Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Those cool Santa Barbara nights

Hello Family and Friends,
It has been cooling down more and more here in Santa Barbara and each night I get to use the blanket that grandma made for me, I like the cold much better than the heat. I have had many experiences this week that have helped give me a greater perspective on missionary work, service, and life in general. 
I am very thankful for the experiences that I am having and for the help and support of those who have pushed and encouraged me, I know that these experiences and learning doesn't just happen for no reason.  I know Heavenly Father gives each one of us what we need and even the people that we need too. 

This week we spent an entire day helping the branch president, President Lopez, paint his house. It hurt our weekly stats a little bit, but we talked with him about the history of Santa Barbara and how far it has come in the church. Presidnet Lopez has been the branch prez for 3 years and when he arrived the church only had an asistance of 41 members, and they were basically teaching apostasy from what he tells us. Now we have around 120 attendance and will probably be a ward soon. 
This week, starting on the 4th, the fair came to Santa Barbara! Tons of people set up shop in el Centro ( our area) and sell stuff! food, souveniers, etc. It has been packed every single night and we have been handing out pass along cards to many people, although many of the people are not from here, we run into many people that do live in our area too. It is one of the many little culture things that I love about Santa Barbara. Some stuff I still dont like but it has grown on me alot. 
This week I have also been saying goodbye to many of the members because I will be changing areas tomorrow. I am very sad to leave Santa Barbara, but I know that change can help us grow. I have made some great friends here and I am very thankful for the relationships that I have made here. I hope that I have made as much an impact on them as they have on me. I am very thankful for the many relationships that I have had in my life. I didnt realize how important relationships with others are, but it is one of the most important things in this life. Jesus was a perfect example of making great relationships, although many rejected, he was the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I am so thankful for all of those who have been great friends to me, many of you have! and I will send some pictures of the friends I have made in my time here.

Mom and Dad asked me a few questions so I will conclude with a few answers.

How is Chandler doing?
You know me, I am doing fine. I worry all the time (like mom) but I think that is what it is. I am enjoying being in Honduras, more than I did before anyways. I hope that the ¨Chandler¨that you know is being changed. I often feel like I dont like the Chandler that you guys know, because he has many faults. So I am trying ( and usually failing) to improve the old Chandler so that I can be an improved version of myself.

Is he getting more comfortable with Spanish?
Yes. I found myself getting frustrated with spanish, but my companion Elder Markus reminded me that if I went back to get a job in the states, I would be able to do everything that I need to do. It is true. I make my way around, teach the lessons, buy what I need to buy, tell people what I need to tell them. I will continue to learn, but I am more comfortable than before.

What is the difference between learning to teach in the MTC and actually teaching?
Everything. If I had to pick to learn spanish in the street or in a book I would have never gone to the MTC. Teaching comes from practicing with real people. If I sit in the classroom and practice with my companion I will gain very little experience. For missionaries to learn the rules and get a few good meals the MTC is fine, but learning to teach comes from talking to the lady thats telling me that I am worshipping satan if I celebrate Christmas.

Are the people where you are poor?  How does that affect you?
Yes they are poor. Almost everyone makes money buy going up in the mountains and cutting coffee. they take the coffee plant and they pick the coffee beans off of it one by one. If its in season they can get about 9 bags. each bag they pick they get paid 30 limpiras for 9 bags thats about 13 bucks a day.  Right now it is not the season and they get about 3 bags a day which is about 4.50. They use that to buy food for their family. There is not much in the budget for much else. How does this effect me? everything is super cheap and I am gaining weight because I can buy a lot more food than I normally could. But it also helps me to be more willing to buy someone a baleada or give them a few limps.

Since you have learned the church in Honduras, what does it make you think about the Church here in America?
Although the culture is different, this is something that Elder Markus and I were discussing. My testimony has grown in part because the church is the same here and in the US. The people, no. But the same rules, handbooks, 3 hours of church, sacrament every week, president and his councilors, etc. The other churches may have some type of structure in the states but I dare you to come here and tell me that the catholic church teaches the same things in the US as they do here in Honduras, its just not the same. The church is true, no matter where you are!







