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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

He's On His Way . . .

Last time at the mission "photo board"


President Nuckols and Elder McEwan at the Santo Domingo Airport
He's on his way!!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Last P-Day . . .

June 29, 2015,

Dear Family,


Sounds like everything is going great!  Congratulations on all that you have done this week!  I am not going to write much this week, just got lots of stuff going on, but I will tell you about it all on Wednesday!!


Love,


Elder Garrett McEwan

Love from Momma . . .

A mother's and son's last communication before he returns home from his mission. I hope he will always remember the wonderful and difficult times he experienced the last two years. It is my prayer that he will also remember to look for the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father:

June 29, 2015,

Dear Elder McEwan,

I just wanted to send you one "last" email on your mission to let you know how much I love you. You are a great example of hard work and perseverance. I'm so proud of the decision that you made to serve a mission and take the gospel to the people of the Dominican Republic. I know that they will always hold a special place in your heart. I am forever grateful for the blessings I have received from our loving Heavenly Father as you have served. I have often been gently reminded that blessings definitely come in different shapes and sizes and not always how we think they should come. Life is not "perfect" when we are doing what the Lord wants, but when we are doing what the Lord wants, we are always blessed. The outcome of those "blessings" depends on us and how we act on them. I'm so glad that I had a glimpse of that many years ago and have tried to learn from challenges rather than feel sorry for myself. Sometimes it's been that the sun comes out on a cloudy day or that the sun goes behind a cloud when I'm working outside on a hot, scorching day. I find the tender mercies in all aspects of my life and I know that Heavenly Father is aware of me.

Enjoy your last few days in the Dominican Republic until we will be together again as a U.S. family :). I am so thankful you have had this opportunity to preach the gospel and share what makes you happy for the last two years. I know those you have come in contact with will be forever grateful and will always remember you. I can't wait to see you and hug you.

I Love YOU forever AND always!
Mom

Dearest Mother,

Thank you so much for your last email, it means a lot to me.  I love you too, and I can not wait to see you again!  

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, June 22, 2015

Keep Pressing Forward . . .

June 22, 2015

Dear Family,

It sounds like everything is going well for you guys!

Not much happened this week.  We were able to have a ward activity to watch the movie "Meet the Mormons".  It was really good!  I had already seen it at the President´s house, but it was good to see it again.  We invited tons of people to this activity, and lots came, including investigators and less active members.  All went according to plan as far as that goes.  We are continuing to contact lots, trying to find new people.  It is a struggle because lots of the people are very closed off to the message of the gospel, but we just keep pressing forward.

My comp is doing great.  We found out that he will be getting a Mini Missionary to finish out the transfer after I leave, so he is nervous for that, but I know that he will do great.

I am going to donate all of my mission clothes to youth in the ward who leave on missions soon and don´t have the funds to buy clothes.

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

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan


P.S. Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thanks for being such a great example to me J. I Love YOU!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Some of My Lasts . . .

June 15, 2015

Dear Family,

Sounds like you guys all had a really good week!  Lots of work, but also sounds like you had a lot of fun too, which is always a good balance to have!

This week for us was just packed with meetings!  On Wednesday, we had our monthly meeting with the Stake and Mission Presidents to talk about how things are going for us in the zone.  It is always super important, as we try to identify the difficulties that we have and find solutions for them.  It was interesting that you guys said that you learned about the importance of Ward Council, because that is something that we are focusing on right now.  It is a struggle sometimes, as the church is still trying to grow in the DR, but we are making progress!  On Thursday we had the Leadership Council, my last one, with all of the Zone Leaders.  It was good, and we talked about the importancia of the Book of Mormon, as well as our weekly planning sessions and the process of true conversion.  It was good, but a little bit sad because it is the last time that I will see the majority of the people who were there, so everyone was taking pictures and saying goodbye. It feels like when I left home.  You feel sad to leave, but you also feel ready, like you have learned what you need to learn and have changed what you need to change.  There was a lot of learning and change that had to happen for me before I came out on the mission, and now there has been a lot to be able to go home!

We also had the opportunity to teach a lesson to a less active family with President Nuckols.  We taught the Valdez Family.  The husband is the first missionary from our stake to have left the country on a mission, and now is inactive!  It was sad, one of the pioneers for mission work in the stake just went inactive.  He wasn’t there, but his wife was, and we had a very spiritual lesson as we talked about covenants and how they can be a protection for us. 

Today I went and visited La Mella, a woman that we used to go eat lunch with every PDay in my first area.  Barnett and LeFevre also went, and we just had a little reunion there.  It was amazing.  She is a lady who truly loves the missionaries like sons, and it was great to see her.  We are going to go back on these last two pdays that I have left!

Mom, thank you for getting all of my college stuff in order!  I am hoping to get into the spanish class, because that would be super easy to test out of!  Even people today were making comments that I speak like a Mexican, so that would be good.  Thank you for getting the EMT course in order.  I am nervous to start, but the best way to start a new life is to just jump in head first!

I hope all is well with you guys!

Love,


Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Plan Alfa" . . . "All is Well" . . .

June 8, 2015

Dear Family,

It was so good to hear about your week, and that you were able to go to the temple celebration and to the dedication!  I am very excited to go when I get home!  So much revelation can be received in the temple, and there is no doubt in my mind that inside the temple is one of the places where we are closest to God.

Everything here in the DR is going great, just a bunch of the same stuff as usual!  We officially finished contacting the area....  We finished one entire street on Friday, and when we walked around the corner to start the next one...  I recognized that we had already contacted there....  SO let´s just say we are going to try a new strategy...  Well, not really a new strategy, more like an old strategy that we have perfected.   It is called  "Plan Alfa:  Start contacting the whole area again, knocking on one door at a time until we find someone who is interested in the Gospel".  We decided to call it Plan Alfa because the other name is really long, and it is the first and only plan that we could think of, so it is the Alfa.  The people are still just kind of there, struggling a little bit.  Yeni´s daughter got measles on Friday, so they have kind of been out of comision, so that was a little bit of a downer, but things are going well!!

