Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Good Week!

Well it's time for the weekly update from the Dominican Republic.  This week was a good one!  We had interviews with the President, and a Capacitación with Hmna. Rodriguez.  President Rodriguez is an amazing man, and he always makes me want to be better as a missionary.  He carries with him such an amazing spirit, and he has such a love for the missionaries and the work that it is amazing.  He talked a lot about how important obedience is, and how much it effects our effectiveness as missionaries.  He talked about how we need to have ¨the light¨ to be successful.

I´ve been thinking a lot about obedience and the Light of Christ, and how it applies to everyone.  I have heard the word obedience more on the mission than at any other time in my life.  Why?  Because it is everything.  When we are obedient to the commandments, we have the Light of Christ, and we are promised blessings!

Anyway, events of the week.  First of all, funny event.  The Evangelico  (I dunno what religion that is in English)  religion has--different beliefs than ours.  Last week, we were teaching an evangelico woman.  I told her that to start out the lesson I was going to offer a prayer.  I began to pray and about after the second sentence, she cut me off and began to pray.  It scared me to death!  I had no idea what to do.  Elder Day looked at me and apparently I just had a look of complete shock, because he just busted up laughing.  Anyway, the rest of her prayer was us trying not to giggle.  One of those you-had-to-be-there experiences, but it was funny.

We spent a lot of time looking for new investigators this week.  We have had to drop a few investigators because they just weren't doing their part.  It is so hard to see someone who just won't take the steps to find out if the Church is true.  As missionaries, we have 3 things that we want our investigators to do.  Read.  Pray.  And go to church.  Pretty simple things.  But they are also the same three things that every member of the Church needs to do!  They are the ¨seminary answers¨, but they truly are the most important things we can do!

If we are reading the Book of Mormon everyday, we will learn and grow closer to our Savior.  If we pray, we will develop a personal relationship with our Savior and be able to receive the blessings that He has waiting for us!  Then, if we go to Church, we have the opportunity to renew our covenants, and feel the Spirit even more.  These things are extremely simple, but maybe that's why at times they are hard to do.  Because they are so simple to do, they are simple to find reasons not to do them.  But by simple things, great things come to pass.  I believe that with all of my heart.  

Anyway, Saturday was a really good day.  We had the opportunity to go build a house!  A member from our ward is building a new house, and we got to go help them.  (Us being Me, Elder Day, Elder Morgan, and Elder Anderson)  In the D.R. the nicest houses are build out of cinder block and cement, and it just so happens that the part we would be working on that day was the cement.  Elder Morgan and I were helping this member form up areas to pour the concrete.  All I could think of was that the things I learned from my Eagle Project were suddenly coming into play.  I knew how to make the forms, I knew how to screed out the cement, and I even taught the guy the "hit the forms with the hammer trick" so that they wouldn't have the honeycomb in the cement!  He was really stoked about that because the other parts didn't look so good.

Anyway, Dad I want to say thanks for teaching me those things.  I never thought that knowledge would be needed on my mission to the D.R., but it was!  It was so much fun to be able to help out, even if my construction vocabulary was very, very limited. 

Today for P-Day we went and played softball.  Wow.  Talk about rusty.  I was terrible!  I could field a ball, but I couldn't throw or hit to save my life!  It definitely rekindled my love for baseball.  I am determined to get back into it when I get back.  We played with some Dominican kids and the rest of our zone, and jeez those kids know how to play!  There were 11-year-old kids turning double plays and throwing the ball harder than I could!  It was super fun.  

Anyway, I think that's all the news for now.  We are off to a Noche de Hogar with Ramon and some kids from the ward.  I don't know if I have told you about Ramon, but he might be my favorite man on this island.  He is hilarious, a Red Sox fan, and I´m pretty sure he and Grandpa Reeder are going to be best friends in the future.  I went over to his house the night the Red Sox got knocked out, and we mourned together.  I wish you guys could meet him.   I´m going to try and take a bunch of pictures with members and investigators this week and send them to you guys next week.  Anyway, that's all for today.  I love you guys all so much.  I pray for you every single day.  Thanks for the e-mails and the support.  

Elder Riley Reeder

P.S.  Responses To Mom's Questions

1.  His parents aren't members.  Elder Day doesn't want to try to teach them.  I am determined to teach them before I leave.  Escogidos literally means like chosen ones--basically people that are prepared to hear our message.  

