Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Initiative . . . "He is the Gift" . . .

November 29, 2014

Dear Family,

It has been a really busy week this week, with some new fun things!!  This week we were able to call 2 new missionaries to be in the office!  We know have Élder Peña and Élder Girón here in the office, with Peña as my new comp.  He is from Beliz, and he is also from my group in the CCM.  We were there together and always wanted to be comps, and now we are.  It should be fun.  We both just like to work, so I think that we are going to get along really well! 

This week we have been working hard with the Christmas initiative!  We are doing our best to complete with the goal of making at least 10 contacts with the cards!  We went out, and as the assistants we have the huge blessing of having cell phones with the internet on them.  We took advantage and showed the video of "He is the Gift" to anyone who would be willing to watch it!!  It was a great experience to all of us, as we were able to contact some complete families!!  That was the biggest advantage that we had, because the message of Christmas is most appealing to a family, so it was really nice!

We have also officially started with the next transfers, what with trying to get everything ready and help the president with everything that he needs!! It is a lot of work, but it is really worth it to see how many people that we can help!!  I love this opportunity that I have to serve in this position!

We also were able to help a man in our ward move!  We had to make a bunch of trips in the truck, but it was fun!!  He gave us lots of advice for after the mission, as well as for marriage!  It was good to see his point of view of it, because he has been home for about 2 years now and has been married to his wife for like a year now.  It was fun, he is a good guy, and he is also the son of one of the counselors in the mission!!  It is a little sad that he is not going to be in our ward now, but he will do fine!!

Lately we have been working a lot with all of the people on the Book of Mormon.  We want all of them to know about it and o have very strong testimonies!!  It is a little funny because sometimes they do not understand the difference between reading and studying!!  A lot of the people read, and they just open the Book to where ever they feel like and just read one verse and close it!!  Others just read the same part over and over and over again to try to memorize it!!  Others try to look for the questions that we could possible ask in the lesson to try to have all of the answers!!  It is a testimony to me that we need to really be fully committed to the daily study of the scriptures, and actually studying them!!  The Book of Mormon is a story, and like all stories it needs to be read in order to be able to be understood completely!!  It also needs to be read often to be able to have it fresh on our minds!!  It needs to be marked and written in to help us to have the knowledge that we acquire on hand at all times!!  I never really understood the ability that the Book of Mormon has to convert people!!  It really is the difference maker, and if we want to convert ourselves even more, we need to read the Book of Mormon!!

So all of the investigators are doing well, just trying to help all of them to progress!!

The fun different thing that we were able to do this week was that we had Thanksgiving with the President, His Wife, and the Carters.  They are a couple that are friends with the Nuckols, and came to visit them for Thanksgiving!  So on Thursday, we worked until noon, and then we went to the president's house.  We sat down and began to eat!!!  It was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, salad, and rolls!!  We also had pie!!  It was just an overall amazing day!  Then that night I went out on an intercambio with Elder Jensen because his comp, Elder Jardon, was feeling a little bit sick!!  It was a lot of fun to just get out there and work!! We taught some lessons, and it was really good!  One lesson was a little bit difficult though...  the woman told us that she didn't believe in the Book of Mormon at all.  She was very rude and disrespectful, and the thing that made me the most sad was when I shared my testimony and her and her daughter just laughed in our faces about it.  I was not very happy about that, so I pulled out the Book of Mormon to 2 Nephi 29 and read to them what it says about the bible.  Then I had them look up in their own bible John 20:30, and had them read it!!  It was super funny because they said that the bible has everything, so then to read a verse in the bible saying that it doesn't have everything was super funny!!!  Hopefully it was enough of a wake up call to help them to keep giving the Book of Mormon a chance!!

Well, that was the week!!  Everything is well here!!  I love you all so much!!


Elder Garrett McEwan :)

P.S. Also, if you send me a package for christmas, can you send me an Anatomy and Physiology book in both english and spanish?  That would be a great help, and the President has given me permission for that to help me with my spanish.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Strong Testimony of the Book of Mormon is Key . . .

November 22, 2014

Dear Family,

I just want to start off by telling Parker Happy Birthday on the 20th of this month!!  I can not believe that you are 17 now...?!  What?!  17 years old...  it seems like just yesterday that I was 17!  Time really does fly!!  I hope you had a great birthday little brother!!

It is always so great to here about your experiences through out the week!  Sounds like you all have a pretty good routine going on!!  It is always nice to hear that all is well back home, and that you are all enjoying life.  Keep up the good work!!

