Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 26, 2013, Passaic

TIME . . .

... doesn't really exist in the mission. It's just 2 years of liminal space (Nad remember when we talked about that?).

This week flew by. Lots of appointments, lots of people spoken to, lots of food consumed, (including Lomo Saltado and Papa a la Huan Cahina (sp?)), and lots of fun.

We finally taught Miguel and Chary again. Chary (less-active) served us up some biscocho (what Dominicans call "cake") from her daughter's birthday party yesterday. Hispanic people eat weird cake; it's always got chunks of preserved fruit and cheap frosting. But eh, it's great. I realized, sadly enough, that food is just food now. I like GOOD food, but I'll really eat anything. All it is really, is something to get us through the day. Anyway, Miguel hasn't been reading so we told him and to read the intro to the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He said he would. Every day I'm finding out quicker and quicker that all you have to do to gain a testimony of the church, (EVEN IF YOU JUST HAVE THE DESIRE TO DESIRE TO BELIEVE IN IT) is read the Book of Mormon, little by little and pray about it. It's that simple. Study the things you have doubts about and they will come clearly to you, by the power of the holy Ghost.

We've been working really hard with Carla. In the second lesson we had with her, we set her with a baptismal date for the 1st of September. For those of you who have served missions and done role plays, it was EXACTLY LIKE A ROLE PLAY. She just smiled a replied like a robot missionary, "No, that's too soon". We then tried to work out her doubts, told her what she needed to do, and promised a bucket-load of blessings. So she's still set for this Sunday but we're not sure if she'll make it. She doesn't have the strong desire yet. But she's amazing and is progressing little by little.

ANDREA came to church yesterday! She was so happy to be there too. She stayed for the first two hours and then left to work. Bummer that she couldn't stay as the Relief Society is starting to play (and will be playing in the future) a huge role in her conversion. She'll be baptized, just not right now. She needs a few more weeks, HOWEVER, we had an awesome exchange on tuesday where Portugese speaking, Elder McEwan, and I taught her about our purpose on this earth and how the gospel of Jesus Christ is SO crucial. I love working with newever missionaries that are still learning their language. (side note: Elder McEwan, is a tall, waterpolo player from Miami, Florida, who is a Pandora hipster, and visa waiter, waiting to get to Brazil). I would teach a few points and then Elder McEwan would testify in his new Portugese. And oh man, everytime he would open his mouth the spirit would just fill the room. When we committed Andrea to be baptized on the 15th of September, the spirit was at it's peak, I think that's why she accepted the date. And then after we said "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen" everyone was smiling, and Hermano Garcia (we were teaching in their home) looked up at us with his huge, loveable smile and said "Gracias elderes. Muy bonito su mensaje hasta que quiero yo bautizarme otra vez!" (Thanks Elders, that was a wonderful message - so much that I want to get baptized again!) Haha, that family is amazing.
So many miracles are happening. It's a wonderful time to be a missionary.

I know the church is true. I love EVERYONE.


August 19, 2013, Passaic

This week was great but no tengo ganas de escribir para nada hoy. (I
don't feel like writing at all today).

CHRIS - I read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock yesterday. I
actually read it out loud to my companion and he laughed the whole
time (I was reading like Anthony Hopkins).

Anyway, like I was saying, this past week was really good. We ate like
pigs though. Passaic is an area where EVERY missionary that passes
through gains weight. But it's alright because we wrestle and work out
a bunch. EVERYONE: You wouldn't believe it, but I actually think I'm
getting stronger, due to the fact that we wake up at 5:45 and run and
lift. I feel pretty good, but then our 3 nightly dinners kind of throw
it off.

Not a whole lot to talk about . . . 

We taught Miguel (Dominican baseball player) again this week. It was a
good lesson. Hno. Matos, from the High Council came with us and
seriously explained the spirit better than I've heard anyone else do
it before. Member missionary work is the raddest, most heart-warming
thing in the universe. We also got contacted by 3 drunk guys, 2
Mexicans and a Guatemalan (first one I've met in Passaic). We would
ask them a question like "Can we come visit you guys tomorrow?" and to
every question they would blurt out the ridiculous, spanglish answer,
while swaying back and forth "CLARO QUE YES!" which is like "Of
course!" IT was hilarious. We then set up an appointment to talk with
them at the church but I suppose they were so drunkt hey didn't
remember because they didn't show. Anyway, hilarious.

On Friday we committed a super inactive 23-year-old girl to come to
church. She didn't show up. A little frustrating, but HEY. That was
the first time we actually got a lesson with her and the lesson went
well. She'll come eventually.

There's a lot more to talk about but no TIMEE>>>>> I love you all. I
know the church is true, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and
that God is our very Father.


ps - You're all amazing. Go to WORK.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 Passaic, NJ

Melina Bello and I

Great great great big week with tons of miracles. It's the first INTENSE success we've seen in Passaic, which made me happier than I thought I could be. 

HOWEVER. First item of business is: OSWALDO AND GUILLERMINA MANZANO GOT MARRIED AND BAPTIZED in Plainfield yesterday. They are MY FAMILY. If you think you are happy, COME on a mission, meet a family, and get them baptized. THEN tell me how you feel. You have no idea. Elder Leon and I taught and baptized O+G's two kids and O's brother, Feliz. We were waiting for G to get a form of identification so they could take out a marriage license, get married, and get baptized. We worked really hard but didn't see a whole lot of success. I then left, Elder Bell came in and with TONS of help from lawyer, Elder Mortensen (senior missionary) they got married yesterday at 5 o'clock and baptized into the kingdom of God at 6. Life is wonderful. Now, let's get back to Passaic, home of ruffians and brigands.

