Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Field Trip and An Amazing Week

Hola Familia! 
     My P-Day is not permanently Wednesday, just for this week.  As far as I know.  The reason being Presidente wanted to take us on a "field trip".  We just got back not too long ago, and boy it was awesome!  First of all we went to the Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden) I think...I don't really remember how to spell in English.  It was amazing, I will try to send some pictures.  It was my first experience out of the city, and instantly I realized that the campo is where I want to be!  It's amazingly beautiful!!  Everything is green, green, and more green.  It was absolutely beautiful.  
     After this we got to go to the home of Diego Colon (Christopher Columbus' son), in the Zona Colonial (colonial zone), or basically the old city.  It was awesome because everything was built in the 1500's and early 1600's.  It was an awesome experience!  It was also near the ocean so that was fun.  I will send pictures, they can say way more than I can in 30 minutes.  
     The thing that pictures don't do justice is driving.  SANTO BOCA!  (literal translation that doesn't make sense in Spanish of, Holy Cow)  It is absolutely insane.  Here is how it works:  If your vehicle is bigger, you have the right-of-way always.  If your vehicle is a motorcycle, you have no rules at all.  They go when the light is red, in between cars, whatever, and not just in the town, on the freeway.  Yeah, its crazy.  Someone is always honking their horn.  That's not an exaggeration.  Its an adventure!  You feel like you're going to die every second, but I'm getting used to it. :)  Basically, I was sad I wasn't going to get to drive, but now I consider it a blessing.  Interesting fact: Gas is 237 pesos per gallon, and diesel is 187, the exchange rate is 1 dollar=38 pesos.  So you do the math.  Basically, it's expensive, but at least diesel is way cheaper than gas, like it is supposed to be.  
     I will finish with one other worldy experience and then get to the good stuff.  We got to go shopping!!!  It was amazing.  It was this store called......I don't remember, but it's basically Wal-Mart.  They had EVERYTHING.  It was awesome.  Speaking of which, I tried to use my credit card, it didn't work.  I was charging like 1678 pesos or something like that, and it didn't work.  I had cash so it wasn't a big deal, but could you just double check that there isn't a charge on there, and possibly call USU Credit Union and see why it didn't work, just in case there is ever an emergency?  Gracious.  Um on the way we saw a Ferrari Dealership, Porsche, basically every car manufacturer you could ever imagine, and I saw a Miata just like mine, down to the hardtop.  Speaking of which, does the Miata have a new home?  Anyway, now I want to get to the good stuff.  
     This past week I have had two of the most powerful experiences of my life.  The first occurred while contacting at the Universidad last Friday.  It had been raining so there were hardly any people out, but we kept walking around talking to people.  Well, with about a half hour left, something amazing happened.  We were walking and we walked past this guy, and at the same time Elder Jensen and I looked at each other, turned around and went and talked to this man (probably about 23-ish)  He was extremely nice.  He spoke slowly so we could understand, and he asked great questions.  He was a golden investigator.  We asked what was important to him and he said family, god, friends.  He then said he wanted to hear more about our church and about "that book"  (the Book of Mormon).  We jumped on the opportunity and shared a lot.  The Spirit was so strong, and I could see it working on his heart.  After half an hour it was time to go, so we left him with our testimonies, and a number that he could call to reach the missionaries who "spoke better Spanish".  We then invited him to read and to pray, and we promised him that he would receive an answer.  
     This is when I realized how important our work is.  Never in my entire life have I wanted anyone to do something so badly as I wanted him to read that book and pray.  I instantly loved him and wanted him to be able to enjoy the guidance and happiness that the gospel would bring into his life.  It was a powerful testimony that there is a reason I am here.  I love the people and want them to experience the blessings of the gospel.  Next story.  
