Monday, September 29, 2014

Birthday week!


 Hi Everyone! I forgot to post the letter and picture we received from Bannon's mission president when he made it to the mission. That is the first letter and then Bannon's is after. I hope everyone has a great week!

 
Oficina de La Misión Santiago
Av. Estrella Sadhalá #10 2do piso
Frente a Univ. UTESA
Santiago 51000
Dominican Republic
+1 809 241-1145
 

September 12, 2014

Susan Greer
14179 Woods Valley Road
Valley Center CA  92082
United States


Dear Sister Greer:

Your son, Elder Bannon Bryce Greer, arrived safely in the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission.  I am pleased to have him here.  His trainer is Elder Starky Rafael Rodriguez Chamul from Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador.  He is an excellent missionary and will take good care of your son.  They are assigned to the Los Cocos Area in the SANTIAGO NORTE Zone. 

I appreciate so much the enthusiasm and desire your son has to serve his fellow man.  He now has the opportunity to serve donating 100% of him time to the Lord.  We ask you to help him cherish his mission, to work hard, to fight discouragement, to love his companion and the people he is serving.  He will need encouragement and support.  He will experience trials that will strengthen and profit him eternally.  Weekly letters are very important in maintaining a missionary’s enthusiasm.  We would request that your letters to him be uplifting, spiritually edifying, and mission centered.

I will do everything I can to help your son serve a successful mission.  I thank you for your support and look forward to time serving with your son. 

Sincerely,

John L. Douglas
Mission President
 
 
Bannon with President and Sister Douglas

  Another great week! It was me and my companion, Elder Rodriguez's, Birthday on Monday! It was a good day. Nothing super crazy or anything obviously, but i was fun. We got to go to a Taco Bell here! That is like a big deal here... Haha. We got to have American food and listen to music I actually understand! I was surprised that Elder Rodriguez liked Taco Bell at all because I feel like to Native people, that type of Americanized Mexican food would be nasty to them, but I guess not. Later that night we had dinner and Family Home Evening at a member’s house in our ward. They were super cool and it was way fun. They gave us cupcakes and we blew out candles which was nice.
  On our way home, we saw a guy on the sidewalk fall out of his chair and start to have a seizure! He was foaming out the moth and his body was just twitching and his arms kept flailing in the air. It was way scary and sad. Everyone was just watching him and one guy even said "Just forget it, let him die!" Like what the heck! I was like, "This guy is freaking dying and all of you are just standing there watching?! At least call the police or something!" But I guess things here are a lot different. There isn't really a police system or ambulance. Or so it seemed. I honestly didn't know how to help him though. So I said a prayer and he ended up stop seizing and was eventually ok. Super sad though, I wish there was more I could have done, but I know it is bad to try and help them during their seize or whatever, so I'm glad he was ok.
  Way cool spiritual experience on Sunday! So we were walking to this lady's house for a lesson and I saw this lady sitting under a tree. I said hi and kept walking. When we got to the house of our next lesson, she wasn't there. So we turned around and went on our way to another place. On the way back, we passed the lady under the tree again. I said "Saludo" and kept walking. Something told me I needed to turn around but I just kept walking. The further away I got, the more I felt we should turn around and talk to her. I just kept walking, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I figured that was a prompting and Heavenly Fathers way of telling to turn around now and talk with her. So I stopped and said "Elder wait" "what?' He replied. "Come with me." And we turned and went back to talk with her. When we got to the tree where she was sitting before, she was no longer there. Dang... I wasn't going to give up though! So I walked to a nearby house and yelled "Saludo!" And she came to the door. After about a minute of talking with her, She invited us in. I started the lesson and taught for a while. I was pretty confident with what I was able to communicate to her and thought it went really well. After I taught her, Elder Rodriguez taught her a little more and cleared up any questions. The lesson went great and we set up another time to meet with her. After, we were walking to another appointment and I was telling Elder Rodriguez how I thought it went really well and I did ok, but I should have said this, and I forgot to say that. He just looked at me and said, "I don't care if you taught the worst lesson ever or if she had no idea what you said. The important thing is that you listened to the spirit! That is all that matters! And I am so proud of you.... And I am a really bad example... Because I felt the spirit so strong the whole time we were walking away too. But I didn't act on it. I had just got done saying a prayer of forgiveness for not listening to the spirit when you said 'Stop'. Always listen to the spirit! Now you are ready for the mission." It was such a great experience. I know without a doubt in my mind that the spirit and Holy Ghost is real and guides you in your life. It is your best friend as a missionary. I learned how important it is to listen to promptings. If I hadn't, we would have missed that opportunity to share with that lady.
All in all, another great week in paradise.

-Elder Greer

Monday, September 22, 2014

First week in the Dominican Republic


 
 Hi everyone! Bannon seems to be loving the DR and everything that comes with it. Some of it is scary for us to see though (like the bathroom). We are hoping he doesn't get sick! Thanks for reading and writing him. Please continue to think about and pray for him! Have a great week!



