Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Week in the Field Done. 2 Down.

(Email to Friends)
Where to even begin?  TONS has happened this week.  Like an insane amount.  At least that's what it feels like!

First off the ward here is actually decent sized.  Around 100 active members, I think around 400 actual members.  Not the best retention rate.  But that's why I'm here!

Also, fruit here is ridiculously cheap.  3 bananas for 10 pesos.  That's like a quarter for all 3.  I think it's 20 for a mango.  Gotta love cheap, amazing fruit.  Or cheap amazing anything really.

There's been some insane storms this week.  Tons and tons of rain, and tons and tons of lightning.  Last night I heard a couple lightning strikes where the sound followed in less than a second.  I heard some car alarms go off because of it.  Way crazy.  We lost power for around half a day because of it.  The power here is sketchy anyways so it didn't surprise me much.

Our daily shopping store reminds of a cross of Winco and Wansgards.  It's the size of a Wansgards, with the warehouse type feel of Winco, but the products of a Smiths.  It's actually pretty nice.  It has anything you'd expect from a grocery store with a DR twist.

During some of our lessons we'll sing hymns.  I have a terrible voice, and Elder Moncada isn't so hot either, but it still invites the Spirit amazingly well.  I thought that was really cool.  I have never heard of that before.

Also tons of little store type things.  Like grownup lemonade stands, all over the neighborhoods.  Also these crazy trucks with super loud speakers go around selling fruit CONSTANTLY.  And people with big baskets on their heads do the same.  Also some fruit vendors on a street nearby.  Super Cool.

I'd have to say, I've discovered a new love for families.  Part of it is probably because I miss my own so much, and part of it is because of the potential I see in them.  I love teaching families.  I have firsthand seen how much different a family can be with the gospel, and really want these people to have that.  It's hard, because families are very hard to get all together at the same time to teach.

We also found an area this week called the "Colonial of Doctors."  It's VERY aptly named.  These houses are at least US sized, if not bigger.  When I say US sized I mean about the size of my house.  Not huge, but very comfortable and enough to live in.  It was very cool in this neighborhood, with yards, and the whole shebang.  Crazy stuff.  It's also huge.  We found that out the hard way.  Remember when I said it rained a ton this week?  We got lost for a couple hours in this place.  Reminds me of the valley with how far apart some of the houses are.  And it was absolutely dumping on us.  Crazy fun.  I love the rain, so it was fine by me!

Lots of the people here who aren't members actually have testimonies of the church.  They've born them to us many times, and I know they're real.  Unfortunately, they aren't converted.  They won't act on it at all.   It makes it hard to know who we need to work on.

Also really interesting, the church has only been in this country around 30 years.  So most people have only been members for around 10 or so years.  It's crazy how fast it's grown then.  3 missions here now.  I think 5 or so stakes.  Way quick.  #HastenTheWork

I also got a taste of some weird food.  Technically we're not supposed to eat with members (they have a potential to serve bad meat), but we did anyway.  It was sketchy.  A cornmeal/oatmeal/malt-o-meal type thing that was not sweet, with vegetables, corn, and some questionable meat.  I was NOT a fan.  I considered it punishment for eating out.  We got some really good sweet plantain type things after though so it worked out.

We also got another baptism date!  That makes 2 potential baptisms for September 20th.  One is for sure, the other one I question if he'll make it.  We'll see how it goes.

I think we taught around 30 lessons this past week.  Not hard to talk to people, it's just super hard to get them to act on what we teach them.  Plus we opened the area, so it was like 100 percent from scratch.  All our investigators are just barely starting.

I think that's all for this week!  It's been hard once again, but it's getting easier.  I'm just taking it one week at a time.

Love you all lots!  E. Potokar.

(Email to Family)
This week has definitely been better.  It's still been hard though.  Definitely still had its ups and downs. I'm definitely doing better. Sitting around Saturday was hard and sitting Sunday didn't help much either.  When I'm active it's better.  Sometimes I space out and it's hard to feel the spirit when doing that.  It's just hard to focus when I can't understand everything.

Also sorry I didn't go much into detail last week with the actual work.  It's hard to stay focused on it.  That's something I'm DEFINITELY going to have to work on.  Thinking of investigators and teaching more than home.  I hope it'll come as the language comes.  Thank you for asking for the details last week.  I don't want to finish my mission and regret thinking about home the entire time.

I also have decided to really crack down on the language.  I uploaded a page of my study sheet of things I have to do daily.  It's about time I actually really pushed myself to know this language.  It's slowly coming along.  I try to focus more and more.  I need to try harder to participate even with my terrible Spanish. Being a part of a conversation I don't have a desire to be in is something I struggled with in English, better yet Spanish! Haha. I'm naturally quiet, and the Spanish just amplifies that.  Also, I'm struggling with pronunciation in Spanish, just like I did in English.  Go figure.

On the topic of you guys coming after my mission, have you considered staying at the MTC here?  I know they have rooms for families going to the temple, but I don't know how exclusive they are about them.  They have kitchens and everything for ya too.