     All throughout my mission I have been praying for increased guidance of the spirit, well my prayer was answered.  Monday mornings we have the opportunity to teach one of my favorite teachers, Hermana Laureano.  Even though it is just "pretend" I always pray that the Spirit will be with us, and that it will guide us through our practice and to help me to know what to say.  Well we started off with prayer, asked "Esperanza" (her fake name for us to teach her) a few questions, and then told her that today we planned on teaching her about our Heavenly Father's plan for us.  She then said, "Well I prayed and didn't feel anything" (We challenged her to pray in the last meeting).  I instantly felt prompted we teach about prayer and leave our lesson plan behind.  So I did.  I continued asking her questions, and the scripture D y C 8:2 came to my mind.  I opened to it and had her read it.  As soon as she began to read, the words "she needs to pray--right now" came to my mind as if my companion had said it to me.  It was the strongest prompting I have ever received in my life.  As soon as she was done reading, she looked at me and said, "What are you feeling?"  I responded, "I feel prompted that you need to pray with us right now."  She looked at me in shock, and then proceeded to offer the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard in Spanish.  I was able to understand every word, even though they were words I did not previously know in Spanish.  The Spirit was so strong my heart was pounding, and I felt that I had indeed done the will of the lord.  I didn't know why at the time, but she needed to pray right then and there.  She then told us that the other companionships scheduled to teach her would not be teaching, we walked back to class, and she walked away.  As my companion and I stopped to talk, I told him, "I don't know why, but for some reason the Lord wanted her to pray right then."  
     About an hour later, when we got back to class, I found out why.  She asked me to explain what I had felt to the class.  I proceeded to tell the story and my feelings.  She then explained things from her side of the story.  Apparently, she has been having some super hard times in her life right now.  She didn't expound, just that things weren't going good.  She then said with tears in her eyes, "When you asked me to pray right then it was for me, not Esperanza, but for me Hermana Laureano.  The Spirit told you to have me pray because I needed help, and I needed to talk with my Father in Heaven, right then and right there.  She then said that things had literally already improved and were better. It was an amazing experience. 
     I don't tell this story to say 'look what I did', I tell it because with the Spirit on our side, we can do anything.  The companion whispering that to me was the Holy Ghost, my second companion.  The Lord knows his children.  He loves every one of them, and when we are willing to listen to the promptings of the Spirit we can do anything.  In this instance, he worked through me, practicing teaching at the CCM to help one of His daughters.  It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  The Church is true.  God loves each and every one of us more than we can ever imagine.  He knows us individually and wants to help us.  I am so grateful for this week and the things I have learned.  I love serving the Lord every minute of every day and the ability I have to grow closer to him.  
     When times are tough, I know that I need not worry because He is always there.  I just need to pray. I know the same is true for all of you.  No matter what it is, no matter where it is, the Lord is with you and wants to help you.  Just ask!!  Another thing, if you need help, ask for a blessing.  One thing I have learned is no thing is too small for a Priesthood Blessing.  It is not only for before surgeries, it's for everything in our lives.   It is an amazing power we are authorized to use, and we need to exercise this privilege, often and righteously.  
     I love you all so much and pray for you daily.


