Monday, November 28, 2011

Dia de Gracias -- EMPANADAS!

Hello Family!!!  

Well, I wasn't able to find any turkey to eat for Thanksgiving.  But we ate the next best thing.....EMPANADAS!  I guess I will start out with Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving doesn't exist in the Dominican Republic.  It's definitely just an American thing.  So, to celebrate, Elder Hall and I bought some cereal (yes, cold cereal was a treat) and milk (it was white, but I don't know if it deserves to be called milk).   That was our delicious breakfast treat.  After that, it was a normal day.

We did some contacting, some teaching, and then we had a really tough experience.  We had a lesson with Milagros and Isaura (daughters of Agapito and Mami) about baptism, and they both told us that they really didn't want to get baptized.  But that isn't the hard time.  Isaura said she knows the Book of Mormon is true.  She knows that the church is true.  She knows why she needs to be baptized, but she isn't willing to marry her husband to realize these goals.  I think that was one of the hardest moments of my mission.  To see someone testify that they know the things we taught are true, to know why they need to be baptized, but not be willing to do what they have to do to make it happen was absolutely devastating.  So needless to say, that was a big downer for our Thanksgiving celebrations.  After that lesson, we went and picked up our empanadas and tried to enjoy our Thanksgiving.  Needless to say, it was a rough day, but don't worry, it gets better.

So all week we had been trying to help Agapito and Mami get ready to go to the Temple to do baptisms for the dead with the ward on Saturday.  They were able to go on Saturday, and we truly saw a miracle.  We were in a lesson with Milagros and Isaura on Saturday afternoon, talking about baptism, and we still weren't having a whole lot of progress.  The whole lesson I was just praying that Agapito and Mami could have been there to testify of their experience in the temple.  Just as we were reading a scripture in 2 Nephi 31 about baptism, Agapito and Mami walked in, and with them came the spirit of a person who just went to the temple.  They instantly began to testify of the importance of the temple, and the importance of baptism so that their entire family could go to the temple to be sealed.  This was one of the most powerful experiences of my mission.

Agapito and Mami were so happy.  They had a new light in their eyes.  A light that comes from living the gospel.  A joy that can only come from the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They testified with such power, and so much love, that instantly we saw a change in Milagros and Isaura.  They saw why the gospel is important.  They saw the change in their parents.  And they couldn't deny it.  We had a visit with them the next day, and Milagros accepted a new date for the 31 of December.  Isaura said she will talk to her husband and hopefully in January they will get married.
It made me realize how as missionaries we really are the most insignificant part of the lessons.  The investigators, and the spirit are what are important.  In this case, the Lord worked through Mami and Agapito, because he knew that would have a profound effect on his daughters.  The Lord knows His children.  He loves them.  He wants the best for them, and the way for them to have the best is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This really was such a testimony builder for me.  

I love the mission with all my heart.  I love my Savior, Redeemer, and friend Jesus Christ.  When I have a rough day, I know He will be there.  When the family is a million miles away on a holiday, He is right there with me.  I know that with the Lord we can do anything.  I love you all so very much and pray that you guys will have a Merry Christmas season!  

Elder Riley Reeder

Okay, now to the questions.

Mom, I have seen one snake.  With Elder Day when we were hiking through the jungle.  It wasn't very big, and it was scared to death of us.  I don't really know how many types of snakes there are here, but there are snakes, just not a ton.  (I think.)

I have not eaten iguana.  Just some cow lung, tongue, and some intestines.

I got the CD´s today!!!  I haven't listened to them yet, but I can't even describe how excited I am!!!!

I don't know the rules on Christmas trees....I bought some Christmas lights I hope they are okay!!!

Also, I'm stoked Mitch is coming here!!! WAHOO!!!!  Hopefully I get to see him.    

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello Family!!! 