What is the biggest difference(s) between Cedar City and San Pedro Sula?
Alot more drunk people in the street, and people are much more comfortable with confrontations here. It is alot more dirty here too. It is basically a giant trash can. But in San Pedro there are buildings and roads and normal things like that so maybe not too different. haha

I love you all and I hope you have a great week! I am thankful for all of you and for the relationship that we have!
Love

Elder Dowell

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Preparations

This week has been a good week because it is finally starting to cool down!! I don't think I will ever need a sweater, but it is perfect t-shirt weather. As it is getting close to Christmas, everyone has started preparing with their trees and food! There are many nice people and they sometimes just come up and give us tamales or baleadas. As we are contacting people for Christmas, there are some that do it for the right reasons, but when we ask them what the reason is for celebrating Christmas, there are not many that know that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus! The people celebrate by throwing little fireworks and more than anything, by drinking. it is a bit redundant, but I suppose it is the Honduran culture. 
 
We have even ran into people that do not celebrate Christmas. When we ask them if the believe in Jesus Christ they say yes of course! One lady specifically told us that it is a sin to celebrate Christmas because it is not in the bible. We were shocked, but she said that nobody in her church celebrates Christmas because that is what their pastor taught them. I asked her if she thinks its OK that we celebrate Christmas. she said no. Then I asked if it is okay if we celebrate Jesus Christ every day. She said yes. Then I asked if it were ok if Christmas was everyday, and she said yes! I think we just have to make it a little more clear for them what Christmas really is.
 
Although they do not celebrate Thanksgiving, we invited the other elders, elder Navarro (from Panama) and elder Chapeton (from Guatemala and my first Zone leader) to eat with us at Bettys. We go to a restaurant called Bettys because they have giant baleadas and hamburgers too! We had a little thanksgiving dinner with them. To them it was a normal meal but for Elder Markus and I it meant alot! 
 
We have also been teaching a few younger guys. one kid that is 18 and one that is 16. Elder Markus and I noticed how when people are young it is easier to teach them. I think its because they havent quite figured out what they want in life. We meet with the 18 year old and his family too. We visited them with a very helpful sister in our ward, she is almost like our mom in the mission because she gives us food and sometimes visits investigators with us. Her son is serving in Nicaragua. But we went to visit Juan and his family and we taught them the plan of salvation. I could tell the spirit was there. We explained it, and the sister testified of the plan and it was very powerful. It is better to have a member of the church there to help us, and to testify of what we are teaching. 
 
This week until the 13th there is a fair in town and so El Centro, the main part of our area, is packed with people from out of town. It is awesome! They sell stuff for super cheap and there are tons of people for us to talk to. This week we have plans to have lessons with lots of members, and to contact many people that are in our area for the fair.
I hope you all have a great week, I love and miss you!
 
Love

Elder Dowell

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Children of Honduras

Hello everyone!

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions as we prepared a little girl for baptism, and had many ups and downs of the week.






I will start with the baptism. The girl we baptized asked my companion, Elder Melgar to do the service. The members of the branch really didn’t help us out to much. When we called to ask for people that could speak or give their testimony at the service, they acted like it was such a huge burden, so we had to call a few before we could convince someone to do it. The service was held after church yesterday. We lost the agenda for the service and nobody seemed to care so I put together the schedule again on a piece of paper.


I was also able to teach the Gospel Principles class this week! The thing is, I love to teach the class, and the only problem is that I am not too good at it. I prepared the message and it felt like nobody understood me! I would usually get angry but this time I decided to stay calm and think of a few ways to better my teaching. But part of the reason it was not too great was because yesterday in the street a guy came up and started talking nonsense to us. I thought he was drunk, so I invited him to church, not thinking much of it. Well, he actually came! But it turned out that he was mentally challenged and kept trying to talk over me in the class, it was super disruptive, but one of the other missionaries helped him out.

