Sister Elyse Marie Bradley
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission
8532 NW 66th St.
Miami, FL 33166
A Mí Querida Familia,Every week I dread having to sum up my experiences in one brief email to you...but have no fear, because I will prevail! My first week here in the D.R. has been one full of trial and error. As Dickens would say, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And living within the gated walls of our little MTC is proving to be a challenge for my wandering spirit. I´m only beginning to understand the meaning of how a mission is hard. But at the same time I´m getting just a small taste of how incredibly rewarding this work can be. I know it will only continue harder and better as I go out into the field.So...some experiences to share! I´ll start with a funny one. First, my sweet companion Hermana Peterson is such a trooper with Spanish. She uses what she knows and just gets by with a limited vocab as best she can. She really is amazing and I admire her perseverance. However, the other day as we were talking with an elder from her old district she tried to ask him where his drawings aka dibujas were since he´s big into drawing. But instead she said "Donde esta su bruja?" which means "Where is your witch?" to which he replied "En mi cuarto!" (In my room). Hahaha. I almost died laughing. I love spanish.On a more spiritual note, I had two really amazing experiences this week. First was on Monday where we got to go visit the university and basically meet people as we shared folletos (pamphlets). I'll be honest, I was scared out of my mind to talk to these people in Spanish. But as we started out, my fears became less and less important as I realized that these people desperately needed to hear what I had to say...even if it was a few broken words of Spanish. We ended up having some really neat conversations. However, it instilled an even greater desire in me to learn this language. Poco a poco...I will get it. :-) The other experience I had was last night with our MED teacher Hn. Mediavilla. After my companion and I taught him our lesson both of us expressed some frustrations in not being able to say what we feel in the language. However, he shared a wonderful scripture from Moses about our Heavenly Father's love and sorrow for us. It made me more determined than ever to do this work with all my heart.Today has been pretty exciting as well since we got to go to the temple this morning and then do service this afternoon. The session was in English, much to my dismay, but it was probably better that way. Maybe I'm not ready to tackle that task in Spanish yet. The Santo Domingo temple is beautiful though, and very small...which is almost a nice change I think. Service was exciting as Hna. Peterson and I got to pick up trash between bushes at the university. I now know the full meaning of "noxious weeds"...at least I think that's what they're called.Well I'm running out of time, but basically life is good. I have many things to be grateful for...like delicious food (I love la bandera!), a ping pong table (I have to exercise control daily not to sneak down and play outside of gym time lol), air conditioned buildings, amazing teachers and leaders (Elder Vinas visited us this week!), a great companion, a wonderful district, and of course this wonderful gospel! thank you so much for all of your love, support, and prayers, I wouldn't be able to make it through a day without them! I love you guys!!!!!Love,Hermana Bradley
Hola Mi Familia!So you get an extra email this week since they allow us to contact you about our safe arrival. I decided not to call you from the airport because I figured it would just make me homesick. Besides, every pay phone in the entire Miami airport was occupied by the poor desperate elders. Just know I love ya'll! Anyways, the trip down was pretty long and tiring, but I think my trip to Jerusalem still takes the cake for most exhausting. Our flights were booked from Salt Lake to Dallas, Dallas to Miami, and Miami to Santo Domingo. I had a really neat experience talking with a man named Ferdinand from the Philippines. I was only able to give a pass along card though because in my desperation to stay underweight for travel I failed to have an extra Book of Mormon with me. Never again! I would have gladly sacrificed anything in my bag to have had one to share...oh well. Next time then.Santo Domingo is beautiful...and hot. We flew in around 7pm at night and when we walked outside it felt like walking into a sauna. I felt so bad for all the elders that kept their suit jackets on. The travel experience as a whole was kind of crazy. Nobody knew where we were supposed to go once we got off the plane and there were so many lines! Tourist cards...money changers....immigration...baggage claim...customs. Although, I suppose it wasn't really that bad compared to security and customs into Israel. I didn't get body searched this time though, what a disapointment. :-) Some of the elders were totally shell-shocked though, wandering around with lost looks on their faces. Poor little boys