|door signs at the CCM (MTC)|
|Dominican Republic Temple|
|Hermana Allan and Jacobsen|
|Loving the temple each week|
|The temple at night|
This has been one of the longest weeks of my life, just because we do so much each and every day! But I love it so much! I have so much to say and I'm just hoping I have enough time to write about everything. Anyways, here we go...
So Wednesday, after I got through security, I found and talked to so many missionaries, it was awesome! I sat next to a group of missionaries who were flying out to Michigan as I waited to board. I talked to them about missionary stuff which of course made me even more excited. When it was time to board, I was so happy to see another sister missionary waiting in line for the same flight. I talked to her and found out she was going to my mission! We were instant friends. Then, on the plane, the man sitting next to me saw me reading PMG so we started talking about missions and he told me a lot about his mission. It made me really want to have a missionary experience right then, so I said a little prayer asking if I could have one. After the flight, as I was waiting for Sister Jacobsen (the other sister) outside of the gates, a man who had been sitting next to the other man that I had been talking to, came up to me and started asking me about what I was doing as a missionary (he was Catholic and had overheard me talking to the other guy). So it wasn't really a doctrine-based conversation or anything, but it was just cool to be able to share with him what a missionary is and what I'll be doing for the next 18 months. Anyways, our flight got in early so Sister Jacobsen and I grabbed some lunch and found our next flight. I got some sleep on that one which was so nice, and the A/C smelt like bubblegum so that made it even better. When we got there, we definitely marked ourselves as gringos. Not only because we are white, but we had no idea what we were doing as we went through customs and everything was in Spanish and the forms were so weird and it was just a major struggle. But eventually we did it! However, as soon as we walked outside, I felt like I looked like a mix between Albert Einstein and the Matchmaker from Mulan because my hair poofed out about a foot and my makeup was melting off my face... it was awesome... it was (and is) so hot and so humid! (so don't pay too much attention to my hair in any of the pictures, because I haven't figured out just yet how to get it to look decent....).
Now, all about the CCM (MTC in Spanish). My companion, is none other than Sister Jacobsen who was on the plane with me. I love her so much! We get along so well and have such a great time together. She is seriously the best! Then, my district is myself, Sister Jacobsen, Elder Merrell, and Elder Stringam. Just the 4 of us. There are a total of 5 sisters (we are all in the same room), 3 districts (2 with 4 people and 1 with 5 people). Or in other words, there are 13 missionaries here! It's crazy small, but I absolutely love it!!!! We are all best friends already- it's the best! :) Because there aren't very many people here, the CCM is one hallway. If you look up a picture of the Dominican Republic MTC, you will see a building with 4 floors and the CCM is only the top floor. It's crazy. President and Sister Romney are the CCM presidents and yes, I'll be sure to say hi from Brenda. That's crazy that they know each other!
My schedule is just about the same every day. I get up at 6, breakfast at 7, personal study 7:30-9:30, language/grammar 9:30-12:30, lunch 12:30-1:30, grammar/gospel application 1:30-3:45, gym time 3:45-5, dinner 5-6, investigator 6-9, CCM prayer 9:15, bed by 10:30. The food is fabulous! For breakfast we usually have pancakes, french toast, cereal, etc. (normal stuff :)). Lunch is always two different kinds of rice and two different meats (lunch is the main meal here, so we get TONS of food!!!!! I'm definitely going to gain weight here..... but the food is worth it :)). Dinner is pretty normal: pasta, lettuce wraps, tacos, etc. They have the best juice here called Chinola. I'm in love with it! Also, most days we make Pan-dulce. To make it, we take a Carribean-style deli bread and fill it with peanut butter, bananas, sugar, and sometimes oreos. Then we toast it and flatten it on a panini gridle type thing and then I put caramel and strawberry syrup on top. It's sooooo good!!!! Mmmmmmmm. :) For gymtime sometimes we play basketball or ultimate frisbee or volleyball, or foosball (spelling?). Yesterday, I played ping pong with one of the Dominican teachers. They pride themselves on their ping pong skills. We had a super intense match, it was awesome! So now I'm the gringo ping pong master apparently. Thanks Nathan and Christopher! :)
My teachers are Hermana Garcia and Hermano Martinez and Hermano Eve. I love them with all of my heart. They are seriously the best teachers ever!!! I LOVE Dominicans. :) From the very first day, we only speak in Spanish. It's hard and stressful and a little frustrating some times, but it's coming along. I've learned to be patient with myself and that I don't have to be perfect at everything right away. It's been a good lesson for me to learn. But did I mention that I love my teachers?! They help a lot.
Sunday was really nice because sometimes I get so caught up in learning the language that I forget the spiritual side of things so Sunday was nice to get to refocus on spiritual things. And this morning we spent 4 hours in the temple and I absolutely loved every minute of it!!!
Anyways, I want to share some experiences that I've had with my investigators. Sister Jacobsen and I usually plan a pretty general outline for each lesson. So we planned one on Friday and then went in and gave the lesson, but then left feeling really badly about it. It didn't go at all how we wanted it too and it was very frustrating. Then on Saturday, after we had planned and as we were about to go in to teach our investigator, I felt prompted to say a prayer (something that we hadn't done on Friday). So we stopped and prayed and then went into our lesson. Planning is very important for us because we don't know a lot of the language so during planning we memorize phrases that we want to say. But during this lesson, our investigator shared with us something that took us on a different subject than what we had planned. But it worked. We felt the Spirit lead us to a different topic and as we followed that prompting we were blessed to know what to say and we had a really spiritual experience. I know it's all because we prayed at the beginning. It made me think of this scripture in Matthew 10:20 "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." It was such a cool experience and I really gained a testimony of letting the Spirit do the teaching and to teach people rather than lessons.
Also, with the same investigator, I had my first experience teaching the Restoration and it went to well. The spirit was so strong and by teaching it, my own testimony of the Restoration was strengthened. Also, yesterday, during our lesson, our investigator was really struggling with his family and I just didn't feel like we should go on with our lesson but that we should focus on him. So I stopped our lesson and asked him a few questions. He finally opened up to us and all of a sudden I felt the Spirit stronger than I ever have before. My heart was pounding, my face was turning red and I felt so much power from the Spirit. I bore my testimony that the gospel can help him, and then I asked him if he believed that God could help him and he said yes. So then, going against everything Sister Jacobsen and I had talked about, I asked him if he would get baptized. And he said YES!!!! I was soooo happy!!!! We weren't planning on asking him to get baptized or even talk about baptism, but I felt so much strength and power from the Spirit. I felt like I was going to burst. It was the coolest thing I have ever experienced.
I think the number one thing I'm learning here is how to love. I didn't realize how selfish I was before, but now all I do is think about my companion and about my investigator and I have been filled with so much love for both of them. I don't think I really ever knew what love was because I was always so focused on myself, but now I think I'm getting it. Everytime I go in to teach my investigator, I get a glimpse of God's love for each and everyone of us because I'm so full of love for him. Love is powerful and such a huge blessing. I'm grateful that I'm finally learning what love really is.
Thank you for all of the support you have given me and continue to give me! I love you all so very much! My outfits are working great, but my shoes aren't that great.... I might need another pair but I don't know what to tell you about the size.... Also if anyone has any time to do some extra scripture study for me, I'm trying to make a list of scriptures linking the Bible and the Book of Mormon together to show that the Bible teaches similar things. Anyone want to help? :)
Love you all so very much!!!!!!!!! Talk to you next week!