Today we were able to have a Zone Activity, and it was a lot of fun.  We took two kids from our ward who are preparing to go on missions so that they could see how fun the mission can be.  We went to our stake center, which is the nicest building in the country...  It is almost like being back home.  It has an indoor basketball court!! We went there and played basketball and soccer, and then watched the movie "Big Heroes 6".  I really enjoyed it, even though I totally predicted the twist of the teacher stealing the technology.  I also talked to a guy a couple of days ago to get him to bring a bunch of chimis.  They are like hamburgers, but they have a different sauce, kind of like a spicy fry sauce, and shredded cooked cabbage.  They are super good, I am going to have to show you how to make them.  Any way, then we went home, I gave some stuff to one of the kids that went with us, some stuff that he needs for his mission, and then just relaxed a bit.

The best thing that I learned this week came as an answer to a prayer and revelation through my Patriarchal Blessing and the words of Modern Day Prophets.  I came across an article in the July Liahona (Yes, I have it)  about the pioneers.  It is called "All is Well".   It talked about the pioneers, and how the words that came out of their mouths were those very words.  I stopped to think a little bit about that...  How could they possibly think that all was well as they stumbled across the plains, sick, starving, and dying, to an unknown place?  Their faith and desire to follow God´s plan was amazing, and they realized that God had a plan for them.  It was really reassuring for me to read that.  I know that God has a plan specifically for each and every one of us.  OUR personal plan might get alterred by the decisions and agency of other people, but the Lord´s plan was never alterred.  Sometimes we just don´t understand it all of the way. 

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

Love,


Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, June 1, 2015

Elder's "Mormon Census" . . .

This young man NEVER ceases to amaze me with his positive attitude. I know he has hard times and there are things that are difficult for him, but he always tries to put his best foot forward. I'm so proud of how he has served his mission to this point and know that he is going to FINISH STRONG!

June 1, 2015

Dear Family,

This week was really good.  We have been able to work super hard lately, and have been trying to find a bunch of families to teach.  It has been slow going, and it has been tough, but every minute is worth it!  I have just been trying to keep my perspective eternal and think about all of the good that we do here!

So this week we were able to invite Yeni to be baptized, and she said yes!!  She is still building her testimony up, and is reading lots in the Book of Mormon, but she is doing really well.  She loved when we taught this week about the Plan of Salvation, and it was a really good lesson.  We talked about the Atonement, and it was refreshing and very spiritual for all of us.  I loved it, and was greatly blessed by that lesson.  We are hoping that she continues to have such a great desire! We were also able to find a new family this week in our contacting adventures!  We have just been knocking on every door, street by street, and talking to literally everyone that we see!  Everyone has these stickers on their doors that the government put on, saying that the house was part of the census.  It always has a little place that says,  ¨Hi!!  We passed by to visit you!!__________¨ With that blank like for the names of the workers....  I am not going to lie, when I started seeing that, I started writing my name on that line!!  They have now been part of the government census, as well as Elder Palomar and I´s ´´Mormon Census´´!  There are easily over 1000 doors that have our signatures on them  ;)
Anyway, back to the family that we found.  The mom´s name is Carolina, and I forget the daughter´s name because it is a mix of her mother´s and father´s names, and it just does not even sound like a name!!  Anyway, she is 17 and Carolina is her stepmother.  The first lesson that we had with them, Carolina told us that she believes in God and that He loves her, but it was interesting because the daughter told us that she wasn´t sure if God exists.  I felt like Ammon teaching King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon!!  It was obviously a little bit different, because she wasn´t an indian who believes in ´´The Great Spirit´´, but she did keep saying that she believed that there was some sort of supreme being that is over us.  Basically just like chapter 18 of Alma in the Book of Mormon!  We contnued on in the lesson, and at the end of the lesson we invited them to pray, and I asked them ´´Who's the only person in existence who won´t and can´t lie to us?´´  With out hesitation, the daughter responded,  "God."  That was a very rewarding moment.  The next lesson we talked about prophets, and they understood perfectly!

I have started something new with Elder Palomar as well.  At 5 p.m., when the day is exactly half way over, I stop and ask him what his favorite part of the day has been to that point.  We don´t continue until we have both said what our favorite part was.  Then we continue the day, and in planning at night I ask him again what his favorite part of the day was!  It has been truly rewarding to be able to analize our days in that form!  Loving it!

I was thinking this week a lot about faith, and just trying to figure lots of things out.  I was thinking about the physical darkness, and how it is scary sometimes.  But, we need to have faith that we will be safe.  Sometimes we have to show our faith by taking a few steps out before we can see the path where we need to go.  It is never going to be easy, it is never going to go the way that we think it will go, but if it is hard, it WILL be worth it.  We don´t know when and we don´t know how, but we just know that it will be!! 

I love you all!,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Companion, New Investigators, & Elder McQueen . . .

May 18, 2015

Dear Family,

It was good to talk to all of you this last week.  It is crazy to think that that is my last phone call home on the mission.  I guess that it is just a sign that I am pretty close.  It was good to see in your email that all of you are doing well and that you are all having a good time.  Sean and Parker, congrats on the ceremony thing for your class, I hope you had fun.  Dylan, good job on track this week, I am glad that you are liking it!  Mom, I hope you can get that job that you want, just let me know how that all goes!  And Dad, I am glad that you had fun at your family home evening last week.  Sounds like that ward will be fun for you.

So this week, as you all know, I received my new companion.  His name is Elder Palomar, and he is from Payson, Utah.  I wasn't friends with him before the mission, but I knew who he was.  He is really cool, and works hard.  He just got baptized a year before he went on the mission, and he is an only member in his family.  The rest of his family are members of the catholic church.

Anyway, things this week have been going really well.  We have just been focusing on teaching people who are genuinely interested in learning more, and we don't even put lessons with people who don't show true interest.  We have been working hard to change this area, which has struggled for years, and it has been tough, but we saw some good changes this last week.

