Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 26 Merry Christmas!

Feliz Navidad!!!
Wow I cannot believe that Christmas has already come and passed! It's crazy how much has happened in this past year and how far I feel like I've come since last Christmas. I was still just a little greenie and now I'm gettin' long in the tooth! Not quite like papa Troy 😂😜 But I only have one skype left! Speaking of, skyping was really fun! It was really nice to see the fam bam! I'm really happy that everyone was all together this year. Especially because I only had 40 minutes!!
So for Christmas Eve (which is Christmas here) we had to take care of all the mail. So we had to go around in the morning and pick up a bunch of packages and mail and then sort it all and enter in all this information and do all that stuff like I usually do on Fridays. But we had to do it all quickly on Thursday in the morning/early afternoon. Then we had to go and take it all over to the different houses and places so that the missionaries could have it for Christmas. We didn't end up eating lunch until like 4 haha. But we got it all done and went straight over to the AP's area to go Christmas caroling with them. We went to a bunch of different people houses in their area and sang Christmas hymns and gave them gifts. Everyone loved it! (Especially us blue eyed Americans with Santa hats on 😁) haha. The first house we went to, it was an older couple and we talked with them for a minute. Then we sang a song to them and it was seriously such a bomb song! Like we all don't have good singing voices at all but I swear we were in such sync and we legit sounded so on point! It was so spiritual and when we all looked up after we finished, they were both crying! The husband had a tear running down his cheek and the wife was just balling her eyes out! It was so awesome! Haha. They thanked us a ton and were just so happy. Then we went and did the same at a bunch of other houses but all the rest were all on their doorstep or just really quickly because we had a lot of people to visit. Then we went to a members house for dinner. Dinner on the 24th here is a big deal. It's like what everyone waits in anticipation for. We were all going to go together, but right when we were about to go, the APS got called because there was an emergency with a couple of missionaries like 45 minutes away and there was a ton of traffic. So they didn't end up getting to eat with us :/ Then Christmas morning was super nice.  Early in the morning we went and played basketball at our church with like 15 of us missionaries and one member. It was really fun but it was raining so we all sucked pretty bad. Then we just took it easy and opened the packages sent to us which were very appreciated!! Elder Castillo was super happy and surprised and it was really fun seeing him open the presents for him from my family! Then later on, we skyped! That was obviously great and super fun! It was super fun seeing the new babies!! Zeke is so big! And Keoni is a big fatty! Haha. And Tanner is a little man! When did he get a deep voice!? Hahaha. The time flew by and 40 minutes is unjust! Haha. Simply not enough. But I'll be back in no time so it's all good. It was really fun that Elder Castillo finally got to meet his American family! He calls my parents mommy and papi, haha. Then later in the day we went around our area with the AP's again and sang and stuff again. Then before we knew it, the day was over and Christmas too!
Today was P day so it has been a super nice two day break! Haha. We went to a super cool waterfall and it was like up in the mountains a bit and it was cold! Did not whatsoever look or feel like the Caribbean. It's been rainy and cold here lately. (Cold... pshhh as if I even know what cold is!) And now we are back to the grind! 
I just want to say that this has been a fun and great Christmas! Definitely not the average Christmas with the family, celebrating together, eating lots of goodies and what not. But what makes it so great is just that. We are out in foreign lands speaking foreign languages, eating foreign foods. And to be honest, it's super great because you (I) have such a greater appreciation for my family and being together. And these past two Christmases I have especially appreciated and took to heart a lot more of the real reason of Christmas which is our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It's just humbling out here. Not once did I see people worried or stressed out about gifts or presents. Not once did I see a child sad for not getting anything. Because the difference here is that the people are just so happy and content with a solid meal on the 24th and being together. It's simple. And I really like that. I mean, I would be lying if I didn't say that on every corner there are a bunch of drunk people and loud music. But those who aren't about that life are just simple and easygoing.
Anyway, it was a great Christmas for Elder Greer and I'm sad that it's my last here. I really love it and I am super content with all of the memories I have as of right now. I am stoked I got a solid 7 month left to rock it!
Love you all and Merry Christmas!!

