My second week in the field has been awesome! It definitely feels like I've been here for a month or two, and everything is just so normal about living here now; that feels really good:) My Spanish is coming along, and the people are starting to get to know me more, which is great because I need their trust! Reading The Book of Mormon has been the greatest experience ever here on my mission. Wow. I have a greater understanding and appreciation for it than ever before. I finished the book of Alma this week in El Libro de Mormon, and after earnestly reading it, how could people ever say that it's boring and has no plot?! So much happens, so much to learn from our ancestors. I'm so very grateful for the knowledge we have through the scriptures!!
I will never get over how GORGEOUS Ocoa is, ay mi madre I am so blessed to be here!! I really do feel honored to be in such a wonderful place. We got to go to a beach in Bani today with our zone, and I was freaking out cuz I'm in the Caribbean for real!!! Don't worry, I didn't play in the water, I'm just a different color now haha:) We hiked for an hour up a mountain yesterday to get to a small city called La Parra where a ton of less actives live. The old branch president lives there, and he got excommunicated for using the members' tithing money to provide transportation to church, so now most of the members who live up there don't come anymore. We're encouraging them to attend church and are teaching of the people there!
The branch technically has 700 members, but only 50 or 60 are actually active. It's hard, the area is great, but the branch struggles; it depends on teh missionaries a lot, so we're trying to 'wean them off of us' and give them more responsibilites. The youth are amazing, though, holy cow!! I love them so much! It really is the youth and the ward mission leader, who is 20 years old, who keep the branch going. They are so dedicated, it's wonderful:) There are even youth who make up the Young Womens presidency, not adults. The adults and nearly all of the teenagers are first generation members since the Gospel wasn't introduced to the Dominican Republic until 1978. Many of the youth don't have support from their families (concerning the Gospel), and yet, they are so faithful and really help the work move forward here in Ocoa. Young women often come on splits with Hermana Dibble and I, and they have introduced us to their nonmember friends, which means new investigators! Wahoo!
Last Wednesday, I invited three investigators (Analuisa, Santiago, and Cristian) to be baptized and set dates for them! And they ALL said yes!! So now we have six investigators with baptism dates!!! I especially love Analuisa; she was a contact that my companion met right before I came here, and she is really excited about the Gospel. I have learned from teaching her how much of a refuge Christ and His Gospel are. She has a hard life, her husband hits her and she has hardly anything--her whole house is the size of one bedroom in my house back home. The message of Christ has provided so much hope and happiness for her. It will be amazing to see how her decision to accept the Gospel and be baptized will bring miracles to her life:)
I know this Gospel is true!!!!! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is THE true church on the earth today, and I love getting to share that knowledge of Christ and His church with the people of Ocoa! You WILL be blessed for following Christ and having faith in Him; pray lots and lots, turn to Him in all things, and remember the promise we've been given in Alma 62:51 ''And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to his word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land.'' Until next week!