Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This afternoon I worked on the apartment contracts for the mission. There are about 80 and each one has to be reviewed to make sure we pay the right amount of rent by the first of the month. When I get my part done I will turn the folders over to Hna. Johnson so she can update the electronic payment system and either upload the payments or cut checks depending on which apartment it is. It usually takes Hna. Johnson a couple of days to get it done. It’s a big job and she is getting better and faster at it.

Last night Elder Richard Hinckley said that the service rendered by the army of senior couples in mission offices and other assignments around the world is invaluable. He expressed his appreciation to all of us at FHE in the Accommodation Center for our work we all put in. We meet in a conference room and it was packed with about 25 couples. We all have different assignments; they include Temple workers, proselyting couples, CES missionaries, humanitarian service missionaries, family history missionaries (microfilmers), and office couples just to name a few.

Elder Hinckley said that he was interviewed by a representative of another faith doing her Doctoral thesis. When the subject was on missionary service he told her of all the selfless hours put in by so many people at their own expense. She asked; “How do you get so many people do spend so much of their own money and give so much time”. Elder Hinckley replied; “We ask them!” Then she said; “That’s the way it used to be in my church but now everyone expects to get paid.”
Monday, October 26, 2009

Remember last Saturday the 17th, I wrote about our trip to San Juan to deliver mail to the only elders in the mission that use bicycles, Elder Dixon and Elder Allen. Well…. They are no longer on Bikes. Last night at 9:30 a motorcycle traveling at a high rate of speed hit both elders while they were riding their bikes. Both bikes were destroyed. Elder Allen took a glancing blow and was not hurt. However Elder Dixon took the brunt of the collision and required dozens of stitches on the back of his scalp and more stitches on his forehead.

The motor cycle riders in this country drive crazy reckless and crazy fast. Elder Dixon will be fine except for a huge scare on his forehead. He is in good spirits and already can’t wait to get back to his area and back to work. Unfortunately he will have to spend the next week here in the mission office recuperating and having follow up visits with various doctors. These two elders are classic examples of the caliber of missionaries we have here in the Santo Domingo West Mission. They are hard working, tough and resilient. These Elders love the Lord, the people and the work.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tonight we had our usual FHE at the Temple Accommodation Center, but it was not very usual. We had a General Authority, Elder Richard Hinckley and his wife Jane talk to us. Elder Hinckley is over the Missionary Department of the church and is touring all of the Mission Training Centers, including the one here in Santo Domingo.

It was a great FHE. Among other things he mentioned the dire need for more Senior Couples to serve. There are 4100 Seniors serving now and for the missions of the world to be fully staffed they need an additional 2000. He also said that there are currently 48,000 younger Elders and Sisters serving in 344 missions all over the world.

He also said that 15 years ago when the announcement came that a temple would be built in the Dominican Republic there was a lot of controversy. Everyone thought that is should be build in Puerto Rico. However now that it has been finished and in operation for a decade, the wisdom of the Lord and his choice of locations has been recognized by everyone. With political boarders and restrictions that must be dealt with, some people would not be able to get visas to travel to Puerto Rico. For example, citizens of Haiti (that share this island with the DR) can come to Santo Domingo without problem to do temple work. However if the temple had been in Puerto Rico, they might never get to enjoy the benefits of a temple.

***NEWS FLASH*** And speaking of people that don’t enjoy the benefits of a temple. Elder Hinckley was asked when we would have missionaries return to the island of Cuba. “Off the record” he said that 5 weeks ago the missionary department started a preliminary inquire into the possibility of the church being officially licensed to operate in Cuba! Who knows, maybe someday soon, we might be sending missionaries back to Cuba for the first time in over 50 years.

Elder Hinckley said that the church does have one operating branch in Havana, Cuba. He also mentioned that as of last month the ecclesiastical responsibility for the island of Cuba was switched to the Caribbean Area Presidency. This is very interesting because unlike the US, almost all of the island nations of the Caribbean will allow their residents to travel to Cuba. This is very good because there is a ready pool of eager young Elders available to be sent from the countries of the Caribbean. For example there are already nearly 500 Dominicans serving in the mission field. These and many more from the Caribbean could easily be sent to serve in Cuba where American Elders cannot go.

