I will have to go fast because today, I have only 10 minutes left.
Monday: we went Christmas shopping with the Central Newark elders for preparation day in Penn Station. Then we taught a lesson and a game at Gramma Jackie's for family home evening.
On Tuesday, we had a zone Christmas party, in which the Hendricksons fed us deliciously. Then we all played the shortest game of Mafia I have ever played. We killed all 4 of the Mafia in 3 turns, as well as one detective. Also, we played "In the Manner of the Adverb" game. Dave told us to come by again, so we did. Poor guy. He still has the colostomy bag for two more weeks.
On Christmas morning, we opened presents with the Harrison elders, Elders Comish and Anding, who had slept over the night before. We went to the Roas and she fed us the best eggs, bacon, and French toast that has ever graced our taste buds. Next, we walked over to the Angeleses in Harrison for some Skyping time with the family and friends. It was so beautiful to see all of you!!! I'm glad things are working out for everyone's lives. The Angeleses also fed us a traditional Peruvian Christmas breakfast, including toasted cancha. They are fantastic people. Next, we split with the Harrison elders because we had 2 appointments at the same time. I had the privilege of teaching Gramma Jackie's house with Elder Anding. After that, we walked over to the Aguilars and took pictures. We then went to the Pesantezes and took pictures, as well as some food and Danimals home.
After Christmas, we got sick and stayed home all day.
Friday was good. We were able to visit the Artigas and teach the kids about serving their mom, our Primary president, who also recently got surgery for a tumor in her brain.
On Saturday, we taught Gramma Jackie's house and the Yambas. We were able to see the exhausted Bro. Pepe.
Sunday was a spiritual blast. It was the day of the Primary program. They talked about the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They did a fantastic job singing and reading, and Sis. Sartore's daughter said one of the best prayers that the branch has ever heard.
Yesterday was when all the departing missionaries went to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, and I will talk about that more next week due to lack of time.
Here is a picture of the Spring Garden Branch missionaries on Santa's lap.
Also, Alex Boye and something else. I'm running out of time so I won't even look at what I'm about to send. But I know it will be good.
Monday, we made candy sleds at Gramma Jackie's house. Her daughter, Aunt Dawn, commented, "I've never seen missionaries have fun before." Then we left to practice for the upcoming Christmas fireside. After that fireside, we moved some couches and boxed with an 11-year-old. We won, ya tu sabes, casanova.
Tuesday, I gave a training to the missionaries about how to teach people how to pray. Elder Walker said that he sees improvement in my teaching and training from the first weeks we were together. I am grateful for his compliments. Elder Corbridge, my new district leader went on an exchange in his old area with me leading. I learned that things do not happen when we don't make them! We talked to 3 people that day about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We exchanged back on Wednesday and emailed since that was the only time we could. When we visited Gma. Jackie again, one of her sisters referred herself to us! Miracle. We also are seeing fantastic signs that Don is improving.
Thursday, Dave is home from the hospital after 4 weeks! They took out 10 inches of his colon and has been in a nursing home with a painful colostomy bag. It was painful to watch them remove it and replace a new one because it was gross. There was poop everywhere. Now he can change it by himself at home so we might be able to teach him again.
Friday was the all-mission conference, which was a great time. I saw people who I knew and hadn't seen since my arrival here in New Jersey, and also people who I didn't know existed. I got to meet new people with incredible stories. Wow, 250 missionaries in one chapel here is sorta a lot. But they managed to feed us enough funeral potatoes. Also, Alex Boye was there, and he gave a splendid talk about setting high expectations and getting self-esteem.
Saturday was the branch Christmas party. The turnout wasn't as good as the chocolate cake. But I finally met Santa!
Yesterday, we voluntarily taught Gospel Principles class about the Final Judgment of Jesus Christ. It turned out pretty well, despite the fact that we got no time to prepare the lesson. It reminded me about preparing talks in my home ward, or writing essays in high school and college. As one of my good friends used to say, due tomorrow, do tomorrow.