1. Met a Dominican baseball player named Miguel a couple of weeks ago who played for the Diamondbacks in Arizona. He was moving into his new apartment in Passaic, when we passed him and Elder Dahl gave a fist-pump and yelled "Go DIAMONDBACKS!" (he's from Phoenix). The guy stopped and yelled something back to us. We ran back to him and contacted him and started talking to him about a weird mix of baseball/Arizona/the gospel. It worked. We saw him again on Wednesday and found out his sister that lives with him was baptized about 15 years ago in the DR but went less active soon after. He's 22, prays beautifully, loves our message, and accepted a baptismal date for the 1st of September. 
2. Elder Packer (Assistant to President Jeppson) came on an exchange with us on Tuesday and we saw all of our investigators that needed an extra push. He's an incredible missionary and it was great to have him with us to see how he worked. We saw Andrea and Juan, taught a powerful lesson about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and then committed them to come to church. They came and they were happy. More progress to come with them.
3. Isbeth Santiago, our investigator from Panama read Mosiah 24 (the chapter we left for homework) and didn't understand it. So instead, she read 1 Nephi chapters 1-14. She LOVES the Book of Mormon and knows it's true. We're planning on setting her with a date for the 25th of August. When we teach her and her twin sister Carmen they act like they're 16. They giggle, make jokes, complain, and talk about how life is hard. We're just there to teach them the gospel and make them feel good about themselves.
4. Our new investigator Carla (Puerto Rican lady) came to the other Elder's baptism on Saturday night. She brought her 6 year old son, Jacob too. They both loved it and Jacob was asking tons of questions about baptism after. After the service, we showed her the chapel and the spirit was super strong. She felt great and said she was coming back, but couldn't make it to church on Sunday. But she's coming next week!

That's the update for this week. The gospel is true. J. Smith was a prophet. I'm eternally grateful for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the Book of Mormon, for music, food, friends, family, companions. 


ps - We wrestled last night in our apartment because our landlord and their family left yesterday for Puerto Rico. They'll be gone for a month. I got a scraped ankle, bashed knee, carpet burns on my elbow. I almost got choked out by a beefy Salvadorian's shoulder. It was great fun but I get really competitive when fighting. PEACE.

We go hard in Passaic
We offended the sisters . . . buying back our love
Bowling on P-day
Nightly planning when we've been working 67 hours straight
Mu buddy Elder Gitlins went home a few weeks ago

August 5, 2013 Passaic, NJ

This week was NUTS. Just really really crazy. Let's just say
1. There was almost a fist fight in our apartment (won't say WHO). It ended with an Elder threatening to beat the snot out of another and storming outta the room angrily. Good thing we're missionaries, because he went straight to his room to pray. Me and the other Elder in the apartment just said "RE-LAX. You guys need to chill." It was pretty scary as I'm just a sensitive cat.
2. Chests got waxed for Elder Wood's birthday, (it hurt so bad, good thing I just a had a little patch.. so now I'm hairless), Elder Hoyt (missionary that just died (finished his mission)) left behind a Brazilian waxing kit. So last week Elder Dahl waxed his stomach (he bled) and this week for Elder Wood's birthday, we waxed his chest. It was hilarious, I'll send photos someday.
3. Ate a ridiculous amount of fatty food. I feel like a chunst ox. On Friday, we ate Bistec a lo Pobre (Peruvian dish.. I think that's the name ) with a Peruvian hermana. BIstec a lo pobre is a thin steak, peruvian style, on a bed of rice, with a fried egg on top, and fried bananas. Also, we had a soup for the appetizer with huge chunks of Peruvian corn and chicken. Pretty impressive meal. THEN, immediately afterward we went to the Garcia's house (one of my favorite member families.. I've mentioned them before). The ridiculous thing was we called hermano Garcia the night before and told him that we wouldn't be able to eat. Welppp... we get there and there was a whole pizza that they had ordered for us. Ay. I ate 3 pieces and then wanted to die. Elder Dahl almost hurled but we kept at it. THEN. We went to see Gus and Kat (awesome Columbian and Peruvian couple). They're both younger (in their 20's) so they had all 6 missionaries in the Passaic branch over and we had a little party for Gus and Elder Wood, for their respective birthdays. It included eating Chinese food and an ice cream cake. We literally felt like committing suicide after the night was over. Also, the night ended with Elder Diaz slamming the ice cream cake ( made my the sisters) into Elder Wood's face. IT was awesome.

That almost concludes my letter. Sorry there wasn't very much spiritual stuff in this letter but here's a quick snap of events that also happened this week. (you all know I know this church is true :))

We got a call on Monday from an inactive sister in the branch. We tried to contact people to visit her, (we had appointments) but nobody could, so we canceled our appointments and left to see her. The 4 of us elders went. She was crying, devastated and basically told us about a bunch of domestic violence problems she had recently had. We listened for about an hour and a half and then talked with her about the the love of God. We bore our testimonies and told her that she needed to seek him. We ended with a prayer and we left the house with the spirit. And then, almost every day that week, we visited her and did everything we could to uplift her. Her name is Carmen Santiago from Panama. One night we went over with 2 Dominican sisters in the branch, one, the Relief Society President, the other the Gospel Principles teacher. ALSO, Willy Bello, the sunday school president came out to see her and was a HUGE help in fixing a bunch of the problems going on. He even brought Hna Santiago AND her twin, investigator sister to church yesterday. EVERYBODY: If you are reading this and you are a member, know that you can play an incredible part in the changing of a life. This sister was so broken down and depressed but with the help of faithful members who were willing to sacrifice their time, resources, and energy, a lost daughter of our Father was brought back and is currently on the path back into reactivity.

That is my life. I love it and I will never give it up.


PS - Thanks for all the emails. You're all great.