I would like to mention an interesting story Elder Hinckley told about his father, Gordon B. When asked what is the greatest legacy of President Gordon B. Hinckley many people will say that his legacy is the construction of so many new temple all over the world, bringing the blessings of the temple to many members that would not have been able to go because of the distance and cost. Elder Richard Hinckley said that when his father was 93 he was asked to perform the sealing of one of his grand children in the Salt Lake Temple. During the preliminaries of the sealing he paused for a moment and said; “with this sealing, I have sealed every one of my children and grandchildren to their spouses in the Salt Lake Temple”. Elder Hinckley said he hasn’t forgotten the profound comment he made next. His father paused again and said; “This is the greatest accomplishment of my life”.

After FHE was over Hna. Johnson was asked by Sis. Susan Hendricks, the wife of the Santo Domingo MTC President, if she would arrange a bouquet of flowers for her. Of course she was delighted. Hna. Johnson designed them in the Hendricks’ 4th floor apartment. Sister Hendricks said that she had purchased the flowers today to make the MTC look nice for the inspection the next day by Elder Hinckley. She was going to drop the flowers in a vase she had, but then remembered that Hna. Johnson was a flower designer. The bouquet turned out great. I’m sure the visit by Elder Hinckley went well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Church services today in both Neybe and Duverge were very good. Being the Branch Pres. in both towns really keeps me hopping. These branches have all of the challenges of any other branch or ward for that matter. I spent my whole Sunday in meetings or personal interviews. I feel like I did when I was the Bishop of the Alma 5th ward 10 years ago, only this time it’s in Spanish.

The members in both branches are great and many of them have only been members for a few months. They are all eager to learn and very willing to accept callings. I extended calls to several members today that have never held a church calling before, yet they are eager and willing to serve and give their new calling all they have. Most of the members are accepting positions they didn’t even know excited. They are great Latter-day Saints!

Hna. Johnson pointed out something she noticed at the Neyba Branch over the past month or so. We attended the Neyba Branch for over a month before Pres. & Sis. Almonte came with us on the 27th of September to put me in as Branch President. During those 8 weeks or so Hna. Johnson noticed that the young women of Neyba came to church in pants or shorts instead of dresses. Even some of the mothers came to church in low cut, inappropriate dress. While she was there, Sister Almonte called a special joint meeting with the RS and YW together. Among other things she spoke to them about their immodest dress and taught them about proper Sunday attire.

Over the next month Hna. Johnson has notice a complete turnaround in the Sisters and their daughters of the branch. Again today, as in the past several weeks, all of the sisters and their daughters wore dresses and had on modest blouses. Hna. Johnson is right; these wonderful saints are willing and eager to follow the council of the leaders of the church. Think how nice it would be if everyone, everywhere were so teachable and humble.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This morning we slept in and didn’t take an early Saturday walk for the first time in Months. However Hna. Johnson is feeling much better after fighting a bad cold with an even worse cough for the past two and a half weeks. For the first time in 3 weeks she’s felt like taking a walk but this time sleep and rest were more important. Next week we’ll resume our walks.

We had a big day ahead of us so we did get an early start at our P-day chores. Shopping was our first priority and we tried a new store we heard about. Its name is “Jumbo” and as the name indicates it was huge. It has many things we liked; tons of parking, close to our apartment, wide isles, great prices, tons of selections, etc. It is now Hna. Johnson’s favorite store.

While at Jumbo Hna. Johnson discovered what she’s been looking for in the DR for months. She finally found a pie plate, a real Pyrex pie dish. Yah, she’s very happy. Her first pie will be for Elder Jimenez out in Duverge. She promised him one months ago before she knew it would be so hard to find a pie plate. Finding this pie plate is another example of how little insignificant things can make a missionary in the field very happy.

This evening while we were in Azua we talked on the webcam with Nathan, Valerie & family for an hour. They brought us up to date on all the events back home; business, family, sports, politics, etc. it was a great webcam call. We really like using it to talk to our kids and grandkids.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This morning Elders Almonte and Small did the Friday “Diligencias” (Errands). They brought back a package for me from the Aduana (Customs). It was my birthday package from Nathan and Valerie. I got cards, letters and several presents. You’ve heard that missionaries love packages from home; well it is true! Especially good was a DVD of home videos Valerie took of the grandkids for Hna. Johnson and I to enjoy. And enjoy we did. We love it!

