Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stick it Out

This past week with Elder Cummings has been great in many ways! We have been having such a great time together and our past week was filled with great lessons! I don´t remember laughing so much and feeling so with anyone else in a while like we have been the past couple of days. At one point this past week we were literally on the ground crying because we were laughing so hard. I had to sprint to the bathroom so I didn't pee my pants! You all are probably wondering what we were laughing at. Well, the funny thing is that we don´t even know ourselves. I think it is a combination of being way exhausted, the heat, working hard, reading lots, and having the spirit strong. He and I are definitely a great companionship and we have already had so many fun, funny, great, and spiritual experiences together. However it was a little bit of a challenging week at the same time because he has been dealing with health problems and struggling with the decision of whether or not to go home or stay and finish his mission. Last Thursday we had to go get a check up in the hospital for him and were there all morning. But he seems to be doing okay and is a trooper because we have been working hard everyday and don't normally have to take time to stop or go back home or anything like that. He was really wanting to just give in and throw in the towel, but at the same time wanted to stay. So he called president on Friday. I really didn't want him to go home and was fighting for him to stay and trying to pump him up and help him with this hard decision so I fasted and prayed long and hard for him to either get better and not need to go home at all, or for him to get a strong and firm answer to stay. President gave him permission to call his family. He doesn't live or talk with his biological family, but he lived with his bishop before his mission and calls them his family.  So they talked for a long while and it was an answer to our prayers because they gave him the exact advice that he needed. His (adopted I guess you could say) dad/bishop was super loving and supportive, but gave it to him strong. He told my comp that he has had the toughest life he has seen anyone go through and that the fact that he is where he is today is amazing. But that when things tend to get hard, in the past he just ran from the problems and struggles. So he told my comp to just stick it out, rely on and trust the Lord, and to just hang in there and keep doing great things out here. His (adopted) mom said some powerful, inspiring things to him as well and it just really pumped him up to stay out here and keep going. I am so thankful for that. It would have broke my heart to see him go home, or rather,quit. Especially because I know how tempting it is to just give up or run from difficulties when things get hard. I cant say I know what he is going through exactly because I am not in his shoes nor do I have his illness. But I have a very strong testimony that when we are serving God diligently and obediently and giving it all, especially when it is incredibly hard to, He will bless us. He will strengthen us. He will get us through the trial. The greater the sacrifice and hardship, the greater the blessing. I know that Elder Cummings still has 5 months in him to serve these great people, especially the ones that need HIM in particular. I know he will be blessed for enduring these great challenges. And I know he will be okay. We can get through whatever problem, difficulty, or situation if we so CHOOSE to do so. And we don't have to do it alone. Heavenly Father will never put us through something we cannot handle. If he gives us a task at hand, He will provide a way for us to accomplish it. If we are assigned to serve for two years, He will provide a way for us to serve two full years. When times get hard, don't give up. Don´t run. Put your faith and trust in the Lord. He will deliver you.

In other news, our area is just jam packed with inactive members. We find more and more everyday. The challenge is finding or getting them to remember the awesomeness of the church and feelings of the spirit and love of Christ. We have 5 baptism dates as of right now, but I refuse to baptize them until I know for sure they will be strong in the church forever and not just for a time. We have enough inactive people here, we don´t need to be adding to the fire. Our progressing family who we have a baptism date with is struggling a bit and I would really appreciate your prayers for them. As well as our 16 year old friend Christopher who is preparing to be baptized on the 11th of July as well.

Elder Cummings and I have made a goal of reading at least 15 pages of the Book of Mormon in Spanish everyday with each other in order to finish the Book of Mormon completely before we end this transfer. It is way hard because we have to manage our time very well. And a bit tiring. But as we do it, I can feel the spirit stronger in our companionship and my knowledge of the scriptures and gospel of Jesus Christ expanding. 

I love you all. I love this work, as hard and frustrating as it may be at times. And I am especially thankful for the answered prayers and received blessings from my Father in Heaven this past week.
Our day at the beach as a zone!


