Monday, February 29, 2016

Getting Caught Up - A few weeks of letters

**Dad note, I have been busy travelling and savoring the notes home from travelling that I have not taken the time to update the blog.  Well, today is the day, Enjoy! - Rich**

Feb 15
Hey family and friends! 
It has been perfect weather here in the department of Cortes. From San Pedro Sula to where I am at now in a town called Portrerillos is about an hour and it has been rainy and cool weather!
I will share a few crazy experiences and then I will answer some questions that mom had! I was so sad this week to miss syds bday, moms bday, and valentines day! But know how much I love and miss you and pray for you! 
This week we visited with a few members and investigators. It is weird to see sometimes when people lose interest in the gospel. I always get sad and wonder what they are thinking.. but I guess everyone has their agency. we are goingto San Pedro this week to help the Family Humania get married and their baptism will be coming up to! Every time we go to their house they give us coconuts to drink. They dont have much, but they are an example of giving what little they have in gratitude to us. I am grateful for them and their example to me. 
Something that was of a little bit of concern was that a gang member in our area was killed and when that happens there is a little more tention.. but we were safe and so were the others in our area. It was a scary thing at first, but it died down after a day.

We also had the opportunity to hear from a general authority, Elder Alonzo, from the quorum of the 70. It was awesome to hear him speak at stake conference this week, he is good at delivering a message and joking with the people. He gave some great advice.. reminding the priesthood that they need to bring the bread to church, and that we should prepare ourselves spiritually to take the sacrament. Also that partaking of the sacrament is a vital part of the perfeccion of the saints, and that it is something that requires repetition. 
At the end of the priesthood session on Saturday I asked him if he could take a picture with me. He told me to wait until tomorrow.. I thought that meant no. So the next day I wasnt going to ask again, but my companion told me I should and so I stood outside the door waiting as they set apart the new stake president. when he stepped out of the room he said, ¨who wanted to take a picture?¨ I was really surprised that he remembered.. but I will attach the picture, it was a very cool experience. 
I am thankful for the people we encounter each day. They are crazy, but fun to talk to and be around. I have felt touched by the generosity many times. I know the church is true and in helpin gand teaching others, I can feel my own testimony grow as well. 

Who are you excited to teach again?  
the main people that are fun to teach are those who really listen to us and ask questions. not many people ask questions.. but there is a couple named judi and manuel. they both are married with other people and are living together.. but they have been going to church which is awesome. they even went to stake conference. 
When was the time you felt the spirit teaching this week?  
A time when I felt the spirit was when I was giving my testimony. I have felt peace when I bare my testimony with all my heart and I think it helps others as well to know that they can have a testimony through prayer and acting on the answer that they recieve. 
What did you learn in your scripture study this week? 
In scripture study I always feel like I can do better in contacting, or in delivering the initial message of the restoration. I studied how we can help others to realize that not everyone that screams into a microphone is a prophet, and that God choses his profets. I find myself learning how to teach stuff that I have known since I was little. I know that Heavenly Father uses profets to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but through studying I have gotten better at explaining that God has always chosen profets, and that he chose Joseph Smith in these latter days to act as a prophet. I alwyas think that if someone understands the great apostasy, they will feel the need for a restoration of the gospel. Amos 8.11 is one of those scriptures that talks about the apostasy.. after reading that we can explain the need for the restoration. I know a restoration of the gospel was necesary for us to act in Gods name, with His power on the earth again!
I love you guys.. have a great week this week!

