That morning we also had a huge service project with all the missionaries in the area/boundary of Santiago (not including the missionaries outside the city of Santiago) We went to one city in Santiago and cleaned the roads. We swept and picked up trash for about 2 hours. The roads were all super gross and no one ever cleans the roads or picks up trash here, so it looked a lot better after we were done. It also rained that morning so the roads were muddy and extra nasty. We found some interresting things... Normal to Dominicans and me now, but anyone else would be thoroughly disgusted and shocked haha. We also had the opportunity to help the trash men with their jobs and make their day a little easier. It was tiring and nasty, but a super great feeling knowing we were serving and being examples. It had a great effect on the people who saw us. Some people thanked us, others offered us free food. It was pretty cool to see how when we serve, others can see the good we are doing and maybe be inspired to render more service in their lives as well. Or at least try and be a little more clean.
Another cool experience I had took place last week in the morning during my morning exercise/run. I was running up the mountain in my area when I passed a Haitian man wearing rain boots and carrying his baby daughter in one hand, and a gallon and a half of water in the other. I said hello, and kept on my run. As I kept running, my diligent and determined thoughts and words I usually have in my head when I am trying to distract myself from the pain and tiredness, were interrupted by sympathy for this Haitian man. I remember thinking, "Wow, this man probably works far up the mountain laboring and doing hard work in the hot sun all day and he has to carry his daughter and that water up with him. That must be way tough to do every day. On top of that, after he diligently labors and sweats in this humidity just to provide for his family and put food in their mouths, he probably doesn't get paid very much." Then I stopped. I turned around, ran back down to where he was, and offered to carry the jug of water for him. He gave me the jug and we walked together up the mountain and talked as he carried his daughter now in both hands. When we got to where he needed to be, he happily thanked me and we went our separate ways. We got back to our house obviously a little later than we were supposed to (because we have a very strict schedule and need to be doing studies by 8:00am) but that didn't matter at all because I was doing exactly what a missionary should do. It was a small, yet treasured experience.
There are opportunities and people to serve all around us, everyday. We just need to open our eyes a little more, look for those opportunities, and be a little more willing. It's easy to say, "Oh, that must be tough, sorry for him." Or, "That's someone else's job." But those are thoughts of the natural man. How do we expect others to help us or render their service or do favors for us if we aren't willing to do the same for them? Christ is the perfect example of serving. Not just when it was convenient, or when He felt like it, but every day, 24/7 giving every ounce of energy He had. We need to look at Christ's example and do as He did. Let's be a little more willing. Let's work a little harder. Let's look a little more for opportunities and people to serve. And when the job is done, let's find something more. Because there is always something more we can do. I am so thankful for the Savior's example to us all and know that He blesses us when we serve others. I know He puts specific people in our paths and in our lives for us personally to serve. I am thankful for these great experiences I have everyday as I render my service to others in every way I can. So my challenge to you all is to be as Christ is, and serve someone every day.
In other news, I have at least 3 more months in my first area where I still am, Los Cocos. My companion ends his mission this transfer, so I will stay at least one more transfer after that and train the area. It will be a total of 5 transfers and 7 months (at least) which is a pretty long time in one area, but I love it and the people. There is a lot of work to do! However, this mission has a total of 250 missionaries, but we are only allowed to have 200 now. I guess it is a new rule or something. I don't know if that is for every mission, or just in the Caribbean. So that means that 25 areas here will have to be closed! So our areas will be bigger and more though to cover. I am really hoping they don't close my area, but it is a big possibility. But I am going to do whatever I can to make sure that doesn't happen!
We also got a new mission leader in our ward. He has only been a member for 5 months... But he is well qualified and honestly the best member in our ward. So it should be great for us, and him.
Love you all! Thanks for the love and support! Keep my people in your prayers :)