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)

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