Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Finally in Santiago!

Elder Santacruz is so excited to get to work. We are so amazed by his drive to bring the people of Santiago unto Christ. He continues to sound great and continues to impress us. This was last weeks email, I will be posting this weeks email as soon as he writes. Enjoy!
Im in the field!!!!!!!!!!!We left the CCM Tuesday morning and I said my goodbyes to everyone, all the elders that went to Puerto Rico and then I said good bye to the mtc president. After that we were on our way to SANTIAGO! We left around 6 in the morning and I was so pumped to get out of Santo Domingo. On our drive there is was so cool to see the mountains and how green it is here and our bus drive took about 2 hours to get to the bus stop and there was our mission president, his wife and missionaries waiting for us. President Douglas and Hermana Douglas are so nice they took us to the mission home, it was like 10 min away from the bus stop and when we got there i saw the mission home and it is huge! We got our luggage off the cars and we had to meet the President in a room to have a meeting and to have some training. He talked to us and told us about himself and told us how wonderful this mission is that people are so nice, so humble, and that they believe in Christ and God and are waiting to hear our message. So then he told us that we were gonna go on splits with the elders around the area and that we had to give out a book of mormon and he told us to come back at 6. We split up companions and I got split up with an Elder whose name is Elder Mata. He is from Phoenix Arizona! haha He has been on his mission for 1 year and so we went out and went into his area and the people are so nice. We talked to a family and we introduced ourselves and then they invited us in and we gave them a book of Mormon. Then we went to a family who was super Catholic and it was my turn to talk and my comapnion didnt help me out at all haha but it was good! I explained the book of mormon and I told them to read a paragraph in the introduction and they did and I asked things and they would respond of how they felt about it. I couldnt undertstand a word of what the father was saying! Dominicans mumble their words and old people are hard to understand what they are saying. I asked them if they would read the book and they accepted and I gave them a chapter to read and they said they would! Then we went to an inactive family's house and the mother was the only one there with her four little girls. We had to visit outside but it was alright cause it was nice outside. The weather is way better here in Santiago than Santo Domingo but anyways this family was awesome! They are so funny and nice but are going through some tough times right now. I shared them a scripture and I know that they felt the spirit because I felt it. I gave the scripture of  1 Nephi 7:12 . It is about faith, to have faith in all things that things will get better. They were impressed with my spanish for being a new missionary from the states. They asked if I was Elder Mata's new companion and I said no haha they liked me.
When we were done it was like 6 and we were late being back home and we were like 30 miles from the mission home so we took these taxis called Rutas. They are these tiny cars that have these letters on them that tell you what route they take. So we found the one that leads to the mission home and we took it. They cost 20 pesos to take them and the funny part about them is there is no max of people that can go in them as long as you can fit. So we took a Ruta and there were 7 people in a tiny car and then 2 more which would be us so there was 9 of us in a 5 seat car..... ahahahahhah I was in the back with 4 others and my companion was in the front with two others on the passenger seat. It was so funny I was sitting on someones lap that I did not know... haha any ways we finally got to the mission home and then we had an interview with the president so that he could pick who would train us and he said the Elder that I went with that night wanted to be my trainer.... hahah he was/is really cool he is a semi pro soccer player!! The interview was great I love my mission president! Later that night I was assigned and I was set to be with that same Elder!!! Elder MATA is my companion he is a cool guy! We are going to be in area called CRISTO REY! That was the same area that we went contacting in!!! President said that there is a lot of success in that area! I am so pumped to work in that area and for my companion to train me. The next day was tranfers and my companion is in charge of getting all missionaries to their new companion so I was waiting with all the missionaries and I didn't see my companion all day haha. I was waiting on the curve with all the missionaries for 7 hours haha. When I saw him we got  my things in the car and we drove to our apartment. When I saw it, it looked so cozy. We get a view of the whole city! Today when we woke up we went for a run around the city and it reminds me of the streets of Santa Ana in Mexico! We woke and had personal study, companion study, and then he trained me. He will be my trainer for the next 12 weeks or more I am so ready to work! We are going to have fun doing it he said and that sounds good to me! He said my spanish is good for being a day out here and he is going to help me be fluent in spanish in the next 7 weeks. He said I'll know it by then but we will see hahaha I love it here already.
I am emailing you guys from the mission office but its because I didnt have time to email you guys yesterday so I'll be emailing you guys from a computer that we have to pay to use. Im sorry I dont have any picture this week I'll put them up next week I love you guys I'm doing great and I love it here! 
hasta luego!
Elder Santacruz

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Next Stop, Santiago!