Elder Greer

December 19

(Weekly letter from last week and this week because I forgot to send my one from last week)

This week was definitely not my favorite and it has been challenging, but we had some really cool experiences.
It's not been the best week because as of right now (Saturday) we only have 3 lessons this week... We have been super busy this week before transfers and have had a few emergency issues come up that we have had to spend a lot of time in resolving. We are opening up an area in the north about 2 and a half hours outside of Santiago. There were missionaries there before like a transfer ago but they were threatened for their lives by some gangsters that knew where they lived and were waiting outside of their house so they were taken out immediately and put in another area right away. But we are re-opening that area and found out this week so we had to go up there and find a new house in a different neighborhood super quickly. We were a bit pressured by President to get it done ASAP. Luckily our prayers were answered and we found a new house to rent and it's brand new and perfect for the missionaries. So we are going up there on Monday to do the move. We also had to do a move for the sisters in Tierra Alta that we have been trying to move since I got in the office back in July! But we have been dealing with problems after problems with the apartment owner and the house and pretty much every problem possible that could have come up. But on Thursday we finally were able to do it in the night. We finished at 10:30pm. So we were exhausted when we got home. But super content and happy we finally got that done. We stopped by our investigator Teobaldo's house and found out from his daughter that he was in the hospital. So right away Elder Castillo and I went straight there to visit him. He and his wife let us right in and we talked for a while and just visited. It made me feel super content and happy. Even though we really needed to be running around getting in lessons and visiting other people on short visits and checking up on their progress, I loved that we were there. Because it's really not all about getting in a lot of lessons. It's hard for me to think that way sometimes because I know how important our visits are to teach them about Christ and the restored gospel. But missionary work is service. Weather it be teaching someone, helping someone do the dishes, doing yard work, talking to others about how they can have a happier family, or simply visiting with them. And when you do those things, you feel good because when you serve others, it brings the spirit.
We had a super long lesson with a member couple. The husband is a Return missionary and his wife is inactive. They have... a lot of problems. Marriage problems. They are at the point to where thy are only still living together because it's easier then going through the process of separating. We are trying to save their marriage, but they have no hope in themselves whatsoever. It's super sad. But we committed them to do specific things and next time we will see if they did them and hope that step by step they will get better. Getting divorced isn't the answer people!! You just gotta figure out the solution. Everything is really jut a math equation. There is always a solution. It's just that most people don't like math or are not willing to figure out the problem/solution when it's not a simple 4+5=9.
We had our ward Christmas party/dinner on Wednesday. It was really fun. And the food tasted great... except for the fact that the next day the whole ward including myself have had to spend a large amount of time and many trips to the bathroom... haha. I'm thinking it was the meat.
Transfers were also Wednesday. Someone will be coming in for my comp on the 5th of next month (we hope) and he apparently will be training for the rest of the transfer which means I'm gonna start training the next transfer and then (hopefully) leave the office having 9 months here.
This is the worst, absolute worst time of the year to be in charge of mail... I am so packed with mail it's ridiculous. But it's all good cuz I got two packages so I'm stoked!
Later today a bunch of the members and missionaries in Santiago are going to a flash Mob in a mall here! It should be really fun! The Stake Choir will be singing and then we will be playing the three Christmas videos and all the missionaries will be handing out the Christmas cards! Should be super cool! Next week we have the Christmas conference with the whole mission so that'll be way fun! And soon enough Christmas will finally be here and I'll get to see my beautiful family!! Can't wait!! Love you guys! Have a very merry Christmas!!

Elder Greer

Saying goodbye to missionaries going home

 The one of the room: it was Elder Walker's birthday on Sunday so we woke him up at 12 am with a cake. Then that night before they got home, my Comp and I put candy all over the room and decorated it.
These pictures of the lights and stuff is a neighborhood in our area. There is a competition here with the company "Presidente" where whichever neighborhood/street with the best and most decorations wins like a bunch of money or something. But all of the decorations have to be using the bottles and things of that company. Its literally all trash and bottles and cans. Super tight. However, the company is a beer company so it actually really sucks because it just causes more people to drink :( we don't teach on those streets...

 The heads of the reindeer are made of plastic jugs.
 If you look closely you can see the neck of the camel is made from a painted tire.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 6 Sushi!