Elder Reeder

P.S.  I hope that Bear Lake is fun, thanks for the pictures!  They literally are like my favorite part!  
Also, Dad I would like to see a picture of the fancy new mailbox!  I heard there was an earthquake, that's crazy!  
I'm glad Andy's farewell was good.  He will be an amazing missionary!
I'm sure mom will be glad to hear this:  The East Mission is the sketchy part of town, and the West is the "nicer" side of town.  In other words, East missionaries have to take money just so it can get stolen, because it will, and if they don't have it they will get beat up.  Woohoo for the West Mission! :) 
Also, Mom if you haven't sent my usb cable yet, apparently it is better to send it to the Miami package address that is somewhere in the packet or in that letter from the old Mission President, and it usually takes like 2 weeks to get here that way.  So yeah, anyway thanks! 
I love you all, hope you have a great week!  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday = Missionary Experience

Helllo Familly! oops Hello Family!

     Just kidding Mom, it's okay you forgot how to spell my name! haha That made me laugh way hard when I saw that's why I didn't get an e-mail from you guys. 
     Well the D.R. and the CCM (Centro de Capacitacion Misional) are still awesome!!  I'm still loving it here.  I am so, so grateful that I had the chance to come here.  The more we talk with Pres. Glazier, the more I realize it really is a blessing that we got to come here.  The only time Americans get to come here is when there is room, and apparently more times than not, there isn't.  So I'm way happy to be here.  Overall, the CCM and DR are muy bien. 
     Well, I don't really know where to I'll start off with the food.  My trust and love for the food took a sharp drop last weekend.  On Sunday, quite a few elders and sisters started getting sick, and it wasn't too sweet.  The baƱo was my permanent residence for most of Sunday.  Sorry for the gross description, but it's what happened.  But thanks to my trusty Pepto, I am better, and have faith again in the food.  Random fact, today we ate soup with chicken legs in it.  First time I have ever seen a whole leg come out of a soup, but hey, there is a first time for everything!
     Mom to answer your question, that palm tree I am standing in front of is on the temple grounds.  The temple grounds are beautiful!---were beautiful, until this week....The temple is closed for cleaning, and in the mean time they scalped all the grass down to nothing.  So it's nice and brown everywhere.  We had the opportunity to put all this excess grass into bags for our service this week, see the attached picture.  It is still hot here.  Not just hot, scalding!!
     Last Friday, and every Friday from now on, we get to go on a "missionary experience".  Last week we went to the university that is close to the CCM, and we contacted people and tried to share a message with them. Well, the second person we talked to was like, "I'm Atheist and happy."  We were like, "uh......"  We had kinda expected everyone would be Christian, but nope! Anyway, we just bore testimony that God exists and that he loves all of his children, and then we left.  We were able to contact a bunch of people, and actually understand probably about 13.89% of what they said.  It was a great experience, nonetheless.  I got to try out my Camelback, and I was super glad I had it!  One hombre we talked to said he had to hurry and go to class, so we just quickly bore testimony and gave him a folleta, and he ran off.  Anyway, later we walked past him and he was reading it, it was pretty cool!
     Things with Elder Jensen are still good.  We are starting to work together a lot better in our teaching, and because of this the Lord has blessed us with His Spirit to guide us what to say. It's really cool. 
     Hmmmm time for random little stories and facts for the week.  All of our teachers are Dominican.  They don't speak much English, so we teach them English, and they teach us Spanish.  My favorite thing to do is write 'colonel' on the board and watch them try to pronounce it.  It's pretty comico.  One of our maestros is Hermano Perez, he is this tiny little guy who speaks the funniest English ever.  He always says "what the heck", but it sounds more like what the 'hett'.  It makes me bust up every time.  
     Their laundry machines make your clothes more dirty than when you put them in, except for one that is in Spanish.  So I took my dictionary in with me and deciphered it, so now I have clean clothes.  Um, when you walk around you realize how polluted it is here.  Everyone drives 2-stroke motorcycles and diesels, so it's pretty stinky!  But, they have sweet trucks.  They are little Toyota hino's that are like Tacoma's but with little diesel engines.  I want one. 
     Dad, I can't believe you stayed at the Hilton for scout camp.  I'm so jealous.  I would love to see pictures.  I'm past the homesick stage, so pictures are good.  I can look at them, so keep sending them.  
     Today we got to go to a museum because the temple is closed  That was cool, but in Spanish so it could have been cooler.  I saw the U.S. embassy and American soldiers, and that made me feel safe. 
     Tell Andy Maughan congrats, good luck, and that he will do awesome! 
     Tell everyone at Bear Lake hi, and that I love them all!
     Ash, thanks for the pictures, they were great!
     Anyway, I love you all, thanks for the letters, and I hope you have a great week! 
     Yo se que la iglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias es verdadera. Yo se que el libro de mormon es la palabra de dios. Yo se que jose smith fue un profeta verdadera, y tomas s monson is nuestro prophet hoy. LA IGLESIA IS VERDADERA

