Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Welcome to Copan

This week was a  little harder than others, but the weather was nice and cool and it even rained a few times so it wasn't as hot. Copan is absolutely gorgeous. If I lived in Honduras I would live in Copan. The people are very nice. We had an experience this week where we were walking to dinner and a less active member stopped and gave us a ride. He told us that he is one of the people that takes people to the US illegally, but he then offered to pay for our dinner. We ate and as we were paying, the police officer that was eating there too offered to pay for our meal! It was a great act of kindness, the people really aren't too hard hearted! 

Later in the week we did divisions with some missionaries in Ocotepeque. It is a city about 6 hours from where we are. It rook forever to get there, but it was a great experience. Driving in and out it felt like we were driving through a picture! there were giant green mountains covered with clouds and little bright colored houses at the bottom of the mountain. I felt like we helped the missionaries out a lot. It is a hard area because the only church meets in a house and is a branch of about 30 members. When we were there I felt the spirit prompting us a few times to visit places that maybe the other elders never would have visited. I know that Heavenly Father puts us where we need to be. 
Last week there was a branch President change and while they are still looking for people to be the counselors, Elder Westerlind and I, and the other 2 missionaries that live with us are the assigned branch counselors. It isn't much different than what we normally do, we just gotta meet with the branch president each week to talk about growth and sacrament meeting things. 
The funniest thing that happened this week was when we went to visit our best investigator. She is a little bit rebellious, but she tries to do whats right. We got to her house and there were some guys drinking beer and smoking, and there was loud music playing. we figured it was just her brother that she lives with, they are both in their late 20s. We got there and the older brother had hired someone to come give him a tattoo in his living room. we were a little shocked, but we asked our investigators what he was going to get tattooed.. she responded, the same one I got!! ha ha ha just minutes before she had gotten a tattoo on her side of a giant anchor with flowers on it. We were like, Have we taught you nothing?! ha ha She has a little ways to go  before she can get baptized, but I know that they will be able to be members of the church one day. Two of our other investigators went to church too! It was so awesome to see them talking to the members and fitting in. They have challenges, but nothing that the gospel cant fix! I love this Church. I know its true. Happy Fathers day dad!! I love you so much and I am so incredibly grateful of your example to me. I want to be like you and I always think of what you would do in my situations. I want to be the type of man that you are. I love you!! Have a great week.

Elder Dowell

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Time for an update

**selfish Dad here...I guess it's that time of the mission (18mo in) where I just want him to come home and drag on updating his blog. Here it is...**

May 16

Looking back on the week, I can see the Lords hand in many ways, small and big. The weather this week has been hot. I don't know if there is any other way to describe it other than hot. I am reminded by and thankful for the experience growing up and playing football in this heat. 
The greatest experience of the week came as we were on divisions with our zone leader, Elder Wood. He is from California and he went with us on our visits for the day. We made tons of visits with new people, but the most important was with one of our reluctant investigators. Originally we weren't going to visit with her, but I think Heavenly Father had a different plan for her. We have been trying so hard to get her to change her life and accept a date to be baptized, but she was having a really hard time with the word of wisdom and the Law of Chastity. She really didn't see a point in keeping the commandments, although we explained to her everything about repentance and the Atonement. When we went, Elder Wood shared with her a few encouraging words and we really felt the spirit. I asked her what she was thinking will happen if she waits to be baptized. She admitted that she probably wasn't going to change much. So we invited her to be baptized again and to change her life and she said yes!! It was very sincere and she will be getting baptized this week! It was an awesome experience to see the spirit work in her and for her to act on that feeling.
We were also contacting some Jehovah's Witnesses and had a lesson with them. They asked a lot of questions about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They wondered why we can believe in such revelation if it doesn't say anything in the bible about these things. We bore them our testimonies that if they would just read and pray, that they would know too. I don't think they are going to do it because we saw them the next day and they were giving out their little pamphlets too. It is crazy how simple our answers can come if we are just doing whats right and we are sincere. I know that the small and simple means confound the wise. 
As we were teaching a guy this week, we contacted him and used our book with pictures of the lessons we teach. When were showed him how the priesthood was restored to the prophet Joseph Smith. He stopped us and asked who the angels were, and he told us that he saw 2 of the angels in a dream that he had. I thought that was so crazy! Maybe because that has never happened to me.. but I thought that was so cool. I hope he acts on his dreams and feelings about the gospel. 
Each day is a new day of people telling us that our bible is wrong (aka the book of Mormon) and them quoting bible verses that really don't exist. We invite everyone to come unto Christ and I love the simplicity of that. Yesterday we contacted a guy that was watching Dragon Ball Z. We met with him and his wife and it was totally one of the best lessons I have had in the whole mission. They were all ears and they had awesome questions about the restoration like, ¨How can we know if this is true. or, why was it important to restore the church?¨ It felt so good to answer those questions. I know they were feeling the spirit becasue they were smiling as they learned what we were teaching them. 
I know that Heavenly Father puts us where we need to be. Sometimes I feel lost, I know I am not perfect, but I know that Heavenly Father helps us out more than we know. I love and miss you guys, i hope you have a great week!! Happy Graduation Marshy!!!!