As far as statistics go, our week was not a bad week. We had many new people to visit with. One in particular was a lady that we had visited before. We contacted her a few weeks ago and she didn’t seem too interested. We were walking down her street when my comp wanted to contact her. I had little faith and said that she didn’t want anything. My comp pointed out that we had nothing to do, and we knocked and she let us in. I was spiritually slapped in the face because it was one of the best lessons I have ever had! She had many questions about the plan of salvation, and she even told us that she was very interested in our message and she didn’t know why. We explained that this was the spirit, it was a great opportunity to teach of the Plan that Heavenly Father has for us.

The best story that I have for this week is one of my favorites of the whole mission so far.

Elder Melgar and I were on our way to a visit with a member when we saw the cutest little girl sitting on the porch steps outside of her humble Honduran house. She was light skinned, and had her hair all done up to go out somewhere with her mom. She had some cute little flip flops and big eyes. she was even eating a giant thing of pink cotton candy. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen. I pointed out this scene to Elder Melgar and he agreed that this little 4 year old girl was cute, so when we got close to her we both waved, and smiled at her like a mom smiles at a baby. Hoping for a cute little wave back. we were not so warmly welcomed with a middle finger from this 3-4 year old girl. I just about died from laughing. This might help describe the people that we teach each day. We walked by the same street later in the week and she flipped us off again. A little more expected but equally as funny.

I hope you all have a great week this week and my stories can lift your mood a bit!

I love and miss you all!

Love

Elder Dowell

The "average" Honduran Bus

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scripture Challenge


Hey Everyone!

This week I have started the scripture challenge. Last week the scripture was James 1:5 because I wanted to memorize it in Spanish for the lessons. This week I am still looking for a good one to focus on. I will choose today or I’ll use the same one as you guys!


I want to thank my family so much this week! The beginning of the week was a little frustrating. It was a hot week this week and it felt like every house we went to rejected us or didn’t remember the appointment we had put. But on Thursday the Zone Leaders made a trip to Santa Barbara and gave me 2 giant packages!! The first was a box from Grandma Anderson with 2 blankets in it, one for me and one for my companion Elder Melgar! We were so so thankful for that and he wants me to tell you thank you so much Grandma Anderson!! I also got one from my family that was so awesome, I could really feel the love from home. It was much needed, both for the encouragement, and for the One Wipe Charlies!

 

This week we had interviews with our Mission President, President Dester. He and his wife are so awesome, they are like our parents in the mission. Sister Dester was still worried about the blanket situation but I told her I got one. The interview with President Dester was very cool also. He assured me that you guys will think I am a very different person at the end of the mission. He told me that I need to be more patient. I am not really surprised by that but it is something that I needed to hear.

 

Later that day, we were sitting in priesthood class and a member of the bishopric pulled us out of class and told us that one of our investigators named wants to go to the temple! The ward takes a temple trip in 2 weeks. So they asked if she would be prepared for baptism this week so that she could go to the temple with the youth (she is 14). We were like Uhhhhh ya, that´s why we´re here! haha So We got permission from her parents to have a baptism this Friday the 16th! it was an obvious blessing from Heavenly Father, not just for her excitement to get baptized, but for us to have a little more faith as missionaries. As for our other investigators, we have really been pushing for the baptism of 2 kids. To be honest at first it seemed like they didnt want to learn about the church. They are from 2 separate families, both very poor. They do not pay attention well so it is very hard to teach them. I was wondering why we were teaching 2 9 year old kids, but a thought came to my mind that it was a good thing, even if they don’t want to get baptized because someone needs to fight for their minds! If we just leave them with their families they will grow up just like everyone else. I don’t know how much longer we will try and teach them but I forget how important it is for kids to know who Jesus is and know how to pray. I know a lot of things that I am able to teach is because I learned it in primary!




 Catching a ride with the Branch President
 
Anyways, the power went out a few times, it rained many times, we got wet, and then when it gets hot the next day its always humid, but I am learning a lot from Elder Melgar. Mainly how I can better my teaching (still struggling with that one) and with patience as well.
 