Love, Elder Reeder
AKA Riley

P.S. While contacting I accidentally said my name was Riley.  That was awkward.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Well I don't know if you got my last e-mail, or what's going on, but I didn't get any e-mails! I hope everything is okay at home.  Well my p-day is officially Thursday.  We got to go to the temple again this morning, this time it was in English.  That was a pleasant surprise.  The temple here is amazing!!! It is beautiful and amazingly well kept.  I will attach some pictures.  We can e-mail pictures from here so that is very nice.  I already love this place.  The CCM is like a big family.  I was wrong on my estimation from last week, there is really only probably about 20 of us here.  10 North Americanos y 10 Haitians.  It is way cool.  President Glacier is amazing, we have tons of fun, but we also learn tons.  I have learned more Spanish in a week than I learned in 3 weeks at the MTC.  I feel like someone just flipped a switch and was like okay its time to learn Spanish.  I know that was the Gift of Tongues.  I am a lot happier here than Provo, it just feels right.

The people are amazing!!!  I absolutely love the people.  They are so nice and willing to help with anything.  I have realized that I will have absolutely no problem loving the people here.  I already want what's best for them.  I have had some very cool experiences with the Haitians.  They are so amazing.  The members of the Church in Haiti are going to save that country.  They are so strong.  On Sunday we had a sacrament meeting with them in which a lot of us gave talks in our native language and then they had a translator translate them.  Wow.  Best sacrament meeting ever.  I have never felt the spirit so strong outside of the temple.  They have such strong testimonies, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to hear them.  Also, every day we play basketball outside.  We have gotten a couple of them to play with us a couple of times, and it was an awesome experience.  I can't believe how strong they are.

I'm trying to think of other things to say...Um Ashley, Hermana McEntire (don't know how to spell) is in my district now.  She is pretty funny.  We had the opportunity to go out in the city today! Wahoo! We took our suits to get dry cleaned.  I am definitely not in America anymore.  It is crazy.  They drive like maniacs!!!! I have never heard so much honking in my life! haha it was funny, exactly like it was in Jamaica.  When we got there guess how much it cost to get a suit dry cleaned? $371.....kinda deceiving, that's pesos! I got a bunch of money converted so that is pretty sweet.  We get 38 pesos per American dollar.  So I feel pretty rich, even though its not really worth much.

The food here is SO GOOD.  Nothing here is bland.  They have some of the most flavorful beef, chicken, and pork that I have ever eaten.  We eat a lot of amazing bananas, jugo (juice) and pan (bread, but not just any bread, its amazing!!!), and of course rice and beans.  I always ask for "just a little beans".  Its pretty cool because the people here are trying to learn English, and we are trying to learn Spanish, so we help each other out!  Sorry this letter is all over the place, but I don't really know what to write about.  Last thing, I forgot to bring my USB cable for my camera.  Yeah I know you wouldn't think I would forget that, but I didn't really think about e-mailing pictures.  If you could send that without it costing a million dollars, that would be great.  The address is:

Centro de Capacitacion Misional
Av. Bolivar #825,
Esquina Genesis, Los Robles
Sto.  Dgo.,  R.D.
I assume that last part is Santo Domingo Republico Dominicana (Dominican Republic)
Anyway, I am alive and well, loving it more than ever, and not starving! The only thing is they have no candy.  None  So that's the only thing I crave.  Anyway I love you all, I hope you will write next week and let me know what's going on up there.  I love you guys.


P.S. -  Pictures, one has a lizard--they are everywhere around the temple.  That big building--check out those super sketchy spiral stairs that go up 3000 feet in the air.  Yeah no way would I be going up that.  Check out all my money!!! 
And Ashley, I don't know your e-mail, please e-mail it to me so I can have it.
Oh and it's hotter than heck here. I walk outside and am soaking wet with sweat.  Gross, but true.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I am Alive and Love the D.R.!