2.  We were walking through the jungle!!  There was a trail, but it was just a foot trail through the jungle!  It's awesome.  It's a big city.  And we still haven't found any people that have seen missionaries before.  

3.  Yes, we get invited to eat with members--just last  week we had a few opportunities!  It depends--most of the members have enough to help us out, but the meals are always simple--rice, beans, and some juice!  It's amazing how the people are willing to give absolutely everything they have to us.  The members here really love the missionaries.  But anyway, about the food.  Rice, beans, and about twice a week a little meat!  It's amazing how my taste buds have changed.  I now can eat peas, carrots, beans.  I love orange juice, and I can eat just about everything that gets thrown on my plate.  I honestly prayed to be able to eat the food, and I´ve seen the results.  I still can't gag down avocado though.  

4.  I haven't taken as many pictures as I should...I´ll be better.

5.  Yes my pants are really light!  I have two other pairs that are getting made right now.  We have the best tailor in the whole country in our area, so I´m thinking about having him do a whole suit.....not for sure yet.  (He´s so good he does suits for the President).  Pants cost about 15 dollars a pair.  A whole 3-piece fitted suit of wool fabric is 120 dollars.  It's pretty dang cheap.  And yeah, they are awesome!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Hello Family!

Well this week had its ups and downs, but that's the life of a Missionary.  We started contacting a new area, and got failed out of our minds!  For 2 days, we had 24 new visits set, and 2 of them were there for us to teach.  Frustrating.  Its really hard when people reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We know how much it can bless them, and they just don't want to listen!   I've decided that's the hardest part of the mission--seeing people reject their chance to receive the greatest blessing in this life.  After all of this failure, we decided to go exploring, because we just found out that our area is WAY bigger than we previously thought.  We went bushwhacking through the jungle and found this city that missionaries haven't touched (at least according to all the people we talked to).  It was fun to contact an area that missionaries haven't contacted yet, but its also a lot of pressure, because whatever impression they get of us--will be their impression of the Church.  I hope that we can be good representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I can hardly remember the last week because my mind is just focused on yesterday and Saturday.  On Saturday we had one of the funniest/most awkward visits of the mission.  We are teaching a 10-year old boy, whose older brother is a member.  He is an awesome kid.  He always reads what we leave, and he understands more than honestly any other investigator that we have.  We call people like him, escogidos.  Anyway, on Friday we left the Law of Chastity pamphlet for him to read before the visit on Saturday.  Well, we showed up on Saturday, and started teaching.  First off, I asked what he learned from this pamphlet.  He said, Heavenly Father wants us to have kids when we are married.  And then, with this huge piece of bubblegum that he was chewing, blew a giant bubble that popped all over his face.  I couldn't keep myself from laughing.  He was so embarrassed that he was trying to talk about anything but the law of chastity.  It was hilarious.  But we got everything covered, and he is still set to be baptized on the 29th along with Michael.  

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day.  We went to Agapito and Mami´s house in the morning to walk with them to church, and only Agapito was there, and he said that he wasn't going to church and that he was going to leave his wife because of a fight.  This was absolutely devastating to us.  We have worked so long and so hard with this family that we were devastated at the thought of them separating.  We set a visit to have both Agapito and Mami together with us later that night, and then we went to church.   All of church we just thought about what we were going to say to try and help them work through their problems.  After church we went to their house to do some family counseling.  All I could think was, they definitely did not train me how to do this in the MTC!

We started with a prayer and then tried to figure out the problem.  Immediately they both just started yelling and saying that the other one was at fault, and yada yada.  When we finally got them to a cease fire, we began to have one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Elder Day and I were able to say things, find scriptures, and help them discover  that the best thing for them was to be together.  But the thing was, it wasn't Elder Day or me.  It was us being guided by the Spirit, to say things to help a 75-year-old couple stay together.  We have no experience with these kinds of problems.  But with the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we were able to help them through this problem.  It was amazing to feel the Spirit come into the room and testify of the importance of the family, and that they could make it through this problem.

