Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thanks & Happy Birthday, Dad . . .

Sometimes you wonder if you've been too hard . . . Sometimes you wonder if you've been too soft . . . Sometimes you wonder if you've even made a difference . . . Then a papa's payday comes in the mail.

July 22, 2014

Dear Dad,

That you so much for everything that you have done for me in my life. You have always been such an amazing example to me. It is a huge blessing to me to have you as my father. Thank you for being a hero to me, for showing me the path to righteousness. Thank you for your patience with me. We both know that I am far from perfect and that I did things in the past that hurt you and mom, and I want to thank you for never giving up on me.

It's funny that sometimes things on the mission come up that are similar to experiences that I had growing up. It really has helped me so much to be able to have your example, to see how you handled the situation, and how I am trying to handle certain situations in the same form. Thank you for always stringing to be a good husband, father, priesthood holder, and friend. I could never replace your influence in my life.

I just want to tell you happy birthday and that I hope you have a great day, you definately deserve it. I love you so much. Thank you for being my father. Thank you for being a great example to me. I love you.

Love, Your Son,

Elder Garrett McEwan

19 Years of Life . . .

July 9, 2014

Dear Family,

So today was great! I was sleeping this morning and all of a sudden I felt Gallo, Reyes, and Cisneros jumping on me! They woke me up at 6:19 a.m. and went crazy, singing, and jumping, and pillow fighting! Then I opened a package from Stef, then worked out. We were having a District Meeting at 10:30, so we didn't get to study much! The sisters in our District made my favorite food, chicken alfredo, and then we ate a chocolate banana cake that I made! Then we went to work! We are working super out here, doing as much as we can to take advantage of the mission. Then in the night, we had a Family Home Evening. We go . . . and SURPRISE! Surprise Party! They did a big banner, a candy message, and gave me a watch! They made Habichuelas con Duke and we played charades! Then, I guess there is some kind of Latin tradition where you have a big egg/water balloon fight, so we did that! It was super funny! It smelled really bad, but was really fun! We then walked home, everyone showered, washed clothes, and got weekly numbers. It was overall a very good day, definately unforgettable, an answer to a prayer for sure! Then we all went to be and that was how I completed 19 years of life. I hope you all had a great day, too!

I Love You All!

Elder Garrett McEwan

Happy 4th of July, New Comp, & Loving It . . .

July 4, 2014

Dear Family,

I want to start off this letter saying Happy 4th of July! It is so great that we have the amazing country of the United States to call home! In honor of this day, I strongly encourage you all to read 1 Nef. 13. It talks all about the Restoration, but that a necessary part of the Restoration was that America needed to be founded, that we needed to have the Revolutionary War, and that specifically the United States needed to be formed as a country. Any way, Happy Independence Day!

So now on to the weird news . . . I have a new companion. His name is Elder Gallo, and he comes from Bani, where he was a Zone Leader. It is a special transfer, and Dabady is now ZL in Bani. I am District Leader here, in a place where I have only been here for like 12 days! A little bit weird, but it will be good. Elder Gallo is from Colombia. He is 21 years old and has 21 months in the mission. He is a cool guy, really amped up about mission work, which I like because I just want to work super hard! We have been doing great work here!

So how did you all celebrate the 4th? I had a Zone Meeting and the closing hymn was "The Star Spangled Banner." In the night, I ate a layered jello that I made and wore my American Flag do-rag that Stef gave me. Overall it was a really good day! Also taught a ton of lessons to lots of people.

July 7, 2014

So yesterday we had church in Las Charcas, my first week there as the Branch President. It was fast and testimony meeting, and Reyes (a house comp.) told me that no one ever stands up to bear their testimony, so the missionaries have to fill all of the time. I didn't want that, so I decided that I was going to invite people to share their testimonies. We finished up with all of the Sacrament, then I stood up and spoke for a few minutes about testimonies, then invited Hermana Milania up to share her testimony. She shared a beautiful testimony about faith and the Plan of Salvation. She sat down and I was expecting to have to call on someone else, but NO! Her husband got up! More and more people got up and shared amazing testimonies. One of my investigators, Edailin, got up and talked about how much of a blessing it is for him to be able to know about this gospel, and he can't wait to be "in buen misionero" like we are! So cool!

I also collect tithes/fast offerings! That is a very interesting thing! It is definitely helping me prepare and is giving me the experience if I ever get called as a Bishop in the future! God is definitely helping me take full advantage of my mission! I love it out here!

I Love You!
Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, July 28, 2014

Continuing to Grow Through Opportunities . . .

