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

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