Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Week Down! Times starting to go faster and faster.

(Email to Friends)
It's been kind of a funky week.  Good, strange, and weird.  First transfers were this week.  I got a new Elder, Elder Decker, in my house.  He's from American Fork and looks Dominican.  Way cool guy.  Also got another gringo in my district, Elder Stephens from Cedar City.  Don't know him too well yet, but he seems pretty chill.  I now have as many gringos in my district as were in the zone before!

I got to give two priesthood blessings this week.  One I anointed the oil and the other I said the blessing.  It was way cool.  It's crazy how quick the Spirit comes in as you prepare to do one of those.

I saw one of the craziest, randomest things yet.  There was a horse walking down the freeway with three half naked children on board.  So weird.  That's just a little feel of the DR for you.  It's insane.

It's really cool to plan for our investigators as well.  It's really easy to see the influence of the Spirit in it.  Something will come to mind and just feel right.  And everything about it is right.  What's even cooler is when Elder Moncada and I think of the same thing when doing that.  It's way cool.

So we also had an open house EVERYDAY (but Monday and Sunday) this week.  6-8pm on weekdays, 3-8pm on Saturday.  Honestly, it was a huge flop.  One of the large reasons this week has been super weird.  The first day we went on the street and invited people in.  I felt like a salesman.  Second night was a tour through the chapel with little rooms where you could learn stuff.  Third night was karaoke.  Elder Ventura (He's straight up diva) ate it up.  It was hilarious.  The fourth night we bailed on, and the last night was about family history.  It was an open house so the point was to invite people.  The problem is we only got around 5 references/people who came, other than members for the whole week.  Not a very productive activity.  Killed a ton of time.  Frustrating.

I had a lady in the street tell me "I love you for you".  Wow.  What a day brightener, even though I have no idea who she is and I doubt she knew what she was saying.

We visited Ferdinando again this week.  He's hilarious.  He told us he has an extra bed he lets people sleep on, but only Mormons.  Cuz if they're not Mormon he has to sleep with one eye open, but if they are he can sleep with both eyes closed.  He also yelled at this old grandpa sitting behind him to wake up and said he knew he wasn't sleeping through faith haha.  And that you have to stay awake cuz you never know when the second coming is going to happen.  He's hilarious.  Super Dominican. He told us last week he knows that Joseph Smith lives and I've almost said that a few times in lessons now haha.

We've also had little water this week.  Hard to do much of anything.  We finally bought some.  I believe it was 1600 for 450 pesos.  We should've done that a lot sooner.  It was crazy cheap.

We also walked passed a church that had some insane screaming.  It was sooo weird.  How could that invite the Spirit?  I really don't know where these people get their traditions.

That's about it for this week.  Not too much happened because of the open house.  Oh well.  I'm sure this week will be more productive because of it.

Love you all! E. Potokar.

(Email to Family)
Looks like you had a way fun week!

We cleaned all morning.  And we went to lunch as a district.  It was pretty good.  We'll probably do sports as a district one of these weeks and hopefully return to that Columbus site.  But we're not allowed to leave the zone right now so we'll see about that.

There have been less lessons than last week because of the open house and no new ones.  The open house was a ward activity.  The whole stake was doing it, each ward individually.  Lots of members, but very few investigators.  The bishop here is intense.  We had a meeting with him and he pretty much told us everything we should be doing.  He's super pushy. I'd be scared to talk to him about a sin.

I met a guy like Brother Stewart this week.  He walked home with us after the open house one night and just talked Moncada's ear off.  I thanked Moncada for listening when we got back, because I remembered how Brother Stewart just really wanted to talk to someone.

I saw the same pink car here as Lydia has.  That was really weird for me.  Please continue to give me updates on how she's doing.  I hear a lot about the other two and junior high and high school, but not a ton about her.

Magdalena has opened a "boutique" in her garage. It reminds me a lot of a small garage sale, but open every day.  It makes me realize how good we have it!  We do that for extra money and that's her only money I believe!

While waiting for the tour at our open house to start it gave me flashbacks of waiting for that crazy Baptist, I believe it was, nativity in the cold.  That was really cool.  I get flashbacks like that more often that I'd like.

A little girl at that activity picked some flowers and gave them to her mom.  It was SO cute.  It's the little girl who reminds me a lot of Lydia.  That wasn't too easy for me.  Same night as the nativity like tour.

I think General Conference is broadcast at the chapel on a computer.  I think I'm going to see if there's any way I can watch it in English with Elder Decker.  Cooking has been normal this week. Nothing too new.  Not much water so that was a struggle.  I think I'll try German pancakes this week.

We have water now because we bought a ton of it on Saturday.  I don't know how long it's going to last though.  Probably not all week.  No one in our sector who has city water has any water either.  Usually we don't have to buy water like that, but yes, the mission will pay for water.  I need to be reimbursed for that.  They pay for all house expenses like that.

That was our delivery of water.  We emptied the entire truck. 

We also cleaned a TON today.  I think I uploaded some pictures of it.  The house looks a ton better.  It felt good to work hard (it took a ton of scrubbing to clean some stuff), and it's a lot less stressful now with a clean house.  Especially the bathroom.  Since there was only one set of elders in the house before us nobody had used our bathroom in forever.  We deep cleaned it.  It actually looks pretty good now.  Unfortunately I dropped my spray (was holding it by the top and the bottom fell off) and it splashed all over some of my pants and my sandals.  Hopefully they don't bleach.

On to the List.

The camera has been fantastic.  I keep it in a sock to prevent scratches.  Still on the first card with like 1000 pics left.  I have that external hard drive if I need it too.

I don't know if you've sent that package yet, but just an idea for a backpack.  I saw Bateman and a few other missionaries with a camelback.  Similar to the ones the Halls boys have.  That'd be perfect.  I was thinking that grey one I got for soccer might work well too.  I really just need a place for my scriptures and preferably two outside pockets for a water bottle and an umbrella.

(How is walking? Are your feet doing ok?)Walking is good.  My legs are like always tired.  I get the occasional blisters, but they usually callous instead of popping.  My shoes are dirty too, but that's about the only problem with them.  The Johnson and Murphy ones seem to like to make blisters more.

(You have never mentioned bugs. Are the mosquitos bad or what about roaches or mice?) I only get bitten by mosquitoes at night on my ankles.  And I usually don't use any bug spray.  I've started spraying my ankles and they've been better now. I've seen a few roaches.  They're pretty good sized.  Bigger than any spiders at home.  No mice. One morning I found like a 2 inch long centipede on me in the shower.  Freaked me out.

Our zone and district is completely different now.  Elder Bateman, our new ZL who was in the islands, is super strict.  He's probably like 6’ 3”, has a baby face, and weighs an easy 200lbs.  Big, intimidating guy.  Lots stricter.  I love it.  Moncada has started doing the same with the district (but differently.  All leaders are different.), and the district is just straight up organized. We've only had one district meeting.  I made a strawberry cake for it and another companionship will take treats next week.  We'll rotate through. If you have any other cool ideas for cake or anything in a 9x13 let me know.  I'd love to mix it up some.  I was talking to Decker about the changes Pres Corbitt has made.  He said at this rate in 6 months to a year it'll be like a US mission.  I look forward to that and only pray that it is.

Elder Decker, who is now in our house, is from American Fork.  He's got a mom from Mexico and an African American dad.  He's your classic jock pretty much.  Reminds me a bit of Nick Austin, but a little more quiet.  Pretty chill.  He likes to talk to Moncada a lot.  I have talked to him a few times though for quite a while.  We'll see how it progresses.  We also got Elder Stephens in our District now, in Elder Kirks old house.  They cleaned out his area, or switched both the missionaries.  He knows Decker really well, which kind of leaves me out.  Happens.  He seems to work well, but I don't really know much about him.  He seems really nice. Elder Stephens has a Dominican companion Elder Pena.

Decker has been out around 7 months, Stephens closer to 10.  I'm sure they don’t mean to leave me out, it's just because they know each other really well.  Stephens seems aware of it too and tries to help me out.  They were in the same house in Eque.  Very fieldsy and out on their own.

We also got 3 new greenies in our zone.  Woot!  Not the youngest anymore.  1 Latino, one Elder Hearsh from Utah, and a Sister.  When I first saw the Elder I could tell he was green.  Moncada said I didn't look that green and that makes me really happy.  I'm going to try to talk to him and help him out this week.  He looked super nervous last week.

