I can't believe Elder Paxman is already out in the field. It's incredible how fast time flies.
Dad! It's so cool that you got to go to a Jazz game!! How are they doing? What's their record look like? Have you heard much about Jimmer and the Kings? How's the league doing? Sorry for all the questions, but a little news about the NBA would be great :) Anyway, I'm glad they won! That's always good news. And I'm glad that you had a good time there. Also, that's so cool that Jon Schmidt played for that and you got to talk to him! I actually played Waterfall here a couple days ago, so that's pretty cool that you'd bring that up. That's a bit sad that my car is now sold, but I'm glad that there's a bit more money for my mission! It was a good car for me. But I hope it serves that gentleman well! I also hope that home teaching goes well.
And Marilee, I will just keep responding to your email, because it doesn't take too long. :)
Now, getting to what has happened this week . . . a LOT! Last Thursday, after I emailed, we went to what's called the Colonial Area of Santo Domingo. It was really cool. It talked a lot about the history of the country and the city, and how Columbus visited here after visiting the Bahamas and Cuba during his first voyage. Apparently the entire Spanish conquest was based here in Santo Domingo, so that was cool! But we got to walk through some old houses, and we visited the oldest Cathedral in all of the Americas or the Caribbean. It was interesting!
On Friday, we went back out to do some contacting! That had some highs and some lows. We had a couple of guys who were really interested, and we gave them some pamphlets and they said they would call the mission numbers we gave them. We also gave a kid (about 12 years old) a Book of Mormon to read, and he seemed really interested. However, Elder Dowell and I encountered an American atheist, and we were having a pretty nice conversation until we started talking religion with him. We did our best and tried to give him a pamphlet on the Plan of Salvation, but he wasn't having any of it. So he stormed off, and we just went on our way. I felt awful just because I couldn't understand how anyone could live their life thinking it had no purpose. It was truly depressing. But right after that we talked to a younger Dominican guy and asked "¿Cree Ud. en Dios?"(Do you believe in God?) and his reply was "¡Claro!"(Of course!) So that was nice. :)
On Sunday night we were blessed to have a guy speak to us about preaching to "the isles of the sea" like it says in the Book of Mormon. It was so cool! He taught us about Columbus and how he was an inspired man. Apparently Columbus said that the Holy Ghost inspired him. Isn't that so amazing?? Because in 1 Nephi, Nephi has that vision of Columbus coming across the seas. So amazing. It was really a cool lesson.
Monday night was really cool. We had a nice closing meeting for the Haitian missionaries leaving, which was kind of sad, but really nice because they were so excited to get out into the field. We sang "God be With You 'Til We Meet Again" which was really cool, and I was able to play the piano for them. Also, that night Elder Kerr (my old companion) came into our room with his companion, asking if one of us would be willing to help with a blessing. Being his old companion, I volunteered, and I performed the anointing. It was really cool! It was a really good experience, and then after that, all of us in the room participated in the sealing and the blessing. It was really nice.
Tuesday morning, the Haitian missionaries left. :( I'll be sending another email with a few pictures of us with them as well as pictures of other stuff. But they left that morning, and I gave one of them, Elder Excellent (that's his real name!) my temple tie bar. He had seen my Captain Moroni one and said that he wished he had one, so the day he left I just gave him my Salt Lake Temple one. I think he liked it. :) I'll also send a picture of me and him so you can see who he is. Anyway, after they had left (with Pres. Glazier; it was odd not having him there), we went to the Supermercado. That was a strange experience. It was like a really big D.I., but full of new stuff. It was weird. But really cool! I bought a few things I needed, like index cards, floss, some Shout, and a camera case. Oh, and I bought a really cool black and white tie. :)
I also found.... MERENGUE!! You will have to tell Bro. Muirbrook that I found it so he will know that I did. :) I also took a picture of that which I will send in the picture email, which you can maybe show him. It was really good! Anyway, after that I felt sickish, and I think it's because of Elder Kerr the night before, but for whatever reason, my stomach wasn't doing so well and I was having some... problems. But I took some medicine, and after a GREAT night's rest, I felt much better yesterday.
Which brings me to today! We went to the temple again this morning (probably for the last time for my mission, because the temple will be closed until we leave) and we started off doing baptisms and confirmations. There was a bit of a twist though, as it was in Spanish! But it was really nice. For the baptizing part, Elder Dowell baptized me, and then I baptized him, so that was really cool. After, we did another endowment session which was really good. I'm going to miss going to the temple for a couple years, so just be ready to go when I get back, because I'm going to want to really badly!! It was sad leaving the Celestial Room, knowing that I wouldn't see it again. I mean, I might because we may go and clean the temple, but it won't be after a session. But it was a really great morning, and I'm so glad I was able to go to the temple one more time. It always reminds me of you!
Anyway, that's my week. It was a pretty busy one, but a good one. The DR is a great place, but I'm really looking forward to Puerto Rico. I've heard so much about it, and I'm excited to experience it myself in just 19 days! I'm excited to meet my Mission President, and get back into a country where the mail is reliable. I don't know if anybody's sent anything (probably not, since I said not to), but I haven't received anything. It's just funny to watch some of the elders really suffer because they were used to daily letters and packages back in Provo. But such is life. I look forward to writing again next week, and I hope you are all doing well! I pray for you every night and every time I'm in the temple. Tell the dogs I say hi :) and know that I love you all very much. I hope you're handling the cold well (we have Windows 7 here with the weather gadgets, so I check on you every morning), and just know that it is always very warm and humid here! It will be interesting walking around and riding a bike in this, especially in the summer!
But I pray for you, and think of you always. I pray that the Lord may continue to bless you in all things. I love you and miss you!
Love, Elder Gardner