Hna. Johnson got pretty pictures colored by Sammy & Lizzy. She also received some things she needs for designing flowers, like floral foam and centerpiece containers. She really needs these things for designing and she hasn’t been able to mind them here. I also got a box of my favorite flavor of chewing gum. Even though I was finally able to find some at our local grocery store, Nathan and Valerie sent me a whole box of 12 packages. Pam and I really appreciate all they do for us. They work tirelessly in the flower shop so we can be here serving a mission in the Dominican Republic. And we are equally grateful for all of our family that is working so hard to make this mission possible. We love them all and pray each night for their continued support and faith.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Late this evening the Sister missionaries in “Harrara I” called to say they found a house for the office Elders and I to inspect. Hna Reyes (a Dominican) and Hna. Munro (from Ghana) have been squeezed into a one room apartment with 4 other sisters for over a week so it is really important for us to do all we can to rent them a house. There’s a catch, the only time we can meet the duano (landlord) is after 6:30pm tonight. So we were off after dark to look at a rental apartment with flashlights.

Elder Almonte is really getting this negotiation business down. He negotiated the contract and was able to get almost all of our requirement met. He even got the landlord to install iron bars on the front door and windows at his expense. It looks like the Sisters may have a house in a good neighborhood to move into soon, thanks to a good job by Elder Almonte.

And speaking of a good neighborhood…. In the Dominican Republic there is no “concealed weapon” law like in the United States. In fact there is no law against carrying a fire arm at all. A lot of the men are carrying a pistol/revolver in their pants pocket that you can’t see. The duano we met with tonight carried a .45 automatic in the waist band of his pants. When I first got to the country I was really surprised to see all the side arms carried by so many men. Now I’m more surprised to see a man not carrying a weapon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The work goes on in the office. Elder Almonte (who took Elder Bates’ place) finished a contract on a house today. He did everything himself including all of the negotiations, writing of the contract, dealing with the lawyer, etc. The Elders will be able to move into their new house on Monday. It’s a good thing too. They’ve been living in pretty bad conditions and in a very undesirable neighborhood. And they’ve been without water for months in their current house.

Actually living in an apartment without water is not unusual here. Many homes in the Dominican Republic don’t have a reliable water supply. Many of the Elders have to carry their water to their apartments in buckets. They use large plastic trash barrels and their bath tubs to store water. They don’t shower, they take sponge baths and they flush their toilet with a bucket full of water. As I’ve said before these Elders are like my deacons at scout camp, they consider the inconvenience more of an adventure. But in spite of the hardships they love the Lord, the work and the people.

And speaking of inconvenience and hardship, Elder Lewis was released from the hospital today. He spent 5 days in the hospital with a high fever and in a lot of pain. He is very glad to be over the ordeal. He will spend the next few days resting and recuperating here in the mission office before returning to his area in San Juan.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Elder Lewis had Dengue Fever which is carried by mosquitoes. He said the common name for it; “Break Bone Fever” is very accurate. He said every bone in his body hurt with excruciating pain for days. Including his skull, he said he felt as if his eyes were being sucked out of their sockets. He said he got some relief from the pain when the pain was so great that his legs went numb for a while. He told me he was in such pain that he actually thought he would die.

One of Hna. Johnson’s duties is to write/print all of the checks and pay all of the bills for the mission. Elder Lewis couldn’t leave the hospital until his bill was pain in full. However there was a problem. President Almonte has to sign all checks and he was out of town, far away at a Zone conference in Azua. Hna. Johnson came up with the unique solution. She sent the office elders with the two credit cards from the office, when they maxed them out, they paid the balance of the hospital bill with cash from the office petty cash box. Not bad for someone who didn’t know how to turn on a computer before her mission. Hna Johnson is turning into a regular accountant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This morning Hna. Johnson and I had an appointment at Centro de Servicio (Central Services) for the Caribbean Area. We are being trained to switch to and use a whole new computer system called IMOS. It stands for “Internet Mission Operating System”. What it really means for Hna. Johnson and the rest of the office staff is a lot of work setting it up, converting all of our data, learning how to use it and then working out the bugs.

