Hello Family! How is everyone doing? Things in the Dominican Republic are as good as ever! It is crazy to think that this is my last week here. Mixed feelings, unlike most people I actually loved my CCM experience. I have grown so much in the past two months, and am grateful for everything that I have learned....but I am way excited to get to the field.
This week was a little bit interesting! Last Friday I had my first real experience in the Mission Field. We got to go on intercambios with the missionaries from the West mission and spend time with them out in the field. About 20 of us packed into a mini van (this is not an exaggeration), and we headed off to the capilla where we would meet our "trainer" for the day. When we got there, they called out all the Americans' names except mine, so I was a little nervous. I went up and asked my AP's where I was going, and they said I would be going with them out to the "campo" that was about 45 minutes away. So I got to have a nice chat with my future AP's for about 45 minutes. They are awesome and will help make our mission successful.
I got to this little town and met the missionary I would be spending the day with, Elder Upshaw. Elder Upshaw is the Zone Leader in that zone and is going home the day that I enter the field. The AP's said that in their opinion he is the best missionary in the mission, and I agree. I learned so much from him in the 3 hours that I was with him. First of all, we were in one of the poorest parts of the entire country. Houses were smaller than my room at home, had no windows, and were dirt floored. For power they have a car battery outside of the house hooked to an inverter to power their TV's. It was the most humbling experience of my life.
The first thing we did was go to an appointment with an investigator that was set to be baptized the next day. His name is Juan Miguel and is 16 years old. My companion told me that we would be teaching about the Priesthood. I figured I would just be bearing my testimony at the end. Well in the middle of the lesson, he just turned his head and looked at me like 'your turn'. I was like, uh......I began talking and words filled my mouth. It was an amazing experience. The gift of tongues is real. If the Lord needs you to say something, He will provide a way for you to say it. I don't know what I said, but I know that it was important to this young man at this time.
After this, we did some contacting. Every single person we contacted accepted our invitation to return the next day. It was amazing how humble and open the people are. After this we went to visit a member who had just had surgery. The family instantly gave us their only 2 chairs and demanded that we sat in them, while they sat on the floor. Even though the chair was soft, I have never been so uncomfortable in my life. I wanted nothing more than to sit on the floor and let this family that had absolutely nothing sit on their chairs. But, they would have none of it. My life will forever be changed by these experiences.
Needless to say, despite my first experience with Juan, I didn't have a clue what anyone was saying. The Spanish here is mumbled, and they cut off their words. I felt like I might as well have been listening to Chinese. When I got back to the CCM I was frustrated, and for the first time in my mission I thought that I just couldn't do it. I went through the rest of the night upset and doubting that I would ever be able to do this work. I prayed that night that I would be strengthened.
The next morning during my personal study I came to 3 Nephi 27:13. The words, "I came into the world to do the will of my father, because my Father sent me" were my answer and my strength. I know that I am here to do the will of my Father in Heaven. I know that I am here because through a Prophet, my Father in Heaven sent me here. Through Him, I can do this. I instantly was comforted and realized that, although this is hard, I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to do. It strengthened my testimony so much.
I am so grateful the Lord humbles us, and then when we turn to him, he always helps us. If I had one word to describe the mission so far, it would be humbling. It is just an amazing experience that you can't describe.
On Sunday our devotional was President Rodriguez (my Mission President). He is an amazing man, and I love him already. He always just has a huge smile on his face and is always friendly. He gave an amazing talk (in Spanish and I understood :) about how obedience will pay off for us. Apparently, there are some big problems in the DR with missionaries not going to bed and getting up on time. I don't really know where he was going with that...but yeah...I follow the rules, and I have seen the blessings, plus I'm stinking tired when 10:30 rolls around! haha
Okay, now to answer the question that I know you are all wondering, whats with the Subject: First Baptism Today! ? Well, I got to Baptize 5 people today! Okay, that's kinda deceiving, but I will explain. This morning we got to go through a session, and then after, the 8 American Elders got to go do baptisms for the dead. It was awesome. I got to baptize Elder Richardson 5 times, he baptized me 5, and then we each did 5 confirmations. It was awesome. The font in this Temple is absolutely amazing! We definitely need to come back here after I come home. Anyways, it was an awesome experience to learn how to baptize and to have that opportunity. I even got Elder Richardson all the way under! It was awesome. The temple is awesome. It really is my favorite place in the world. No where else can you feel the same peace and comfort as in the Temple.
The Church is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and can help us with anything. I promise that if you will read it everyday, it will change your life. I know God hears and answers our prayers. I have learned to rely on prayer, and I pray for each of you daily. I love you so very much. I'm grateful for everything each one of you has done for me. I love the mission. I am happy, healthy, a little hungry, but great! I hope you all have a great week! Next week I don't know when I will e-mail, because I will be a REAL missionary! Wahoo!!!
Elder [Riley] Reeder
P.S. Mom for the Newsletter---Well the Dominican Republic is awesome! I will be leaving the CCM next week, and am excited to get in the field. Spanish is......improving, but still a challenge. The Dominican Republic CCM has been an awesome experience, there are only about 8 American elders here so you make really good friendships. I can't wait to get out in the field and share this wonderful message. I hope you all are doing awesome and thank you for your great examples and friendships.