Monday, March 30, 2015

" I know that my Redeemer lives" - Week 38

March 30th, 2015

     I don't really feel like words could ever come close to expressing what I've felt this week, and the love I have for my best friend and dear Father. So I won't attempt that. Instead, I think I'll just share my testimony.

     I now realize, that in my entire life, and on my mission, I've never really understood the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Until now. I'm not saying I have a perfect knowledge of it, or even that I´d be able to begin to imagine exactly what it was like. However, with the events of this past week, what I've come to appreciate and understand of our Savior's redeeming sacrifice has truly shaken me.

     I've felt the spirit before, and it was great. But never before like this. I feel as though I have been lifted upon angels' wings. We all experience pain and sorrow. We've tasted the bitterness of death, and the sting of such can be closer to some than others. In our Heavenly Father's plan, I don't believe there are such separate things as "Life" and "Death", rather there is only Life, and death is simply a part of it. What I teach out here has become infinitely more real. 

     Our Lord, Jesus Christ, took upon him the sins of this world. Point one- Without such an act of immeasurable and unconditional love for every man, woman, and child that has ever lived and will ever live, none could return, resurrect, and live in happiness. None would be able to repent, thus nobody would be cleansed and perfected in order to live in the presence of our God, our Father, forever. This much is clear; thanks to the Atonement, families can be eternal. 

     For the purpose of better understanding us in our times of need, want, and our own sufferings, Christ experienced all our infirmities, pains, and sorrows. Point two- Our Savior knows us. He has already felt exactly what we feel, and is the only person existing that has gone through every trial so personal to us. In Gethsemane, He bled for us, and in Gethsemane He wept with us. Being the only perfect human being ever, he took upon himself every weakness, and shed every tear that has streamed down our cheeks. His sacrifice strengthens us, supports us, and even sustains us. He is our light. And I love Him. "I know that my Redeemer lives" And that sentence truly does give such comfort. I've felt God's loving arms around me, and the sweet solace offered by Christ. The Spirit of God is with me now more than He ever has been. 

     I've always thought that something like this would destroy me, and that I'd be ruined by it... that I'd never be able to go on. But having now experienced it, I saw that there were essentially two choices at hand. I could let it destroy me; let the sorrow take over and sink into despair. Or, I could let Christ take over. I could give him the burden, say "please take this from me", and accept His perfect love. I've taken His hand, which is always extended, and He has lifted me off the ground. Happiness is a choice, one that I know my Dad wants us to make. With the love of God, and with faith, we can all move forward. These trials will build us.

"In the sweet by and by, we shall all meet on that beautiful shore."
     I've made the decision to stay in the mission field. I feel that there is still much work to be done, and that this is where I'm needed. Saturday, we were privileged to take part in the baptism of one of our investigators, Luis Nery. It was a beautiful service. After the baptism, Luis and I exited the font into the restroom to change. There he asked me if he I thought he would be able to baptize someone, like I had him some day. He expressed his desire to serve a mission as soon as he turns 18, and is excited to share the Gospel that we've shared with him. I began to think of the people that he would bring the Gospel to, and the happiness he would share. I knew in that moment that I was doing exactly what I should be, and that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. In finishing, while singing a hymn, I had the distinct feeling that my Dad was a third witness to the baptism that day.

     I know this is the restored church of Jesus Christ; that He lives and loves us. I know that we'll all be together again some day. Thanks to the temples we have on this earth, we are sealed as an eternal family. I love my Heavenly Father, and am so grateful for His Son's great sacrifice on our part. I'm grateful for the Holy Spirit and the comfort He gives. This is the true gospel. This is God's plan, and it is beautiful. In the name of our beloved saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

     *There's a word of gratitude that must be said. While I can't be there physically for my family, I know that the Stake, the Ward, and all my dear friends and family are taking care of them very well. Thank you. You're angels. The Lord works through His people to answer His children's prayers, and you are all answers to mine. Thank you for your love and strength, and may God be with you.

     Elder Brady

A little drawing I did that I thought I'd share with you- 

"I am the light of the world..." 

Luis Nery and I.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"The Allegory of the Tamarindo Tree" - Week 37

March 23rd, 2015

     So, lately we've been doing a lot of contacts trying to find new people to teach. Our usual method includes offering our services to help the person clean, wash, do the dishes... stuff like that. The responses we get are great! Most the time they can never believe we really do that. "Men, doing our dishes? Never in my life have I heard of that.." One lady that we're actually teaching now, thought we were looking for work. She told us of an area were we could find jobs to do, and gave us twenty pesos to go buy some soda. It was pretty funny explaining to her that we don't want anything, just to help out. 