But Hna. Johnson is a real trooper. In spite of not feeling very well, she listened and learned without question or complaint. She is eager and enthusiastic about the switch over next month. In the end it will actually mean less work for Hna. Johnson and everyone else in the office. That will be a blessing. We usually have so much to do that we really don’t know how we will get it done so the new computer system should help us a lot.

This afternoon Hna. Johnson bad cough and lingering cold have finally gotten better. She’s been on antibiotics for a day now and I think they are helping a lot. Hopefully she will get a good night’s sleep. If she does, it will be her first in weeks.

Our new Office Elder is Elder Small. He’s only been in the office a week. I remember overhearing him mention to one of the other Elders on transfer day that he had been assigned to work in the office and then he said: “I’m going to be the best mail deliverer ever.” Today he was speaking with Hna. Johnson and made the comment to her, “I had no idea what the office Elders did. I thought all they did was drive around delivering the mail to us.” Elder Small has learned what the word “Work” in “Missionary Work” really means.
Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Saturday, Elder Lewis (serving in San Juan) was brought to the capital to the hospital. He is very sick and the AP’s thought he had a “blood disease”. Today he isn’t any better but we did get a diagnosis from the doctors at the hospital. He has “Dengue”, a disease carried by mosquitoes. There are 4 or 5 different variations, each one progressively worse. The worst form can cause death. The local name for the disease is “Break Bone Fever”. They call it that because the fever is so bad it feels like your bones are breaking! Elder Lewis is the second missionary to get it in the past month.

In our literature we received before we left on our mission there was a list of things to bring. Included in the list were things like insect repentant and mosquito netting to keep from being bit by mosquitoes. However I would guess that very few of our Elders are doing anything to protect themselves from Mosquitoes.

On Sunday mornings when Hna. Johnson and I load the pickup in Azua to leave for Neyba we leave the vehicle doors open for just a couple of minutes while I load the truck for the trip. Once we start the car and head out of the driveway, we discover dozens of mosquitoes in the cab with us. We always have to roll down the windows and shew them out. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those mosquitoes were “Denque Fever” carriers.

Late this evening before leaving the office a package arrived for me. I’ve waited a long time for it. My brother-in-law, Dr. Gary Burk ordered dietary supplements to be shipped directly to me from the manufacturer. They’ve been a long time coming; he placed the order back on September 23rd, almost a month ago. But I’m delighted to get them. I’ve been out of a couple of items for some time now and I really believe in the benefit of supplements. Ever since Dr. Burk put me on them and lowered my cholesterol and Triglycerides by 510% I’m a firm believer. I was worried how I could get my supplements refilled in the Dominican Republic. At our farewell and open house Dr. Burk told me that he would take care of it for me. And I am so glad he has. Thanks Dr. Burk.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tonight we were invited to FHE with Pres. & Sis. Almonte at their home. Also invited were the other two senior couples in the mission, Elder & Sis. Roberts who have been here in the Dominican Republic for three weeks. And Elder & Sis. Finlayson, they’ve only been in the country for three days. They will be serving as CES missionaries.

Of course Hna. Almonte put on a huge meal she calls a late evening snack after FHE. The Dominicans have a word for the meal, it is “merieda” . But it is no snack, she put on a ton of food and it was all delicious. I’m glad I didn’t have anything to eat before I went. It was sure good.

Hna. Johnson didn’t go with me to FHE. She is still fighting a cold with a bad cough. She stayed in our apartment and went to bed early. It was a good thing too, the FHE and dinner didn’t get over until after 10:00pm and Hna. Johnson needed the rest.
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Today Hna. Johnson continues to be sick. She is coughing so much it’s given her a headache. She describes it as a “rattling” in her chest. For the past two days she has started sneezing again as if she has started another cold even before the last one got over. This morning when we got to the Neyba Branch, I asked Elder Báez to assist me in giving Hna. Johnson a priesthood blessing. It is truly a blessing to have the power of the priesthood available all around us. Especially here in the mission field as we work with so many young Elders eager to exercise their priesthood and call down the blessing of heaven for the benefit of the sick and the afflicted.