Elder Monique from the MTC really just impressed me.  He was a DL, did all the little things and was just incredible.  Unfortunately, he went to the West mission.  He was great at soccer as well and I really got to know him while playing. Also there's an Elder in our district who is like 20 minutes from his house in his area.  Some of his friends are in his area.  How weird would that be?

Also forgot to mention my interview with President Corbitt!  It was pretty much the first thing we did once we left the MTC.  You can tell he knows a lot and cares a lot.  I really like him.  A lot.  He said I looked obedient and like a leader.  I hope I can live up to that, but I'm not too worried. Did you get a picture of me with President Corbitt?  I'm not sure if I gave them a correct email.

Was it hard to get lessons to teach in Missouri?  How was their accent?

Also a weird thing, lunch is the biggest meal here.  That's going to take some getting used to.  Actually I'm already used to it haha.  Dinner is usually more like a snack.  We had bread with peanut butter and fruit cocktail last night.  I'll usually make grilled cheese or Top Ramen though.  Something easy.

We're doing good food wise.  Lots of rice for lunch usually with some kind of mix of salami, some kind of beans, eggs, or fried plantains.  I've learned how to cook fried plantains and fried green bananas.  Both are pretty good.  Taste like fries.  Also managed to make some mean pancakes.  How exactly did you add flavoring to yours?  And what's the difference of cooking in butter or oil?  Elder Moncada likes making pancakes in oil, which I find gross.  And any tips for scrambled eggs?  I uploaded my failed 2 eggs I cooked.  They didn't go very far.  I must be doing something wrong, or they're smaller eggs. The pan is beat.  All that egg stuck to it is from my two eggs.  I haven't been using any butter so I'll try that.

We have not had a ton of fruit, but I plan on buying more.  We do have a blender, but have yet to use it as well.  It's on the bucket list.  Maybe I'll use it for the pancakes.  And we have a waffle maker too, so that's on the bucket list to use.  You can flip it over and it's a Panini press type thing.  It doesn't work well with grilled cheese though. We do lunch as a foursome and breakfast and dinner as a companionship.  We eat out occasionally.  It's generally really expensive. We're not supposed to eat at members houses, so it probably won't happen again. It was sketchy.  They were pretty well to do, but the food was sketchy.

The washing machine cleans alright.  I can't really tell haha.  It feels cleaner I suppose.  We even bought some fabric softener to put in it.

This is a little long, but here's some more gift ideas.  They don't have to be ASAP: just watch out for them at the DI, garage sales or wherever.  iPod, Norwex towel, protein bars, a backpack (big enough to carry scriptures, a few miscellaneous small books, pamphlets, water bottle and umbrella: not too big), a belt, an easy hymns piano book (one that teaches you how to play.  The ward mission leader is consistently 45 minutes late to meetings and I'd like to learn how to play in that time), another journal like mine, and potentially a bigger umbrella.  But I can probably get the umbrella here.

We're also having an experiment with the President. Just Moncada and I.  He says we're his test subjects and it may become a mission standard. We're trying coming in at 8:30 for dinner. We were coming in closer to 9 which made it hard to eat, plan, and write in my journal before bed. We're allowed an hour, but no one uses it at this point and everyone is inside or doing something by 8:30. It gets dark at like 7:30 so it gets sketchy fast.

I LOVED the package. I got it the first week mail came in the field.  So you were pretty quick with it. We get our mail during our zone/district meetings on Thursdays.  I got it this Thursday, but mail didn't come last Thursday.  Can't say exactly how long it took to get here.  I think they charged my card about 120 pesos for it. I loved the pop rocks that have been sitting in our closet for ages.  And the lint roller was a need.  And I ate most the candy by now.  So good.

Also I didn't realize this until I was looking in that Ensign you sent me (which I LOVE by the way.  I've needed some reading material other than Jesus the Christ.  Please send me more in your next package if you don't mind!), and I got a devotional from Elder Cornish and Elder Martinez of the 70.  I had no idea there were of the 70! So that's super cool.

Also TONS of kids here.  They're always in the street at night.  They play some crazy baseball with bottle caps they flip. It's crazy.  Reminds me a walkie talkie every night.  It's how I imagine the 80's to be like.

I might have to give a talk in front of 4 zones and Elder Martinez of the 70.  They're going to choose 2 people from our district.  I would assume it wouldn't be me, but I have no idea honestly.  It's on Thursday.  They're choosing two of the 6 from our district.  We'll see how it goes.

(Did you go sightseeing today?) Nope.  None today.  Since we might have to speak in front of Elder Martinez and 4 zones, we got prepped for that.  I got another haircut, we made some copies of keys and just did some little things.  Elder Moncada is convinced he's speaking since he's a former ZL (he's probably right), so he's been kind of weird with his prep.  I'm hoping I'm off the hook since I'm so new, but we'll see.  I'll prepare one anyway.

