Monday, September 29, 2014

"Elder... I Am Your Father..." - Week 12

September 29th, 2014

I now have a new Papi! Elder Bodily is his name. From Logan Utah. Oh how good it is to have another English speaker in the house. Last night we stayed up till like 2 just talking, and much of our conversation was centered around films we had seen. Such a tender mercy it was to be able to enter into a cinematic conversation with someone who spoke my same tongue. He´s a real good guy, with a ton of little tricks he is teaching me that make the small things in the mission life a bit nicer. Like putting drier sheets in your drawers to make your clothes smell ¨not so bad¨! Its all very good, and he´s very excited about the work. I will always love my last Papi Marroquin, but im finding out that maybe he was a bit more dead than i thought he was, being his last month in the field and what not... But now La Victoria will be completely reanimated! 
Elder Cornejo has stayed with us, and his new companion in our house is Elder Zarate from Guatemala. Really funny guy. Half of his face is paralized from some kind of virus from a bug bite in his neck. Its a bit sad, but its getting better, and he has a good sense of humor about it. Sometimes we call him ¨two face¨! Great guy. The house is alot of fun. Dominos, chugging contests, and arm-wrestling (of which i am proudly the right-handed heavy-wieght champion... im afraid Elder Bodily has me beat with his left... for now) 
The work is good. We have several babtismal dates, and expect to have many more by the end of the week. We´re just starting an english class at the church that we think will get a lot of people to begin lessons with us. One guy, named Adrian is really promising. He´s 19 yrs old, and has only lived here for 8 months. He´s from Venezuala, plays baseball, and is here in hopes to get signed on with someone. We went to one of his games today. It was super fun!
In our travels, we also stumbled upon a catholic sanctuary. Nuns and all! Its the most beautiful place in this area. Really a different world than the rest of the DR. Its a Schoenstatt sect, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Pretty cool, peaceful place, but definately not the same spirit about it. 
Well, the streets here are pretty fun. Every day its a juxtoposition of oppinions of us as missionaries from the common folk of La Victoria. Sometimes, you have days when a random old man with no legs or teeth will tell us ¨Ädelante! Jesus te ama!¨or another  example, a little girl comes up to us with a note in her hand that says ¨Les quiero Mormones¨- which here is basically just ¨we love the mormons¨, then when we say ¨we love you too¨, and i start to get out a chacalaca (a small bubblegum flavored taffy that i almost always have on me for the kids) she says, ¨there are three of us!¨So i just roll my eyes and dish out the candy, but its cute. And then, on other days, we´ll be called ¨sons of satan¨and that we need to repent. We´ve met people that tell us were sinners because we work for the devils church, and they know this because God visited them last night and they are a prophet. Its funny, and we just brush it off our shoulders. But its sad to think of how many hardened hearts there are in the world.
Anywho... Love you all! Sorry I don thave pictures this week. My chord is not working... But i still love you all! Thanks for the support
Elder Brady

