My new area is called Secaucus but we don't actually live in Secausus, we live in Union City and our ward meets in Jersey City. My new companion is Sister Loseli, she is awesome! She is Togan and Hawaiian haha guess I'm just the lucky one getting two of my three companions so far who are Poly! She came out from Utah, but before that she lived in Hawaii and when she was little she lived in Tonga. And she loves to cook! She makes Tongan food that even a picky eater like me loves! It is an interesting thing living right in the city, I had thought the parking in Garfield was a pain because we had to park around the block. Here we are happy if we find a spot within 10 blocks of our apartment! We haven't had to do this yet, but apperently it is common for us to have to park at the church and walk 17 blocks home! The apartment is bigger than my last one but has mice so...not my favorite trade off!
This week was definitely a crazy one! It's interesting going from the only area I've worked in to a new one and a new ward where they do things a little bit differently. And apparently my country soul needs to learn to really love the city life because I had thought living in my old area was a huge adjustment...yeah God has a sense of humor sending me to live/work in in Union City! It's all good though, Sister Loseli is amazing and the ward seems great! We have a new investigator that seems really golden, her step sister actually just left on a mission so she has been to other wards with her a couple times! She seems really excited about reading the BoM and she told us that she believes that the 1st vision really happened so we are stoked! She wasn't able to make it to church yesterday though so hopefully that isn't an indication of things to come.
The Jersey City ward is awesome, they have about 4x's the members that come to church that we had in Paterson. That's a really good thing, but right now it's got me feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the people to meet and learn their names and everything! The chapel is actually on the second floor of a building, right above a dollar store! We park in a parking garage and so everyone gathers around the clerk's office after church to get their ticket stamped so they don't have to pay for parking! All sorts of new experiences! Plus Sister Loseli doesn't have a driver's license so I get to do all the driving! I'm going to be a pro driver by the end of my mission as long as I survive!
The pictures are of Sister Loseli and I at Ellis Island, and the Empire State building...yeah that's a normal view in this area...
Thank you for all your love and prayers!
When I got my mission call to New Jersey, there were a lot of thoughts going through my mind. Thousands of people. And not very nice people at that. Honking car horns. Italians and Italian food. Interesting accents. Traffic. Did I mention lots and lots of people? Haha those were some of my thoughts, but of course I was also excited! I knew it would be a new experience and I was looking forward to it! Now I'm about 5 months into my mission and in my second area. My impressions of New Jersey were actually pretty accurate! Haha apparently there are parts of NJ that don't have nearly so many people but I have yet to experience that except when we are in Morristown for things with President or with all the missionaries. There are less Italians here than in my old area, but still a lot haha and I'm actually learning to like Italian food including pizza! The traffic is pretty crazy but mostly the road systems are a mess! Basically every other street is a one-way so just because you can see the building you are trying to get to doesn't mean you are going to be able to get there! My idea of Jersey people not being very nice has been proven wrong...mostly. They are super kind people, the problem is that having loud confrontational conversations that I would consider arguments are just normal conversations and don't necessarily mean that anyone is upset or that anything is wrong, it's just how people talk out here! But there are really so many wonderful people. Those are just some thoughts about my Jersey experience so far. Now here are some experiences from the week.
Wednesday we had to drive up to Mendham to the mission office because our phone wasn't working and I also needed a new temple recommend because I had lost mine and we have our semi-annual temple trip this Wednesday. It should have been a 45 minute trip but it ended up taking us about 2 hours! Like I said the roads here are crazy and I can't follow a GPS! The freeway entrance we needed to take was closed and I was getting lost trying to follow the detour because the GPS kept taking us back to the closed entrance! We were lost for an hour before we even got out of Jersey City! It was nice to spend part of the day up in Mendham though, it is beautiful up there, green and trees for miles on all sides! That was good for my stressed out soul after having been lost in the city for so long!
That night we had an amazing lesson with an investigator named Anthony, he is a Catholic looking for something better for his kids. The member we brought with us was amazing because she was a devout Catholic before she got baptized a few months ago! Members are so vital to the work! We have high hopes for him, but he wasn't able to go to church Sunday because he had a family outing planned.
Fast and testimony meeting yesterday was a good time :) I had had some interesting experiences in Paterson, but yesterday we had a black lady named Princess sing her testimony! That was a first for me! We also got to go to a young single adult ward that just got started a couple weeks ago. It is really cool because it is the first YSA ward like this in Jersey! It is in Union City but people from all over North Jersey go. We got to go with a member from our ward that is 20 and just getting back to going to church. It was nice to be back in a YSA ward, I miss it!
