Monday, July 27, 2015

"Pherb, we´re going to Meca..." - Week 55

July 27th, 2015

     It was a great week here in Vista Bella. Right now we have 6 baptismal dates for our Noche Blanca, two of them being couples. We're focussing on preparing them for the 22nd, but also don't want to lose sight of finding new people to teach.
     This week we did another example. We filled the sink in the relief society room at the end of our meetings, and using little nerf darts (fish or investigators), a bucket filled with some water that had "Organizaciones Auxiliares del Barrio" written on the outside, and a clothes hanger bent into a circular shape. The objective was to get the "fish" into the bucket with the clothes hanger. After several people trying, it was apparent that it was difficult to do so. Three or four were able to get into the bucket, but there were still plenty in the water "the campo misional". So then we took out a net (really just a clothes hamper/sack) and connected it inside the circular hanger. Then, Elder Richardsen was very easily able to collect all of the fish and bring them to the bucket. We talked, and the zone caught on right away, that the net is the resource we have at our disposal of the members. It doesn't matter how diligent, obedient, or how hard we're working, if we aren't using the members, we won't be able to achieve as great of results as we could, baptizing family-references, along side the members of our ward. And as soon as we leave, those investigators will have a net to catch them if they fall. It was very interesting to see everyone come to those conclusions.
     We had one of the most interesting lessons of my mission yesterday. We met a muslim, and were able to share with him. You have to understand, these are more than extremely rare here. Everyone in the Dominican Republic is some type of christian. His name is Erkan, from Turkey. He speaks more English than Spanish, so we talked with him in English. We learned a ton about him and his religion! It was amazing. The more we talked, the more I began to fall in love and admire certain pinciples of the muslim faith, while at the same time increasing my testimony that this is without doubt the true church of God. It was an eye-opener for sure. His entire life, he was taught that christians are bad people, but doing some travel, he found out that that's not the case at all. There's probably a 99.9999 % chance that he'll never leave his religion, he's very devout. But he told us he'll come to church Sunday!
     All is well in Zion, and as Hermana Pichardo, a sister in our zone, would put it, "Pues, the church is true" (in a Dominican accent).  Thanks for everything, everyone!
Elder Brady

Goin to paint some walls at the Stake Presidents place!

Elder Brockbank, a former zone leader of mine,
came back to visit while we were playing around at the church today.

Look Ma! I can cook!

Monday, July 20, 2015

" Don't ever give me cake..." - Week 54

July 20th, 2015


     Things are just fine and dandy in the DR. I wouldn't trade the missionaries in Vila Mella for anything. We have amazing missionaries in this mission, but I've truly grown to love these brothers and sisters as if they were my own. Perhaps we haven't had much success lately, but we're beginning to look at mission work through the eye of faith, and thus beginning to receive many blessings. So far we've had seven baptisms this month, and that's a notable improvement from the last two. In order to keep baptizing instead of having this "oh too common and familiar roller coaster" of highs and lows, we're planning another white night in August, and have several baptismal dates of families already. We have set a goal for every companionship to take a family to the temple and have a lesson there by the end of the month. That way, not only will the missionaries be starting with the end in mind, but their families aswell; seeing baptism only as a stepping stone to be able to enter the temple.

     Personally, we're seeing many miracles here in Vista Bella. Due to a new policy that makes it much harder to baptize underage children without their parents, we're able receive blessings that we wouldn't if we didn't have the same focus that we do now. One investigator in particular, named Padilla, wouldn't have a baptismal date otherwise. His daughter was baptized at the beginning of the last transfer, and his wife was going to be baptized, but she needed an operation done on her stomach. Due to that operation, the baptism was postponed, then came the new policy, and at first it seemed like just another barrier, for her and for us. But it was a blessing in disguise. Padilla, the husband, was a challenge from the beginning. But after his daughter and wife realized that she couldn't be baptized without her husband, they worked hard on getting him to lessons. And it worked. We had an amazing lesson in the temple, and the following lesson, his attitude toward taking the lessons had changed completely. We put a baptismal date for him and his wife. He committed to go to church the next Sunday, and sure enough, he went. If we had continued doing it our way, that couple wouldn't be getting baptized. We are all trying to focus more on doing the Lord's will and not our own.