One day, an investigator of ours told us about their tamarindo tree, and that they thought it had fruit at the top. Tamarindo is a weird pea-like fruit that they use to make juice, and grows on a huge tree that can reach about 30 ft high. I offered our services to collect the fruit for her, and she couldn't believe it either. To get my point across and let her know we were serious about the proposition, I took my tie off, ready to climb the tree until she convinced me I'd just get my shirt dirty and to come back in the morning in regular clothes. We did just that.

As I scaled this monster of a tree, each foot-hole taking me higher and higher, memories stored deep within the vaults of my mind flooded suddenly back into reality - memories of my childhood fear of heights. But it did not deter me. With fire in my eyes, and a mission to accomplish in my heart, I conquered my long hidden phobia of such things. That day, I stood taller than the tree I was in. I stood as a king. 

Pretty funny actually... While i was in the tree, people would pass by and soon gather to gaze in wide wonder at the white boy in a tamarindo tree. I became somewhat of a spectacle of sorts. Searching for ripe fruit, going ever higher and higher, it was apparent that if there were any good and ready tamarindos in this tree, they had to have been on the very top. Well, I'm not exactly a small man, and there came a point were if I stepped on certain branches, I would be thrust down from my kingly throne very quickly, and I'd be better acquainted with the ground. So, my companion gave me a large stick, the likes of which rivaled Moses's staff. I'm sure I looked ridiculous, shaking branches, waving a big stick up in a tree. Soon Elder Valdes joined me in trying to find some of the fruit that wasn't green. In the end, we couldn't find any. We got down from the tree just after discovering a nest of wasps... I "R-U-N-N-O-F-T-E-D" before we ran into those fellas. One childhood fear per day is good enough.

I suppose the moral of the story is that many times, in the mission and out, we don't get to see the fruits of our labors. But perhaps some day in the future, that tree will be ready. And wether it be us, or someone else, it will be harvested.

In other news, we have a baptism this Saturday. This time around, we do get to see the fruits of our labors. His name is Luis Nery, and we've been teaching him since he was referred to us by his neighbor in the beginning of the first transfer I got here. He's a humble kid of 15, very intelligent and very eager in his approach to the gospel. He's so excited to be a member, and we're excited to witness it. I'll tell you how it goes next week.

Love you all, and have a good one.
Sorry there are no photos this week...

Elder Brady

Monday, March 16, 2015

"An Apostle in the DR" - Week 36

March 16th, 2015

     This was a great week. Not with particular respect to our investigators, though they're moving on just fine, but rather some of the meetings we've had. This week I've heard exactly what I needed to in the most perfect of ways. I'm learning just how important personal revelation is to missionary work.

     To start off, we had a mission wide meeting with Elder Clayton of the Seventy, Elder Cornish of the Seventy, and Elder Martinez of the Seventy. That's right. Two Hundred something missionaries in one room with three of the the Seventy. It was awesome. It was kind of a question and answer style thing, so that was fun.

     Then, Sunday... Guess who came to the Villa Mella stake to give a little talk? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. I had the amazing opportunity to sit yards away from an Apostle, listening to him speak as a full time missionary. I can't quite describe the feeling when he entered the small chapel. It was so wonderful. In the beginning, after the choir girls had sung, the first thing he said, after a handful of spanish, was that they were the most wonderful choir of "hermanitas" he'd ever seen, and would like a picture of them afterwards to use for his facebook! So funny.

     There is no doubt this man is inspired by God. He related to us a story of personal revelation received while trying to find a lost passport, while late for his first flight to this country as a new apostle many years ago. As he and his wife knelt in prayer amidst piles of unpacked boxes in their house, as they had just moved, he saw in his mind exactly which box it was in. He got up immediately, went into the other room, under a table, under several other boxes, to find the very one that contained his passport. He got to the airport just in time, and all was well.

     He also shared with us the story in Acts three, of Peter healing the lame man at the temple. Using his own words in telling the story, as he often does, he told us how that man was hoping at best only to receive a small piece of silver, and it would've been a great day. He recieved something much much greater that day. The moral is that we will always get more than we bargained for in the gospel. 

It was a great day, and I'll never forget it.

Lots of meetings this week, and a trifle of cool experiences. All and all... a good week. Thanks for everything back home, and you all have a fantastic week as well.

Elder Brady

These are the zone shirts..."couple o' Gs wearin em".
Pardon the picture of Bob Marley smokin a joint in the background.
In a companionship, there's a certain element of "give and takes".

Got to see my pals from my MTC district days.
It was awesome!

These are some of our investigators we brought to see Elder Holland. 
It was an awesome experience for them, 
even though they don't quite fully understand the significance of it yet.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"The kid with a tongue named "Iniquity", and a heart named "Sincere". - Week 35

March 9th, 2015

     So theres this kid about 15 years old who lives on the same street as us, and since the beginning of the transfer we've passed his house every day when we leave and come back. At nights, on our return, if he were at his house he'd spot our white shirts (and what's more, my white face) and would begin to unleash a string of English curses, obscenities and vulgarities headed straight toward us. In my own tongue he shouted such words very often, some stronger than vinegar, the likes of which I don't wish to repeat here. Now this really is common, and as a missionary you get used to ridicule. As a gringo missionary, you get used to people trying to ridicule you with what little and terrible English they have. So naturally, we ignore him and go on our merry way thinking nothing of it.