So I have been great, super busy, but really great!!  Elder Paulino is doing well as well, just trying to finish up all of the last preparations before he goes home.  We are needing to train his replacement starting next week, which will be crazy because I have about a month here in the office, but it should be fun!!  We just recently finished up a couple of Manuals to hopefully help the Zone Leaders to complete all of their duties.  We also made a manual for the Assistants so that they would know exactly what their duties and responsibilities are as APs, and that hopefully the week of the transfers can just be a stress free time where everything goes as planed!!  Obviously there will always be unknown circumstances, but at least we can always try to be over prepared and do everything in our power to make sure things go off with out a hitch!! The people are all doing well, just having a hard time with the baptismal dates...  All of the people are hard core life long Catholics, so we don't want to force anything on them!!  It is a challenge, but hopefully the people will come out of it even stronger than they were before!! 

We are going to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, on Wednesday we will be having a Thanksgiving Feast with the district, then on Thursday the president and his wife have invited us to their house to eat!!  I am very excited...  It has been a long time since I have eaten traditional American holiday food! 

So this week has been full of work!!  We are about to enter in to one of the busiest times of the year for the mission...  We have a Trainer/Trainee meeting on the 3rd of December, another one on the 4th, the Zone Leader Council on the 5th, Christmas Conferences the 8th and 9th, an activity of 6 zones (Half the Mission) on the 12th at the President's house, and then the 13th through the 16th will be the transfers, all with trying to train a new assistant and a new office elder as well!!  We are going to be so busy, so this week I spent the whole time trying to get everything finished that I could, so that I could have all of it out of the way.  I do not want to have to be doing things in the spur of the moment, especially because I am still here learning new things about being in the office as well!!  I have just been working on all of the Agendas and Logistics for those meetings....  Just trying to stay ahead of the game!!

Also this week we had a huge new batch of sick missionaries... all with the same thing!!  There is a little virus that is going around that is attacking the lungs of the missionaries.  It has affects similar to those of asthma:  It makes your chest feel tight, you feel short of breath, and you feel like your throat is swelling and closing off!  We are trying to get all of the missionaries informed of how to treat and prevent this sickness!

So as far as the teaching goes, we are spending a lot of time on the Book of Mormon with the people.  We really want them to have good strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon because if they know that the Book of Mormon is true, they will never waver in knowing that this is the one and only true church!!  We have been working really hard lately with Paulino's grandma and cousin, and they are finally starting to get it!!  It has become a pleasure for them to read the Book of Mormon, and they are loving it!  They have even been reading and marking.  We asked them some questions about what they told us that they had read, and they had basically memorized what they had read, all of the ideas and key concepts and such!!  It was a great experience to see that!!

We also are teaching the Rosado Family.  They are some what progressing, with their 11 year old daughter progressing more than anyone else!!  She memorizes, literally memorizes word for word everything that we leave for her to read!!  She loves everything about the church, and now we just need to keep her mom and dad up to speed with things and help them to develop their own personal testimony of these things!!  We are currently speaking about the Restoration, and they really liked the part of the prophets and how important prophets are.  They said it was really comforting to know that we have a prophet on the earth today who talks to God and knows His will!  They are a great little family, hopefully they will start to come to church more often!!

Today, P-Day, I went to San Jose de Ocoa for the first time!!  Elder Paulino had served there when he first started the mission, and wanted to go visit!! It was also very convenient for me because I needed to pick up some things that I had a man out their make!!  It was a good trip, a little bit long, but a lot of fun!!

Tonight in the night we are also going to have two sessions of stake conference, an adult session and then a priesthood session.  It will be m first stake conference since like march, so that will be good.  This stake seems to working pretty well, even though the attendance of our ward is a little bit low.  We are working hard, and we are going to start planning a little bit better so that we don't just have to be the Assistants, but we can be missionaries and teach as well!!

Miscellaneous items for the week....  Something funny that happened or any cool experiences....  Not really anything?  Hmmm...  I guess one thing that was kind of funny was that one night, I was so tired that I almost got in the back seat of the car, when I was the one who was supposed to be driving!!  It was like midnight, and I had been up since 5, running on about 3 hours of sleep and I was just dead.  It was basically like just lining up under the wrong player when playing QB, instead of being under the center, I was under the guard.  So close, yet so far!!  I even went so far as to open the back door and put my foot up in!!  The only reason that I even knew that I had messed up was when I didn't have to adjust my body around the steering wheel... super embarrassing!!

The final cool thing of the week is that we received a bunch of new little cards to make contacts with, but these ones are different!!  They were designed in a world wide missionary effort by the First Presidency of the Church, and are for ALL members!  It is called "El es la Dadiva"... not really sure what they are calling it in English.  All I know is that we are trying to invite everyone to know, accept, and share the love of Christ, with the focus being on the immense love of God in sharing His Only Begotten with us!!  The project centers on the scripture of John 3:16.  As missionaries, we have been given the challenge to make 10 contacts a day using these cards for 28 days.  By the end of the time period, that will be 280 contacts for the month for every companionship...  resulting in 34,000 contacts for the mission!!  Right now we are doing about 7,000 contacts in a week, so this would be a huge change!!  We can do it, it just takes a little bit of extra effort!!

