Monday, January 28, 2013

Rachel #8 [Azua - 4] January 28th, 2013

Thank you for the step count thing. It appears that we walk about 5 miles a day? ish. Thank you for those though. I have been wondering for awhile now :) Yesterday, we took 17500 steps, and almost walked for 3 hours! We had a rough day. We had 11 people cancel appointments on us (so our back up plans failed, as well as our back up back up plans.) all before 4:30. Then we had a meeting at 5, but the elders thought it was at 6, so we waited for an hour, missed our other appointment, and then our last appointment failed as well. So it was a rough day. I did get to play the piano in the chapel for the hour that we waited for the elders though. That made it worth it. Also, while we were walking to one of our investigator's houses, he stopped us on the way there *(on his motorcycle,) and we set up an appt. He was the one that we missed because we were waiting for the meeting. He's one of my favorite people- His name is Argeli. He's 22, and has a cute little son. I will tell you about him more in a bit :)

Ok, Mom, I got your dearelder on the 21st of January, and you sent it the..11th? So it took 10 days to get to me. What happens, is that the elders go to Santo Domingo on Sunday night, and they pick up mail and all that fun stuff, and return on Monday.  Then, they deliver our stuff- either our mail, or food we order from Pricemart (like Walmart or Costco.), and deliver it once a week. I am glad that you cannot put all of the letter on the website- that is wonderful news.

Ok, this week went by pretty quick, At least Monday-Thursday did. We have a couple of investigators that we LOVE and are super excited about.
1.    One is named Isy. Have I told you about her yet? Well, she is 17, and super into the gospel. We met her a few weeks ago. Her family is just as great! Her dad joined us for a lesson one night, and he asked a bunch of questions. When we get into their house, we can feel the spirit so strongly! They are such a great family. They all have respect towards each other- which is very uncommon here. The parents always treat their kids horribly, but not this family. I love the Ramirez family. We are hoping that they can all get baptized the same day. Their mom always asks when we are going to return, and the siblings are just as receptive to us. Her sister is names Maritza or something, and I told her that she has the same name as my sister, and now she tells everyone that she knows that they have the same name. We rarely teach them because they are in school. But hopefully this week we can teach the whole family. The elders had a baptism this Saturday, and we invited her and her family. Only she went because the others were working, and she loved it. I am excited about her. Also, she really wants to go out with us all the time. It's great. She also came to church for the first time yesterday, and she participated! Also, we learned about the 1st vision- which is fantastic, since we are teaching that next lesson! Ah, good things are gonna happen with her and the fam.
2.    Next, is Argeli. The 22 year old. He is so funny. I like him a lot. I look forward to our lessons. He is shy, and I am pretty quiet, so we get along well, haha. But he also came to the baptism the other day. He wants to be baptized, but said that he wanted to see one first, so now that he has, we are going to put a date at our next meeting with him! yay! He treats his son so well. He doesn't hit, or yell, and his son behaves so well too! Ah, I want him to get baptized.
3.    Samuel and Ana are ? They never come to church, so we cancelled their date for baptism, until they take it seriously. Hermana Gamez thinks that they don't really want it, but I think that they do. I dunno what to do with them. We have a meeting with them tonight, and we are going to tell them that if they (don’t) come to church, there is nothing more we can do for them. Maybe they will get baptized. I sure hope so.
4.    Aracelis, also is wavering. I am not sure if she will get baptized. At least not now.
5.    Elias is great. She came to church yesterday as well. She wants to get baptized, and it shows. I am excited about her.
My church
6.    Last, there is this guy who sells ice cream, and he is so great. His name is Jose. He's old, but he dresses like a teenager, and it is the cutest thing ever. He wears his ball cap, and his plaid shorts and t-shirt. Haha, it's funny. But he asked for a BOM and we set a baptism date for him. YAY! I like teaching him, because we always get ice cream after. (Super cheap ice cream- a whole cup worth for 25 pesos- about 50 cents?). It's probably not good for me, because I love the ice cream. Ah, so good! Speaking of ice cream, do you know how to make it? I can't remember all of the ingredients.