I'm out of time, but thank you all for your love and prayers!
Those are a lot of interesting thoughts about duty and the way men feel about it. I think they do feel differently about it then we do, I just hadn't thought of it that way. You are going to be great at scouts! I got sent into a massive city, you got put in a calling you always saw as busy work...guess there are things we both need to learn outside of our comfort zones!
My physical address is 1212 Morris Street in Union City. If you really wanted to you could sent letters straight to my address, I would probably get them but the problem is that they literally just stick everyone in our building's mail through a slot in the front door and it ends up on the floor by the door. Then everyone has to look through everyone else's mail to find theirs on the floor, plus the envelopes will probably have been stepped on several times by the time you get it! There are only 3 apartments in our building, so it's not too bad, but not really ideal!
I don't know what's going on, but it seems like I still don't have any money on my credit card? I tried to buy something at the store this morning that was about $12 and it wouldn't work :( can you please check again and tell me what is going on with that?
Love you mama!
I don't want to be hearing anything about you getting on a homeland security watch list because you are looking up how to make bombs! What is your eagle scout project? Good luck with that! Yeah it's crazy being in a place with so many people! I'm not dying quite as much as I expected to be though, it's a great place to do missionary work because there are just so many people! Even though the vast majority are not interested and it seems like the rest speak spanish ;) I would love to get a letter from you! I love you bro. I'm am proud of the amazing things you are accomplishing. It kinda scares me to think that when I get back you will almost be a senior! You better keep me updated on things when you start dating and all that crazy stuff...yep that thought just made me want to throw up a little bit! ;) You are amazing bro! Make sure that you are making time everyday to have some kind of spiritual experience. It's the little things each day that make a huge difference over time. The gospel is truly about "becoming".
I miss you and your bear hugs! Love you Bry!
This past week was full of adventures! I went on exchange with the Sister Training Leaders in their area which was a very new experience because in this zone our STL's are Hermanas' so basically I had no idea what was going on most of the time! Fortunately they are in a trio so I had two of them with me on the exchange so one could teach while the other translated for me! My two years of Spanish in high school have not stuck with me very well! Plus the random words they teach you in high school are very different than words used in teaching the gospel and gospel conversations! But between my limited understanding of Spanish and picking up on body language I would say I understood about 10% of the conversations haha!
I am learning to love this area. I'm still resolved never to live in the city permanently, and I will appreciate it when I someday have a driveway, but miracles happen and I am enjoying it while I'm here :) We are kind of struggling with finding/meeting with investigators, but we had 9 lessons this week with less-active members and recent converts which was really good. We have a less active member who has been really reluctant to be open and receptive to us and this week we had a breakthrough lesson where she really connected with us and shows signs of being willing to progress.
I am loving being able to study with our new iPads! I've started trying to make a topical guide of sorts with the things I study. It's awesome because now I can look up the things I've studied easily instead of relying on my faulty memory to remember things. We are feeling like this area is on the verge of exploding in a good way, so we are just going to keep working hard and try to get through this slump!
Personally I can see myself growing in a lot of ways. We went to the Manhattan temple this week, and while we were there I was pondering the personal slump that I have felt myself going through lately, and while I didn't get the adrenaline shot of the Spirit I was hoping for to get myself out of it, I felt a comforting confirmation that it's ok that I'm struggling. It's good that I have desires to always be improving. The Lord is in the process of making me into something amazing, but it's going to be a long, uncomfortable process. And that's ok. So I will just keep sticking it out and try to recognize the hand of the Lord in my life and struggles each day. As we come unto Him, His light illuminates our weaknesses. That's sometimes a painful, discouraging thing, but it is necessary in order for us to overcome them and become stronger because of them.
New York City is not somewhere I have ever wanted to go, but it was kind of cool going there anyways ;) We went to the temple as a zone and took a bus followed by a subway to get there. While we were on the bus in the Lincoln tunnel we got stuck for about an hour because two busses up ahead had crashed. It was quite the experience being stuck knowing we were under the Hudson River and not really knowing what was going on! We just kept hearing rumors about a bus crash and then later rumors about a lady on one of the busses going into labor while stuck in the tunnel! Turns out both rumors were true! After going to the temple we got gyros at a food truck before hopping back on the subway. The adventures continued when we got off the wrong subway stop and ended up walking through Times Square to catch a bus back to New Jersey!
Saturday morning we played soccer with our bishopric, the other missionaries, some ward members, and our recent convert Erdal. Erdal has been in the US for a couple years, but before that he played for the Turkish national soccer team! It was a ton of fun! The first time I've really gotten to play on my mission, and we have good players in our ward so it was awesome :) I got nice and dirty and some good bruises and I am ridiculously sore...so basically I'm happy!
