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DJ with his new washer

DJ with his new washer
Piedra Alta, Uruguay

Ramon's Baptism

Ramon's Baptism

DJ and new Companion Elder Craynor

DJ and new Companion Elder Craynor

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 101 - Coming Home

Um...
Monday, December 19, 2011 5:16 AM

Um...if my last email was sent last week, what does that make this email.

Anyways, here`s just a little email to confirm that I am indeed coming home. :) It`s SOOPER WEIRD. I don`t know how to describe it. I think it`s something you have to live...maybe dad can understand a little bit. My comp will be training. I guess somebody is coming from the MTC early. So that`ll be cool for him. To answer dad, we didn`t have a baptism yesterday. It`s okay though because we had 5 investigators in church. Hopefully my comp will be able to have a couple in the next few weeks. It`s hard to believe that Christmas is in less than a week. Wow. The Christmas conference was really good. I got to see everybody and say goodbye. It`s weird to think that some I`ll never see again in person in this lifetime. The valients (last changers) always get to bear their testimonies in some kind of conference (usually zone) but for us we got to do it in front of the whole mission. I`m going to miss talking in spanish. The week was really good. We accomplished a lot. I felt absolutely normal until I got home last night. It was the answer to a lot of prayers because I really prayed that I could stay focused through the end. So as long as I had work time left, I felt normal even though I was talking about my departure with everybody. As soon as I was done working (as of last night), I started feeling super weird. So we know God answers prayers. My life is upside down right now. In 4 hours I`ll get on a bus to go to Montevideo (solo), where I`ll take a taxi to the mission home. After my interview, the secretaries will take me to the airport and then I`ll (hopefully) follow the itinerary. Just fyi/warning...I might look ruffled and smell bad when I get home because it`ll be almost 48 hours without shower or brushing teeth or anything. My apologies in advance. Hopefully this finds you well. I`m sure you are all excited and overjoyed. I`m not sure how I feel right now, so I`ll let you know later.

Love Always,

DJ

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 100

What an absolute joke...this is my last email.
Monday, December 12, 2011 6:26 AM

Dear family,

Well I was going to send pictures for the last time, but it appears as if the computer is on strike. Sad day. Well, I guess you`ll only have to wait another week to see them. :)

So, this week was good, kind of strange, but good. We cannot apparently for the life of us get investigators to progress in any shape or form towards baptisms. Ok, that`s a lie. We have a tiny number that are progressing VERY SLOWLY. Bernard moves fast in comparison. Speaking of Bernard really quick, he`ll sadly be staying here as the house mascot because I can`t take him home. Hope everybody is okay with that. Anyways, the strange/cool experience for the week was on Saturday. We were walking towards an appointment and as we walk by this lady, we hear "excuse me." At first I was like, okay who`s the random Guayan speaking English to us. We turn around and actually met a lady from Washington. We start talking to her and turns out that she and her husband are Baptist missionaries. They sold their house and everything in the states and moved down here to do I don`t even know what for the Baptist church. Well, we started talking. She asked us what our purpose is....bad question. When everything was said and done half an hour later, we had basically taught her the restoration, the plan of salvation, and the 5 points of the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). Then we had to go to our appointment (to which we showed up a tiny bit late), but we got her number and we`re going to try to meet up with her again. Well the Lord works in mysterious ways...if this couple had to sell everything they had to move to Uruguay to receive the restored gospel, so be it. We`ll see what happens. It was kind of strange (well let`s speak seriously....really strange) because it was the first time I taught in English. It wasn`t too bad though...the Lord helped and only a few Spanish words crept in. She speaks very limited Spanish so yeah.

Let`s see...apart from that, the week was just routine. We`re having a terribly rough time finding new investigators. Poo. But oh yeah, yesterday we went by a reference the Zone Leaders had passed to us and we found a kid whose cousin just got baptized in their branch. He wants to get baptized as soon as somebody gives him a date and a time. So that`s pretty cool as well. The baptism we were planning on having this week doesn`t appear to be too committed. We`re not giving up, but my big focus now is to just not leave a destitute area for Elder Craynor. It`s super strange thinking that my next Pday will not involve me typing an email to you, it`ll involve me talking with you face to face. It`s super weird. I started working on my suitcases yesterday. Not too bad. I mostly did it because I have more time on Sundays and that way I`ll be able to focus the whole week on missionary work. You`ll probably be surprised when I tell you that I`m not terribly distracted. It mostly has to do with reality not having hit me yet, and powerful prayers.