I am excited to talk to my family on Christmas day and have a sleepover with a bunch of elders!
It's almost Christmas. You can feel the Spirit of Christmas so thickly when you walk down the streets of Kearny. Elder Walker is feeling better. This past week was a miracle. Pretty much, without finding people through our own efforts, people found us. Things are looking up!
We found someone by miracle last Wednesday, or rather, he found us. He called in the morning and said, "My name is so-and-so, here is my address, can you come by at 3?" He was an excommunicated member who wants to come back into the Church so he can feel clean again, after years of drug use. We said that we would love to help him out. He told us to visit him every day. This is what I love about the Work; people willing to change helps me to want to change more!
Something I didn't understand: it snowed a lot on Saturday night, but the roads were clear on Sunday morning. Yet they cancelled church in most of North Jersey that morning. Why?? Our congregation, the English Spring Garden Branch, ended up cancelling just the classes and combined sacrament meeting with the Spanish Newark Ward. It turned out to be a good meeting. We had a testimony meeting instead, and I realized how strong the members really are, despite complaints by a lot of us missionaries.
Translation was necessary in the testimony meeting. At one point, an African member of the English branch got up to the pulpit to bear his testimony of this Church in French. Another member translated French into English, and another member translated English with a thick French accent into Spanish. Although there was a language barrier, the Spirit was strong as he testified that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today and that Jesus Christ lives!
Also last week, we went to Morristown, or Morris City, or the Township of Morris, to have breakfast with the mission president and his wife as a zone. We read out of the Bible how Mary was a chosen vessel of the Lord, and how much trust God gave her to raise the Son of God. What an incredible woman!
Last Tuesday, we reunited as a zone to ride the PATH train to Manhattan. We walked to the temple, taking pictures on the way, and eating street food. It wasn't as good as they say. And they say it's pretty bad. But we were able to focus on the endowments inside because we weren't hungry.
That. Temple. Video. I can't stop thinking about it! Eve is my hero. It's mind-boggling to know that Jesus Christ created all of this for us! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His true and living Church on the earth because we have prophets!
Anyway, I've been thinking. I might be transferred in two weeks. I will miss Kearny, NJ. I love the people here too much!!!
This email will have to be short.... We've stayed home for two weeks now for Elder Walker being sick. Two weeks of staying in the apartment was ample time for me to study and ponder what Jesus Christ was saying in the Sermon on the Mount: "Consider the lilies...." God has given us miracle appointment after miracle appointment and we have been overwhelmed by how true that scripture is! I realized that this mission is not my work, but the Lord's. I know now that He takes care of ALL His children, including the missionaries themselves!!!
As you know, transfers were this past Tuesday. We ended up going to visit people that Elder Dabell and Elder Sandoval were going to miss while also helping out the Harrison elders with a service project. We drove to and fro. We visited Dave at the hospital, a few days after they took out ten inches of his colon. He showed us his bag. His bag was gross. Then we visited the Puchas from the Spanish ward. Sis. Pucha cried that her "sons" were leaving, and hinted at adopting us as her new elders. Then I cried in my heart as our newly washed car drove to transfer conference, never to be driven again by Kearny elders. That was the beginning of our walking days.
That started off kind of a sad week. Even the clouds were sad. They cried for two days. The sidewalk was so wet that it seeped into my shoes as we walked and didn't drive to our meetings at the church. In our meetings at the church, we found out that we actually were given permission from an apostle to ride in the car driven by the sisters to and from meetings; we didn't need to walk in the rain....
On Thursday, I started feeling the effects of walking in the rain. But, Thursday was fun.
First, we played in the turkey bowl. For those of you who did not grow up in America, the turkey bowl is not a bowl, nor does it have anything to do with turkeys. It is a game, or a few, of North American football played for fun on Thanksgiving morning. 7 zones were involved; in other words, a lot of missionaries played in the turkey bowl. It was a blast. The wind was also a blast. It was already 29 degrees and the wind dipped the temperature further.