I just want to finish by sharing a small part of my testimony, that I know that this church is the church of Christ.  I know with out a doubt that He loves me, and that He does everything that is possible to help me change my life!  I know that He wants me to be happy, and that all of us can be happy.  I know that if we follow His commandments, He will show us the way.

I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!!

Elder Garrett McEwan

P.S.:  Please send pictures of just like basic things i.e. the house, the yard, the cars, you guys, etc.!!  ¡Gracias!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Lord's House is a House of Order . . .

November 15, 2014

Dear Family,

Wow, things seem like they are going super well for all of you back home!!  Sounds like life is just treating you all great, and that you are all having a great time with all of the school, dating, work, and activities that you are all doing!!  I can not believe how fast the time is flying by!!  It just seems like we were at this point LAST year, and another year has already come and is on the way out!!  Pretty crazy, but it is the reality!! 

Any way, sorry that this email is coming in the night time...  The thing is that there is just always so much to do!!  I still have not had an actual PDAY here in my time in the office!!  The only PDAY thing that we do is email, but we work like a normal day!!  It is definitely interesting, and something that we are going to work on because I have a very firm testimony that PDAY is a needed part of the week!!  So we are going to be better about that!

So this week we had the special visit of the President's daughter in law and grandson.  She is from Germany, and speaks English and German, but no Spanish.  We didn't really see them a whole lot, but it was cool to at least meet them.  I had no idea that the mission president's family could visit him while he is serving, so that was an eye opener.

This week we have also been working super hard on a couple of things to help make the mission better.  The first thing is the part that Paulino is in charge of, which is the Zone Leader Binder.  It is a binder full of the things that a zone leader needs to do to fulfill his calling.  It talks all about the meetings that he needs to attend, the meetings that he needs to have in his zone, activity ideas, etc.  It should hopefully help us out a lot to be able to strengthen our zone leaders and strengthen our mission!!  The next part is the part that I am in charge of, which is the Assistant's Binder.  It is full of everything that we need to do to be good assistants to the president.  It talks a lot about the transfers, and I am outlining and organizing all of that stuff about the transfers so that everything can just go perfectly and that we won't have any problems in the transfers.  We are almost finished, so that will be nice to have that out of the way!!

Also, we had an interesting experience this week...  The assistants from a mission in Argentina wrote a letter to the president, directed to us, asking us what we are doing to have such great success in our mission.  They said that they heard of the success of our mission, and want that same type of success in their mission.  It was really amazing to know that the missionaries here in the Santo Domingo West Mission are making such a big impact.  It made me super proud to be a part of this mission. 

So the teaching has been going about the same as usual...  We are trying to teach who we have, and help them to progress.  Right now we have a new person named Amelia who is really cool.  She is 19 years old and is just finishing up high school.  She works a ton, so we have to meet with her at like 8:30 at night, but she accepted a baptismal date.  She told us that she prayed about what we have been teaching her, and that she has never felt the way that she felt in that moment.  It was amazing to listen to her say that, because in the lessons up to that point she had seemed pretty disinterested in the message.  But, after she received this little answer, everything gave a 180 degree turn!!  I am hoping that she goes to church tomorrow so that she will be able to reach her goal of baptism and have a true conversion.

I also was finally able to get my hair cut today...  And I finally found a place that does it nicely!!  I was so happy!!  It costs more money, the guy took about 45 minutes to do it, but it is so worth it!!  He legitimately cut my hair, with scissors and everything!!  It was very refreshing, and I am very happy with how I look!!  About time that I find someone who can cut "Pelo Bueno"  ;)

Well, so that was basically my week!!  Hopefully in the upcoming week we can have a little bit more to share that will be a little bit more interesting!!  The office life is a different kind of life, but I am going to try to change that because I miss being out there working and teaching all day!!

I love you all so much!!  Have a great week!!

Elder Garrett McEwan  :)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Mormons Need Another Taxi . . .

November 8, 2014

Dear Family,

It is so nice to hear from all of you!!  I am so glad that you are all having such a great time in life, that things are going well with school and work and all of that!!  It seems like things are going well back home!!

Elder McEwan and Hermana Kjersten Collins
(from Salem) ~ What a small world we live in!
Speaking of home, I just had an experience with how small the world really is!!  I went to the CCM today to buy some things for missionaries at the temple store.  I was just talking with Paulino, and I just hear someone say hi to us.  I turn around, and it was Kjiersten Collins!  What the!  I had heard that she had been called here, to the East mission, but I hadn't heard anything about it other than that!!  Let's just say that it was a huge surprise to see her!!  We took some pictures and then headed out!!  Great surprise!

