December 14, 2011
Wow. I can hardly believe the time has come for me to be writing my last family email to you all! Where has the time gone? Honestly, I think I just thought my mission was going to last forever and now that it´s come down to the end, I feel a little unsettled! But I know the Lord has a bigger and better plan than I could ever understand, so I´m just going to try to hold on to the ride! This last week (and a half since I last wrote really) has been a rather long and trial filled time, but always with big blessings. First of all, I have a wicked gripe (that´s what they call colds) that I can only blame on myself since we got caught in a freak rainstorm over the weekend and I unwisely ignored the Spirit when it told me to bring my umbrella. Ironically, later on that same day the Spirit told me to NOT leave the keys in the chapel library where I again ignored the prompting and found myself cursing my stupidity when we arrived to the house later without the keys in tow. Hermana Bradley strikes again! Haha. Now I´m just trying to not let my head explode with this head cold of death, but I hope to make a full recovery before Tuesday when I´ll get to see all your lovely faces!!!
Anyways, as for the work, which is way more important than my cold anyway, it´s going amazing! We had Alondra´s baptism on Saturday and it was quite possibly my favorite service I´ve had here in Villa Carmen. It would have been almost perfect, had we started on time instead of waiting 45 minutes for a special person to show up...but all´s well that ends well right? Right. We´ve also been blessed to find 2 new young families lately, and I am so sad that I won´t get to see them progress! But I´m happy to know that I will get to hear all about them from Hermana McEntire in the future. We also were able to put baptismal dates with Saul and Noeli, who both finally made it, not only to church, but the ward Christmas party as well! I just love those two and how they ALWAYS read everything we assign them and ask so many questions and just hunger for more knowledge of the gospel. Why can´t everyone be like that? Haha. Anyways, the Christmas party was a HUGE success as well and it just made me sad to know I´m going to have to leave this ward family! It´s crazy how fast people can become like your family when you´re on a mission. But I just have to keep telling myself that I will come back someday.
Here at the end of this crazy mission business, I can´t help but compare it to a rollercoaster. There´s moments where you´re up in the air with your stomache in your head wondering when you´re going to puke, and others where you´re laughing your head off and wishing it would never end. But by the end, when it´s all said and done, you want to go again, and you can´t. So you just have to content yourself with the memories and move on. However, I will always ALWAYS be grateful for the decision I made to come on a mission. For all the good, bad, hard, sad, and high moments. It was all worth it. I love this gospel. I love my Savior. And I am determined to continue being a representative of Jesus Christ for the rest of my life! Love you all and SEE YOU SO SOON!!!!!
(For the last time! Sad!)
Posted by Laurie at 1:40 PM
December 5, 2011
Greetings Family Dearest!
So it´s been one very long week and yet at the same time I feel like the time is just whizzing right by...how do missions do that? Anyways, I have some very interesting stories to share this week. First of all, remember how I said my companion and I were having some problem with rashes on our arms and legs? Well we found out the problem after 3+ weeks. Hermana McEntire climbed onto the roof of our 4 story apartment building to check our tinaco (a giant water tub where the water pumps up to and sits until we use it) and found that the lid had been either stolen or blown off. To our HORROR she found a dead bird in their that had been decomposing for weeks...which means we´d been washing our clothes, our dishes, and ourselves, in contaminated water for weeks. I was downright hysterical at the thought and basically yelled at the poor president´s wife that someone needed to come fix it NOW. Haha. Well apparently when you scream alot people listen because by the afternoon two office elders and a member came and cleaned it out with disinfectant and bleach, so now we´re just waiting for the rashes to go away. Trials. Bleh. But it´s over.
On the brightside, today we had a multi-zone activity and played some baseball...the first and last time I will ever do so in a country that is known worldwide for it´s baseball craze. Hermana McEntire LOVES baseball, so we decided we should experience a little culture for my last real pday in the field since next week we´re going to the temple (which means I´ll be emailing wednesday). I even got out in the hot sun, hit a grounder, stole 2nd base, and made a run for our team. Not half bad for an hermana playing with elders! LoL.