I am glad that I know how to cook, and that I know the basics for food. I make most of the food, and the recipes come out alright. We haven't died yet. We had some oranges the other day. They were like, grapefruit- lemons. I liked them, but they weren't really good. But I couldn't stop eating it! I miss California oranges though. We tried sugar on them, and it tasted gross.

Well, that is pretty much all. The work is progressing, and I love it here! I am very grateful for your love and support. I love all of you! Once again, the church is TRUE!

Hermana Erickson

Monday, January 21, 2013

Rachel #7 [Azua - 3] January 21st, 2013

Hello!! Oh boy. This sure was a good week – I think. I can't remember. But I bet it was great! :) Anyways, my computer is working much better now, so this email should be easier to decipher :) Yay!

My kitchen
Dad, you asked what I eat here. Well, since we cook  our own food, it is like the stuff I ate in college. Lots of simple meals. We have been experimenting with the DR food, and it comes out alright. I have definitely had better, but oh well. And it hasn't made me sick, so I am thankful for that. We tried a pineapple last week, and it tasted great!  We also had a watermelon; that tasted normal. The mangoes are not ready yet, but I am beyond excited to try those. The bananas have a sweet taste. I really like the bananas :)

My Companion
Oh! Something that Herm Gamez is working on is her Personal Progress. The president said that we could work on that. It reminded me, Heather, how is yours coming along? Maybe I could beat you done. I will start again, and I will race you. If you win, I will buy you something from here. Deal? If you lose, you get to give me all of your money! :) :)

I'm excited to say that I will probably never have to eat Arroz con Leche :) Life is good.
Oh, we bought a chicken from the colmado (corner store thing) and they pulled it out of a bag, and, chopped it up right in front of our faces! I can definitely see why Mandy went vegetarian for a bit. That grossed my out. They didn't give us the head or the feet, but only because we specifically asked for them not to. Gross. It's making me queasy thinking about it, and to think that I ate that for dinner, ick.

When we are making food here, we don't use recipes. We just guess. and it's fun. I like it. I will probably never use a recipe here. Unless I get some, but overall, no recipes. They are just guidelines, right? :) haha

So we haven't had running water for about a week. We had it last Monday until the night, and then it came on right before we left today :) yay!!! We had 2 water reserves of 160 Kg each (how ever much that is..) and once during the week, we got a little water from our sinks to fill it up some. It's hard living without water. When it came on today, we filled up all of the buckets and containers that we had. It was super fun. We also refilled the big barrels. So we will be prepared next time the water decides to leave for a week :)

Sorry that this is super random, and not structured. I write little notes on a sticky note in the front of my journal, so that I can remember all of the stuff that I want to tell you; it’s handy. But I apologize for the randomness :) I feel like I just want to tell you all EVERYTHING!

I have been told that Azua is the Arizona of the DR. It never rains here. And it is "super dry." So apparently the other parts of the country are a lot more humid! Crazy. I will be drippin sweat all day. I don't here usually. Some days are terrible though. It is tough.

Ok, so I will tell you about the week.
Monday was P day, obviously. We went to a chicken place and some Asians served us chicken, which I thought was weird... shouldn't they be in a, ya know, Asian place? I dunno, maybe I am super racist, it just made me laugh. But after, we just chilled and wrote letters and such. I wrote to Heather Stembridge and also to Lauren Richardson. I hope they get the mail! We'll see.
On Tuesday, we seriously had a miracle. We had 5 appointments with people we had met earlier, and they all wanted to hear more! So we had 5 new investigators. That was really cool. So far, we still have.. 4 of them? One has never been home, but once he finally is home, we will teach him as well. The people here are just so great and accepting. They all love Jesus! It makes it easier.
Then, Wednesday and Thursday were pretty awful. Lots of walking. Have I told you about Olga? She is a single mom of 6 little kids under 10. They are the cutest kids ever! I love them. Olga is 26, and she got baptized last May. She is great, but she yells at her kids, and hits them, and it is super sad. We don't know how to help her! (Yelling and hitting your kids is SUPER common- that is how they raise their kids. I am so grateful that you never beat me up :) thank you) but the other day, we found out that she had whacked her little boy (who is 6), with a metal pot in the back of the head, and he started bleeding and needed stitches. It was super sad. What to do? I think that we need to help her apply the atonement. We will see.  :) The rest of the week was pretty normal. Nothing really awesome happened. We got bailed on a lot. It happens all of the time (except on Tuesday- no one bailed!). But they always bail because they have no calendars, and they don't know their own schedules, so they plan to meet with us when they are scheduled to work. It is frustrating to walk all the way across town, just to find them not there. Ugh.