Also the last couple of days have been crazy.  First Friday we didn't leave the house in the morning.  I thought we were just waiting for an inspection cuz we cleaned that morning, but it never came and we just left later.  That really irritated me.  Then we got lost in that Colonial of Doctors.  There were a few huge dogs that almost chased us there.  It was pouring so hard too.  Insane.

It hasn't stopped raining much in 3 or 4 days now. Tons of lightning. It's dries out quick when it's not raining! Ha-ha, it's been pretty nonstop the last couple of days. The rain usually doesn't keep us in.  Maybe holed up at someone's house, but we usually go out in it.  It's pretty cool.  It feels really good when it's just a drizzle actually.  I don't mind it, but sometimes it absolutely dumps.  Reminds me of that walk we went on in the rain one time.

Also the Elder's quorum is very similar to ours here.  They tend to argue quite a bit. Also interesting, they split serving the sacrament left and right. Instead of front and back like we did it.  Church was better this week too.  Not great, but better.  We didn't sit behind that little girl, but I did see her a couple of times and shed a few tears. One lady here reminded me of Grandma Kelly.  I haven't thought of her in a long time so that surprised me.  Shows just how good my mind is getting at making connections with home.

We also just visit people a lot.  Is that normal?  Like when contacting we'll share a principle and set a date to come back.  And we just visit with members some times.  One lady we're working on her husband, and he's not there sometimes, but then we'll just visit with her for a while.  I understand getting to normal and earning the trust of people is important, but I feel like we go over the top on some things.

How long were your lessons usually?  Ours are about an hour and I feel that's a bit too long.  Elder Moncada also knows the Bible ridiculously well, but rarely uses the BOM which I think is a waste.  He's also not a huge go-getter.  Like if something goes wrong, I'll ask him what we should do and he just says he doesn't know.  Come on now!  haha.

Elder Moncada is a great guy. He is the second youngest of I believe 5 kids in his family.  Two of his older siblings served and one of those is still serving in Mexico I believe.  He's been out 15 months.  He knows what he's doing.  There's a few things I'd like to change about his teaching (I'll definitely do it in mine once I know how to speak Spanish!), but overall he knows what he's doing.  He was a ZL, and I'm his four "son" or trainee.

We also have FHE with a family tonight.  I have a feeling it's going to be rough without the family.  It's little things like that that are really hard for me. It could definitely be worse.

Also remember how my shoes had tan threads on them?  I forgot about them and shined them black.  Don't know how I would've got around that though.  Oh well. Shoes have been great.  No problems at all.  The shoe trees has helped dry them out.

Also did you ask anyone about my Mission Belt and why it might be staining?  I tried it with a different bag, but it still stained my shirt.  I've got a ghetto belt now to try and hold everything together. I believe it has stained three shirts.  One is really bad, two aren't that noticeable.  Most of it tucks in or is folded over so I'm not too worried about it.  I also can't find a sock.  Mark that down.  I went nearly two months without losing a sock haha. I also usually hang my shirts out on a hanger which helps with the wrinkles.  Plus with the humidity I'm usually fine.  The Holmes shirts don't seem to wrinkle as bad either.

 Do you know anything about how Cole is doing on his papers?  Or if Nate has started his? Is there any way you could try and find Christian Larsen's mission email for me?  I'd love to email him and hear how he's doing. (Miranda Fielding received her call to the DR also.) Maybe I'll visit the MTC to see her.  Do you know when she reports?

Thank you for the updates from everybody!  I really enjoyed it.  How'd Lydia do with a full day of school?

The Ogden temple looks amazing! I can't wait to go inside.  I'm glad I can still see all of it even though I missed the open house.  We also get to go to the temple in September!  I'm looking forward to that. :)

I've started a separate account where I list one good thing a day.  I think I'll start doing a paragraph in my journal as well though.  Still writing close to a front and back of each page a day though.

That's about it. I think that's about all I can think of! Please let me know if you have any more questions. I struggled to actually remember to send you stuff Gospel related sometimes! Love you tons!  I'm definitely doing better.  It comes and goes, but I definitely am better.  Still miss you guys tons though.  Think about home a lot too. Miss you tons too!  I printed off your advice from last week and it's REALLY helped me through this week.  Thank you SO much.

Love you always.  Think of you and the family more than I should.
Love, E. Potokar.

View from the barber shop door.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Letter and Pictues to Family of Elder Potokar

Dear Potokar Family,

For me, it is a great pleasure to inform you that your son, Elder Easton Potokar arrived at the mission home safe and sound and ready to start his mission.  We want to thank you for having sent him to serve in this marvelous work.  His own life and that of his family will be greatly blessed.

Your son will have very special experiences in these two years of service.  The people of this country are very kind and have the desire to know the truth.  We are sure that with your support and love, and the guidance he will receive here in the mission, Elder Potokar will obtain success.

We are at your service to respond to any inquiry that you may have with respect to your son or his mission.  We expect him to communicate with you each week via letter or e-mail.  He will also communicate with you personally by telephone on Christmas and Mother’s Day.