Elder Dowell

May 23

Dear Family and friends,
This week was full of stuff to do! On tuesday we had a zone conference with some other zones and President Dester. Although it is great to go and learn more about teaching the gospel, the best part is always seeing my mission buddies! I hadn't seen Elder Wight in forever (My comp from the MTC), but he was there so I gave him a big hug and we were laughing and joking around like the good old days. We also saw Elder Bate who is our good friend that came with us. He is the Presidents Assistant and very sincere. It was a great reunion of friends! 
I felt like a hero a little bit as during a lesson I spotted a scorpion running across the floor and warned the kid that was closest. It almost stung him! I think he was in shock a little bit, but he jumped out of the way and stomped on it. 
We had a few lessons that really hurt my feelings. I would say it in a more manly way if I could but that is really how I felt. One was with a guy who was waiting for his girlfriend at her door. He told us that we could come in, but when we started he totally shrugged us off and acted like we didn't even exist. I am pretty used to it, but it felt super disrespectful.. and when his girlfriend was done getting ready, we were in the middle of explaining the apostasy and he straight up said, see ya.. but in spanish of course, and left. My heart felt broken. I always wonder why they wont listen! haha On another occasion we contacted a lady who was baptized when she was little in the church, but never returned. We asked her if she had ever read the Book of Mormon, and she told us without hesitating that the Book is not true. We told her that it IS true and that she just needed to pray about it and ask God. She didn't accept our offer. 
A funny rejection this week came as we contacted an old man. We were returning because we had talked with his wife and she told us that we could return. When we got to the door we asked him if him and his wife would have time to hear a message about Jesus Christ. He replied to us that his wife was asleep. I asked him, ¨what about you?¨ a to which he replied, ¨I'm asleep too.¨ and then didn't answer any of our other questions. Elder Dipko and I had to laugh at that. 
The MOST heartbreaking story of them all happened on Saturday night. We were planning for the baptism of Suyapa Garcia who we have been teaching for like 4 months now. She finally accepted a baptismal date and we had everything ready. We even had the baptismal font halfway filled up when she called us and told us that she wasnt going to come! We were in shock a little bit, and tied to excite her to come and get baptized, but half way through my sentence she hung up and took the battery out of her phone so that we couldn't call back. I know that because we tried to call like 5 times but it went straight to voicemail. That was sad for us but we had nothing else to do but keep visiting people so that's what we did. 
I love these people, even though they don't love us. I don't always love their personalities or the things that they do, but I feel like a parent sometimes. I want what is best for them and we try to teach them what is best for them but they are a little stubborn in doing it. I know this is the Lords work, and that he is preparing the hearts of His children, even ours each day. I know the experiences He gives us are to help us grow closer to Him.

Elder Dowell

May 30

Hey guys!
This week has been very eventful because it was my last full week in this area. It has been so heartbreaking to say goodbye to some of my greatest friends. Before the mission I really didn't think that I would be able to love these people, bu now that I have to leave them they are tearing me apart! How can I just love them and leave them?? Nonetheless I am so grateful that Heavenly Father gave me the chance to be a part of their lives and teach them the gospel.
Some of the greater (and sadder) moments of the week came as I was saying goodbye to the families that have made the most impact on my testimony and I really feel like I have left a piece of my heart with them. 