My District
Yesterday, we had a conference. Elder Nelson spoke. He was in the DR, but not our mission. I am glad that I know how to read lips, because I couldn't understand the accent of the guy translating! But anyways, before the conference started, The Zone leaders came up to me, and they had mail!! FIRST TIME SINCE I HAVE BEEN HERE! :) happy. I got a lot. I got 6 Dearelders, and one letter from my best friend in Minnesota :) :) :) :) Herm Gamez said that I was smiling ear-to-ear :) I believe it :) They were all dated from the first week of January. I got one from mom, dad/Jake, Riss, Nate :), and Uncle Ryan. So thank you all! It made me so happy. I guess the Dearelders take 2 weeks to come as well. Kelton's letter was sent on the 7th, and some of the Dearelders were sent on the 5th, and the 2nd. I don't know when they print those off.. So the letter I sent Nate a few weeks ago was definitely not a reply to his Dearelder. Let Riss know :) haha but you asked a few questions in the Dearelder, which I will not reply to. Ok, Ready? Go!

Oh yeah!! I HAVE A BLOG?!?!?!?!?!??!?! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! So these are going to be published?! Wow.. well that is a little scary. I hope I don't embarrass anyone... Oh well!!! But tell the blog I said hi! And also that it is nice of them to care so much about me, enough to read a blog about me. :)

My comp and mission friends
Before I get off, we had Samuel's wife-to-be agree to be baptized. she will be baptized the 23rd of Feb. If everything goes well, they will both be baptized then. Aracelis is crazy- I don't know if she will be baptized yet. The missionaries have been working with her for a long time, and she just told us that she didn't want to be baptized, even though she knows it is true. Ugh. But there’s a baptism this week of the elders, and we have at least 2 investigators (Argeli- he's 22, and has a little son, and is super great. We are sure that he will be baptized in the next month. Super stoked for him, and Izy- she is 20, and super outgoing and loves the gospel. She is scared to be baptized, since she's never been baptized before. She is one of the 5 we met on Tuesday. She is pretty much golden. We also met a guy yesterday- Chico- who wanted to come to church and wanted a BOM. We anticipate great things with him.) But yeah, those 2 are coming to the baptism. We're excited.

The work is progressing, and life is good. The days go by really fast, but the weeks seem to take forever; such is life. But anywho, I love you all. I hope you have a great MLK day, and enjoy the cold weather! Thank you for your support. I am sorry that these emails are super long. I feel like they drag on for ages! Probably cuz they do!

Love you forever!!! The gospel is TRUE!!! :)

All my love, Hermana Erickson :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

#6 [Azua - 2] January 14th, 2013

Hermana E.
We aren't allowed to eat with members, so we make our own American food. We have had these fried flour things which are good, pitas is what they are called. I will tell you about the food in another email - this computer is driving me nuts!!!!

Ok, now I will tell you some stuff. It may be jumbled, but deal with it OH! :)

Oh, thank you for the pedometer - I wear it every day!!! I record my steps in the journal. They are usually around 15000, and walking for 2 hours. (which is a lot, considering that we leave the apt. at 2, and return at 8, so 2/6 hours are walking.) I also have a list of my transfer dates - I will send those if you want them. Not now, cuz the keyboard takes forever.