Magdalena asked if we could teach in English to teach her. Moncada said no because I need to practice my Spanish.  She said I need to talk if I want to do that.  At first I was really ticked.  What does she know?  I tried to calm down and humble myself and saw she was right.  I should be talking at every chance I get.  I really need to work on that. Magdalena has had some more problems with her boyfriend.  She is 28. We're continuing to work with her.  We set her with the date of October 18 for baptism, same as Lisa.  Those are our only two dates at the moment.

Lisa is doing well.  We had one lesson where we just taught her without anyone else.  I didn't realize it while I was there, but it got a little flirty.  It didn't click in my head till like 5 minutes after.  Not going to make that mistake again.  She's 15.  We were referred to her from the previous missionaries.  She's been an investigator for like 4 months.  Youth need to know about the church for 3 months before they can be baptized.  She's super smart though and knows more than a lot of members here.

I've had a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed this week.  Like once Moncada is gone I'm in trouble.  I don't have the charisma in Spanish or have a clue how to talk to people.  I figure the Lord will help me with whatever comes up. Whether it's a trainer, lazy comp, etc.  I've just got to enjoy how I have it with Moncada right now, cuz it's pretty perfect.  I wouldn't ask for too many more changes.  I still have the overwhelmed feeling more that I'd like though.

I'm worried about having to talk more lately.  I'm not smooth enough in Spanish it feels like.  I'm very blunt.  He can talk about the first lessons for like an hour and I struggle to be longer than half an hour.  I just don't know how to say much in Spanish.  I worry if I'm a trainer I'll have to talk more than I do now.  Talk for full lessons.  And I don't have that ability right now.  Stresses me out that I might have to plan and talk for everything after this transfer. I've been way too serious lately.  I need to open up a ton.  Hopefully Elder Decker will help with that.  We'll see how this next week goes.

I try to remember I'm in good hands.  The Lord won't give me anything I can't handle.  Just need to remember that.  That'll be my mantra going forward.  Thank you for the advice too.  I'm likely to read that many times throughout this week.

The blessings I gave were both to investigators.  One is better now, but not sure about the other one.  We haven't seen him since.  Also the sister I gave a blessing to last week is better now.  Mostly.  She said the night I gave her the blessing was the best she's slept in a long time.

I made a new study plan and have studied pretty well this week.  Decker said I know a lot for only being a month or so in.  Still had some slackin, but did better this week. Most of my studies right now are language.  I really don't feel like I know how to study a doctrine really well.  Never really was taught too much of that. The promptings have become more sparse though.  Maybe it's because the Lord is trusting me more, or maybe I'm not trying as hard as I should.  I don't know.

I've actually been slacking lately with the exercising.  It's hard to wake up earlier for it.  I did it again today and will pick it up again throughout this week.

Also on Sunday we had been walking forever.  We sat down for like five minutes.  And the Spirit was just gone.  I felt super strange for the rest of the day.  Don't plan on doing that again.

I think that's about it.  Let me know if you have any more questions, and advice (especially on the overwhelmed thing) would be much appreciated!

Love you tons and think of you guys often!
E. Potokar.

Monday, September 22, 2014

One Transfer Down!

(Email to Friends)
Already one transfer (Kinda 2 if you include the MTC) through my mission!  Only 15 more to go.  When said like that it feels like this might actually fly by.  Lots happened this week.  Lots of changes in the mission, our zone, our district, and our house.  Gonna be a lot different, and I think a lot better.

Where to begin with this week.  Our baptism for Saturday had some problems crop up so we have to postpone it for October 18th I believe.  The same day as a different baptismal date of ours.

I saw 2 Jazz uniforms this week!  A number 1 (believe it was Frank Layden) and another that was kinda a junior jazz jersey.  Made me really happy to see those.  Also saw a guy with the same exact Nike indoor shoes I used to have.  Was really weird to see that.

While playing dominoes at a family home evening Elder Moncada and I looked like chumps.  I didn't know what I was doing!  Then Magdalena, our postponed baptismal date, got in there and beat all these old cocky guys!  It was fantastic.  Made my day. Really though, I need to learn all the rules of dominoes.

While listening to a guy bear his testimony during a lesson he said "I know Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith live". Haha that just about killed me!  We didn't bother to correct him, or say anything about it.  I guess it's true, but it was just hilarious.

We also made another great contact family this week.  He's not part of any other religion, is a journalist, and was very receptive to our message.  And he's legally married and all his family is pretty normal.  I can't wait to teach him some more.

I biffed it going down some stairs in the rain this week.  My comp thought it was pretty funny.  No injuries and I was laughing.  So "all is well".

The Lord knows how to show me my weakness.  Ether 12:27.  This week we were preparing to sing during that baptismal service.  The four of us in our house.  Everyone else sounded pretty good, but I took the hint that I was stinking it up.  Turns out I'm tone deaf.  Add that to my list of weaknesses.  I also can't roll my R's.  Makes my pronunciation sound awful.  Super gringo.  Sometimes when trying to talk to people they tell me they can't understand English.  SUPER frustrating.  Plus since I'm tone deaf I struggle to tell when I'm pronouncing wrong.  I know with my work and the Lord's help I can do this though.  It's just going to take some time and faith.

I had the opportunity to help in two Priesthood blessings this week.   My first two.  Fully in Spanish.  Both to members for health.  The first one I anointed the oil and the second one I gave the blessing.  Super cool.  I did my best to just listen to the Spirit and go along with it, but it's hard.  I'm sure I'll get better at that as well.

We got to go to the temple this week!  It was fantastic.  Really great to go back and feel the peace there.  No crazy revelations there, but I just felt the love of the Lord and his peace.  It felt fantastic.  Also there's been a rule change and we get to go 4 times a year now!  Woot!  Made my day when I heard that.  Also at one point we were singing a hymn and the lights went out in the temple.  We all just kept humming it till it came back on.  There was probably like 100 missionaries that happened too.  I thought that was pretty cool.

During sacrament this week it started POURING.  We called it the rain of Noah.  You could barely hear the speaker.  I loved it.

It's also really hard to find reverence here.  When you think of a lesson it's normally quiet, in someone's house, and super reverent.  Unfortunately here, it's usually on their porch and pretty much everyone is always playing some kind of music.  So crazy.  We try to get through it though.  Do what we can.

Also a lot of people here say "si Dios quiere" which translated means "if Gods wants it".  Bugs the crap out of me.  Of course He wants you to go to church!  Just go! Ahh! Haha.

We also have a weeklong open house this week.  Fun Fun Fun.  I have a feeling the turnout won't be so hot.  It's for about 2 hours a day.  Wish us luck on that.

We also have another family, Paula and Victor and some of their family, coming to church.  She's very very happy (ALWAYS smiling and laughing) and besides forgetting the name of the church all the time loves the church.  Says she knows it to be true.  Her husband is getting closer to feeling the same way too.  I'm excited for them and only hope I'm here when they get baptized.  Plus he looks a ton like Morgan Freeman and I just straight up think that's dang chevere.

Anyways, that's about all for this week!  We have a new person (from the US, but that's all I know about him) in our house on Tuesday, and a new gringo ZL, and tons of changes in our zone.  I think it'll be for the best.  A lot of disobedient (and good, unfortunately) missionaries are leaving.

Love you all tons!  Talk to ya next week.  Stay in touch.
E. Potokar.

(Email to Family)
Ahh.  Sounds like you had a fantastic week.  I'm glad.  We both had great temple experiences this week!  So cool. For the temple this week I found a name!  Grandpa Ken's grandpa's brother.  Unfortunately I sent it to the mission office too late and they weren't able to do the baptisms for it before we came.  Next time.  I also saw Ashley's name while looking for names.  She has some names she's reserved.  Super cool.  The new family search is WAY nice.

 I'm also jealous about that internet.  I look forward to having that when I get back.  I think when I left Brother Irvine didn't have a job so that's awesome he's found one and is already working his way up the company.

Please forward me Ryan and Trevor's emails!  I've been emailing them personally, but they don't send those ones to me.  I also started emailing Nate Arrington after you told me about him and Marcos and Tyler some.