Wow! What a first week it has been here in the Great country of the Dominican Republic! It has only been a week, but I feel like I have been here for way longer! (In a good way) I don't even know where to begin...
The people here are awesome! Everyone is so nice and will always say hi to you or wave. Although, there are few times when I take a turn down an unfamiliar street and the people look at me like I'm fresh meet. I think it's just because I'm a super white boy wearing slacks and a tie... If I were them that's probably how I would look at me too. No but really, these people are the best! They always are willing to talk to you. Nobody really has technology such as TV or computers (In my area anyway, because I am in one of the poorest areas of Santiago) so the environment is very social and people actually talk to each other and hang out at each other’s houses and what not. There are always people on the sides of streets talking or people sitting on their front porches. That makes it super easy to contact and start conversation with people. Everyone you talk to will immediately offer you a chair. You can walk in and out of people's yard and they don't care at all. Most of the houses are very poorly made and are falling apart. A lot of the roofs are just medal coverings that leak a lot and a lot of people don’t even have floors. They live in shacks pretty much sometimes. It's way sad. These people live in such terrible conditions, but they are so happy and humble. It makes me ashamed sometimes of how I acted back home and wasn't more appreciative of things. Yes, I know mom and dad, you can tell me I told you so. But that's exactly what I wanted. To be humbled. And that's exactly what I got.
Our apartment... Our apartment is DISGUSTING! Mom, you would die. The kitchen looks like someone had a food fight and never cleaned it up, the bathroom is worse and looks like someone pee'd all over and shut the door and didn't go back in for a year, that's how it smells too... The floor is breaking, and it doesn't help that we have no running water. Our sinks, toilet, and shower don't work. So we have buckets of water that we use to hand wash the dishes, wash our hands, wash or bodies, and flush the toilet. In the shower we take a half cut open milk carton and scoop water out of the big bucket and poor it on us. I never feel thoroughly clean after, but it’s ok. The cold water actually feels good and wakes you up in the morning. The toilet you just do the same thing and dump water in it after you go. It does the job, but never quite flushes all the way... haha. But don't worry mom, we spent a LOT of time cleaning everything. So now it's only half gross ;) Killing cock roaches is a normal thing. I have to sleep with a mosquito net because they like my American blood. I only have 21 bites on my left foot and 18 on my right, so not too bad. "It could always be worse" Is my new motto.
All the people we teach always try and feed us or give us drinks, but it is a mission rule not to eat at their houses because it's not always safe and mostly because they are so poor but will give you all they have because they respect and like us so much. (Miguel you were right) It's hard though when they literally put it in your hand, so sometimes we have to out of respect and not to offend them. But Sundays we are allowed to eat at people's houses. Of all the things the people have given me and that I have had to try, everything has been way good! Except one time I had to literally pray and ask for divine help to get this food down haha... And I somehow managed. But everything is always better knowing that these people are so generous and want you to eat. Dominican food is really good!
The fruit here is all way different then I have ever had or seen. Even the avocados are different. But so good! I had this fruit the other day that tasted like sugar. It was way good.
So I thought the street life was bad the first day... I knew nothing then. They have these things called Gua-Guas, they are their version of a bus, but they are not buses at all. They are vans. They add seats everywhere they can and pack as many people inside as they can. Yesterday we managed to fit 25 people in a van!! Insane. Not safe. So you have to really not mind that people are sweating on you and that their knee is in your crotch... But it’s a cool feat I guess :)
We have huge mountains where we live which is like Heaven to me! My comp is way good about running with me too. On the second day I was here, he offered to wake up earlier so we could run longer! He's the best! He hates running right now, but I am going to make him love it! He will be ready to run at Utah State with me by the time I'm done with him! ;) Somehow word got out in our village that I can run and am good at it, so I have been challenged by multiple people! Everyone is amazed that I can run up the mountain. It is like Palomar Mountain, except less zig-zaggy and straighter up hill. I just run up until I can't see Elder Rodriquez any more, then go back down to meet him, then run up again. I do this until he can't go any further. But we make a lot of progress each day! We get farther and farther. Today we had more time so we went almost all the way to the top! Took us a while, but got some great pictures! I set a date for when I race those people, let’s see if they stick true to their word! I don't think they know that I just got back from a tournament in Australia! ;)
Cooking is definitely a new thing for me... My comp teaches me a lot though. We take turns cooking each day. You could say I'm getting really good at making PB&J's when we aren't cooking anything ;) We also don't have a big budget at all so it is hard to get things we need and want for good meals. I have learned to only but essentials and things that it takes to survive. That sounds worse than it is haha, don't worry, it isn't bad at all. Just a little less spices than I would normally use.
People get bored here so they have to find things to entertain themselves with. So they have chicken fights... Literally. They place bets on chickens and have them fight in a ring! It's crazy!
As if I thought my first name was hard for people, my last name is way worse! I don't know why, but nobody understands. haha no one can pronounce Greer. It's not even hard! But for some reason it is for them, so they just call me Elder Gree or Green usually.
All in all, it has been a great and packed week! I wish I had time to explain and tell more, but I don't. I did have a lot of success though with my investigators! We have two people committed for baptism, and one that said she would as well. We only have 8 members in all of Los Cocos, and 3 are inactive, so we are working on them too. We don't want people to get baptized for wrong reasons or fall inactive right after word, so we have to really make sure they are ready before they get baptized. This area is tough, but it will make progress. I have much faith.
Until next time,

Elder Greer



Our bathroom. Obviously super clean....