Yo he sobrevivido una mas semana en la República Dominicana!  Esta semana yo voy a escribir mi carta en español!  Esta bien?  Bueno, entonces esta semana fue muy bien....ha ha  Okay, Mom.  I'm just kidding.  Sometimes I just can't resist. When Dad told me he had been studying the scriptures in Spanish, I thought it would be good practice for us both if I wrote my e-mails in Spanish.   But I decided that even though I'm about a million miles away, I'm not brave enough to do that, because Mom is the big fat boss of the whole wide world!!!  And I think that includes the Dominican Republic.  

But anyway, I decided to start off this week by responding to a few questions.  First of all Mom, it was really good to hear that you got to talk to Elder Day's Mom.  We always talked about our moms, and how it seemed like they had a lot in common--and now they are talking....weird.  Elder Day and I really did have a great time together.  I'm super grateful for him.  He's a stud of a missionary and person.  We will definitely hang out after the mission.  Anyway, the question.

Yes I´m fine!!!  I may have been a little bit more sick than I let on.....but I really wasn't dying or anything.  I really felt fine.  And I'm still fine.  You don't need to worry about my health, I will be just fine.  My knee was kind of a concern, but it was just really, really swollen.  It's totally fine now.  I can play basketball, run, walk, everything, without pain.  Once again, you don't need to worry.

Dad asked some questions about our area.  I don't really know what to say about it.  Our area is one ward.  It is HUGE!!!!  On the picture of our area, we work in like a tiny little sliver of the corner.  I will try to take a picture of the map so you guys can have a better idea.  Our area is pretty much just neighborhoods.  There isn't really an industrial sector or anything like that, just neighborhoods--and the jungle.  Most of (okay all of)  our finding efforts are in contacting-door to door.  But right now, all but one of our progressing investigators are references.   References rock.  They just progress so much more consistently than contacts--for the most part.  

We try to contact about 140 new people every week.  On Saturday we contacted 50 people, and we put 15 first visits for Sunday, but only 3 of them were actually there.  That's the problem with the D.R.  The people just are never there!  But yeah...I don't know what else to say.  There are technically like 400 and something members in our ward....usually about 100 are in church.  That is a huge new focus....inactives!!!  Because they are everywhere.  And sometimes when we are contacting, we run into them....  The conversation goes a little something like this.... ¨hola, somos misioneros de la iglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias, tenemos un mensaje que nos gustaria compartir con usted!¨ 

¨Yo soy miembro de la iglesia.....¨ 


But inactives really are something we need to work on.  It is absolutely devastating to see people who made sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven fall away, and I hope that we can work to reactivate many of these inactives.  

But yeah, this week.  This week I spent pretty much 2 whole days in the capital at meetings and conferences.  On Wednesday, Elder Morgan and I went to a meeting for the ¨leaders¨ of the mission.  Needless to say, I felt like I shouldn't have been there.  Most of the information was for Zone Leaders, but it was nice to enjoy some air conditioning.  I FROZE MY BUTT OFF AND IT WAS 75 DEGREES.  Winter might be a challenge when I return.....  But anyway, after that Elder Morgan and I did an intercambio and celebrated his year mark in the mission with the ceremonial shirt burn.  

After that, Thursday was a pretty normal day.  Just working hard!  On Friday, Elder Hall and I went back to the capital for a conference for the newbies and their trainers.  It was pretty fun because we got to see President Glazier from the CCM, and he said he was amazed at how much my Spanish had improved.  I don't know if that means it's good, or if I just had a lot to improve on ha ha. But yeah, I really don't have a whole lot to say about this week, so I'm going to share a funny experience we had.  

