One thing I have learned this week is nobody is promised a tomorrow. Oftentimes many of us (myself included) live as if we will live until we are ripe with age, but in reality today could be our last day. It's something I've thought before, but I've never felt that a reality more in my life until now. As I've felt this and continually feel it throughout the day, it makes me want to do everything with my full heart, including changing my life. We waste this point of life if we just stay in the same place. We must strive to continually progress mentally, physically, and spiritually.
This week has been a great week. When i leave this area, I'm really going to miss a lot of the people here. It's kind of crazy how you come to a pm insane place like this, yet there are still some amazing people here amongst all the chaos.
BRANDON - he came to church this week, but had a hard time speaking Spanish so we might be transferring him over to the English Ward. He is all ready to go! We had two more lessons with him this week and on Friday he is going to have his baptismal interview! It's great to see his progression. Please pray for him to stay strong.
There are so many amazing families here and one of those families is the Hernandez family. They have three kids who are amazing! I'll attach a picture we all took together. Don't mess with us. We go over to their house every Sunday.
I'm getting really tired of Dominican Food, especially this dish they call sancocho. It's this soup they make with yuca, yams, plantains, oil, fat, and different kinds of meat. Like I said, they just drop huge bits of animal into the soup, bones, fat, meat, gizzards and all. One of our members offered to feed us chicken feet and grasshoppers this week. Ha we said we were good, so luckily we didn't have to eat that. I've come to the conclusion that this place is nothing like America. The most used language is Spanish, and there are no real grocery stores here like we have back home (just big Latino based supermarkets), there are almost no real stores either (just tiny hole-in-the-wall type of joints, and everything is crammed in, super dirty and you have tons of different people from all different countries. Everyone I have talked to from Mexico says this place is exactly like Mexico City.
There is this family that I love named the Vega family. The dad who was the only active member had three strokes and almost died (early 40's), and almost left his two young kids (Melissa who is 10 and Julio who is 7) behind on this earth. He shared the experience with us this week. It was very amazing how spiritually it was and how much faith he had. They said the doctors were going to do brain surgery (I'm not sure why), but as they were rolling him in, he told the doctor no because he knew it wasn't his time yet and he would be fine without the surgery. He was then in the hospital for a few months, and finally got to go back home about 5 weeks ago. Their son Julio has autism and we have been trying to figure out a way to teach him about baptism. He absolutely loves super heroes and knows all of their names and stories, so we were looking for a way to relate that to baptism this week. We told him that he was going to begin training for a special mission to become a super hero. We told him that every super hero had some kind of suit (the white baptismal suit), and then we told him that when we get baptized, it renews us, and enhances us, and that is when we get our super powers (the cleansing effect of baptism). We then showed him a picture of Spider-Man shaking President Uchtdorf's hand and told him the church and super heroes are allies. It was pretty fun because he thought it was cool! He's super hard to handle and the parents were afraid that they wouldn't be able to have him be baptized. It was cute too because at the end, he asked his mom "mom can we keep the Hermanos (brothers in Spanish)???"
It was great! I don't have much more this week. There is tons that happened but I simply don't have time to write it all. We are going to Harlem today to get our haircuts from a member who owns a dominican barbershop. Ha that should be interesting. Then we are going to the city and checking out the legendary Nike store that apparently is 5 floors, and then we are going to the little island right in between Manhattan and Brooklyn. It's going to be a great day. I love you so very much and have a fantastic week.
- Elder Celaya
P.S. Zach Snyder! I heard about your mission call to Mexico! We visited two members from Mexico last night and I asked him what he knew about the city you have been called to. He says the people are very outgoing and loud and speak fast like the Dominicans. He said it's pretty dangerous there too but it has its nice parts too. He said you will like it. He said down south by Pueblo (where he's from) it's a lot more relaxed, and the closer you get to the border the more crazy it is! So have fun brother! I look forward to being able to speak to you in Spanish when you get back!