I've seen the women's world cup on a couple places that we have been. Yeah it's definitely making me super trunky! But I still want updates! I'll enjoy watching the games when I get back, but I can't handle waiting a whole year to hear what goes on! Who scored the 3 goals in the Australia game?
It's good to hear that you sound like you are doing pretty well. Sorry things were stressful trying to get Abby registered. I guess the mission didn't mellow her out quite enough on those things?
I'm doing good, really missing having Sister Andrus as my comp, but that was just a tender mercy 6 weeks. I'm doing good with Sister Loseli, and I'm learning to love this area and the people here.
Love you mama!
This week was kind of boring...so I will try to give y'all a little taste of my boring day-to day life here! Before I say anything though, I promise I have never felt in danger...so just laugh at these stories don't worry because of them!
First off, even though our mail situation is kind of interesting, Julie I did get your letter so it looks like it's ok to send letters here just don't send any packages or anything too important! The safest bet is always the mission office, I just never know when I will get stuff from there. But I do get it at some point!
I've decided that in some ways it is a tender mercy that I don't speak Spanish! It's a pain because everyone we live around speaks Spanish and so contacting around our apartment is kind of pointless because even if they understand us and happen to be interested we have to refer them to the Spanish missionaries. But it is also a tender mercy because people around here like to be generous and play their music loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. Fortunately it is usually in Spanish so I can't understand the lyrics, which I'm sure is a blessing. Same idea with the shouted drunken conversations our neighbors often have ;)
Our neighbors are very entertaining, on one side there are usually teenagers playing beer-pong every evening, and last night our neighbors on the other side were having a nice peaceful evening smoking weed in their yard.
Sister Loseli is also apparently a magnet for drunk men wanting to talk to us so that provides some good times :)
I've learned how incredibly lazy I have been my whole life! Because of the parking nightmare here it is super normal for us to walk 10 blocks to an appointment and back. At home I considered that a long walk, but here it is just the way life works!
With all those things going on it just shows how important the gospel is, and how desperately needed it is in this area. Many of the people in our ward have a history of life similar to our neighbors and it is amazing to see how the gospel has changed their lives.
Sorry for the randomness of this email, we weren't able to meet with very many people this week and didn't have anything exciting going on. But as always thank you all for your love and prayers! I know that this is God's restored church on the earth, and I am grateful for the privilege it is to be a part of the Kingdom of God on earth!
Today in my personal study I read a talk by president Monson called Willing and Worthy to Serve that reminded me of your thoughts about duty from last week. This is a poem from that.
I slept and dreamt
That life was joy
I awoke and saw
That life was duty
I acted and behold
Duty was joy.
Wow, that is awesome for dad! Thank you for sharing that journal entry, it has really been amazing seeing the was dad has been growing and changing the past few years! I've been gone for a lot of it, but I saw it happening before I left for college even, and I can see some of it in the amazing letters he writes me each week! I was teasing him that I might have him keep writing me weekly emails when I get back because he does a much better job keeping me in the loop than he did when I was in college and getting occasional phone calls! He is going to be great, and Lee is going to be an amazing bishop! That is an awesome bishopric!
Shout out to my little bro who is turning 16 tomorrow! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRYANT! And happy Independence Day everyone! I can't believe that it is almost July! It has been rainy and pretty cold here for the last week or more so it doesn't seem like summer sometimes, but then the hot humid days come around to remind me that it is in fact summer!
Yesterday was a really cool day, no one that we are teaching got baptized, but the other 3 sets of elders in our ward all had people get baptized! So the Jersey City 2nd ward now has 5 new members! Seeing that many people enter the waters of baptism in a row was a powerful experience and the Spirit was definitely there. It wasn't the most reverent of environments haha some people were clapping after each baptism, but it was a joyful day :) Our investigator Vladimir came to all 3 hours of church and then stayed for the baptisms and it seems like he really enjoyed it.
We had an interesting day on Wednesday, we actually had 2 dinner appointments in a row which is a first for me, but it was ok because both people actually fed us hot dogs and hamburgers so I wasn't as full as I was afraid I was going to be! The first appointment was with a cute Puerto Rican lady named Sister Feliciano, she is 84 and amazing! She knits shirts for every single member of the ward for their birthdays! Afterward we went to another ward member's apartment and we grilled hamburgers in courtyard which we ate on pita bread. I will attach a picture of the view she has, it was seriously like a movie! I don't even particularly like NYC, but watching the way the sunset reflected off the buildings in absolutely perfect weather while doing something normal like grilling hamburgers was a surreal experience!