Personally I`m doing well. I just finished up President Kimball’s Teachings of the Prophets book. He`s awesome. Curiously, those books have really strengthened my testimony even more. I`ve come a lot closer to my Heavenly Father in these last few weeks and months. I know we go through every situation for a reason, and evidently this was something I needed to learn. I`m just trying to stay focused and do my best because I don`t want to look back with any regrets (even though Satan tries to tempt me to think I`ve failed or not done my best or stupid stuff like that).

I got letter 98 this week. I don`t know how many more I`m supposed to be expecting. So yeah. I think I also got a letter from Chris (assuming he wrote one). It kinda looks like his handwriting, but I haven`t opened it yet.

Yes the Christmas conference is on Wednesday. I`m stoked. This week is going to fly by. I`ll also be saying good bye to different families this week. It`s all very strange. People keep asking me how it feels and what I think, but I don`t ever know what to say. In some ways, it feels like I just said goodbye to you. I`ve changed a lot and at the same time, I`m the same. Yeah, ok. Weird stuff.

I have nothing else to tell you. I might check my email next Monday (I`m not sure about my whole schedule yet), so if you have any last minute things to say, feel free to send an email. I`ll try to get it. Tell Nana hi...and tell her to take care of herself. She`s almost made it. :) Have a wonderful last week without me.

Love Always,

DJ

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Week 99

Penultimate email.
Monday, December 5, 2011 5:56 AM

Dear Family,

As you can gather from my subject line, this is the next to last time I`ll be writing. Wow. Because obviously I won`t be writing on the 19th (or at least I think that is fairly obvious). I have some real struggles sometimes because I try to convert Spanish words into English words and I am generally convinced that what I`m saying is correct when in reality, I don`t know what the freak I`m saying (and neither does anybody else). So yeah.

This past week was good. We had changes, but as I didn`t go anywhere, I just stayed here and worked with another elder. This is now his 2nd change. He`s being trained here in my zone by Elder Young (from my group). Anyways during the day as we were walking, he mentions "as of today I`m no longer an oro (greenie)" and I look at him, smile and say "yeah, well as of today I`m a valient (last change)" It was funny. :D I don`t recall if I mentioned that there are two oros in my district. District meeting should be fun this week. Haha. But as I was saying, this week we found some more people to teach (some really good ones) and we worked our butts off doing everything we could to get people to go to church (I`m really into the parenthetical today) and the result was that NOBODY went to church. Fail. But at least we know that we did everything we could, phone calls, members, commitments, etc. Our super focus is to have at least one baptism before I leave. As a result, all of my efforts are focused to the 17th...it`s as if life after the 17th doesn`t exist. It`s better that way. It keeps me focused.

We also found out last week to my enjoyment that our Christmas conference is on the 14th so I`ll still be here. I`m super excited because I`ll get to say goodbye to everybody. That`s good since I wasn`t able to go to changes. Ooh, so I am pretty sure that I`m flying out solo the whole way. I think. I know that I`m the only one leaving from my mission at that time even though Elder Young is going to BYU this winter as well. He decided to go home on time and enter school 8 days late. This was his decision. He knew I was debating back and forth too and when I told him I was going home early, he was kind of disappointed. I personally think that he didn`t want to be the only crazy one entering BYU 8 days late. Oh well. He made his choice, and I mine. Elder Powell is going to BYU-I and will start in April or something.

I was not able to see the broadcast last night because it was broadcast at 11:00pm here. Oh well. I would have liked to have seen it. Tomorrow I complete 23 months in the mission. Strange no? My comp and I are working well together. He`s been getting his first taste of being district leader. He now knows how it just takes up your time at night. :) I`m enjoying having nothing to do. I think I read like 20 chapters in the Book of Mormon yesterday. Word.

Oh yeah I got letters 91,96,97 this week, but I haven`t opened them yet to see what`s inside as additional stuff. I think you mentioned that one had a phone card. So that`s good.

Enjoy this one picture. I took it because there was some Guayan championship game yesterday and Nacional won (that`s their jersey-ish). so I celebrated briefly. :)

That`s awesome that Hayden put his papers in. His call should get there shortly after I get home. Good stuff. It`s weird to think that this is my last week to send out letters because after this week, anything I want to send home will get there faster if I pack it with me.