The good news is that we had stake conference yesterday and BOTH Esperanza and Alondra went with us. We actually couldn´t get ahold of Alondra before and so we walked the 30 minute trek to her house early in the morning only to find her apartment empty. But then as we were on our way to the stake center with Esperanza one of the other missionaries called us and told us she´d arrived nice and early and was there. It made my entire week! Not to mention she was there in a brand new blouse and skirt since she didn´t have one last week. She is so amazing and I am SO excited to see her get baptized. She makes me laugh with all her crazy random questions too. I just love her.
As each day passes and my departure from the lovely D.R. gets closer, I find myself getting a little sadder. Even though there have been SO many trials...there are so many people I love and will miss. Not a day goes by that someone from the ward asks me sadly with puppy eyes ¿Cuando se va? and I just want to tell them never. The idea of taking this name plaque off and never being able to wear it as a full time missionary again just makes me want to cry. I think I´m going to have to go on a mission again in the future...so hopefully I find a willing husband! Haha.
I am so grateful for this gospel and the love the Lord has shown me through his children here in the Dominican Republic. I never thought I would grow to love a place and a people so far away from my own home. My testimony of this gospel has become so much stronger in just being able to see the hand of the Lord in the lives of the people here, and as well in my own. The Lord is SO aware of us, moment by moment. I hope I never forget all of the lessons I have learned out here and continue being a witness of the Lord, just as I and every one of my investigators promised at baptism. Jesus Christ is truly our Savior and this really IS His church. We may be imperfect, but it is by the small and simple that the Lord works great miracles. I love and miss you all!
Posted by Laurie at 1:21 PM
November 28, 2011
Well, another week down and I must admit that it wasn´t the greatest week of my mission, but progress nonetheless. And the spacebar in this lovely internet cafe doesn´t want to work so I´ll probably be making this short. First, the good news. Judy was baptized Saturday! Despite a whole slew of trials in trying to fill the water font when the chapel had nothing in the cistern and dipping her under in 3 feet deep water...Honestly I wanted to cry a little bit, but Judy felt special and was happy and even shared her testimony, so that is all that matters. Another wonderful miracle is that Alondra now has a fecha and is super excited about getting baptized December 10th. She even made it to church for all three hours on Sunday and met the bishop. She is SO funny and every time we talk about her baptism she just says determinedly ¨I´m going to get baptized before you leave Bradley.¨ LoL. Another funny story from Saturday was that of Felix, one of the recent converts in the ward. He showed up to English class that morning a little late and when he saw me his eyes got huge and he rushes up to and starts telling me he had a dream this morning about me yelling at him with my finger pointed telling him that he didn´t learn English because he didn´t want to. So of course he jumped out of bed and came to the class. Basically, I´m so outspoken that ward members even DREAM about me giving them reprimands. But hey, at least I´m making a difference right? Haha. All the other stories from the week have to deal with strange skin rashes and digestive problems that I don´t care to relate. Hopefully we can get the doctor to shed some light on the situation. Other than that the work rolls forward. Love and miss you guys!
Posted by Laurie at 6:44 PM
November 21, 2011
So this week has been another good one full of work and progress and of course trials. But the blessings always outweigh the trials. Always. This Sunday Anthony FINALLY came to church. We actually passed by his and Carla´s house Satuday to help them clean so they could come early Sunday. When we passed by that morning and walked up to their apartment building Anthony was sitting in the window still with his head on his hands looking like a little kid on Christmas morning. It was great. He really liked church and we´re set to pass by again on Tuesday.
Judy´s baptism was announced in church and she is just so excited to be baptized since she´s been waiting for a long time apparently. We feel very blessed to have found her. Our miracle reference. Each week I just get a little more sad knowing that I´m going to have to say goodbye to so many people I love. The ward of Villa Carmen has greatly changed in my time here and I feel like a mother chick who doesn´t want to live her chickling to fly alone yet. But, there´s still 4 more weeks, and I know Hermana McEntire will take good care of all these wonderful people.