The mosquitoes here like me more than the ones at home, sad. I have I only been bit a few times :)

I have been told that the humidity helps hair grow... we will see!!! I hope so!!!!! :)

There’s a pair of ALBINO children here. Totally blonde, but they have the same texture of hair as the Dominicans, it's weird. They also speak Dominican.
My bed, fan and mosquito net

People here don't shave... good to be in a culture that won't judge me!! haha

Oh!!! people here walk around with machetes! It's freaky!! – but somehow, I feel safe.

Also, people always try to talk English to me, it's happy, I love it! :) I expect everyone to speak English, so when I first hear Spanish, it catches me off-guard big time.

The mountains here remind me of Utah, and the skies here are SO MUCH BIGGER. It's hard to explain- but there is just so much sky. I love it.

The people wear totally American clothes. We look for Dominican clothes, but fail; darn!

Those shirts you bought me right before I came, they are so great. I love them!! Thank you for those!!

Just so you know, 40 pesos here is $1, and 10 is $.25. It's hard to convert.

Oh my, so I freak out every Saturday, because I think I don't have church clothes. I forget that I wear church clothes every day.

Santo Domingo Temple (MTC view)
We have a temple trip in March. It is either the 8, 12, 13, 14 or 15. I am praying for the 14 (birthday :):)  yay) or the 15, so I could see Riss. So hopefully I can see her at the temple. I will keep you updated!!

I still get lots of remarks about being American. I think it drives Hermana Gamez nuts, because she is American, too, so she looks when they call, and then they are like,"not you, the other one." It's sad, but super funny.

We committed another to baptism. Her name is Aracelis.

Oh! the people here hold grudges, and have a hard time forgiving. For example. the church here used to be super strong, but then the branch president made some bad choices with a member's daughter and more than half of the people left. It's sad, so many people gone because of one man's mistake!

Love, Rachel. I will write more in a sec. :) just want to send this off :) love you loads!!!!!!
    ********  ********
So yesterday, I was doing my thing for personal study, and I came across a few things that I wanted to share. There were two articles in the Liahona, and I loved them both and want you to read them (also, the quote from Holland is the right one, thank you very much!)
The first one is called: "Rediscovering a Wonder of the World … and Avoiding the Dangers of Spiritual Apathy." ( Jan. 2012 Ensign) It talked about not letting the Book of  Mormon become something that is not wonderful. Here is a quote: "There is always something new to discover in the gospel for those who make an effort."

I challenge you all to make an effort while studying the Book of Mormon. It contains treasures, and we cannot forget the value of it!

The second was from Elder D. Todd Christofferson. "Recognizing God's Hand in Our Daily Blessings." "Even the mundane and repetitious can be tiny but significant building blocks that in time establish discipline and character... thank heavenly father for the manna He has placed along your path that sustained you through the day."
I love that!! A mission is very repetitious, but it's important to not become bored with the work and look for miracles. They are everywhere!!!
    ********  ********
One more thing!!! (Jackie Chan reference!! yay!)

But I want you all to know how thankful I am for each one of you. I realize how blessed I am to have such support and love, and I am so grateful for eternal families! I have learned so much from you all, and love you more than I can express. Love grows on the mission. I love everything more, even rice, which I never thought would be possible. But anyways, I don't want you to forget that I love you forever!! :) I found this quote, and I don't want to follow it. "Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." And I don't take my family for granted. Love you every single day more and more :)

Thank you for everything! Talk to you next week!!!
Love forever, Hermana Erickson :)
ps, the church is TRUE!! :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#5 [Azua - 1] Jan. 7th, 2013

We got to the DR MTC around 10:30pm-ish. We found out that we (the 20 or so that flew there) were the only ones in the entire MTC! That was cool. Sister B. and I were the only ones going out to the field. About half of them were going to Puerto Rico, so I told them to remember my name, so they could say hi to Riss. :) We'll see what happens. But since we got there so late, they had me and Sis. B stay in the MTC. The MTC pres. and wife were so nice! I wanted to stay longer - also, the MTC seemed like a 5 star hotel, when compared to the Provo MTC. Riss should look forward to that!! :) We didn't end up going to bed until around 2, so they let us sleep in!! only until 7, but still. I was picked up at 8, which was right after breakfast. I was told that I would have until 11, which made me happy, since they were going to take a tour of the temple, but NOPE! I missed the tour. Sis B. got to go though. Lucky...

