*The Dominican word for 'bus" is "wawa", which is what we'll be taking on Friday to get to the temple.*
Good morning everyone. This past week was probably the longest in my mission. I got called to be a zone leader, transferred to Passaic, got a new companion, Elder Dahl (looks like a little blonde Danish child, talks like a 22-year-old Tom Waits), from Phoenix Arizona, had to do a bunch of paper work (that's all zone leading IS), and met with several families in the ward. Life is fast paced and brilliant, like yellow fireworks.
Passaic is a city just off the Passaic river (which smells like feces all the time) and is about a 15 minute drive from my first area (Kearny/North Newark). The streets are crawling with dark skinned Poblanos and Dominicans. It feels like I'm in another country here. There are always kids out in the streets with their rusty bikes, torn polos, and ratty curly hair, loud Ranchera and Bachata music on every corner (yard parties every weekend), and lots of broken beer bottles everywhere. We live in a nice apartment on the second floor, with wood flooring, lots of windows, and not enough air conditioning.
My companion is Elder S. Dahl, from Phoenix, Arizona. He has been out for about 17 months and is training me to be a zone leader. We get along incredibly well, which is a relief and a huge blessing. He's a baseball pitcher, wants to be a fishing and game warden, and is definitely more shy and reserved than me BUT he's a total goof. We live with 2 other Elders that serve in the Passaic branch as well. ALSO, there are two sisters in the Passaic branch. Almost all the missionaries in the branch right now are more quiet and reserved so I was confused when I got there and everything was just kind of mellow, as far as the relationships missionaries have with members. I basically just went crazy trying to get to know everyone and telling everyone how happy I was to be there (it didn't help that Elder Dahl gave me some gross, rootbeer flavored, probably cancer causing, energy drink before members started arriving at the building). The branch President is named President Sanchez, from Colombia. He's amazing. While giving announcements, he make known to the members that we, as the missionaries, were not here to do missionary work. He very clearly said that we were here to help the members with their missionary work. They are the missionaries. That was awesome and amazing. The ward mission leader here is named Ramon Contreras, a Dominican brother, and he does everything he's supposed to, which was a massive shock. The branch is incredible, but the work is a little slow. Our zone is a slower zone, partly because we have so many sisters training right now. But it's going good. I had a great first week in Passaic and I am so happy for the direction that the work is going to go.
We went to leadership training this week to give a training on the role of prayer in conversion. It went pretty well, in my opinion. Elder Dahl gets super nervous when he has to talk in front of people. We were training about 100 missionaries and I look over at him while giving a Preach my Gospel quote, and he's all sweaty, with his eyes darting back and forth. Man I love him so much. When Elder Koelliker came, he said that if we had kneeling prayers at the end of every lesson, and our investigators prayed with "real intent", our baptisms would triple. Quite a promise, right? So we committed everyone to do that. I learned a ton from all the different trainings from all the new zone leaders and I took a bunch of notes. It was really weird to be on the upper end of things, as in, I was one of the older missionaries, giving trainings and mediating in the role-plays and whatnot. I even had to stand up with the group that had been out "longer than a year". Geez that was a slap in the face. President Jeppson's trainings were amazing as well. Jesus Christ loves us as missionaries and this is truly his work.
Funny story: visited a mexican family named the Bellos family. We had just eaten like 20 minutes before and we get there and she serrves us up good mexican food from Puebla right as we get there. I ate and ate and wanted to die, so I took the Mexican meatloaf type of stuff, discreetly wrapped it in some napkins, and stuffed it into my pocket. Elder Dahl totally saw and started busting up laughing. Then I went to the bathroom because it was starting to put a grease stain on my pants, so I stuffed it into the bottom of the garbage can. Embarrassing, but man I wanted to explode, I had eaten so much food that night.
Cool story; On Thursday, we were sitting in weekly planning, and we said out of the blue: "Let's find a family today". So we go out to work and a less active member gives us a referral. We go see the referral after we teach her and BOOM. A family of 3 ready to hear the gospel.
The Lord answers prayers, feels our desires, and gives us what is needed in the moment. I love the Lord