Dearest friends and family,
So this week we had a lot of fun like always. We had a Family Home Evening with a new family that just moved here into our area. The mom cooked for us and it was amazing! We did a fun activity with them about looking for and realizing how many blessings we all have in our lives. It was great! The mom has had a pretty rough life and she is raising her three kids alone. So we are trying to help them out.
We have a bunch of investigators who all live in the same area/neighborhood and they all know each other. A couple of them seemed to be progressing super well at first and had lots of interest. But we have been seeing recently that they have kinda been acting weird lately. We think it's because one of our investigators, Fausto, always likes to contend with us and never really agrees with what we say and he is pretty intense. So we think that maybe he has been saying bad things about us to them because they are all friends. Or it could be that they are also all good friends with a couple of pastors and people from other beliefs who talk bad about us. Idk. So we really have to make sure we have the spirit strong in the lessons and clear up any false claims. 
My companion and I talked for a while about goals and how we can be better and had a really good talk. It's awesome to be on the same page as your companion and help each other out. We have been together for 6 months which is so long and never happens haha. But we have a great companionship so it's way tight. His birthday is on Sunday so we celebrated his birthday today for p day. We made sushi!! Legit sushi! It came out so well and I was way impressed with ourselves. We also went to lunch and I told the workers there to sing him happy birthday. They came out with a cake and everyone was clapping and singing except for all of us because they had no idea what was going on. I was the only one who knew so I was like "yeah!!" Haha and clapping and the other missionaries and Elder Castillo were all looking for who's birthday it was. Then Elder Castillo realized it was for him when they came to our table. It was great. Then we had a young men's night and played basketball. Last week we were a little disappointed/discouraged because only like one of them came. So we were going to cancel it after today but there ended up being a great turn out and like 8 young men came!! Like 4 of them aren't members, and two are less active. And then some random kid was walking by the church and saw us playing and came in to watch and right away all the kids invited him to come play with us!! It was so cool! We invitee him to come back next week and are going to find out where he lives because he lives in our area! Super cool! 
Anyway this week was great. Have a fun week and watch the "He Is Born" video on LDS.org.

Elder Greer

November 29 Happy Thanksgiving

Wow to be honest I had no idea it was even Thanksgiving until the day before! I kept thinking it was the following week and that we would do something for it the next week. Then I heard a couple of missionaries talking about what they were gonna cook and then I realized, oh shoot! Its tomorrow! Haha. On Thursdays I go and pick up the mail for the mission. Usually it doesn't take that long but because Christmas is right around the corner, I had to deal with a million packages! Wow my office was a mess. But that's good because it means the families of the missionaries love them. For lunch on Thanksgiving a bunch of us went and ate at a restaurant and they totally had Cheesecake!!! I never ever thought I would find that here! SO I took advantage and bought 2 and a pecan pie :)
That night we had a super good lesson with Teobaldo! He read the pamphlet we gave him, AND marked it/ underlined it, AND wrote a whole page of things he didn't understand and questions he had and words he didn't know! Wow how awesome! How often do you come across a guy like that? So we were super stoked about it. We explained and taught really well and he really understood us and liked what we said. We are teaching him the plan of salvation first, but I can't wait until we start the Restoration with him.
On Wednesday we had a ward activity that I came up with and us six missionaries in the ward all planned together. When I was in Los Cocos we did a ward activity where were invited all the members and basically showed/taught them how to be missionaries and share the gospel and did games and fun examples to make them excited about it and they totally were. So I wanted to try it here because we are in need of references. So we planned really well and had everything already to go. We got to the activity and then no one showed up until like 40 minutes late (that's normal). We invited the whole ward and tried to pump them up about it. But when people finally got there, most of them ended up being investigators/non-members which we didn't expect at all, but was still awesome! So we just changed the activities and games we were going to do that focused on the members, and changed them a bit to focus on the non-members. It ended up turning out great and was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy what we did. I still want to do what we had originally planned, so we will be working on that.
For P Day we tried making a Thanksgiving feast. Keyword "tried" hahaha. It turned out pretty good. But was definitely missionary made 😁 But what can ya do if the dang oven decides not to heat up very high? Haha. But it was fun. We also had a basketball night for the young men. It was kind of a fail too because only one of them showed up :/ But it's not cause the others didn't want to, or even forgot, but a lot of them have no money to pay for a taxi to church and live far away and stuff. So that's a bit of a problem we have on Sundays trying to get them to church. Especially because another big problem is that there isn't much support from the parent(s) so that makes it hard as well. If I could, I would just take them all on my truck and that would solve all the problems! But we can't do that cause it's against the mission rules :(
Anyways have a good week everyone and get motivated to go run and work off all that turkey and stuffing and pie!