This whole thing made me think so much about families.  Satan is relentlessly attacking the family because it is so important.  It is the most important social unit of this life--and the eternities.  Satan knows that if he can destroy our families, he can destroy us.  The things we focused on in this visit were the atonement and love.  We will always have problems.  We will always do things wrong, and the people we love will always do things wrong.  But we need to forgive them.  The Lord said, "I will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."  We need to forgive others.  It is a commandment.  We also need to repent of the things we have done.  The atonement is infinite.  It is inexpressibly amazing, and if we are willing to do our part, we can be made clean of our sins.   Jesus suffered for us because He loves us.

This is another part we discussed.  Love.  We promised them that if they would express love, in word and deed, they would be able to make it through anything.  I know that is true for all of us.  We need to show the people that we love that we love them.  Tell them we love them, show them we love them.  I love you guys.  More than anything.  I am so grateful that I was raised in the most amazing family in the world.  I can't imagine where I would be without a family.  I am so grateful that because of the gospel we will be together forever.  Geez, I feel like Dr. Phil, but that's what has been on my mind.

I just want you to know that I know that this Church is true.  I have no doubt in my mind.  I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet--and that he was called by God to restore His Church to the earth.  I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers.  Always.  Praying is the way we communicate with our Father in Heaven.  I´ve realized how true the quote is that a man stands tallest when he is on his knees.  Praying has helped me through all of my challenges of the mission. The Book of Mormon is true.  It never ceases to amaze me!   The Church is true!   Thanks for everything!  

Elder Riley Reeder


Hello Family!

This week was a great one!  Highlight of the week was definitely the baptism.  On Saturday we were able to baptize Santo and Flor.  They have been investigating the Church since May.  When the missionaries first started teaching them, they said that they wanted to get baptized, and that they were going to get married in September.  Lots of people say...we will get married on such and such a date and get baptized, and then they never follow through, so the missionaries were sceptical.  But we kept with them, and they followed through.  They were so ready.  Santo is going to be an amazing priesthood holder and leader in this ward.  Anyway, the baptismal service went really good.  We got lots of members to come, and even the Stake President came.  We had Pedro Castellas baptize them, because he knows them, and he did a great job.

The Spirit was so strong.  It just testified to me again of the importance of baptism, and that they were making a correct decision that will bless them for the rest of their lives.  It is amazing the change that comes over people when they are truly converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have been thinking a lot about that lately.  It is so important that we have that excitement and love for the Gospel that new converts have.  They just eat up everything we teach them and have such a desire to learn more.  I hope that we all keep that desire to learn about the Gospel, because there is always more to learn!  Anyway, that was such an awesome experience.

Also, on Sunday, Elder Day and I had the opportunity to give Mami (one of Elder Days' converts) a blessing.  I did the anointing, which was pretty scary because I had to do it in Spanish, but it went good.  The power of the priesthood never ceases to amaze me.  It is such a blessing in our lives. 

Also, yesterday the President of the D.R. came to Barrio Nuevo!  (The little town that was demolished by the storm.)  There were cops everywhere!  It was kind of scary walking through the street because everyone thinks we are from the CIA, so they probably thought we were after the President or something.  But anyway, we walked up to the road where we had a visit and they had the road blocked off, no one could enter or leave.  We were pretty disappointed, but then all of the sudden this big-wig guy with a headset in came up and told the other cops to let us in.  We were the only people they let in.  So we went in, taught the visit, and left.  I don't know who told him we could enter, but I'm confident it was a blessing from the Lord to allow us to accomplish our work.  

One thing I have noticed is there are miracles in our lives every day.  Every single day.  We just have to look for them.  It may not be something big, but nonetheless it is a miracle.  I have a challenge for you guys.  (Sorry, I'm a missionary.  We like to leave people homework!)  Look for a miracle every day, and write it down.  When you sit down at night and think about your day, I promise there is always a miracle!  A teacher in the MTC told me to do that, and it has really changed my attitude.  

Anyway, all is good here in the DR.  I hit 4 months this week, which is pretty crazy!  I can't believe how much I have learned in such a little time.  I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary.  Sharing the Gospel is so much fun!  It really is what makes us truly happy in life. 

Testifico que el Libro de Mormón es la palabra de dios.  Yo sé que Moronis promesa es verdadero.  Por medio del espíritu santo podemos saber la veracidad del libro de mormón.  Yo sé que si seguimos los enseñanzas del evangelio, dios nos bendiga.  Jesucristo es nuestro salvador.  Solamente por medio de su expiación podemos ser limpio de nuestros pecados.  Yo sé que Jesucristo vive, y que nos ama, y si nosotros preservemos hasta el fin, podemos vivir con Dios.  