Well besides my doctors appointments and the general hanging out with Nana and everybody, is there anything you want to do when I get home? Most missionaries go home with ideas in mind for right when they get there. I don`t really care. Hopefully you can arrange it for me to get released on Tuesday night after the plane lands. If you can. Other than just readjusting and spending time with you guys, the only real urge I have is to play some ball. I`m itching to play again. You have no idea. I will also be taking time to organize my life and get everything I need for college. I also have to figure out my finances and everything. Ooh let`s go bowling too. :) Since last week is my last email (pretty sure), give me anything you have in mind in your emails. I`m really out of the loop. I have no idea what`s going on.

That`s cool that Dad`s going to speak with me on January 1st.

Yesterday was my last fast and testimony meeting in the mission. I had this huge internal debate about whether to get up (because I prefer to leave time to the members), but I ended getting up at the end. It was good. I think I would have regretted it later if I hadn`t gotten up. It`s not like I lack opportunities to bear testimony, but it`s good for the members and me anyways.

Well have a wonderful week. Give nana a preliminary hug for me. Have a good drive.

Love always,

DJ

PS: On a scale from 0 to banana, it doesn`t not feel like December AT ALL. :D

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 98

Monday, November 28, 2011 5:49 AM

Dear family,

Well this week was a much better week. We`re actually finding people to teach now. Well, given that most of our investigator pool has been completely revamped, we didn`t have too many people in church yesterday, but that`s not getting us down. Basically, when I prayed that the Lord would help me be more humble, I made a mistake because soon after that all of our investigators committed spiritual suicide and I had to learn humility the hard way. :D Nah, but it`s been a good experience. I`ve learned to rely on the Lord even more. My comp and I are staying together, but he`ll be district leader (since I`m leaving midway). He`s actually really surprised, but he`ll do well. Then the other two companionships in my district will be two trainers with their oros (greenies). I`m not going to lie, I`ll probably mess with them (i.e. I`ve got less time left in the mission than you have out in the mission). Hee hee hee.

Remember I told you about the crazy dude in our area who says he was a mini-missionary and he told us his version of the first vision, well the other night he just walks right into our house unannounced. We were like who is in our house. He`s out of his mind. He just walked right in, what a joke.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MOM! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

The reality of what is happening really hasn`t hit me yet, but it was kind of strange during our weekly planning session last Thursday when I realized that I`m basically planning for my last baptisms (since they are usually 3 to 4 week cycles). That`s super cool that Alonzo was able to go to sacrament meeting yesterday. I`m glad that the ward is doing missionary stuff. You never really know the true effect of the Spirit on a person. At least you guys did your part and extended the invitation. Yay! :D It`s also good to know that Cy is alive. I sure wouldn`t know. Anyways, good job on your talk mom. You convert you. :)

Oh hey, they didn`t give out mail this last week because of changes, I`ll get it tomorrow. The pics I have here are ones we took as a district last Tuesday. Enjoy.

I`m in the Heber J. Grant book right now. I`m loving those books. They`re not mine, but we randomly have them in the house. Anyways they`re really good. It should be helpful to bear a more powerful testimony to investigators and who knows whoelse. <--------- I don`t know if this makes sense in English. Oh well.

Ramon is doing well. He comes to church every week and he´s even working on getting his daughter and (soon-to-be) husband to go with him. He`s a stud.

Well October and November have seemingly disappeared. It`s really quite strange actually. I`m not quite sure what happened.

Well, have a wonderful week. Welcome to December. I love you all like a missionary loves his pillow. Have a wonderful week.

Love always,

DJ

PS. It`s hot here. At least I don`t have to deal with much more of it. It`s rough.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 97

Monday, November 21, 2011 6:16 AM

Dear family,

Well, as you may have already discovered...I`m writing an email! Woo hoo! And I`ve also included pictures. That`s another woo! You`ll see from the pictures that we have been blessed with washing machines!!! YAY! We were so stoked when we found out. You probably have no idea. So enjoy the picture of me with the washer.

Mmk, this week was...interesting. We had district conference (because we`re a district not a stake) yesterday. It was really good. Our guest was Elder Chappe who is an area seventy from Uruguay. It was nice. The meeting was really spiritual. Sadly, we really didn`t have any investigators in church because all of our investigators (or the vast majority) have suddenly decided to disappear. Elder Craynor and I are trying to figure out how to fix it. The most solid investigator we have is named Jonathon. He`s super good. Last week we taught him fasting and then invited him to do a fast so that he can get a steady job. We even offered to fast with him, which we did and it almost killed us. Fasting in the dead heat, walking around and not drinking water is not an easy task. As long as it works and he gets a job, it`s worth it.