     This last Thursday, after the district meetings, we gathered to close things up, and as everyone came back in, to their surprise, they found a beautiful, delicious cake ready to be served. We talked about our goal for the temple, and the white night, and then we asked if they would like some cake as a "welcome to the zone gesture". Of course they all wanted it, so we called on Hermana Hansen to start us off. As she held out her plate, ready to receive her cake, I asked her again if she wanted cake. When she replied yes, I took my hand, planted it in the cake, scooped out a piece, and plopped it on her plate. For lack of better words, everyone flipped out! "Elder Brady! Que hace?!!!" Their reactions were pretty darn funny. For some reason, Hermana Hansen didn't want to eat the cake anymore.  So Elder Romero neatly sliced up a piece with a knife, and served it nicely on another plate. She wanted that one. We asked some questions, and had a really good conversation about the way in which we present the gospel to our investigators. We even have certain tools that help us in this task (the knife) like the Spirit; scripture study, planning sessions, the members... We came to a lot of really cool conclussions as a zone. I think dramatizing ideas is key. Special shout out to my mom who gave me the idea!

Other than that, we had a pretty normal week. Love the mish, love you all. Peace out.

Elder Brady

Monday, July 13, 2015

"On Teb... On!..." - Week 53

July 13th, 2015

     Hey all, had a real good week, all was very full of meetings, and what not. Our monthly meeting with the Stake President went a million times better.  We came prepared for every question he had with numbers to back it up. We spent ten hours straight in an internet center making a form, and collecting data. It was one brutal day, but it was certainly worth it. Well, Elder Lanza is gone, and tomorrow I'll be receiving my new companion Elder Romero, from Honduras as well. I'm excited for the next transfer here. It may not be the zone with the most success in the mission, or very much cool "stuff" in the area, but I absolutely love these missionaries. I've had the best opportunities to get to know some of the best people in the world. We said bye to Elder Lanza, but he's movin on in his life, and so are we here in the mission field. He's been an incredible companion. We'll tell ya whats up next week. Have a good one!

Elder Brady

Monday, July 6, 2015

"Carlito" - Week 52

July 6th, 2015

     This week, after a zone meeting, while doing some shopping at the local "La Sirena" , I was standing outside, waiting as my companion took out money from his card, when a young boy comes up and asks me for ten pesos. He had dirty clothes filled with holes, and a lightning bolt shaved in his hair on the side of his head. ( a popular thing for the barber shops to do here) He looked just like one of the hundreds that come to public places begging for something, or wanting to shine your shoes, but this one I'll never forget.

     I told him I didn't have any change on me. I asked him his name, "Carlito". I told him to ask my friend dressed like me if he had any change. As he waited patiently behind him in the ATM line, I made funny faces at him across the way. I like making friends with the kids even though they just want my money. My companion didn't have any change on him either, so I promised him that when we left, I'd catch him on the way out. We shook hands and went in to shop. While shopping for cereal, we see a familar face. Little Carlito found us in the store. In an instant we had a quick friend, helping us chose which cereal to buy, pushing our cart, giving us high fives, and laughing at my dumb jokes.

     At this time it was around 1 o'clock, we asked him if he was hungry, and he said he hadn't eaten since 6, when his father and mother left for work and dropped he and his brother off at the super market. The money he gets from begging he takes back to his parents. We asked him how old he was, and he said he was 10. Then we asked him when his birthday was, and he didn't know. He couldn't remember when he was born, and had never had a birthday party. At this moment I was struck with emotion. I had to keep myself from tearing up right then and there, because for some reason in such an instant, I reflected upon my own fortunate life, and was filled with guilt for it. Carlito spends the entire day begging for money away from home while his parents work to put bread on the table. He's never celebrated a birthday, nor does he know when his is. I spent my childhood watching cartoons. I spent my days in school, obtaining an education. I've been blessed with 19 memorable birthdays, without having to beg daily. I've been more than blessed in my life circumstances, and to see my new ten year old friend hungry, and completely unaware of his misfortune, due to the normality of his situation rocked me to my core.

     We asked him where his parents lived, and he couldn't gives us directions to his house. We bought he and his brother lunch at the cafeteria, and he went on his way with a smile. I don't know if he'll ever remember the two guys in white shirts. I don't know if his parents will ever come in contact with the missionaries. I don't know if it will have an effect on his life, but it did on mine. There are millions of children and families in the world in the same or worse situation. One lunch for a day is nothing compared to the gift that family could receive from the eternal well of the Gospel of Christ. After that day I feel as though it is our solemn duty to lift where we stand and raise those around us. They are our brothers, and I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a small portion of them here in the Dominican Republic.

Thanks for everything,
Elder Brady