July 28, 2014

Dear Family,

Wow, it sounds like you guys are all doing great, having so much fun in life and all of that!!  i am so glad that you were all able to enjoy your 24th of July!!

So this week was a pretty normal week, but there were some really great things that happened as well!!  I got you package today and we opened it.  I baked the cake, and now we are just going to frost it and eat it when we get home in the night!!  I love the package by the way...  A birthday party in a box!!  We put up the sign, and ate the wonka candy and introduced my companions to starbusts....  They were super hesitant at first, because they have never eaten them before, but they loved it!!  We are going to have a good old party tonight, kind of like a second birthday for me!!  I will send you lots of pictures next week of the party!!

So this week we were really focused on the priesthood.  A recent convert of Elder Dabady wanted to receive the priesthood, so we have been helping him. He received the priesthood yesterday, and that was really awesome!! His name is Hector Manaurys, and he is a man that was in the lowest place that anyone could ever be in life, and he is now one of the strongest members of the branch!!  He is 21 years old, and told us that he would like to serve a mission, so we have been teaching about mission work,, and he is now starting to go out with us to teach.  He actually teaches the people!! It is really awesome to see how strong his testimony is!!

We also have been working with a lady named Maria Isabel.  She is also a recent convert and she has been helping us with a bunch of her neighbors, family, and friends that want to know more about the church!!  She is the daughter in law of Feyo, and she has helped us a ton, and she is a really strong convert!!

Anyway, this week in church we had 7 investigators, five of them with baptismal fechas!  They are progressing really well to their baptism!!  

So Feyo is doing amazing.  He is progressing well, and we talked to him a lot about the restoration of the priesthood!!  He understood really well, and then got all choked up when we started talking about baptism, asking me to baptize him!!  He still has over a month to prepare, but it was amazing to see his conviction to be baptized!!  He is an amazing man, and he is someone that definately has helped my perspective of the gospel. He can´t understand a whole lot because he is old, but he is some one that you can tell that he FEELS that the gospel is true, and for that it has been great to see his progression. The lord really does work hard with his spirit, and teaches to the hearts of his children!!

Mery also came to church, and came early!!  She has the challenge of her two small children, but she is really showing how much she wants to change her life!!  She is so cool!!  She even sings hymns to her children at night like lullabyes!!  She is doing really well, and she is right now learning about the plan of salvation!!  

Alexis is getting better in his family relations, and is continueing to try to get to his baptismal date.  He told us that he would do anything to change his life, and that he is trying!!  It is always fun to talk to him.  He is basically a member, he just needs to get baptized!!  Any way, he has all of the lessons, so we just go talk to him and make sure he is staying strong!!  He asks us lots of questions, questions that won't help him in his salvation but that are interesting to learn about.  Like our Heavenly Mother for example.  He heard that in church about a month ago, and it has not left his mind since!! We talked a bunch and helped him out, and just talked about some fun doctrinal stuff like that!!

Nayeli, in las Charcas, has really changed alot.  At first she was super shy and did not want to express anything, and now she is really opening up, and in one of the lessons I just would ask her a short question and then just listen and let her talk to be able to express herself!!  It really is amazing to see how well she is progressing towards her baptism!!

SO on Sunday we had a harvest in Las Charcas.  There are over 230 baptized members, and only 15 go to church, so we wanted to go find these people!!  We set out with big goals, big hopes, and big dreams of contacting everyone....  and we were only able to contact 4.  But that is ok, the lord knows the intentions of our hearts, and led us to the four people most likely to come back in this time!!  It was a great experience!ª

I also had the opportunity to do a baptismal interview of a girl name Paola! She was really smart, and loves the church.  She has a strong testimony, and she has changed her whole life.  She said that she has tons of friends in the church, so that was good to hear, to know that she is going to stay strong!! We talked for a while about all of the lessons, and the covenant that she was going to make, and then we both decided that she was ready!! She is going to be baptized this saturday!!

So that is about all for the week, here´s to hoping that I can send you all the pictures that I am taking!!  Love you all!!

Elder Garrett McEwan

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Always Invite, No Matter What . . .

Letter we received from Elder McEwan on July 26, 2014. Handwritten letters can take a while to come across the ocean, but they are worth the wait :) . . .

el 19 de junio de 2014

Dear Family,

Well, so I have been transferred out of the capital, out into the campo to a place called Azua. It is a really nice area! There is jungly stuff, as well as mountains. The climate is really dry and deserty, like Utah! The area that I am in is called LaColonia, and it is a branch, but it functions like a ward and has 120+ active members! Pretty cool, because they will be a new stake soon hopefully!