Say happy birthday to Grams for me and happy Thanksgiving as well to everybody. I actually had my Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. We were coming off a fast, but even putting that aside, the food was super good and I just kept eating. It`s been a long time since I`ve felt that full. It wasn`t good. I have to take care of my figure...I do have to get married some day. :)

Oh yeah, I was going to tell you about the temple, because we got to go the temple last Thursday and then we had a zone conference after. Anyways, we had to get up with the chickens to be able to get to Montevideo, but the experience was good. I enjoyed it a lot more this time than the last time I went (last November). And then we were able to go to the distribution center and I bought the conference issue of the Ensign. So now I`m reading a bunch. It`s fun. I`ve actually got a lot of things I have to read before the end. It`s crazy. I won`t have excess time like this after the mission to just study and study and study the gospel. Good stuff. I`m reading the Teachings of the prophets too. I`ve read Joseph Smith through Wilford Woodruff and now I`m finishing up Joseph F. Smith. So I have to finish the rest of those too before I leave. I think I just accidentally changed the font some how. Don`t ask.

This week I got letter 95 as well as some letters or drawings or something from what looks to be the primary in the ward. I just flipped through them really quickly before leaving the house. They appear to be birthday wishes from the primary kids. It was sent from 781 24 1/2 road and I have no idea who that is exactly. But it`s cool. Good stuff.

So we`re progressing here. My comp and I are wondering what we did to incur this issue we have with investigators, but more than anything I feel the Lord is just testing us. We`re working through it, and I really feel like something good is going to happen soon. That`s cool that Chris gets the whole week off. Cool beans.

As far as changes, threesomes don`t exist down here. That`s why we have those mini-missionary people like I had. The most likely for changes next week is that I stay here with my comp and when I leave he gets one of those minipeople for 3 weeks. So the mission here is allowing the missionaries here to talk via Skype for Christmas this year. Thankfully I won`t have to deal with that; we can talk in person.

Glad the choir thingy went well. Did Maureen actually go? If so, word up. If not, word down. :)

I`ve decided that there are some things that I`m really going to miss about the mission, but there are other things that I won`t miss so much. It`s been a really good experience thus far. More than anything I think it`s changed my perspective and focus. So far, I have no regrets so can`t complain there.

Bananas. Well, I don`t have much more to report. The work is continuing. We`ve talked to some really interesting people lately. It`s strange. But yep. I got used to it a long time ago. Hope you enjoy the pictures. They were taken with love. Have a wonderful turkey day (one of the sisters in my district was trying to convince me that Thanksgiving was last week....fail). Don`t eat too much. :D

Love Always,

DJ

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week 96

I`m running out of witty subject lines
Monday, November 14, 2011 6:03 AM
Dear family,

Well, here I am after going through another rough week. Sadly, it seems that all areas just have their ups and downs. We don`t think we`ve done anything special; it just seems that our investigators want to crater themselves. I think we lost like 7 investigators this week or something like that. It is just a huge load of opposition. Oh well. We`re working through it. The good news is that we do have investigators still and that our area has a lot of potential. We`re just trying to figure out how to tap into it. We did have some good lessons this last week and we did find 2 new people that look pretty solid.

It was interesting that you had your lesson on the Millennium because that`s what ours was too. Ramon came to church again with his nice shirt and tie and everything. But sadly, we once again had no investigators in church. Like I said, opposition. It`s been kind of rough, but we`re not getting down on ourselves.

This week for mail, I received a letter from Aunt Margaret, one from Michael (I had written him a few weeks back), a few from grandma (but the birthday card she sent hasn`t arrived yet), as well as letters 93 and 94. Like I said a while back, you`ll probably want to get the word out to not send anything else after November. I probably wouldn`t get it.

The weeks go by incredibly fast here, and I only have 5 left. It`s a super strange feeling. It used to be that I counted months. For example, I`d know that I had 9 months left. And then a whole month would have to pass before I could decrease that number (and a month is a decent length of time). Now weeks go a whole lot super faster (if that even makes sense), so the numbers are decreasing much more rapidly. Wow. We go to the temple on Thursday, so this`ll be the last time I go until I get home.

I was thinking a little yesterday about how the whole transition is going to be. I`m sure you`ve probably already figured, but I`m going to be leaving a grand majority of my clothes and stuff here (for other missionaries or whoever). I`ve gotten through the entire mission with just using the one suit coat and one of the pairs of suit pants. So I`m planning on throwing out the pair I`ve used and then I`m going to get the suit coat dry cleaned here. I`m then planning on giving the coat and the other pair of pants to a member from my 3rd area in Prosperidad because he`s tall and skinny like me and I think he would appreciate it. My shoes are obviously trashed (but I`ll bring one pair home as souvenirs). My shirts and pants that are still in good condition (and most are), I`ll give to other missionaries or Hermana da Silva so she can distribute them.