The other greenie Elder in our zone, went home this past week.  He was super quiet, but knew Spanish before.  I don't know what happened.  He was just gone.

To the list:
I made some mean breakfast skillet, but it just wasn't enough.  Tried hash browns again another day, but just didn't have time to finish them.  Took forever for them to cook.  I think my way will be to bake them and dice them the next day. I have some instant oatmeal I've been eating, but it's ridiculously bland.  Any ideas for stuff to put in it?  It's just oats pretty much.  I usually try cinnamon or peanut butter, but it's just not enough.

I like the maple syrup idea in oatmeal.  That should be good.  And the French toast was really good.  Since Moncada takes like an hour or two in the bathroom in the mornings I almost always cook.  I enjoy it, but it's hard to cook for two in that short amount of time before 8.  Hard to get enough for both of us.

If you wouldn't mind looking up dominoes rules and sending them to me that'd be great.  I was clueless at the FHE we had last week.  Felt and probably looked like a fool haha. The Dominicans slap down the dominoes super loudly whenever they play one.  They're crazy about it.

In sacrament we sat by a single mother and her two kids.  Her one kid is probably about a year old and was all over us haha! Climbing everywhere.  My pants were all dirty after from his crackers that were all slimy and gross.  It was distracting and really nice actually.

Payless is clean now.  It’s not always like that.

Transfers are tomorrow, and we found out about them last night. Transfers are going to change a lot.  I'm really excited for them.  Moncada is our new DL.  We're getting an Elder Decker in our house, from the US.  The new missionary in our apartment has been around 6 or 7 months I believe.  So he should just really be getting the hang of things. That's all we really know about him.  Also getting a new ZL, from the islands.  He was a ZL there.  Usually only the super obedient and strict missionaries are sent to the islands.  I think he'll be good. Lots of transfers within the Zone too so I think they'll be a lot more potential English now.

I don't remember if I asked, but if you guys could send me my threaders for my permanent retainer some time that'd be awesome.  Couldn't remember if I asked or not.

When I was with Kirk on splits and this week in church mothers just start breast feeding their kids right in front of us.  You can check that off my weird things to see list.

I felt easily irritated this week.  That was weird for me, because normally I'm super laid back.  I think it's just the stress getting to me.

Today for P-day was going to be a cleaning day.  All was going well, until we ran out of water.  That pretty much stopped any cleaning we could do! Ahh! So close.  We did get the fridge defrosted and cleaned today (at least the inside) so we're doing better.  The freezer is now like 50 percent bigger.  I sent pictures of all the ice that was stuck in it.

Moncada's birthday was Sunday too.  I made some hash browns and a huge mound of French toast for him.  And later I gave him a tie that I put on his bed with a note while he was napping.  Probably should've just given it to him in person, but oh well. I feel like I should've done more, but oh well.

Also made a few purchases this week.  Bought a new belt, but it stains too.  I'm going to rub it down real good and try to scrub on the staining stuff.  Moncada's tie.  And a 9x13 pan for brownies, cake, German pancakes, and if you can think of any other stuff I could make in it let me know.  Also if I'm buying too much stuff with my personal money let me know.

I had a young girl (probably Ashley’s age) tell me I'm good looking, compliment me on my eyes, and it was just really strange.  Could've gone downhill fast.  We bailed pretty quick.

The rain is off and on like normal.  I think it's been a littler cooler?  But when it is hot is hotter?  Haha I don't know.  It's been about the same.  There has been some more lightning.  It's super loud for some reason.  I think it's way cool.

Maritsa and Ferdinando didn't come this week.  He was the one who said Joseph Smith lives and I attached a picture of their house.  The grandma is Paula.  She did come and I think will progress well.  Doesn't learn to quick, but I think she loves the gospel. Lisa didn't come to church and we don't know why yet.  We had 5 there this week.  Paula and her husband, Magdalena, Darley (the 12 year old kid who just can't retain anything, but has come weekly with a friend for like 3 months), and Junior, a friend of a member family. Petter literally just disappeared.  We think he got in a fight with his Mom and left and we haven't seen him since.  That's probably been two or three weeks.

Also another thought with Marta Ojeda.  She's in her 50's and has seen tons of parts of the world.  US, Africa, all over.  She's seen a lot of bad stuff and frequently asks why there's so much horrible stuff in the world.  She's super friendly.  She started speaking to me in Spanish like I was 2.  It was hilarious.  She also gave me a thesaurus in Spanish to help me out.  Really awesome.  I want to give her a BOM in return.  She also had her mother pass away and has a struggling marriage.  I promised her that this gospel can and will fix all those things. We just need her to attend something and I think she'll be good.

At this point I can talk with anyone decently enough, I just have pretty bad grammar and my pronunciation is terrible.  Some people can't understand me at all.  Remember how I took speech for English?  Ya my Spanish isn't going to be much different!  Lots of work on pronunciation now.  It's really frustrating, because this isn't an obstacle I had foreseen. I've talked more, but still not a ton.  We got just over 20 lessons this last week.  Sometimes I try to talk, but people don't understand me all the time. Hardly any BOFMs.  Only if they are progressing really well.  Also could you see if you could look up and find the Gordon B. Hinckley promise to missionaries on reading the BOFM in their mission language?  I couldn't seem to find it. And maybe an article on how to roll your R's?  I've been trying but I can't! I've been reading the BOFM out loud in Spanish and I think it's already helped some with my pronunciation.

(Have you met anyone that speaks English yet?) Haha a few people know it well.  A few people think they know it.  Sometimes investigators will throw little English words into things when they're talking to show they know English.  It's really funny. Marta Ojeda lived in New Orleans for like 11 years too and knows a decent amount of English but her accent is super Latino.  Hard to understand her.  Super funny haha. I'm sure I sound the same though.

And the whole deal with the baptism.  Magdelena had some problems she called and told us about two nights before so we couldn't have the baptism.  It'll be postponed.  She almost didn't come to church because of it, but we got her there.  We're going to have to walk her through this step by step.  Show her she's still loved.  I really hope she sticks through this.  If she does her testimony will be stronger of the gospel.
Easton's District                           

The chapel is the stake center.  We meet there every week for zone/district meetings.  The six of us are our district, although only half of us (me, Moncada, and Ventura) will be there after this transfer.

                            Zone Conference
The group is just some of the zone who was there early.  The big group is more or less the whole zone.  Those pictures were taken on a timer so it was hard to get everyone into them.
 They are insane.  Latinos have a ridiculously amount of energy, especially the Peruvians.

Everything seems to be coming together.  Cleaning, cooking, all the small things.  I'll be able to start focusing more and more on the work now.

(Are you going to get to do any sightseeing in the future?) The problem with sightseeing right now is president Corbitt has banned any leaving of our zone.  Our zone really isn't that big so not too much we can do! I believe this is only temporary while he completely redoes the rules for P-days, at least I hope so.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll forward you some pictures Kirk sent me of the first place I went to. We mostly cleaned today.

The thoughts are getting better though.  I think of investigators more and more now.  Still home a tons though. That's about it.  Let me know if you have any more questions or comments.  Love that last quote.  Definitely printing that.

Anyways I've got to run.  Love you lots! Miss you tons.
E. Potokar.

(“Some missionaries may wonder whether they are in the right place, in the right mission. It is no accident for them to be where they are assigned. The Lord knows the missionaries. He knows their mission presidents. I think He knows who their companions will be. I don’t know the detail to which He knows the future, but my impression is He knows a great deal. He calls missionaries to the place they are assigned. So, even when it’s difficult, you can have confidence that the Lord knew the difficulty in advance, and just as He assured Nephi that He wouldn’t give a commandment save He prepared a way for it to be accomplished, missionaries can have that same assurance, tough as it may be, whatever the situation, that the Lord knew the difficulties would be there. He has prepared a way. Have Faith. Go forward.” Elder Henry B. Eyring)

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Month Down in the Field!

(Emailed to Friends)
I have got 1 month of real missionary work under my belt.  Crazy stuff.  Life just keeps moving forward, who knew that it would in the mission too?

First off Ether 12:27 is fantastic.  Sometimes I feel like everything I have to learn in my mission (pronunciation, social skills, etc.) are the things I've never been good at!  In some ways that's perfect, because the Lord is helping me through it.  The Lord has definitely shown me a lot of my weaknesses, and now he's going to help me make them strengths.

