March 29, 2011

A Lesson on Kites

Saludos Familia y Amigos,
I can´t believe how fast this week came and went! I am so incredibly excited for conference this coming weekend though! I hope you are all preparing to take some time out as well and listen to our modern day prophets. Today Hermana Reay and I had the opportunity to read a talk from the priesthood session last April by Elder Uchtdorf on patience and wow was it jam packed with spiritual edification! Nothing touches my heart faster than reading and re-reading conference addresses. I will never look at conference the same after my mission. Anyways, aside from that, I also read a really great quote from one of the most recent Liahona´s about kites. It said something along the lines of ¨Adversity is like the wind that blows a kite, the stronger it comes the higher the kite can fly.¨ I´ve pondered on that quote alot over the past week as I´ve reflected on the first half of my mission. I can hardly believe it´s half over and yet at the same time I feel like a lifetime has passed. The first half of my mission there was definitely alot of wind blowing, but I feel stronger and higher now as a result, and even though there are still the occasional nose dives, I know that the Lord blesses us with adversity to help us fly higher. I hope I can always maintain that perspective as more adversity is always bound to come.
In other news, this week Hermana Reay and I finally got Elizabeth and Ines to church. They are the sister and mother of Englibert, our baptism from last transfer. Both of them are eager to learn more about the gospel and are making changes in their life. But leaving behind the world when you´ve lived in it so long is not easy. We were visiting yesterday with a recent convert who has gone completely inactive and basically expressed the same feelings. The culture here in this country can be difficult for people to let go of as many grow up living the street life and doing wordly things. However, I know the Lord loves each of His children and when they have a sincere desire, nothing is impossible to overcome...but sometimes it does take time. Please pray for
Anyways, the work in Los Frailes continues to roll forward and I find myself profoundly grateful to be here doing the Lord´s errand. It´s gotten hot again so we get to sweat lots more now, but luckily the water has partially returned to our apartment, so we at least get the shower with sufficient water these days. But all of it´s worth it in the end! Thanks again for all your love and support! I especially appreciated the packages from Mom and Kellie this week, thanks so much! As well as the letters from Aleni, Maren, and Sara....return letters will be on the way! Love you guys!
Hermana Bradley

March 22, 2011

First time for everything

I have no idea what to write to ya´ll today. This week was long, and yet not really. Hard, and yet incredibly satisfying. The biggest thing though that happened this week was that I experienced my first fallen-through baptism. But I think we learn the most from the days that sometimes seem the worst. We´ve been working with an elderly couple from the ward since the week I got to Los Frailes because the husband is not a member but has been attending church and investigating for many many years. He had his interview Friday and after alot of convincing, we invited him to pray through the night and then come to the chapel with an answer of yes or no. In the end he chose not to show up and is now very upset with us. I just have to keep reminding myself that everyone has their agency, and no matter what, I can at least know that we did everything we could to help him get there. One day he´ll be baptized, it just wasn´t the right time I guess.
Anyways, in other news, I was super sad to hear about Japan and all the trials they are going through there. It also kind of gave me a slap in the face to hear about all the missionaries that were sent home a month or two early as a result of the earthquake. For the first time in my mission I realized it really could all end just never know. That´s why I need to be taking advantage of every moment I have out here to share this gospel with everyone. It really is through the little things that we can help others come unto Christ, and even though I definitely haven´t seen as many baptisms as other missionaries, I take comfort in the fact that I am at least trying to love every person I meet and help them better understand the love Heavenly Father has for them.
Yesterday in church I had the opportunity to teach the gospel principles class since the teacher didn´t show up and the elders taught it last time the teacher missed. I have never been a very talented teacher, especially when it comes to doing it on the spot and in Spanish. However it was a great learning experience for me to see how really the best classes are when the class teaches the class, not when a teacher does. It also was a great reminder to me that it is the same for lessons as missionaries. My most effective visits with investigators is when they teach us what they´ve learned and give their perspective. It is such a blessing to see the growth of individuals in the gospel through this work.
Another thing Hna Reay and I are really excited about is Yaritza. She is a mother of three that we´ve been teaching for weeks who came to our picture frame activity last friday and made one of the temple that is now hanging on her wall. Well she was finally able to get her husband to sit down and visit with us this week. We got to share a lesson on prayer and the restoration amidst shrieks from their two energetic little boys, and as Yaritza has already received her answer and wants to be baptized, we hope her spouse will feel the Spirit as well so that they can be married and baptized together. Lots of prayer and fasting will be needed, but I know this family has been prepared and I can´t wait to see the blessings of the gospel change their lives.
Well I´ve got to wrap this up, but thank you to all of you for your continued love and support through emails and prayers! I love hearing from you! Until next week!
Hermana Bradley