Elder Dowell
Feb 22
Family and friends,
This week we saw the fruits of many days of work here in Paraiso. The most rewarding of all was on Friday when the Humania family finally got married. We saw Heavenly Fathers help as we got their papers together. On wednesday morning we woke up at 4 to go stand in a long line in San Pedro Sula to take out the last of the papers that they needed. At 10 oclock the line hadnt moved and we were tired of sitting there so long. A street pastor even stood preaching from the hours of 8 oclock to 10 oclock because he knew we werent going to leave so he yelled at us to have the holy ghost. I always wonder what people´s perception of Heavenly Father is when they choose different ways to worship Him. At 11 o clock a nice guy told us that because brother humania is so old that he could cut to the front of the line. He saved us alot of time and trouble, and on Friday a member of the church that works at the courthouse helped us get them married quick. their baptism is scheduled for this saturday.
In trying to find people to teach this week we have encountered many people who are interested in hearing our message. One family in particular was of surprise to me because the dad was the one that was asking questions and wanted to hear us. I have noticed that the people that usually accept us are single women with a few kids whose dad doesnt live with them or doesnt stay in the house much. But this family was different. It makes such a big difference when the man of the house is interested, because he can help his family understand and be a good influence on them. They told us that they would read the pamphlet that we gave them and that they would pray to know if it is true that the gospel was restored through prophets in these latter days. I hope that they will follow up on that promise.
I am so thankful for the chance that we have to help others by sharing the gospel. There have been many times where I feel like I really am fighting for the right. Many people have a skewed vision of who God is and what we need to do to return to live in His presence. In studying and teaching, little by little I have learned that it really isnt that complicated, and that as imperfect human beings, we have a little wiggle room!
What I mean by this can be explained using one of my favorite scriptures. 
3 Nephi 31.12
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father givethe Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
 13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shallfollow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting nohypocrisy and no deception before God, but with realintent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, bybaptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh thebaptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
 14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
 15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, thewords of my Beloved are true and faithful. He thatendureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
 16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following theexample of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.

At first this scripture seemed a little bit harsh to me. After I read it I thought about all the people who have not completed the steps of the Gospel of Christ. But afterwards, I tried to apply this scripture to my own life. In this scripture, Nephi explains the simplicity of the gospel of Christ, and what it is that we need to to to return to live with Heavenly Father. He is very clear to that those who do not follow these steps ¨cannot be saved¨. That was the part that seemed a little bit harsh to me. I began to think, what is my job? after having completed the first 4 steps, faith, repentance, baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost my job is to endure to the end. This is the part that I think allows us a little wiggle room! Enduring to the end is hard, but I think it should be happy too. Enduring to the end is not being perfect, so each time that I feel like I don't get to talk as much as I want to in the lessons, or I mess up on a part in the lesson because I am still learning Spanish, or  have things that don't go my way, I am comforted to know that these situations have no effect on my chances of returning to live with Heavenly Father. What does matter is what I do. I think this can be applied to everyones life. Everyone feels inadequate at times, hearts get broken, things don't go our way, we want to have fun and it doesn't feel like were having fun, but these are things that Satan can use to distract us from our eternal purpose of being happy and returning to live with Heavenly Father. Comfort cannot be found in temporal things, but in following what Nephi has explained as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I know this to be true. I love you guys and I hope you have a great week! Be safe and love one another, Ill try too! ha ha

Elder Dowell

Feb 29
Dear Family and friends,
This week was another good one her in Paraiso. We were able to see all of our hard work pay off as the Humania family got baptized together this week! It was a humbling experience for me to see them be baptized, even when they dont have much. I know that they have much more prepared for them after this life.
I had the chance to baptize two people, and Elder Figueroa baptized three. Although it was a very cool experience, it had rained all day so everyone got to church all rainy and muddy, and the water in the baptismal font was freezing! I have gotten used to cold water a little bit from taking bucket showers in the morning, but I don't know if I would have gotten baptized in that water! haha 