I'm living large this week.  I bought a can opener (we've been opening cans with a knife. Super sketchy), a cheese grater, my own personal cup, and some cleaner since our house if filthy!  I'm moving up in the world!  Woot!

Also I finally calmed down this week enough to realize we have some really pretty flowers in the front of our house.  Who knew?  Haha only took me 4 weeks to realize it!

Also this week I learned a lot about different techniques of teaching and of a lot of the disobedience in our mission.  What it comes down to is you can convert through obedience (how you normally picture a mission) or you can flirt to convert.  Not really flirt to convert, but just flirt to flirt and if a baptism comes of it great.  TONS of missionaries do that in my mission I guess.  Lots of problems with young women here, it can go downhill very quickly. Both get baptisms, but only one way converts into active members.  And that difference means a world of things.

I also saw a dead guy laying in a street this week.  So sad.  Someone covered him in tree branches and garbage.  The whole street was staring at him. The next time we walked by he was gone.  The DR is a sketchy place!

Also this week, we haven't had water from time to time.  We still had our drinking water, since running water isn't safe to drink here.  No running water though.  That means very little dish cleaning and very hard to take a shower, wash clothes, wash your hands, cook, etc.  Luckily it has come back, but still really hard.  And sketchy.

I've been a little sick this week too.  Had the flu or "gripe".  Stuffy nose, occasional headache, and sore throat.  Mostly better now.  The work moves on!  Can't stop for anything, way too many people here who need the gospel.

We also got to teach the Preach My Gospel class on Sunday!  It seems like yesterday I was going to mission prep classes like that.  I felt like I should be in the class not teaching!  Time flies.

Also, a really cool thing I've noticed about the language.  To say thankfully you say "Gracias a Dios" which literally translated is "Thanks to God".  Similar thing with goodbye or √Ądios which when written as "A Dios" means to God.  Really cool thing I thought.

Que lo que.  It's how they say wazzup here.  Not supposed to use it as missionary, but my comp will use it with some of the kids.

We found another really good family to teach!  The Grandmother has come to church a few times already and she said she knows the church is true.  Way cool.  Except she can barely remember the name of the church in Spanish cuz it's super long.  My comp will also ask it’s clear as..." and normally they answer with water, but she said Jesus Crist haha.  And her grandson asked if I'm Chinese.  That was definitely a first for me.

Also had quite a few people this week tell me in their very Latino English "I love you" or some kissy lips or tell me I'm beautiful in Spanish.  Most of them were like 40 or 50 year old woman, so well, ya.  Just a smidge awkward.

I also decided had I been learning Spanish anywhere else I think I'd just be able to understand everything (with all the help the Lord's given me of course).  Unfortunately, Dominican’s talk RIDICULOUSLY fast and slur their words.  It'll probably be another month or so before I understand everything.

We also got Maritsa and Ferdinando to come to church this week.  They're super crazy and super Dominican.  One time when we taught them there were two cute tiny kittens running around, he picked up the pamphlet, pointed to a picture and said "Priesthood", and she managed to find that picture in Abraham and said look! This guy is killing the other guy.  I really didn't feel like explaining that haha.  We just moved on.  He also said "the Mormon church is a good church" and had a joke about what's in the tierra (earth) and the cielo (sky) and the answer was the "i".  He thought that was hilarious haha.

Also Helaman 10:5 has really motivated me this week.  It basically says if we serve with all our might, we'll be blessed forever.  Not quite being fully happy here, will make me happy forever.  Definitely worth it!

Love you all lots!  Have another great week at school!
Love, E. Potokar.

(Emailed to Family)
Splits did end up happening this week.  Was a real eye opener for me.  I was with Elder Kirk in his area.  It was really cool, he’s been there like 6 months, and is really part of the ward.  All the neighbors knew him and all that.  He had an insane first month of his mission.  Terribly disobedient trainer, got dear johned, his family house burned down, and he had some medical heart problem.  It's a miracle he's still here. On my splits with Elder Kirk he turned on some Alex Boye.  Specifically the frozen song.  It brought back memories of home.

The temple trip didn't happen this week.  It's going to be this Friday, and then we have Magdalena's baptism on Saturday!  I get to baptize her too!  Should be way cool.  I really am looking forward to this week.

This is our last week of this transfer I believe and then we have one more, so probably late October, early November.  I think/hope my Spanish will be a lot more usable by then.

The 2nd counselor in the ward sat in on our meeting with the ward mission leader this week.  He's fantastic.  Knows his stuff, willing to work, return missionary, the whole bit.

I also tried hash browns and they flopped.  I baked the potatoes, and then put them in a ziplock bag in the fridge and the next morning tried them, but they came out way too mushy to grate.  I diced them and cooked them and they weren't too bad. They were still really good diced so we'll get there.  We also found some legit salsa today so chips will be bought Friday and we're on our way.  It should be good in breakfast burritos (on my list for this week too).  I also made some really good french toast, jello, and the brownies were good this week, and I think that was it.  I want to try German pancakes soon.  I'm considering buying a 9x13 pan to cook things in and maybe a cookie sheet too.  I bought a can opener, cheese grater, multi surface cleaner, and a cup for me personally this week.  Looked for a good set of measuring cups too, but didn't find any.  Just need to try different stores for that one.  We've been eyeballing everything so far. The brownies were just for me and Elder Moncada.  Two pans full.  Glorious. One day for lunch we had 3 packets of macaroni.  Fun stuff.  It was a TON.  For the 4 of us.  I don't think we had ever had that much at home.  We also had spaghetti sauce with ground beef this week.  It was really good, but it was used on rice.  Super weird, but not too bad actually. I also had guacamole with my mac and cheese.  It wasn't too bad either.

Sunday was long cuz my nose was all clogged up.  Next week should be better.  I'm understanding more and I plan on starting to talk to the ward members more hopefully.  And ya it's always Elder's quorum then investigator or PMG class for Sunday School.  I'll pitch going with the youth.  I know a few of them kinda and it'd be fun and different.  We didn't really take it all that easy with me not feeling well.  Still did what we normally would.  Saturday and Sunday were the only really rough days.  I'm feeling a ton better now.  A question, is it ok to take the decongestant and the mucous relief pills at the same time?  I tried to avoid it, but I'm just curious.

It's been a rough week study wise.  Tuesday was intercambios (splits) so pretty much nothing cuz I was packing, then I slept on Wednesday (Kirk and I stayed up till like 2 talking.  It felt great to talk to someone in English), Thursday was weekly planning, Friday and Saturday I was feeling sick and Sunday as well.  I've got to crack down again this week. Besides being sick this week it  has been a lot easier.  I'm a lot more accustomed to everything and talked a lot more in some lessons.  My Spanish declined a bit I feel like because of the lack of studying, but I'll work hard this week.

I could also use my threaders, or the little floss things for my permanent retainers.  Just a thought for next time you send something.  Not super necessary.

I saw a guy who has one of the same tshirts as me. Has a big E in the middle of it and is red.

A guy in my ward looks exactly like the guy off of sandlot who owns the dog.  Super dog and even wears aviators.  I really want to take a picture of him to show you haha.

Oh and there's a bunch of Liahonas in our house and one of them is older than me!  Haha I thought that was crazy.

The picture of the water thing is how we get our water.  It just appears in there and then we pump it up to the roof to get pressure.  Nothing showed up so it was empty for a day or two.  Super sketchy. I didn't shower a couple of days.  It was like an every other day thing.  There was enough water to wet my hair and rinse off my arms and legs.  It's happened twice.  Our drinking water is in big jugs so no worries about that. We used the lizard water, it saved us haha. (In his greenie package, we sent him a lizard that grows when in water.) The water it was in ended up being our water for like a day.

(I’m glad to hear you have a family to teach. How did you find them?) We briefly invited her to church while talking to her neighbor.  The grandmother just showed up to church.  We kind of have others.  Like one member of the family, but none where the whole family is interested.  We just walk down the streets talking to anyone who's sitting on their porch.  Like everyone is always outside sitting on their porch.