So on Saturday, Agapito tried to convince me that we are all really twice as old as we think we are.  He said "They only count the days, not the nights, so we are all really twice as old as we think!  You are 38 and I'm 130!"  I replied, "Well Agapito, there are 365 days in the year...."   And he cut in, "Yeah, exactly, there are 365 days but also 365 nights!!!"  It was literally one of the hardest things I have ever done not to just die laughing.  I just went along with it.  So I guess I'm going to come home a 42-year-old man.  The mission really ages you in the Dominican Republic! ha ha

But about the work.  We are actually really starting to see some success.  We have been able to find some old investigators that Elder Day and I dropped, and many of them are progressing once again.  Right now we have 4 people with baptismal dates set in December, and we are praying that all 4 will follow through.  

I just want you guys to know that all is well with me.  I love the mission.  I love the people.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is such a blessing in our lives.  I love seeing the gospel change someone's life.  I love the experiences I am having with Elder Hall.  He has started to open up to me, and we are having a lot of fun and working hard.  We have to make sure to always have the Spirit with us, because two greenies don't know how to speak eloquently, but the Spirit is what converts, not what we say.  I have faith that we will have faith as a companionship as long as we put our faith in the Lord.  

I'm not gonna lie, I'm gonna miss a great big turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, and even getting up at 3 to work black Friday, but here with my rice and beans and doing the work of the Lord is where I want and need to be.  Say hi to everyone at the parties, and tell them I love them.  I love you guys so much, and hope that you have a great thanksgiving!  


Elder Riley Ted Reeder

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Hola Familia, 

Well, I really don't know where to start out this letter.  Basically, the last week has been the hardest but most rewarding week of my life.  I'll try to give the highlights without just rambling.  So on Tuesday, we had to leave our house at about 6 o'clock to get Elder Day to Las Palmas, and me to the capital to meet my trainee.  We got about 4 hours of sleep that night because we were packing his stuff, cleaning the house, doing all sorts of stuff.  Anyway, we left super early and went to the zone leaders' house to say our goodbyes.  It was really hard saying goodbye to Elder Day.  He really was a father to me.  I really feel like he taught me everything I know about the mission.  At times I was stubborn, but he was always patient with me, and we always had fun and worked hard.  I realized last week how much I took for granted having such a great trainer.  But, well, we said our goodbyes. 

Then Elder Boswell and I left for the capital.  Well, we flagged down a Gua Gua (a bus) on the freeway and got in--kinda.  There wasn't really room on the bus, so we rode to the capital with our feet and arms holding on, and the rest of our bodies outside!  It was pretty fun!  I tried to get out of paying for the ride by saying that we weren't really in the bus......but I still had to pay.  Ha ha.  But, we got to the transfer chapel, and I got to see Elder Richardson and Elder Dispain from the MTC and CCM.  It was fun to see them and share our experiences about the mission.

After this, we (the trainers) went into a meeting with President Rodriguez.  At this point I was overwhelmed to say the least, but the things that President said to us I feel were directed right to me.  He started off by assuring us that we were called by the Lord to be trainers.  He talked about how we had the power in our hands to change the mission.  President really wants the mission changed, and he wants it to start with the new ones coming in.  He also then continued talking about how he promised we were called by the Lord, and that we would be able to fulfill our responsibility.  It was reassuring to me, but at the same time I felt extremely nervous that I would not be adequate.  After that we went in to meet our "kids". 

My trainee is Elder Jacob Hall from Layton Utah.  He is way bigger than me!  Everyone probably thinks that my kid is my dad!  He is kind of a shy guy, but he is opening up--as of about yesterday.  In all honesty, we don't really have a whole lot in common.  He was in drama in high school, and he went to BYU!  (I just reminded him that USU beat BYU.)  ha ha.  No, but he really is a great missionary.  He has a great desire to learn and to serve the Lord.  I'm really excited to see what the Lord has in store for us in the next few months.  It was way fun to watch him during his first few days and to see him go through the same things that I went through--like just a few months ago!  

It really has been such a rewarding week for me!  I just pray that I can teach him the things that he needs to know and do it in the way that the Lord would have me.  I have realized that I made it through the last week relying on the Lord.  I have never prayed so hard in my entire life, and I have seen miracles.  I have been able to understand Spanish--everything, and my speaking ability has increased so much that it is amazing.  I am so grateful for the hand of the Lord in the last few days. 

