Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Month Mark Tomorrow. Times a flyin.

(Emailed to Friends)
Wow.  Where do I even start?  Hard, quick week.  Lots has happened.  Thanksgiving was a little rough.  I'll start with the day by day playback.

Monday Night.  We had a FHE with the Baez family.  They're members and are like your stereotypical grandparents.  Really enjoyed that.

Tuesday.  Kind of rough lessons.  Probably one of the most boring lessons I've had.  We brought along a ward missionary and he was close to sleeping haha.  We also had another ward council.  It was a TON better.  Our 2nd counselor is really changing things here.  The bishop started joking around during it and you could tell the second counselor was a little mad about that.

Wednesday.  Normal day.  Not a ton happened.  We taught Nicolas and his wife.  They're doubting, they actually got an answer to their prayers.  We're slowly losing them I feel like.

Thursday.  My comp and I had a tema or topic in our zone meeting on families.  It was pretty solid.  For not preparing as much as we should have, it went over pretty well.  Actually went pretty long.  And Thanksgiving.  Wow.  What a day.  We made some instant potatoes, gravy, and tacos with ground beef.  I got pretty homesick during that honestly.  Really rough.  Not exactly the Thanksgiving I'm used to.  Then I felt like we should stop by a contact's house and we did.  Last time we stopped by her husband didn't want to talk to us.  Today we were able to get him to open up some, and said we could come back anytime.  We also shared some stuff about Christ with a part member family.  It was pretty cool.  One of the times I've felt most like a missionary.  Really enjoyed that.

Friday.  Lots of contacting.  We had an Evangelitco lady ask for a BOM in like 20 seconds of being on her porch.  That was pretty cool.  We talked a Catholic lady into reading one of our pamphlets, with the help of the Spirit of course.  Catholics crack me up.  Usually when we say we're missionaries for the LDS church, they always say "I'm Catholic" and try to shut us down.  I like asking if they believe in Christ then and they're always like "of course, he's the path for eternal life" or something like that.  But then they've opened up enough to talk to us.  An easy way to find common ground.  I also got a haircut.  They don't have scissors here only razors so that's cool.  Then we celebrated the birthday of a member.  A little weird, but it was good.

Saturday.  Rough day.  Left the house late, had to buy food, and the English class was OK.  We had like 10 or 15 people.  We then visited the family Frias.  There was this guy there who just shut us down.  It was really awkward because of that.

Sunday.  Rough day again.  Basically no one came to church.  We expected like 8 people, and had 1.  Everyone bailed on us.  We had a decent lesson with the Dad of the familia Frias after.  And a bit of a bible bash with another guy that night.  The dad of the familia Rojas.  We had a member with us and they got into it a bit.

Today.  Lazy day again.  Cleaned lots.  I'm feeling a little sick again which sucks.  Slept a ton.  Not much has happened really.

A few other thoughts for the week.

El es el Dadiva.  He's the gift.  Really cool thing the church is putting out. Really easy way to talk to people about Christmas.  I guess they're going to completely take over YouTube one day too.  Should be awesome.

Dia de la mujer was Tuesday.  Day of the women.  There was a bunch of school kids running around protesting.  Really weird.

We did a contact with an Evangelitica.  They always say their prayers together.  Like they all talk during prayers and she did that during one of the prayers with us.  I was having trouble not laughing during it.

We found this old lady with only one leg.  She said she lost it like 8 years ago and it still hurts.  She really can't do much.  There's not a ton we could do for her.  We just testified to her of Christ and how he knows what she's going through.  That was something really special for me.

We have this menos active (less active),  Julio y Mercedez.  He is probably like 60 years old. He made a little bra during one of our lessons and just starting cracking up.  He always has a joke or magic trick or story or something for us.  Super funny guy. Also has a pen that comes apart and is a thumb drive.  He asked his grandson what it was and his grandson said memory and he was like "OOOHHHH.  That's cool".  Haha he cracks me up.

Our second counselor talked in church this Sunday.  Someone was talking while he was speaking and he stared them down until they stopped.  While at the pulpit.  That was the quietest I've ever heard sacrament meeting.  He said everyone needs to be more punctual and laid down the law.  It was great.

I'm switching the hand I put my watch on to see if I can kill my tan line.  It’s going to take a while.  I haven't gotten any darker in the last few months either.  The same as before.  I've peaked tan wise.

I believe that’s about all for this week!  Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving break!
Love, Elder Easton Potokar.

(Emailed to Family)
I haven't been feeling so hot the last few days.  Last night I was just dead and ready to sleep.  I felt dehydrated so I drained like 3 or 4 of my Camelback water bottles throughout the night.  I also felt really cold and slept with my jacket and sweats.  Felt really week.  I slept in past 6:30 for the first time in 5 months because of it.  (And cuz it's p-day).  Had a temperature of 100.6 this morning.  I tried to eat and drink lots today and took it really easy.  Took like a 20 minute shower.  Longest shower in 5 months as well haha.  I still feel pretty weak, but better.  It was a long long night though.