Check out the gun(s) on this guy!

Have a great week this week guys, I love you so much!!
 
Love, Elder Dowell

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Baptism!



Dear family and friends,

This week Elder Melgar and I had a baptism! She is 19 years old. It has been very good to watch her change her life and to help her grow in her testimony of the restored gospel. In her baptismal service she bore her testimony and it was weird to think that we had helped her to know of the things that she now knows to be true.
I was put in charge of running the baptismal service. The branch President, President Lopez basically told me to make it a great service and I think it went well. The best part was having her mom there to watch. She is not a member, but I think watching her daughter get baptized helped her strengthen her testimony. 
We have also been teaching her mom stepdad. They are a family that is a little awkward for me, but very nice! They invited us over yesterday to share a message and eat some baleadas!


The Road to Cofradia

This week we also went to Cofradia for a zone conference, and to San Pedro on Friday for a conference of the leaders of the mission. My companion is district leader and so I got to go and watch! It was a great experience in which We got to sit, and the leaders got to participate, in thinking of ways to add more urgency to missionary work. President Dester used the metaphor of a giant tsunami that is going to hit, and we are the only ones that can see it so we need to warn everyone. I know I need to improve on my urgency in delivering, with clarity, the gospel message! It was a great meeting to be a part of.

Air-Hondurans take a beating in the rain

Also, I got some special news this week that a less active member that we reactivated received a mission call to Ecuador! He sent me and email and thanked me for making an impact on him and helping him to decide to serve a mission. I was very thankful for that experience!
For more on my companion, Elder Melgar, He is awesome. He is one of the most humble people I have ever met, which makes it really easy be be companions with him! He is helping me a lot with my Spanish just by practicing. From the moment we wake up to the moment we sleep it’s all Español which is great practice for me! He is from El Salvador and from a very poor family, but he works hard and I am thankful to have him as a comp.
I love and miss you all, I hope everything is going good at home. Have a great week!
Love

Elder Dowell

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Buenas Tardes

Buenas Tardes a todos en el mundo afuera de Honduras..
This week was a fun week for a few reasons! On Thursday was Marshall's bday!!! Happy Bday Marshy!!! the big 18!
There are always drunk guys at the neighbors house because they sell liquor so we took a selfie with that drunk guy. he is wasted from when we go to the gym at 545 till we get home! He must be rich because he drinks all day.
 
It was also ¨Dia del Niño¨ for everyone here. It is just a day to celebrate kids. EVERYONE buys piñatas, candy, toys, etc. and gives it to all the kids. Its almost like Halloween but it lasts for a few days. People would even come up and give us candy too! It was awesome! all the kids got to break piñatas in their school and when we went to visit people, members, investigators, anyone, they would give us a handful of candy! 
 
 
Elder Permenter going for the pinata
 
We met with our main investigator this week. Her name is Erika and she is 19. We challenged her to be baptized along with her mom and sister on the 26th! Her mom and sister are not progressing, but she is reading the book of Mormon, praying, and going to church, Elder Permenter and I are so thankful for her willingness to do what we challenge her to do, which basically is, change her life! 
Elder Permenter will have changes this week and so we celebrated his bday a little early with all the members and investigators we have, not all at once though. His bday is on the 21st but we celebrated on the 12th. For his bday I got him a funny catholic picture of the Virgin Fatima, and... I DRANK MY FIRST COKE IN 6 YEARS. Needless to say it was one of the best decisions of my life.. Honduran coke is better than America because they put way more syrup in it than they should.. and it tastes different in a glass bottle than in a plastic one.
 
We did a Family Home evening this week and usually family home evenings here are a mess. dogs barking, chickens crowing, babys whining, etc. and everyone refuses to silence the noise and so it is unbearable. but this week we had an awesome FHE with a family in our ward. we explained the importance of prophets and played a game where 2 people were blindfolded and they had to listen to who they thought was the prophet to get to their point. one person followed the right one and the other followed the wrong voice. I know youre thinking, Oh that's such a primary lesson. But that is the way we have to teach here to get our point across and so that everyone understands. 
 