Monday, September 22, 2014

"East Side Story" - Week 11

September 22nd, 2014
First transfer in the field is completed. I said goodbye to Elder Marroquin this morning, who will see his family in Guatemala for the first time in two years tomorrow afternoon. Its sad to see such a good friend, companion, teacher, and Papi go, but im ecxcited for him! Right now im in a trio with Martinez and Cornejo until my new comp arives tomorrow. All I know is that he´s North American, been in the mission for over a year, he will be our district leader, and thankfully knows Spanish well. So Im excited to meet him! Ive learned a ton this first transfer, like to make sure you have a change of clothes after each baptism... learned that the wet way!
Well, we had the opportunity to attend the temple this last Friday. It was wonderful. It used to be that we only visited the temple twice a year, but now President Corbit has changed it to four times a year! Its awesome. I really like my President. Very kind, very funny, and very serious about the work. He´s new, and so the mission is seeing alot of changes. There are alot of ¨tigres¨(disobediant missionaries) in the field right now, so he´s trying to straighten things out, and lift the sprituallity of the mission. Anyway, the temple was great. As we were in the chapel about to begin a session, we were singing a hymn, when all the lights and power went out. Perks of living in the DR! Therefore, the organ didnt work, and none of us could see the words to the hymn we were singing. So just imagine about 50 elders and Sisters humming a hymn in the pitch black chapel of the Santo Domingo Temple. It was actually really nice and spiritual. Funny story though. 
I think ive told a bit of this story before, but it now has much more signifigance. The first week here in La Victoria, Elder Marroquin and I were whitening the area, so we didnt have many appointments lined up. One day, we were contacting in a big rainstorm. We were in the part of our area where if it rains, the streets turn into rivers of mud. As we walked on one path, in the pouring rain, jumping over trenches of running water, contacting every house and hut, nobody was answering. We reached fork in the road, and Elder Marroquin said to me "One more house. Which way?" We looked around a bit, and at the same time, I said "Aqui" while he said "Here" both pointing to a small shack off in the distance. It was Ibelice's home. Our last contact of the day, and the house we both agreed on. We didnt know it at the time, but it was prompting of the Spirit. She had recieved many visits from Elders before, but never progressed. Her sister has been an active member for the last 18 years, but its never been the right time until now. After a month of teaching, this last Saturday, Ibelice and her two sons Hector and Choco were baptized and are now memebers of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that before we came to this earth, Ibelice told Marroquin and I to find her. Everything was so perfectly timed, prepared, and planned. Heavenly Father has His work and His glory, and I am blessed to be an instrument in his hands to bring it to pass. 
Thank you all for your prayers.
With much love,
Elder Brady
Baptism! Left to Right, Marroquin, AltaGracia, Choco, Ibelice, Ailin, Hector, and yours truly.
Me and Choco right after his baptism!
Marroquin and Ibelice!
"Loco Choco" in the font...
We had to tell him he couldn't swim in the Baptismal font, but what can you expect from a kid whose nickname is short for chocolate!

The roads we walk...
Mi Papi! Him and that peace sign! Every picture! ha ha! Love it. Se fue! :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

¨Come on in boys, the water is fine!¨ - Week 10

September 15th, 2014

Well, another week. I had my first baptism! It was amazing! Little Elizabeth was so cute! She was so excited. It was interesting saying the words in Spanish, but very cool. The entire experience, was great and very different than how i had imagined it to be. Reverence for Domincan people is i tad different, ha ha! It was a very spiritual experience, and a great meeting, but just different. Its hard to explain. Before i was about to baptize her, the second counseler came up and said she had to take her white beads out of her hair, so we had to stop and wait for that. Afterward, all the niños followed me into the bathroom
to help me change, ha ha! Doing up my tie and what-not! It was great! And next weekend we have three more baptsms. Very excited.

So the other night, around 8-50, as Elder Marroquin and I were headed home, on the street just before the one we live on, we stumbled upon terrifying site. Before we knew it, we were in the middle of war between two neighboring gangs in the community. We ducked as shots were fired past our heads. The smell of gun powder and blood filled the night air. Yelling and screaming, it was anarchy. Crime fights like this are pretty common. Every other night there´s a brawl. I guess that´s what you´d expect when every mom n´ pop store on the corner supplies kids with guns. Pop-guns that is. Ha! The neighborhood kids go crazy with them! Riding their bikes and shooting eachother with the toys. It´s pretty fun to watch. No Mom... I´ve never actually heard a real gunshot. But everyone carries guns in their pants. Pretty funny.

Sorry this one´s a bit short. Thanks for all the support! Love you all!

#1- The kids of the ward. (The Gang!) :)

#2- A snake I found as we were on our way back for lunch.

#3- Like I said, it was just before lunch!?

#4- Me (Hector), Elder Brady, and his younger brother. He´s got my name.

#5- Baptism! Elizabeth Rincon. Happy Day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Que lo que" - Week 9

September 8th, 2014

Another week in paradise.