My shower!

This place is beautiful, green everywhere!

My companion, Elder Rodriguez and the sick background

You see this often around here, just a ton of things on the back of bikes

Our weight system, obviously very fancy. Gettin  bulked!
Our hike up the mountain yesterday
Elder Rodriguez
These are what a lot of the houses look like around here

Pictures don't do it justice!


Our hike up the mountain yesterday

Pictures don't do it justice


Friday, September 12, 2014

Bannon's First Week in the Dominican Republic!

Hi Everyone,
Bannon made it to the Dominican Republic! We got to talk to him while he was in the airport on his way to the Dominican and he sounds great! He is so excited to be serving the Lord and teaching the people of the DR! Please keep him in your prayers as he gets used to the culture and language. It sounds like it will definetly be a humbling experience! :) 
His Preparation day is still on Wednesday so I will continue to post after Wednesday each week. His mission President's wife has a blog for their mission so if you are interested in finding out more about where he will be and who he is serving with click here. If you would like to send Bannon physical letters here is some info on that from his mission president 
Letters:

The best way to send physical letters is through Mail Boxes Etc. (10-14 days) (more information immediately below).  You can also use “dearelder.com” (16-18 days).

The Santiago Mission has contracted with a company called: Mail Boxes Etc. to ship all letters received to its Miami, Florida address to the mission office in Santiago.  For letters and cards only, the mission covers the shipping cost from Miami to Santiago.  This is the most reliable and cheapest means to deliver a letter.  Letters should be addressed as follows.  If SDQ 8013 is not included, the letter might not be delivered:

           Elder Bannon Bryce Greer
           SDQ 8013
           PO Box 025725
            Miami FL 33102-5725

If you want to get information on sending a package get in contact with me (Jordan) or my mom (Susie) and we can give you info on that.
This is the mission home address:
          
 Elder Bannon Bryce Greer
           Misión Santiago, Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días
           Av. Estrella Sadhalá #10 2do piso
           Frente a UTESA
           Santiago 51000
           Dominican Republic
            (809) 241-1145

 Anyways if you have other questions about these addresses or anything contact me. Have a great week!



I made it!
I am finally in the Dominican Republic! It was quite the long journey, but I am here. I ended up traveling all by myself, but while on my layove in New York, I met the parents of a missionary coming home from her mission in Santiago! They were on my flight, on there way to pick their daughter up. They were a huge help to me and it was fun talking with them. I landed around 11pm and the AP's were there waiting for me. We drove to the mission home and then I met President Douglas. He is awesome and I am really excited to have him and his wife as my presidents. This morning I met all the other missionaries who I was supposed to be with in the DR MTC. There are 18 of us. Then we went into the city and parked on the side of a busy road and met our new companions. My comp's name is Elder Rodriguez from El Salvador. He is exactly a year older than me because we have the same birthday! He is pretty decent at English (better then I am at Spanish, but that's not saying much) He is going to need some serious patience with me cause I can't understand anyone nor do I know how to really say anything that's not about the gospel haha... But he's great and is awesome! I got assigned to Los Cocos, a very poor suburb of Santiago. It is very mountainy and lots of dirt roads. It is one of the harder areas because people there don't really have cars and the church is about 25 minutes away in car so it's hard for us to get people to church which also effects the baptism ability. But we are working on changing that rapidly! Later today we are teaching a man named Junior and a woman named Nena. And later I have to teach a guy named Erickson the first lesson (the restoration) and the Book of Mormon. I don't know what to expect or how it will go, but I am confident in being able to get my point across and teaching him those things. We'll see how it goes...
Today is our P-Day, So still on Wednesdays. We do a Lot of walking. We went shopping for food and stuff. The people here are insane when it comes to driving! There are pretty much no rules on the road. People drive on the other side of the road, people drive in the middle of the road, cutting off people is a norm, you can even fly by a cop at 80mph and the cop wont even care. People J-Walk like crazy and it is way dangerous. There are a lot of motor cycles with multiple people on them. It is rare to find seat belts in cars, and they pack in up to like 7 people in a small taxi. I am way happy I don't have a car or have to drive here!
My house is obviously very small, enough for just two people. We have electricity but it runs out often. Our fridge turns off often as well. We wash our clothes in like a washer that doesn't really work, so we just hand wash our clothes in it and then hang our clothes on a line inside our apartment. There are no drawers or anything for clothes, just two small closets. I have definite been humbled, and it is going to be an adventure!
The elder I replaced served in my area for 7 months! So I'm curious if I'll be up here that long.
I am definitely in a third world country and it is nothing I have ever experienced. My living conditions are much different then I am used to. I don't have a big budget so I have to be extra cheap. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Wish me luck this next week and that I don't have the runs for too long! ;)
Love you all!

Con Amor,
Elder Greer

PS, I can't send pictures yet, but I am working on getting an adapter thing so I can.