So the house is the nicest I have been in so far in the mission! Big study room, and workout room, dining room table to eat around, BIG kitchen, laundry room, nice bathroom, nice bedrooms, even a storage room . . . super nice, I love it! There is a Super Market close to the house, and the neighborhood is really quite! It is nice to be here . . . It just is so nice and beautiful. Also having the dining room table is great! We all have our assigned spots, and it is almost like a family! We always eat every meal together, we all always work out together . . . It is awesome!

I am also the only American in the house. My companion is named Elder Dabady, and he is a haitian that has been in the DR for 6 years. He was studying in one of the universities here. He is 24 years old, loves soccer, and speaks French, Creole, Spanish, and English, but we only ever speak Spanish. The other two in the house are Elder Reyes from Costa Rica, and he is training Elder Cisneros from Nicaragua. They are all really good missionaries, really cool guys, and they want me to teach them English and guitar, which I am more than willing to do! Dabady also wants me to help him with English because he wants to go to BYU after the mission. Overall, it is a really relaxed house with cool new guys!

So my first day we went to eat at a place called La Esquinita . . . Wow, that was awesome! We got our food and they took us out back to a place with these Cabana type things and we ate, it was a legitimate outdoor restaurant! They had two big screen t.v.'s and the world cup was on, so we took advantage of that and listened to an update while we ate! Super awesome place, we are all going to have to come here after the mission and eat! Then we went out and worked! I also found out that, like my previous area, it has been 2 years since an American has been here, so I am glad that I get to be a pioneer type guy! :).

So we have been working super hard lately! It has been so awesome to see what the work is like out here in the campo! There is always something to see, something to do! Lots of people are out here waiting to received the gospel, and it is great to see the people who really want it! I'll just give a quick rundown of our people that we are teaching.

Alexis: He is a 44-year old man who is really smart, a hard worker, and studier. He is always full of questions from his studies, whether it is from the Book of Mormon or the Bible! He has been having a lot of questions about marriage and things like that because he just had a divorce finish up, and he is looking to get married again. It is a little weird to give counsel about marriage to a grown man, but it is part of the mission life! He is hopefully going to get baptized on July 12, 2014.

Ingrid: She is a 19-year old girl, and she has 2 children. She is not married, so that is a little bit of a problem. She is right now learning about the Plan de Salvation and is progressing well. She is still recovering from giving birth a week ago, so she is a little bit hesitant to leave the house. However, we have a member named Georgina who is willing to help her get her 2 babies to church! It is great to have Georgina's help because Ingrid is really interested! She has the goal to get baptized on September 13, 2014.

Mery: She is also a 19-year old unmarried girl with 2 children. She is really excited about the church and want to learn. She just needs to commit! She hasn't fully accepted the commitments, so we need some help with that. We just need to keep following up if she is completing. She also has the goal of getting baptized on September 13, 2014!

Edailin and Warior: They are 2 sixteen year old kids, but are really smart! We are talking a lot about the restoration of the gospel with them and they understand everything! They are good kids, they read, and they basically have the Restauration pamphlet memorized! They have a good habit of going to church, so that is awesome! I look at these 2 like future missionaries, and I think that they will be great members! They have the goal of getting baptized on July 26, 2014!

Rubi Casey: She is the daughter of a less active member. She is 9, so we are going really show with her, working hard so that she understands! It's a good sneak peek for me at how I should teach my future children.

June 29, 2014

So I finally got your letters! One from Parker, one from Dylan, and the memory cards and a card from Mom! It was so great to hear from you all! Also, thank you for the stamps, they were much needed! I am also going to include a picture card. Hope you like them!

Anyway, I am going to end this letter here! To all of you, the best advice that I could give you is to invite ALL people to Christ. Sometimes we make exceptions of people and don't share the gospel. Everyone deserves the opportunidad (haha opportunity :)), and we never know if the Lord will be able to use us as the medium through which He brings another sheep to His fold. I know with all my heart that this is the work of the Lord. I can say that I know for certain that this is the one and only true church of Christ. I love this church, I love the mission, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ!

I hope this finds you all well!
I Love You!

Elder Garrett McEwan :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Work + Work + Work = Love . . .

July 21, 2014

Dear Family,

It is so great to hear from you guys!!  It sounds like everything is going great back home!!  I am so happy for all of the work, all of the fun, and all of the things that you are doing!!  Keep up the great work!!

So this week was really work!!  Very normal as far as all of the work goes, but we have been trying our very best to be able to bring more people unto Christ!!  This really is the greatest work in the whole world!!  I am loving it here!!