getting sent into a third world country when they've hardly traveled farther than state boundaries...hahaha. I do feel bad for them though.The MTC here is right on temple grounds and my new companion Hermana Peterson and I have an entire 8 person bedroom to ourselves because we're the only sisters here. If I felt like the minority in Provo, here it's even worse. I'm just glad I have a companion at all. I wasn't really a big fan of being stuck in a threesome with 2 elders for the trip over here. We also have a beautiful view of the temple from our bedroom window...pictures coming forth soon! Today we're jumping into orientation and we've been sufficiently chastised for not "speaking out language" enough. The Spanish here is crazy though! Coming out of the airport I swore they were speaking some form of Chinese and not Spanish. And they mumble alot. I hate mumbling....especially trying to understand Spanish mumbling. I will keep trying though! Anyways, they're telling us to finish up so I better go.Thank you for all your love and prayers! I am safe and sound and loving every minute of being here! My P-Day is thursdays now, so I'll write again then. Oh and here's my new address for the next 6 weeks before I head out into the field...MTC Address:Hermana Elyse Marie BradleyAvenida Bolivar 825Los Robles, Santo DomingoDomincan RepublicLove,Hermana Bradley
Dear Family & Friends,So in a little less than 24 hours I will be on my way to the beautiful country of the Domincan Republic! I can't wait!!!! Today we went to the temple again and as I walked out I just felt all the silly stress leave me and I realized I don't need to fear about anything, because I have the Lord to back me up. Such a good feeling. I'm especially excited to get there and visit the Santo Domingo temple, which I just learned is right next to the MTC! Dream come true. Although going to the temple and having everyone speak Spanish, that could be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.This week has been full of ups and downs, like always. But just as Hermana Petty and I were discussing, the lower the lows the higher the highs. There must needs be opposition in all things, and I'm learning that lesson good and well. :-) Something that I've been trying to focus on this week is how to plan better. We've been taught quite a few times on the importance of setting goals and challenging ourselves. I love that quote that says "People rarely change unless invited to do so. " Well I've been invited to change about a million different ways in the past few weeks, and I'm still getting the hang of it. But I think I'm making progress. Hopefully.As for my foot problems, last week proved exciting with a trip off to the podiatrist. Getting out of the MTC was kind of nice...and weird. Being in Provo where I've lived for the past 5 years of my life while having a black badge on felt stranger than I thought it would. Suddenly I was out around real people and yeah...it was strange. Anyways, the podiatrist said I had a pre-existing condition in my foot where a bone in the back of my heel protrudes slightly, which was agitated by my new shoes. Because of this, my heel started to swell a little and now is pinching my achilles tendon. Luckily he said it wasn't that serious and just gave me some inserts for my shoes so that it doesn't pinch the tendon. I've been wearing for almost a week now and they work well in every pair of shoes except one. Plus I'll get to wear sandals once I get to the D.R. So...todo bien.Another thing I've been reminded of A LOT this week....well every week really, is that I can't do this. At least not by myself. Everytime I try to speak spanish, share a lesson, or even bear my testimony, I fail miserably if I simply rely on my own knowledge and ability. The Lord has supported me so much these past few weeks, and yet I still seem to forget on a daily basis that it's HIM that's doing all of this, not me. But just like everything else, I'm still learning.Yesterday Hma Petty and I taught our first lesson in Spanish. It was crazy! I was saying things in Spanish I didn't even know I could say! Suddenly Spanish makes sense and I can just string the words together to makes sentences that are actually understandable. I don't think I ever really understood what the gift of tongues was until I got here, but I sure do now! It's amazing to be sitting there thinking things in your head in English and then have them come out of your mouth in another language! I feel blessed to have that experience and just hope that as I continue to study and put faith in the Lord, He will bless me.I'm so happy to be out here serving a mission and I am learning new things about this gospel, the Lord, and myself each and every day. I know now more than ever that this is where I'm supposed to be and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm grateful to have so many incredible people in my life that love and support me. I feel the support of your prayers constantly, so thank you! So long for now, and the next email you get will be coming from the Caribbean!Love,Hermana Bradley