Well, another week has come and gone mi familia. I'm still getting used to the fact that you're 3 hours behind me... so as I type this, it is 4:20 in Utah. Crazy!
Thursday night I guess was where the adventure began. I was flossing above my retainer on my top teeth (that's what the floss threaders were for), and the floss got caught or wrapped around the retainer or something, so when I tried to pull it out, it pulled on the retainer and popped the retainer off my far left tooth. :( It was pretty depressing. I was going to just try and live with it, but my tooth started hurting and I didn't like the end of my retainer just flopping around in there, so I eventually asked someone about it, and they had me talk to one of the CCM administrators. But I'll get to that in a bit. Also, the native missionaries came in Wednesday night, and all I can say is . . . where are the Haitians??? But the natives are great, they are just very open and kind of do whatever they want. They're great and have wonderful testimonies.
Friday (the 13th!) was interesting. After a normal morning, we went to the local university to do some contacting! That was pretty cool. We talked to a few people, and left some folletos (pamphlets) for them. One couple talked to us about reincarnation, and we had to explain that we don't believe in that, but we believe in the Resurrection. Apparently they did too, as well as reincarnation. I don't really understand how anyone could believe both, but whatever. We also talked to a guy about the Book of Mormon, and we left him with one as well as a pamphlet on the Restoration. He seemed really interested. I hope he read it! Also, keep in mind that it's only winter here. All of our teachers say that it's pretty cool compared to summer. And I while we were contacting, I was sweating very much. It was awful! It's so hot and humid here! But honestly, I am very glad that it's hot rather than cold and freezing. :)
Saturday was an "eh" kind of day. Elder Clarke, one of my roommates, had been feeling sick all day, so that night we gave him a blessing as well. It turned out that he had some kind of amoeba that was causing him some problems, but he is doing great now. :) Besides that, Saturday was just a normal day.
Sunday, as always was really nice! We had a great Sacrament meeting, and I was selected to give a talk (in Spanish) about the Restoration. I chose to speak on why it's important for our investigators to know about the Great Apostasy, and why it was important to have a Restoration. I honestly don't really remember much of what I said, so I'm pretty confident that there was a higher power just giving me the words to say. It was a cool experience. That afternoon, we got to watch the Devotional from the Provo MTC given on Nov. 22 by Elder Christofferson. That was just 8 days before I got there, and I remember Elder Paxman telling me about it. It was a really great talk! That night, we were also privileged to hear from Pres. and Hna. Rodriguez. Pres. Rodriguez is the Mission President of the Santo Domingo West Mission, and he gave a pretty good talk himself. He's a very spiritual man, and the missionaries are lucky to have him as their president! But I have heard such great things about Pres. Alvarado, and I cannot wait to meet him. :)
So Monday is where the story gets interesting I think. It started out normal enough, and I talked to the guy about the dentist. And so he said he would call someone and see what he could do. Later that day, after lunch, I was pulled out of class and talked to the dentist, and she looked at my retainer, and then I as well as Elder Taai (an Elder here going to Santiago, DR), went with the dentist to her office. It turned out he needed work done and she asked me to tell him. He's from the Christmas Islands (a Nephite descendant!!), and he doesn't quite understand Spanish as well as English. He had a cavity the size of Kansas!! It was huge! I felt so bad for him, and when I saw I thought "well that's why your teeth are hurting!" Then she worked on my retainer, and cemented it back on, and now I'm back to normal. :) However, it cost about 50 bucks, so if you noticed that change in the money, that's what happened. So don't worry, nobody stole my card or anything. :)
Tuesday, we got to hear from Elder Andersen, who is a General Authority of some kind, but I'm not exactly sure what... but he gave a great talk on how to become better missionaries by developing better attributes of work, obedience, and reverence. It was great. I loved his talk, and I hope that I can do exactly what he talked about!
So that brings me to Wednesday. After a normal morning, and lunch, we all packed into a couple of vans, and we drove to a church in the city. And there we met with a zone of missionaries out in the field, and they split us up, and then away we went, into the city to preach the word of God!!! I was paired with Elder Hawks, a missionary from Montana who has been out a year. When I asked him if it felt like it's been a year, he shook his head. But we walked through the city a ways, in the rain, and then we started some contacting. It was really interesting! He had me talk to a few people as we were doing that, and we got a couple to say yes to a visit for tomorrow (today). After we contacted for a bit, we went to some appointments. Most of them weren't home, but we did teach an older couple. It was interesting, because the guy was missing his front teeth and he speaks Dominican, fast, crazy Spanish. But I understood most of what was being said, and Elder Hawks had me bear my testimony and teach a little bit about the Book of Mormon. It was a really cool and interesting experience, and I'm glad I had it, because I feel so much better about going to the field! I'm so excited to go to Puerto Rico, because it's going to be just like here, but Americanized. :)
Anyway, after the appointments, we walked to a corner store, and Elder Hawks bought me a little thing of cornbread and some Coke. It was great! I had had a little headache and a stomachache, and the Coke helped a ton. (By the way Mom, you would be proud of me and my new eating habits. I've come to actually enjoy peppers and onions now, and the cornbread was really good.) And then we were done. Elder Dowell had been paired with a native speaker, so that was a cool experience for him. Anyway, after the field experience, we came back and found out that my old compañero, Elder Kerr, was going to the hospital because he's been so sick lately. Later we found out that he has pneumonia. :( So he's there now with his companion. We have been praying for him to get better, and I feel so bad for him... Also, not to freak you out or anything, but apparently a few days ago someone got into the CCM and stole a projector. On our floor. And we live on the top floor! Apparently Hermano Cuevas, the MTC Director, saw him on the cameras the next day. So… that was kind of creepy. But all our room doors lock, so we were safe. :)
Anyway, that was my week! Kind of a long letter, but they give us an hour here to write emails each week, so I can write everything that happened that week. :)
Espero que Uds. estén muy bien. Les extraño mucho, y les amo mucho. Espero que Dios les bendiga en todas partes de sus vidas. Ya estoy aprendiendo español, pero espero que Uds. puedan entender las cosas que he escrito aquí. :)
Con mucho amor y cariño,
Elder Kimball Ray Gardner
Puerto Rico San Juan Mission