Elder Greer

November 22

From Susie (on November 22)
In my letter to Bannon this week I told him that I was speaking in church in today and asked if he had anything in particular he was thankful for that I could share.  For those of you who weren't in our ward today, I thought you might enjoy what he wrote.  And he also answered a bunch of questions about his living conditions that I finally remembered to ask him about. So I copied it and that is the top part of this letter. The bottom is his regular weekly letter to everyone.  Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 21 at 7:47 AM

I'm good :) the weather here is pretty normal. Rain here and there but mostly warm in the evenings and hot but not super hot during the day. Nope, no thanksgiving here :(  We have always had a washer and drier, but they're all just super Dominican. Like the washer is basically a bucket that turns and you put water and soap in it. Then the dryer really isn't a dryer it's more like a bucket that spins really fast so you put your close in it and then it like spins the water out of them for 5 minutes. Then you have to hang them on clothes lines to dry. We hardly ever eat at members houses anymore. Only on Sundays really. We are never in the house. Only in the mornings until like 10 and then late at night like 9:30. So we always eat out. Lots of fast food. Or some regular Dominican places. And then dinner is usually like eggs or a cooked burrito. Too tired to do any thing else. Yeah we teach usually from 6PM and after. Earlier if possible. Sundays we teach all day. I have been trying to change up my schedule a bunch to figure out ways we can have more time in our area teaching and stuff. It's worked a bit. Yeah I get to run. But it's mostly me doing stairs from the bottom floor to the top which is five stories. And lots of jump rope and squats and push ups and Bench press :) yeah Sav writes me every week and sometimes we send physical mail to each other.
Things I am thankful for:
Well I can definitely say that I am thankful for a strong family that lives the gospel. In this country there are so many norms that, in the states, are looked at with a frown, but here are completely fine. A mom and a dad and kids all under ONE roof is a rare thing here. And unfortunately becoming more and more of a rare thing in the states. So I am especially thankful for how important the families are to this church. I could go on and on about the little third world problems like being thankful for hot water or even a real shower instead of buckets. Or air conditioning. Or always having light and running water and all that stuff. But honestly, not having all those things that are the norms in the states are the things that make the people here so much more humble and giving and happy. Some of the most humble, loving, giving, and happy people I have met here are the people who have dirt floors. Or live in a house literally made of scrap metal and wood. I think what I am most thankful for after everything is the opportunity to NOT have luxuries. The opportunity to see life through a different eye. To walk into one of those houses and sit on a stool or upside down trash can and talk about how they can be even happier and receive so many more blessings from God. Not just anyone gets to walk around with the name of  Jesus Christ on their chest. I wish that I could just go give the dang talk for you haha because I could go on for hours. Just tell everyone that when things are tough or they are unhappy or being negative, to say "it could always be worse" and then count the blessings they have of that day. :)

Weekly Letter

This was a fun week. On Thursday my companion, Elder Castillo, completed a year in the mission! Crazy that when we were first companions, he only had 7 and a half months! And now he has a year! Time is flying! So to celebrate his year mark, the AP's bought some Dominican egg nog (alcohol free 😊) and woke him up at exactly 12 am and we drank some and gave him candy. We were super tired and so we talked for like 3 minutes and then went back to bed haha. Then at 6:15 am I filled up a bucket of super cold water and put ice in it and when he finished praying, Elder walker and I poured it all over him! He was shocked and freezing! Haha. He ran to the bathroom and jumped right in the shower. But that didn't do much because we don't have hot water and the shower water is always especially cold. We were all laughing super hard, including elder Castillo. We are always having fun with each other and making the most of everything. Afterwards, Elder Castillo was like "You guys suck, but that was pretty good. I would have done it to you guys too haha." Later, I made cookies and put oreos in a couple of them. I took them to the office and shared. Everyone was like shocked that I can make cookies. (It's really not that hard)
This week we also had a really cool lesson with a guy we contacted. He's an older guy, probably in his 60's. He was super awesome and wasn't just like the regular person we contact who jut agrees with everything and says they understand but really don't. This guy had some really good questions with a lot of interest. We shared a few simple things and he was really accepting and nice. (That's hard to find here in the city) He assists another church, but invited us to come back when ever we want. Elder Castillo and I both felt super good afterward. He has a ton of potential! So pray that he keeps going :) his name is Teobaldo. 
We have a few women we teach that are in their early 30s and they progress pretty well, but it's sometimes really hard to find a member who is a priesthood holder to come with us. So we haven't been able to teach them as much as we would like because we can only be there if there is another priesthood holder with us. We can't take anyone in our car who isn't a missionary. So it would be a lot easier to get people to come with us, but it's hard for them to have to take a taxi and meet us and stuff.
We also had a great lesson with two less active young men we are working with and their sister. The sister has never listened to us or participated in any of the lessons. But she did this time and it went really well. She showed interest and we talked about temples and the importance of them and what we are able to do in the temples like baptisms for the dead and be sealed to our families for eternity. She didn't want to talk much, but she was listening. The boys were both participating a bunch. We committed them both to be ready to go to the temple the next time our ward has the chance. We also talked a little about baptism with the sister and she said that it's something that she'd like to do. But doesn't feel ready yet. So of course that is something we will help her prepare to do. So pray for her too! Her name is Yamilet.
Yesterday I was able to go back to Salcedo again for one last baptism! It was Nicole, the other daughter of Rosa Maria! I was super excited when the missionaries in that area called me and said that she was finally ready! Wow I am so thankful that we found that family! I love them so much. That dad, Juan, still has a lot of problems :/ But really wants to be baptized still. He just needs to listen and trust in the missionaries there. He calls me all the time because he trusts and likes me a lot. But I am no longer his missionary. So I told him he's gotta trust in them. But man. That family means a lot to me. Super, super happy that Rosa Maria and her two daughters are all baptized and super active and participating in the blessings of the gospel!
Well, have a good week and keep my people in your prayers!

