Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hello Everyone!

Hello Family!  

Sounds like this week has been quite eventful for you guys!  Moving, moving, and more moving!  Sorry to hear that.  But it also sounds like Ash and Sven's new house is a lot better!  I'm glad that you guys are a little bit further out of the city and have a little room to grow.  How does Keagan like it?  Is she just crawling all over?  I'd love to see some more pictures of the house and just of life in general.  
Mom, I think they just really don't want me to get that Christmas package!  Ha ha ha.  But don't worry about it, really I'm fine.  But....I could use some more vitamins...I'm out, and I went and looked here.  A pack of 45 of those vitamins I have costs 55 dollars here!  I don't know if they are that much at home or not?  If so, just buy me some Wal-Mart ones.  I don't need anything special.  

Well, this week was a lot more eventful than last week!  On Saturday, we got to go to the Capital and here from Elder Bednar, and President Walter F. Gonzalez (from the Presidency of the Seventy),  and Bishop McMullen (from the Presiding Bishopric).  We were able to spend 3 hours listening to them, and it was an extremely amazing experience.  First off, we were told that we are not supposed to share our notes, because they are only for our own "personal" use.  I don't know why, but I thought I would tell a few of the things that I learned.  
The first thing I learned, Elder Bednar has an amazing sense of humor.  Basically from the moment he stepped up to the pulpit, he had us laughing!  The form in that he talked to us was very fun.  He did more of like a question and answer session--sometimes he asked the questions, sometimes we did.  Basically, it was just an extremely personal setting with an Apostle.  (We were on about the 6th row.)  
One thing that he spoke to us quite a bit about was agency.  The first thing he said about agency was that it was more than an ability to choose.  I know that as a missionary trying to simplify my teachings, my definition of agency has always been:  the ability to choose.  And while that is true, it is so much more.  Because I don't know what I am allowed to say, I'll try to say what I learned without quoting him.  Agency allows us to be Agents and not Objects.  What's the difference?  Agents act.  Objects are acted upon.  That just leads to some profound, deep thinking, that sometimes leads to confusion!  
So that's what agency is, but how does that apply to us?  We all have agency.  A marvelous gift from our Father in Heaven.  It allows us to act, and not be acted upon.  In the world that we live in, things are always trying to "act" on us.  The media, our friends, neighbors, and Satan.  When we fully utilize our agency, we act, and leave the tendency to become objects.  Just some food for thought.  We specifically applied this to investigators, and that was really interesting.   
One thing that continues to influence me is that as we learn more and more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we go back to the basics.  The simple, fundamentals that we all learned as primary kids.   I guess that is my message today.  Focus on the simple things.  The first principles of the gospel are immensely important.  Faith:  without it, we are nothing.  But what is faith?  (More than just a little seed.)  Repentance:  the amazing opportunity to improve and become more and more like Christ.  All of these things are so "simple", but when we start to fully understand them, we gain an increased appreciation, and desire to improve. 
WHOA......Elder Reeder kind of went out of control there....Sorry, I didn't mean to preach to you guys.  I just hope that we all realize how important the Gospel is.  I know that before the mission, I knew the Gospel with my head, but not with my heart.  The mission has helped me move all the information that's in my head, down to my heart.  That has been one of the most amazing learning experiences I have had in my life.  I love you all so very much.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.  I know that there are living prophets on the earth today.  I am so grateful for the chance that I had to listen to one of the Lord's chosen servants.  I am so grateful for the chance to be on this little island in the middle of the Caribbean serving the Lord and His children.  Thanks for all you do for me!  I love you!

Sorry, kind of quick today.  I'm gonna go try and make some empanadas!  


Elder Riley Ted Reeder  

I didn't get to see Colton or Mitch.  The meeting was only the West Mission, no one else.
Dad, have you not gotten my package yet?!?  Jeez, it should be there by now.  
Mom, I feel just fine!  After a few hours of kneeling in front of the toilet, I'm much improved.  Apparently, salami doesn't like me.  
Also Mom, don't worry about the news you told me.  I knew it was coming.  If she's happy, then I'm happy!    
Love you guys!  