So now I am going to move on to the investigators!!  Don´t judge me on this email because the computer is being really slow and not working very well, so there will most likely be lots of errors!!  Just have patience with me!!

So first we have Feyo Mejia. He is very old, about 68 years old, and he is progressing really well!!  He is listening to his daughter in law read him from the church, and so he is learning a ton!!  He has now been to church 4 four times now, and the first and third lessons!!  He is a very humble man, and is someone that I have really come to love and admire in the time that I have been teaching him!!  He is a great man, and he is going to be very prepared to be baptized on September 13th!!

Next we have Daisy!  She is a 65 year old woman, and she is progressing along with Feyo.  They are really good friends, so they help each other a lot!  She has the same lessons as Feyo, and she has been to the church 3 times!!  She is also going to get baptized on the 13th of september!!

Next we have Mery.  She is really cool, and she is learning lots!!  SShe sings hymns to her sons to help them sleep, and going to church lots!!  She has changed a lot in our time teaching her, and she is going to be baptized on the 13th of september as well!!

After that, we have years, and she has been to church two weeks!"!  She did something that really surprised me!!  Her family went to the beach on sunday, but she stayed to be able to go to church!"!  We are going to try to put a fecha with her this weekª!!

In Las charcas, I am just going to talk about two people, Nana and Yoahni.  They are a mother and daughter, and they are from Haiti.  Yoahni has been going to church for a really long time and now has 17 times in church!!  Also, nana now has 2 times in church, and fecha for the 13th of september, along with her daughter!! 

So today, Cisneros and I visited the beach with Kinsiño.  He is a member, and he is really cool!!  I picked up some cool shells and stuff, and just had an overall great PDAY!!  Pictures to come soon!!!

I love you all!!
Happy 24 de Julio!!

Elder Garrett McEwan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Birthday Celebration & Inviting the World . . .

So grateful for wonderful people all over the world who take care of our children when they are far away from home ~ especially on their birthday! So thankful Elder McEwan now has a Domincan family to celebrate his birthday with :).

July 14, 2014

Dear Family,

Wow, sounds like you all are doing so great!!  I am glad to hear that you are all working, excercising, and overall making yourselves better!!  That is something that I have learned in the mission to this point, is that the progressing is the key.  If we don´t have progressino, we have regression to what we were before, and God wants all of us to change, to become better, and to arrive at our potential as his sons and daughters!!

Everyone at the PARTY!
So this week was full of good experiences!! Wednesday we had a district meeting.  The hermanas in the district cooked my favorite food with out even knowing it, and then we ate a chocolate banana cake that I made! It was really good!! Then we went out to work!! We worked super super hard!! Then we went to a family home evening that actually turned out to be a surprise party for me!! They really did surprise me, giving me a watch, habichuelas con dulce, and playing charades!! It really was a great day!!

This week we have been working like machines, inviting the whole world to be baptized!!  right now we have 11 people that are preparing to get baptized!!  We also had a ton of people in church!!  We had over 20 as a district, and lots of them have fechas!!  We are so pumped!!  It is amazing to see the change that people can effect in their own lives!!  I really am super priviledged to be able to help these people come unto Christ.  Their is no better work than mission work, the work of savation. No better place to be!!
Our class of investigators -- WOW!

So Alexis came to churhc this week!! We recieved the good news that his divorce came through...The bad news is that he needs to pay 200 euros to be able to make it valid here in the DR!!  That is more than 300 dollars!! We are going to visit him tomorrow to put a plan to help him be able to pay for this!! We also had a great FHE with him last week about the importance of respect in the home and family, it really impacted him a lot!!

Egging the Birthday Elder :)
So Edailyn and Guario just had their fechas moved, they went to the capital to pass their vaction time until the 10th of august so they are going to be baptized on the 13th of september.

Mery came to church this week with her two little boys!! She is so freaking awesome!! She has a himn book, and she sings hymns all the time to her kids!! She now has 4 times in church and is preparing to be baptized in Septermber!!

Today we decided to be lawyers and go to the capital to help Hermano Taga with his paper work. We woke up at 4, went and got an origina birth certificate, then went to the capital. We have been running non stop all day!! It was really hard, but we made really good progress!! WE have the papers to change everything, but we need to go to the supreme the east mission, and he has to be with us!! At least we know how to move on!ª! Contacted a ton of people and learned a lot about this type of stuff!!

I love you all!! Elder Gallo is great, I will be his last comp. It rained here twice, pretty hard, and other than that it has been really hot!! I hope you are all great!!

I love yoU!!

