What an insane week and a half it has been! Starting with the fact that I'M OFFICIALLY IN THE MISSION FIELD!!! I'm gonna back up, though--so much has happened. Judge Wallis, who is nationally recognized and on a first-name basis with President Obama, came and spoke to the MTC about enduring to the end, his conversion story, and about his work. He fixes government systems all over the world and lets really important people know he is LDS: So that was super cool. I got to play the piano arrangement I wrote of "If You Could Hie to Kolob" at a devotional with President Cornish of the Seventy--it was fantastic! An Elder in choir wrote an arrangement of "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and "Love at Home" that we taught the choir and sang for our last sacrament meeting; the Spirit was so strong, and it went so well! We got up to 17 people in the choir, I was thrilled!
I went on splits in the West mission, which is my mission, and I learned so much. Also, I definitely learned that I am WHITE. The missionaries are the only Caucasians in this insane country, plus I'm tall compared to Dominican women, so lots of staring, cat-calling, etc. They love Americans here, it's hilarious.
Saying goodbye to everyone in my district and in the CCM was really hard. They have become my family, and I wish more of them were going to the West mission with me. I got to bear my testimony to my district, though, and we are planning a CCM reunion when we're all done here:) On Tuesday morning, none of the alarms in our room went off, so after only two hours of sleep (packing took all night), I had 15 minutes to get ready and finish packing before being shipped off to the field. I was frazzled, to say the least; definitely freaking out and stressed, but I calmed down after I met my mission president. President Nuckols is the greatest!! Love him! We had orientation for a few hours, lunch, then I headed to my area and started proselyting right away!
Hermana Megan Dibble from northern Idaho is my new companion!! She is almost six feet tall, been on her mission for a little over a year, and is so incredibly patient and kind! We work really well together, and we haven't had any problems. My area is called Ocoa, which is considered the paradise of the mission, no joke. It's a city nestled in the mountains, and it is absolutely GORGEOUS, I love it SO much!! It's not as hot or humid as it is in the capital, so halelujah! There are 4 Hermanas in my house, 202 missionaries in the West mission, 50 Hermanas total, and 6 in my district (only 2 Elders). My part of our area is really poor. I take bucket showers, there is very little water, no AC in this country period besides the CCM and temple. I have taken so much for granted during my lifetime. People in America, appreicate all you have!!
My Spanish vocab is building up, I'm working hard, and the missionaries here tell me that I know more than they did when they first entered the field, so that has been comforting. I don't think I'm that great, but my confidence is building, and the more I teach, the better I get! Even if I can't understand everything people say, I try to understand their feelings, teach the doctrine I can, and invite the Spirit. I'm actually handling everything out here really well--a lot better than I thought I would! I LOVE MY AREA! This work is amazing, the Gospel is true, and Christ makes all things possible!!
On my second day in the field, Wednesday, I extended the invitation to be baptized to an investigator, and she said yes! I set the date for September 26, and she came to church! 9 less actives and 5 of our investigators came, that was a record, we were so happy!!
Hurricane Danny hit on Tuesday, but it didn't affect me, I don't know what happened with it. On Friday, though, it started raining, and I was just singing and having a good time as we proselyted, but then we got a red alert, a call from the zone leaders in the middle of a lesson, and we found out that Hurricane Erica was about to hit our area. It was so scary, we stayed in our house the rest of the day. So much water, huge storm, can't believe it happened. I know that at least 14 people were killed by it in the West Indies, I don't know more info than that, but know that I am alive and survived it.
2 Nephi 31:15 "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved." I can do hard things! And so can all of you! Keep an eternal perspective and rely on Christ! I have thought a lot about that this week. I can feel your prayers and love you so very much! Know that I love this Gospel with all my heart, I love the Dominican Republic, and I love my mission so much already!
Hoping you all are not in a hurricane,