“And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.”
I really love the culture of New York! And by that I mean I really love how many different cultures there are! Because there are so many different ethnicities, so many different backgrounds, and so much history here, there is one aspect of New York culture I love that is overarching. Where you are from is a big deal.
Never have I met so many different people who will identify as Italian, boast of Italy, speak of Italy as if they were there yesterday, only to find out it’s been 4 or 5 generations since their family had immigrated from Italy. And the same goes for every other country. I love it!
The family ties reaching back generations are so real here. It is fascinating to meet someone who declares themselves to be Greek (still a multi-generational American) and speak of their culture back home, of their food, of their history. Perhaps this aspect of the culture isn’t as far-reaching as I would like to think it is. I’ve only spent 6 months in eastern Long Island, intermingled sporadic moments in the boroughs of New York City and the rest of the island. However, it still a part of the way of life here that I love!
Southampton missionaries were part of a branch talent show. Elder Asplund was a hit when he sang, “The Gospel is a whole new world…”
Elder McConkie is truly enjoying the time he has to serve here for many reasons. One of those reasons includes those with whom he serves. True friendships being forged through common hearts and purpose. Here is his week:
We were doing some knocking in East Quogue when we ran into a woman from Ukraine. We talked to her for a little and set a return appointment. As we walked over to the next house, I looked over and the house the Ukrainian woman was entering and realized it was the same exact house I had knocked earlier with Elder Peña. The husband was the one we had talked to and he’d told us he wouldn’t mind us coming over, but his wife probably would. This was definitely supposed to happen. 🙂
Our final appointment was with a guy we ran into him about a week ago and he told us to come back. We stopped by just before 8:00 and got to talk for a bit. Apparently he was a cop for 30 years, and now he has his current job. He was a Catholic but lost his connection for some specific reasons. He is a very humble man. We felt impressed to share the plan of salvation. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said he would read it. When he said we could come back the last week of September, we pressed for an earlier date and he said we could come this next Wednesday. We’re excited and hoping that we can help him find the peace and happiness he is looking for!
We talked to a couple guys who are told us they are atheist. Super cool ~23 year-olds, they asked us question after question about our church. They liked our answers and appreciated the copies of the Book of Mormon we gave them. They said they would read them and sent us friend requests on Facebook. They’re pretty cool. It was a good opportunity to really dig deep into our knowledge of the doctrine.
Saturday, we helped move a family from their home in Quogue to their new place in Westhampton. I sure love this family! They had a bunch of family helping to move and we had quite a few people from the branch there. And oh boy! It was so fun: A ton of heavy stuff to move. So, yeah: Some good old manual labor. It feels pretty good to do some of that after days of talking and teaching. 🙂
We had dinner with the Hayden’s tonight. Love that family! Brother Hayden just returned from a mini-residency out of town. We shared a mini-lesson on Joseph Smith and prayer. Afterwards, they sent us off with some food. Oh yeah, their oldest (age 6 or 7) shared a Book of Mormon with one of her friends the other day and the mother was in tears. What an incredible girl! She begged her mom to share a Book of Mormon with her friend, so they prayed to find a Book of Mormon, and Sister Hayden ended up giving hers to them. So on our way out, we gave her two: One that was normal, and one that had a ton of markings with answers to common questions (i.e. Why am I here?).
I got to teach Gospel Doctrine Sunday on enduring to the end. I learned a lot from studying for this lesson this morning. It is incredible to see the relation between patience and diligence. Elder Maxwell illustrates not only enduring, but enduring well in his talk from April 1990, “Enduring It Well.” Such an inspired talk.
Oh yeah, during sacrament meeting, a special musical number was announced. I already knew I would be playing the piano for it, however no one had told me what I would be playing. Elder Asplund and I said a prayer before that the musical number would go well. So about 3 minutes before, the guy who would be singing passed me back a note that asked if I could play “I Need Thee Every Hour.” It’s a good thing that I know hymns! I’d say those prayers were answered. I was able to follow Brother Sullivan who was singing–and even make the hymn sound like an arrangement. I sure felt the Spirit testifying during the song. Honestly, the Lord has blessed me immensely by slowly bringing back any piano skills I’d acquired a few years ago. I feel so very grateful! The Lord is mindful of each of us. 🙂
That afternoon, we over to a good sister’s house and shared a short message. She was excited to see us! We knew she had very little time, so we were going to make our visit brief. However, she kept talking to us and asking questions–she is so awesome! She talked with us about her husband for a little bit. He is such a great man! He is calm, collected, patient, and all those other attributes we all are trying to gain. The one thing he struggles with is faith and doesn’t know if there is a right answer. At least, that’s what he says. I think he feels it deep down. He has the Spirit with him way too strongly to not feel at least a little bit that there is a truth out there. 🙂 This is an incredible family!
It’s been a week of great growth! I am learning a lot, especially about patience and diligence. The longer I am out here, the more I realize that we are here to gather and to help those the Lord has already prepared–it is impossible for me to convince someone on my own.
The FULLNESS of the gospel, what we share, which is found in the Book of Mormon and spoken by the words of our living prophets, is very much like salt. Impossible to accurately describe to someone who hasn’t tasted it, and almost too good to be true. In salt’s case, someone may exclaim, “What do you mean my prime ribs would taste better? There’s no way my french fries would be improved with salt! I am perfectly happy with all my food just the way it is. All food is just as it should be.” In the FULLNESS of the gospel’s case, someone may cry, “What do you mean I’d be more at peace? There’s no way my family could be happier. I am perfectly fine with my faith where it is. My beliefs are where I like them.” They have no reason to believe that there could be anything better, besides what we tell them or what we have experienced. The only way they can know is if they act for themselves. The only way I can know is if I act for myself.
Thank you for your letters! Y’all are the best! Love you!