New Companion

Ok, don´t have any time this week, sorry, but I have had the best week with my new companion! He is not the same elder I thought I was receiving, however he is so awesome! His name is Elder Cummings from Wyoming, almost 23, baptized 3 years ago, 1 year and 5 months in the mission, and has the most insane life I have ever heard before in my life... Not going to get into any details, but lets just say he had to be interviewed by Elder Christopherson form the 12 just to be baptized. He is a hard worker and willing to be exact obedient and work harder which I love! Tries to run with me every morning haha. He has been super sick throughout his mission and even had to go home for 4 months and during that time, he served a mini mission in Pocatello Idaho and met Elder Rush!! I am his 16th companion and he is in his 8th area... Which is A LOT. We are working way hard and have had a great past week together and are in process of finding and contacting everyone in this whole city who was ever baptized. We are preparing 6 people to be baptized on the 11th of July. This is a tough area, but are the missionaries who WILL change it for the better!
I want to quickly share this experience from my awesome future missionary cousin, Savanna Reilly;

¨I had the coolest future missionary experience! So this past week I have been looking for a job but I haven't found any luck with finding one. So on Thursday morning, I got on my knees and i said a prayer. In my prayer i asked heavenly father to give me some motivation to help me feel better because i felt super down. I needed something that was going to cheer me up. I went to practice then I was driving home and I was stopped at a red light. I saw these people who were pushing there truck because they ran out of gas. In my mind i was like oh man someone needs to go help them. then i went through the light and i had a feeling in the bottom of my stomach that was like uhhhh no, you need to go help them. But then i was like nahhh they don't need my help. Right after that, i got the worst stomach pain i have ever had in my life. I knew that the lord was telling me something. then i was like uhhhh okay fine. this all happened in a matter of about 15 seconds. I flipped my car around and went back to where the people were. they were on the side of the road and it was 2 men and 1 women. i pulled over and i said hey do you guys need any help and one guy said yeah were just trying to get her back in the car but she wont come. i said she can come with me and i will follow you guys to the gas station. she comes in my car and she says thank you very much for the ride. i just had triple by pass surgery and I'm homeless. i just got kicked out of my apartment and i don't have any money or a job. and at  this point I'm thinking to myself like even if this women is lying i don't even care because she looks really sad. so i obviously felt really bad for her. then she says also the guys that i am with are also broke. they both lost there jobs and they don't even have money to pay for gas. right after she said that i said hey i want to put in like 10 bucks for your gas. and she said only if i get your number to pay me back. then i said how about when you get 10 dollars, you can pay me back by paying it forward to someone else who needs it at that time. and she said your going to make me cry. i filled up her truck and i said goodbye to her and the other guys. before i leave she says god puts blessing in our lives, and today, you were a blessing to me. i felt so much joy after she said that to me. i knew that heavenly father wanted me to not worry about my struggles because there are people who are going through far worse things than me. also i felt awesome because i truly felt like i helped my sister. we are all brothers and sisters and if one person needs my help I'm going to help them because they are my true brothers and sisters. i may not ever talk to this women again, but i know that i was blessed because i helped my sister. i just had to share this story with you. i hope it makes you happy because it really made me happy.¨

I think we can all learn from this experience and remember that our lives, trials, and difficulties can ALWAYS be worse. Way too many times we get caught up in ourselves and forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon us like rain from the clouds. We often see people struggling or in need of help but say that someone else can do it. NO! We are able. They need our help. They have been put in our path for a reason. So remember that. Lets all forget about ourselves and offer our hand when we can. Just like how Christ would and does always.
Love you all and have a great week! 

Elder Greer

Friday, June 5, 2015

Let it RAIN!!