One of my mission buddies Elder Palma who is from Honduras had to have transfers so our District Leader has been a third companion for a few days. I think we will stay a trio until changes next week. It has been a fun time to share the gospel and teach. Having 3 people adds a different element to teaching because all of us want to talk and explain. It reminds me a lot of living with Pete and Chinedu because sometimes it is 2 on 1. We have had much success in these past few weeks, more than I have seen in my whole mission. We have more people wanting to learn about our message and more people willing to open their door and their hearts as well. As to why, I don't know! I would like to say because of our obedience or hard work but I always feel like we are trying hard, so the most reasonable answer for that is that our prayers are being answered. I know that Jesus Christ is hastening His work, and that He has prepared people in different places and in different stages of their life, and I am very thankful to be apart of that. 
Yesterday we had the chance to explain Lehi's vision to a couple that we are teaching. They initially thought that the tree represented the tree of knowledge of good and bad.. We explained to them and drew them a picture of the dream, and got to explain to them that they need to hold on to the iron rod. I love that story because of its simplicity. They understood that they just need to hold on to the iron rod as tight as they can to reach the goal of Eternal life.
Each day I feel that the experience that I am having is helping me to grow, and I am so thankful for the people who are examples in my life. Mom and Dad, Marshy, Syd, and Savannah, Grandparents, aunts uncles, leaders, friends, teachers, and all those who have always lovingly counselled me to do what is right. I am full of gratitude because I know that I am not doing this alone. There are so many who have supported me and I am so thankful for that. I know that this church is true and I can testify of the happiness that comes from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He lives!
Have a great week everyone! I love and miss you guys, 

Elder Dowell

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Honduran Spaghetti

**Dad note, I have been slacking in getting these letters posted.  Here are the last two notes from Chandler**

Dear Family and friends,
I have had many funny experiences this week and also things that have helped my testimony grow.. and experiences that have pushed my buttons, but all in good fun.
We have many awesome members in our branch, many of which give us food and cook for us. On one occasion this week I helped make some Honduran spaghetti. I say Honduran spaghetti because it is different than any spaghetti that I have ever had. The noodles are normal, but as I watched the member make the sauce I was shocked! she started off with a little bit of tomato sauce and some oil.. pretty normal. she proceded to add water.. ok. then she added some mayonase and milk.. weird but not too bad. Then to finish she added a glass of coke. Only then did I understand why I love Honduran spaghetti. 
Some things as we were walking in the street that are out of the normal were a full on techno dance party in the evangelical church by where we live.. and something pretty normal is little kids shouting, asking us if we want coffee. I dont give it too much attention, its kinda funny I think.. but I think it makes my companion mad because he always says yes to see what they will say.
We also had a new investigator come to church with us! we have been offering her service and one morning we took her some firewood. She has 2 little kids who are a little bit crazy. I got to help her out with one of her kids during sacrament meeting and wow. I have no Idea how I will be a dad someday! 
It is normal for some people that we teach to not have a place to sit, so we find a rock or cement blocks nearby to pop a squat. It was so nice outside this week that I wore a sweater one of the days. I never thought I would use a longsleeve shirt but the weather makes all the difference. I think one can feel the spirit more in colder weather. Not doctrine, just opinion. 
This week was a milestone for me as well because I finished reading the book of Mormon in spanish! It took forever, but It really helped me to learn spanish better and to learn the book of mormon stories. I know it is true. I know that the book of mormon is true and It didnt take reading it in spanish for me to know that. Its teachings are based upon those of Jesus Christ. His teachings are perfect, and only through living what He taught will we reach our eternal goal of returning to live with Heavenly Father.

Along with teaching and trying to find new people to teach, it has been hard to be with my companion. That is something that every missionary will say so I wont spend too much time on that, but I was reading the general conference Liahona or Ensign and it was the talk, What Lack I Yet? I read the talk and did what it says to do. The answer that I got was to love my companion. 
This is one of the many things that Heavenly Father could have told me, but I know that if we really ask and have the desire to act on the answer, Heavenly Father will point us in the right direction. 
Mom asked me a few questions this week too so I will share my answers.

Where did you see the hand of the Lord in your life this week?
I saw Him in the weather this week. It could have been hot like any other week but my problems didnt seem as bad because the weather was perfect. It was a big blessing.. and reminded me of the AZ winter!