First off we have Yeni, who is really cool, and her daughter Jeidy.  They have been being taught for 3 weeks now, and they came to church for the first time yesterday.  They loved it.  Yeni said that she felt something different, and that it was different from any of the other churches that she had ever been to, and Jeidy, who is 8, loved the primary.  Yeni also has a 2 month old that she brought, and it was amazing because the baby slept the whole time, letting Yeni just focus on what was being said!  She also has a two year old named Dillan, but he didn't go.  It is funny because in this area no one can say my name, so I just told everyone to call me McQueen, like lightning McQueen, because it was easier, so they do.  It was funny because Dillan said to Yeni that they needed to leave the door open because  "El hombre McQueen viene hoy".  They are a great family.

We also were able to receive a reference of a girl named Cami.  She went to church 2 weeks ago and we got her address and everything to be able to go and teach her....  and in the street that she lived in, there were 3 houses that had the same house number...  So we contacted all three of them.  None of them were her house, so we contacted the whole street...  and still didn't find her!  So we just started at one end and walked the whole street, hoping that she would just see us...  didn't happen.  Then we went with some members yesterday who had been to her house before and were able to get it all figured out!

We also found a cool guy named Alfred and his wife Yuli.  They are really cool, and were genuinely interest in how the gospel can help their family and their relationship.  They have been together since she was 15 and he was 17,  and have been together for 15 years.  They have 5 kids, but things just aren't going super well in their family life.  Hopefully they will be able to come to church.  We gave Alfredo a shirt and 2 ties so that he can feel comfortable going to church.

Today we had an activity at President Nuckols house.  It was a lot of fun.  We played dodgeball, soccer, and basketball.  My team took first in dodgeball, second in soccer, and first in basketball.  Then we had a water balloon fight, then had a barbecue.  It was fun. 

Something that I just want to share really quick is the importance of showing our faith by our actions.  Like it says in James 2:17-18, faith with out works is dead, and that we need to show our faith by our actions.  It is more than just NOT doing bad things....  WE NEED TO DO GOOD THINGS!!!  I encourage you to continue reading and praying everyday, with purpose, and to put your faith into action and LIVE the gospel.

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Work is Progressing . . .

May 5, 2015

Dear Family,

Well, this week was full of contacting, but this time we were able to have a little bit more success.  We found a couple of new people who seem like they are really interested in learning more about the gospel.

The first is Cami.  She is a reference from the other missionaries in the house.  They contacted her, and she lives in our area, so they told us about her.  She is 16, but came to church this week, so that was good.  We still haven't had a lesson with her because we can't find her house!  We took her address down, and we have found the street, as well as the number.  We contacted all of the houses and couldn't find her, so we contacted the whole street...  Still can't find her.  Called her phone number and it didn't work, so that wasn't good.  We are hoping for a miracle right now!

Next we have Alberto.  He is a really humble guy that is really anxious to learn more about the gospel.  He talked with us and told us his life story.  He is a young guy, like early 30s probably, but he was really awesome.  We are hoping to meet his wife this week!  He also asked us a super funny question.  He asked if we were from the CIA, and we said no.  Then he told us that he had heard that because people told him that we were looking for Osama Bin Laden!?  That was the first time that I heard that, so it was super funny!

The final person that I think will be really cool is Yeni.  She is cool, and actually thinks about what we say.  She said that after we talked about prophets, she had a dream about prophets!  Kind of funny, and lots of Dominicans think that it is like revelation, but she just realized that it is something that interests her and that it has been on her mind.

Yesterday was Labor Day here so the internet places were closed. I appreciated the Bishop letting me use his little tablet to let you know I would email today J. I hope that all is well!  Sorry that this one is kind of short!

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

P.S. I'm excited to talk to you all for Mother's Day. I'll be calling on Monday since we go to internet places and have to pay.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Keeping Our Covenants . . .

April 27, 2015

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for the package that you sent us. It was heavily inspected, all of the eggs opened and dumped in the bottom and the card was opened as well, so I am assume that they were looking for drugs, but the protein was intact!!  Thanks so much! We loved it and it was much needed!!

Things here are going well.  We are continuing to work hard, even though we are not seeing any results!  We now have about 3 weeks of just knocking on doors all day, and no one will let us in!  It is a little bit funny because we knock or call into their house, a person will come out, and they say, "I'm catholic". I just have started responding, "Nice to meet you Catholic, I am Elder McEwan." It is funny because before even knowing what we are doing they are rejecting us!  We have been trying to do lots of service too, and they are rejecting that too!  The only person who accepted our help was someone who needed help putting a Pack'n'Play down, and the instructions were in English, so they let us help.  When we asked if they would like us to help them with anything else, because they were moving, they rejected!  It was weird...  but anyway, we just keep working! Sometimes they ignore us and pretend like they don’t see us. It doesn't get to me though.  I don't get sad, because if we get sad it makes us get disanimated, and that can lead to losing your testimony, so that is why I don't do it!!I listened to a really good talk by Elder Holland saying that this is just my chance to get a glimpse at what the Savior went through.

So this week we lost the last person we had that was progressing.  Celsi decided this week that she didn't want to meet with us any more, so we are officially to zero.  It was sad, because where she stopped was the word of wisdom, and I think that it was just because she has problems with it.  She smokes, and so I think that she just doesn't want to give that up!  It was sad, but hopefully in the future when she is able to give it up she will get baptized.

So we were talking a lot this week about the priesthood, and how much power and authority it gives us, and it was really interesting to me to see the difference between the power and the authority.  Every man who has received the priesthood has the authority, but we receive the power through keeping our covenants, especially the covenant of the priesthood that is found in doctrine and covenants.  It is like trying to use a cell phone that isn't charged.  Every person who buys a cell phone has the ability to use it, but if they don't plug it in to charge then they will never be able to use it.  We plug ourselves into the priesthood and become endowed with the power as we learn to recognize the promptings of the spirit and keep the commandments and covenants that we have made.

I love all of you.  Don't give up on the things that you are doing.  Things might get tough, there might be struggles, but that is what makes us stronger, and makes the achievement of our goals that much sweeter.

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, April 20, 2015

More Contacting . . .

April 20, 2015

Dear Family,

Sounds like you guys had a great week!  We too were able to have a good one here!  We just passed the transfers, and my companion and I stayed together!  That was good, even though he has been here for a really long time!  He has already been here for six months, which is the very typical time, so he will be staying just a little bit longer here!  Our zone is going to get switched up quite a bit, and about half the zone is leaving!  It is kind of exciting to get to see more people that I have become friends with out here, so that will be good!

