Saturday, July 18, 2015

Office Elder!

Wow. All I can say is that this has been the most insane, long, busy, crazy, hard, surprising, and sleep depriving week in my mission and maybe even my life.
So let's start out with last week... I really don't even remember what happened last week because these past couple of days have been insane. But we had 8 investigators and 8 less/inactive members in church!!! Which are crazy high, awesome numbers!! Salcedo was completely dead when I got here. Now it is really starting to progress again. Work hard, play hard is all I gotta say.
OK so now let's move to Tuesday. Tuesday was our zone transfer meeting where we find out who stays, who goes, and with who. Me and my companion were absolutely dead sure that the both of us were staying. Especially because we now have a new president so we all just figured he would only transfer people who would replace the missionaries who were going home. Well, transfers have always seemed to be interesting for me and not go the way I expect. So first my zone leaders tell us all that Elder Spencer (my step brother in the mission who was already in this zone) was being transferred to Salcedo to be companions with my companion Elder Cummings... we were all three absolutely shocked. And I was...not sad at the moment, but not very excited either. Then the zone leaders went through every one else being transferred (and there were many) then announced where I would be sent and who with... I thought, okay, maybe I'll be called to go be a district leader somewhere. Or maybe even a zone leader. I have been fasting and praying to have the opportunity to serve in a greater way, whether that be as a district leader or zone leader or even just in my area or another area where the people really need me personally. "Elder Greer, you are being transferred to....... Pueblo Nuevo as an office elder!!!!" That was followed by excited and congratulating screams and shouts from all the other missionaries in my zone. And I just sat there absolutely shocked. AN OFFICE ELDER!? What the!? I don't even have a year yet in my mission!! Basically an office elder is a huge calling and a looooooot of complicated work. It is a huge honor and I am super happy and excited and honored, yet very confused as to why me? But I guess my hard work is paying off!! I will be trained these next four weeks by Elder Hollingsworth who has been in the office for a while. And I am in a trio because the other office elder who will be my real companion is Elder Castillo from Santo Domingo and only has 3 weeks in the office and just finished his training in there like I am doing right now. He is in charge of all the houses in the mission and all that business. And I am in charge of all the mail, phones, technology, and electronics. Our hours are long. Very long. I can't even explain my days because there is so much we have to do all he time and are always all over the place. I have my own truck and can drive!! Pretty awesome yet scary because Dominicans drive... not the best haha. Basically if you drive like my dad and Keith Reilly in a race, you're a good driver here :) me and the Assistants are the only missionaries who can drive. I also live with the assistants and we have quite the nice house. I feel way out out place right now because I was going from 3rd world living hard core, to having a nice house, always having running water and electricity, most of the time hot water, and I also now have a touch screen cell phone... weird. But I will be all over the mission and sometimes even in Santo Domingo. We drive all over the place and do so much everyday. Sometimes we get home at like 11:00 and it all starts again the next day at 6:00am! It's exhausting, but super awesome and fun and I love the fact that I am so so busy. I will also be able to work with and help a lot of missionaries. So I guess my fasting and praying for an opportunity to serve to a greater extent has been answered. Just not at all the way I thought! Funny how that works!
Anyway, so after that meeting, we had to rush home because, surprise, we had another wedding!! It was of a less active. So me and my companion had to hurry to the church and help as much as we could. They for some reason wanted us to decorate... that is not a job for men!! And we proved that to them when they fired us and put us in charge of something else haha. The wedding was great and I got to say good bye to lots of people. They were all sad I was leaving. When I went to say goodbye to Rosa Maria and her family, they were balling their eyes out and especially the youngest daughter who was wailing while holding on to my leg begging me not to go. It was honestly heart breaking. but I reassured them I would be back to baptize them at their baptism in August! As well as my other investigators, Katalia and her sister Daricha in September. Salcedo was so hard to say goodbye to. I saw it at its worst, and left at its best. It was honestly such a good area that I will definitely cherish and miss. I love the people of Salcedo as crazy as it may be at times. Then I had to hurry home and pack which was the worst! I ended up going to bed at like 1 am and the next day was even longer because I was transferred and had to start my job in the office! We are called office less, but it's so much more then being and working in the office, it's more like, all over the place, crazy busy, red eyed elders. Haha. I have so much more to say and explain, but am literally out of time! :( but love you guys and I am doing great and pray for me to learn and complete this job well! I have 4 weeks to learn every street in Santiago and understand and know how to run every computer program and file and all the office work that I am in charge of! So pray for me because I will definitely need it friends! :)
All I can say is when you work hard and give it all you got, it pays off and you are noticed even if that isn't the goal. I am so honored to be trusted in the position that I am. Especially considering I don't have a year yet! Love you all. And I will send pics when I can. Get ready... there are many.