I should have thought of giving Hna. Johnson a blessing a week ago but who thinks of giving a priesthood blessing for a simple cold. Well, this cold isn’t simple. After the blessing Hna. Johnson spent the balance of the day resting and napping in the Branch President’s office, the only air conditioned room in the building. She said that she hardly coughed at all. By the time we left for the capital at 4:00pm she was feeling much better.

My duties as Branch President in Neyba makes a full day on Sunday. Today I conducted my first Branch Council meeting after the bock. It was just like any other “Ward Council” anywhere in the states except here it’s in Spanish. My Spanish isn’t real good but I’m getting better. I probably understood 80% of what was said by the Branch Auxiliary leaders. However there are some members that speak Spanish with a true Dominican flare and those I can only catch one word in ten! But then I ask questions, get clarification and I am able to get the gist of what is said.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Remember the goat of Neyba I talked about last Sunday. Well here is the latest on them. Before we left the Branch building Hna. Johnson was a witness to an accident in the street in front of the chapel. She was resting in the Branch President’s office when she heard a lot of noise, commotion and goats bleating. The goats I talked about last week were in the way of some neighborhood children who had come into the parking lot to play basketball. The commotion and noise were these boys chasing the goats off of the parking lot and into the street. At just that moment a man on a motorcycle going very fast went by and plowed into the herd of goats. The poor man was skinned up and his motorcycle was dented and scraped but he, goats and cycle all survived.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today Hna. Johnson and I took our first walk in a week. She isn’t feeling any better but we found a new place to try out and we hoped this would lift her spirits. We went to the coast road call the “Malecon”. It runs along the coast by Santo Domingo for about 20 miles. It’s beautiful. We discovered that there are parking lots and trails that walkers and joggers use.

We were up early and on the trail just after sunrise. The views and the coast line are breathtaking. We were a little disappointed though. The trash left by Friday night drinkers really marred the beauty of the rocks, cliffs and surf. It smelled so bad It reminded me of the city dump. However I did manage to take some nice pictures.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This afternoon we made up for our disappointing walk. On our regular Saturday drive to Azua we had to take a detour quite a way out of our way. We drove about 40 miles up to the pueblo of San Juan to make an emergency delivery of mail and packages to the Elders there. We’ve heard from several people that this is a pretty drive. Well, we weren’t disappointed. It was a beautiful drive through the country side. The best part was the beautiful new road up there. It was very wide, with shoulders and a centerline stripe. And we saw something on the road that we haven’t seen anywhere else in the Dominican Republic, it was a passing lane. Wow, a new road, with painted lines, a guard rail and passing lanes. What could be better than that? Well I’ll tell you… imbedded orange reflectors in the roadway to mark the center line and white reflectors imbedded to mark the side of the road. This road was so good I thought I was back in Arizona.

Something else really jumped out at us. All of the little towns we went though and San Juan itself was completely clean and litter free. This is highly unusual. The Dominican Republic has to be the litter capital of the world. But the people in these little towns and all through San Juan take a great deal of pride in their communities. It was very obvious because the streets were so clean and litter free. It was a wonderful drive we took. I’m really glad we had to take the detour.

Hna. Johnson also observed something about these little communities and maybe the reason why they are so clean. Once we took the turnoff to San Juan the country side and scenery changed. We were driving in a fertile river valley. This was all irrigated farm land. All of the little towns we drove through, including San Juan, are farming communities. Hna. Johnson said that generally people that work the land (farmers) love, respect and take care of the land. They wouldn’t think of throwing litter or trash on the land they love. I think she’s right.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It’s very interesting to me how some of the smallest, most insignificant things in the mission field can really make me happy. For example I’ve been hunting for my favorite brand of chewing gun since we arrived in the Dominican Republic. It is “Trident – Tropical Twist” gum made by Cadbury Adams. I’ve really paid attention and looked for it at every store I’ve ever been in. There are lots of other chewing gum flavors made by Cadbury Adams but I’ve had no luck finding “Tropical Twist”.