So this week was a lot of the same as the last one...  CONTACTING!!!  It has gotten to the point that I am teaching my comp to yell random things in english so that people will come to the door!  Yesterday he yelled "Merry Christmas", and I was dying!!  We are working with him on english so that he will have that opportunity for when he goes home!

Celsi is still doing really well, the only difficulty with her right now is that they just took out here four front teeth from an accident that she had... so she is very self conscious about it.  She did not go to church this week because of that, but she is hopefully getting the replacements this week, so hopefully she will keep coming!  We also found a new guy named Guillermo.  We were just walking, and we saw him, talked to him, and put a lesson.  We went back and he told us that he had been meeting with the missionaries about two years ago and that the only reason that he stopped was because of a stroke that he had.  We are hoping that he will begin to progress.  We have only met with him one time, but hopefully he will want to keep learning more!!

So I had a great experience in church this week!  I have been trying to be the best that I can be, and it has been a tough process.  Everytime that I try to be better and think that I am progressing so much, I realize another little thing that I need to change!  I guess that is why they say that perfection is a process that takes us our whole lives!  So anyway, in church I had some cool thoughts!  We always say that in our church we have the plenitud of the gospel.  My thoughts were these:  WE SHOULD ACCEPT THE GOSPEL IN ITS FULLNESS.  THIS COMES THROUGH COMPLETE AND PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO EVERY COMMANDMENT AND ORDENANCE THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US.  IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO SIMPLY KNOW THAT WE HAVE THE FULLNESS OF THE GOSPEL; WE NEED TO LIVE IT IN ITS FULLNESS.

I feel like this was a great reflexion point for my mission.  It isn't enough to simply know that we have the fullness...  If we don't live it in its fullness, it doesn't do us any good!  I challenge you to try to live each day in the fullness of the gospel!

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

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cleansing & Sowing . . .

April 13, 2015

Dear Family,

Sounds like you guys all had a great week!  It is always so fun for me to hear about everything that you are all doing, and that everything is going well!

So things out here are still going well for me too!  I lost my voice almost completely for about 4 days, not really sure why, but I am thinking that it is because I got sick.  I don't know what it is about the time when missionaries are finishing the mission, but it seems like at the end, everyone who has had almost the whole two years of being perfectly healthy just gets sick!  I didn't let it stop me though, and still went out and worked every day!

The week went well, and it was a week that the area definitely needed!  We used to have lots of "investigators", but the thing is that they were not people who really wanted to change their lives, they were people who became really good friends with the missionaries, and the missionaries just didn't want to stop visiting them.  For me that was a little bit hard, because I want the people to progress and change their lives, not just like me and change for me.  So, we started doing what I have done in all of my areas, and just did a deep cleansing of the area.  We prayed to know who truly wanted to listen and change, and that we would know who did or didn't want the message.  We then realized that through their church attendance, their reading, and also just with how they received us who truly wanted to learn more about the gospel!  It was hard because we were left with only one person, Celsi.

That was a little bit hard because we had no one to visit in the day besides her, and even she is struggling a little bit because she just had mouth surgery, so she was unable to go to church this week.  My comp was a little bit sad, and was struggling with wanting to get out of the house.  He was taking a really long time to get ready and such, and when I asked him why, he told me that we didn't have to hurry because we didn't have any one to visit.  I just put a big smile on my face and told him that we did.  He asked who, and I told him I didn't know.  He asked when, and I told him that I didn't know, and that I didn't know even if we were going to visit the indicated person that day, but that we were going to find them!  So he got ready and we left.  We went the whole day knocking on doors....  aaaaannndddd passed the whole day with out finding any new people!  The next day, I told him the same thing, and we had the same results!!  We now have four days of doing the same thing with the same results, but I am happy.  I used to think that it was all about teaching and baptizing, but I realize now that every phase of the work is important.  Sometimes we go to areas to be the one who sows, and sometimes we go to be the one who reaps the harvest.  I decided that I was going to find my purpose in this area, and if my purpose is to sow then I am going to sow the whole area, house by house and person by person!.

So that is really all that has happened this week, nothing really new to report!

I just want to tell you to stay strong in your faith!  Lots of times there are things that maybe we don't understand, or things that we are unsure about, but I promise that this is the true gospel.  I know it because I have lived it and continue to live it.  I know that we are put in different situations for our own benefit, as well as the benefit of others.  We must constantly live in harmony with the gospel to know what we need to do, and I promise that through your faithfullness and diligence that you can know what your purpose is, and how the gospel can work in your life if you just open up, let it in and embrace it.

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

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week of La Semana Santa & General Conference . . .

April 6, 2015

Dear Family,

First off, thank you so much for helping me to get things going for college and apartment stuff. I’m excited to be rooming with Sean. It will be great to go back to the good old days J! It will definitely give us a chance to get to know each other again.

So this week was really good, even though it was a lot different than usual.  This week was la Semana Santa, which as you all remember is a Catholic church holiday...  So they give the entire week off from school and work to literally the whole country!  We were really a little bit nervous because with that we could have two possible outcomes...  The first is that every one is home and we teach out of our minds, and the second is that no one is home and we aren't able to teach hardly anyone....  This year our luck fell to option number two, so we we not able to teach very many people this week. We were knocking on lots of doors, and no one was even home.  The problem was that the majority of the people who live here aren't from here, they are from a place called El Cibao, a little town that is close to here, but is in the Santiago mission... so everyone went home because it is so close to here!  We were able to have some other opportunities this week though that made it a great week!

On Friday we ran out of drinking water, called, and they weren't working because of the holiday.  We decided to just move on with life because we had an activity at the church, because it was Viernes Santo, the day when Christ was crucified.  The activity started with a good little journey through the last week of Christ's life, and it was amazing.  I hope the people were able to feel the spirit.  Then we started to play betiyah, the street baseball that they play with the tops to the water jugs.  It was fun, and we also ate lunch and had habichuelas con dulce....  I am going to have to make it for you guys when I get home, because it is too hard to explain what it is, so you will just have to see!  We watched the new Exodus movie, which was interesting, and then we were able to teach a little about that because lots of people had questions about whether the story really went with the movie. 