Well, this place is crazy... Something Im learning is that I will never cease to have new experiences. My companion leaves this place in two weeks, and he still says all the time ¨Ive never had that happen on my mission before¨ That gives me hope for this adventure. He´s also a native Spanish speaker from Guatemala and still has trouble understanding everything these flippin Dominicans are saying... And that does not give me hope!
But Im slowly begining to obsorb the language into my mind, and with daily practice, its coming along. And it´s not just that the speach here is fast and filled with slang. They change the writen language of Spanish. For example; We teach guy named Junior English while we also teach him gospel lessons. The English lessons were our ¨foot in the door¨.Anyway, he had a list of phrases he wanted us to translate, and supprisingly I could do just about all of them. But it was like playing Spanish MadLibs! They combine words and swith letters, or they just negate the letter completely. Here´s a phrase, ¨Megustaria Certunobio¨ Which is Ï would like to be your boyfriend¨ (Junior´s got his eye on a girl and thinks english is sexy) The sentence comprised of two words in Dominican should have five - ¨Me gustaria ser tu novio¨ Just one of the many examples we run into down here.
My Birthday was a pretty normal day. It was good though. Mom, thanks for the gifts! I was actually looking for a watch just like this one. Its perfect. Im glad Ole, the only supermarket in our zone, didnt have one, or i would have bought it. Elder Marroquin told me that my parents think Im 9 instead of 19, but i know he enjoyed the balloon rockets more than anyone. Ha ha! At night, we visited the Rincon family, they have three girls including Elizabeth who will be Baptized on the 13th. All of the neighborhood girls are always playing on this street. They´re our niñas favritas! And they love us, they think we are gods. Its really just because we always dress nice, and that demands respect, yet we are some of the kindest people to these little rugrats! We love them! They always take our stuff and pretend to me missionaries, and they always want us to write our names on their hands, like we´re celebrities or something! That night, they put our hair into ties. It was fun. It was a good birthday.
I´ve had to stomache a few things that members and invesatigators have cooked for us. Cold dumpligs with sardines, chicken feet, guneo verde ( which is like a really gross potato/ banana)... Not a fan. I miss Mama´s cookin for sure. One thing I love though, is Platanos fritos, so sweet, so good. But if you mash them they become something only pigs and farm animals would eat.
Seen some crazy stuff already. It´s a dog eat dog world out there. Literally! Just the other day I saw a small dead dog whose head was in the mouth of another larger dog. No joke. The saying is real.
I miss Sundays. Sundays here dont feel like Sundays. I miss a congregation that can actually sing, i miss classes wherein i can actually understand what is being taught, and I mkiss nice Sunday dinners. We just have the usual, beans and rice... But its all good!
The work is really great. This is a good area with good people, and a good ward. We currently have 6 baptismal dates.
Yankery, a single Mother of two children actually knows quite a bit about the gospel and is excited for her Baptism on the 27th. Durring our first lesson with her, she began to cry and told us that she feels completely alone. She´s out of work, and doesnt have enough money to buy food for the week. Every couple of days, the father of her 3 yr old brings her some money, but it isnt enough. All her life, whenever she wanted drugs, she had friends to give them to her. When she wanted alcohol, she had friends to provide. When she wanted sex, she had friends. But when she needed a place to stay, food to eat, money to support her children, no friends were there. This Gospel will completely change her life.
Durring a recent lesson with Ibelice, she told us of some sad family history. 18 years ago, her older sister´s twelve yr old son was kidnapped and never found. This destroyed her sister. She turned to the drink to burry her sorrow and became an acloholic for three years. She was in such a state of severe grief that Ibelice legitamately began to fear that her sister would take her own life. Then she met the missionaries. In three months her life was turned around and she was baptized. Now 15 years later, Ibelice and her two sons Hector and Choco will be baptized on the 20th of September.
This Gospel blesses lives in ways I´ve only ever heard about in general conference, or read about in the Ensign or something. Now i´m witnessing the change first hand, and its amazing.
Thanks for all the Love!
Elder Brady

#1- Our Appartment
#2- This is "la tienda" that we most regularly use to buy our daily bread and what not. Its my main source of Red Rock soda. The guys runnin the counter know us pretty well, and as soon as i walk in they get a Manzana Verde Red Rock out of the fridge cause they know its my favorite flavor.