Elder Potokar will receive all of our love and care.  Without any doubt, he will be a blessing in the lives of the many people he will bring to the light and the truth.

May you receive blessings in abundance from the Lord.


President Ahmad Corbitt
Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo East Mission

Sister Corbitt, Elder Moncada, Elder Potokar, and President Corbitt

 Elder Moncada and Elder Potokar 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Week in the Field Done!

(Email to Friends)
It´s been a crazy week.  Way hard, but totally worth it.  Still working on getting used to it out here.  We´ll see how it goes this next week.  I only expect it to get better though!

First off I'll finish up on MTC stuff.  Elder Monque is a way sick kid I met there.  You might see pictures of him I sent home.  I enjoyed Peanut Butter in my oatmeal there.  It´s fantastic.  DC 100 verse 1 really helped me through the week. 

I also had a fast this week to help me understand more of the language.  When I got here I understood nada.  I'm in a house with 3 other Latinos.  That's not a good thing.  I fasted to be able to understand more and the fruits of that have really hit me.  I've been able to understand around 60 percent now.  I at least almost always know the gist of what's going on.  I'm SO happy about that.  Helps a ton.  I'm glad the Lord is there to help me through this.  I couldn't do it on my own!

First off, new foods · Mangu (mashed plantains, like mashed potatoes), zapotes - a weird fruit, fried plantains.  I expect more to come in the next couple of weeks too.  Wish me luck.

Lots of disobedient missionaries here from what I´ve heard.  It´s going to make it rough to make it feel like an actual mission.   I´ll just keep plugging along though.  

My companion is Elder Moncada from Honduras.  Way chill dude.  He knows enough English we can understand each other enough. I´m his 4th trainee, he´s a former zone leader and just knows his stuff.  I´m in good hands.  He says freak a lot too which I find hilarious.  We´re also opening up a new area.  His fourth.  This means we don´t have any previous investigators.  Completely straight off of contacting.

Also in our house is Elder Ventura, from Guatemala and Elder Vasquez from El Salvador.  Both seem cool.  I generally don't know exactly what they're saying though haha.  

One day it just started pouring.  We got stranded on a guy’s porch and he took our umbrella and chased after a flip flop with it.  The Dominican people are crazy.  It´s going to be a fun two years.  

We already had a contact come to church!  Way cool.  After, we went and visited her and asked her if she had any questions.  She asked "What do I need to do to be baptized" AHHH!  So awesome.  She was definitely prepared by the Lord.  Elder Moncada is pretty confident she will be baptized.  We just have to wait three weeks and teach her all the lessons.  I look forward to it!

Love and miss you all a ton!  Keep it up.  I think school is starting pretty soon so good luck with that!  
Love, E. Potokar.

(Emailed to Family)
Ahh.  I miss you guys so much.  I can't even explain it.  If I thought the first week of the MTC was hard this week was like a million times harder it seems like!  

First off I'm having a major struggle with the language.  It's hard living in a house full of three Latinos to let out my personality when I don't know what's going on.  I feel really alone a lot of the time.  I pray a lot.  I'm starting to understand more and more which is slowly helping more and more.  It makes me jealous of Wade and Marcos who don't have to learn a new language.  I'll get through this though.  It'll be nice to learn Spanish I suppose haha.  The fast I had this week helped a TON.

Hey do you know that huge house we visited?  Some girl in the MTC knew them.  Weird connections everywhere.  And I sent home a few pictures with a Latino kid at the MTC.  That's Elder Monque.  He's a stud.  Amazing all around guy and great at soccer.  Apparently could've been a pro dancer but went on a mission instead.

Elder Fusselman's dad is doing well.  From what I heard he got to keep all his fingers which is definitely a blessing.  It's actually August and September from what I heard. (hottest months in the DR)  So I hit right in the hottest times!  My room does have AC though (what a blessing!!) so I usually wake up cold haha.  We crank that thing up a lot.  

I try to live each day one at a time.  It's so hard though.  I figured if I was only here for a day I'd live it up. That mindset seems to help.  Sometimes.  Other times it's just a struggle instead.  

President Freestone also said I need to get a vision of who the Lord wants me to be post mission.  Not just be a composite of my companions.  That's something I plan to work on in weeks to come.  Way too much on my mind (home like 24/7) now.  

While in the temple this last time I received what I believe to be revelation.  I was praying, and felt that the Lord was really listening.  That's been a comfort to me this week.  It also mentions that testimony multiple times in my patriarchal blessing.  Also that I'll "be able to testify that the Lord hears and answers prayers while on my mission."  Something along those lines.  I thought that was really cool.  

My mission  belt and bag combo are causing problems!  The way my bag sits causes my shirt to rub on my belt. It stains it and I can't get it out.   I jimmy rigged a makeshift belt and bought a new bag today.  We'll see how well it works though.  