In other news, I´ve been thinking alot lately about things in the D.R. that have just become normal to me that probably would have made me crazy at home. Here´s just a few examples: cold showers where there´s not even a knob for hot water, people cutting their lawn with machetes, bus drivers that get out of the bus just to fight over getting cut off when the other driver pulls out his pistol (don´t worry that just happened this morning haha), mopping the entire house by hand, speaking Spanish so fast that your tongue can´t keep up (the newest hermana in the mission told me she can´t even understand when I speak Spanish because I do it too fast lol), never leaving anywhere without a giant backpack and umbrella, not flushing toilet paper, and falling asleep to the brassy ringing of bachata or loud bass of reggatone. And you know what? I know I´m going to miss it. Missions are such crazy things! But coming out to serve the Lord was the best decision of my life and I wouldn´t take it back for anything. Thank you so much for all of the love and support you have all lent me through it. I couldn´t have done it without you guys, and every one of you knows who you are. :) Anyways, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and only request that you eat some stuffing in my honor since Dominicans don´t believe in that kind of food. Haha.
Posted by Laurie at 11:39 AM
November 15, 2011
Well, here we are another week down the road and as hard as I´ve been racking my brain, I can think of nothing new to tell you guys! The mission can sometimes be a little scarce on news. But that´s not to say we´re not working or seeing progress, because everyday there are miracles. We now have to investigators set to be baptized the 26th, Felicia and Judy. They are both very special women and it´s a great blessing to see the gospel change their lives. We also continue to teach our golden family, Anthony and Carla. Although they haven´t been able to come to church yet, each visit we see the Spirit light up their faces as we study the Book of Mormon and share the truths of the restored gospel. It´s incredible how the Lord truly prepares people and softens hearts. Another blessing has been the cool breezes and rain that have come in this week. I even find myself getting cold here! Which probably means I´m going to die of hypothermia when I get home. Haha. Well, other than that, I´m drawing a blank of anything exciting to tell you all....except that I am coming home in 36 days!!!! (For those of you who didn´t already know, I´m coming home December 20th) Haha. I´m trying not to be trunky though. Poor Hermana McEntire has to put up with me daydreaming about snow and Christmas lights at Temple Square. But, there is still work to do! Anywho, love you all and have a great day!
Posted by Laurie at 7:28 PM
November 8, 2011
Playing with the vine at Botanical Gardens
Elyse Bradley email@example.com
How are ya´ll doing this week? I´m sure just dying to know how transfers went for me. Well let me tell you, some pretty exciting news.....I´m staying in Villa Carmen.....with Hermana McEntire. Haha. Yeah kind of anti-climatic, but that´s okay. I´m content with it as we have some really special people we´re teaching right now and I´ll get to work more with them and hopefully see a few more of my brothers and sisters enter the waters of baptism!
I´m especially excited to see what happens with Anthony and Carla. Last week we got to meet with them twice and Anthony is zealously reading AND meditating over the Book of Mormon. Every time we visit them the Spirit is like this electrical current in the air and we just walk out with dopey grins on our faces. LoL. We even taught them about the Word of Wisdom, which we were a little anxious to do since we know they will have some trials to overcome with it. But they knocked our socks off when they both firmly committed to giving up their addictions. They couldn´t come to church Sunday though because of a prior commitment, but they both said they´re really excited to visit the church next Sunday. They have an ADORABLE little boy named Aaron and I just can´t wait to see what blessings the Lord has in store for them, because we were definitely led to this family.
We also are now teaching a new young woman named Judy who´s dating a member and seems really interested in learning more about the gospel. Yesterday we finally got to visit with Esperanza after almost 2 weeks and even though she feels she has some doubts about some things, she still feels the Spirit strongly when we visit and wants to keep learning. So as always, there is work to be done!
This last week I also got to go to leadership training where we got to talk about how we can better build up Zion and strengthen the members and less actives. It breaks my heart to see so many of the Lord´s children that have received the truth just fall away. There are so many lost sheep that need rescuing! My mission has forever changed me in that respect. I want to be a missionary for life! Well, that´s all I can think of for now to tell you guys! Hope you´re enjoying the early snow! Love you!