Then, Elder Walker and I were fed thrice. At the Pepes' dinner, there was a classic Portuguese-Jersey yelling conversation sprinkled with a few profanities. After that, we walked over to Betty's house. The sisters were already there. We had a good time. Ditto for the Pesantezes. We were able to say what we were grateful for. I said that I was grateful for the spirit of the holidays when people's Christlike attributes are unleashed! Everyone serves everyone, and it is a magnificent sight!
At the Pesantezes, we also had a fantastic missionary opportunity. Bianca's boyfriend was there, and after the rounds of "I'm grateful for...," he asked a lot of questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We gave him a Book of Mormon.
Friday and Saturday were spent at the apartment sick.
Sunday, we visited the Puchas again. Boy, they love the missionaries! God also allowed us to start teaching lessons again.
Well, this week was weird but enjoyable. I received the most personal revelation and made the most changes than I have had in any week of my life!
Disclaimer: if you're not familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you might not understand a lot of the words I use. I apologize, but it's the only way to explain it! We worked a lot with the members of the Church here this week.
On Monday, we finished painting Sis. Hill's house for sale. We are grateful for the Harrison elders', Elders Comish and Anding's (Comandishing's), help. We might hang around them more often because this coming transfer, the Spanish elders, Elders Dabell and Sandoval, are getting doubled out of their area and our apartment!!! That means that sisters are coming! The sisters are coming! They will be the first sisters in the Newark zone since many years ago, due to the dangerous environment. The Lord must trust them a lot to be transferred here to the hood.
Next, we "visited the Roa family." The quotation marks are there because we scheduled to visit them to have dinner but Bro. Roa suddenly drove us outside of our assigned area to visit the Almeida family. President Almeida of the stake presidency gave us some news regarding the missionary work in the Scotch Plains Stake of New Jersey. It is accelerating! Prophecies are being fulfilled!
And then we ate pizza from La Pizza, you know, the pizza restaurant, La Pizza? Not the other restaurant called La Pizza, but the pizza restaurant, La Pizza, from which we ate pizza. Thanks, Bro. Roa, por la pizza de La Pizza!
We also discussed with Bro. Roa how people walk so slowly to cross streets. He said, referring to the pedestrians, "Your pride will not stop my car." That was Monday. And we also made brownies before bed.
Tuesday was a surprise. I wasn't ready to do an in-zone transfer, but went along with it. That day was personally spiritual for me. After going to regular meetings, the zone leaders announced that I was assigned to my area with Elder Guijarro, my favorite Mexican missionary. Paisano! Kababayan, haha! We visited a couple of members, then went to North Newark, his area, so he can help one of their investigators make tacos. We ended up just eating Peruvian green spaghetti with the investigators and Elders Packer and Noxon. That was Elder Noxon's last hurrah, speaking Spanish, so I played some Banana Pancakes for him on the investigators' daughter's guitar.
That appointment was revelatory for me since I remembered all the times that I did exchanges into the Kearny and North Newark Spanish areas and the Spirit that I felt there. The influence of the Holy Ghost was stronger there than it ever was in my English area. I felt prompted to tell President Jeppson that I needed to be transferred to Spanish next transfer. I also felt that I needed to prepare in English first. I LOVE HISPANICS and green spaghetti!
We finished another project that Sis. Hill gave us on Wednesday morning. Then we visited Kevin, who visits his fiancee every day in the same hospital that Bernadette was at. Before we left, he wanted to pray with the people at the front desk. They said that it was fine. After the prayer, they said that they liked it and felt prompted to say their prayers more often. Get that! They are not members of our Church, but they believed in repenting to become more like Jesus Christ by praying more!
After that, we helped out the Harrison elders. We drove them to their appointment, who cancelled, so they went to Burger King instead. Rahameen was with them, that's why they went to Burger King. He is a big guy.
On Thursday, we planned for the next week all day. Then the Roas fed us roast beef. Because of that, we missed correlation, but we found this awesome license plate on the sidewalk.