Also, some more bad news.  I can't find my iPod anywhere.  Not sure if it got stolen or left at the MTC or what happened to it.  I still have the speaker which was packed right next to it so I don't know! I'm also missing one of my Norwex towels.  So some gift ideas would be: a music player with music of some sort, one of those towels, some protein bars, a backpack (I'll get to that later), and maybe a calculator?  I have to pay 90 pesos for each pound of a package I receive.  That's about $2.25. (If you send him a package please don't make it heavy. This fee comes out of his food allowance.) I get around 4000 pesos every 15 days.  

I've thought many times what I would give to have an hour to talk to you face to face.  So much.  I could really use some love and a shoulder to lean on for a while here.  I thought a few times that I wished I went to the Provo MTC so I could've seen you guys in the airport again! And remember how you said homesickness was the only thing I had to overcome?  It's killing me.  It's gotten a little better each day though.  I'd add the language to that list too.  

The language is a struggle.  I see all the normal habits and joking in it like it's English.  Like these people are so comfortable speaking it.  It makes things hard.  I want to be that comfortable in it.  Speaking to anyone in English at this point is a joy.  I can't get enough of it.

President Corbitt with the new missionaries going out into the field and their companions.

I've been thinking of little ways I'd train a little better. I'd love to help someone else through this homesickness.  I had my district write in my notebook and a few of them mentioned I helped them through that.  I don't know if Elder Moncada is used to someone being this homesick haha.  Lots of tears have been shed. 

Elder Moncada is whiter than I am as well which makes me feel like a native haha.  Not really though. Elder Moncada has trained 3 others, but they all spoke Spanish.  I'm more or less on my own with that.  All the guys in the house already speak Spanish too.  I'm slowly coming to grips with that.  I've just got to really focus and work on that. It's hard to be involved and be myself in the house.  They'll all be joking around, but I struggle to know what about and contribute if I do.  I’m slowly getting myself used to messing around with them though.  Elder Ventura is really funny when I understand him.
Mom, I miss your food. A ton.  I really wish I would've learned more cooking from you.  Our kitchen has just about everything we had at home.   All our food here is generally repeats, although now that we've gone shopping it's gotten better.  I bought yogurt and cornflakes to have a taste of home, as well as stuff for grilled cheese. I also uploaded a picture of a HUGE mango we got.  So cool.  Fruit is very good here.  Excellent. Luckily my comp and Elder Ventura know how to cook fairly well.  I plan on learning as much as I can from them.  

Also I'm going to ask a favor for in your email for next week.  I'd like some kind of a workout schedule.  Something core wise.  Elder Moncada isn't a runner so something I could do in the house.  If you could that'd be excellent.  Also maybe a list of easy recipes I could cook?   The first couple of days here food wise were rough.  We didn't have much food so it was all pretty rough.  We've gone shopping since.  I realize I don't know how to cook much though.  It makes me wish I had had Mom teach me more.  I also realized I'm all on my own.  It's totally up to me to be obedient.  That kind of freaks me out.  Sometimes I think I should've gone to college first so I wouldn't have all these huge choices and concepts to figure out!

Church this week was crazy hard.  It's cool how the church is the same everywhere, but makes it such a reminder of home.  A little girl sat in front of me in sacrament and reminded me exactly of Lydia.  I cried a lot of that sacrament.  Also a boy whose family we ate with the other day (We should not have, it's against the rules), reminded me of Garrett.  It's hard.  All the families here tend to remind me of an experience I had at home too.  Makes it super hard. Please pray for me.  I need all the help I can get.  I'm sure you have been though!

The church has a whole different outlook to me now too.  It always seemed like part of life before, like school or soccer or anything else.  Now I realize it's another church or religion.  I'm preaching about God out there.  That's weird to me.

This mission has a major disobedience problem.  I've heard stories of parties, missionaries with girlfriends, and all sorts of stuff.  I guess the former mission pres let it get out of hand, but President Corbitt is fixing things.  That's why he has former ZL's working with the greenies.  He knows the ZL's are super obedient. It also makes it hard to know how strict I need to be with the rules and what's actually a rule or not.  All the Latinos in my house are super lax.  I'm trying to be more stalwart though.  

I don't get why you'd come and be that disobedient! Just go home!  Quit making a bad name for the church here.  Drives me nuts.  I was talking to our DL, Elder Kirk from Logan, and he said his trainer never even left the house.  They just sat around all day.  That was with the old president. 

We're in northern Santo Domingo.  Hard to explain actually where.  Maybe some of my pics will have a GPS tag on them hopefully. Me and my comp sleep on the floor.  Not a biggie.  We're just new in the house so that's what we get. Also the mornings are the hardest thing here.  Waking up in somewhere not familiar without family nearby is a shocking realization every morning.  I hate it.  The days generally improve from that point on though.   I'm tall compared to like everyone here.  Tall and white. Our district is us four, and two others.  One of which is from Utah, Elder Kirk.  I enjoy speaking English to him.  It's incredible.  I'm SO glad he's here.