Just Keep Pushing Forward

Hello Family! 

This week has been slightly uneventful--sorry to say it.  We have just been working our hardest and hoping that we could see continued success.  Right now we have kind of hit a wall with lots of our investigators.  We have taught them about everything we know, and we just have to wait for them to do their part.  That is a really frustrating part of being a missionary.  Sometimes when we do everything that we can, the people still choose not to do anything!  Even when they know that it is true.  It's pretty frustrating! 

Saturday I had some pretty eye-opening experiences that helped me to understand just how blessed I am.  I have realized that every time I start to feel like the mission is hard, I get humbled extremely quickly!  In the afternoon we went to find a reference that we received from a member.  After a little searching, we finally found her!  She lives on a second floor, in a house that is far from finished.  There is just a little part in the back corner that has walls and a roof, and there she lives with her children.  She started building this house, but she was then diagnosed with cancer, and she had to halt construction to pay for her treatment.  Overall, it was just a heart-wrenching situation.  
But what I witness over and over again in the mission, is that it doesn't matter what problems people have or what they are going through, the Gospel has the answer!  And it is the same with each and every one of us.  We all have problems, challenges, and tribulations in our lives, but the Gospel always has the answer!  The plan of salvation is for all of God's children and can provide the peace, happiness, and comfort that we all need in this life!  

After this, we went to visit a less-active family in the ward.  When we got there, we could instantly see that there were problems in the house.  When I asked what we could do to help, the father told me that they didn't have any food in the house.  Once again, another heart-wrenching situation.  We were able to talk to the Bishop, and he was able to help them out.  

Moral of the story.....We are so blessed!  We have so many blessings, both temporally and spiritually.  We have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We know that families are forever, and that this life is not the end.  We have the blessings of a nice home and food on the table.  It is moments like these that always remind me of the blessings we have!  

Funny moments of the week:  We contacted a woman the other day who is in charge of the campaign efforts of "Papa" here in San Cristobal.  "Papa" is running for President in this country, and he is kind of just a dork.  Anyway, I am always just joking about Papa, and I even had a big Papa poster above my desk for a while!  But, Papa is going to go to this lady's house next Sunday!  I really am thinking seriously about going back and trying to get a picture with him!  We'll have to see if I can get a picture with Papa.  That would be pretty sweet.  Also, Elder Hall and I tried to make homemade Empanadas.  FAIL!  Dad, you should investigate a recipe for the dough...a simple one, though, because we are kind of limited on ingredients.  

Yesterday, I had my first sick day of the mission.  I ate something that didn't sit too well with my stomach.  It was quite a fight, but I was victorious.  

Anyways, I just want you to know that I love you all!  I love the mission!  I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I know that He restored His Gospel on the earth to bless us.  Pray and read the Book of Mormon everyday, go to church every Sunday, and keep your covenants.  If we do this, we will be happier than ever!  I love you guys!

Elder Riley Ted Reeder 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Week in Madre Vieja Norte!

Hello Family!

Thank you all for the letters!  It was great to hear how you all are doing.  Its always great to hear that everyone is doing good!  As for me, I'm still alive and kicking down here in the D.R.  I guess I will start off by answering Mom's questions!  Yes, the pants are hemmed, the sastre (tailor) that made all my pants made the suit....entirely for me.  It took him 5 and a half yards of fabric.  He measured me up, and 4 days later--wahoo--a suit.  Pretty sweet!  Yes, it is way, way, way too hot to wear a suit!  It's just hanging in a nice bag and won't get worn until I come home!   Ha ha.  I'm gonna be honest, I'm super jealous that you guys went to the Coppermill.  I would be lying if I said I don't miss a good old hamburger!  But, beans and rice have become quite tasty!  Ha ha.  Although that was a huge temptation to just eat all the bacon, I have conserved it!  I put it in my scrambled eggs that I eat every morning!  It makes them so good!  I still really like bacon........
Dad did you take in the receiver to Best Buy?  I'm positive that it has a warranty!!  I remember buying it!  Ashley, that house looks sweet!  2.5 acres is awesome too!  Does Keagan know my name yet?  I'm pretty sure that is the first name she is going to say!  Ha ha. Mom, the package has not arrived yet....but I don't think we need to fear yet, it has only been about 2 and a half months!  Elder Day said he just got a package that was sent in September, so who knows?  Anyway, now for my letter.