God filled our Friday with 5 appointments!
On Saturday, we moved in the Kearny sisters' furniture, but not after we witnessed the baptism of Nalleli, a 14-year-old girl who has been waiting for the longest time to be baptized into the Church. She bore her testimony of the Church and baptism and her smile was so wide! This is Jesus Christ's true Church!
We drove to the Portuguese apartment to take care of Elder Ramos, who was sick. We took turns for a couple of hours watching him. Elder Walker was the first to go out with the Ports, as we call them, then me. When I went with them, we went to Tops Diner, which is a shiny building. Tira misu is delicious. I got to know Moche, who is a Jew-Mormon, and the Harrison elders better.
Yesterday, we had a linger-longer, which is just a fancy name for a potluck after church. We took home a lot of turkey and Thanksgiving stuff. Then we made potstickers at the Beacham's house with the Gaileys and Sis. Gailey's brother.
Anyway, I'm excited for Thanksgiving and the coming transfer. My time is out! Peace. Keep in touch.
What an exhausting but quick week! Here's the lowdown:
Monday, we went to teach people. Bernadette was preparing to move to Newark. It still befuddles me why anyone would want to move to Newark, but to each his own. She described herself as a hood rat anyway. She'll be fine. Or will she? I miss her already!!! The Central Newark elders better take care of her!
Tuesday was fun. We went to district meeting. After teaching Bernadette, we went home. I walked downstairs and laid on the couch to sleep for four hours. I was sick as a hood rat. After waking up, I walked upstairs into our bedroom and slept for years. It felt good, though. And Elder Walker was productive and didn't make rockets using empty plastic bottles, a lighter, and 91% rubbing alcohol while I slept, at all. Just kidding. The whole apartment still smells like alcohol. Don't try that at home.
On Wednesday, we painted another house, this time, Sis. Hill's, instead of Bro. Pepe's. Come to think of it, those two and the Dzikowicz's were offended by perhaps the same missionary. Before this transfer, they didn't even want to be in contact with branch members. Please be civil when interacting with anyone, including less-active members.
On Thursday, we said goodbye to Bernadette. We also started teaching two separate lessons at Gma. Jackie's house. Aunt Dawn likes me!
Adam from Jersey City came with us to Ma Ji's house early on Friday mormon. He was a boss wizard. He practically taught the whole lesson and we were there as members just helping out. It was a bittersweet lesson since, although the Spirit was strongly present, we dropped Ma Ji from our teaching pool. Elder Dabell later said that this coming week will be full of new investigator miracles. Also on Friday, we were able to find three new investigators, Dave and Ernie and Ching. Dave had always known the missionaries in Kearny and is being prepared by the Lord well, coming from a Catholic-atheist background. Ernie and Ching are from the Philippines and are Methodist and Catholic, respectively. Elder Walker loves Filipinos and says that he has never met a Filipino he doesn't like.
We helped Sis. Hill paint again on Saturday. Her house looks sellable! Also, we attended a baptismal service for Reynaldo, a Hispanic man of 65. We talked with Nayeli, who will be baptized by the Kearny Spanish missionaries into the Lord's Church. She has met with the missionaries for 2 years! We finished the day with 7 lessons! That never happens in the English program!
On Sunday, we were met by the miracle of all the Pesanteses, Dave, Sis. Basan, Gma. Jackie, Diamond, Eddy, and other people coming to church! Dave especially liked how different our church is from the Catholic church. He said that our church makes sense. The lessons were perfectly tailored for him as well!
We finished the week by teaching 22 lessons, two weeks in a row! We overexceeded mission standards!
We got to share this scripture many times this week: Mosiah 2:43, which says, "Consider the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God."
Also, I have been praying about asking President Jeppson to transfer me into the Spanish program.
It's good to hear about things back home, especially about people enlisting in the Lord's work! Deciding about going on a mission will definitely change your life for the better! I know because it has changed my life already.
The greeting on the subject line of this email may be outdated now, but whatever day it is, celebrate it! 2 Nephi 2:25.