Hna McEntire and I for Halloween dressed as eachother
Posted by Laurie at 7:25 AM
October 31, 2011
So this week was yet another one of ups and downs, but we ended it with an up! Elicia, after almost 3 transfers of teaching, was finally baptized this Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. It was so adorable as she just started giving everyone up on the stand hugs after her confirmation. I just love her so much! We were also able to attend ward council with our new Bishop Diaz, who´s the 26 yr old return missionary, and it was AWESOME! I can´t wait to see the ward grow under his care. The new relief society president Hermana Tejada is great too and and know we are going to see some miracles. In other news, we found some new families this week, including Anthony and Carla, a young married couple who visit the Catholic Church but are very sociable and willing to share with us. Anthony was actually a contact from about 2 months ago that we never could find home before, so about a week ago I suddenly remembered him and we decided to drop by one last time. I LOVE when the Spirit guides us! We also found Jessica, who´s a less active of more than 10 years and has children who are very interested in learning more about the church their mother was baptized in, so we´ll see. Unfortunately, we´ve also had to drop a few people, such as Richard and Kary, which makes me really sad because they now pretend that no one´s home when we pass by. :( Why can´t people just say things to your face? Sure it´s harsh, but at least you know where you stand and you don´t have to wonder. Oh well. Maybe some other missionaries in the future can pick up where we left off... As for everything else, all is well! Transfer calls come before next pday, so we´ll see where I get to spend my last transfer. I think I´ll be staying here, but who knows? And for the humorous experience of the week....so yesterday Hermana McEntire and I went to visit Michael, one of the recent converts who complete one year as a member. So we sit down to share and just chat for a minute about look alikes. Well Michael suddenly tells us to wait so he can go get a magazine where there´s a movie star that he insists looks alot like Hermana McEntire. So while he´s looking for it we try to guess who, maybe Lindsey Lohan or someone like that... but know, it was even better. When he finally finds the picture and passes it to us, I just BURST out laughing, literally until I was crying...as it was a picture of an OLD and WRINKLY Mel Gibson. Hahaha. Poor Hermana McEntire was a good sport but I couldn´t even control myself as Michael insisted it was just his eyes that reminded him of her. LoL. I haven´t laughed so hard in a very long time. Anyways, as for today, Hermana McEntire and I decided to wear eachother´s clothes and nametags to ¨be in costume¨, but it hasn´t proved very entertaining as none of the other missionaries have noticed. Oh well. It´s been funny to just see eachother in our clothes and nametags. Well, I hope you all have a nice chilly Halloween! Love you guys!!!!
Posted by Laurie at 5:19 PM
October 28, 2011
So I´ve officially run out of clever salutations and subject matter. Sorry. You all know I was never very good at the creativity thing anyway. BUT, I do however feel the need to thank ALL of you for the birthday love you sent via mail...because it all finally arrived today at the office and I got so much chocolate they´ll probably have to purchase two seats on my plane home just to fit me. Hope you all still love me when I come home fatter than I left lol. No but really, thanks everyone for thinking of me and making me feel loved...it makes all the difference. Anywho, this week was pretty much the same as the week before. We seem to be stuck in a rut lately of finding new promising people and then having them stand us up, which doesn´t exactly give us warm fuzzies, but oh well. On the brightside, Esperanza...our shining ray of hope...went to church again yesterday and told us after we watched the Restoration DVD (which by the way is officially my favorite movie even though I´ve seen a bajillion times, I am going to be such and RM nerd when I get home) that she´s felt more peace in her life since we started visiting her. :D I love when people actually like our visits instead of rolling their eyes when we show up...which is what seems to be happening with everyone else. Struggles. However another tender mercy was Diana and Melhissa showing up to Friendship Night on Tuesday when we thought no one was going to even come. We watched a short video on the ten virgins and then played Big Booty and it turned out really great. Another thing that is constantly blessing me and helping stay focused are the Conference Addresses that I keep reading from the past two conferences. This morning I got to read President Monson´s talk about gratitude and it really just brightened my day to remember all the wonderful blessings I have received here in the mission and the little daily miracles. Life really is so much better when you focus on what you DO have. Hermana McEntire and I are also trying to cultivate more humility as we are putting President Uchtdorf´s advice from a past conference into practice: Humility isn´t thinking less OF yourself, but rather thinking less ABOUT yourself. I just love that advice...and as we all know Hermana Bradley still has alot of humbling to do. LoL. Anyways, this Saturday we´ve got Elicia´s baptism planned and we´re praying our little hearts out that it all goes smoothly as this has been in the works for months. So please keep Elicia in your prayers! As for everything else...lo mismo. :) Love and miss you all! Til next week...