I love you all so much. Thanks for everything you do for me!

Elder Reeder      

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wasn't conference great?

Hello Family,

First of all, wasn't conference great?  I´m so grateful for the opportunity I had to go.  We were able to attend both Saturday sessions, and both Sunday, which is actually a great blessing.  On Saturday the rule was we had to have investigators going to be able to attend.  Well, our investigator pulled a no-show, but we stayed anyway.  We felt pretty justified because we were listening to the Prophet.  Of course, all of it was in Spanish, but I felt like I understood a ton.  It was amazing to hear clear Spanish!  If you can understand a Dominican, you can understand anyone!  Anyway, conference was amazing.  I felt like everything just drilled me.  I loved the Elder from Japan, I can't remember his name and I don't have my notes, that talked about Missionary work.  It hit pretty deep for me.  We really do have the most amazing message in the entire world, and it has the power to change lives.  I came out of there with such an increased desire to work just that much harder.

I felt like a bunch of the talks were on trials.  Everyone has trials.  If I have learned anything on the mission, it's that life is what we make of it.  We can do everything under our power, and sometimes things just don't work out.  But we still need to keep trying our hardest.  Keep doing our best and have faith.  Faith has the power to move mountains.  I have realized the literal significance of that.

I also loved when President Uchdorf (yeah I have no idea how to spell that) talked about how much our Father in Heaven loves us.  He loves us perfectly.  I can't comprehend perfect love, but I know that it is real.  Our Father in Heaven knows our name.  He knows our problems, He can and will help us with everything, if we are just willing to ask.  There is a scripture in Matthew, I don't know the exact reference, where Jesus says (summarizing in my own words) Which of you, if your child asked for bread, would give him a rock?  If you, being imperfect, know how to give gifts to your children, how much more can your Father in Heaven give, if we just ask.  But our requests must be worthy.  When we are truly praying, our desires are in line with the desires that our Father in Heaven has for us.

There are 2 things I beg all of you to do.  Read the Book of Mormon and pray.  Pray together.  Pray alone.  Read together.  Read alone.  Something I got out of the September Liahona.  The September Liahona was really good, but I think they shouldn't have sent that to the missionaries.  Really?  Eternal Marriage to missionaries?  Ha ha  We were all just like....Dang, this is not what we want to be reading about right now!  Ha ha.

One last little interesting fact, remember Elder Cornish that spoke in the Sunday afternoon session?  We are pretty much buds.  His office is in the CCM, so we saw him a lot, and he spoke to us a few times.  Also, he was at our last zone conference.  He is the Doctor that I talked to about my amoeba, so that was pretty cool to see him speaking!

Last week was a good week, but the work was a little bit slow.  The best experience of the week was with Michael.  We went to his house, and him and a bunch of friends were playing card games, and when Dominicans are playing card games they don't like to be interrupted.  But he immediately dropped his cards and came out and talked to us.  In the middle of the lesson, he was like ¨I have felt a major change in my life ever since you guys began sharing with me, and I want to be baptized PRONTO.  That is the sweetest sentence imaginable to missionary ears.  He should get baptized next week if everything keeps going according to plan.  This week we have our first baptism!  It will be the couple who got married last week, Santo and Flor.  They are awesome.  Santo will be an amazing priesthood holder, which is what this country needs.  We had to postpone Omar´s date, because he didn't show up to conference, so that's kind of frustrating.  We should really start seeing the fruits of our hard work this transfer.

Anyways, things are good here in the D.R.  The days are still hot, the mosquitos still bite, the electricity still leaves, the people still yell rubios and Mormones, but I´m still as happy as ever!  This really is such an awesome opportunity to serve, and learn!  I already feel like I have learned so much in these almost 4 months.  I also have a buzz haircut right now, like literally a buzz cut.  It's so short I don't even have to do anything with it!  I´m a little kid again!  I got my first Dominican Pants, they are awesome!!!  I´ll send a picture next week.  Anyways, the Church is true and is an amazing blessing in our lives.  I love you all so much!  

Elder Reeder