Wow this week was great in an unexpected way.
So Mother’s day here is the last Sunday of April, so we had a ward Mother’s day party and the lady in our ward who lived in California for 40 years made the food. So good. We even had desert. I don’t know that word in Spanish still because that doesn’t exist here ;P
I had the chance to talk about mothers and basically bore my testimony on how awesome mothers are and made my mom sound like the coolest person ever. (Cause she is.)
Monday through Thursday were pretty good teaching days and we were busy. But when Friday rolled around, we had no one to teach because we had already gone by and taught everyone we have at least 1 or 2 times. So, we had no choice but to contact! Contacting is when we go talk to people in the streets or go house to house and try and find people who are interested in talking with us and hearing our message. Well, quite honestly it was a waste of time because we walked around our whole area having no luck or success finding people in their houses or that were interested. So we have been praying long and hard and even fasting that we would be able to find people to teach that would progress and that the Lord would prepare to be ready to accept the gospel into their lives. Friday: talked with and taught a few new people, but no one who really had all that much interest. Saturday: the same. Sunday: we took advantage of it being Mother’s day and went around with a mother’s day video and told people we had a quick message about Mother’s day. That really worked and we got a lot of lessons in. Then Monday rolled around and it was a good day of teaching people we have been teaching for a while. Then yesterday rolled around and our prayers were answered!! God blessed us and answered our prayers with RAIN! I emphasize RAIN because Dominicans have some sort of phobia of the rain and will not go outside if it´s raining and pity anyone who has to. So everyone and their mothers invited us into their houses so we wouldn’t get wet! From 3-4, it was bright, hot, and sunny. We had to go back to our house real quick to grab some things and while we were there, within 5 minutes it went from nice sunny blue skies to a full on tropical down pour. Within 10 minutes the roads were all flooding and it looked like a hurricane was about pass on through. (Which is totally normal) So I put on a rain jacket real quick, and we headed out super stoked that it was raining so hard because the harder it rains, the more people will invite us in! We walked for maybe 5 minutes and like 6 different people invited us in. So we got our contacting on! No kidding Friday and Saturday we walked around in the dead heat and humidity for hours, sweating bullets, and no one once invited us in without us having to start conversation and small talk for a bit and then asking if we could come in and hare a message. In fact, I even got rejected for the first time in my whole mission. But when a little rain comes around, the whole world invites us in! So we were more than thankful for the opportunity to be cold and soaked to the bone the whole day. It rained so badly and the roads flooded so much (mostly because the drainage systems here are terrible if any at all) that we had to walk in almost knee deep water. Someone once told me before my mission that I would be needing rain boots for the Dominican Republic. I finally learned yesterday why. As we were walking yesterday to our next appointment, we came across a lady who was trying to un-flood her road or something. She was standing by an overflowing river that was blocking off the road so no cars or motors could get by. “Compa! Look a lady we can help and serve!” I said. I quickly ran over to here not minding that the water was to my knees. “Hey! Can we help you?” The lady turned around and tried to warn me, but I had already stepped where she was going to warn me not to step. The water was so muddy brown that I couldn’t see where to step and had no idea that there was a drop off. I don’t know what it is about me falling into rivers as of lately, but I totally fell right in. I was absolutely drenched, my whole body practically in nasty, muddy, gutter runoff water. My backpack included. But it was honestly the funniest moment ever! We all 3 just started cracking up laughing. The lady was just about to stop anyway so she thanked us but said there was nothing for us to do. So we talked for a bit and then went on our way still laughing and smiling. Kind of sucked for me the rest of the day because I was covered in nasty water, smelled bad, and my feet were soggy. But it was honestly one of my favorite days in the mission and I loved every moment. We stayed busy and found new people to teach. My companion and I are totally going to start doing rain dances like the Indians now so we can keep having great days like yesterday! Haha.
We ended the night by going to a small Evangelical meeting or gathering thing because one of the youth in our church asked us to go to support him because he is the only Mormon in his family and his mom makes him go to these evangelical meetings and he feels pressured and attacked. So we went. Super awkward at first obviously, but the people were nice to us. The preacher guy told us he was explaining what we need to be saved. He said all we need to do to be saved is have faith in Christ, accept him as our Savior, and accept that we are sinners.... And that’s all... Ummm... Okay so what about being baptized or repenting, or the commandments, or all of the things that Christ taught??... There were so many things I wanted to share and say, but I bit my tongue and simply shared ‘Faith without works is dead’ in James. Then said that if we only have faith and not works, obviously our faith is nothing. And that we have to do the things Jesus taught. And a few other things. But I knew that if I went in there and talked a lot about our doctrine and stuff, it would do nothing but create contention and they would all have negative feelings towards Mormons... More negative feelings towards us. Plus the reason why we were there anyway was to support our friend from the church. But I was not going to leave there without at least sharing the bit that I did that clearly stated that there are so many other things we have to do in order to receive salvation. I hope it at least made them think... And I don´t think there will be a next time because I will not be able to hold myself from going hardcore scripture on them and making them probably hate me haha. But I am thankful for the opportunity to have listened to their beliefs and shared a few of mine that I know made them think twice about about what we have to do to be saved.

Lastly, we were surprised this morning with a call from the Assistants of the President that my companion, Elder Ramirez is being transferred today to another area. He and two other elders are being special transferred because of some issues in other areas and with other companions. So I will be getting a new comp today! His name is Elder Coombs, has red hair, super white, from Utah, and has less time than me in the mission so I am finally senior companion haha. I don’t know the full situation yet, but I guess his comp and him were having problems so they are sending him to me to work things out! I have talked to him a couple times before and seems like a great guy and I think he will be willing to work hard with me! Elder Ramirez is a bit bummed and quite honestly we were doing so well together these past couple of weeks, but he has grown so much here and I have seen him make a great change in himself. So I am hoping he keeps it up in his next area and remembers the things he learned with me. In all honesty, it has been so challenging with him these past 2 months, however, I am most thankful for the time I had with him and this past transfer and 2 weeks with him because we both grew so much and I honestly learned so much about myself and that I have to humble myself and change the flaws about myself before I expect others to. I will miss the crazy guy, but am excited to see how it goes with my new companion!