On Saturday we were able to go to all 3 sessions of the conference, and we went to the stake center for the first two...  It was like being back home!!  Air conditioning, soft chairs, watching the conference on a nice projector...  It was nice to be able to watch it like that!!  It was a much needed conference, even though it was a little bit sad because it was my last in the mission.  After the first two sessions we went back to our chapel to support a baptism that the other guys in the house were having, and it was really good.  About ten seconds before it started, I was asked to speak, so I spoke on the restoration of the priesthood and how necessary the priesthood is for the ordinance of baptism.  It was good, and then we watched the priesthood session!!  We also didn't get the water call because we were out of the house all day, and were not there to receive it!!

On Sunday we woke up and had big plans for the day...  We were going to study, teach some lessons, cook, and eat before the conference...  So we woke up, studied, and I went on an intercambio with Avina to teach.  I left, and my comp started to cook.  I came home and he told us that the gas to cook ran out.  It was Sunday and we didn't want to full on buy gas, so we just heated up the toaster oven thing that usually is for waffles and cooked fried eggs and ate salad.  We went to the sessions and it was amazing, and I loved it!  We finished that, and then we went home.  We had a bag of charcoal because a kid in our house has like a Haitian oven, which is just a can that has a little grill thing on it.  We decided to use that, and ended up making a really good locrio, which is rice and meat and vegetables all cooked together!!  It was really good, and we ate more salad! 

Today we went to the stake center and had a zone activity where we ate pizza, played basketball, and talked.  It was fun and everyone enjoyed themselves!

They also announced a new temple... in Haiti!!  That was awesome to hear!

My favorite talk from conference was Elder Bednar from the Saturday afternoon session!  It was about fear, and how we can not let fear run our lives.  It was interesting to think about.  87% of people in the WORLD let the fear of failing stop them from even trying.  87% of people won't even start for the fear of not finishing.  I just started to think about that....  How would the world be if we were never afraid to do what is right?  It would be really different.  We would share the gospel more, we would use Christ's atonement more, and we would do everything possible to keep the commandments.  He also gave us three tips to overcome the fears that we have.  First we need to first come unto Christ.  Don't doubt, don't fear.  We need to assure ourselves that we go unto Christ, so that we can live in His care.  Second, we need to edify ourselves in Him.  We need to live and complete the covenants that we made, and live worthy to be prepared to move forward and make more covenants with God.  Lastly, we need to follow Him.  We need to follow Him with a firmness and a true desire to walk where He walked, not for obligation but out of love!  If we do these things, we will have eternal life!!

I hope you all loved the conference.  I would love to hear about what your favorite talks were, why you liked them, and specific plans about how you are going to put them to practice in your life!!

Love,
Elder Garrett McEwan


P.S.:  Tell Rob and Cammy and the boys thanks for the letter.  I just got it last week!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The "Pulse" . . .

March 23, 2015

Dear Family,

Wow this was a really great week!!  We are working super hard and are just trying our best to be the best we can be!  We have been working so hard lately that in the night we just plan, talk to the district leaders to see how their day was, call the assistants to say that the whole zone is home, and then go to bed!  I also put the goal to wake up at 5 every morning to be able to exercise, because back home I am not sure what my schedule will be like and I am just trying to get myself adapted to the worst!!

So anyway, I am not sure that I have talked about this is a while, because by the time it was put as a goal for the mission I was assistant, but we have this thing called "The Pulse" that are the standards of excellence here in the mission!!  This was thought of by President Nuckols, and was very inspired!!  They are goals of the numbers that we have to be able to measure how much progress our area is making!!  They are statistics taken from the mission over the last 5 years of many of each key indicator is needed on average to have a baptism weekly!  It is obviously super important that we teach with the Spirit, but having goals and things like that to work towards has been a great blessing, as it has blessed us to have the Spirit even more!!  This last week, we completed 6 of them, which was a huge progress in just one week!!  This area has never been so close in the whole time that we have had the pulse, so it was a good progress.

This week in church we had 2 investigators and 2 less active members.  It was awesome to see them there, because the two less actives just need to have an interview by the bishop to become active again and to have all privileges of being a member.  It was great because one of the less actives is looking to maybe go on a mission, which would be great because he is 22 years old!

So the investigator that went to church this week is named Celsi.  She is about 40 years old, and is really awesome!!  She has been loving all of the lessons that we have had with her, and has been progressing really well!  She had a bunch of questions this last week because she was searching the church on the internet and found more anti~mormon stuff than anything else.  She had a ton of questions about plural marriage and stuff like that, so it was good that she was able to talk to us about it instead of just saying she didn't want to learn anymore!  She then went to church this week, and loved it.  We did our best to give her the VIP experience, and introduced her to every single person in the ward!!  They were all happy to see her, giving her hugs and stuff like that!!  She loved all of the hymns and classes, and just had a great time!!  Hopefully this week we can put a baptismal date with her, and hopefully she accepts.

Today, Elder Aviña and I started a throwing program.  He has a book that is from the Detroit Tigers programs of work outs and throwing programs, so he is helping me with it!  Today we went to the field at like 9:30 and stretched, ran a bit, and then did the throwing.  It was just really light, so that was good, but I felt really good, really rested in my arm!  There was a team there practicing, so we asked if we could take some grounders with them.  They said yes, and so we did. Then they invited us to hit, so we did.  We hit one round of softballs with a metal bat, and then one round of hardballs with a wood bat.  It was a ton of fun.  It was just soft toss, but I loved it!  I hit really well too, almost taking a couple of the pitches out, which is cool because the field is a legit field, and is the same size as what we played on back home!!  It would be fun to hit again against a pitcher.  We just have the throwing program twice a week, so that works well!

Everything is going really great.  I am loving the mission, and I am loving this area.  Elder Quinonez is doing really well, and I really think that he will be the next latino asistente after Elder Pena.  It would be a great opportunity for him!!  I hope you are all doing well!!