Posted by Laurie at 1:04 PM
October 19, 2011
Hope this email finds you all when in our lovely Utah! I can´t tell you all how excited I am to see those mountains and snow! All in good time though...Anyways, this week in the work was a little rough. Multiple times during the week members fell through on going out with us which was really frustrating...note to self...do not do that to the missionaries when I get home. Not cool. But it´s ok because the work still goes on.
We are now teaching quite a few families and some really receptive jovenes that we hope to see progress. We also found Esperanza last Sunday and yesterday she came to church with us! She told us when we met her last week that she´s always wanted to visit the church but was too timid to just come alone, so she prayed and told the Lord unless he sent someone to her door she wouldn´t go. Well...He sent us alright and she went for all 3 hours and really liked it! It was so neat to have one of the recent converts explain how he visited so many other churches but just didn´t feel right until he found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She looked right over at my companion at that moment and said, ´That´s how I feel!´ Love it!
I also got to give my third (and hopefully last) talk in Spanish on Sunday where I was able to invite the ward to participate more in la obra misional, so it was good.
My birthday this week turned out to be another trial of patience as we woke up to not only rain, but a lack of public transportation because the buses decided to go on strike last minute. Needless to say, the DR sure knows how to celebrate my birthday lol. Oh well. Other than that, things are pretty much the same here. Workin and sweatin! I can hardly believe how fast the time is flying though!
Today we had fast p-day as we went to the botanical gardens with Hna Hernandez and had a picnic lunch, so fun! Well sorry this is a shorty, but I hope you all have a wonderful week, and thanks again for all the birthday wishes!
Posted by Laurie at 6:57 AM
October 10, 2011
Well, don´t know what to tell you all this week since things are pretty much the same. Up days, down days, and everything in between. On the upside, today I got to play Ticket to Ride with my district for pday and it made me miss game nights at the Haycocks SO much and I can´t WAIT to play with you all again! I also realized that I am one very big nerd, because nobody knows about half the games and movies I play since I´m older than everyone and apparently a home body. Haha. Oh well.
Yesterday at church we had a hard Sunday as very few of our investigators and new members were there. However, our new bishop is really open to working with us on lots of things and we are excited to have a new mission leader in the coming weeks.
In other news, this last week I saw a little miracle that I thought was so cool. Hna McEntire and I were sitting on the bus on the way home from a meeting when I young woman got on who for some reason immediately caught my attention even though the bus was full of people. I felt the need to invite her to church, but didn´t see how I could do it since I was sitting a few rows behind on the inside and she was standing up by the door. So I said a little prayer and asked the Lord to help me find a way. Literally a minute or two later the woman sitting by me got up to get off and all the other people in the aisle moved, so this woman plopped down right next to me! So of course I struck up a conversation and invited her to church. She hasn´t come yet, but I know the Lord wanted her to have the invitation and it was so neat to see my prayer answered so fast!
Another little miracle happened a few nights ago while we were walking home. I decided to follow my stomach to an empanada stand, and low and behold but who finds us there is a brand new family that just moved into the ward and needed to know the meeting schedule! Wow. Isn´t the Lord amazing?
Anyways, teaching right now is getting harder as we are having to drop lots of people that aren´t progressing. It can be frustrating, but it is necessary to spend time looking for people who are willing to make changes in their lives and ACT. I´m just trying to stay focused here on the work...but trunky thoughts are ever present! Haha. Well, hope you all have a great week, and if it snows again please go play in it for me!!!!
Posted by Laurie at 2:27 PM