First of all, may the people affected by typhoon Haiyan rest in peace. Both the living and the dead can thankfully rest in peace because of what Jesus Christ has done. The promise that the Book of Mormon makes in the introduction is that through Jesus Christ, people can find greater joy and peace both in this life and in the life to come. What good news! Things will work out.
I apologize if I have not responded to your emails. We only have two hours here on these public computers, which is not enough for responding to 84 emails/preparation day! I would prefer to write my family via email, including my extended family, and everyone else via regular paper mail. Thank you!
This week was a blast of wind. It went by fast but powerfully, and physical wind literally blew outside. It was cold. It even snowed today!
On Monday, we were able to play Settlers of Catan, expanded and timed, in our apartment. It yielded the most stress I have ever felt in my life.
Tuesday was interviews. I was able to talk with President and Sister Jeppson about my spiritual and physical health. I received a priesthood blessing from him. My mission president is going to be a general authority! Also, we were able to go with a member to visit some families.
After interviews, Elder Dabell went with me in our area to visit an investigator and some members who I have never met before. It was a privilege to have entered their homes and brought the Spirit into our lessons.
On Wednesday, we visited Bernadette and the Roa family. Bernadette still has her baptismal date in her sights but is not willing to quit smoking! She has lung problems already and she knows that the Word of Wisdom is true, but she wants to "wait for God to take the smoking away!" AAAAHHH!!! But the Roas' burritos were good. Good thing they're Hispanic or they would never have fed us!
Thursday's zone training was fantastic. We learned how to focus ourselves on praying with sincere purpose and real intent, accounting to God at the end of our day and PLEADING with him at the beginning. My tongue in this strange, foreign English language has certainly been more loosed and inviting of the Spirit since I've started praying like that. One example is when I went on an exchange into Elder Packer's Spanish-speaking area. I spoke Spanish there more than any of my dreams can ever dream of dreaming a dream of speaking Spanish! I definitely had to rely fully upon the Holy Ghost to understand anything my companion or their investigators are saying, and I am glad that I prayed with Elder Packer before we went out that His Spirit may be with us.
By the way, Spanish is not his native language and he has been on the mission field 3 months, but his Spanish was excellent! It is a miracle to see the growth that going on a mission provides if we are prayerful!
On Friday, we taught Ma Ji with Hermano Vallejo and it was the best lesson that we have ever taught him, and there is no way that he could not have felt the Holy Ghost. Also Hno. Vallejo's sandwiches were superb, as always.
We visited Don on Saturday! What!! He committed to coming to church, and....
He came to church on Sunday! Also at church was Betty; Roger, Jr.; and Jose! They came to the English branch because Betty had to work during the Spanish services. But she and Roger are progressing towards the temple to be sealed together in a year! Later, we were able to see Xin Shan, Ma Ji's roommate as well as the Roas again (no burritos though)!
But! Saturday was full of miracles for us. I am speaking specifically about the middle of the day, when Bernadette called us and told us that God worked things out for her living situation. That call was followed by another call from Don, who hasn't seen missionaries in one month due to his lack of desire to progress. Then, Elder Walker was transferred somehow to our voicemail, which said, "Miracles are happening." We finished Saturday by watching Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with Brother Denning and Brother Crowell.
What a week!
Anyway, please stay in touch, all of you! I do love you! I just can't respond to you all at once!
This week, I learned the importance of backing up your pictures. We visited a special needs boy who loved taking pictures. I gave him my camera so that he can shoot a few. Unfortunately, he also shot my heart when all of my pictures--from my setting apart to last week--were deleted ): I still love him though. So there will be no pictures this week.
Monday, we went to the gym and got yoked.
Tuesday, we visited Bro. Pepe's house to help him and his wife paint. They are so fun!!! It's always sad to see people who are Church-active in their hearts but turned off by a member--in this case, a missionary long ago. We also picked up 3 new investigators!