Elder Bannon Greer

Happy 4th of July

Sorry in advance for being so honest, but I tell it how it is.
A lot of people ask me about the area I serve in and what it is like here and crazy experiences and stuff. Well, let me just give you a couple of examples of the past couple of weeks. On the road we walk down everyday, this old guy got stabbed in the heart with a sword... A SWORD... We happened to walk down that road 5 minutes after it happened. Then a couple days later, another guy got shot in the head outside one of our members houses we go to a lot. Then a couple days after that, we were walking down a road and right when we turned the corner, we see this old guy chasing after this girl with a bat. We looked farther down the street and realized the girl was chasing a guy and the old man was chasing the guy as well. The girl turns out to be some sort of Olympian runner because she caught up to the guy who had like a 20 yard head start on her, then she throws him to the ground and starts beating him with a full on brick rock! The whole neighborhood was outside like cheering her on and bringing her more rocks to beat him with. Then she walked away with a smile on her face and spit out some blood and wiped off her nose and just kept walking back to her house as the whole crowd like congratulated her. Don't mess with a Dominican woman! Or in this case, don´t call them bad names in front of their families! Anyways, yeah those are just some examples of my hood :)
Luckily we have some not so crazy parts of our area that allow us to actually invite and feel the spirit! The spirit is so incredibly important in lessons and especially conversion. We have 5 solid baptism dates right now and all are people I have no doubt will get baptized. But I am really trying to focus on getting them to feel the spirit really strong and receiving that undeniable witness that will truly convert them. As of right now, they know the church is true and like it a lot. However I don´t know if they have truly received their witness of the spirit yet which is an unforgettable, undeniable feeling that Heavenly Father blesses us with if we truly seek it and are looking for the truth. I have definitely felt the spirit in a lot of our lessons, so I hope they are feeling it to. We are also working really hard with a man named Chi who has been an inactive member for a long time. He is about 38, has a daughter that lives with the mother. Chi is one of my favorite people here. I love him so much and love visiting and teaching him. The spirit is always there so strong and I know he can feel it too. He has a strong desire to start going to church again, but just has something holding him back. I don't know what it is yet, but we are working hard with him to really understand not only how important the gospel is, but how awesome and comforting it is.
Over these past 3 months being here, I have met and have made some unforgettable relationships. I can honestly feel so much genuine love for the people I teach. It´s like they are so much more than simply people I work with, help, serve, or teach. But I can feel an honest, deep love for them. It is something I have been working on my whole mission that has been hard for me because it is so easy to judge people. But as I read about Christ, learn about Christ, and realize just how imperfect I am even when I am trying to be the best I can be, I forget about the flaws we all have and am able to just love. And I am so thankful for that because it is so much easier to serve, help, and teach people when they feel like your family and you care for them all in such a great way.
In all reality, this area was not my ideal area when I first got here. But then I bucked up, got to work, loved, forgot about myself, and now I am falling in love with this area and the people. It is something that is really so important as a missionary. And something I will always be working at. Because it is something that we can always get better at.
Happy 4th of July America and remember how good we have it. Don't just celebrate the 4th because you want to see cool fire works or kiss your girlfriend and see the ¨sparks fly¨ but be thankful for how honestly great we have it in the states. It saddens me that sometimes it takes us going to other countries and experiencing 3rd world life to appreciate and understand that. I am so thankful for our independence and ability to worship freely. Don't forget our forefathers and what they fought so hard for! Lastly, America, don´t forget who truly gave us freedom and the opportunity to have freedom including religion; GOD. America, Do not forget God.
Love you all.