I feel like I have a million things to say, but no time to say it.  Basically, I'm just trying to put myself in the hands of the Lord and learn everything I can from this experience.  I hope that I can train Elder Hall correctly, and that we can accomplish the work of the Lord in Madre Vieja Norte.  I love the mission.  I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings that we receive from it.  I'm grateful that the family can be eternal because of temple ordinances.  I love all of you!  

Elder Riley Reeder

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Week of Changes

Hello Family,

It's crazy to think that another week has passed by and that I am already e-mailing again.  The weeks are really starting to fly by.  This week we had a lot of things going on.  First of all, we had our baptisms!  Agapito and Sebastian were both baptized on Saturday.  The baptisms really were the highlight of the week.  It's always such an amazing experience to watch people enter into the waters of baptism.  They were both so excited and ready to be baptized.  I am constantly amazed by their desire to follow the Lord.  It was an amazing experience to see the joy that baptism brought into their lives.  Funny little experience with the baptism--Elder Day decided to baptize our phone también...but thanks to some investigators with a blow dryer, it is still functioning! 

One of the most powerful experiences this week was saying goodbye to Elder Urry.  Elder Urry is (was) our zone leader.  He is the one we were always playing basketball with, talking to, he was just our good friend, but also an amazing missionary.  He had fun, all while working hard, up to the day he left.  We all went to eat with him on Saturday, because he left yesterday, as kind of a going away party.  He was doing everything but party.  He was sad.  He has such a love for the people and the work that it was killing him to leave.  He was just telling people how these are the best two years of your life, and to enjoy every minute of it.  
It made me reevaluate my take on the mission.  The mission is the only two years that I will get to dedicate 100% to the Lord.  I need to take advantage of every minute, and of every day, and enjoy every moment.  I have learned in the mission to appreciate everything.  The good, and the bad, and the simple things.  When times are hard, there is always something we can learn from it.  When times are good--we need to enjoy them--and always be grateful.  And the small things.  It shouldn't take anything amazing to make us happy.  We have every reason to be happy!  We are children of God.  We have an amazing family.  We have the Gospel in our lives.  These are the things that last forever.  I have really learned to find the joy in these things.  They are what bring true and eternal happiness.  

Anyways, we received the transfer call last night!  Elder Day is leaving.  He is heading to Las Palmas to be a zone leader there.  I know he will be awesome.  He really has taught me everything that I know about the mission.  He has taught me to find the balance between working hard and enjoying the mission.  He has such a love for the Lord, and his desire to serve is amazing.  He really has become such a good friend of mine, and it definitely is going to be hard to say goodbye.  Trainers in the mission are called "fathers", and he has been my "father" out here.  Just as dad taught me so many things at home, my "father" in the mission field has taught me so much.  I will always be grateful for the example he has set for me.

As for me, I am now going to be a father. understood correctly.  I am training.  I will be training an Elder Hall, straight out of the CCM.  Here is how the phone call went last night:
"Elder Day, Elder Reeder, you are never going to believe what's happening this transfer.  Reeder's training!"  
We all got a good laugh out of that, and then I said, "Alright Elder Morgan.  Really, what's happening?"  
"Reeder, you are training."  
"Hahahaha.  Enough jokes, Morgan.  Who is my comp?"
"Dude, I'm not kidding man.  You're training Elder Hall."  
At this point I went pale and began to pace back and forth throughout the house.  I have never felt so inadequate in my entire life.  I felt sick to my stomach and was sure it was all a joke.  So I called Torribio (the other Zone Leader), and he said it was  true.  Words cannot describe the thoughts and feelings that I had at that moment.  I have never been so scared in my entire life.  I am in a country that I don't know, where they speak a language that I don't know, and now I am going to be with a kid who is greener than me.  And I am as green as grass.
But I have reason to rejoice.  The Lord knows His people, and He knows Spanish, and He will help me through this.  I know that this is going to be a great learning opportunity for me.  I thought I learned a lot the last two transfers, but woah......BUCKLE UP!  Anyways, I'm scared, scared, scared, nervous, scared, nervous, scared, and excited.  I just pray that I can help Elder Hall in at least 1% of the ways Elder Day helped me.  Oh, and I will be staying here in Madre Vieja Norte to train. 