Elder Greer

 We received a package full of goodies from our very good friend Ex Elder Farnsworth who was one of Elder Castillo's companions and was the office elder in my spot bore me and elder Hollingsworth. He is also my really good friend. And now we are even greater friends 😆
Elder Castillo burning his shirt for his one year.
The bomb cookies I made 😋

November 15

Last Sunday: Elder Homes from the 70 came to our ward and talked. It was a great talk and he really focused on talking about how important the Holy Ghost is in our lives. We should always be striving to have the Holy Ghost with us. Elder Homes only speaks English, so he would say a line and then a translator would translate what he just said. Afterwards we shook his hand and thanked him.
Monday and Tuesday I felt pretty sick with the flu.  But by Thursday I felt a lot better. It's flu season here! 
Monday was a holiday here which I used to hate as a missionary because that just meant that everyone was getting wasted or partying in the streets and you can't even think because the music is so loud. But now holidays here are my favorite because it means that all the stores and businesses are closed so we have little to do and get to go teach way earlier and have a super great day of teaching and serving and finding awesome people to talk to and help! And I have found that here in the area that I am serving in is better on holidays than in Los Cocos because the people are more calm and not just in the streets drinking and stuff.
The other day we had a super intense lesson with a super intense person. He kind of just attacked us and asked us questions that were confusing and didn't make sense. He is pretty smart and knows the bible really well. But I'm afraid his ignorance will keep him from progressing. He doesn't seem willing to accept what we have to say about our beliefs or at least pray to know if what we are saying is true. It's just such a simple thing that so many people aren't willing to do and it keeps them from understanding something so important. We don't find very many people here though who actually really know the Bible or have lots of knowledge about religion. He is the kind of guy who you literally have to prove your point or answer with a scripture. And I am okay with that, no problem. But then he finds a way around the scripture to make it have another meaning or not apply. So it was just really frustrating with him because even the scriptures couldn't convince him. But I was thankful that he really tested us and our knowledge. There is definitely a lot of things we need to study and get better at explaining. And questions came up that I have never really had to think about or answer so I am thankful for that because that helps me get smarter and have to study a little harder, little more specific, and ultimately helps me get better. So the next time we go to teach him we are going to bring one of our members who knows the doctrine really well and establish our purpose for being there. We are not there to Bible bash or prove each other wrong. We are simply there to help him understand what we believe, why we believe the things we do, and give him the opportunity to find out for himself if this really is the only true church on the Earth with the fullness of the gospel. And if he continues to not accept to pray about what we say or at least try and understand us, we will say sorry we aren't coming back. Not because we don't like him or don't want to come back, but because there are so many other people who need our message and will be willing to do what we know to be the greatest way to find an answer which is pray and search the scriptures diligently for the answer. It's always sad dropping investigators but we don't have time to waste!
Well that's about it for now. Congrats to my cousin Ethan for getting home from being a G on his mission for the past two years and tearing it up! Atta boy.


Saying Goodbye

The last night with the dying missionaries!! I'm gonna miss this group more than all the others. Some of my best friends and the hardest working missionaries were in this group. Including my trainer!! :(

November 8, Transfer Week

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hike to Los Cocos

Bannon sent us a voice recording for his weekly letter this week but I can't figure out how to get it on the blog so I will post it when I figure it out. Thanks for following!

Yesterday we went on a super long, steep, and hard hike in the mountains of Los Cocos. It was fun. My companion died. He was so tired! 

Elder McDonald and elder Tucker. Both studs. Both from my group.

I went and saw Ruth my convert and her family after the hike real quick :) they were all so happy to see me!

Yes... that is an old computer being used as a pot.