March 14, 2011

Subject: Quicksand

Hello Family and Friends,
Finally, the weeks seem to be passing by like normal time in the mission. Unfortunately, it seems like the mission work seems to be stalling. This week Hna Reay and I walked alot only to have lots of citas fall through. Our two investigators with fechas have also stalled and now it´s looking unlikely that we will have any baptisms this month. Sometimes it seems like we are just standing in quicksand. And to top it all of we STILL don´t have water in our apartment. However, the mission office promised us that if the water doesn´t come back in two days we can officially move, so we are just trying to hold on.
This week we had the opportunity to go to a zone conference in Gazcue and I was again reminded that I need to keep the bigger picture in mind out here. I love the scripture in DyC 64 verse 33 that says No os canseis de hacer lo bueno (Don't tire of doing good). Now I just have to remember that, even on days when we walk the whole area over and don´t find anyone new. Sometimes we get to plant seeds, and sometimes we get to harvest them. Everything is a process. Something I always try to keep in mind is that our examples speak louder than anything else. How we treat people and the manner we simply walk around affects this work, so we ALWAYS have to be trying to do good.
One ray of hope in the past few weeks that has come in the form of an investigator is Yaritza. Yaritza has visited the church three weeks in a row now and reads faithfully for every visit. She has three beautiful little children and a strong testimony. Now we just have to work with her husband so that they can get married and enjoy the blessings of the gospel as a family. One of the hardest things here is getting couples married, but I know that the Lord will bless us as long as we press forward with faith.
Today I was reading an article in the latest Liahona by Elder Christofferson that I think you should all read called And Always Remember Him. He talks in the article about putting Christ first, through prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. He also talks about the importance of repentance and how every sin we leave unresolved will be brought before us on judgment day. It was a sobering thought and helped me realize that I still have alot of repenting to do. But just as Elder Christofferson testifies in His talk, everything is possible through Christ. No matter how flawed we are, we can change and we can be better. I love this gospel and I am so grateful for a Savior who willingly sacrificed everything for me. He is the reason I am here in the Dominican Republic, and I hope and pray I can continue to do His work as He would have me to it. Love you all!
Hermana Bradley

March 7, 2011

Who Needs Personal Hygiene?

Hello Family and Friends!
Ok first of all, I just have to let Jecia and Aleni know, if they read this, that your letters are coming! Mail has been AWFUL and I just finally got those letters out, so watch for them. Secondly, to explain my subject, yes I am going on week 4 now without running water in my apartment. Feel free to send angry letters on my behalf to the mission office if you like. Haha. Really though, my patience over this whole mess is wearing thin, so hopefully we´ll get it figured out pronto. I can´t live without showering like a normal human being. Nobody wants to listen to the gospel from a stinky Hermana Bradley.
Anyways, things this week have been hard and good here in Los Frailes. Hermana Reay arrived on Tuesday and we got right to work visiting all our progressing investigators. Unfortunately, there´s a rampant chest cold going around and Hna Reay caught it fast. We lost almost two days of proselyting visiting clinics and resting in the apartment. The good news is that she is on the mend and we are back to work. It´s been so wonderful to speak English, I´m not going to lie. But I also realize that we are going to have to discipline ourselves if we want to keep progressing in the language. We are planning on putting fechas down this week with 3 of our investigators, and we are still working with Mayra to quit the coffee. Sunday was a wonderful blessing as I got to see two of my baptisms, Kelvin and Englibert, get up and bear solid testimonies. I am so excited for both of them to help build up this ward as worthy priesthood holders. It has been amazing to see the growth of this ward in just my short time here and I´m really looking forward to seeing more with Hna Reay.
Another blessing this week was that I got to finish Our Search for Happiness by Elder Ballard for the second time. I can´t believe how much amazing gospel books I´ve missed out on my whole life! We have such inspired leaders of this church! I love reading their words of counsel and testimonies. They may not be perfect men, but they are sure close! I just hope I can continue to focus on the work out here and magnify my calling as a missionary. I feel as though I´ve fallen into a little bit of a slump this last week in thinking about home. Those trunky thoughts are a missionary´s worst enemy. But I just keep reminding myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity I have, so I have to do all I can to help my Heavenly Father while I´m here. As members of this church, we aren´t perfect, but we truly can become instruments in the Lord´s hands as long as we turn to Him and allow Him to help mold us. Hma Reay shared the thought with me this week that many times as missionaries we go out preaching the gospel as hunters...chasing down people to share the gospel, but really, we need to be like fishermen. Christ didn´t tell us he would make us hunters of men, but rather fishers of men. To be a fisherman requires lots of patience, and I am still learning that. However, I have faith in my Heavenly Father and His plan for each of us. I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and I will continue to do my best to follow my Savior´s footsteps and search out those lost sheep.

Hermana Bradley