#4- Elder Cornejo wanted me to tattoo a picture of Jesus on his back, so I had him sit with his shirt up for ten minutes while I drew this.

#5- Just somewhere 

#6- The farm of a less active member we visit

#7- We feel pretty, oh so pretty...

Monday, September 1, 2014

More Photos! Yea! Finally!

#1- Martinez and I with a kid named Elvis. I call him Mr. Presley, and taught him how to say "Thank you, Thank you very much!"  He´s the best!

#2- Cristobal Colon! Santo Domingo!

#3- Another Pday with Marroquin. Got to go to Pizza Hut. Man oh man did i feel like i was back in america. They even had Backstreet Boys playing!
That´s all folks!

"Runnin Through the Jungle- CCR" - Week 8

On Sep 1, 2014, at 5:38 PM, Spencer Brady wrote:

The mission rocks! It´s kind of weird to say, but everything that was once strange and bizzare is now common place. Oh look, a donkey chewin on grass while pooping in the middle of the street! eh...Saw that yesterday. Its a funny feeling, starting to get used to this place already, and adapting to the culture pretty well. When i return I´ll be full blown Dominican! Except for one thing. I refuse to submit to the culture in one aspect that alot of missionaries do... Littering. People throw their trash everywhere! Its on the street, in their yards... everywhere. And it stinks. One minute you smell someone cookin something up real nice, and the next you get a whiff of something else that smells like the donkey previously mentioned. You´ll be looking at the beautiful scenery, trees, rivers, great big blue sky, and then a pile of garbage to go with it. Its too bad really. Oh well.
This town is awesome. Most of our area consists of the poor part. I´ve realized that I´ve never seen poverty before. Not like this. The houses sometimes look like like something i would doodle on the back of a math assignment. Uneven dirt floors, cinderblock walls, tin roofs supported by lashed and nailed together sticks and sometimes trees, plates of wood and metal stacked on top of eachother unmethodically to create the outside walls, all seemingly stable... even the ones that lean one way. Its much less glorified and whymsical than the way i make it sound. The phrase ¨Dirt Poor¨has a new meaning to me now. 
This week was great! The days kind of start to mesh together into one, and the weeks im sure will begin to do that as well. My companion Elder Marroquin will leave for his home in Guatemala in three more weeks. He´s ending, and im just starting. We´re bookends. We call trainers, Papi´s because they are your father, and i am his hijo. But im also his killer, because im the companion hes with as he dies. Since he leaves in the middle of my training, ill have two Papis. UI can only hope my next one is as amazing as Elder Marroquin is. 
Well, last night the power went out, and usually when this happens (which is all day everyday) we have a back up battery thingy that kicks in. But last night it wasnt charged, so we played candle light Uno and told stories. These guys are the best! What wasnt fun, was trying to sleep without a fan on me. MISERABLE... but i fell asleep eventually. We also dont have running water most of the time, so we go outside our little appartment to this well, and lower a bucket down with a belt to scoop up some water so we can take ¨showers¨... Bucket showers are the best! The colder the better right? 
We have fun. If theres anything i´ve learned about latin americans from my companions, its that they are almost exactly like american teenage boys at the core. The biggest differences are that they speak spanish, they´re really loud, and they listen to some of the worst central-american music ive ever heard. They´re really awesome. 
The spanish is coming. Undrstanding these people is flippin hard though. The language they taught me in the MTC is not the language spoken in this country. It cant be. I find that if i really focus, i can pick up on almost everything though. Focussing... That´s the hard part. It is so easy to zone out when everyone is always speaking spanish. Ive had plenty of Walter Mitty moments in my time here. Dad, I dont knw how you learned Japanese...