Odin's Day, we kept painting the Pepe's home and mooched off Italian food. Chicken parm all the way. Also, we had to be home earlier, like at 6, because we didn't want to be involved in any gang initiation rites. Those are so boring.
Thor's Day, we celebrated Halloween with Settlers of Catan for the second night in a row. It was Elder Walker's first Halloween here, although he had been on his mission for 22 months already! Dag Hurricane Sandy! Earlier in the day and against logical chronology since these elders are famished and it's distracting, we also taught Bernadette with Dr. Thomas. Correction: Dr. Thomas taught Bernadette and brought us along. He knows the scriptures so well and grills us about them!
Dia de Fritar was the branch party. We ate chili and pie.
On Saturn's Day, I went with the other Filipino in our zone, Elder Rodriguez, and Rahameen, to visit Sis. Baxter in Newark (pronounced "nork"). Then we visited Bernadette. She is always in a bad mood! It's hard to teach her. It's great to see, however, the change that the gospel brings to her. After every visit, she tells us, "That lifted me." That's what it's all about!
And Betty and Roger were confirmed on Sunday. I also saw Emilce! Too bad she's not in our area anymore....
Well, my new companion is Elder Walker, or Elder Caminero en espanhol, which is Spanish in portuguesa, which is Portuguese in ingles, which is English in English (I love the languages here!). He is 22 months experienced in the mission, and Kearny Only English Driving will be his last area. He is from the Missionary Factory, in the city of Morgan. He is a twin and likes to spin things like the stop sign in the picture attached. My favorite thing about him is his ability to be genuinely friendly to people when I can't.
This week, we were able to mooch a dinner from one of our less-actives on Monday. We taught our first lesson to Diamond, who is Gramma Jackie's granddaughter. She actually liked church on Sunday, and her cousins loved the baptism of James. That baptism happened before Betty and Roger's. Did I tell you that they are now baptized? Well, they are now baptized, and I am excited to hear when Betty brings family names to the temple in six weeks. I love her and Roger!!! I might include their picture in this email if technology cooperates.
Tuesday, we taught Gramma Jackie's daughter the Plan of Salvation because she felt down about some family issues. It is amazing to see how the Gospel can bring peace even to nonmembers! She said that she felt lifted after our visit. We also visited Bernadette, and she was not happy. She almost dropped us! I was also on exchanges with Elder Guijarro. He did teach me some new Mexican phrases, such as "pinche chamaco," "no manches," y "mente cochambrosa." Good, clean fun.
On Wednesday, we taught Betty, Roger, and Valentina with the Spanish elders in our apartment. We informed her that they will be taking care of her from then on and assured her that she will be in good hands. I will miss teaching her! Also, I brought Bernadette some Ecuadorian yapingacho that I made myself, so she forgave us frankly (:
Thursday was car fast day, but we drove a lot! We went to zone conference and learned about how to keep from crashing our cars, how to wash our cars, and how to mend a sprained ankle. We also learned how not to simply obtain referrals, but to earn them. We had to cancel our appointment with Bernadette then go to correlation for the first time in weeks!
Then on Friday, we taught an amazing lesson to the Chinese college student about faith and received sustenance for our mortal forms in the form of sandwiches made by Hermano Vallejo. They were delicious and satisfying. We taught Bernadette once more and also took her shopping.
Saturday was interesting. I had the privilege of serving in the zone leaders' area on an exchange. Elder Barrio and I taught a lesson with ex-Elder now-Brother Packer to a former cook, and her last-minute breakfast was out of this world! Beans and bananas with queso fresco con jalapenos. Ay, caramba, it was good! We also learned more about how to survive on the streets of Newark: do not look at a GPS on your lap while driving. That's all I'll say on the subject. It is sufficient to say that we almost died twice.
Last of all, yesterday's stake conference was a spiritual blast. I sang in the choir in which all men were Newark zone missionaries. We sang in four different languages. Then a barbershop quartet favored us with "Love at Home." President and Sister Jeppson talked, quite a few converts to the church talked, and our branch mission leader talked about missionary work. Two talks were about temple work, and my favorite line about this Earth life in relation to eternity was that "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spirit beings having a human experience."