One night, as we neared his house, my companion, Elder Valdes, mentioned to me (in not so many words), he was tired of this punk and his garbage disposal mouth. When the moment arrived, the kid started up again with a plethora of colorfoul words. With his arms out and in a victory stance, he says "Checeme! Checeme!" (Dominican for "check me out") Elder Valdes, being pushed over the edge stopped and went his way saying "Que? Que? Chece que?' The boy looked confused that one of us was actually talking to him this time. I jumped in real quick, eager to douse the fire, asking the kid, ¨Where'd you learn your English?" He paused and told me he had learned it in Spain. Well, we began to talk in the most friendly of tones as possible, and found out that he had just returned from living in Spain most his life two months ago, and was living with his aunt. He learned a bit of English in school (the majority certainly not from the teacher). His entire attitude was changed. His venomous mouth was quieted very quickly once he thought we were actually his friends. He became so meek and submissive, even friendly, when he got his attention by speaking to us as friends instead of showing off the curses he knew in English. Pretty soon all three of us were talking as though we'd been best pals for years.

I asked him if he went to church. He said no. Then I asked him if we could come back another day to share our message and teach him a bit of English. Do you think he refused?

The past week we've been teaching Randy and his aunt the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he's recently told us that he's open to baptism. 

It taught me a valuable lesson, one taught to us by our Savior so long ago. It is not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are "sick". Who would've known that this guy that seemed to be so obviously closed minded towards anything we had to offer, was actually just a kid that lived in a completely new neighborhood, or country in this case, who didn't have many friends, and was in constant search for attention from someone. The moment he received just a little bit of love and attention from two guys in white shirts, he reciprocated that love and is now a good friend and a promising investigator. Perhaps the next time we see someone who doesn't quite fit the profile of what we think they should be, we could stop and think to ourselves "There must be more to their story than what I can see. Maybe I should give them a chance." I know I will.

Well, this last Saturday, I got a call from President Corbbitt, and am now district leader, which basically just means a bunch of phone calls at nights... But I'm excited for something new nonetheless. "Gonna be the power behind the throne so to speak".

Thanks for all the prayers, and have a good week. 

Elder Brady
Thinking of this one as my new album cover.

La Zona Villa Mella

Monday, March 2, 2015

"A Day in Santo Domingo" - Week 34

March 2nd, 2015

     Well, today, I got us permission to go into the city to see some of the cool historical sites of Santo Domingo. It was awesome! And quite a bit of fun. We even got to go with our good friend and neighbor, Willy, who is sacerdote in the catholic church. He’s also involved in the community politically. Needless to say, he knows a ton about the country's history, and was able to tell us so much about the Catholic church. It was a great experience. I've got a bunch of photos of some of the places we visited...

Im joining the Boy's choir, and that's final!

Centro de los Heroes

Remains of Juan Pablo Duarte, 
a revolutionary figure whom I swear has a street named after him every three blocks.

Willy giving us an exciting history lesson!


El Conde

La Puerta del Conde!

You may call me Admiral of the Atlantic!
This is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, 
and first built. Pretty amazing!

Don't know what this is, but it's cool...

Inside of the Cathedral

This was a nativity scene they had for Christmas. 
They're all dressed in typical traditional dominican clothing.

The Holy of Holies

See that spider vaulting Shalise?

Beautiful stain glass

Its not Michaelangelo, but its still quite impressive!

There's an underground system of tombs in the city of santo domingo, 
this is the center, and points to all the other tombs of important people. 
The tour guides don't tell you that, but we had Willy...

Some old Spanish fort we weren't able to go to cause it was closed
Cool public art

"Where the devil cannot go, send a woman". 
Saw this on the street, thought it was funny!

I think the fashion world is calling my name. 
I actually have many agencies looking at me as a sombrero model. 
"I'm a model, if you know what I mean, and I do my little turn on the catwalk..."
Christopher Columbus's house. Ya baby...
The ruins of SanFransisco
Me and my "pana" Willy

We found a honeycomb on the side wall ¨Dulce miel¨

This was once a chapel. A tomb lies underneath here as well

This used to be a hospital

I also designed our Zone's t-shirt. 
"El Angel Moroni subiendo de la Republica Dominicana" 
Declaring our zone, Villa Mella... We're pretty much the best.

Excuse the crudeness of the drawings, 
I did them on short notice,
 and materials were in short supply.
I'll show you all the shirt when we get it. 

In the meantime... Have a great week!