The chapel is pretty nice.  Two sides to it.  It's like separate buildings.  One is a chapel or capilla and the other is all the classrooms. I think you'd love the houses here.  So colorful and pretty, but very dense and close together though.  Everyone's house has a little porch behind the gate like things like in my picture.  Lots of people are sitting out on them.  We just go and talk to them.   Or Elder Moncada does and I try to listen.  I have a few times though.  At least talked a little bit. It's kind of like tracting. Not many discussions yet, just mostly just asking if they know us and if we can come back another time to talk.  People are way nice.  We've only been turned down like maybe 3 times by strict Catholics.  It's not hard to teach people, but then you have to be careful if they just want to be friends. Pretty much everyone here is catholic too.  Or evangelical.  Those people are kind of crazy. People are very open which is a blessing. A few other people have bore testimony to us too, and it sounds like it's real.  But they won't do anything about it yet.  Only the first week though.

The homesickness has gotten better since the first day too.  When we're tracking now I can generally focus on that and not home.  And in lessons trying to focus on the Spanish and understanding helps a lot too.

We eat out occasionally.  Some of the local places are cheap.  Pizza Hut today was like 5 bucks.  We got like 2 slices, a few breadsticks and a coke for just over 200 pesos.  Pretty pricey.  A solid plate of nachos at a local place the other day was a 100 and empandas are 50. We've had Domino's too and I've seen a McDonald's. We usually buy water from those little shops.  A Dasani is like 15 pesos.  No point of carrying a water bottle cuz there's nowhere to fill them up.

Lots of little shops everywhere.  The street we have to cross to get to our area (we don't actually live in our area) is filthy.  I don't know if it's an island problem.  The natives like don't have garbages.  I swear they just throw it out the windows.  From where I am emailing, it's a little room with a few computers.  Super dirty.  Everything here is dirty.  The culture is just to throw all your trash on the street.  It's REALLY gross.

Also this morning for P-day we got to go to a market type thing!  It was cool.  The streets reminded me of a mix of that street fair we went to I think in California and gateway.  It was way nice.  I got a new bag there.  I think it's pretty sweet. You'd love the cool shop I got my bag at today too. It was 400 pesos.  So like 10 bucks.  Not bad.  I heard that was the only one. I carry my scriptures, pamphlets, a small Spanish hymnbook and a mini BOFM in English just in case.

Also got a few things for you and Lydia that I'll be sending home in an envelope hopefully.  We also visited the house of Christopher Columbus.  I think it was the building with the arches.  I thought we were just going shopping so I forgot my camera!  I used some other peoples cameras, and I'm hoping we can go back in 4 or so weeks, so I'm sure I'll get some pictures to ya of it sometime.

The other building I think it's some sort of grave site for some generals.  Lots of Spanish in there so not really sure. 

The driving is sketchy.  Most cars here wouldn't pass inspection and the driving is INSANE.  (To give you a little glimpse of the road conditions look here. This blog is from Sister Becky Douglas. Her husband is the mission president in the DR Santiago Mission. I can guarantee you will chuckle a little if you read it! ) The metro is really nice though, and pretty cheap.  I think like 20 pesos for a go through. Idk.  Haha I'm getting way too detailed about this already!  

We're not supposed to use home money (debit card) much cuz it could make the natives and companions who don't have much feel left out and like budgeting isn't necessary.  I can definitely use it for souvenirs though.  There was tons of stuff I could've bought today, but I held back some. We'll go back in a couple of weeks when I have a cooler head. 

We go out in the mornings after studies around 11 (personal, comp and trainer study), came back around 1 for lunch and language study, and go back out around 3.  Then we come back at nine, have dinner, plan and that's the day.

This week has been cool though.  TONS of contacting cuz we opened a new area.  Lots of just talking to people.  Only a few lessons about the restoration.  That one lady, Magdelina, was like a golden investigator though.  We talked to her Saturday, she came to church, and now she's committed to baptism.  I needed that to see that I was actually doing something out here.  The houses round these parts are bigger, probably close to the size of one of our floors at home.  Maybe a little bigger.  Supposedly a poorer part of the country still.  Very peaceful most the time though.  Lots of music playing.  The streets seem relatively safe though.  It's cool.  

Emailing today has been hard on me. I'm doing my best to forget myself, but it's hard.  I'm sure it'll get easier as the weeks start flying by. I'll probably be writing around this time every week too btw.  Just to keep you informed.  Let me know how school starting this week goes and how all the children do in their new schools.  I wonder if my homesickness is just because I haven't emailed for so long.  I don't know.  We'll see if this next week is easier.  I only pray, hope and expect it will be.  

Right now I wish I would've spent a lot more time with you guys.  I miss you guys a ton.  I thumbwrestled a little kid and it made me realize I should've done that with Lydia when she didn't know what to play!  Tons of little regrets like that.  Also remember how I didn't like staying home for a night?  Ahh!  What I would give for a night like that now.  I'd give so much.  But what can you do?  Just count down the weeks one by one and not think about it.  I've started making a list of stuff to do like that when I get back.  It's helped some.
I like the daily thing better.  Maybe I'll do a paragraph on that in my journal or something along those lines. It would be cool to have a separate account of all the good things daily that happened though. I'll put some thought into this. (Easton had thought of writing something down that he liked every week. Shawn told him to write down something he liked every day.)