Love,
Elder Garrett McEwan

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Los Alcarrizos, Elder Holland, & Faith . . .

March 18, 2015

Dear Family,

Lots of things have been happening this week!!  We are super busy with the area, and also with all of the leadership stuff that there is to do as zone leaders, but I am loving every second of it.  My comp's name is Elder Quiñonez, and he is from Guatemala.  He has like 15 months in the mission almost, and we hit our month marks on the same day!  He is a really hard worker and we are really good friends, so I was glad that we got made companions!! I am loving it out here!! Quiñonez and I are really good friends, so things are going great, and the people here are amazing so I am loving it!

So one the 12th of this month we had a special visit from Elder Holland.  We were all so excited!!  He came in, and it was just amazing to see him in real life!  He told us that he wanted to shake every single one of our hands!!  So we walked up in the line and got to shake hands with him!!  I couldn't keep this big smile off my face!!  I walk up and he asked me my name, so I told him, and then he just looked at me for a while...  And then said, "Elder, you have a great smile!" I almost died right there!!  I was the only one in the whole congregation of 240 missionaries who got a comment like that from him, so I felt really good, and it was something that I needed.  Then he talked about the book of mormon and how it was a sign to the world that the restoration is taking place and that the true church of Christ is on the earth once more!!  He also talked about the importance of the mission.  He said that lots of people get really really worried at the end of their mission, and are scared to go back to real life.  He told us that THIS is real life!!  It is the most real life you will ever live!!  He told us to take advantage of every moment to the max and to live the full mission experience, the good and the bad!

Santo Domingo West Mission
We also went to the temple today, which was one of the most spiritual experiences that I have had in the mission.  I went in to it this time with more faith than I think I have ever had in my whole life, because I sincerely wanted to know the answers to some questions that I had!!  I felt the spirit very strongly as I went through the session, and then in the celestial room it all just piled on, and I was just overwhelmed with the spirit!  It was great, and I loved every minute of it!!

This first week in the area was sweet!!  The house is really nice, and is one of four houses in the mission that have a water heater, and I have been in two of them, the other is in my first district, and Pedersen is in the other one, so that is kind of funny!!  We also have the church super close, like a two second walk, so that is great!!  The light is unreliable, but we have the generator so that is fine!  We have a ton of weights and stuff, and we bought more this last Saturday!!  It is a good house to be in!

We also are working really hard in our area right now as well!!  We have a bunch of people that we are working really hard with!  We have 4 people with baptism goals, and their names are Ambioris, Jacinta, Luis, and Teresa.  They are all adults of between 40 and 50 years old, so they are pretty fun to teach!!  There is also an 11 year old that we are not teaching, but he went to stake conference alone this week and lives right across the street from our church, so we are going to try to start teaching his family because he wants to be baptized!!  It is going to be a fun area to work in!!

I know that this is the true church, and I can say that with 100% certainty.  Sometimes we as  people fault in our testimonies, but I have realized something in my time in the mission....  The times that we fault are the times that we aren't doing our very best.  If we are truly doing our best and putting in our 100% effort, the Lord will bless us with the knowledge that we desire.  This has to do with faith, and I testify that faith is the first step towards knowing that the church is true.  Faith is a spark in a field of dry grass.  If we let it catch, it consumes the whole field.  I know that we can let that spark catch in our souls, and become converted to the one and only true church of Christ.  I love this gospel and this church, and testify that it is the only true church.

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

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Goodbyes" in Mirador . . .


Saying "Goodbye" to Ramona

Saying "Goodbye" to Brandol
Lunch before transfers from the Office

Saying "Goodbye" to Yodalis, Maria, & Gary

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Like A Lighthouse . . .

March 7, 2015

Dear Family,

It is great to hear how all of your things are going!!  It has been awesome to see how all of your progress is coming along in the different aspects of your lives!



Elder Merrell
Things here are going really well!  I am doing fine with training the new AP.  His name is Elder Merrell, and he is from Arizona.  He has one transfer less than me in the mission, so he will be going home in August.  He is doing really well, really picking up and getting the hang of things.  It is a good thing, because I will be going to my new area next Tuesday.  Elder Peña is doing really well.  He is really excited, because the President told him that he will getting back in the field next transfer, so he is looking forward to that.  He has been a really fun comp to have because we are good friends.  I have known where I am going for about two weeks, I just wasn't supposed to say anything about it!  I am going to the zone of Los Alcarrizos, and I will be in the 1st ward.  I will be the zone leader there, which we be a great opportunity!  My new companion's name is Elder Quiñonez, and he is from Guatemala. He has 15 months in the mission, so it should be fun.  We are good friends as well, so that will be great.  The other guys in my house are Elder Nielsen, a kid who just got finished being trained, and is great, and also Elder Aviña who is one group behind me.  He played baseball at a Junior College in California before the mission as a catcher, so that will be a lot of fun to get back in baseball shape with him.  I am in good shape physically, the best of my life, but to get my arm back in shape to pitch and stuff like that will be a process.  But, it should be fun, a great opportunity.  It is crazy to think that this will be my last area!  I will go back to writing on Mondays, so just be ready for that!

Elder Jensen -- Transfer from the Office
We have been really busy lately.  We have been doing lots to get transfers ready, as we want them to go as smoothly as ever!  We also have been planning the temple trips for the mission, which will be a great experience.  We also have the opportunity on Thursday of next week to have a special conference with Jeffrey R. Holland, which will be amazing!  He is coming to give a two hour conference to just our mission, and the whole mission will be there, so that will be great!
Even as I am released from the office, I realize that it is kind of like other callings in the church...  You know what they say, "Once a (INSERT NAME OF CHURCH CALLING HERE), Always a (INSERT SAME NAME OF CHURCH CALLING HERE)".  So I will still have a big role in transfers as I will be riding the bus out to the south to direct the driver and try to keep everything on time at the different chapels, so that we can make sure that everything goes according to schedule!  Should be a lot of fun, and it might be the last time that I make it out to the South here in the mission, so it will be great! 