I took an ibuprofen last night and an antihistamine to clear up my head.  My nose was clogged up pretty good too.  That seemed to help a lot.  I'll try a Tylenol to see if that'll help.  My whole body is just tired right now.  I need to try to eat better and drink more water too.  I've just skipped dinner a few nights because I was so tired and pretty sure that didn't help much!  It really just started last night, so we'll see how the next few days are.

Thursday and Sunday I was super homesick.  Between Thanksgiving, and then nobody coming to church on Sunday it was rough.  We cooked the stuff grandma sent me (Elder Decker cooked it.  I had to go to the store to buy some stuff.  I wanted to cook it, but oh well), had a gallon of ice cream between the four of us, and some tacos with ground beef.  The tacos hurt.  Brought back memories of the tacos we had at home.  The ones we had definitely weren't as good.  It was meat and Kraft singles for cheese and that was it.  Quite the meal.  Shed a few tears that day because of it.  (Just thinking... I wonder if Jesus ever had homesickness ... or if he ever missed Mary and Joseph, his family, his home.) That's a very good question.  I've never thought of that.  It could definitely be true.

I called Elder Brearshears on Thursday.  He's in a house with 3 Latinos.  Didn't do anything for Thanksgiving.  He just had his birthday this month too.  He said Thanksgiving sucks haha.  I talked to him for like 10 minutes.  Felt really good.

It's definitely the traditions that hurt, and knowing that they're still going on without me.  The heart does grow fonder with distance.  I love and appreciate the family a ton more than I did before.

(I just looked at your pictures. That’s a lot of ice cream. Did you four eat it all that night? Maybe that’s why you are sick! Haha) We ate it in like two days.  Haha I'm sure that might be part of it.  (How did you get microwave popcorn?) They sell microwave popcorn in the stores.  The DR isn't that 3rd world haha;) (Do most members have microwaves?) Depends on the area. Some of the areas are decent and have microwaves.  More out by Marisa and Ferdnando and Lisa is a lot worse.

I'm glad you're seeing the blessings of me serving!  Sometimes it's hard to see when you're in the middle of it here. Speaking of which, my progress has seemed to stall.  My language study consists of reading the BOFM in Spanish as of right now to finish my goal.  I really don't feel like my Spanish has improved much in quite a while.  Maybe it's that hard to see in the middle of it thing.  My progress seems to have slowed down not only in that, but in a lot of things.

I'll tell you how I'm marking my scriptures.  I've set a goal to finish the BOFM by my six month mark.  Not sure that'll happen, but I'm going to work at it.  But I'll underline stuff pretty heavily in red (It's a plain BOFM.  Like one I used with the 30 day challenge.  But Spanish) and highlight in yellow every time it mentions Christ’s name.  Really cool.  It's amazing how often it's used.

I read a quote somewhere about how the gospel blesses families and how scripture study, FHE, prayer, etc brings more unity into the family.  There's also a missionary lesson about that too.  But I realized that’s how our home was so perfect.  Basically contention free almost all the time.  We are so rooted to the gospel, and it really has blessed our lives.  I realized I didn't just have a prefect home and childhood out of luck, it was all because of the gospel and amazing parents I have.  I'm going to write a letter to myself at the end of my mission, a letter I can reread throughout my life to make sure I'm sticking to the same standards I learned and taught during my mission.

Zone meetings are usually one week in a transfer they have a "development" where 4 or 5 companionships teach a topic.  Then the other weeks are the normal district meeting with temas. We've had ice cream in our zone development things a few times, but first time in the house.

Next transfers are in two weeks.  December 16th.  (Is the mission getting together at all for Christmas?) I don't believe so.  We have another mission tour like the last one on the 11th.  That's 4 of the 9 or so zones together for that in ours. We have the bell choir thing on Friday night.  I think only that.  We're supposed to bring investigators, but the transport is really hard for people.  But we can still go if we're not bringing people.  That and Sambil on Monday.

I'm feeling ready for a change.  I feel like I'm going to be transferred too.  I'll miss the area and the people and the ward, but it's time.  Every time I've prayed to stay I feel like I'm going to leave.  I don't feel like I'll miss it as much as I should.  For being here close to four months and all... It comes and goes from day to day how much I'll think I'll miss it.  I'll think I'll miss how comfortable it is more than anything.

(Are there lots of lights and trees down there for Christmas?) Quite a bit of lights and trees.  Lots of flashing lights.  They've been out since like October haha.  This country is a party year round so they'll take any chance to have a party.

Oh and I guess the week of Christmas, it's really really sketchy here.  Like I don't know if we can work the couple of days before and after Christmas because of that.  We just have to chill in the house.  It's called Santo Semana or something like that and there's a TON of parties.

That is a chili dog.  I had two of those that day. D'Javi si the name of that place.  Where I took pictures in the mirror of us eating.  Super clean and super good and not too pricey.  We ate there again today.