Hello Family,
I am officially in the Dominican Republic.  We finally got to the CCM at about 1:30 AM.  Our flight got delayed and delayed, and delayed , and then again delayed.  But we finally got here.  I stepped into the airport in the middle of the night and it felt like it was 1,000 degrees.  And I was dripping wet.  It was pretty crazy.  Next, we had to go through customs and all that, but it was not a big deal at all.  We then packed 10 of us in a tiny little van and drove here.  It was an adventure.  The airport was about 45 minutes from the CCM.  As we drove we couldn't see much because it was dark, but I definitely am not in America.  It was kind of a crazy experience.  Then we saw the temple.  Wow.  It is so pretty.  All the pictures we had made it look pretty white, but it is not white, more of like a beige color.  When we got there the CCM President, President Glaciers was there.  He is awesome.  I can already tell that we are going to learn so much here.   We then went to our rooms.  The CCM is WAY better than the MTC.  There are only 2 of us in a room, me and my new companion Elder Jensen. He is from Utah, we get along good, I'll have more to say about him after I figure out more about him.  We have a full bathroom in our room with our own sinks, etc.  And I woke up freezing because our air conditioning worked so good.  It's just way way nicer than our rooms in Provo.  This morning we woke up and went to the temple.  It was an amazing experience.  We had to have little headsets for English, so that was kind of weird, but the spirit is always the same.  This temple is the most beautiful temple I have been in.  I wish I could send you pictures of the inside, it is absolutely amazing.  It is very big as well, they were saying the largest in Latin America.  It is kinda funny because it is smack dab in the middle of these apartments and all this stuff, if we look out our window we are looking right in someones apartment.  What else....uh the CCM is just awesome.  It is the 4th floor of the building and that's all it is.  There are only 4 districts in the whole thing.  So like maximum 20 people, 10 Americans, 10 Haitians.  I like it a lot though because everyone knows everyone.  We have basketball hoops, ping pong, Foosball, the works!! I already love the people.  Everyone is extremely friendly.  On my flight here, while I was in 1st class, yeah first class is still the best, I had an awesome experience.  I was sitting next to this man who looked Dominican and he was just talking away on his phone before his flight.  Anyway, he didn't look too scary so I said Hola and lo and behold he spoke English so all was well.  Needless to say, I ended up talking to him for the rest of the 2 hour flight.  It was an amazing experience.  We just small talked at first, and he told me about his company, and lots of stuff. Then they brought us dinner and asked if I wanted wine.  When I said no he asked if it was against my religion.  I said yes and he was blown away.  Then he said I could get coffee, again I declined and explained that we also do not drink coffee. He was astonished.  He then told me about how he quit drinking because he wanted to be in control of his body.  It ended up being an opportunity to share the gospel.  That's all I have time for.  Sorry, but I am alive and well!!!
I love you guys a lot!
Elder Reeder

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Caribbean -- Here I Come!

I will be traveling on July 7, 2011!

American Airlines Flight 416 from SLC to Dallas / Ft. Worth
Departure 6:00 a.m.
Arrival  9:35 a.m.

American Airlines Flight 1970  from Dallas / Ft. Worth to Miami
Departure 12:35 p.m.
Arrival 4:40 p.m.

American Airlines Flight 1901 from Miami to Santo Domingo
Departure 6:10 p.m.
Arrival 8:25 p.m.

My next e-mail will be from the Dominican Republic.  Wahoo!

Elder Reeder

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Laundry at the MTC is a Sauna!