Last P-day with the guys in the office -- TGI Fridays
(Breaded Octupus Tentacles, a Salad, &
Pineapple Lemonade :))
I have been thinking a lot lately about trials, and our little helper lady here in the office, Ramona, was also talking to me about it.  She has a very tough life, and it came down to the question of "Why does God let bad things happen to good people who are living the Gospel?"  We talked about it for awhile, and it was a little tricky to come up with the reason, but it came as I thought about the counsels of Alma.

In Alma, it talks a lot about the Plan of Salvation, and how this life is a state of Probation.  Usually we think of probation as a consequence of something we did, and then got put on probation to see if we would do it again.  That is FALSE!!  This earthly life was set up as a state of probation before we were even here!!  We were in a state of probation as babies, with out even having the capacity to sin and be chastised.  Probation in this earthly life was the chance to be proved, to be strengthened, and to grow.  God gave us this state because He knows our eternal potential, and sees us as we TRULY are.  He knows who we can become, and He is shaping us into those people right now.  God commanded us to be a light to the world, and to bring many souls unto Him.  That made me think of light houses.  How does a builder know that a light house will stand in a storm if it has never undergone a storm?  He puts the very best materials into it, builds it with care, and doesn't skimp on the details.  It costs more to build, it takes more time, and it is a lot more work, but he knows that it will stand.  The light house stands through the storm, not on its own merit, but on that of its creator, guiding others to safety and refuge from the storm. 

The same thing happens with us.  God shapes us.  He gives us the best opportunities and molds us with the very best tools.  He knows that we have the potential to stand through the storm, and He has given us the very best preparation for storms in life.  We do not stand alone on our merits, but on those of the Creator.

I know that this church is true, and that God does have a plan for us.  Each and every little thing that happens to us in this life was anticipated from the beginning, just as the strength of storms are anticipated beforehand.  God is the Creator, and has given us the opportunity to become more than we ever imagined, if only we submit our will to Him, and embrace the challenges like metal being tempered for a light house.  It burns for a second, and is tough to endure, but it is possible, and we come out stronger than ever.

I hope you all have a great week and I will talk to you next week!

Love,
Elder Garrett McEwan

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Big News . . . TRANSFERS . . .

February 22, 2015

Dear Family,

Congratulations on all that you were able to accomplish this week!!  Seems like lots is going on for you.  It was cool to hear about the things for school!!  Hard to believe that I have been gone almost two full school years.  It hadn't really hit me until Dylan started talking about all of his classes, and saying that he was finishing up some end of year testing!  Time sure does fly by.

So this week was just packed full of Zone Conferences, and let me tell you, it was sooo busy!!  We had a meeting every day, Monday through Friday, from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon.  That doesn't even count the preparation for it all!!  We were there on average at 7:30, so on the day we left for Azua we had to be out the door at 6:15, so I woke up at 4 in order to be able to work out and get everything prepared that we needed to do.  It took a real toll because I was the one who had to do all of the driving, which, I am not sure why, really takes a lot out of a person.  I was exhausted by the end of the week!

The topic of the Zone Conference was all about baptism.  We talked a lot about how to help someone commit to be baptized, as well as about covenants and the importance of keeping covenants. It was awesome to be able to learn about all of those, and to be able to teach.  It is always interesting to see how people respond to being taught.  I was able to see lots of different styles of how people accepted being taught in the conferences.  There were some people who were very engaged, taking notes and participating.  There were others who were listening, but passively.  Then there were others who were just not listening at all.  For me it had a big impact to see these different styles of accepting the teaching that was being given.  The ones who WANTED to get something out of the conference were the ones who learned.  It is not like we were teaching anything radical that no one knew...  In fact, I assume that the majority of the people knew exactly what we were talking about and understood it fairly well before hand.  It all just has to do with the willingness to learn and to seek out new things that we can apply to the mission and life.  Over all though, it was a really good conference. My main participation in the conferences were a little teaching practice and the acrostic that I made up about "Ser GENIOS".  My companion and I taught the doctrine in D&C 20, especially verse 37 when it talks about the requisites to be baptized.  We were able to teach that each and every part of that is important, and that we cannot overlook any part.  The people who get baptized are the people who are committed to living the principles that are found there.  My other teaching moment went really well, and I was very happy with how it went.  I know have taught it five different times in five different meetings, so I guess that I am pretty used to teaching that!  Any way, everything went well.

I guess that my big news is that I am getting released from being the Assistant to the President at the end of this transfer.  The president told me on Friday night, and I will begin the process of training my replacement, Elder Merrell, on Tuesday of this week.  That will be really good.  The president talked to me a lot about the leadership role that I have had in the mission, thanked me, and told me what he appreciated about me, which made me feel really good, and was something that I really needed.  He talked about putting me as a Zone Leader, to try to do the same things that we are doing as the assistants while also infecting a zone with my work ethic.  I guess we will see how it all goes. I have very mixed feelings, but I think that it is time to get back out there.

The most important things that I have learned here in the office are patience, organization, and time management.  They were things that I already knew fairly well before, but it was amazing how much more was required at this level.  I am very thankful for the opportunity to have been the assistant to the president these last 5 months, and I am very excited to find out where I will be going next.  At the same time, it is a little sad because I know that I will be heading to my final area in the mission, and there is still so much to do!!

I hope that you all have a great week!

Love,
Elder Garrett McEwan

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exchanges, Star Fish, & Making A Difference . . .

February 15, 2015

Dear Family,

I am just going to jump right into the week.  It was full of work, and lots happened, so I guess I will just get right to the exciting stuff!!

So on Monday, we began our final planning for the Zone Conferences that are coming up this next week.  We are trying to make sure that it all turns out the way that we want it to, and are just trying to take advantage of all of the tools that we have for teaching.  The main theme is going to be on Covenants, and remembering the importance of all of our covenants and holding them to the sacred level of which they should be held.  We also decided that we were going to start another big project, for us to work with as many of the district leaders as possible, and to work with all of the Zone Leaders.  We started the preparations for that on Monday as well.