Also, I was thinking about how I`m pretty much the same person and how I`ve changed dramatically at the same time. I`ve decided that my personality is pretty much the same, but my focus and priorities are a whole lot different. Be warned that I`m going to be super strange when I get home. You probably have no idea. And yes, I have a rather interesting time speaking intelligible English. You`ll get used to it. :D I`m glad Nana will be able to come. That sounds pretty exciting. I try not to think about after mission details too much because I`ll get unfocused. (I`m not saying that you are unfocusing me). I`m just saying that vague details are about as good as it gets in my brain. It`s really interesting pushing yourself to work hard even though the end is right around the corner. What I mean by that is that sometimes it`s more attractive to just give myself slack and coast through the last part, but that`s not how it`s done. Nopers.

Did you guys have anything in mind for things you want to do when I get back? I don`t even know if you had thought about it at all. Unfortunately, I`ll have to go the dentist and the doctor and the eye place and the calf place and the lung place and the toe place and the who knows where else place. Oh well. They are things that have to be done.

Anyhoo, I`ve got nothing else to say for now. I hope you all have a wonderful week. We`ve got 2 weeks left in this change...it`s gone by fast. Say hi to everybody for me. I`m glad Hudson`s excited to go. It`s the best. :) Monkeys.

Love Always,

DJ

Oots, one more thing or two...

Are the letters that I`ve sent home saved somewhere (in addition to the ones that you have sent me)?

And sorry about the lack of pictures.

deej

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 95

This is an email...warning...this is an email

Monday, November 7, 2011 6:13 AM

Dear family,

It`s the 7th of November. You know what this means? This week is 11-11-11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please celebrate accordingly. Well this past week was....rough. If you look at our actual numbers (of lessons and whatnot), they are better than last week, but they don`t show that we had a bunch of investigators exercise their agency this week (in a kind of failish way). Also, for the first time since May, I had no investigators in church. That was also sad because we were expecting about 5 or 6 for sure. The plus side is that Ramon did get confirmed. The minus side is that there was a problem with the microphone. Thus I could only hear about 50% of what was being said, and Ramon who is hard of hearing heard basically nothing. :( So needless to say, my comp and I were joyous to be done with last week. The Lord is basically just trying our patience. He wants to see if we have faith to keep working hard. Among the very few positive things that happened last week, we had a lesson with a new guy we found. I was explaining the Joseph Smith story and whatnot and for the first time in my whole mission, the investigator said (before I told him) ¨Oh, so they chose him to put the church back on the earth.¨ Most investigators don`t even really understand that after you tell them, but this guy seemed to intuitively know before we even told him. So that was cool. He also, out of nowhere, said ¨I want to commit to go to church next Sunday (the 13th)¨ That doesn`t happen too much either.

Other than all that, we`re just trying to work hard and stay focused. Our area has a lot of potential and we are still excited, but like I said, we hit kind of a rough patch. We`ll work through it. As long as we`re doing our best, the Lord is in charge of the rest. Yep, that`s a rhyme. Giggles.

No mail this week. Don`t ask why. Hey, I am curious to know if Patrick and I are taking a civilization class together, and which civ class it is. If we`re not, you should tell him to take it and then beat him like a duck.

It`s getting warmer here...we`ve had some of those hot, suffocating days already. I`m so thrilled. Although, on the plus side, this house shouldn`t be as oven-like as my house last year. woo.

I don`t know if I get a Christmas list or not, but if I do, I have thought of 2 things. I want a new set of Spanish scriptures, the triple and the bible. And I want the good kind, but I don`t need indexes. Just the nice black cover triple and bible with the gold leafed pages or whatever. And I don`t need my name on them either. I just want them to study when I get home.

Anyways, have a wonderful 11-11-11. Yay! it`ll only happen once this century. I love you all. When does Nana get there? PS. I`m glad they accepted your plan, Dad. Good stuff. Have a wonderful week. I`ll be home before you know it.

Love Always,

DJ


Uh, one more thing...are all the emails you guys have sent to me saved in your account. and are the emails I`ve sent saved in the account. If so, let me know. If not, I`ll need to forward them somewhere from this account so that I can have them for memory sake. kthxbye.

Oops, another thing. Sorry. Mom, I don`t even think the people down here know about that book, let alone have it. I could be wrong though.