Elder Santacruz is almost out of the MTC. His experience there was amazing and he couldn't be more happier with the way he spend his time there. He is so ready to go out and meet the people of Santiago and teach them all of the things that he has learned so far. He is going to be great. Enjoy!

Hola! This week was great we went to the field and we got to go on splits and I was with a missionary that is from Gilbert Arizona. He leaves in two weeks he is awesome! We hit it off great and we were out for about 5 hours and I seriously saw so many things in 5 hours than in my whole life! I loved it! We started out by driving there and we almost died we had 12 missionaries squished into a car haha. We drove 30 min into a poor area and when I mean poor I mean pooooorrrrrr..... we got there and divided up. I went with Elder Reiley, he told me all of his stories on his mission and things that happened to him. He told me that we were gonna give a couple lessons that day and I was kinda nervous.... but it turned out to be so fun! We first went to this lady's house who converted to the church 6 months ago. Walking there I almost died, I almost got hit by a car haha dont worry I'm fine! People are crazy drivers down here. Dad would hate driving here haha. Any ways we got to her house, the door was open, and next thing I know he tells me that I'm teaching the lesson hahahaha I ended up talking about my favorite scripture. I told her about the importance of prayer and that it will help us daily. I was so shocked to see house small the houses are. We got to one house and it was the size of my old room back at home! That lesson turned out great I was able to understand her and say what I wanted to say but when we did some contacting we talked to some people that spoke so fast I was just lost in what they were saying! After that we went to this couples house who were living together but they weren't married. Elder Reiley told me that they have been trying to get them married or convinve them to move out. When we got there I met them and they were really nice We started talking and they asked me where I am from, how old I was and stuff like that. All of a sudden the lady starts saying that they are having problems in their relationship and that there is no repect between them.. companion and I look at eachother trying to think of what we should do haha so he thought of a solution to talk with them individualy. So pretty much we were relationship counselors haha They each told us their problems and we told them that they should pray together to find out what they should do for themselves. They told us that they would commit to that. It was a good experience and I am glad that I had it. After that we went and walked around and went contacting a little. We saw a lot of kids! They love the missionaries, everyone hangs out outside at night so it was so easy to find people to talk to. One of the funny things I saw was there were a lot of naked kids just running out in the streets. It was so weird but funny at the same time hahah. We saw a lot of kids play stick ball they dont use a ball they use caps and they flick them no one wonder dominicans are so good at baseball ha. After we were done contacting it was time for me to go back to the MTC. It was so much fun to do that I cant wait to go out in the field now!!! I'm Pumped! 4 more days until I leave the MTC!
We had one of the area 70 come and talk to us, he gave such a great talk! The spirit was so strong that day! One of things that he said that I loved was that as missionaries we get to be apart of the game and we're not just sitting in the stands eating popcorn and watching it. We are actually playing in it and that our coaches are picking the plays and we have to listen to know what to do and how to do it! He told us that we need to work hard and keep working on following the spirit and open our ears so that when its telling us something we will listen and do what it's telling us what to do.
As its our last week in the MTC looking back I feel like I wasn't wasting time and I feel that I made the best of it. I told myself the day I got here I wasn't gonna play around anymore because this wasn't high school. Although I am having lots of fun here, at the same time I need to stay focused on my purpose. Learning a language I especially need the tool of staying focused because I need to talk to investigators. I'm still working on it and getting better everyday. I love the fact that they teach us to make goals and I have made daily and weekly goals. I try to fulfill them as much as I can. Heavenly Father has helped me learn this language, I know that he will continue helping me and when the time comes the Holy Ghost will put words in my mouth so that I may testify of the truth. My experience here was the best. It was not easy at all but it made me realize that I can do anything when I have faith.
This week was so fast! My companion and I have been teaching lessons, memorizing scriptures, and reading a ton! I am also getting really good at basketball haha Everyday we have gym time for an hour and that is where I met these new missionaries like 3 days ago. They are from Guatemala. They only speak Spanish but they are going to my mission. Every night before we go to bed my roomates are so funny! haha One Elder is from Mesa Arizona and he is a total man! He has a truck, he has guns, and goes shooting all the time. He's the funiest guy ever and he is going to my mission. We laugh about things that happened in "our day" and that is the best!
Today we went to the temple and they just got the new video! We have been watching the old one since we got here. The new one is so much better! haha Today was the last time we could go to the temple for 23 months and it was a great last experience! Everything is great over here! I am doing fine and I will be leaving Tuesday morning to my mission and I think my P day is on Wednesday. I love you all so much! Thanks for your prayers, they help me a lot! 
Hasta Luego!
Elder Santacruz