I also had to give a topic in District Meeting this week.   It was about faith.  Here's some scriptures I like from it.  1 Peter 1:7, Alma 32:11, James 2:17-18.  About growing after we exercise faith - DC 63:7-11, Ether 12:6.  The cycle of faith is really cool.  Faith leads to action.  That action helps your faith grow.  More faith leads to more action and so forth.  Really amazing.  Really Cool. The faith topic was all in Spanish.  I rambled, but got through 10 minutes worth.  Learned lots from studying it as well.  Really enjoyed it.  I hadn't thought of how I applied it, I really enjoy that.

We just went shopping. Moncada wanted to get his hair cut but we weren't able too.  I'm still using my ghetto belt, it works but it's ugly.  Haven't dared tried another leather one if it might stain again.  It's risky and belts are around 15 dollars.

And I got my first letter this last week from Grandma P.  It was really cool.  Getting letters is really nice.  Like a pick me up halfway through the week.

Thanks for sending me the video of dad and the bishopric huluing at the High Priests party.  It cracked me up haha.  I love it!

I’m glad Lydia is getting into it. (soccer) I'd love to help teach her stuff, but it'll have to wait till I come back.  There will be plenty of time then.  I love that she skips to the ball too.  That cracks me up.  It was something I'm going to print this week.

The cleaning is coming.  The oven and fridge are going to be my project this week.  Funny enough the oven is completely clean, but the stove is filthy.

Also I'm going to look for a family name later to take to the temple.  I think that will really improve the experience and I look forward to that.  They recommended that everyone bring a name.

Please ask more questions if you have any!  Good luck with the temple dedication!  I have a baptism or a confirmation that day.  It'll be a fun day for all of us.

I've actually got to go.  They're kicking us out.  I wish I could chat for longer.  Love you tons!  Miss you tons! Just know, I still miss you guys tons, but it's slowly calming down.  I'm doing better and find myself enjoying myself more and more.

Love you always and think of you often.  E. Potokar.

Easton was so excited to buy a can opener, he took a picture with it!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Week Gone By! A smidge bit faster even!

(Emailed to Friends)
Wow. Another weeks gone by!  At some times I thought I'd never make it to P-day, and others just flew by!  Lots more happened this week, and I'm noticing more "interesting" parts of their culture every day.

First off, I've got to relate a terrible language story.  We were trying to commit this girl, Lisa, to a baptism date.  She's fifteen.  My comp kept telling me in English to do it.  I thought I should say something about baptism first before bluntly asking her, and I kept thinking I needed to ask.  I asked him in English if I should (which made it even more awkward), but he obviously didn't understand and just kept saying "baptism, baptism" I was like I know! But how!  Haha.  So thinking her mother was a member (she's not), I asked her if she remembers her Mom's baptism.  She obviously didn't because her Mom's never been baptized haha.  Super Awk. Eventually I got it out though and she's set to be baptized on the 18th of October.  This actually happened the week before, but I just barely remembered how ridiculous it was haha.

I met a guy who lived in Ogden for 3 years!  He played for the Raptors and is now playing down here. I only got to talk to him for like 30 seconds though.

One day, I decided it was about time I crack down on my studies.  I studied more diligently than usual, and that day the language just clicked.  It was awesome.  The end return of prays, fasts, and obedience are ridiculously quick on a mission.  It's absolutely amazing.

I got to try playing dominoes this week with the 3 other guys in my house.  It's pretty fun.  Not hard to play and you can finish a game pretty quick.  The Dominicans are crazy about it and tons of them are playing it everywhere in the street.

I got to try sugar cane this week too!  You bite it, chew it for a bit, and then spit it out.  It's super sweet, and super cheap.  I felt like I was chewing white, sweet, tobacco haha.  I'm sure that's just the image I'm supposed to portray as a missionary.

We also tried teaching Darlen (12) this week.  He really struggled to remember much throughout the lessons. He's going to take a lot of work, but does want to be baptized.  We need to figure out some kind of game or visual way to teach him.  Be more creative.

We have people bear their testimonies during our lessons A LOT.  It's really cool to see how their testimony becomes firmer week to week.

I got to try "bananas verdes" this week.  They were pretty good.  Like a different kind of bananas.

I also tried to make some chocolate cake this week, emphasis on the "try."  I did well with everything, but our oven doesn't have an exact temperature control (only a dial), so I had to guess where to set it at.  Unfortunately I guessed too high, and it was ridiculously dry haha.  It'll be better next week.  I think we'll make it something we do every Sunday.  Also tried waffles today, but we don't have nonstick spray.  Didn't work too well either.

We have fruit trees in our yard!  Mango, plantain, and green bananas.  Pretty spectacular.

I tried "rice con leche" or rice with milk this week.  Ahh.  It's to die for.  It's sweet, and warm and just absolutely lovely.  It's on my bucket list to learn how to make.  Wonderful.

The distribution of technology and quality of living here is strange.  Tons of smartphones like galaxies, iPhones, etc, but then they'll live in these ramshackle houses.  Or they'll have a really nice car.  I don't get how that works out.

We also taught a lady named "Marta Ojeda" this week.  She's another one who's been prepared to receive the gospel.  She's traveled all over the world and knows a ton.  As we taught her she kept making comments and stating her beliefs that were right in line with church doctrine.  Stuff about how addictive stuff is bad for you, asking questions like "where did we come from, what's our purpose here and where are we going?" and simply stating she's simply not happy right now.  So amazing.  She was sick as well.  I thought a day or two before, "I need to start carrying my oil around" and totally spaced it.  Elder Moncada said the same thing happened to him.  So we weren't able to give her a priesthood blessing.  I only pray that doesn't change anything in how her conversion is going to end up.

Also tried some fresh avocadoes this week.  Yumm.  Lots of new foods this week!  All super cheap too.  Usually under a dollar in US money.

Our investigator who's going to be baptized on September 20th, Magdelena, bore her testimony in sacrament meeting this week!  Definitely a highlight.  It's cool to think we helped her get to that point.

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day.  Right before it rained, the humidity was super low and it was decently cool.  Still probably like 75 80, if not higher, but it felt amazing.

Coke is super cheap here.  15 pesos (less than 50 cents) for half a liter 30 for 1.25 liters.  Cheaper than water haha.

There's also guys here who walk around with little coolers and sell otter pops.  I have yet to try one, but it's definitely on my bucket list.

I also had the thought this week, "Although I may not be all that happy (I'm just not enjoying myself yet.  Gotta give it more time to get used to it), the time I spend here will make me a hundredfold more happy after this life."  Just got to keep plugging along!

Love you all tons! Enjoy your weeks and school! E. Potokar.

(Emailed to Family)
I am doing better.  Still rocky all week, but slowly getting better.  I thought it was a good idea to look at some pictures and that just about killed me one day.  Sometimes I don't pray as much and those days are always harder.  I need to remember to pray lots even when I'm doing good. I wouldn't say I'm happy as of yet - that still comes and goes, although not coming as frequently as I'd like, but a little better.  Once again the ends of the weeks are hard.  Sunday was hard this week.  Church gives me a lot of thinking time, and no one was home after.  We just walked for like 6 hours.  It was rough. It's crazy.  Time seems to fly, yet crawl by at the same time.  Such a weird sensation.

That's weird to hear Nate's going through the same things. Not weird, but kind of comforting.  Makes me feel like I'm not doing any worse than anyone else.  I'm going to shoot him an email today. (Easton has a friend that went into the mission field on the same day as Easton and is also dealing with home sickness and culture shock.)

Did you get a letter from me this week?  I sent one with some gifts in it for your and Lydia's birthday.

Could you tell Steve thanks for the missionary comic book he gave me?  I've been reading it this week and it's hilarious!  What little of it Elder Moncada understands too, he finds funny.

I love the love for 6.  That's sweet. (Easton always had #6 on his uniforms. Ashley and Garrett both choose #6 for their number on their uniforms this year. Lydia wanted #6, because she is 6 and Easton likes #6, but they did not have it in her size so she had to get #5.)

Ahh,  I so wish I could play some soccer with Lydia and help her out!  I'm glad she was able to get into it.  She's so funny with those things sometimes.  I can just see her giggling when she hit that girl in the head.  And from the looks of that picture that's that morning hike I did with Erin!  It's really pretty.  I love it.

I heard total eclipse of the heart playing in the street and couldn't help but think of that parody we listened to like a jillion times.  It made me smile.  Sometimes memories make me really sad and sometimes they make me smile.  It's kind of a hit or miss type of thing.

