky. Happy? HAPPY?

Nah I loved it. It was exactly what I wanted and then some. Those dips bars are SOOOO good and the mixed fancy nuts with like glazed almost and what not.. absolutely amazing. So, if you'd like to make Elder Sweeney happy send him a very similar package at Christmas and you've done so.

Aaaaand you had to mention fall at BYU again. Wow. You talk about absolutely nerve racking. I know what you're thinking.. "what's the difference between going on the block plan in the fall and the winter?" It's not a huge difference.. Hardly a difference at all, but just the fact that in my head I thought I was going back in the winter but now suddenly being thrown back in the world of BYU, dating and... dating again freaks me out. It's mind blowing. How's that gonna work, by the way? Are you coming to get me after the mission and I'm just gonna fly straight to BYU from the DR? hahaha I kid... Kinda. Seriously how am I gonna have a chance to breath? When would school start for me? should I maybe have a little time at home first working and normalizing myself? Idk, I'll definitely need to give it some thought.

I loved the score of the OU-Texas game. Or... I don't know if it deserves to be called a game. It was the texas football massacre. It sounded ugly.. Just like we like the Cotton Bowl to be (Unless it's Texas doing the beating) Wow. I also can't believe OU didn't move up after that.

Well this week I'm extra grateful for the mission. By the way, who's reading my blog? I'm curious to know who is "everyone." I'm also really glad you're updating it, Joy's been super busy and I understand why she wouldn't be able to do it.

So, I've been giving Elder Holland's talk this last priesthood session some thought, and he spoke a lot about couple missionaries. Are you guys thinking about that? I think you should. Put preston in charge of your firm and leave for a year. And you don't have to pay housing. You could serve in Santiago, DR! Eh? EH?

Ha seriously though it would be awesome. But only after I'm gone from here.. And after I get to see you guys and I'm married. ONLY then. OK? Ok. cool.

Elder Johnson is doing well. He's really happy that his legs are hurting him less and that he's not as tired. I told him at 3 weeks he'll feel completely normal. He still has struggles with the language, but he's learning incredibly fast. He just gets nervous in lessons, just like I used to. The more I see him, the more I'm reminded of myself. You're right, today I asked him if he thought I was pushing him too much, because I've had him start a couple lessons, but he told me he needed to do it in order to learn. He's right, he does need to do it in order to learn. So, I'll lighten his responsibility up a bit without babying him and he'll progress little by little. Sometimes I forget to put myself in his shoes, not knowing the language completely and being far from understand everything.

We contacted a guy yesterday named Daniel who is just GOLD. He is going to be baptised really fast. It's great because this branch needs priesthood DESPERATELY. Honestly. And so does the one at home. I'm gonna be working with a few of my friends who should have been references when I get home. I seriously am looking forward to that. Helping out the missionaries.

Anyway, after tracting into Daniel and having a lesson with him we went over to the first counselor's house. He's awesome. Yesterday he told us he was really happy with the missionaries that are here and he wants us to stay for a year. The zone leaders are also kicking butt. It feels good to get a compliment like that, like all the hard work is worth it. I told my comp that's his goal in the mission, to be exactly that kind of worker.

I love the work. You're right, time is going by super fast. Was it really P-day a full week ago? Now it's here again... I love you two. Miss you. I'll see you shortly.

Till next week, literally not a second wasted,

-Elder Sweeney

P.S. We have an investigator named franc who practically has the bible memorized. He whipped out a nice scripture and justified drinking with it. It's pretty good actually. matthew 11: 18-19. I think.. Could be matthew 10. Anyway, the answer of course is getting a testimony of Joseph Smith the prophet through the Book of Mormon. Simple as that. But, what do you think. Give it your best shot, dad.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Working Hard Brings Blessings

Well family, it´s really unbelievable. You have officially shaken me up. Reached the core of me. You reminded me that, within a few weeks of being home, I´d be back at BYU. I can´t say if the dominating feeling was fear or excitement, but I would say the former was sufficiently strong. I love the thought, but it terrifies me at the same time. How weird am I gonna be. I need an UnMTC, lots of rated action movies and college football, yeah... That´s what I need.