Contacting like crazy!

Hello friends and family!
This week was a little tough because we have dropped a lot of investigators who are not progressing, but that means we have less work. So we have been contacting like crazy. But with contacting, it is either great and successful and you find some great new people to teach, or you walk around forever and waste important time. My companion and I decided to contact the areas in our area that we have never been to. Well, we learned our area very well, but got very lost doing so. We ended up in the middle of the forest and had to cross a river to get to all the houses on the other side where we were more familiar with. There was a bunch of rocks we could walk on to get to the other side, so all we had to do was get down a little hill to the river. Well, upon trying to get down the hill, my slow, cautious walk turned into a trot. My trot into a jog. And my jog into a full on sprint so I wouldn´t fall. Worked... Until I couldn´t stop and just ran right on into the river haha. So my feet were soaked all day, but it was worth it because now we know why we never went to some of the parts we explored. As we contacted, we used every strategy we could. Picking up brooms and sweeping porches, offering to help people with things, starting mini conversations and eventually relating it to the gospel. We did not have much success, however I am making it a goal of mine to literally talk with everyone I can and inviting everyone we talk with to hear our message or let us at least serve them in some way. Because then I can at least say I gave them all an opportunity to hear from us so in that great and last day, they cannot find guilt in me for not doing my duty of opening my mouth and sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, also known as the Truth.
There are so many people in our lives who are without the true gospel in their lives and are missing the light of Jesus Christ. It is our duty to be tools in the hands of the Lord and bring His lost sheep back to the fold.
I promise that if you all will open your mouths about the gospel of Jesus Christ and invite others to come unto Christ like it is our duty to, you will experience great joy in your lives and bring even more joy to others.
Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Greer

Choose to be Happy

So this week was interesting. Well, yesterday anyway.
Since our interviews with the President about 3 weeks ago, we were told that Elder Ramirez my companion, would be transferred at the end of the transfer because of some... Things going on to say the least. So this whole week he had been saying his goodbyes to everyone and he packed literally all he had the night before transfer meetings where we find out who leaves and where to. So he was all ready and even excited to leave... Well, at transfer meetings, the Zone Leaders decided they wanted to make the transfer meeting a little more exciting and fun. So they wrote on papers everyone who was going to be transferred, their new areas, and all the new elders coming to our zone. There were about 12 different papers hidden throughout the church that had clues to where they all were hidden. So right as soon as we were told that, we jumped out of our seats and ran like kids on Easter to go hunt for our treats! I didn´t care about any of the information of anyone else besides who was going to come be my new companion in Salcedo. Eventually all the papers were found and everyone read the changes/transfers. When Salcedo was not read, me and my companion looked at each other confused and then at the zone leaders. ¨No changes or transfers are being made to Salcedo...¨ We were shocked! Honestly I was waiting for them to say they were joking. But then we said the closing prayer and all left.
So, Elder Ramirez and I have 2 more months together because this transfer is not 6 weeks like normal, but 8. I am... happy. Super happy. And Elder Ramirez too. I fact when we got home, he totally didn´t throw all his clothes back in his closet in anger...
Haha. He was really bummed because when you think, or rather, know that you are being transferred, it is always a little exciting to see where and with who. But, apparently the Lord needs him here and us as companions for 8 more weeks! Let the countdown begin!
Surprisingly, yesterday was a fantastic day teaching! We had a great lesson with a lady named Rosa Maria who came to church on Sunday and was my first investigator to come to church since I have been here!! A couple weeks ago, I was looking through our area book (A book of records of people the past missionaries have taught and the lessons they have taught the people) and I came across this lady who I had a strong impression we should go back and visit. Right off the bat, she was super receptive and loved our visits. She has been progressing well and reads and prays every time! She told us that she loved church on Sunday and knows that it is true and is preparing to be baptized on the 18th of next month with her kids! She is even MARRIED!!! But her husband and her are having problems and don’t live with each other right now so we are going to try and see if we can go to his house and help and teach him.
We also had great success while knocking on doors and contacting a few weeks ago. We came across a family with a DAD, MOM, and KIDS!! So when we went back this week, they were all there and we had such an amazing lesson about prophets and they were so in tune and interested! They loved our visit and are seriously a family of gold who I have been praying and searching for!! So excited! So I am praying they keep interested and keep progressing!
Also we have been constructing a house of brick cement. It is hard work but so fun and I am totally going to go home knowing how to construct just like my pops! ;)

Love you all and choose to be happy even when bummer things happen like transfers for my comp!

Elder Greer