The language kind of clicked a bit for me I believe it was on Tuesday.  That day I studied a bit harder.  I found myself speaking a little more complex sentences.  Still a LONG way to go though. Some days I'm more diligent in my studies than others.  This week has been better. Sunday I did take a nap through it though, because the cake took up a lot of it.  I figure it's good to get some rest some days, but not sure if that's actually correct or not.

On to the week.  Once again, please tell me if you have any questions I missed or anything like that.

Any idea how to grease a waffle iron without non-stick spray?  I tried it without it this morning and it just flopped.  Same thing goes for a cake pan. Haha I tried the oil thing with the paper towel this morning, but it was hard in a waffle iron.  They just stuck really bad.  A pic is being uploaded of it. I'm going to look into getting spray oil.  I think it'd be worth it.

An Elder in our apartment found tortillas somewhere.  Definitely on my bucket list.  Lots of foods.  We've kind of gotten into a routine of 6 or 7ish meals we rotate between.  I want to try to mix it up though.  We definitely need more breakfast foods.  How hard is French toast to cook? Any ideas on how to shred some cheese without a cheese shredder?  Or am I just going to have to buy one?

I tried to cook a cake this week. It was rough.  Definitely didn't work too well.  I attached pictures of my burnt masterpiece.  Also I just used some oil and dabbed it with a paper towel to grease the pan.  Elder Moncada also tried to cook jello yesterday and it was rough.  Ended up as a slushy haha.  I'm going to probably give it a go tomorrow.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm already enjoying cooking more.  I don't mind it by any means, except when I'm doing an unfair share of it.

Tortillas are on my list to look for this week.  They do not have refried beans, but we tend to make our own. So instead of refried their just fried I suppose.  An Elder bought some tortilla chips and snacks on them.  That's on the bucket list too.  I have yet to try any salsa either.

I haven't tried hash browns yet.  We had some frozen fries a couple of weeks ago.  I'll look into trying to make the hash browns.  That’s a great idea.  We can buy potatoes cheap too.  Skillet would be a great changeup.  I almost always cook breakfast too, cuz Moncada takes like an hour in the bathrooms if not more....

Yesterday we bought some pizza from a pizza store.  It was straight up cardboard pizza haha.  It was about the price of Little Caesars and there was a ton so no big deal though. I tried a Dasani Water called Toronja Bliss.  It was glorious.  Like a less bitter lemonade.  I wonder what a normal Toronja would taste like.  I really recommend looking up rice con leche or rice with milk.  It was incredible.  It would be a great dessert at a potluck or anytime.  I loved it.

I tried one of those picapollo places with Chinese people and the whole getup!   It was great.  Cracked me up haha.

Another thought.  Would you want to go back to your mission after I get home?  We could all go visit Missouri instead of the DR.  It'd be cheaper and I'm sure you'd love to go back.  Just a thought.

Sometimes it really stresses me out that I only get one shot at a mission.  I really don't want to screw it up!  I've go to keep the big picture though and realize I have a full 2 years, the little things I mess up on won't matter as much in the long run.

How many companions did you have on your mission?  How often did you have zone conferences? We have them weekly, although sometimes it's just district, but we're all in the same building.  Did you ever do zone activities on P-day?  Our P-days are being redone.  More of President Corbett's changes.  Not enough actual prep is being done on them.  He banned zone activities for now. I'm sure more changes are to come. I tried to do all my laundry today and we committed not to go shopping during the week.

Another crazy culture thing.  I guess it's OK to pee anywhere.  I've seen a couple guys just turn and take a pee while on the sidewalk still.  I don't really like that culture thing haha.

There's about 100 active in our ward. We met together for Priesthood this last week and he just argued the whole time.  No idea about what, but it was crazy.

Testimony meetings are exactly the same.  With kids giving testimonies and all.  Except there are less stories and more testimony.  I think it's cuz most people are recent converts so they know better what should be shared. The chapel is way nice.

Oh and it has rained quite a bit again this week.  I've put my umbrella to good use. Probably fifty percent of the time, and always towards the end of a week which stinks cuz we have some investigators who can't come to church when it rains...

This week we goofed off a little with some of the kids.  There's one house where this grandma aged woman takes care of all these neighborhood kids.  It's crazy there.  And there's like 3 dogs, a couple roosters, a hen and some chicklets and like 6 kids.  It's crazy.  I love going there because the kids crack me up.  So cute. They have a little girl who's probably over a year old who just waddles around and murmurs things. So cute.

There's tons of crazy little kids.  And not that I could think of.  Candies maybe?  (We asked if there was anything American we could send him to give the kids.) I was planning on buying some for myself, maybe I'll buy some for them too.  It'd be fun to just be giving candies to little kids haha.

We have 3 investigators come this week to church.  This week was Magdelena, Lisa and some lady who just showed up.  We had a couple people who were sick who were supposed to come too, and Peter didn’t' show either.  We'll have to change his baptism date from Sept 20 to Oct 18, I think.  Moncada said with some of his other comps and areas they had anywhere from 5 to 10 weekly usually.

Also finished Jesus the Christ this week!  Really amazing book.  I only read it during free time (mostly) and not study time so I feel better about it. Also found a perfect article about perfectionism and attached some pictures of it.  And an article about President Corbett.  Pretty cool stuff.


And I asked Elder Moncada  if we could plan parts for lessons beforehand.  I think that'll help.  I struggle in the small talk situations cuz I don't have much in common to talk about with these people it feels like!

Also splits didn't happen this week.  I believe I'll have splits with Kirk tomorrow so that'll help. We'll see how it goes! Transfers are in two weeks too, but I'm in training for another transfer.  My roommates may change though. President Corbitt is trying to crack down on how big groups of missionaries can be together.  I don't think we'll be able to meet as often as a zone anymore.  We still have zone/district reunion every Thursday.

We're going to the temple on Friday!  Woo!  We get to go twice a year, the month before General Conferences.

Yes! Turketo is in my zone. (He is from New Zealand.) He's way quiet.  Him, me and Kirk are the only guys who speak fluent English in our zone.  And there are two sisters and Moncada that are pretty good at it.  I heard you were emailing Kirk's mom too which is awesome.  Elder Kirk did call me and said if I need anything to just give him a call, even if it's just to hear some English.  I was really grateful for that.  Really good kid.

The pictures of the houses are by that baseball field I was telling you about.  Very humble.  Definitely the worst of our area.  The crazy thing is on the other side of the street are those huge nearly US sized houses.  The grassy picture is somewhere by those humble houses I took pictures at.  We were kind of exploring some and found that.  I wish I could send you some pictures of the more packed places, cuz that's the majority of my area.  It's a lot different from that pretty grass area.  I really do have the best of both worlds in this area. Both rich and poor.  Both fieldsy and city.

I'm going to print a map today and think I'll find a way to put it into my daily planner. I don't think I've ever felt gravely in danger.  Maybe because I'm too naive, but I don't know.  It does get sketchy when it gets dark.  It gets dark around 7 or 730ish so we have around an hour in the dark.

I also exercised a bit last night and this morning.  It felt great.  I really should've started doing that sooner.  It's going to definitely be a daily thing now. I weighed myself and I am back down to 165 today.  I went from about 160 to 175 in the MTC and 165 now.  I hope to hover around this weight, maybe a little lower, cuz this is about my weight when I'm active.  Hopefully I don't lose too much more. I believe I am in decent shape. I'm staying healthy.  I eat more than any of the Latinos haha.

Also we went shopping again today.  We went to a nutrition specialist for a free consultation.  Super weird, and most the stuff she said I thought was common sense.  But she took a pamphlet and sounded interested haha.  We also went to Payless for shoes. (WOW! It was his 1st time there, so he is not sure if it always looks like that.)

I really wish I had brought my old Nike indoor shoes.  Or that Adidas pair (brand new!) I have in my room.  They would be perfect to replace the ones with holes.  I'm going to watch out for some down here for cheap, cuz they play soccer a ton and I'd like some better shoes for it.  Oh well.  Another thing I can't find down here is key rings.  Not the kind with keys, but the kind you might use for like index cards or studying.  If you could slip some the next package whenever that's coming or an envelope that'd be great.  I need something to hold my Spanish flashcards together. Not a biggy if not though.