Thank you for all that advice.  I plan on printing that and using it to boost me through the week to come.  Weeks to come.  I've needed to talk/email someone who could give me advice like that all week.  (Shawn and Easton were able to email back and forth a few times. You could tell it lifted his spirits.)

That's all I got on my list!  Let me know if you want some more questions answered. I'm doing all I can out here.  I'll continue to work hard.  Wish me luck and be praying for me. I'll continue praying a lot.  It's one thing that I know does help a lot.

Love and Miss you TONS.  Think about the family constantly. Hope to talk/email to you this much next week again.  This has really helped put me at ease.

Love you siempre and mucho:) E. Potokar

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Into the Field

Easton left the MTC on Monday, the 11th or Tuesday, August 12th to go out into the field. The Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission p-day is on Mondays. We will not get an email this week and hope to hear from him on Monday, August 18th.

As another missionary mom posted; it is a strange feeling not knowing where they are, somewhere in the DR but we don't know where. We have always known where he has been for the last 18+ years and it's a very strange feeling not knowing exactly where he is now. 

Lots of wondering and praying going on at our home. We hope he has been blessed with a great trainer/companion, a good area, and that he is safe. I think here might be where the big adventure begins!

Last Pictures from the MTC - saying goodbye.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Last Email From The MTC!

(Emailed to Friends)
Last email from the MTC.  It's gone by soooo fast, and I can't wait to get into the field!  It stresses me out a ton,  but I know it's time. 

This week started on with doing splits with the missionaries from the West mission.  It was insane.  Such a culture shock.  I'm pretty sure I was the only white guy within miles.  Sketchy stuff.  I even had some green ice/ice cream stuff.  Not sure what it was, but it was good.  I was mainly in the fidelas.  Everyone's house was about the size of my bedroom back home.  Just a touch bigger.  So humble.  Made me miss how I had a ton, but at least I get to go back.  I need to help these people out.  They need the gospel in their lives. 

Another cool thing is I'm still using stuff from my farewell talk in my lessons.  I talked about stuff I didn't know previously in that talk and now I'm just getting around to applying it.  Crazy stuff. Haha I'm going to say that way too much!

I also got a grilled cheese this week!  It was soooo good.  A little taste of home.

As the work progresses, my farmer's tan does as well.  I've only had like 2 hours top in the sun most days, and my watch and ring tan line is coming in nicely.  It's going to be soooo dark once I hit the field!

That's about all for this week!  Be ready to hear a ton next week.  It's going to be a week of TONS of first.

Also check my blog,  My dad has been keeping that updated with pictures and the such.  Hope you enjoy it! 

Love you all tons! E. Potokar.

(Emailed to Family)
Another week gone by.  Time flies!

First off, just out of curiosity, have you guys considered coming down to pick me up after?  A bunch of guys said their families have considered that, and I was just curious if it's even an option.  There's some really sketchy places here, but I'm sure there's even more beautiful ones.  I've only see the slums pretty much.

I've just got to say I have it absolutely amazing at home.  The conditions (at least in the city where I did splits at) were terrible.  Houses upon houses, everyone just crammed in together.  Hopefully most areas aren't like that.  I would assume most aren't.  Hope that most aren't.  We took a metro (reminded me a ton of frontrunner) downtown.  The driving here is insane.  They honk their horns constantly.  And there's like no lanes.  It's sooo scary to cross the street. 

On splits, I taught a few lessons with my companion.  I mostly just bore testimony and said prayers.  Read an occasional scripture.  It's SO hard to understand them.  They speak SOOO fast.  I talked to a RM who is visiting, and he said they speak gutter Spanish here.  That everyone else is the world speaks super clearly.  I just try to pick out stuff here and there right now.  Get used to everything that's being said.  And ya I do it again tomorrow.  Also I'll bring my camera to the field with me tomorrow.  Hopefully get some pictures of the city.  Pray for me!  I'm hoping it's a different area, but I bet it's the same one. I think I go with the same guy.  He is a native.  Way nice.  He talked slower to me so I could understand him. haha

 Also I've got to say mowing lawns I think prepped me for the heat some.  My comp on splits complained about the heat the whole time.  I was sweating a ton, but felt it was bearable.  So that's one thing I won't have to worry about as much.  Hopefully.  It could be hotter in other areas.  I really know little to nothing about this country. 

The city is sketchy.  NOTHING like home.  Major culture shock.  Definitely looks like a 3rd world country.  I hope/assume other areas are better.  I bet they are.  Power also goes off for maybe 5 minutes occasionally.  It doesn't happen very often.  Once or twice a week maybe.  The MTC could just be nicer though.

