Hello to you all! I hope life is just peachy and wonderful:) What an exciting week it´s been! There truly is never a dull moment in the mission, especially in this country. For example, we had 4 earthquakes on Wednesday!! It was so freaky, I was on the phone with the Elders in Bani to check in for the night, and all of a sudden, everything started shaking, and a couple seconds after it started in Ocoa, the earthquake hit Bani. We were like, ¨It´s the second coming!¨ There were 3 more within the hour after that, and they weren't huge, but man was it scary. And then we had a mini one yesterday. How is this happening?! So we´re hoping we don´t die because we have a lot more to do on this Earth:)
I did one of the coolest things of my life today: I hiked through a Caribbean jungle and entered a bat cave. It was insane!! It was basically a combination of ¨Wipeout,¨ ¨Lost,¨ and ¨Indiana Jones,¨ A good chunk of our zone came here to Ocoa, and we hiked through the jungle-covered mountains for a long time before dangerously climbing up to a natural cave. We were on our stomachs crawling through mud in a tiny hole and then entered the cavern of bat dung and complete darkness. And then it was just like in ¨Batman Begins¨ when Bruce Wayne fearlessly stands up in the cave surrounded by his greatest fear. There were sooooo many bats flying so fast, it was terrifying!! The air was a complete swarm of mosquitoes and bugs, and we were so filthy, but we had a total blast! And I conquered one of my fears! What a day it´s been. :)
Funny moment: when I took Hermana Alas to the branch president´s house to introduce them, I found out that I know right where his daughter lives in Bountiful, Utah! He visits there a couple times each year, so he´s pretty familiar with the area. So yeah, I was in the Dominican Republic talking about Jamba Juice and Lagoon, too funny:)
We had a big talk with Alexander after we found out that...he´s been drinking. I finally understood what Elder Holland said about being devastated when people break the commandments and don´t keep commitments. We had just taught him about the Word of Wisdom, too. We talked about him being honest with us, how much we love him, why we missionaries are here, and what´s really important. There were a lot of tears. I think he´s better understanding now just how important all of this is--we´re talking about salvation here, people! There is no time to waste! We know that Alexander is so ready; he has been marvelous from the very first lesson. He received an answer to his prayers that the Book of Mormon is true, and he feels so much peace when he´s reading it. He is very strong, and we´re not giving up on him.
He has a 9 year old niece named Ruby, and she´s been sitting in on almost all of his lessons, plus lessons with other people, so she knows a ton. We finally got permission from her mom to officially teach her, and oh my goodness, what a gem Ruby has been!! We've been visiting her almost every day this week, and she now has lessons 1,2, and 3. She loves reading the Book of Mormon, and she´s extremely intelligent--she´s basically teaching us. She now has 11 times in church, was so adorable in the Primary Program yesterday and gave the first talk (which she memorized a month ago), and accepted our invitation for baptism on December 19th!!! We´re so excited about her and the example she is setting for everyone in her family. She is what our mission president calls ¨pure gold.¨ I love her to death, and Heavenly Father has completely prepared her:)
Another big thing: Hermanas Gomez and Gonzalez, who live in our house, had an appointment with an investigator, and Hermana Gonzalez left her hymn book there. Once she realized it, they turned around, grabbed the book, and then were heading back to the house. As they were walking, they noticed that there was a big crowd of people surrounding something. They asked a neighbor what was going on, and she said that someone had just been murdered. Like a person was shooting in the street. The Hermanas did the math and figured out that if they hadn't detoured to get the forgotten hymn book, they would have been in that exact place in the street where the shooting happened. I know that God is a God of miracles and really does provide protection for us! Especially for the missionaries! We´re so relieved that they were out of harm´s way and that God was watching out for them--he allowed Hermana Gonzalez to forget the book and totally protected her and her companion.
Thanksgiving was good! We don´t have fancy things like measuring cups or electric mixers, so using our meager supply of kitchen accommodations, I made chicken, Mom´s green bean casserole, chocolate pudding, and Hermana Gomez & I made mashed potatoes. We were so proud of ourselves haha it was a little sad to look at our attempts to recreate our mother´s and grandmother´s masterpieces, but hey we did it! And we have two white and two dark people in the house, so we were two pilgrims and two Indians:) And of course we talked about what we´re thankful for; it was really nice to look back on all I have been blessed with:) Then I realized that exactly one year ago on Thanksgiving day 2014, I announced to my extended family that I would be serving a mission and putting my availability date as my birthday, June 13th. Now I´m actually here and have exactly one year left from today, November 30th. Where did the time go?! But you know what? Time is just a thing, and you've got to just live in the moment, something that I always struggled with. So I´m just enjoying this amazing time to be a missionary and share my happiness with other people. Really, I am so happy!! And it feels amazing! I feel very blessed to have a knowledge of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and now, this is the time to take action and share the glorious message of the Gospel with other people. My dad sent me this quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland that I love: ¨Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” It´s all going to be okay! Christ will come again, and we get to return to His presence if we´re worthy and prepared. I love being a part of the preparation for Christ´s second coming, and I know that through Him, all things are possible! I love you all! Have a wonderful week and trust in God!
Your Dominican Missionary,