We did some door knocking this week to try to find new people to teach. It wasn't too successful, but we did have some interesting experiences knocking on the doors of some Muslim people. One of them was very nice and just respectfully told us their family is not Christian and then answered some questions we asked about what they believe, just a few doors down we ran into another Muslim man and it was a very different experience! He basically challenged us to do some research and learn about Mohammad and then come back and he would talk to us about Jesus. Ok sir...have a nice day! Haha another weird experience was having a less-active we were teaching literally fall asleep while we were teaching her! We haven't been able to have too much success with teaching people lately, so my favorite part of every day is my personal study time. An hour just isn't enough! Studying daily from the words of modern and ancient prophets and apostles is such a blessing. It is a blessing to truly feast upon the words of Christ!
The view from Sister Mensah's apartment building courtyard, and my amazing parallel parking skills! (It helps to have a companion telling me how much room I have)
Hahaha I'm glad you appreciated my parking, I've actually had one parking job even tighter than that...I didn't take a picture though and wouldn't advise following my example. I was literally so close to both cars that I shut my door very carefully so that I didn't rock the car into either one! And I was still slanted with the nose of my car in the road a little bit, but it was either that (3 blocks away) or parking in the church's parking garage 10 blocks further away and be running through the streets of Union City after curfew! That's not a good story to tell a new driver, but you will never ever have that situation in Utah! Parking for sporting events in Utah is way easier than nightly parking here! Glad to hear you had a good birthday! Who gave you Jazz season tickets?! That is awesome! And I finally got the letter you sent haha your drawings provided some good entertainment for the missionaries that were around when I opened it :)
Love you bro!
Apparently the "all the time" part is a Tongan thing haha God is good is a phase I find myself saying quite often and Sis Loseli adds the all the time part ;) But it's true! God is so good! Yesterday at church we saw a huge miracle!
When I got to this area we had an investigator named Gladys who was on date for baptism. Totally golden. We were planning on having a hand off lesson with to give to the Hermanas because her Spanish is much better than her English. They had started teaching her because she was temporarily living with a member. Before we could have that lesson she got kicked out of that home and no one knew where she went and her phone number wasn't working. We had no idea how to find her. A few weeks later we happened to see her on the side of the road when we were driving by. We stopped and quickly got her number and she was so excited to see us! She walked off and then our phone rang making us lose the number because we hadn't saved it yet. We tried to go back to where she was but couldn't find her anywhere and still didn't know where she lived. We were absolutely devastated that we had miraculously found her just to loose her again. Fast forward another 2 weeks or so to yesterday and guess who on her own walked into our Gospel Principles class! It was one of the greatest miracles I have seen on my mission to this point. This time we got her number written down as well as the address of a friend where we can meet with her on Wednesday. I'm so sad that we are going to have to give her to the Hermanas because she is so incredibly prepared. She cried when we gave her a new Book of Mormon because she had lost her other one.
When we lost her phone number the first time we thought we had blown our chance to get back in touch with her. This experience really showed me that this is truly the Lord's work. He will not allow our weaknesses to prevent His children from receiving the truth and His work from going forward.
On a totally different note, I think when I get home I will be a much better student! Hopefully...but I do see signs that are encouraging! Not only am I learning to study for 2 hours every day, but chances to learn new things make me so excited! A couple days ago I discovered that on the Gospel Library app on our iPads I could download the KJAZZ tv series about the Joseph Smith Papers. I was stoked. Now I watch them when ever I get the chance like during meal times while eating, and before bed. We also have access to an app that is meant for missionaries learning a language, but I've started using it to brush up on the two years of Spanish I took in high school and then forgot about! My goal is to be able to order food and to be able to communicate enough with people to contact them and get their information to give to Spanish missionaries in the area. I've got a long ways to go, but it is fun to learn new things and remember old forgotten things!
The 4th of July was fun, we got our curfew extended to 11:30 so that we would be able to watch fireworks and we got invited over to bishop's apartment to watch them. Turns out he has a perfect view of it from his building's roof and a bunch of people from the ward go over there every year to have ice cream and watch fireworks! It was pretty surreal watching fireworks over the Statue of Liberty. It was a little awkward climbing over a low fence in a skirt to get on the roof...but hey it's amazing the things you learn to do in a skirt as a sister missionary!
We found out last night that Sister Loseli is getting transferred tomorrow, so next week I shall have a new companion to tell y'all about!