 One of the families we teach is super poor that lives near a river very far from the city. They are very secluded and were investigators when I arrived. To this day they haven't missed going to church and they were all baptized together. We always joke around and they are very fun to teach because they are so humble and listen and try to do everything that we teach. Well when it came time to say goodbye I shook their hands because the majority of them are girls.. but when it came to the dad, brother, I asked him for a hug. Unexpectedly he broke down and started to cry as he had his arms wrapped around my ribs. he is a small 72 year old farmer, but he bawled his eyes out and told me thank you for all that we have done for him and his family. I was so so touched by his sincerity. my heart hurts just writing this story! Jeez! haha
Another family was hard to say goodbye to because they are my best friends, so we put that off until tomorrow. They started bringing a friend to church and I think he will get baptized soon, his name is Ariel. 
We have been having a tough time getting baptisms, but equally a tough time getting people to come to church. We invited a guy to church named Fernando who was baptized when he was like 9 but never went back. He doesn't know anything about the church but he showed up about half way through sacrament meeting! We were so excited to see him!! He participated in the gospel principles class and had the look on his face like, "this is awesome but I don't want to admit it".. I think he will come more consistently! 
There were 2 people that we know very well who had babies this week. They are so precious! One of the moms was an investigator and the other was the Branch Presidents wife. There is a myth that if someone with light colored eyes looks at your baby, they will get sick.. So what they do to combat it is they have you take sweat from your forehead and wipe it on the forehead of their baby.. I think its super weird, but i love doing it! haha
I will continue to say goodbye to great friends until my heart is broken completely on Wednesday when I have to pack up and leave. I am sad, but happy to go somewhere new and meet new people! I love and miss you guys tons, Keep having a great time at home! Summer is at hand!

Elder Dowell

June 13

This week was a great week! It was super hot and that bugged me at times! haha but we still made the most of it. The people of Copan are very nice, but not as nice as the people in Portrerillos (Paraiso). Much more people try and battle with us about memorized verses in the bible, and those who accept us understand the importance of the restoration, but neglect to read and find out for themselves if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church of Jesus Christ or not. We had an interesting experience this week where we entered into a house to share our message of the restoration. We have been looking for families and this was an older family of 3 or 4 and we noticed that one of the people in the house had his plaid button up shirt on, reading glasses, and a giant bible on his lap. My thoughts were "this cant be too good".. and.. I WAS RIGHT! haha we started to ask them about their lives and he told us that he was a pastor for the evangelical church. We continued with a prayer and began to teach them about prophets and how Heavenly Father has always called prophets to teach His gospel. They were with us because we related it to the bible. From there, I asked one of the members of the household, "Do you think its important to have living prophets to teach us the gospel like in the days of old?" Instead of answering me directly, they looked directly to their pastor. I was so sad at that. I knew that the pastor doesn't believe in modern revelation, but I wish that they would have thought for themselves instead of looking to us for the answer. The pastor answered me instead of the person, and told us that there were no revelation in these days. We showed him the book of Mormon but he wouldn't let us explain it because he was so ignorant and wouldn't accept our words. At this point I was just frustrated, because I always feel like I am just trying to help them find the truth, but they don't see it like that. We ended up baring our testimonies of the truth of the Book of Mormon. We asked them each directly, "Will you read the book of Mormon to find out if its true?" Again each looked at the pastor and he said in a high voice, "I will never pray about any book other than the Bible." They others followed his statement and I left very disappointing, but felt that we had done our part. 
Similar experiences happened later in the week. I always leave feeling so hurt and heartbroken because I know something that they don't know. I wish they would just try to know it. I know Heavenly Father cant help them if they don't put the effort first. 
As for our investigators, Heidi and her son Melvin accepted a baptismal date for the 2nd of July!!!! We were so excited for them, but they didn't go to church when they promised us they would go, and they live right next to it! but I know they will get baptized next month for sure. She has been visiting with the missionaries for a long time, and her family has member of the church in it too. Another guy we met this week was a guy named Walter Enrique. He grew up in Los Angeles and so we talk to him in English.. it is really weird to talk in English with someone other than Elder Westerlind. But he is in the early stages of learning about the gospel, but he told my companion while we were on divisions that his girlfriend that he is living with does witchcraft.. so hes probably gonna have to break up with her.. sorry dude. Other than that we dont have too many people that want to progress towards baptism. There was a change in the branch presidency this week too. President Dester came to announce it because he is the president of all the districts. It was sad to think that that might have been the last time I get to see him here in Honduras. I hope not, I love President Dester! I love and miss you guys lots too. Have a great week!!

Elder Dowell