I haven't bought any towels as of yet.  I found an old t-shirt though and tried to use that.  I also bought a tile cleaner (closest thing to a multipurpose cleaner I could find), but it's just too caked on.  It's probably been there for YEARS.  I did defrost the freezer some and cleaned the counter and some stuff in the bathroom.  I need to find some towels and multipurpose cleaner though.  Any suggestions for getting the caked on stuff off?  There's also often little fly/gnat things flying around cuz of all the fruit.  Any suggestions for getting rid of those?  It's really gross.

Another really cool gift I may or may not be able to buy down here is a pan for baking cookies.  Elder Moncada said an Elder had it in another house and it was awesome.  I think they just bought the store bought dough and cooked it.  That'd be REALLY good. Protein powder is another thought, but not really necessary.

I also got to try some dates again!  It brought back our trip to California, I believe it was.  Super good. Also what did you put in shakes when we used to have them at home?  We have tons of smoothies, but I thought a chocolate shake of sorts would be really good.

Thanks for the super long email, I love those.  Thanks for keeping the blog updated too. I'm glad to hear you're all doing well. Think of you often.  Keep praying that I'll get the gift of tongues as well, because I could use it!

Love and miss you SO much, E. Potokar.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Two Month Mark Tomorrow! Almost There.

(Email to Friends)
It's been another week!  In some ways it feels like it's been a lifetime, in others it feels like it's been a blink of an eye.  For both the last two months and the last week.  Not sure how I feel about that right now.

This week we've had a lot more rejection and a lot more success.  We talked to an evangelitco earlier this week.  He just would not accept the BOM as the word of God.  We sort of "discussed" with him about it for a good 45 minutes.  My comp knows the Bible crazy well and used it a ton.  Evangelitcos are pretty crazy.  Lots of loud singing and they like to all say prayers together at the same time.  It's really weird.

We also talked to a Jehovah Witness.  He wouldn't even pray with us, because he said Jesus said not to pray in public.  We "discussed" with him for about 20 minutes.  I need to learn to pull my comp away from those situations.  He said some things that really made me question my testimony at the moment, but after some praying and a little time I felt stronger than ever.

It's also amazing how quickly God will help me with my prayers too.  I'll pray for comfort, peace, or just some love and he'll provide it within the next day. Next hour on multiple occasions.  The same goes for the language.  It's a real testimony builder and comfort that he's there listening and waiting to help me.

We also got another two baptismal dates!  One is Liza, who is 15 years old.  She's been investigating the church for about 4 months.  She doesn't have a firm testimony yet, and Elder Moncada was hesitant to continue, but I believe you can only believe in the church and a knowledge will come in time.  Ether 12:6.

Our other one is Darlen, who is 12.  He's been going to church for about 3 months with a friend of his.  We were just talking to him, and he said he really liked the church and all.  Then he said he wanted to be baptized.  We'll need the permission of his parents, but I think there is a good chance he will be.  When we asked him what baptism was, he didn't even know!  He just knows he needs to do it.  I think that's SO awesome.  Faith and obedience at its strongest.  That gives us two baptismal dates for September 20th, and 2 for October 18th.

We bought an air freshener and the brand name is "beep".  I don't know who came up with that, but that's absolutely terrible haha.

Their yogurt here is also super thin and they drink it.  I haven't tried it yet.  It scares me honestly.

The other day in the street I saw a white guy walking by and honestly stared at him haha.  I realized I was doing what everyone else does to me!  Haha it's funny how quickly things change like that.

When it rains here, it dumps.  And it's funneled off of houses in little streams.  All the kids strip down to their underwear and play in it.  I figure that's their equivalent of a waterpark.  I thought that was hilarious.

I also saw a kid with an AYSO jersey yesterday.  I don't know how he got his hands on it, but that cracked me up.

We also went to the doctor today since Elder Moncada is sick.  After we hit Wendy’s.  I splurged money wise.  Got a bacon deluxe combo and a large frosty.  So amazing.  The frosty was under 2 bucks for a 20oz and the burger was like 6ish!  Haha funny how prices are a little jacked up here. The frosty tasted exactly the same, just a little thicker.  It was fantastic.  No root beer here though.  Just coke.  But the Coke is pretty good.  The Latinos love it so we have it rather often.

I think that's about all I could think of.  This week has definitely had its ups and downs, but it's been better.  I got to see some of my MTC buddies at a 4 zone conference thing which was cool.  Not working gave me time to think of home though which stunk!

Please, if you have any more questions please ask!  I've got more time now since I'm in the field and my trainer likes using the computer forever too.

Love you all tons! E. Potokar.

(Email to Family)
I didn't end up having to talk at the conference.  It turned out it was two from the zone not the conference.  They had two Hermana’s from our zone speak.  I saw 3ish MTC missionaries there.  Hermana Allen was the only one from my district.  I did get to talk to the President.  He really likes Elder Moncada so we talk to him quite a bit. Not a ton, but probably more than most missionaries.

I'm just going to go through my list now cuz I think it should cover all your other questions.

First off, our area when we opened it was known as a sucky area where the members don't work at all.  Just hard overall.  So far the members haven't helped a ton, but we've been doing just fine.  Elder Moncada said he's been in this position many times before.

Could you look up the book "Day of Defense”?  I really like to have it if you could find a way to get it to me.  They have it on printed paper in Spanish, but that doesn't help a ton.

The mission tour day (Thursday) wasn't as exciting as I was hoping.  I was hoping it was literally a tour of the mission, but it was just some speakers, a musical number, President Corbitt and his wife talked to us, and so did Elder Martinez and his wife.  It was good, but I didn't understand all of it.  After we hit the temple store or the distribution center by the temple cuz it's pretty close to the Mission home.  I got a cheap scripture case for my scriptures there. I'll get a cooler leather set (they're awesome, but 3000 pesos or around 75 bucks!) later. I also saw some of the MTC group who was in the MTC with me, but stayed after me.  It was weird and kind of threw me off for a while.  Then we had ice cream and only had like an hour left that day.

Elders from Zone Conference

Then on Friday we had district meeting in the morning. We just talked through it.  I heard that’s pretty common.  Something I'll change if and when I'm a DL, then we had weekly planning and cooked for Hermano Manuel that night. That took three hours.  We just talked to his wife most the time cuz he wasn't there and then when he did show up he took his food and went to a different room!  Felt like a wasted 3 hours.  He did pray though which was good.

My point in explaining these is we did no missionary work in 2 days!  That was hard for me.  When I'm not working my mind tends to wander about home.  It was a rough couple of days.

Also about my zone.  We're not super close with them. Only 2 other guys speak English.  One is my DL, and the other is from New Zealand.  I guess other zones are closer to 40 or 50 percent Gringo!  What are the odds!  I guess it'll help in the long run, but it makes it hard now. I have splits later this week with my DL, Elder Kirk.  That should be good.

I think a couple of my pics this week definitely have the GPS tag.  Check it out.  Some of them are with my "Brothers" or Elder Moncada’s other kids or greenies at the mission tour.  These are the sons "trainees" of Elder Moncada.  There's four of us now.

Others are in part of my area where it's really countryside.  It's only a very small part of my area that's like that.  I just don't take many pictures of the other part cuz of lots of people.  It's more like the street my house is on.

 Baseball field half hour from Easton's apartment

You would've been proud of me this week.  We don't have chili here (at least not that I could find), but I made mac and cheese with hot dogs, pancakes, tons of eggs, sausage (I think they're really just hot dogs), rice, salami, fried plantains, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, a lot.  It's pretty sweet.  The cooking  is going a lot better.  Yesterday I cooked eggs, banana pancakes, and sausage for breakfast, rice, salami, and eggs for lunch, and grilled cheese for dinner.  They worked (banana pancakes), but they tend to be a bit doughier than the other pancakes.  I cooked them on the lowest heat and they still were a little doughy.  I'll try thinning them out. I'll have to try it with mango or something.  I do have some questions though.  How many eggs did I eat in an omelet?  Any ideas to toast bread without a toaster?  My cheese doesn't melt very well in grilled cheese (just Kraft single type cheese), any ideas to fix that? We also had a lot of fruit smoothies this week, nearly every night.  They're excellent.  Mango banana has been my favorite.  Papaya was kind of gross in my opinion. Also one downer for cooking is that I have yet to see flour tortillas.  It must be a US invention.  I don't know.  But that rules out quesadillas, and tacos or burritos.