So this week was super busy and stressful, just because of the transfers.  Up until today, I had slept a grand total of 8 or 9 hours this week.  On Monday, we finished up all of the final planning and stuff like that, and then got ready for all of the stuff on Tuesday.  All of the missionaries who are training, as well as those who were going home, came to sleep in the office, just so that we could all be ready to go on Tuesday.  Anyway, Tuesday was a super busy day!!  I was in charge of all of the transportation for the people coming, and then going back to their areas!!  It was a big responsability, but it was good.  I think I called the taxi company probably thirty times, and the people were probably tired of hearing that the Mormons needed another taxi, but all went well!!  I also was able to have a part in the capacitation of the new missionaries and trainers, as the translator for Sister Nuckols, my companions, and then for myself!!  It was super funny, because I would say something in spanish, then I would have to translate it into english for myself!!  It was a good experience though, and it seems like we have a really good group of kids!!  After all of that was over and all of the people had gone back to their areas, we cleaned the church and set off for the CCM, to be with the people who were going home!!  We ate pizza, then while they had a testimony meeting, Elder Van Katwyk (from the office) and I played ping pong.  We stayed up pretty late, and then finally went to bed!! 

Wednesday was an early day. We started to take people to the airport, and that was definately an interesting experience.  All of the people were just in shock, and didn't really know what was going on!!  They were all pretty happy though, so it was good to see that!!
A surprise note from the Hermanas thanking us for taking them
to the doctors

Thursday was just a normal day, but we were having to plan tons of things, because we had the monthly leadership conference on Friday.  We got all of that planned, and then Friday we did the actual conference!!  It was cool and a lot of fun to see all of my friends from my group who are leaders in the mission!!  It all went well, and then we went home.  Over all it was a stressful week,  but I learned lots and it was lots of fun!!  :)

So my comps name is Elder Paulino, he is a dominican who is going home in December.  There are lots of things to do in the mission, lots of things to try and fix so that they can work better, but overall everything is going great!! 

Love you all!!
Elder Garrett McEwan  :)

p.s. Thank you for the recipes mom. They are much appreciated!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The "Moving Crew"

What a great time we had doing service for a family as they needed help moving

The "Moving Crew"

Carried a couch up the stairs. This is my war wound

Pizza for the "Movers"

Blessings Come in Different Ways to Each of Us . . .

The Bottomfields -- They are a senior couple that finished their mission in New York and came to visit the temple
in the Dominican Republic. The other Elders contacted them, brought them to the office, and they took us all
out to eat in Wendy's, for free!!! So amazing!! They are a blessing to us!

Elder McEwan, Elder Paulino, and Brother Bottomfield
Wendy's all decorated for Halloween

Surprise selfie with Sister Bottomfield :)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Learning More Each Day . . .

November 1, 2014

Dear Family,

I am not going to lie, it is really late here, and I am not super full of animo to be typing a huge message, so this one is just going to be really quick!!! Glad you are all making caramel apples. Haha a tradition that I helped start, and now it continues on as a living memory of my legacy  ;)

We live in the office... literally.  The office is upstairs and I live downstairs!!  We are never in the house, but it is cool!!  :) Right now there are seven of us in the house, but one is going home on tuesday.  There are the two APs, the two office elders, and two others!
Hermana Melgar, who goes home on Tuesday

So this week we have been working hard with the transfer stuff a lot this week!!  We finally finished, and all of the people now know where they are going and who their new comps will be!!  I used to always think that that was just something that was easy to do, but it is definitely not!!  It is tough, but a lot of fun, and has taught me a lot.  I feel like the Lord gave me this calling to be able to learn how to manage my time in difficult situations, to help me with my future profession!!  :)
Elder McEwan, Elder Paulino, Brandy, Brandol, Elder Polanco

Today we had two baptisms, of two investigators named Brandol and Brandy.  They are the cousins of my companion, and it was a great experience!!  They both shared their testimonies, and Brandy, the younger brother, even testified of the words of his brother, like we always do as missionaries, so that was great to see!!

We also were able to have a good time today at a medical service project with the ward!!  We had 5 different doctors here and we were able to help give evaluations and things like that, as well as give out medicine and prescriptions.  It was a really good time!!

I FINALLY got a new nametag! Because the last part is worn off,
I was just a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ
for about 6 months.
Things here are going great!  I am learning lots, and having lots of fun!!  There is a lot of pressure, but I always say that you find out what kind of person you are when you are under pressure.... And after all, we all know that I "was never a practice player".  The pressure brings out the best of the best, and I am hoping that I can continue to grow and change and become better!!

I love you all!!

Elder Garrett McEwan

p.s. I am also getting my own membership to a grocery store here called price smart, which is almost like cost co!!  It even has the kirkland brand!!  How great is that?!  :)