We teach a lady named Gisel, who actually contacted us on the street. (Which apparently never happens... My companion was in his last area for four months and never got one baptism. And it´s not because of any lack of work on his part. He´s had over forty baptisms on his mission. This area is just amazing. We´ve had three people contact us on the side of the street now...) Anyway, she´s very anxious to learn, and has a ton of questions. She´s unique with respect to most of the people we teach, in that she´s very well educated and is very well-versed in the Bible. Her husband is the Pastor of a church just across the street from their house. (just a rickety little shack with a handwritten sign tacked to the front of it´s name and title) This is pretty supprising considering the fact that she contacted us! But shes interested and wants to learn!
I´ve seen at least 6 different small churches in our area alone. They´re everywhere! Im starting to understand the true nature of ¨the great abominable church¨, which is of course every other untrue church on the earth. - Satan cannot ensnare every man with the terrible sins of the world. One of the devil´s greatest tools to decieve man kind is goodness. These churches are good. They provide good community service, good classes that teach good things, and give people who have nothing else in their life, something good. They are all good... But they are all untrue. None of them, have the priesthood, and none of them are the true church of Jesus Christ. These people think, ¨oh, i already have my church... I give praise and sing haleluiah every sunday. I love my church, and i´m very comfortable staying in it.¨ This is Satan´s devise. And the ¨good¨he uses to decieve people is rampant.
One day as we were trying to find the home of a less active member, turning through crooked dirt roads every which way, we found ourselves in the middle of a jungle/swamp, treding through a muddy path, we decided to carry on this course. Then, all of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon, in the middle, of the road. It was another gigantic tarantula... some demonic spawn of Ungoliant. I decided the best course of action would be to find a long object and poke it. so i did. I got a stick and very carefully... poked it. It reared its ugly pincers toward me, and with its eight hairy legs began to climb the stick with uncanny speed. I imediately dropped it, and we ran, splashing our way out of the swamp, screaming like little girls. It was certainly a ¨Psych¨moment, but missionary style!
Yesterday, there was a parade of horses. They do it every year. At the front were were marching military men with drums and trumpets. And about 20 men in uniform mouted on the most magnifecent of beasts. Truly beautiful creatures. following them were about 200 other riders upon malnurished work horses. Farmers and just about everyone else in town that owned a horse or donkey. It was awesome!
We are both whitening this area, so it´s taken a couple weeks to get some traction, but we´re begining to see some of the fruits of our labor. Yesterday we brought 6 of our investigators with us to church. All of which are very promising. We have three baptismal dates. Elizabeth, 8 yrs old, belongs to an active family. Her parents arent married, and thus are not yet baptized, but they attend church regulary. They dont have the money to get married. It costs about 2,000 pesos which translates to about 50 american dollars. We said that we´ll pay for half if theyre truly committed to marriage. 50 dollars will not stand in the way of their salvation. But that just shows you how truly poor these people are. They´ll let us know when they can come up with the other 1,000 pesos. 
Another is Sandra. She´s 40 plus, and has four children. Very eager to learn. She´ll also be baptized on the 13th with Elizabeth. The last is Ibelice. She´s the one that lives in a shack in a swamp much akin to that of Yoda´s. She cried durring our first visit, and feels saved. She will be baptized on the 20th of september.
It´s an amazing blessing to watch these people progress, but its nothing compared to the blessings they´re about to recieve. Our planners are full with appointments, and often have too many people to teach in a day. This area is fanastic. Interested people, great ward willing to help... I need to enjoy it while im here, cause not many are like it. It´ll be sad to see Elder Marroquin go. But im excited for him to see his family again. He´s almost done with his adventure, and i´m just starting mine.

Thanks for all the love and Birthday wishes!

Elder Brady


#1- Lunch at "Pica Pollo" on Pday, Left to Right, Cornejo, Marroquin, Me, and Martinez

#2- This is me asleep during Stake Conference... The mission really takes it out of ya!

#3- Side of the road from inside a taxi... there are much cooler scenes of this place, but thats all I got right now.