Well…. I went shopping tonight while Hna. Johnson rested at home. I went to the “Bravo” grocery store which is literally across the street from our apartment. We’ve shopped there once or twice a week for the past three months. To my surprise and delight, there it was at the checkout stand, “Trident – Tropical Twist”. I was so happy I took the whole box from the checkout end cap display and bought all 9 packages of gun that were left in the box. I’m sooooo happy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

It’s Friday already, WOW, where does the time go. Sometimes the time flies by and other times it seems as though a day will never end. Today was one of those days that flew by. There was a lot to do and we got a lot done.

Today was another one of those wonderful days when we get new missionaries in from the MTC. This time they were from Provo and not the MTC here in the Dominican Republic. Both Elders are “Language Advanced” so they left the Provo MTC after 3 weeks and skipped the additional 6 weeks of language training here in the DR.

Both Elders have Hispanic backgrounds and spoke Spanish in their homes. Elder Arreola is from Utah and Elder Mendez is from Phoenix. It’s great to have another Arizona Elder serving in the DR. Both Elders are full of enthusiasm for the work and love the Lord. These young Elders are just wonderful. They bring a special spirit with them as they enter the mission field. We really enjoy having them in the mission office if only for a few hours before they leave for their assigned areas with their new companions. We really love the missionaries of this mission.
Thursday, October 15, 2009

We are still having a problem with the office computer network in the office. I have to share my computer with the AP’s almost every day because of it. It means I can’t get everything done, or at least I can’t get things done when I need to. Oh well, one of these days our computer expert, Carlos Rubio, from Centro Servicio (Central Services) will be back and fix it. Although every time he works on the network there seems to be new problems when he leaves.

Unbeknownst to me, we were scheduled for a new AC unit in the mail room today. The whole wall was torn apart to get at the pipes & wiring. Everything was completely put back together and finished in about 3 hours. Its little surprises like this that keeps our lives interesting in the Mission Office.

Our early morning exercise has been put on hold. Hna. Johnson is still fighting a very bad cold. For the past 7 days she has been constantly coughing. Because of it we haven’t been walking in the early morning for the past week. Hopefully she will improve and we will get back on our exercise regimen soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Well, today marks a full week that Hna. Johnson has been fighting a very bad cold. She started with chills, fever and a severe headache. Now it’s been a week and she isn’t much better. The fever and headache are gone but the deep lung coughing, no sleep and extreme fatigue are making life miserable for her. We are both looking forward to her getting better.

But in spite of all the misery of a very bad cold she has hung in there and done her work through the worst of it. She hasn’t missed a day at work and still traveled to Azua & Duverge over the weekend to fulfill our Branch duties. Hna. Johnson is a real trooper.

The work in the office goes on. We have two new AP’s (Assistants to the president) here in the capital. They are Elders Caldwell from Lehi, UT and Elder Mesidor from Haiti. They are green at their job but eager and willing to learn and work hard. Elder Jimenez has been able to stay with them for the past two days to help them find their way. However they were be themselves this afternoon in the capital and got lost for hours. Neither one has driven in the craziness that are the streets of the Dominican Republic. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today is “Translados” (Transfer Day) in the mission. Actually I think it’s the same day all over the world. On Tuesday, every six weeks, new missionaries arrive in the field, some of the old missionaries go home and those that stay ask themselves, who is going to be my new companion? A lot of the things a missionary does are based on a 6 week timetable. If you ask a missionary how long he’s been in an area, he won’t answer: I’ve been here 3 months, he will answer, I’ve been here 2 transfers. If you’re interested in knowing how many months that is, you have to do the math yourself.

This is Hna. Johnson and my second “Translado” to go through, although we arrived in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, July 28th just 4 days after “Translados” on the last Tuesday in July or this would have been our third.

This “Translado” was held at a nearby chapel instead of the Mission President’s home. There were too many Elders and Sisters to fit comfortably in his house. Hna Johnson and I took the first hour of the orientation meeting teaching all of the new Elders and Sisters about their finances, credit cards, reimbursements, weekly reports, e-mail, password, etc. Next was the picture session with each missionary and Pres. & Sis. Almonte. This is one part of my duties that I really enjoy; I get to take lots of pictures!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I got to meet the Elder that is taking Elder Bates’ place. His name is Elder Small and he is from Snowflake, Arizona. Elder Bates was from Mesa; in fact he is from the Keating Ward in the Mesa West Stake. Since Elder Small is from AZ we’ll continue the tradition of having an office full of Arizonans. Elder Almonte, Elder Small’s companion, is from La Vega, right here in the Dominican Republic.