Well, that's about it.  Thanks for everything guys!  Some extra prayers for me and Elder Hall this week would be great.  I love you all so much!  

Elder Riley Reeder

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Well today is Halloween!  Halloween is not a holiday in the Dominican Republic, so they skip straight to Christmas.  There is already Christmas lights, trees, pretty much the works!  But that's just another story.

Anyway, last week was a lot better than the one before.   First of all, we got permission from the First Presidency to baptize Agapito!!!  We got the call Thursday while we were at Abuelas, and Elder Day and I were ecstatic to say the least.  It has been a challenge with him, but it definitely was all worth it when we received that call!  He and Sebastian will both be baptized this Saturday, the 5th.  This is awesome because more than likely, this will be the last week that Elder Day will be in this area, so he is excited to see the baptism.  We will get Transfer calls this Sunday, so we will have to see if I stay, or if Elder Day stays.  I hope that I do, we have some awesome investigators right now, and I really want to see them progress to baptism.  It's crazy that in a week I will be with a new companion--maybe one that doesn't speak English, but I know that would be for the better!  

This last week really didn't have anything super exciting like the last few.  Wednesday, Elder Morgan did an intercambio in my area.  It was an awesome experience.  I was kind of in charge.  I had to get us to the houses, I had to start the lessons, and I had to communicate with the members, things like that.  I learned a whole ton because I didn't have my ¨crutch¨ (aka Elder Day).  It was an awesome experience for me.  I realized that I really do know a lot more Spanish than I thought and that I kinda have the hang of things about now!  We also had the most successful day of my mission.  We found 7 new investigators that, as of now, are still progressing.  It was a lot of fun.  On Friday, we were able to go over and spend some time with Elder Urry, our zone leader, who is going home this next Sunday.  He is an amazing Elder.  He has worked hard til the bitter end, and he really has a true love for the people.  He is the kind of missionary that I want to be.

I really can't think of anything exciting to share this week.  It was a really normal week--that or I´m just too tired to remember the exciting things--I cant decide which.  I really am blank right now.  I would send you some pictures of this week, but we are at the internet center that gives our cards viruses, so I can't.      

Basically, the only things I know how to talk about nowadays is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And what a blessing that is.  I have never experienced such joy in my life as when I share the Gospel.  It really is an amazing blessing in our lives.  I love the Book of Mormon.  It really is a missionaries best tool.  Whenever people want to ¨bible bash¨ and things like that, we can just turn to the Book of Mormon.  We don't have to convince the people that the message is true.  They have to be willing to read, pray, and listen for an answer, and the Holy Ghost will testify of the truthfulness.  And if they know the Book of Mormon is true, they know that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet.  If they know this, they know that every teaching of the Church is also true.  
One thing that I have realized, is that we can't rely on a testimony of the past.  I challenge you all to read the Book of Mormon every day.  Put Moroni´s promise to the test.  I know that you will receive an answer.  We need to constantly be strengthening our testimonies.  If we do this, we will never falter, and we will be blessed.  Anyway, I am good.  I love the mission.  I love the work.  I love the people.  And, I love you all so much!  Thanks for everything!  

Elder Riley Reeder

P.S.  Enjoy a nice chilly fall day for me!!!
P.S.  Family:  I would like to see some pictures of the good ole Cache Valley!  Of my puppies, of you guys, of the cousins, of the snow!
Thanks!  Love you guys.