Then, after lunch, we served a long-lost less-active, Sis. Hill, and her daughter. It was a fantastic feeling to have been able to do that and see them smile. They were offended by some missionaries many years back and told Elder Thompson and I to back off and never send anyone from the Church from her house again. Elders Walker and Smith tried her again on our exchange and were able to set an appointment to serve her yesterday. What a remarkable experience to teach by the Spirit one of Heavenly Father's lost lambs!
Needless to say, this past week was productive and plenty of lessons. I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost! I know that this Church is true! I love you all!
Monday, Elder Thompson and I helped welcome the new missionaries in the Fear Buster. We talked to a man who insisted that Jesus is black. Dag apostasy. We also had dinner at the Rowes for the first and last time because our area is split! I am now in the Kearny Only English Driving Area! No more Harrison ):
I think I already wrote that last week since we emailed after Columbus Day, which was when the Monday above happened.... I apologize; this is only the first draft. Please do not expect quality emails.
On Tuesday, we emailed, then ate lunch, then went to the transfer conference at Short Hills. That was the last that I saw Elder Thompson for a while. I did unite with the Filipino elders in the mission, however, and I might include pictures. Also included is a picture of my apartment-mates, Elders Dabell, Thompson, and Sandoval.
Now I am the companion of our new district leader, Elder Walker.
Wednesday, we began our work as a new companionship. We visited members, Bernadette, and Betty. Betty, along with Roger Jr., then accepted an invitation to be baptized yesterday, with the help of the Spanish elders in our apartment and Hermana German!
Thursday, we visited Bernadette again, and that time, she had her nonmember friends with her, who asked fantastic questions regarding the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. We walked a lot since it was car fast day.
On Friday, we had an opportunity to serve a member unplannedly. It is always so enjoyable to receive these opportunities from Heavenly Father. Also, Friday was the interview of Betty and Roger at the church. They passed! Then they were able to be fellowshipped by the Relief Society, who were having a dinner that night.
Saturday was our miraculous finding day. Once, we planned to see an investigator a mile away, but later felt through the Holy Ghost to turn back. We did instantly, and we found Angel, a young boy who is friends with one of our more solid members. He was about to go home, and we would not have been able to find him if we had not turned around the precise moment that the Spirit prompted us to.
Sunday was filled with inspiring activities. At church, Elder Walker and I taught our first lesson as a companionship in Gospel Principles about Eternal Marriage. It turned out okay, despite the fact that most of the people we taught were single or divorced and we weren't even married in the first place! But the Spirit was present and we were enabled to bear our testimonies of this Church and temple work. Bernadette, who had family troubles in the past, said that she loved church that day.
We also attended James's baptism after church, then I baptized Betty in Spanish, with Elder Sandoval baptizing Roger into the Spanish ward. Both of them will be in good hands! What a remarkable experience! You've got to try this!
Then we practiced in our four-language choir and ended the day with Bro. Roa's delicious burritos.
This week, we taught 20 lessons, which was our goal!!! Also, our key indicators took a dive by 10 points ):
We expect this coming week to be full of surprises. But that will come later.
First of all, Friday was full of miracles. We had in-zone transfers. I've attached pictures of my companions after our lesson with one of the Chinese college students and his fellowshipper, Hno. Vallejo. A lot of thanks to Hna. Vallejo, who cooked us a delicious Peruvian lunch! We set a goal to contact every person who talked to us, and, like I said, miracles ensued. We were able to find referrals for other elders. One miracle that happened does not seem related: We were supposed to visit Bernadette at 5 but she called us before 4, right after one of our appointments. She said that it was one of the roughest days of her life, and she was going to wheel her wheelchair into the nasty Passaic--in short, she wanted to take her life. We felt prompted to tell her that we would be over to her place in 15 minutes. We came and didn't teach her what we had planned before, but by the end of the lesson, she felt lifted. One of the roughest days of her life was turned into one of the most spiritual and sacred experiences I have ever had, as selfish as that sounds. The Holy Ghost is real!