At this point, I don't hurt as much, but I'm definitely not happy either.  I haven't quite "lost myself in the work".  I read a talk about the different types of missionaries and the 4th one, who is the only one who gains an improved nature from his mission, gives his heart and mind to the work as well as his might and strength.  That's something I'm struggling to do.  I feel once I do I'll be happy though.

I'll try to just force myself to be happier.  Try to have more fun, look for the humor, and not be such a downer.  Maybe that's why I don't feel like myself, cuz I'm not happy at the moment.  The Easton I love being is always happy cheerful and optimistic. That's not who I feel like right now. I feel like it's been forever (really just since the mtc) since I was my joking, cheerful self.

I'll start with the little things.  More service, humor, I don't know what!  Whenever I forget the actual situation I'm in I'm generally happy.  But sometimes I remember how much I miss home, and that I'm in a foreign country and it comes back.  The times when I do that are when I'm not enjoying myself.  Which is more often than not.  I'm just not enjoying my mission so far. I'll try to apply some of this stuff to make the change though.

One other thing I need some advice in.  I'm simply just not happy.  I don't have anything to look forward to the next day, and feel like I'm just going through the motions.  I've been trying to lose myself to forget about it, but it just hasn't come.  I hope this changes as I enjoy the work more. Any ideas? The weekends tend to be harder.  Not sure if it's because I'm farther away from P-day or what.  I also feel like I've lost that social ability I gained that last few months before I left.  I struggle to have to talk with people now.  At first I thought it was mostly the Spanish, but I don't know anymore! I'll work on talking to people more and being creative should really help that.

Also I wonder where I should be with Spanish wise right now.  One of my brothers, Elder Moncada said, knew a lot more Spanish than me at this point.  I wonder if I should've worked harder in the MTC, or if there's more to be doing right now.  Sometimes I take brief naps and I wonder where I could be if I hadn't.  Makes me regret a lot of things. I'll try to be more patient.  Just brings up feelings of regret.  I don't want to waste any of my mission.  I'll try to lose myself in the language. That reminds me of that letter Cameron sent.  That letter was awesome.  I've been trying to apply it a lot more. Sometimes I lose that motivation and am a little lazy about studying.  I'll just read conference talks for a bit or Jesus the Christ (over 3/4 of the way done!) instead of studying the language.  Usually not for more than 10 or 20 minutes though. I'll work more on trucking through it.

Patience is definitely the Christ like attribute I need to work on right now.  I just hate feeling like I could've done more, but just need to accept that it's behind me and I probably couldn’t have done much more.  I don't know.  It's just really hard not to compare yourself to others, especially when they may have worked harder than you, and you could be where they're at right now!

Also how do I tell if we're "working hard"?  I mean we're almost always out talking to people, but that doesn't seem like hard work to me.  I just wonder if there's more I should be doing. I'm just used to thinking of hard work being manual labor, like mowing lawns all day.  We always leave the apartment (except that one morning), and only shop maybe one day extra a week.

When talking to that 12 year old, Darlen, the Spirit was so there.  It was way cool.  I loved that moment SO much.  That was probably my happiest moment all week. Magdelena baptism is set  for Sept 20th. She is very excited every time we give her a new pamphlet and just eats it up.  SO cool.  The other for Sept 20th is Peter, who is about 20 years old.  Some of his family is inactive members and they said they can already see the changes in him.  He has yet to come to church though so we REALLY have to work on that.  I believe that they're supposed to go to church for 3 weeks in a row before being baptized.

Elder Moncada is sick.  He's got the joint problems of Chikungunya.  Thinks he has had it 3 times.  We saw the doctor today for it.  I don't think Elder Moncada has seen a doctor like that before.  I had to help him through it a lot, a lot of translating was done by me too. I'm pretty sure you can only get it once.  He's not too health savvy and it seemed like he'd never been to a doctor before today.  I don't know. It's not super serious.  He had Chikungunya like six months ago and now his legs and his body apparently have "fever".  It doesn't put him down, but does bother him.  They gave him some pain killer for it and pretty much told him to stick it out.  He's going to buy some vitamins too to see if that'll help.  We took the metro there. It took about an hour to get there. It's on the opposite side of Santo Domingo. The doctor was in the MTC.  He's new.  The old doctor was crazy, but this guy is pretty nice.  He doesn't know Spanish though so I did some translating.  I think he's the doctor for all the DR missions and maybe the whole Caribbean.

I also haven't exercised as of yet, cuz I couldn't print that sheet and because Elder Moncada is sick.  I'm also a little confused at how that workout chart works, if you wouldn't mind explaining it some more.  I need to pay to print them out!  (Shawn suggested taking a picture of the first workout and do it for the week and then do the same next week.) That's a brilliant idea.  I believe I'll do that!  I've been trying to take vitamins daily.  Other than the occasional headache (super hard to stay hydrated especially on Sunday when we can't buy stuff and eat enough), I've been fine.

How are your CTR socks, dad? I like mine. They work great.  They are honestly fantastic.  When I wear the Johnson and Murphy shoes my pinky toe on my left foot tends to get this little tiny blister which is weird.  I've been using some moleskin though and that really helps.

With the Mission Belt thing, I tried using Elder Moncada's old belt for a couple of days to just have a real belt to use.  It's never stained a single one of his shirts.  I believe it did stain my shirt!  I can't figure out why.  Maybe it's because my shirt is kind of baggy and hangs over and rubs on it?  I don't know.  I do know it never stains my shirt when I have my fabric makeshift belt on though.

This culture is crazy.  Dominicans are crazy haha.  Not very punctual, love dominoes, tons of weird miniature questionable banks in the neighborhoods, as well as mini stores and salons EVERYWHERE.  Super weird, but hey that's the DR!

(Have you learned how to play Dominican dominoes yet?) I haven't yet, but we stopped by the zone activity we didn't get to go to today (had to go to the doctor) and watched them play.  It looked super easy and pretty fun.  Haha there's tons of people playing it everywhere.

We generally just do laundry throughout the week.  It doesn't take too long to do a small load, and it's hard when everyone wants to do a few loads all on the same day. (Their washing machine is in their apartment.) And shopping hasn't been done either.  It should've been done this morning though, but will probably be done sometime this week.  We usually have some time after our district meeting and before lunch to shop on Thursday.  And where the district meeting is at is by the store so it all works out.

(I found you on the map! Are you close to a main road? Highway 13?)Ya! Haha we have to cross it every day to get to our area.  Really crazy.  We live on one side of it (the area of the other elders in our house) and our area is on the opposite side.  El Eden, Villa Mella.  Not sure on the spelling of that, but that's the ward and stake name! I'll try to get the GPS tags working.  The problem is I don't want to have the camera out for long and look like a tourist.  I have no idea on street names.  At all.  There's two ways to get out, one is closer to an Ole store, and the other is on more of a main street. Next week I'm going to have to print out a picture of a map of our area.  We don't have any maps of it and that could really help.  Most days we do use calle penetration. Our area goes all the way north to an Ole store and not sure how far south. The highway is our East border.  Not sure on West.  Don't think we've hit the back of it as of yet. I might print a picture of that map in the near future.  That’s really helpful.  Hopefully that helps give you a fill for my area.

My tan is coming along nicely.  I'll have the skin color of a native by the time I leave! :) Hopefully the language skills of one too.

Today I took off the drain in the shower cuz it wasn't draining well (so happy I brought that leatherman!), and it was filthy.  Probably hadn't been washed in YEARS.  I used some TP and cleaned it out.  I'll try to do something little like that every day. The problem with that is we don't have any rags.  Maybe one.  I bought some paper towels even though my comp didn't want any.  I'll put them to use. Another problem is we have no cleaner... Any recommendations?  We only have dish soap and soap for the washing machine. We do have a little scrub brush pad thing to wash dishes.

How's Brother Cullison doing?

How's Garrett been doing with fast packs?  Also thanks for the update with everyone, I love hearing what everyone is up to.  Let me know how Lydia and Ash's soccer goes too.

I love the handiwork on getting that flagpole down.  That cracks me up

I'll try to remember it's supposed to be hard out here. Email you next Marvelous Monday.
Love you tons!  Love, E. Potokar.


 El Eden, Villa Mella (Ward and Stake)