So we drove to the mission office, and I got all checked in. I wrote you a letter, and they took a picture. It looks terrible because I didn't shower, so I look tired and greasy. Yup.. what a keepsake! Then I met the comp. She is from California, and speaks English. Her name is Sister Gamez. I like her. She's only been here since October. She is Mexican (–not racist, she's actually from Mexico!!), but yeah. After talking to the president and his wife, who both only know Spanish and were impressed what I knew after 3 weeks, they both told me to get some sleep. Apparently I looked REALLY TIRED! which is true. But yeah. So during our two hour bus ride, I slept. My first area is a place called AZUA. It's nice. Well, considering where I am at, it is nice. The pres. told me that I would not go anywhere that is not safe, so you can now relax. :) haha

OH! speaking of Spanish, when we got to the DR MTC, the president was like, "Okay, so we have two that are going out to the field... who are they?" and so Sister B. and I raised our hands. Then he was like, "I understand you.. " pointing to her, "but you.. huh" and so I told him that yeah, I looked gringa, but I could speak. It made me laugh :) I'm so funny – yep; kidding, but it was funny :)

Mail takes about a month to get to you. Just fyi.

Ok, now I will tell you everything that I wanted to tell you :) ready? ok!

• A bunch of people in the Provo MTC got really sick. Our district was surrounded by sicklings, but surprisingly, no one in our AWESOME group got sick. Sis. B. did, but that was probably because she took 4 Tylenol in 4 hours, instead of 1 every 4 hours. OVERDOSE!! yep. She was nervous. But yeah, people were sick - there were at least 50 that went to the hospital.
• The children here love me! It might be because I am white, but maybe not. I blame my sparkling personality.
• Oh, Jeff -- So Dominican Republic is richer than Peru, right? Well, we are not allowed to eat at member's homes, and also, we don't have a cook!! So we make all of our food, and clean and do our laundry! That really has nothing to do with the financial status, but oh well. But I think it's dumb that we have to cook our own food. Mainly because we cook like, spaghetti. I am not getting the DR experience!! – also, I am not getting sick, so it is probably for the best!
• One thing about the people here, is that they LOVE their music!!!! like, SO MUCH. We live right next to a bar, and they always have their music blaring! I have never heard music so loud. They have trucks that are made of speakers, and they drive around. I think the country would not be so poor if they would spend their money on food instead of HUGE speakers. I dunno, just a thought. Luckily, yesterday was pretty quiet.
• The church building is super nice! It's like the one in Peru (but nicer, since the people here are richer :) haha) and it's got lots of fans, so we don't boil. They asked me to play the piano, and I did alright..... you know how I am when people start singing.. ugh. Oh well.

Oh! so yesterday, my comp and I were making spaghetti, right? right. Well, she was like, "do you want to add butter to the noodles?" So I was like, sure. So she adds a nice little bit; good amount, and then she opens another container and scoops a HUGE HUGE spoonful into the bowl! Like, 2 times as much butter as noodles. Uh, no. So while she was turned away, I scooped it out and threw it away. I am not getting fat! no sir! I don't think she noticed. :)

Anyways, the first day I was here (besides Friday-since I rested all day), we got 2 baptisms!! I asked one of the people, and she asked the other. So we have two :) They are both in Feb., on the 16th, and the 23rd. We're excited. We have a lot of investigators. The people here are so open, and they talk to anyone, it's great. They have real toys - unlike the cars that Sister Craig had... just so you know :), but yeah. E... is a 20 year old girl, she's the one I asked, who’s getting baptized (or supposed to be) on the 16th, and S.... Who knows how old he is. He has to get married first, which is why the date is pushed back.

One last thing. We went to the market today, and wow. It is crowded! The clothes there were American, and there wasn't anything DR-ish. But I did get proposed to a few times, and a lot of people told me I was pretty. What a boost of confidence :) haha

Love you all so much!!!!!!! :) :) I hope your new years was fun and exciting!

Much love, from the DR :)

-Hermana Erickson :)