I believe its macaroni, a red sauce, and hot dogs.  It was really good and it was a TON.  The other one is with mayo and salami.  Not my favorite.  That is a shopping receipt.  Apoyo came again.  So we stocked up the house for the next fifteen days or so.  (Was that your grocery list? How did you carry all of that home?) That was our receipt.  Huge.  It took all four of us and a lot of fast walking haha.

I haven't got the study guides.  I have to go to the distribution center at the temple for that.  There's a bell choir this week at the mission office so we'll go to the temple after and I’ll buy them then.  I think I'll stop by and talk to Miranda Fielding too.  I think she's in the MTC. I haven't seen the President since Stake Conference or my interview.  Don't remember which one was last.

They changed the ward mission leader.  He’s now the young men's president.  We don't have one at the moment now.  That means we'll have to do it with the bishop, which scares me a lot!  Haha we'll see how it goes.

Sacrament was way intense.  He's very intense.  He was in the high council of the stake so he wasn't in the ward like at all for a few years.  Has worked a lot with the stake presidency and a few of the seventy.  Sacrament is usually pretty loud, at least not reverent at all.  When he was talking the whole place was silent after he did that.  Wow.

Ward council is on Tuesday.  Bishop has about a year and a half to two years.  Very controlling.  I'm pretty sure I've told you a lot about him!

So we've gone with a few members this week to visit people.  Usually at night.  They were very surprised at the areas we'd go to at night.  We've had a few investigators question it too.  I guess there's some pretty dangerous areas!  I had no idea.  Not sure if you should tell mom that haha.

I uploaded a picture of me and Ronny.  He's basically a dry Mormon. (Someone who is a active but has never been baptized.)  Is super close with all the ward, but can't come to church.  We were walking down the street one day and he called us.  We talked to him and invited him to the English class and he's been coming ever since!  Pretty cool. Speaking of the English class, pretty much everyone who comes is our investigators.  Ironic because it was the other Elders who were really pushing the class.

Ronny is hilarious.  He's great.  All the ward members know and love him.  Speaking of which, that's something I'm a little frustrated with.  Victor came to church alone last week because Paula couldn't come for whatever reason.  Really cool he still came alone.  But anyway, pretty much no one talked to him!  He sat next to someone in sacrament and after sacrament he kind of was just standing there, and then just left.  The ward hasn't really been friends with him very well.  Or Paula.  Kind of frustrating cuz they have like 3 months coming to church.  I wouldn’t want to come if I didn't have any friends like that!  I've seen this in a few of the recent converts too.

We've brought a few members to lessons with Paula and Victor, but they still don't talk to them at church at all.  And that's another problem.  This ward is kind of dead.  They really don't have that many activities.  The second counselor is really pushing that.  I think we'll have some for Christmas though so we'll work on that.  That’s a good idea.

The lady sitting by Sara is a member.  She's about 35 years old, has 6 kids under the age of 14 and is a single mother.  And probably the most active lady in the ward.  She got called as young women president this week.  She's crazy energetic, a little too much sometimes, but with everything she does is pretty amazing.

We also had a cool lesson with Paula and Victor this week.  They pretty much just asked us what they need to do to do family history.  Awesome.  We still need to teach them about Eternal Marriage.  I'm hoping I can go through the temple with them their first time!

(Are you meeting again soon with the Frias family? Did the Sunday lesson with the dad go well?) The Sunday lesson with the Dad was awesome.  We retaught lesson one with a member, and it was really powerful.  I feel like he understood everything really well too.

It's getting harder to visit the families.  Neither Nicolas's family or the Frias Family came to church this week.  We've stopped by their houses a few times this week and they usually weren't home.  I think we only visited them once each, but tried at least 3 or 4 times each to visit them.

I've heard the rule about eating with members is being slowly changed.  That there's a good chance we'll be able to pretty soon here.  I'm way excited about that.

I love the He is the Gift thing the church is doing.  It's a video on YouTube. It gives us an easy way to talk about Christmas and the Savior with people.  I really like that.  This is a small card we hand out.  The church is going to get all the advertising on YouTube on the 7th I believe and really push this program.

We're going to go to Sambil next week.  It's like another big mall.  Should be really cool!  Like Megocentro, but bigger.  But is there any things that you can think of that I need to buy?  Like things I ask for, but am not getting?  Cuz there's a good chance I can get them there.

I uploaded some jungle ish pictures too.  It's just a little hill between streets haha.  Not really a jungle.

White pants are perfect.  The dry cleaners did a good job with them.  No problems with them at this moment.  Whiter than they were before!

That would be Elder Pena and Elder Stephens.  They are in Santa Cruz, Elder Kirk's old area.  They're in our district.  Elder Stephens is from Utah and has about a year in the mission.  Elder Pena is from the DR and has around 7 or 8 months.

Hopefully sending out Christmas stuff this week or next.  Be ready for them!  I have yet to receive any packages.  I got a letter from Grandma P for Thanksgiving this week and that was it.  The mail came on Wednesday though, so it was early.  I would expect this week or the next one.

I believe that’s about it!  Love you tons.  Think of you guys often.  Miss you millions.
Elder Easton Potokar.

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