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.