Elder Garrett McEwan

P.S. There is a latin tradition to through eggs at the birthday person in their party....but I had my revenge when I gave them all a big group hug!!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Special Transfer . . . New Experiences . . .

Good 'ol Juan Pablo
July 7, 2014

Dear family,

So this week has been really crazy!!  But, before I move on, I really just want to tell all of you Happy Fourth of July.  We are so fortunate to call the United States of America our home!!

Ok, so we went to Las Charcas on Tuesday, and at about 4 o clock in the afternoon, we get a call from the Assistants....  Special Transfer for us?=! Needless to say we were both very surprised and very sad, Elder Dabady and I because we did not have much time together.  We went immediately home, packed him up, and waited for the other missionaries to get there. They got there at like 9, and then they stayed the night, left Wednesday morning.

Wednesday I was called as the District Leader.  I had about 12 days in the area, and we have two areas.  It is definately something that will be good for me, and is something that is going to help me a ton!!!  We had our first district meeting.

Me and Elder Gallo
Anyway, my new companion is named ·Elder Gallo.  He is from Colombia, and has 21 months in the mission.  He was a Zone Leader in Bani before he came here!!  He is really nice, and has a lot of excitement to be here. He is a hard worker, and is friendly with all of the investigators that we have, and is really just a good missionary.  

So now on to the investigators...

Right now, Alexis is having some very hard problems with his girlfriend that he lives with.  They fight physically, they yell, the don´t talk to each other, everything that you can imagine!!  He is very torn up about it, and we don´t know what to do!!  We are having a family home evening with him, and we are going to show him a movie that will hopefully hit him pretty hard, and help him to want to make the change!"!

Next we have Edailin and Guario, the two young people!!  Guario didn´t come to church this week, but Edailyn did!!  He even shared his testimony!! He is going to be baptized on the 26th of July, and he shared his testimony about how he has been so fortunate to get to know this church, and that he is so happy that he is going to get baptized!!  He wants to go on a mission and be "un buen misionero"  like the missionaries who are teaching him!!  It was really amazing!!  We taught him a bunch of commandments this week, like the law of chastity and tithing and word of wisdom, he has zero problems with that, and we are working hard with him to read the book of Mormon!!

Next we have Ingrid.  She was not feeling well this week, so we just stopped by, made sure that she was doing ok, and then continued on our way!!

We have a man named Fello, and he is amazing.  His daughter in law, Maria Isabel, is a recent convert, and he said that he had a dream about him with two people that weren´t dominican in white clothes, and he was in white as well!!  We have been teaching him really slowly, because he is a little old, like 65, and has a hard time understanding, but we are having lots of patience with him and he has accepted a baptismal fecha for the 13 of september!!!  His son, Rudy, also has a fecha for that day, so hopefully we can have two strong, worthy priesthood holders!!  

We also have a woman named Daisy.  She has come to church twice, and last night also accepted a fecha for the 13 of september.  We want to have a "White Out"  with a huge group of people who are making a sacred covenant with the Lord, because when we do things as a group, like one big family, we stay strong, just like a closed fist.  We can easily break a single finger, but if we are united, like a closed fist, nothing can enter and harm us!!

We have a ton more people that we are teaching, but these are the ones who have accepted baptismal fecha.

La Plaza de Juan Pablo
Now on to my new experience.  I am the President of the group in Las Charcas, like the Branch President.  That was a pretty big surprise to hear that!  I basically do everything over there!!  Haha I set the program, and even collect tithing and offerings!!  What a big thing!!  But this last sunday as you know was fast and testimony meeting.  The other elders here told me that no one ever shared their testimony, and the missionaries ended up having to get up and talk for 15 minutes each to keep the reverence and such.  I decided that I was just going to call people up individually if no one wanted to share their testimony.  I spoke for about 2 minutes about testimonies, and then called on Milania.  She came up and shared a beautiful testimony about her family and the plan of salvation!!!  I was ready to get up and call someone else when she sat down, but immediately after her, her husband got up!!  All of the people shared their testimonies, and we had a full on sacrament meeting!! Then we had a great sunday school about the holy ghost, learned a ton, had some fun game activity things, and went back to the other area!!  I love it here!!

Today we had a district activity, but only one companionship of the sisters came.  We ate ice creams, tostadas, and took pictures!!  Those will be coming your way soon!!

Thank you all for the birthday wishes, it made me very happy!!  Sometimes I feel like I am 18 going on 30, but 19, wow, that is a big number!!  I love you!!


Elder Garrett McEwan  :)

Just hangin' out on P-day :)