We celebrated Permenter's bday with Hermana Sandra who makes us lunch every day, and familia Soto who always helps us out giving us something to eat when we pass by and stuff. Familia Soto made a piñata with E Permenter's face on it! it was awesome and we can really feel their love.
 
We also had the opportunity to check up on one of our investigators who was so sick from chikungunya that he almost died. He had it for like 3 months! I only had it for 3 days and I thought I was going to die. But we gave him a blessing 2 weeks ago and this week he has medicine and is noticeably better. we explained to him where the authority of that blessing comes from and my testimony is growing from experiences like that.
 
Elder Permenter will leave this week most likely because he has been here for almost 6 months. I am very sad for him to leave, but I know that we will be friends for a long time. I need to learn more things and so does he so I guess this is just a big opportunity to learn.. it is hard but I am learning that it cant be done without some divine help! I love and miss you all!
 






Love Elder Dowell

Friday, September 4, 2015

How 'bout them lemons?



This week we had a lot more success than we usually have! I still need to define my meaning of success, but 3 of our investigators showed up to church! 

It was such a blessing (and a surprise) to see them learning of how the church works. My testimony has been strengthened in these past few months of not just the doctrine, but church itself! I know there is nowhere more important to be on a Sunday morning that on the front right seat! (I don’t know if you guys still sit there)



Your guess is as good as theirs...what is hanging on that fence?

 
 Not sure that you should build the latrine above your house




One of our investigators is named Suyapa, and her little daughter that is 11 years old. They don’t understand ANYTHING we teach them, mainly because they don’t have too much education and it is hard for them to retain information, so it has helped us to teach them in very simple terms. 





Tiny Bananas


Our other investigator is named Erika. She is a super shy girl in her 20s who stopped us and talked to us in the central park of our area. We were on divisions with our Zone leader and she got to talk to Elder Permenter and the ZL while I talked to her fat uncle who is super catholic and asked me why we don’t worship the Virgin Mary.. But I guess their conversation with her went good because she showed up at church yesterday, and now we get the chance to teach her this week! She said she had a really good feeling at church.








We also had an investigator who came to church last week. We had promised them blessings if they came to church and we were walking in the street and it turns out he got a job as a guard that pays better money than his street vending tamales! Blessings of going to church!

We also had the opportunity to give many blessings to sick people this week. One was named Roger who has had chikengunya for 3 months and the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. The other is a special child of a family in our ward who got attacked by a swarm of ants. They were very humbling experiences to step in their houses and offer blessings.






Elder Permenter and I set a few goals this week, one of which was a health goal of not eating chips all week. It’s hard not to eat them because they are so cheap! But we ate healthy all week and we were tired every day because we didn’t have as much sugar as we usually do! But it was a good thing we did because we had more energy in the long run throughout the week. 

We had one of our Zone leaders named Elder Paraso stay the night with us and go to all of our meetings. He went to High school with Nedu! And it made me feel ok about Spanish because I was able to hold my part in the lessons. 

I am learning that even if my Spanish isn’t perfect, it is the spirit that truly matters. Everyone says that I know, but when they see that I am trying, I think they can see that our message is important.  I also have started to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish straight through. I have been reading it but not too fast. I want to pick up the pace and I am in Jarom right now. I think it will help more with Spanish grammar. 





 Elders Permenter and Dowell look like they borrowed shorts from Marshall

This week Elder Permenter gave me a blessing and it was of great comfort to me. I forget sometimes that I need to use the priesthood to bless my life too, not just everyone else’s! But they do come first.  I think Elder Permenter might leave in this next change on the 16th. I am sad about that but I probably won’t be too sad until we aren’t comps anymore.

This week has been a blessing because we are beginning to see the fruits of our labor!

I love you guys and miss you a lot. Stay safe!

Love



Elder Dowell