Friday, November 8, 2013

I've done one month I can do two years

Elder Santacruz has been in the DR for one month! He continues to wow us with his experiences every week. He looks and sounds great. We really enjoyed the pictures this week. They show us the funny Ronald we remember! Hope you all enjoy his email as much as we did!

Hello my family!!!

My fourth week in the MTC was fantastic! I enjoy every second that I have here! The week started out by going to the university again! I was so pumped to use my Spanish because I have been working on it a lot. Right when we got there my companion said to me he wasn’t feeling good he said he had an upset stomach so he didn’t really want to do contacting and try to talk to people. So when we were walking around I was kind of on my own speaking. but it was alright we were there for the experience and to talk to people. It was so hard to understand them sometimes. They really do take out there T's in the DR haha. We found a guy that could speak English and we were SOOO happy. We told him about the gospel and he was really interested. He wanted to know about Joseph Smith and we ended up talking to him for 30 min. This past Sunday was so spiritual every Sunday has been spiritual but this time we were fasting! We got to bear our testimonies and most of the missionaries bore their testimonies. The new Elders are getting better with their Spanish but they are working hard to get better!

We had a quorum of the twelve talk played to us. It was from Elder Holland, broadcasted of course haha but we heard his words and he spoke with such boldness and strength that it felt like a Baptist preacher was talking to me (because of the boldness and strength haha). He told us that he knows how a mission can change any ones life and how we need to know that when we have prepared for one we give up things like sin to prepare to serve our Heavenly Father. He asked that after coming back from a mission, how could missionaries go inactive? He said that if things don't turn out the way we wan't our mission to turn out, if we don't baptize the goal that we set , or if we think that we didn't have any crazy stories of how our testimonies were strengthened; we better be grateful that we were able to serve our Heavenly Father. He told us that when we get back home to not leave the church and not say "well we will just check that off the list." He said that if we felt like that to just go back to what ever thing we were doing before we started to prepare. I love Elder Holland so much he has so much wisdom.

Another thing that we had on Tuesday was a devotional. Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke and he shared some inspirational words! He told us that we as missionaries need to work hard because we are an extension of the quorum of the twelve apostles. He gave us some good advice and said that the first three hours of our day is the most important part of our mission. When we read, study and learn over and over again, we will receive revelation and we must not be tired of studying things over and over again. "For he that works and continues to work will learn more because the power of revelation will come to you and will help you in what you need to teach your investigators."

This week I had been praying really hard because sometimes I have trouble with the language and I feel discouraged! I had fasted because I felt that way for a couple of days. I was thinking about not being ready to go out and I felt like I am not working hard enough. Two days later I received my answer. Someone had told me this scripture that would help me with my problem. I read in D&C 90:11 it says ''That every man shall hear the fullness of the gospel in his own tongue." I knew in that very moment I had received my answer and that night I thanked my Heavenly Father for answering my prayer. I'm grateful for the power of prayer. I have never been so close to my Heavenly Father than I am right now. I know he hears my prayers and that he answers them by helping me feel comfort or by helping me with my Spanish. The past couple of days I have been speaking it a lot more with my district and I have been speaking it with teachers. There are some native missionaries here and I talked with them for a while also.