While talking to President Freestone one time this week, he also commented that I'm "quick to observe".  That really made my day.  My week actually.  Mormon is described in similar terms so I figure that's pretty amazing company!

I've also been reading my patriarchal blessing a ton this week.  There's a few parts of it I didn't even know were in there!  Crazy.  It's really helped me through this week and I know it'll continue to help me throughout my mission and life. 

I also uploaded some pics of a new way I started to organize my scriptures.  This is so me, and I know you'll agree with that.  I've got two new sets; one for Christlike attributes and one for the lessons.  I sticky note the scriptures on a certain spot on the top based on what the scripture is about.  I've gotten way excited about this.  I think it's awesome and it's given me something to do!  Feels great to have a passion of sorts or a project to do.  I'm excited to see how this goes throughout my mission.  I think it's soo cool.

I also get to run every third prayer meeting at night.  Duties of AP.  Then we make sure everything is turned off and alright.  Not too much responsibility with being an AP.  I think it's mostly just being an example. I'm also still the DL of my district.  Not sure if that's legal, but oh well.....

Also thank you for all that info about my mission president.(Ahmad Saleem Corbitt, here are the sites we sent him - here, here, and here) I'm super excited to meet him.  He sounds awesome.  The word on the street is that he got in and COMPLETELY redid everything in the mission.  That's what an East missionary said.  Special transfers and a whole new office staff.  All based on inspiration.  I'm SO excited to get in there.  I know he's ready for me.  Apparently he's super strict too.  That's probably a good thing. 

Also go check out the "memories" app the church put out if you haven't.  I was browsing around on and it looks WAY cool.  I think it could be really cool to use. 

K, I'm just going to plow through my list.  Wish me luck!

First off, do you know where we packed my white zippy tie?  I can't find it anywhere.

There was some familiar stuff at the store.  It was nice.  Still weird though.  Not sure if I liked it.

I also uploaded a picture of a weird banana.  It's from the Santiago area.  It's funky.

Also that huge journal I bought is already like 1/3 of the way full.  I need to slow it down.  It just seems like so much happens and I can't get it all down.  It's ridiculous.  I'm going to have a set larger than the scriptures when I get back though. I'm going to go through quite a few trees while I'm here.

Also the Spanish is slowly coming.  My pronunciation isn't so hot, especially when I'm reading, but I do know a lot.  I feel like I know a lot of vocab compared to some of the other guys.  The Lord has really just helped make it stick in my head. 

I have two main teachers here.  Hermana de Los Santos, and Hermano Nunez.  DLS is just starting teaching here, and Nunez is just finishing.  They're night and day.  Nunez can invite the Spirit SO quick and I love being in his class.  I can't get enough of it.  I'm really going to miss him in the field.  I hope I can get a lot of companions like him. 

Don't know if her Mom told you, but I think Hermana Fife has the goon.  (Chikungunya) Not one hundred percent sure of that, but I think it's true.  She still works out and everything too. She acts fine, but I don't know if she's really hurting.  She had a huge rash on her arms and Fusselman said he talked to her about it.

I also realized I've learned something from everyone in the family.  Kindness from Ashley, social skills from Garrett, how to be always be happy from Lydia, how to work from dad, and how to be mindful of what others are going through from mom.  I'm so blessed with all these skills, and I definitely can improve all of them a ton more. 

Also in the field almost ALL the missionaries had backpacks.  I don't know what my mission president's rule will be, but I really hope I can wear a backpack.  The side bag hurts my shoulder after too long.  

Also Reid Cornish is a stud.  He's President Cornish's son. (Caribbean Area President)  He's special needs of some sorts.  He always comes over and shoots hoops with us, and is incredible at rollerblading and ripsticking.  Like amazing. He pretty much figure skates while rollerblading.  Today at the temple he was working on the other side of the veil.  It was so cool to have him help me get through.  I loved it.  He's amazing.  Always upbeat and happy. 

Also in the temple today I got to do initiatories and a session.  In the celestial room the spirit was AMAZING.  I realized/received the revelation that I ALWAYS have family with me.  I may not be able to talk to you all the time, but I can talk to my other Dad all the time.  That brought me a lot of comfort.

At the temple too, a guy thought I said my name was "Packer".  He asked if I was president Packer's grandson. Haha.

I leave Tuesday morning for the field.  Not sure when my next P-day or chance to email will be.  Probably not this Monday, but next from what I've heard.  Don't count on that though.  Also the mission home is like down the street.  How nice is that? (The MTC and the temple are in the Santo Domingo West Mission and Easton’s mission is the East .) I think it'll be a major shock, but once I get into the routine I'll be fine.  The Lord wants me to go through this and it'll make me bigger and stronger.  It'll be great.  I just need to hand over the reins to him.

I think that's all I have for today.  Love you tons!  Think about home way too much still.
Love you.  E. Potokar

Farmer Tan

 Basketball Courts in the Parking Lot at the MTC.

Beautiful Tropical Vegetation