All week, we were preparing things for the incoming elders in the newly split Harrison English Walking Area. Yesterday, we found out that Elder Thompson was going to be transferred. This upcoming transfer is going to be full of surprises. I don't know who my next companion is going to be, but I'm sure that he will be as good as Elder Thompson. I will miss him!
Also yesterday, Elder Thompson and I visited the Rowe family for the first and last time, since they live in the new Harrison area and Elder Thompson is leaving. Eddy and Tilmeena were there with James, who is close to his baptism. What characters those three are! Eddy once criticized Elder Thompson for "eating like a white boy" and commented on how he, being Puerto Rican-American, was blacker than Sis. Rowe, who is Jamaican.
Well, this week has been spent preparing for this next transfer. I'm exhausted and sick, but it's worth it. We might have Betty baptized this weekend, so wish us luck!
And, no matter what happens, remember to keep your heads up!
Happy General Conference Weekend! Elder Bednar is the kung fu master who knows how to use the one leaf.
A little bit more about the culture here in New Jersey: Last weekend, when I was on exchanges with Elder Guijarro in Newark, there was a blockage in the traffic. From inside the car, we watched a remarkable three-way merge. The streets here are boss. Everyone has a mutual understanding of everyone else. Utah should be like this.
Also, people honk immediately after the lights turn green at the idling people in front. It used to be annoying, but now I've adopted it. Watch out, Utah.
After the end of a long day at the beginning of this week, we were driving home. When we turned a corner, there appeared an angry middle-aged man. He raised a fist in our direction, along with his middle finger, for ten seconds straight. As we passed him, a long string of loud, vulgar words ensued from his lips. We still do not know what that was all about.
Due to Conference, we ate for the second time at Sakura Japan Teriyaki and Sushi. Real sushi is actually good! A few days before that, we met the Kearny Strangler. He is actually a nice guy.
So...Monday, we met with Emilce, who was having major marriage issues. The Spanish elders from our apartment came with us so we can go into her house and give her a blessing. Elder Sandoval, who is from Brazil/Chile, comforted her in what I can only describe as telenovela Spanish. It was straight from TV! He even held her hand, which is not allowed, by the way. I feel for her though. Husbands better take care of their wives like the Apostles and Prophet have counseled! Things like the things that happened to Emilce should not even happen in the first place!!! Elder Thompson and I also helped the Spanish elders move an enormous cabinet up two flights of narrow stairs for a member.
On Tuesday, we confirmed with Betty her baptismal date. She is so ready to make that covenant with God and begin her discipleship! Lisa may need more time, but she is progressing very rapidly. She is doing the Stop Smoking Program this week, which means that she will need to use cinnamon-flavored mouthwash for seven days straight. She said that it kills, but what an example of endurance she has been!
On Wednesday, we helped move some furniture into the Harrison apartment. Our area is getting split! Hopefully, Elder Thompson says, they won't double in some sisters. Oh, well. We accomplished our missionary purpose that day, which is to help others move, jokingly speaking.
Thursday was good. Correlation was cancelled.
Friday, we talked with Ma Zhi/Lunafel Solorchis/Jerry, one of the Chinese college students. He taught us how to teach better, and told us to use the one leaf like a kung fu master.
Saturday, we taught Marie, a new investigator and an elderly woman at a shelter. She had been struggling with a long depression. The gospel will certainly help her! Teriyaki, dumplings, and sushi after General Conference was good. We also taught the Yambas, with a lot of help from N. Yamba. in translating from English into French for his dad.
Sunday, we met with yet another new investigator, Burnadette G. She is waaay prepared by the Lord! We also met with Chet D. He was also having issues in his marriage. People! Seriously!!!
Anyway, General Conference gave me a spiritual boost and also something to study more in depth later.
Oh! And I might send pictures with this email from the past.