These past few weeks have been caught in its own sort of crossfire. Elder Harris and I, after hours of working hard with those we were teaching, decided to clean house. We basically cleared our AreaBook and started afresh. We kept a few people, but we largely either dropped or deleted (we have electronic AreaBooks #BlessingsOfiPads) a ton of people. And we immediately started to see miracles.
Eyonjah is from Jamaica. After years of working his way of the chains of command, he became an executive for a business in his country. After amassing a large savings account, he moved to the United States, where he told us the exchange rate for money is worse than 1:100. He pulled up all his roots and started fresh.
We found him as we were cleaning out our AreaBook. His record had said he was originally contacted by Sister missionaries in Brooklyn when he was waiting for the train, which was a good 6 months earlier. Long story short, we called the number listed, set up an appointment, and when we went over to the lesson, taught the Restoration and when we finished he said something that just blew my mind: “Wow, that makes sense.” Since then, we’ve been over one other time and he’s continuing to progress. He was the first of half a dozen people the Lord gave us immediately after our AreaBook was clean enough to handle them.
We have quite an incredible branch here. For those of you who may not remember, we are combined Spanish and English. Actually, shortly after I got here, the English branch dissolved and because the nearest English Branch is a 45-minute car ride away (and we only have a couple members here with cars), they were asked to attend the local Spanish Branch. Never before have I been more grateful for strong members. Between the two languages, our average attendance is 75. And yet I have learned more about Christlike love and service here than I could have in a large branch.
Just like stereotypical New Yorkers, many of the members work until late into the night, 6 or 7 days a week. Every family is so different; each situation is never identical. However, never before have I seen how universal the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. It’s just like we taught Victor this last week: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is both powerful and simple–it contains the answers to all of life’s questions.
I love the Rockaways! True, it has presented some of the toughest mental games I have ever experienced. Never before have I felt so inadequate. Truly, I’ve been brought to a greater understanding of my weaknesses. And I couldn’t be happier. Okay, maybe that sounds like a cliché. But it really isn’t. The more I realize I need to trust in God, the more I decide to rely on him, and the less I worry about how inadequate I am–if I can trust in God with my whole heart, everything will work out. He just asks me to work hard. Isn’t that a great message?
Additionally, the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t confining. The theory of “many roads lead to Rome” or everyone has their own path to happiness sounds, to many, like the most personal answer. As a missionary and even as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am here to testify that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the means to THE most personal answer: the Atonement.
It looks like I’ll be here for another 6 weeks (which was expected). I didn’t know I could love a place so much. Thank you all for your support! The work of God is going forward where ever we are. We just need to open our mouths. Have a great one!
Love you all 🙂
From a letter to Elder McConkie’s brother, Joshua:
New York is a wonderful place. I have to say I have changed quite a bit. Looking back, it is a little weird to think about who I once was. True, I still have many of the same characteristics (sometimes my energy levels are through the roof), but I feel I have made some pretty good progress. I don’t think I ever took anyone seriously when they talked about all the highs and lows that can happen within hours, even minutes of each other. More importantly, I am beginning to see why this is all so important.
There’s been a hot topic in the mission for the past year: it’s planning. Actually, specifically it is simplified planning. Planning has been a concept our mission has been trying to master for a long time. By direction of the general authorities, it has been condensed down to 6 steps:
- establish purpose/end goal,
- talk about where we’re at/they’re at and what’s keeping them/us from reaching the end goal,
- establish the next steps we need to take and how we are going to accomplish them,
- make plans and set times to carry everything out, and
- make a record.
Honestly, it makes miracles happening. 🙂
Alright, I want to share an experience with you. I’ll paste it from my journal:
“We met with a Nigerian investigator we met the other week today. She is a preacher’s wife. We ran into her just before Christmas when we were looking up a member in the area she lived in. Actually, she is the landlady for the member. When we offered to share the Christmas initiative with her, she asked us to come back the following Tuesday. We did so and got a return appointment for today.
“When we went over, she told us that she hadn’t done any reading and that she wasn’t ready for us–she was ready to shoo us off her porch because she was sure that we would just be on our way. Little does she know, we are more persistent than that. We asked if we could come in for 30 minutes. For the next hour, we opened the Book of Mormon with not only her, but with another family member from Nigerian and her High School/Middle School age children.
“By the end, they all seemed to understand the importance of the Book of Mormon, which is the overarching goal Elder Harris and I felt we needed before we enter the appointment.”
From a letter to Elder McConkie’s sister, Abigail, who will be reporting for her mission to Uruguay in March:
Being on the mission is pretty different. Why? Because it isn’t just busy work. It’s the work of salvation. You know what I realized the other day? Well, you know that rant that everyone goes on about being prepared? Well I kinda just blew it off. Let me say, I wish I would have stayed busy before.
I’ve been thinking about it and as a missionary, we are still training every day to get to be a better missionary. And you know the training program the Lord has us on? Alright, I take that and draw a parallel to the creation of the world. God created–or rather commanded Christ to create and organize–the world, including the light and darkness, the land and the seas, the animals, and Adam and Eve in 6 days. Everyone’s pretty familiar with what Genesis 2:2 teaches: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”
The first principle that comes to mind is the principle of keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. There’s another principle, though, that I find equally as powerful. It’s the principle of working!! 😀 I think you were the one that told me this old phrase when you were learning idioms in 3rd or 4th grade: all good things are worth working for. You know what is also true? All good things require work! 😀
The principle of rest in comparison to work is shown in the story of the creation. Like, wuuuuttt?! If I had one piece of advice it would be that preparation is 50% of being a good missionary (obviously being a consecrated missionary in the field is the other 50%). So yep. There’s my little spill. 🙂
Want to hear a crazy story? Wellllll, a couple days ago it snowed so hard that President informed all the Zone Leaders to let all the missionaries know that no one should drive for the rest of the day. So we got to walk. And it was FANTASTIC. Like, I loved it.
All the other missionaries talk about how jealous they are of our car. Granted, it really is much more comfortable. However, that’s just it. It’s a comfort thing. When we walk around, taking public transportation, it not only requires us to coordinate the work through members more (which is far better), but we meet more people. I’ll post a portion of my journal entry from that night:
“To finish off the night, we had our dinner (a little late because we were trudging around for so long) and went to the train station to catch the A train home. And let me say, God worked it perfectly. We met a 20-year old man. He plays soccer for Red Bull here and had been in Far Rockaway for a game.
The train had actually been canceled for about an hour, so he was just one of the many waiting for things to pick back up. We started talking with him and discovered that he is from Brazil, knows Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, and is learning French, and has a pretty solid Christian background. He has a perfect accent–which is incredible–and has the spirit with him. Actually, as we talked about the church, we discovered that our churches are actually quite similar. In teachings, in church attire, in church design. They even believe in 3 heavens.
We shared the Book of Mormon with him and the Restoration, as well as the Plan of Salvation. I got his Facebook info and number and am going to connect with him. He is a super chill man! AND, as we were finishing up our message, the trains started running, we hopped on the train with him, and we were still home by 9:02. The night was definitely orchestrated by God.”