Where did you see the hand of the Lord in one of your investigators this week?
This week we had the opportunity to share the first vision with a few of our investigators. I was thankful that I could recite the first vision, its my favortie part. Our investigators rarely read what they ask them to and rarely pray to know that the message that we are giving is true. even after we explain it in simple terms, I feel that some people still dont understand why we are different than every other church. But, after explaining the first vision and asking a few questions, I could tell that they were thinking. They seemed like they were starting to understand the information that we gave them. Jesus Christ is able to help us understand through the spirit and when we learn something new, I think it is the spirit that makes them think and understand. In moments of true undertanding I think the Lord helps us with the spirit to understand.

What stuck out to you in your scripture study this week?
John 13.15
I have given you an example.
The gospel is so simple that its easy to get frustrated when peop`le dont understand.
faith in Jesus Christ leads us to repent of the bad things that we have done in our lives. Faith that we can be freed from our burdens, pains, and sins lead us to follow the commandments, repent, and be baptized. If we are baptized with the authortiy of God, we will recieve a remission of our sins. 
I learned of many instances in the scriptures that Jesus says Follow me, I am the way, Do as I do, etc.. but this is very misunderstood by our investigators. They think that being like Jesus means doing good deeds every now and then and then youll go to Heaven. There is some truth in this, but Jesus taught us to have faith unto repentance, be baptized with His authority that has been restored on the earth, recieve the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the end. Nothing more and nothing less can allow us to enter into His kindgdom. I know this is true.
 I love and miss you all at home.. enjoy the colder weather!

Elder Dowell

Family and Friends,
This week has been a good week here in Paraiso. We have been trying to get a few people excited for baptism. We have been focusing on teaching repentace and baptism to our investigators so that they can understand the importance of making covenants with Heavenly Father. As we have been teaching, our investigators have had a few challenges. The first is an 18 year old. He is a very sincere guy and wants to be baptized. This past lesson he told us that his girlfriend might be having a baby, so we had the opportunity to teach him about the law of chastity, and the need for repentance to be baptized and be clean from his sins. He was very receptive and accepted a baptismal date in February. 
Another Investigator of ours was having challenges understanding some commandments that we have because her friends at her work were telling her a bunch of lies about the church. They were absolutely crazy things. One was that we have a steeple at the church because Joseph Smith was decapitated on a steeple. Another one was that after women get baptized, they are forced to marry a member of the church right after, even if they were married with someone who is not a member. The other lies were pretty normal to hear such as, we dont drink pop or eat meat. We were able to clear up her doubts and challenged her to pray for a baptismal date in February also.
This week we also had the opportunity to sell donuts to members of the church to raise money for the Family Humania who wants to be baptized soon. It was difficult because my companion had to get half of his toenail removed because it was an ingrown toenail.. It looked like it hurt really bad.

I am also convinced, after all my years of training for football, that there is no better way to train than going deep into a mountain to chop and haul wood. We helped out 2 young men from the church Jason and Jimmy(names not very hondureƱan) get some firewood for their house so that they could cook. I weigh about 200 pounds and these guys are about 150 pounds and they were kicking my butt hauling this wood. it was probably around 50 pounds but it was rainy so the ground was slippery and I could tell they were laughing a little bit because I had never done it before, but they were good sports for letting us help them.

When we went to San Pedro Sula to go to the doctor for my companion I could help but smile the whole time.. I love it! It brought back alot of good memories from the first part of the mission and I loved being there for a bit. 
This week after church, the church bus got in a small accident. It was a big yellow school bus and nothing happened to us or anyone else on the bus.. we barely even felt anything, but a car had pushed a little taxi car into the back of the bus and the driver of the taxi shattered the windshield with his head and had to go to the hospital. That was a little bit scary. My companion thought it was his fault because one of our investigators was complaining that they wanted to buy watermelon and so he told the bus driver to stop.. I was like.. um its Sunday! It is true that everyone has their own thought of the rules of what is ok and whats not on the sabbath day. Keep it Holy! 
Have a great week, I love you guys!
con amor

Elder Dowell