The rest of the day was full of regular office work complicated with problem solving, emergency errands and other complications associated with the “Translado”. For example, today Elder Almonte went to the office of a landlord’s lawyer and negotiated rental agreement we need very quickly. We have 6 sisters temporarily staying in a one bedroom apartment that only holds 2 sisters comfortably. But it’s an emergency situation so we are moving heaven and earth to get the new apartment signed on and moved into. There’s never a dull moment and no time to relax for the office staff.

In spite of the long hours and hard work, “Translados” are a lot of fun. It’s really fun to watch former companions greet each other after not seeing one another for 6 months or even a year. There are big Dominican “brasos” (Hugs) all around the “transfer chapel”.
Monday, October 12, 2009

For the second night in a row we enjoyed having air conditioning in the Azua house for the evening. Last night we went to sleep in a very cool room. But just like the night before, the power went off some time after midnight and stayed off until 7:00am. Thank goodness for battery operated fans. If we didn’t have these fans we wouldn’t be able to sleep at all.

There never seems to be a moment to relax in the mission field, especially with transfers coming tomorrow. From the moment we got up we got up this morning we were at it again. Breakfast was a cup of yogurt and some fruit and we were off for our 2 hour drive to the capital. At the office we put in a full day’s work and still didn’t get everything done for tomorrow. Oh well, ready or not, her come 19 new missionaries at 6:30AM.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today we were finally informed of all the transfers that are happening tomorrow. And to our shock we discovered that we will be losing Elder Bates from the office! I have used his picture many times in my blog. He has been my mentor and trainer for the last 3 months. I really don’t know what I will do without his knowledge of the workings of the office. I have grown to love him like a son (like all the office Elders). He will be a Zone Leader out in Barahona. I will miss him very much. The town of Barahona is getting a great missionary and the Elders & Sisters in the Barahona Zone are getting a great leader.

Both Assistants to the President (AP’s) here in the capital are also leaving. Elder Araya and Elder Jimenez have been in the office for only two transfers and are both leaving at once. This is highly unusual. It means that the two new AP’s will be coming in green with little if no training. Both Elders Araya and Jimenez are getting a green elder to train and they are excited and eager for the opportunity to get back in the mission field as regular Elders. I will really miss these two elders as well. Hna. Johnson and I aren’t losing office Elders; rather we’ve gained several new sons.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Both Assistants to the President (AP’s) here in the capital are also leaving. Elder Araya and Elder Jimenez have been in the office for only two transfers and are both leaving at once. This is highly unusual. It means that the two new AP’s will be coming in green with little if no training. Both Elders Araya and Jimenez are getting a green elder to train and they are excited and eager for the opportunity to get back in the mission field as regular Elders. I will really miss these two elders as well. Hna. Johnson and I aren’t losing office Elders; rather we’ve gained several new sons.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Well this Sunday turned out to be “Another Whirlwind adventure for Shrek and Donkey!” We did almost the same thing we did 6 weeks again for the last transfer day. We picked up loads of elder’s luggage, helped transport elders, hauled the mail and to and from “El Campo”, etc. 5:30am to 10:00pm makes a long day on the road and at church services. Add on top the unbearable heat in Branch chapels with no air conditioning and we are physically and mentally drained.

But it wasn’t all work. We do have light moments too. At the Neyba (nay-bah) branch chapel the gate to the church grounds are kept locked all the time except when members are present for meetings. A local herd of goats is allowed to forage for food without supervision. Well, these goats know that it’s Sunday and the gate will be open. Every Sunday morning they come on the run, enter through the open gate and help themselves to the lush green grass, shrubs and they even eat the weeds. The fun starts when the meetings are over and we have to chase them out before we lock the gate behind ourselves. The Elders (who are really overgrown Boy Scouts) delight in the chase.