Elder Greer from San Diego, California, USA! #PROUDTOBEANAMERICAN #GOAMERICA #FREEDOM (if hashtags are still a thing ;D)



I don't have any time to write today, sorry. But this past week was a good one. We have just been busy searching for and finding the inactive people on our list and seeing if we can reactivate them or if the moved and things like that. We have been having a lot of success doing so and are getting more help from the members. Our numbers were down last week worse than they have ever been before, but just this Monday and Tuesday only we had better numbers than all of last week! We had members with us both days and it was a great two days of teaching and serving! Our work is increasing finally! All those days of contacting and begging members for referrals and bugging them to help us and being so demanding to Bishop about getting the member list has all paid off and is continuing to help us! We are going to set a new date with Rosa Maria and her family today and we are going to set two more baptism dates this week with two other people! I see more and more blessings everyday as we stay hard working and obedient!
Love you guys!!
Sorry this is so short!

Elder Greer

430 members

Okay. I am just going to jump right into this week starting off with last Thursday. We had a talent show at the church. And when I think of talent I have, I think of running, or being a goof on the dance floor... haha. So keeping in mind that Dominicans have such a good sense of humor and think that pretty much anything is funny, I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to perform something in the talent show, especially so the members and investigators could see that us missionaries are fun too! So I got the other 3 elders to do a short air band dance with me. We had literally no time to plan it until the day of because Elder Lemon who lives with my comp and I, had to go to the capital to renew his visa and was gone for a couple of days with his companion. So it was going to be just me and my comp which would have been good, but not as great. But Elder Lemon and Elder De La Luz got back literally an hour before the talent show started so we had to hurry and plan something really quick. We picked the song YMCA. Throughout the week we had been telling people to come and that they didn't want to miss it, especially because we were going to to a funny dance. So we managed to get a good amount of people there. We went last to close it because we knew it was going to be great and wanted to end on a great note! We performed the dance and the whole time, everyone was dying of laughter and loved it! It was way hard for me to remember not to shake my hips so much ;P but they definitely loved my dancing! Everyone video´d and after all gave me hand shakes and said it was so great! I knew it would be a great way for people, especially the members, to have more confidence and love for us, so we had to take advantage of the opportunity! And I am so happy we did and can already see the members, especially the youth more open with us and want/are willing to help us more and teach with us! I would just like to thank Beau Reilly because we had no time to plan the dance, but I had lots of inspiration from what I remember of him dancing to YMCA throughout high school! I was also in a couple of other skits where I had to use my acting skills. I don´t think I am that funny, but I had to act as a whinny, disruptive, typical kid of a mom who wanted to hear the missionaries and the dad who had no interest. The setting took place in our "House" during a lesson with the sister missionaries. I had to improv everything because they told me last second that I was a part of their skit and only told me to act like the typical kid. So I am way thankful for being good on the spot and improving. All those times in high school having to do things like that has definitely helped me! So I had no script and just did what came to my mind just like improv. Whatever I did, they loved it because they all came up to me and said I was such a great actor! So that was a way fun, successful night and activity!
Our family who is preparing for baptism is having a few problems still because of the living situation. The dad, Juan is now homeless because he got kicked out of the place he was living apparently and his wife´s mom still wont let him live with his wife, Rosa Maria. Way sad and we are super confused about the whole situation so we are going back tomorrow to figure it all out. I am sure that Juan is okay and probably living with a friend for now though because the Dominican people are always so generous and giving and take people into their homes all the time. But we really need help and miracles because they are so close to being ready for baptism!
This week our bishop finally gave us the list of all the members in Salcedo that I have been asking for since I got here!! So we are in the process of finding all the inactive members and cleaning out the list! We have about 430 members here supposedly, but only about 50 are active! So we will hopefully have a ton of work with inactive members once we are able to find all of them! The members are helping us a lot to find where they live. Because all we have is the people´s name and the area they live in because they don't really have addresses here.
We get our new president, President Castillo next week. I'll be way sad to say goodbye to President Douglas, but I know President Castillo will be great as well!
 That is all for this week, other then the fact that a guy totally got stabbed in the heart and died on the road we walk down every day... But that is why the world needs the gospel! Don´t worry, no one harms missionaries here because everyone is secretly inactive members :)
Me and Elder Cummings (My companion) and our investigator.

Adventures in the jungle part of our area.

Our less active family was having trouble remembering to pray, so we made prayer rocks to put on their pillows so they wouldn't forget!

This girl just left for her mission in Cancun, Mexico!

My Latino spirit is up.

Service we did in this whole which is pretty much a well. It is pretty much a dungeon when there is no water inside and we had to clean it out and kill cock roaches and crickets.

Shaving creme fight that unexpectedly happened as i walked out of the bathroom...