Hola Familia,
I don't really know where to start because I have a lot to say and a lot of questions to answer.  First of all Mom, thanks for the package!  Those brownies were amazing!!! Also, yes I did get my drivers license and the phone cards.  It looks like those phone cards should be fine.  I have to get a haircut within 5 days of leaving, so soon! Maybe I will end up looking totally different.  There is a Miata just like mine in the parking lot of the MTC all the time, it makes me want to go for a drive.  Okay now to the good stuff. 
Last week was a great week.  I feel like at the MTC I learn more in a week than a year anywhere else, it truly is amazing.  On Friday we had a special devotional and there were 7 apostles there.  It was amazing.  Elders Holland, Packer, Anderson, Bednar, Nelson, Oaks, and one other that I can't remember were there.  Elder Bednar talked about being a preach my gospel missionary, it was way cool.  PMG truly is inspired and is an amazing help to all members of the church.  It puts the gospel in its simplest form, yet we can all learn something from it.  The gospel is simple, it's absolutely beautiful in its simplicity.  Elder Bednar said a bunch of cool things, but I don't have my notebook with me, so I will have to tell you about them some other time.  On Sunday, Elder Walker (I think that's his name, like I said no notebook) who is the president of the missionary department spoke to us.  He was awesome.  Absolutely hilarious, but awesome.  He had elders stand up and say things that they left behind, and one elder said, "I left watching sports."  Elder Walker then said, "oh so you didn't get to see Jimmer get drafted".  Then he proceeded to say in front of 2400 missionaries and mission presidents, "We (the mission department) tried to draft him, but he chose the NBA!"  For a few awkward seconds everyone didn't know what to do.  Then one kid chuckled and the whole place went crazy.  Maybe you had to be there, but it was absolutely hilarious. 
This week we began teaching the first lesson in Spanish.  Well kinda more like Spanglish for me, but I'm trying.  Needless to say I got real frustrated.  I felt like I couldn't say anything I wanted to, and it made me really upset.  Well, when I calmed down, I realized this is going to be my challenge of the MTC.  I need to learn at the Lord's speed and in the Lord's time.   I know that when I get discouraged and upset, it is Satan working on me.  I became really scared that I would never learn the language.  Needless to say, fear opposes faith.  We should not fear anything if we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have a renewed faith in learning the language, and although I know it will be hard, I know that I will be blessed because of it.  We learn most from our challenges.  Also, I have come to an understanding of just how personal the atonement is.  Jesus didn't just feel how it felt to be frustrated about learning a language.  He felt how it is for me to be frustrated.  Every single thing we have felt, he has felt, and he is right there with us helping us out if we just ask him too.  Pretty amazing isn't it.  I have been studying the atonement a lot this week.  I wish I could understand more, but this I know:  It is real, and because of it, we always have someone to help us out. 
hmmmm what next.  My teacher's name is Brother Matsunaga, he is 100% Japanese, from Hawaii, and teaching me Spanish.  He is an awesome guy.  He teaches us tons, and makes it way fun.  Elder Smoot and I have gotten to be way good friends.  I feel like we have known each other for years.  We have a ton of fun together, but we still work hard.  We get up at 5:20 so we can get some extra language study in, and we are getting rewarded for it. I know there is a reason we are together, and I am grateful for the opportunity.  My whole district has really come together this week.  I have learned to love everyone for their differences, and I can honestly say I love them all.  Our room is kinda the hang out place for our district, and when you get my memory card you will see what I mean.  Ha ha it's a lot of fun.  When we are living the gospel of Jesus Christ we are happy.  He wants us to be happy.  Isn't it great?  Mom, I went to the temple at 6:40 so I was there a little before you, but I'm glad you went.  Its amazing. I'm almost out of time and I forgot about my mission president.  Wow 30 minutes isn't enough.  My mission president and his wife are AMAZING.  He speaks hardly any English, but his wife speaks a little.  They are young, they have kids 15, 12, and 10.  They say they want us to think of them as their parents, and I think I will.  They are amazingly happy.  I will write more snail mail cause I'm getting kicked off.  I love you all!
Elder Reeder