All is well, and I am trying to work as hard as I can. My companion and I are getting closer and we are helping each other out as much as we can. We are starting to get the hang of teaching investigators and we are learning the importance of planning and how we use planning to practice what we are going to say to our fake investigators. Tomorrow we get to go on splits and go with the field missionaries to their appointments. I am kind of nervous but I am so glad to go out and speak with the people! Well that is it for my fourth week! I cant wait to tell you about my week 5! I love you all and miss you! Hope all is well. I am praying for you all! I have done one month I can do two years!
Elder Santacruz

Shout out to Elder Broyles who just left on his mission!!
Jamaican Elder Peart. Going to my mission!

New kids on the block

How missionaries get buff

Our work outs!

Top Bunk

P-day Picture



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Speaking the Language of Spanish!

Elder Santacruz just continues to sound great from week to week. He is learning a lot more Spanish and is so confident in his daily assignments. Here is his week 3 email, next week will be a month. Time is flying. Enjoy! :)

Como estan mi familia!
It is week 3 and boy was it a good week! Of course I learned a lot that is all I do here is learn things. This week started out great and it started out by us going to the university. The college is 10 blocks away and we got to go proselyting. I gave out my FIRST Book of Mormon on my mission. It was so awesome! Everyone that my companion and I talked with would listen to us everyone is so nice here! They all take time to hear our message and when they are not interested they say it after were done talking with them. I was so amazed of how patient they were with us because our spanish is not the best and they even helped us with our Spanish. My companion and I gave out 7 restoration packets and talked about Joseph Smith. A lot of them had questions we couldn't answer and their questions were the best but we still got our point across. We talked to one person that wanted to know more and we were talking with him for about 25 min about Joseph Smith and how we got the Book of  Mormon, it was so awesome!! I couldn't really understand all of his questions because he talked really fast but we gave him the book and the restoration pamphlet. He was waiting to talk to us because we were talking to this lady for about 5 min and he was waiting a few feet away. It was a great experience and we get to go again tomorrow and next week we get to go on splits!!!! Something that we get to do every Sunday is take a walk around the Temple, take pictures and we also get ice cream. I have some pictures taken at the temple I will send.
Something else that happened this week was we got to listen to a devotional that was broadcasted Richard G. Scott gave it and it was so powerful! What I got out of the talk was the power of prayer. He told us that as misssionaries it is vital for us to communicate with God. He said that we cannot be affective missionaries if we don't ask for help and tell him how things are going. He said to the missionaries that are learning a language, "You need to be patient and know that through and through hard work, you will have the gift of tongues." That right there comforted me because the language is still hard to learn. Conjugating is so hard sometimes but I just have to remember that I have been here for only three weeks and I know that I will get it down eventually.
This past Sunday we had a devotional from our MTC president. He told us something I never really thought about until now. He was saying us missionaries were forordained before we were here on earth. I pictured that God was on a stage and he called me by my name, told me to stand, and told me that I will be a missionary when I go down; to stand with my brother, to go to war against Satan and that this army is only getting better. When I think of that I just feel like I'm doing my purpose in life and it is the best feeling. 
On tuesday it rained so hard here! It was raining during our physical activity and it was awesome. Only three other elders wanted to go outside so we took a soccer ball and we played the whole time in the rain. It was like a hurricane but the rain was nice and warm and we just wanted to get used to it because we will be living in it for two years! 
We had a fake referall this week and it was so cool because I was talking spanish and it was crazy how much heavenly father helped me. My companion told me I did really good and he said that I was conjugating in preterit and imperfect. It was kinda cool! We're working so hard, my companion is a hard worker. Every free time we get we come to the computer lab and look up talks and we also use this program called TALL, it helps us with conjugating and helps us memorize irregular verbs. Those are the worst! We are working hard and us getting a long everyday strengthens us because we tell eachother more things about how we are feeling and that gives us more trust in eachother. Yesterday I had an opportunity to help him. He was having kind of a bad day, he said that he was feeling homesick and I told him things to make him feel better. I told him to give it a few more weeks and I promised that he will be so busy he won't have time to think about his family and be homesick. I told him he will have a new family out here soon enough and that we are his family now!
This week was amzing and so helpful! I am glad to be a missionary and thankful for the many blessings I have love you all! 
Elder Santacruz