So, this week has been a really good week in all honesty.  My first day back to work, I felt a huge miracle in my own life.  As we taught our investigators, I just felt that I am where I'm supposed to be.  I felt so happy to teach them and to see the joy that the gospel brings into their lives!  Being a missionary really is an experience that you can't describe but is absolutely amazing.  Sharing the gospel has brought so much joy into my life.  Tuesday was a fun day, we all went to the transfer chapel and welcomed the "new" missionaries to the zone.  Elder Day was in charge of the transfer bus, so I got to see him, which is always fun!
After that, it was back to work.  I stopped by all the people that I said goodbye to, and told them oops, just kidding!  Mami freaked out and gave me a big hug....don't be worried, she's like 70.  But all in all, I just felt good to be working in Madre Vieja Norte!

Other than that, it was a normal week until Friday.  Friday we had Zone Meeting, where we learned all the news for this transfer!  Needless to say, it is going to be a sweet transfer!!  On the 18th of February, Elder Bednar is coming to the D.R. to speak with all of our mission, and all of the Mission Este!  We are all going to the capital and are going to get to listen to him. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to listen to an Apostle of the Lord while I'm on the mission!  Also, we get to go to the temple!  Words can't describe how excited I am to go to the temple.  I hope you all utilize the temple being in our's such a blessing! Please try to go as often as possible--it is the House of the Lord!  We should be pounding down the door to get to spend some time in the House of the Lord, but sometimes the things that are extremely easy to do, are the hardest.  I know that doesn't make sense, but I think you catch my drift.  
Also, I am now District Leader.  Once again, I don't know how I feel about that.  I just remember that the Lord calls us in our weakness, but qualifies us for the work.  I know that I don't have what it takes to be a District Leader at this point in the mission, but I know the Lord will help me.  It's already proven to be quite a bit of work, but with sacrifice comes blessings!  I am in charge of our district.  I have to do baptismal interviews, and district meeting every week, and I have to do nightly "call in reports" to the zone leaders. 

I just want to briefly share an experience that Elder Hall and I had on Saturday.  We had a 1st visit with a woman that taught me a lot.  We went into the visit, introduced ourselves again, said a prayer, then I said about 5 words and boom--she went off.  She began to attack our doctrine, our leaders, our beliefs, basically everything!  She went into the Bible, trying to prove how our religion was incorrect.  She was doing all of this just with the biggest smile on her face.  She was just so happy that she was "proving" our Church wrong.  Although we could have spent time contending with her from the Bible, proving that indeed this is the true Church, we didn't, and we don't have to.  
All we have to do is have a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  If these two things are true, all of our message is true.  The message that we as missionaries share is simple:  God has restored His Church on the earth again through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  We can know this for ourselves when we read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  Isn't it beautiful?  It's so simple, yet profoundly powerful.  I left that visit with an even stronger testimony of the Church, the Book of Mormon, and of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I know without a doubt in my mind that he restored the true Church of Christ to the earth. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that He is our Savior and Redeemer.  I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father.  He knows us by name, and He loves us so very much.  I also love you guys so very much!  I pray for you every day!  

Elder Riley Ted Reeder 
P.S.  Sorry, I don't have my camera today, so no pictures!