On Tuesday we went to the Zone Meeting of Las Caobas, and it was really good.  It is always interesting to see how different people act in certain situations.  We saw one missionary who we thought was very serious acting like a goofball, and another who we thought was a goofball brought out a very spiritual side of himself, so that was fun to see.  Then we had an exchange with Buenos Aires, Elder Weiss and his companion Elder Millward.  It was a lot of fun, and I got to work with Elder Weiss.  We were able to find a lot of new people, as we were contacting a TON, and were able to also visit a woman that they reactivated who is going to be going to the temple on Mom's birthday. 

On Wednesday the exchange was with Manoguyabo.  They were struggling a little bit in their area, and have literally no one to teach.  We spent the entire time contacting, and when the people had time, we went in and taught them on the spot!!  It was a cool experience.  I was with Elder Campbell, and I don't think that he had ever contacted a house and then immediately started teaching a lesson!  It was a lot of fun, and we ended up teaching a lot and having a ton of contacts as well.

Thursday's exchange was with Ivan Guzman, Elder Saavedra and Elder Hodges.  I went with Elder Hodges, and it was the same type of deal.  We were contacting almost the entire time, but found some interesting new people!!  We did start off the day with one planned lesson, and it was a little bit difficult!  They had been teaching a 23 year old and his 14 year old sister, and the Pastor had always been there with them, the Pastor from their church, so the Elders were having a hard time getting the opportunity to speak!  Luckily, the Pastor wasn't there and we were able to have a good conversation.  They were being taught the plan of salvation, and had lots of questions about things after this life, and that was tough because they wanted a scripture from the bible for every single one, and they just couldn't move on without the answer!!  We were able to answer all of their questions, with the majority of the answers coming from the New Testament and the life of Christ.  We also had to pull out some Old Testament to talk about the premortal life, but overall it was a good day.

Friday we went with the Zone Leaders of Las Caobas 2, and it was a lot of fun.  I was with Elder Jardón, who I used to live with here in the office.  it was a lot of fun!!  We got fired a lot, lots of people tried to make fun of us, and not many people even wanted to hear anything that we had to say, and it was still a great exchange.  The thing that I have realized is that the people in this world right now are like the people in the time of Christ.  Christ himself said that He spoke to people in parables so that only the prepared people would understand and want to continue to learn.  That is how it is with us.  God has sent us, and has provided the way for us that we can find the prepared people.  Sometimes it is not the perfect system that we use, but it does get the job done.  Process of elimination....  Always worked in school, and definitely works here in the mission too!!  We just eliminate houses by the simple act of offering the gospel to these people.  When we find the prepared people is the best feeling!

I think that the biggest thing that I learned this week is that I know, more than ever, that this work that we are doing is real, and that it is worth the time that is put into it.  I wouldn't rather be anywhere else.  It is not easy.  There is more stress than I ever could have imagined coming from many different places.  Satan tries to tell me that I have very little impact on any one.  He tries to make me feel inferior, and tells me that I will never really make a difference.  I just think of it as the story of the little boy throwing starfish in the ocean.  For every single soul that I help to teach and help change their life in some way, it is worth it.  I know that this is the true church and that God loves us and has a plan for us.  If we are willing to listen, He will guide us.

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

Love,

Elder Garrett McEwan

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Being "Genios" . . .

February 7, 2015

Dear Family,

Wow, it sounds like you guys had a really good week!  Sounds like everything is going really well for you!  Cool to finally see some pictures of Sean, since he has been home for like a week!

Any way, this week has been really busy!  On Monday, we had a missionary get hospitalized again.  He a collapsed lung a little while back.  Well, he went in for a check up on Monday, and they told him that it had collapsed again!!  They put him back in the hospital, and then told him that he was going to need surgery.  So that was Monday, just kind of helping him, making sure he had the things that he needed, and also a lot of planning for the leadership counsel that we have every month!

On Tuesday we spent the whole day looking for things to finish up the planning.  We also had to go buy a ton of stuff for the house, the mission, and the consejo.  Then all of the zone leaders started getting in and we went to pick them all up.

Wednesday was the day of the consejo.  I was looking forward to just a really relaxed morning, because we were all completely ready.  Turns out that life had different plans.  All of the planning that was made on Monday with the doctors about for the Elder's surgery fell through.  He needed two units of blood from the blood bank just as a back up plan for his surgery, just in case.  I talked to the doctor, talked to the Red Cross, and got everything set up.  When the surgeon went to go start the surgery, he started asking questions that they didn't tell me anything about, so I missed the entire morning trying to get things figured out with the blood for the surgery, because obviously they couldn't start the surgery with out the reserve of blood.  Anyway, in the consejo, I was able to teach the main part of how to help people make and complete commitments. 

So in Alma 18 it talks about when Ammon is teaching King Lamoni.  In verse 23 it says that "ingeniously committed the king" to listen.  I took that word and challenged everyone to be "geniuses" ("genios" in spanish) in how they extend commitments.  Then I made an acronym with different letters to teach how to make and set commitments with people!!

G:  Ganar Confianza...  V. 21:  He gained the confidence of the king by supporting and serving him, and then the king was willing to do anything for Ammon.
E:  Escuchar...  V. 20:  He listened to the king's questions that he had as well as his doubts.
N:  Necesidades...  V. 14-16:  He found out by the spirit what the king's needs were to be able to find the solution.
I:  Invitar...  V. 22:  He invited without obligating the king to do something that made logical and spiritual sense that would better his life.
O:  Osado...  V. 24:  He spoke boldly to the king, without fear or confusion, stating exactly what he knew to be true.
S:  Seguimiento...  He gave follow up constantly on the way to completing the goal.  Anytime that it came up, he was thinking about it and asking how the goal was coming along.

So that went really well.  It was fun to see how all the people were taking notes, as well as having fun with my little presentation.

On Thursday I honestly don't even remember what we did.....

On Friday we had an exchange with the Zone leaders of Independencia, our own zone.  It was a lot of fun, and lots of things happened that were a first for me in the mission!!

Today, P-Day, Elder Peña went to stay with Elder Sigler in the hospital, so I just stayed in the office with Jensen and Whittier.  Then we made dinner for a sister in our ward who always makes us food, so we paid back the favor.

Well, I love you all, and I hope you have a great week!

Love,
Elder Garrett McEwan