All talk of home aside for now, I´ve gotta report on how our week has been. I wasn´t kidding around when I said I was gonna explode here in Bonao, we have worked harder than I ever have on the mission. We have literally been to the four corners of our area looking for old investigators with a surprising amount of success. We´re also tracted a ton. My companion has expressed to me a lot how his legs hurt him a lot, how he immediately falls asleep when he hits the pillow, and it brings me such joy. Ha he´ll get stronger as we go, but he was a little bit discouraged.. And I admit, I was too. That is, until monday..

I prayed for a miracle leaving the apartment that day, we got two. The first was Luis Antonio, he´s a kid that´s 15 years old that we´re teaching. He´s a good kid, but plays baseball sunday, so we had a great lesson built around trying to get him to quit playing on sunday for church. We didn´t need to use it.. He quit anyway. We put a date with him for the 29th of october.

Fast-forward a couple hours later. We are teaching an old investigator of ours. He expressed to us his discouragement with life, what he was going through with his economic and family struggles, and how he was just not at ease. We shared DandC 121:7 with him, and no one in the room didn´t have tears. Then we offered him a priesthood blessing, in which my comp timidly annointed him, using his best spanish, and I sealed it. It was so powerful. After ward he asked us, ¨when can I get baptized,¨ to which we responded, ¨the 29th of October.¨

Then, yesterday we taught a young man and set another date of baptism for him, also for the 29th. We have 3 planned already. I´m hoping they all go through.

It´s been a crazy week. I´ve learned a ton, including that the Lord really does recognize and bless that that work in his work.

Ok, now for the news from conference. ANOTHER TEMPLE IN PROVO! That´s so exciting. Now everyone won´t have to wait so dang much because of the massive crowds of people. And it really was neat to see Pres. Monson so laughy and jokey, he´s such a jolly old man. I figure with such a sure knowledge as he has of the plan of salvation it´s impossible NOT to be happy. Still, it´s really cool.

Thanks for sending the list of things, including more OU stuff. It´s much needed. All I have are those sandals and the OU texas ticket. I´ve been wanting more. You read my mind. Or maybe you´re just my dad..

What else.. I think that´s about it. My new missionary is such a good kid. We are always laughing but working, and people take notice. It´s infectious, they want what we have.

Tomorrow.. I hit a year. I repeat it, and I´m done. I can´t believe how fast it´s gone at times, and I can´t believe how slow it´s dragged by at others. It´s a marvel, time. Especially time in the mission. It´s like a mini-life outside of real-life. You´re born, you live, and go through ups and downs, then you die and go to the spirit world (I figure Utah is the spirit world for a lot of dying missionary souls).

I´m proud of Cameron. He´s hanging in there in the hardest part of his mission. He says the smog makes him sick a lot.. It´s rough. And I imagine he doesn´t understand much. That may be rougher. I hated that at first. My comp is going through it too. I have really realized how for I have come in my spanish with him, he´s a lot like me when I was born. Very.. Clumsy broken spanish. Just a whole lot of listening.

Elder Kimball, my comp from the MTC, just called and congratulated me and I congratulated him on getting to a year. It´s smooth sailin from here on out. Wait... I´ve gotta knock on wood.

I think I´m just about done.. Oh in other news, golf is aparently not allowed in the mission....... So that´s a bummer. I was definitely gonna do it for a year and for elder johnson, who also plays golf, as well as another trainer in this zone named Elder Thiel, and a zone leader named Elder Cromwell. It would have been a blast.. and actually Elder Cromwell is gonna talk to Pres. Lee to see if we can just do it once.

I love you too. It´s so surreal that I will be seeing you two in a year. Now I´m counting down instead of up.

Be safe, I´ll talk to you in just a couple months over skype,

Elder Sweeney